Mounties & the Wild West

Spring Gardening

Weaver's GardenEvery year when spring arrives, my thoughts turn to planting and what I’m going to do with my flowerbeds this year.

I can well imagine how much joy the gardens brought to the settlers as they tried to scratch something valuable out of the soil.

In my historical novels, I’ve mentioned all types of gardens. Or thought I had.

There were those belonging to apothecaries and doctors – the herb gardens they planted to Continue reading

Shopping Like It’s 1860

Let’s go shopping, 1860s style. If you lived back in the Old West, chances are the tinsmith ran one of your favorite shops. To an untrained eye, entering his store might look as though you’re entering a cluttered space. But if you look closer, you’ll note the fine tools, the specialty patterns and the intricate designs. What you’ll love most of all is the usefulness of every product.

Let’s go shopping, 1860s style. If you lived back in the Old West, chances are the tinsmith ran one of your favorite shops. To an untrained eye, entering his store might look as though you’re entering a cluttered space. But if you look closer, you’ll note the fine tools, the specialty patterns and the intricate designs. What you’ll love most of all is the usefulness of every product.

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A Look Inside Old Houses

I like pretty things. That’s why when I visited a preserved village of houses, shops and streets, I was struck by the pretty interior decor. These are original colors, furnishings and buildings restored to the 1860s. For those in driving proximity, it’s called Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto.

How about the rich milky turquoise on these walls? The lovely color surprised me. Isn’t this a stunning kitchen? Homesteaders usually started out with a small log cabin as a first home, as quickly as they could clear the trees to make room. This would’ve been their second house, after living off the land for sixteen years – a two-story structure with more expensive furniture.

How about the rich milky turquoise on these walls? The lovely color surprised me. Isn’t this a stunning kitchen? Homesteaders usually started out with a small log cabin as a first home, as quickly as they could clear the trees to make room. This would’ve been their second house, after living off the land for sixteen years – a two-story structure with more expensive furniture.

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Dipping and Shaking for Gold

Dipping for Gold in the YukonHave you ever wondered what it was like to pan for gold? One of my sets of books are set in the late 1800s, during the Klondike Gold Rush. On a trip to the Yukon for research, I had a taste of it.

Gold is nineteen times the weight of water, so it naturally sinks to the bottom of the pan. The tricky part is washing away the gravel into smaller and smaller portions while still hanging on to the precious stuff. There’s quite a skill involved. They have a name for the proper technique: dips and shakes. You dip the pan into the riverbed, haul out some gravel, then continue to ever-so-gently shake the loose pebbles free until all you have left Continue reading

The Lost Art of Ironing

The lost art of ironing—I say this tongue-in-cheek because I’m glad those days are gone. But does anyone else remember growing up and helping their mom create wonderful, crisp little piles of folded sleeves and collars, and warm linens that draped so beautifully you could hang them in a store window?

And remember how good they smelled, coming in off the clothes line?

I was the only girl in the house, and as soon as I was tall enough to stand behind an ironing board, it was my job to Continue reading