The first thing you see as you enter the Settlement is the Methodist Church, built in the early 1900's. Opposite the church is the old Hudsons Bay clerk's quarters built in 1864. This building had many uses after the HBC moved on including a private residence up till the 1960's when it was bought by the Government & restored, during the 70's, to it's 1880 state. It was opened to the public in 1981. Not long after parking the bikes, we were greeted by a nice young volunteer, dressed in period correct clothing & asked to come into the church to sign the guest book. After signing the book, I sat in one of the pews & breathed in the old church smells consisting of old books, old wooden pews, wiffs of wood smoke & a familiar mustiness. There's nothing that smells quite like an old church!
As you leave the house, it's a short walk down to what was at one time, the Ferry launch. It's long since gone now, replaced years ago by the modern bridge a few miles up the road but you can still make out the impression where the dock would have been. Looking across the river, you could just barely make out the landing & the overgrown remnants of an old road winding it's way up from the river. Somewhere, there's a plaque with the names of the men who ran the Ferry over the years. So ends our tour. The volunteers do a great job of explaining the history of this old place & I appreciate their enthusiasm, their humour & their interest in history...... after all, it doesn't pay well!!
After spending time in this special place, we descended the rocky hill & paid a visit to the McDougall family plot. The oldest person buried here is 23.
From here we drove past the turnoff to the Ferry landing & continue on till we run across some old Ghost houses along the river road. There is a hewn log cabin called The Free Trader's House which is believed to have been built in 1874. It has been restored & looks like it's waiting to be set on a foundation. There are more houses along this road in various states of disrepair, slowly succumbing to the elements.... there's such rich history here, one could spend days exploring this place. All along the river side of this old road is thick with Saskatoon berries, a delicacy even 150 years ago I'm sure!
If you find yourself with a free weekend in the summer months, I highly recommend a visit to Victoria Settlement! It's less than half the cost of a movie & you'll enjoy it immensely!
There's also a Facebook page with some great information, facts, dates of upcoming functions etc.. Just type in Victoria Settlement!