Though I like to think I’m always on the lookout for interesting places to stop – the truth is I had passed the sign for the John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area in Harrow dozens of times, and it never even occurred to me to stop. I figured it would be like most conservation areas – maybe wetlands, a few trails, and – given its proximity to Point Pelee National Park – probably the home of lots of birds and waterfowl.
A living history museum
The 19-acre property is run by the local conservation authority (Essex Region Conservation Authority), but it’s not your typical conservation area. The property features the homestead of John and Amelia Park, which dates to the 1840s. The Parks – a wealthy family with six children – lived lavishly on the banks of Lake Erie. The property features a well-preserved classic revival-style home, as well as a smoke house, ice house, outhouse, a loom house, a working blacksmith shop, a livestock stable, and an 1880s steam-driven sawmill. The property also features a lakeside boardwalk
The property is very well maintained and because it is used for various festivals and festivities, you’ll find guides and other workers dressed in period costumes.
Life in the 1850s
The Homestead is popular with school groups who experience life in the 1850s, with live demonstrations and activities. It’s a family-friendly museum that rightly deserves the 2010 title of best living history museum.
There’s a small admission fee for touring the house ($5), but there is no charge for walking around the grounds and the various buildings on the grounds.