|A tradesman and his family lived in a space|
much like this in Fort Edmonton in 1846
What always strikes me when visiting the fort is how simple and uncluttered everything is. Furniture was built for function more than comfort. Almost everything was made of wood, plant and animal fibres of some kind -- totally biodegradable materials. Beds and doorways were short because people who sometimes went hungry didn't grow so tall. Gardens were necessary, hunting essential, and the spring supply boats were anticipated more than Christmas.
I wouldn't want to live the way they did. I like my comforts, but the spareness of those homes helps me realise that I would probably be just as happy without so many books on my desk and pictures on my walls. I wouldn't want to live without a refrigerator or hot water tank, but there are many other things in my home that are unnecessary. In the mid 1800s, no one needed exercise machines. Or patio furniture. Or tablet computers. Or clock radios. They worked hard, played hard, entertained each other and slept from dark til dawn.
Going back in time offers us the opportunity to think about the craziness of consumer culture and the hectic lifestyle it seems to engender. If you have a museum or historical place in your neighbourhood, why not pay a visit for a reminder that life can be lived more simply?
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