As you drive down the tree lined Crescent Road, you might miss the turn to one of Surrey’s most picturesque locations. Tucked away in Elgin Heritage Park sits the Historic Stewart Farm. Visiting the farm is like stepping back into time as you are greeted by the costumed staff, and experience the rural setting in which the farm is situated in.
Upon arriving at the site, you will immediately notice the Farmhouse, with its blue sidings, red trimmings, and large wrap-around porch – a true testament to the Victorian architecture that was prevalent in the late 19th century. The Farmhouse is open to the public, and one can tour the building that the Stewart family once called home in the years 1894 – 1940. The home’s furnishings are typical of the Victorian Era, and are either donated antiques, or purchased reproductions. I recommend taking a guided tour of the building, as the staff will be able to point out which items were originally owned by the Surrey pioneer family, and answer any questions you may have, like “Why are the chairs and tables in the Parlour room so low!?” (It’s because Queen Victoria was 4’9″ and deemed dangling feet while sitting to be un-ladylike. To resolve this predicament, she had all of her furniture lowered closer to the ground. Seeing as the Queen was a celebrity of her time, people followed suit, and lowered furniture thus became uber trendy.)
Outside of the farmhouse, one can take a walk through the orchard and examine the 30 different apple varieties or stroll through the garden, and view the beautiful array of flowers during the months of May through September. In addition to the flower garden, the farm also grows its own heirloom varieties of produce. There are also outbuildings on the grounds such as the Pole Barn, Wood Shed, Root Cellar, and Threshing Shed. Once your feet begin to get tired, you can take a seat on one of the benches and watch as the Nicomeckle River cuts through the vast landscape.
The Historic Stewart Farm is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday – Sunday from 12 pm – 4 pm. The farm is closed on Mondays, Canada Day, and Remembrance Day. Although everyday at the farm is a wonderful opportunity to marvel at the peaceful scenery, there are special events that are held throughout the year so you can further immerse yourself in Pioneer culture such as the Royal Victorian Party, Father’s Day Open House, Pioneer Fair, Amazing Farm Scavenger Hunt, Olde Harvest Fair, and Christmas Open House. Admission to these events is free, and is a great way to have fun with family and friends, while learning a little bit about Surrey’s heritage.
The Farm also offers public programs, which are catered to specific age groups. Children can participate in summer camps for a fee, such as Farmhand Fever where they can experience what it was like to be a kid in the 1900s. There are also programs for adults like Afternoon Tea, and Pioneer Kitchen which is like a cooking class, but with a Pioneer twist.
Today, I had the opportunity to participate in a Pioneer Kitchen class held in the Farmhouse’s kitchen where we made homemade ice cream. We were lead through demos on how to prepare 3 different types of ice cream – Philadelphia Style Chocolate Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style Vanilla Ice Cream, and French Style Lemon Raspberry Ice Cream. They allowed us to help prepare the ice cream by measuring the ingredients, mixing the custard, and churning the ice cream (I definitely got my arm workout today). After all our handwork hand churning the ice cream, we sat outside on the veranda and sampled our delicious ice cream with homemade oatcakes, and tea. Check out my video below to see my Pioneer Kitchen experience!
I had such a great experience during Pioneer Kitchen that I would definitely participate in another class. Pioneer kitchen programs are held throughout the year, and are different each time. They have previously made apple pies, jams, and breads. I’m not much of a cook, but the staff were all very kind and offered knowledge as to how the pioneers would have prepared their own food.
Exact dates/times for programs and events can be found on their website (http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/4835.aspx). Spots for their various programs fill up quickly so be sure to register online or call ahead to avoid disappointment.
The Historic Stewart Farm, is a hidden gem that every tourist in Surrey must visit. Whether you’re a history buff, an avid tea drinker, or an aspiring chef there is definitely something for everyone of all ages and interests to see and do.
-Miss Teenage Surrey 2016