So I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to approach my review of my weekend at Crysler’s Farm and my experience as a camp follower. Let me give you some background – I grew up in Eastern Ontario, I have been to Upper Canada Village more times than I can even count. In fact when I was 12 I wanted to LIVE at Upper Canada Village. So when emails started coming up about the 200th anniversary reenactment, I was intrigued if for no other reason then I would be able to walk around Upper Canada Village in period attire. In case you haven’t figured out already, I’m a little bit of a history nerd.
With the decision made to attend Crysler’s Farm, I spent the next couple of weeks scrambling to finish some outfits, including my shortgown (which I never ended up wearing because it was dark purple and by Friday afternoon I wanted nothing to do with anything that attracted the sun) and my stays.
I arrived Thursday afternoon, as I was riding up with Dave (who owns Coughlin and Upton. You should check out the website, it is pretty awesome.) There were several other people from our group already their so we went to work setting up our tents in the encampment. Surprisingly, wedge tents are not that hard to assemble, especially when the ground is so soft that you can basically push the pegs into the ground with your bare feet. Last week we got some pretty torrential rains and unfortunately CF was not spared. The ground was soaked, in fact at some points I was standing in the grass with an inch of water over my feet (thankfully my tent was not in this puddle), but it dried up as the weekend went by and it all added to the charm. In fact walking in wet grass was actually really nice when I was sweltering in my dress!
Thursday night was a challenge. I’m not going to lie. It was damp and cold and I spent most of the night tossing and turning on my cot, with my sleeping bag, my cloak and all four of my gowns on top of me. Needless to say by 4:30am I was wide awake and currently rethinking the entire endeavour. Since no one was awake, I headed over to the port-a-pottys and then went on a walk up to the monument.
I sat on the stone wall and watched the sunrise and it was one of the most pleasant experiences. It was so quiet and still, and it made me think of the original battle 200 years ago, and of all the villages and buildings that had been flooded when they expanded the St. Lawrence river. So there I was, going on only a few hours of sleep, cold, damp and crying over flooded buildings. This was really not going well at all, but I was determined not to let it get to me.
Friday proved to be a lot of fun, I went to the village with Steve and Lenore, and we had a great time touring the buildings! I also experienced being constantly photographed by tourists. At first it was very odd and slightly off putting, especially for someone who doesn’t really like to have their picture taken, but as the weekend progressed I got more and more used to it.
After the your we went back to camp where more people had begun to arrive! Our camp was looking pretty great by Friday night! Which brings me to Port NIght. This is apparently an IMUC tradition and it was a lot of fun to be a part of. I got to try some really great Port, including a homemade chocolate port. I’m pretty sure I was in heaven when I tried that. It was so delicious! I was however still freezing on Friday night, but it was not as bad as Thursday night.
Saturday there was so much to see and do, and don’t forget the heat! I spent time perusing the wares of Sutlers Row, and found some lovely items including a very light weight wool shawl, a walking stick (for the most fashionable of ladies), cotton stockings, and a new ink well and pen.
In the afternoon I met up with my fellow GTRG Devon and we watched the afternoon battle. It was great (especially because we were in the shade), and it was very thrilling to see everyone in action though I know it was very hot for the people out on the field!
Saturday evening the group I was with, the Glengarry Light Infantry, had a potluck dinner – including roast beef cooked on an open spit and in a reflector oven! The food was absolutely delicious and the company even better!
After dinner we walked over to the Village, where there was an ‘impromptu’ pistol duel followed by the night time battle. Playing an adulterous wife and having a duel fought over you is hard work, so I gave up my Regency ball ticket to someone else as I was just too exhausted by Saturday night, and Devon’s got an excellent review of the ball just below this one. I did however have enough energy to go back to camp and play a thoroughly enjoyable game of bid euchre where Andrew and I kicked ass! The score was 44-11, but apparently that’s debatable considering the game only goes to 42…
Sunday was much quieter and relaxed in the morning, we took our time going for breakfast and Kate and I spent a good deal of time sitting on the edge of the fountain cooling off our legs. In hindsight we should have started doing that on Friday!
Sunday was also the day of the actual re-creation for the Battle of Crysler’s Farm. Kate and I found a shady spot on the hill overlooking the battle and stayed until about the end, then headed back towards camp before the crowd dispersed.
The rest of the day was spent packing up, taking down tents, packing cars and then finally the long journey back home.
All in all I couldn’t have asked for anything better when it came to my first true reenactment – it was an amazing experience and I am definitely looking forward to the next one! (And next time I promise to take more pictures – the pictures in this post were taken by Steve Ball, to who I am very grateful!)