(Everything in Canada is in English and French)
After the power station we went to Fort George, (you can watch a video about its role in the Canadian (British) – American war of 1813) an old British Army Fort. The original fort was constructed in the late 1700’s but had fallen into disrepair by 1815. The present buildings were constructed in 1937. All the buildings are wooden and very pretty. When we arrived the tour had already begun so we ran to catch up with it in the barracks. This is where the ordinary soldiers lived. It was one big room with bunk beds. Soldiers had a really hard life and had to sign up for seven years with little pay and not much comfort. Often they had to stay a further seven years to pay outstanding bills possibly for their uniforms, losing even a button was costly and had to come out of wages.
The officer’s quarters were much better and they had a much better life, as it was the rich who became officers. (In wealthy families the first son inherited the estate but the second and subsequent sons were given money to buy a job!) They could also pay for good food. While the ordinary soldiers had watery stew for dinner every day, the officers had six courses, often with foods imported from Europe.
After the tour we were sent out to watch a demonstration of a musket by a really amusing guide. He was obviously passionate about his job and went into great detail telling us about how a musket works and then demonstrating it. Turns out it doesn’t work very well… it misses more often than it hits; it creates a huge smoke cloud when it’s fired, bit of a problem for camouflage; it takes at least half a minute to load one shot; it’s very heavy. But at the time (1800’s) it was the best they had and everyone had the same disadvantages.
(Our musket guide)
He told us stories including one about the time he (accidentally) pushed the bayonet into his finger and had to go to the hospital still dressed in his red uniform. When the demonstration was over the assembled crowd didn’t want to leave, we were all smiling waiting for another story and he seemed to be enjoying himself too!
(His funny face!)
Was it Confucius who said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life“? In the end we left because the temperature was hitting thirty degrees and we were off to the beautiful town of Niagara on the Lake.
Choose a job you love! Mairead.