Most museums feature static displays of artifacts and maybe a few interactive screens, but living history museums really make the past come alive by having costumed re-enactors walk among visitors in historical places to explain and demonstrate what life was like in times gone by.
There are numerous locations in Canada where visitors can experience living history museums. They can see how their ancestors lived and often get some hands-on instructions on how to do things the old-fashioned way, something that children are especially fascinated by.
From east to west, here are 10 Canadian living history museums that you won’t want to miss. Some operate all year, others only during the warm weather while some close during the fall and winter, only opening for special events, especially around Christmas, so be sure to check their websites for the latest info.
If you journey to the northern tip of Newfoundland, you can visit L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site to see the remains of the only Viking settlement known to have existed in North America. There’s a sod house on site with costumed actors that is a lot of fun, but for a more expansive Viking experience, visit nearby Norstead, a recreation of an entire Norse village. Learn how to forge iron, get your fortune told and see Snorri, a massive replica of a Viking ship that has actually sailed across the Atlantic, proving that Leif Erikson could have done the same.
The 18th-century Fortress of Louisbourg sits on a windswept stretch of Cape Breton, welcoming visitors to step back to a time when France and England battled for supremacy in North America. Walk through the immaculately-restored walls of this stone city and chat with people that live there like soldiers, bakers and craftsmen, most of whom will remain in character as you interact with them. A new virtual reality experience, The Messenger, will bring you back to 1744 as you race against time to deliver a message to the fortress about English spies.
Kings Landing boasts one of the largest collections of historic artifacts in eastern Canada which is on display at the site’s museum, but visitors really come here to interact with costumed characters from New Brunswick’s colourful past to experience life in the 19th century. You’re encouraged to step into their homes to talk to them, help them with their chores on the farm or in the village and imagine you are in another time. Kids love it, but so do their parents.
This is just an excerpt. You can read the rest of the story on Canada.com.