King's Landing

Historical Park

Prince William, New Brunswick, Canada

August 12th, 2001

While we were staying in Fredricton we decided to run out to a living history museum nearby called King's Landing. Situated on rolling hills leading down to the St. John's River, the layout was one of the best we have encountered. The buildings, all original re-locations were spaced well apart with an assortment of farming activities dispersed between them. There was everything from factories, a saw mill, grist mill and a door and sash factory, all set in the middle 1800s. Now I am partial to the wood working part of these parks. I find fascinating, the talent and engineering that went into making these products by hand. The wood working shop had a foot driven circle saw the likes I had never seen. It was portable and could be packed up and carted off to anywhere there was a job waiting. Likewise, watching the craftsmen creating shovels with nothing more than a chisel and mallet has always been enjoyable. They take their time, look over the entire surface as if planning a chess move, then lay the chisel down and tap-tap-tap, and out pops a small piece of wood. The shovel doesn't look a whole lot different, but little by little, it takes shape. It takes a lot of standing around and watching to actually be able to see a difference. There was a church and school and at least half a dozen houses running from the sparse to the luxurious, all of about the same time period. The buildings were neat and the land beautiful, but the docents were what made it such an experience. The acreage is quite extensive and good walking shoes are the order of the day. Each building has something inside to offer the curious. On the day we attended, the crowds were light so there was a feeling of being alone for part of the time. It was easy to let my imagination run away for a moment and pretend that I was a farmer or carpenter or cooper for just a few minutes. To smell the air and listen to the sounds of nature and the countryside as it must have been a hundred years ago. We wandered along, sticking our nose into this building and that, all the while working our way down a gentle slope toward a wonderfully wooded area along a brook and a small dam to one of my favorite museum sights. The old saw mill, or grist mill, or whatever mill that is driven by a large paddle wheel off some form of sluice box supplying water. Sometimes these antique structures are newly re-constructed look-alike, and others are the real thing. In either case the workmanship and unique design is guarantied to thrill the engineering interest of those with a mechanical mind. Wood is the dominant element in these constructions. Although the power axle is most often steel, the wheels and supporting gears are wood. Slow powerful turns of the giant water wheel are converted to fast speed movement by use of gears. The saw is the type used long before the circle saw. A large cross-cut saw is attached to a frame and then moved up and down through a log laying on a moving frame, also powered by the water-wheel. Costumed to perfection complete with proper accents, the men and women, plus the children played out their respective parts to perfection. Sometimes with detailed explanation of the craft they were working on, sometimes with a bit of old time witticism, and for the old time cooper who admittedly had been making buckets by hand for "na on to 60 years now" without the use of glue or nails, there was some good old down to earth psychology which seemed timeless as he explained life in terms of making a bucket that wouldn't leak. The entire park is locally oriented so we saw a good cross section of what makes up New Brunswick excluding the French influence which was noticeably lacking. If you want to see it all, plan on an all day affair. It is difficult to walk into any of the buildings, look around and walk out. Something always caught our eye which led to a question or comment which led to a conversation. There is just so much to see. The place is huge. I place it high on the "must see" list which gets longer as we travel.

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