Monday, December 4, 2017

Gibson House in North York

On Sat. I took my daughter up to Gibson House, which reflects the period around 1851.  Interestingly, David Gibson was originally a farmer and land surveyor in North York (he actually had a hired hand for most of the farm work and he mostly stayed busy surveying the surrounding territory).  However, he was an associate of William Mackenzie and supported the 1837 Rebellion.  Not only was he forced to flee, but the British forces putting down the rebellion burned down his house!  If my understanding is correct, Mackenzie and his entire family fled to the States and then Mackenzie and his wife and daughters returned after the amnesty.  In Gibson's case, he was the only one who left Canada.  After he was pardoned and returned, he built a second house on the site of the first.  Unlike some of the other museums, only a few items actually belonged to the Gibson family, including a couple of dolls with real human hair.

I've been to North York Centre/Mel Lastman Square a few times, but didn't even realize that the Gibson House was there right to the north.  I'm glad that they didn't wipe it out in an effort to modernize the area.

What was quite different is how few visitors they had.  We were the only ones, so we got a personalized tour.  I don't know if everyone that had planned to visit went during November, when it was free, or if the distance from the downtown core frightens people off, but it is still quite easy to get to.

I had thought the house would be more decked out for Christmas, but apparently "Christmas" wasn't a big thing in the 1850s, particularly for the Scottish immigrants.  Instead, they celebrated Hogmanay, which is a New Year festival.  There were some pine branches hung on the windows and mantles in the parlor and dining room to represent Hogmanay, even though it is a few weeks early for that.

Dining room

While the Gibsons had somewhat simpler style of life than the Mackenzies (probably fewer visitors as well), the house definitely feels more open.*  There were still two children in each bed, however.

Front parlor

David Gibson's office

Boys' bedroom

Girls' bedroom (with original dolls)

Bed in master bedroom

Chest of drawers in master bedroom

On the way out, we stopped in the kitchen again, and they gave us shortbread and mulled cider.  Very nice!  All in all, another very informative trip, and I would definitely come back again at some point.  (However, I would certainly check beforehand to ensure that the TTC isn't suspending service on Line 1, as they will be doing for the upcoming weekend!)

Kitchen corner (with wood for fireplace)

* I don't know if it is a function of Gibson House generally getting fewer visitors (or having fewer original artifacts), but we were able to walk around in the parlor and dining room without any of the typical visitor ropes and could even touch the horsehair sofa, so that was neat.

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