Forward Into the Past
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Previous Suggestions

50 Shades of History - a look at non-traditional sexual practices in history
Although BDSM has become more mainstream thanks to a recent publication, the history of these and other lifestyle choices reaches back into the depths of time. Spend an hour with Bernie looking at the history and important milestones of this subculture including the Lupercalia, and the Marquis de Sade himself.
Speaker: Bernie Roehl

Advanced Tablet Weaving (2 hours)
This class is for those individuals who have some experience with tablet weaving or who have attended the introductory class. A hands-on introduction of double-face and 3-1 Twill techniques used on tablet woven bands. Historical applications and designs will also be discussed. Observers are more than welcome. The second hour is optional and will be hands-on time for those who bring their own warp and cards.
Speaker: Rob Schweitzer

An Eye for an Eye is Expensive - a look at law, life and litigation in early Iceland
The Gragas (Grey Goose Laws) have been described as 'a Constitution unlike any other wereof records remain, and a body of law so elaborate and complex that it is hard to believe that it existed among men whose chief occupation was to kill one another.' The sagas are described as historic accounts set down to recall the history of the Settlement Era, to fanciful storytelling, and everything in between. Come for a quick overview of the Gragas, the sagas, and what we can learn about life in Early Iceland by comparing the two.
Speaker: Sarah Backa

Beginners Dance: Bransles
An active look into some of the popular dances of the middle ages and Renaissance. No experience necessary, just a desire to have some fun.
Speaker: Kelly Ridley

Beginners Dance: English Country
An active look into some of the popular dances of the middle ages and Renaissance. No experience necessary, just a desire to have some fun.
Speaker: Kelly Ridley

Buffons: Dancing with Swords
Published in 1589 by Thoinot Arbeau, this 5 part dance combines swords, shields and footwork. The basics are easy enough to be grasped by young children, but even experienced fencers will have to work to get everything right.
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

Chainmail - Beyond the Basics (2 hours)
Beyond the basics: mail is the most versatile, flexible armour ever developed. Able to be shaped to every part of the human form mail can also be the basis for wonderful jewelry. In this class you will learn how to make the King Chain, French Rope, and Foxtail patterns. A basic understanding of chain mail is required. Bring two pairs of pliers. In addition to more complex patterns with standard rings this session will explore the use of smaller rings and precious metal rings in decorative patterns and jewelry. Bring two pairs of pliers.
Class is limited to 10 people.   
Speaker: Jerry Penner

Chainmail for Beginners
Imagine a shirt made of thousands of tiny metal rings, all linked together to form a cloth impenetrable by sword. Why was chainmail the ultimate armour for warriors for over a thousand years? Chain mail is so versatile it is still in use today. You can see it on divers in shark-infested waters and on the hands of your local butcher. While you learn to knit your own bracelet that you get to take home we'll discuss the historical background of this wonderful armour. Please bring two pairs of pliers.
Class is limited to 10 people.   
Speaker: Jerry Penner

Cut, Conservation and Consumption
An overview of the evolution of garment construction, cut and tailouring from the 10th Century through to the 20th Century. How availability of fabric has changed motivation and practice away from ultimate conservation of fabric to conspicuous consumption and waste.
Speaker: Jo Duke

Experiment and Experience
Re-enactors, Recreation, Interpreting, Experimental Archaeology, experiential archaeology - so many words. Are they the same? After giving a base for comparison this session will explore the background of Experimental Archaeology. We will also spend time discussing how to turn your interests into an experiment.
Speaker: Neil Peterson

Facts for Fantasy Fiction
When writing fiction it is important to be accurate to the real life elements of one's narrative. This rule is all too often ignored in fantasy. Even in a world of made up places there would be technological consistency and recognisable human motivations. This lecture will explore the tricks to building a logical fantasy world that will not have medieval scholars rolling their eyes and reaching for their maces.
Speaker: Stephen B. Pearl

Flint and Steel Fire Striking
Learn how to build a fire, and light it using flint and steel. This will be a hands on course, where you'll get to try the techniques and practice making fire. Note that this involves "real fire", so breathing smoke and burning your fingers are potential dangers.
Speaker: Mark Patchett

Food and ambiance, translating the medieval feast to the modern table
A discussion of the elements of a medieval feast and transitioning them to a modern dinner table. How to stage it, ideas for recipes, and ambiance will all be covered in this open session.
Speaker: Janet Lloyd

Hnefatafl - A Viking Good Time!
Around the world known by the Vikings one could find local variations of hnefatafl being played in many countries. This game blends some of the strategy of chess with some of the simplicity of chequers and merrels. Come join us for a brief look at the archaeology and rules, and then some time to play the speaker or your session mates. Suitable for ages 10 and up - drinking and gambling can be added when you play at home.
Speaker: Neil Peterson

Introduction to Glass Bead Making (2 hours)
This class will cover the style of bead making known as Lampwork. A history of bead making, their uses, and trade. The modern process of lampworking to make a bead will also be demonstrated. This session is restricted to those aged 16 or older.
Class is limited to 6 people.   There is a materials fee of $5 for this class.
Speaker: Rob Schweitzer

Introduction to Tablet Weaving (2 hours)
This is a hand's on practicum where participants will be taught the basics of tablet weaving. Tablet weaving is a narrow-band weaving technique that is commonly used for belts, straps and decorative edging on clothes. The technique (also known as card weaving) developed independently in a number of countries and has been used for over a thousand years. Participants will learn how to string their own bands and will learn a variety of pattern techniques.
There is a materials fee of $12 for this class.
Speaker: Rob Schweitzer

Kumihimo - The Art of Japanese Cordmaking (2 hours)
A hands on intro to Kumihimo. Starting with a short history and intro to terms, tools and uses. Participants will then be shown how to set up and create a Kumihimo braid. This class will cover both beginner and some intermediate techniques.
Class is limited to 10 people.   There is a materials fee of $5 for this class.
Speaker: Melanie Robbins

Loyal to the Crown
100,000 Loyalists found refuge in Upper Canada during and after the American Revolution which was fought from 1775 to 1783. The Revolution was a political upheaval which resulted in the Thirteen American Colonies breaking away from the British Empire and forming an independent nation. Loyalist farms were destroyed, their possessions taken, and the lives of Loyalist families were in constant danger. They escaped to Upper Canada and life under British rule often with little more than the shirts on their backs.
Dressed in period clothing, Pauline will tell the first person stories of three brave women and their escape to Upper Canada with their families.
Elizabeth Davis Ghent, whose family eventually settled in Hamilton and present day Aldershot (Burlington).
Anne Morden, whose family was the first to settle in the Dundas Valley.
Elizabeth Rapelje, whose family became the first to settle in Kettle Creek (present day St. Thomas).
Speaker: Pauline Grondin

Morris Dancing (2 hours)
In this workshop we will present two styles of Cotswold Morris Dancing. This is a heavy participation workshop. Comfortable footwear is recommended. Styles demonstrated are the evolution of a living tradition of dance in England. Historical traces of the dance include arrest records in the 1300s and carbon dating of the Abingdon Horns to about 1000 years. Morris Dancing originating in the Cotswold wool market towns features steps and style details particular to each village. It was danced to mark the agricultural cycle of the year at various community events, but is now also danced year round. Typically, Cotswold dances feature long sticks or long hankies. We will demonstrate the styles of a few villages and teach you a dance from each of two of them.
Speaker: Roy Underhill

Naalbinding 101
This will be an introductory hands-on class aimed at beginners. Come learn the basics of naalbinding, (sometimes called single-needle knitting) a textile craft used in medieval times. We will cover a basic naalbinding stitch you could use to make a hat, socks or mittens. Some wool yarn and a wooden naalbinding needle will be provided, but feel free to bring your own wool yarn and needle if you have either.
Class is limited to 8 people.   
Speaker: Mark Patchett

Natural Dyeing
A study of hedge row colours in Ontario, how they might pertain to early saxon/viking dye colours and the practical applications of dyeing techniques to get a rainbow of naturally dyed colours. Madder reds/oranges, indigo and woad blues, both chemically and naturally produced, yellows and colours in between will be included.

Pewter Casting for Beginners (2 hours)
This is a practical class. Walk in with an idea, walk out with a pendant of your own construction and a mould to make hundreds more. Basic construction techniques will be taught for carving and casting two part soapstone moulds. Fee covers soapstone and pewter needed to make a pendant.
Class is limited to 10 people.   There is a materials fee of $4 for this class.
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

Practical Steam Engineering
How to drive a steam loco in 287 easy steps; including several reasons why the inspirator doesn't suck, when it's ok to run over what, and why dead center is anything but exact.
Speaker: V.M. Roberts

Project planning for restoration and reconstruction
The main difference between high-quality reconstructions or restorations and "that thing I did for fun on the weekend" is planning and intentionality. Many re-enactors are in the habit of working to static "authenticity guidelines," which systematically obstruct cutting-edge work, and become easily dated or distorted by logistical or political concerns. Craftsmen are often nervous about formal planning because it seems like extra work, or they are concerned the formality will interfere in their working processes or limit their options -- but then find themselves shy or nervous about explaining some of their choices. Good project planning provides a flexible, meaningful solution to these problems, and makes a noticeable improvement in the finished work. A plan is a way to directly address questions such as "what is authentic," "what if I can't do X," and "how do I balance competing interests" in a methodical and genuinely useful manner. It also allows bigger, crazier projects to get off the ground and actually fly. Using examples from the Viking and Industrial ages, we'll look at how planning helps, what makes a good plan better, and how to handle the things that tend to make people nervous.
Speaker: V.M. Roberts

Recreating Medieval Theatre
This panel discusses the 2016 production of Everyman at Laurier (March 29, the Turret, 3 PM, admission free) and the processes that go into recreating a medieval play. The panel will consist of several members of the cast and crew, who will discuss their unique perspectives and experiences.
Speaker: Dylan McCorquodale

Return of the King; Richard's Re-interment
During the last week of March 2015 the mortal remains of the last warrior king to die in battle were re-interned in Leicester England not far from where he had been found famously now beneath a car park in 2012. This is a first hand look back at the extraordinary events of that week.
Speaker: Catherine Ollerhead DeSantis

Sewage-Disposal Practices in Victorian London
One of the most elaborate examples of Victorian engineering is the London Sewer System. An internet image search on 'Victorian sewage pumping station' will show 'Steampunk' looking structures that put the fantasies of Verne and Wells to shame. In this talk, I will survey the work of Dr. John Snow, who identified contaminated water as the case of the cholera epidemic, Joseph Bazalgette, who convinced British Parliament that a sewer system was needed, and Thomas Crapper, who got very wealthy marketing indoor bathroom fixtures, which were quite radical at the time.
Speaker: Fred Blonder

Significant or Insignificant? The Impact of Disasters in the Archaeological Record
Archaeological sites that suffered destruction by some type of disaster are among the most fascinating elements of history to study. Perhaps the most famous example of this phenomenon is Pompeii, an entire Roman city preserved beneath the ash of a massive volcanic eruption. For all of the analysis that is brought to bear for disaster sites, one question is often ignored, however. Were these events significant? This may seem odd to ask given that many of these sites suffered widespread destruction, but interpretation by archaeologists and historians has often bordered on sensationalism. Critiquing the impact of ancient disasters provides a means of refocusing the discussion. Instead of collapse, we can emphasize resilience. Instead of destruction, we can emphasize preservation. In this talk, we will explore the idea of significant versus insignificant by examining a number of sites affected by disaster across a wide geographical and chronological range.
Speaker: Dr. Scott Gallimore

Sorcerers, pornocrats, and zombie popes: the feudal church in crisis
In the declining days of the Carolingian empire, the papacy went through what could charitably be described as a 'difficult period'. Visit a world of miraculous corpses, vampire queens, and teenage hellions masquerading as the bishop of Rome.
Speaker: Alicia McKenzie

Textile Processes in the Viking Age
A discussion of how the Viking Era Norse made fabrics, from sheering sheep and harvesting flax to woven cloth to embroidered trim.
Speaker: Karen Peterson

The Battle of Maldon; Reality at Four Removes (2 hours)
In 1991 the Longship Company and Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia made an 18 minute educational film about the Battle of Maldon, doing some of the initial filming on the 1000th anniversary of the original battle. Bruce Blackistone hatched the plot and served as the de facto producer, and David Tristan was the director, chief cameraman, and expert at all things cinematic. The result was shown a couple of times on the History Channel, and clips are still in use. This session will view the film, then discuss the reality behind the modern cinematic confection- the reality of the battle, the conversion of an actual incident into the heroic Anglo-Saxon poem, the accretion of both archeological evidence and popular culture around the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, and then the interpretation of the whole steaming mess by 20th century reenactors with limited budgets.
Speakers: Bruce Blackistone, David Tristan

The Death and Resurrection of the Medieval Theatre
This lecture explores the decline of the Christian theatrical tradition of the Late Middle Ages and rise of the secular theatre in England during the Reformation. It will also discuss the recreation of medieval theatre in the modern age, examining various attempts to recreate medieval productions for a modern audience.
Speaker: Dylan McCorquodale

The Kalevala: Stories from the Northlands
The Kalevala is the epic poem that defined the Finnish identity. This class will share some of these stories and compare them with those of their Norse neighbours.
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

The Toronto, Grey and Bruce Narrow Gauge Railway, 1873-1883
For ten years, the TG&B railway carried traffic on a 3 1/2' road before history demanded standard gauge. From double-ended wood burning steam locomotives to butter destined for Liverpool, the railway provides a tidy little lens on what early railways really meant to Canadians, and it goes way beyond "wooing BC."
Speaker: V.M. Roberts

Viking Wire Weaving (2 hours)
Formally called trichinopoly, learn to weave wire into interesting chains and see a //little magic. All tools will be provided for the day. Materials charge is for wire.
Class is limited to 10 people.   There is a materials fee of $2 for this class.
Speaker: Andrea Austin

Contact us if you have any questions or suggestions