As I stood there watching each of my children in turn ride down the dirt path on the back of the horse drawn cart I couldn’t help feel myself being pulled back in time. The clanging of the blacksmith working in the shop next door mingled with noises from the farm animals grazing just in back of me. We had picked an absolutely gorgeous day to visit the Orwell Corner Historic Village located just 20 minutes east of Charlottetown. The perennial gardens were in full bloom and as my children happily trotted by there wasn’t anything in sight to ruin the illusion that we were indeed visiting a 1890’s Prince Edward Island community. It wasn’t until my husband handed me the digital camera to record his own turn behind the lovely miniature horse, who so kindly pulled my family through the village, that I was brought back to the present.
We were interested in visiting Orwell Corner Historic Village to have just such an experience. So far, our time on Prince Edward Island had been spent exploring the National Seashore and navigating the streets of Charlottetown in search of bicycle shops and grocery stores. However, we wanted to find out more about life on Prince Edward Island before cars traversed the roads and people bought their food at 24 hour supermarkets. Since we are currently reading aloud Anne of Green Gables, Orwell Corner Historical Village seemed like the perfect fit for our family (Anne of Green Gables takes place around the 1880’s and the village is recreated as a 1890’s community). We were hoping that this would excite the kids as they got a first hand glimpse at what life on the island might have looked like for Anne, and to our great pleasure they were not disappointed. In fact Orwell Corner Historic Village was so kid friendly that we had a hard time getting them to leave.
Our trip at the Village began at the welcome center which also hosts the PEI Agricultural Heritage Museum and a very large collection of tools that were used on the island, as well as wonderful signage introducing us to what life was like in an agricultural community. From there we followed the red dirt path through the woods to the heart of the village where the kids excitedly explored the church, schoolhouse, store, community hall, house, farm, and blacksmith shop. In most every building or area we were greeted by friendly staff, dressed in period clothing, who went out of their way to teach us about life in this 1890’s village, answer our questions, and engage the kids in activities.
Our day exploring the many buildings flew by and when we finally stopped for a picnic lunch at one of the conveniently located picnic tables next to the schoolhouse we were amazed at how much we had done. The kids had dipped their own candles, helped feed the farm animals, watched the blacksmith making hooks, explored the store, spent time playing in the schoolhouse, and of course gone for a carriage ride. After washing up at the hand drawn water pump the kids begged us for more time to just hang out in the village. With gorgeous blue skies and zero noise from the outside world, we had no problem saying yes!