During Thanksgiving weekend I visited Kings Landing Historical Settlement, one of New Brunswick’s most famous provincial heritage sites. The settlement is an enormous outdoor museum located in Prince William, just 30 minutes outside of Fredericton, where visitors can go back in time with a community of costumed characters and farm animals.
Unlike most other museums, Kings Landing offers a real-life historical experience showing the evolution of society from its Loyalist roots to the late Victorian age.
Upon arriving, you can feel the atmosphere change. It’s almost as if you have entered a time machine, transported to New Brunswick in the 19th century.
After leaving the visitor reception centre, the real adventure begins. The settlement itself is divided by the banks of the Saint John River into two areas: the Exhibit and the Village. Tours begin at the Exhibit, where visitors find plenty of information regarding New Brunswick’s history in the 19th and 20th centuries. In that area, visitors can also experience horseback rides, workshops and explore a variety of 19th century themes like farming and lumbering.
When you pass the bridge to the Village, the atmosphere becomes even more surreal. As you enter, you start seeing what farming and entertainment would have been like back in the day.
As I walked through that area of the settlement, I heard a neigh. Curious, I followed the sound and I ended up in a stable. Some of the horses were being fed by visitors with hay. One stablehand approached me and suggested I also feed or pet a giant dark brown horse. Scared by the horse’s size, I asked if he knew how old they were and I discovered their ages ranged from seven to 13 years old.
He probably saw the fear in my eyes and added, “This guy here weighs 1,700 pounds.” Astounded by the horse’s weight, my fear overruled me as I stepped back and took a photograph of my brave friend petting it.
The Village is definitely the best experience in Kings Landing. Visitors can find so much there: from women harvesting rhubarb to people riding wagons pulled by 1,700 pound horses.
After exploring, a couple of friends and I sat by the banks of the river for a picnic. However, there are dining options within the museum such as the King’s Head Inn, where you can enjoy an English-style pub surrounded by an authentic 19th century atmosphere. The Inn offers dishes from recipes that were served during that time period, and are served by staff dressed accordingly.
Because you exit from the same place that you enter, visitors have to walk all the way back once their adventure is over, exiting through the museum gift shop, or Peddler’s Market. There, visitors can find special gifts and souvenirs from the province as well as from the historical settlement.
Kings Landing operates from June to October and also offers especial Harvest and Christmas dinners. No matter your age, the settlement is worth visiting for a few hours or even for a whole day. From music and dance, to lessons and tours, the past definitely comes alive at Kings Landing.