Wednesday, July 20
Our last day of holidays had arrived. It was time to head home, but not without one more stop … Fort Henry in Kingston
We were up on time since we had to finish packing up and wanted to be on the road by 7:30am so that we could make it to Kingston by 10am. True Steph-style, we left later then planned, although not much later. We arrived at the fort shortly after 10am, partly because we couldn’t find it at first … for a main attraction in the city you think the signs would be a bit better. Ah well, we found it and were there on time for the 10:30 tour. We had checked out the schedule of activities/programs before hand so we knew we wanted to make a full day of it so that kids could partake in as much as possible.
The girls love all things Pioneer and we thought that this would introduce them to a different aspect of the pioneer days. This was definitely different then the Little House on the Prairie aspect they like so much. It has been many years since I was at Fort Henry (I believe it was 1986 or 1992 – or was it both?). It was nice to piece together a few of the images I had in my head to have a better and clearer memory of the Fort. (I had also been to Upper Canada Village before … way back in Grade 8, but I had pretty much no memory of what I hade seen there) And Matthew took home a miniature cannon pencil sharpener … just like the one I got there when I was a kid (and which mom still had and showed Mathew when we got home)
It was another scorching hot day. Matthew’s hat got packed somewhere in the bottom of the trunk so he ended up wearing Marietta’s for the day and Marietta wore mine since I had two handy. Matthew had reached his limit on tours this time around and was pretty clingy, wanting to be held lots … lack of naps and sleep probably was a bigger factor here. I actually thought he would have taken a greater interested in the soldiers and guns and such, but he wasn’t too hugely enthralled. Obviously he did take something back from the day as we now see him doing the “march, march, march” thing every now and then.
The first thing we did was go for the guided tour. This was helpful on better understand the fort and some of the basic information about it. It’s amazing to look at the structure and realize that it was all made with manual labour … no tractors, bulldozers, cranes, cement trucks, etc.
We watch the rifle firing demonstration (races) during the morning. After Matthew heard these guns fired he was in a panic and had a keen dislike for any cannons or guns for the rest of the day (funny that we now see him running around the house with his imaginary guns having no problem shooting them).
We watched them practice the cannon shooting process …. it’s a whole show just to fire the cannon. I’m not sure how many people they actually had during the war times, but I’m thinking it would have been a bit faster and less “march-like”
Another picnic lunch.
We had enough food leftover in the fridge before we left to rig up one more picnic lunch. While it’s fun to eat out and not have to cook or worry about food or bringing everything along, the budget just doesn’t allow for a whole week of such luxuries. We also have the extra challenge of having Fructose Malabsorption and among other things need to avoid wheat as much as possible … this makes it challenging to go out, an occasional “treat” (cheat would be a better word) we can manage, but not a whole week off the diet.
We witnessed Private Atkins stealing from the treasury and had to determine a suitable punishment for him.
It was really neat to watch the band practicing and playing. We watched them practicing for a while and then later seen them actually perform the piece they were practicing.
It’s so neat to watch how all their feet move at the same time in the same formation. I always love that part. There’s a lot to think about to keep in step and play the music.
Since part of the parade involved a canon shooting Rob had to take Matthew to the upper part of the fort and wait for it to be done. He was in a panic right from the beginning of the parade as he knew at some point in the show there was going to be a canon shooting. We kept trying to tell him that it would not be as loud as the artillery guns as it would not be in the fort but up on the wall …. but there was no convincing him. He had heard one and that was enough for him for the day.
Matthew all set and ready to join the army.
Matthew changed his mind about joining the army, but the girls still decided to join the army and so they had their first lessons on army life.
Smiling and laughing was not part of the lessons
They were taught some basic marching commands as well as how to hold their gun
run …. and shoot
It’s a good thing Matthew didn’t participate as he would not have been able to follow the instructions and cannot handle it when someone yells at him (or even at someone else … he’ll break down crying for them). He had a hard time understanding that it was all just for fun and that the girls weren’t seriously in trouble for making mistakes.
At the end the girls were each given a certificate saying that they had passed inspection and were now signed up for 10 years to the army.
Although hot we still had an enjoyable day. While I went with the kids to the schoolroom to get an example of how a Victorian School was run Rob stayed and watched some more marching and shooting drills/practice (for the evening show). He said at one point they had to carry someone off who nearly collapsed from the heat.
It was a nice day and a nice end to our holidays. When the fort activities for the day were complete we decided to carry on. There was an evening show also, but we needed to get home and the sooner we hit the road the sooner we would find ourselves home and in our comfy beds.
It was a busy week, but it was also a lot of fun. And even though it sounds like we were go-go-go the whole time I did get a fair amount of reading done. It was relaxing as well. The meals were all prepared in advance so they weren’t a lot of work. We didn’t have to maintain a house and there was no other working calling at me to be completed. It was nice to be away from home and nice to spend lots of time together as family. The best part of all was that when we got home the clothes were clean and everything was unpacked and back in it’s place within an hour. I could wake up the next day and just carry on … soooo not like camping where there is tons and tons and tons of laundry and a tent that needs to be set up and cleaned out.
Now it didn’t quite go that way, but that’s how it should have gone. The original idea was to just unload the cooler and hit the sack when we got home, unpacking the rest in the morning …except we ran into a problem … our water pump would not work. We had no water! While Rob fiddled with the pump trying to get it running I unloaded the suitcases … so I didn’t hit the sack right away, but I did get to wake up to everything being unpacked. Rob finally decided to give up and go to bed and try figure it out in the morning.
In the morning Rob fiddled some more but could not fix the problem. He was suppose to be deep in his dutch studies but was distracted by trying to get the pump working. He finally put out a call for someone to come fix it as he could not fix it, but they were so booked it would have to wait until the next day … so back Rob went to trying to fix it himself. I finally told him that we were leaving. He couldn’t concentrate on his studies because he felt we needed the water, so we would leave and he could study. We packed our bags, did some errands, went to visit my sister and her new baby and then stayed at my parents for the night. I think that was the hottest day of the year where we reached 36C with a humidex of 49C. To say it was hot was an understatement. Since my parents air conditioner was not working we ended up sleeping in the camper, which did have air conditioning!! We found out the next day it was an extra blessing that we decided to pack up and go elsewhere since the power was out at our place for some time that evening also. We finally had water again the next evening.
I highly recommend Ottawa as a holiday place. We could easily have stayed another week or two and found plenty to do (maybe at a more relaxing pace instead of trying to pack as much as possible into one week).