Volunteers under the village Bandstand at Moreston
Stephanie McMullen - Volunteer Coordinator

Live as We Once Lived

Stephanie McMullen - Volunteer Coordinator

We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it. – John F. Kennedy

Perhaps history will not, but Grey Roots will!  Have you ever wanted to know more about our past, to experience it by wearing the clothes, doing the chores, following the etiquette, and surrounding yourself in its scent and light?  Does the idea of experiencing life of your grandparents, great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents appeal to you as a way that honours their lives, and makes you appreciate the life you have now?  Do you enjoy reading about history but also see value in bringing it to life?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Grey Roots has an opportunity for you to “live as we once lived.”  Moreston Heritage Village at Grey Roots gives you the chance to immerse yourself as a volunteer in the sights, sounds, and experiences of our ancestors for a few hours each week in the summer.  There are six period buildings on site, ranging from the 1853 Log Cabin to the 1886 Log House and the 1920s Farm House, School House, Bluewater Garage and Rice Blacksmith Shop, which open their doors every day in July and August so that visitors can come in, meet with costumed period demonstrators, and learn more about our past.  These period demonstrators are all volunteers, who commit to working one, three-hour shift per week during the summer months.

Some interesting facts that village volunteers share:  Did you know that for the pioneer settlers, roads were primitive to non-existent in some areas? Shipping was seasonal. There were no trains closer than Collingwood.  The bravery, endurance and struggles that our ancestors underwent in these early years were incredible.  Did you know that by the 1880s, Grey County had been settled for at least a generation?  Its residents are no longer “pioneers” and in fact, Grey County was developing into an important “hub” in the 1880s, which fully blossomed in the early part of the 20th century.  Did you know that by the 1920s, people recognized that the past century of development out of the primeval forest had been ecologically devastating?  A reforestation program was launched (1920) and a “Fish and Game Protective Association” (the first of its kind in Ontario) was formed in 1925.

Volunteers in Moreston Heritage Village will have the opportunity to learn many more interesting facts and details about Grey County’s heritage, and will have the chance to share them with thousands of visitors this summer.  They will dress in period costume, learn traditional skills and crafts and make new friends.  Highlights from 2013 included:

“I love explaining early education to the visitors” – Jean Wilson (School House)

“We both have several good memories – I really enjoyed the children and helping them figure out the artefacts in the log house.” Holly (Log House) and Glen (School House) Dunham

For those interested in working in the Blacksmith Shop, Grey Roots offers a free “Introduction to Blacksmithing” workshop for the four Saturdays in June, from 9 to noon.  Pre-registration is required and we ask for a commitment of 20 hours of service in return for this unique local learning opportunity.  Other village training workshops begin on June 14th for those who seek to combine their love of history, with story-telling and people skills.   In addition to training and interacting with others in Moreston, volunteers can take advantage of the many other benefits of volunteering at Grey Roots. All Grey Roots volunteers are able to visit the facility and Heritage Village with a guest free of charge after 20 completed hours of service, receive discounts in the Gift Shop, are covered by insurance while on duty, and can make new friends and celebrate their successes at volunteer appreciation events. Most importantly, they have the satisfaction of seeing Grey County’s history preserved, shared and enjoyed through their efforts.

For those interested in finding out about volunteering at Grey Roots, contact Stephanie McMullen, Grey Roots Volunteer Coordinator, at 519-376-3690 ex. 6107.

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