I know that I have shared this before, but I HATE routine! I hate all the "have to's" involved in school days. I hate having to get up at a set time. I hate having to rush the kids out the door. I hate organizing my day around school drop off and pick up. I LOVE March Break, and I LOVE Summer vacation. I love the flow of doing what you want with a loose schedule. I love spending time with my kids.
March Break. How do I keep them entertained without blowing the bank, and while still keeping the week stress free? Yesterday afternoon I piled the kids into the car and we headed to Belleville. Our destination, Glanmore House, a National Historic Site. The kids have gone with their school in the past, and I thought it might be fun to explore it at a leisurely pace.
We arrived at Glanmore and were met by a very friendly lady. The admission was very reasonable. For myself and the four kids, it was only $19.50. The nice lady handed each of the kids a brightly coloured Artifact Hunt sheet. The sheet contained pictures of different pieces at Glanmore. The kids were really excited to begin their hunt.
The first stop on our tour of the Glanmore House was the basement. A volunteer helped equip the kids with the tools to make shadow puppets. In the times before television and radio, children still liked to be amused. Children of the past made shadow puppets. To be honest I can see how an artistic person could create really beautiful and ornate silhouettes, and be able to really entertain. To my kids it seems unthinkable that there was ever a time that there were no televisions. This was a reminder.
The kids were entertained, and so was I when they put on their show. They were so proud of their creations, and had so much fun. It was a link for today's kids, with yesteryears kids.
After the kids had finished their shadow puppets, it was time to begin their artifact hunt. We began in the basement. In the basement was the servant's quarters. It was neat to see the space where the servants would have lived. It was also interesting to see how the other half lived. Downstairs (the servants quarters) were sparse and homespun, while upstairs was rich and opulent. The same house, different levels, both physically and economically.
The above was a pre-intercom. It was really quite ingenious, like a sophisticated tin can telephone. The people of the mansion could call down to the servants when they needed them.
We continued our artifact hunt on the main floor. The rooms were lovingly restored to resemble the original home. The ceilings were stunning. There is no longer that kind of attention to detail.
The dining room was stunning. Featured on the dining table (which could expand to accommodate 25 guests. Can you imagine having 25 guests?) were china wear from the Sir Mackenzie Bowell collection. Sir Mackenzie Bowell was Canada's fifth Prime Minister holding office from 1894 - 1896. The beautiful blue and white dishes ringed with gold were a gift from Queen Victoria to Sir Mackenzie Bowell to commemorate his retirement as Prime Minister of Canada.
The poor kids get an earful of history from me all too often. I try to make our outings educational, without the kids knowing how educational they are. When we saw the dishes I told the kids that this may be the closest they may ever come to a Prime Minister. Sir Mackenzie Bowell was a prominent businessman in Belleville, Ontario. Actually he was the owner, editor and printer of Belleville's still running Intelligencer Newspaper. He also owned several tracts of land in the Tweed area.
The below link is more information about the dishes, should you wish to read more.
The upstairs of Glanmore House features the bedrooms and library. The master bedroom was opulent. The above picture is just the bedroom's sitting area. I am pretty sure that I could fit my entire downstairs in that bedroom. There really were only two bedrooms upstairs. It seems funny in today's society to have a home of that size and really only have two bedrooms.
The upstairs also featured a glass cabinet that stored a collection of artifacts. The above doll was housed in that display case. It gave me the willies. I am pretty sure that if I were a child of that era I would have slept with one eye open.
The last stop on our tour was the first. We looked at the gift shop and handed in our artifact's treasure hunt sheet. That same nice lady gave each of the kids a little prize for completing their hunt. I left with smiling children, and without emptying my life savings (ha ha, like I have a life savings).
Glanmore house really is a local treasure, and we are very lucky to have it in our community. It is a link to our past. It tells us a lot about who we are today. Back then Glanmore house was considered a "mansion". Today we think of mansions as huge buildings that have dozens of bedrooms. Back at the time that Glanmore was built there was the poor and the rich, there really was not a middle class. In those times whole families shared a room. If you consider that the well to do had a separate bedroom from their children, then yes, Glanmore is a mansion. The other interesting thing that is very noticeable is the extreme attention to detail that went into the building of that home. Today's homes are built for economy, instead of beauty.
If you would like to read more about Glanmore house I have included some very interesting links below.
If you want to find an activity for your children this March Break, or really any time, it's worth a visit to Glanmore House. If you do not live in the Belleville area, then visit a local museum and explore your own region's history. Your kids will learn more about where you live, and so will you.