By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley
Harvestfest 2022, sponsored by the Georgina Historical Society, attracted more than 500 people to the Pioneer Village on September 17, eager to celebrate autumn’s arrival and have good old-fashioned fun.
Two dozen volunteers in period costumes charmed visitors with stories from Georgina’s past and played pioneer games with the younger guests.
“It’s great to be back and to welcome everyone,” said Tom Glover, the society’s President, dressed in his Sunday best, circa 1860, despite the plus 23C temperature.
“It’s a gentleman’s outfit to wear to a Sunday prayer meeting. Of course, there’s a jacket too, but I didn’t want to put that on,” he said.
Glover was eager to show off the Smallwood Log Cabin, which was built in the 1860s and moved from Elmgrove to the village in the 1970s.
But he is particularly proud of the newest addition to the village, a bright orange 1918 CN railway caboose, donated by the Verdoold family and lovingly restored by volunteers just in time for Harvestfest.
“We’ve been letting people go through the caboose today. And their comments are just so positive. And the kids are excited because they’ve never seen anything like that before.”
While Glover admits the village needed significant repairs a few years ago, he’s pleased that the Town has turned a page and has provided funds for its restoration.
“There seems to be a new attitude, and they are beginning to realize that we have a real, neat tourist attraction here,” he said.
“I’m happy with the signage they’ve put outside the buildings. Because when people walk through when it’s not open, they can read about the buildings and maybe want to come back.”
Karen Wolfe, past-President, adds that the community has played a significant role in helping to restore the village.
“I tip the hat to the community, which helped us save the historic buildings,” she said.
“Thanks to the volunteers and local organizations, we now have an educational tool for future generations to discover our ancestors in a hands-on experience.”
Newcomers to Georgina, Liam, 5, and Louis, 3, agree, happily learning about the past while playing games their great-grandfathers might have played.
“I love this friendly environment,” said their mother, Felina. “We will come again.”
It turns out that many generations have enjoyed the village.
June Scandiffio recalls coming here with her children and then grandchildren.
“They loved pretending to be students at the old school. I hope the building will open again soon,” she said.
Some volunteers even have personal connections with the historic buildings.
Bonnie Glover said that her grandfather was born in the Mann house, now a part of the museum, and Paul Brady was a patient of Dr. Noble, whose house is also in the village.
“These buildings mean a lot to older generations, and we are happy to share their history. The Festival is a great opportunity to bring our community together, learn and have fun,” Brady said.
It’s also an opportunity for local business owners to offer their hand-made natural products.
Eniola recently moved to Georgina and makes beauty products the way the pioneers did.
“I am delighted to be a part of this amazing event. I hope to see everyone back next year,” she said.
Glover, who’s already looking forward to next year’s Harvestfest, said they’re going to make additional improvements to the caboose, adding furnishings to give it a period feel.
“My uncle was a CN engineer,” he said.
“I’m sure he’s looking down at me and smiling when we’re working on the caboose.”
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