Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy.
August 2013 - Hamilton On
My BFF and I went on a day trip to Dundurn Castle.
There were 12 servants for the six family members who lived in the house. if you were under twelve years old you were not allowed int he downstairs rooms or on this staircase.
Today, Dundurn Castle has been restored to the year 1855 when MacNab was at the height of his career as a lawyer, landowner, railway magnate and Premier of the United Canadas (1854-56). Over forty rooms, above and below stairs, have been furnished to compare the life of a prominent Victorian family with that of their servants. Costumed staff guide visitors through the home, illustrating daily life from the 1850s.
Much of the information used to restore the house was learned from Sophia's diary.
The girls' rooms - where Sophia described life as "boring". Young Sophia: the Dundurn Castle Diary is a play inspired by the diary of Sophia MacNab, written in 1846 when she was 13 years old and living in the Dundurn mansion with her younger sister Mary (Minnie), her older step-sister Anne Jane, her father Sir Allan Napier MacNab, her bed-ridden mother Mary and many relatives and servants. All events are based in fact with some fictional extrapolations.
For a servant girl fresh off the boat from Ireland this was a great place of employment, offering good working conditions such as heat, running water and good food.
Dundurn Castle was the first home in the province to have gas lighting and running water. The water was pumped through the house by a young boy who earned $2.00 per month for his service. The scullery maid was a young girl of 9 or 10. She washed the dishes from the entire household’s seven meals each day. Her wage — $1.30 per month.
Refined sugar was delivered in a solid, paper-wrapped cone. It was shaved or chipped off when needed. The cost of a cone of sugar - $75.00. The cost of a new home - $100.00. I posted a photo of a sugar cone taken at Campbell House in Toronto a couple of weeks ago.
Sir Allan MacNab was known for treating his servants too well.
This is the servants' dining room, they ate very well and were probably healthier than their employers who ate many courses of fatty food and didn't get any exercise.
The cook demonstrates the bells, each of which has a distinctive sound. A servant had to memorize the sound associated to a room in order to respond immediately to a summons.