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Meet Me at the Tavern

Gallery 2: Colonial Canada ⟶ English Canada ⟶ Building and Linking Communities

Villages, towns and cities linked rural Upper Canadians with the outside world in the first half of the 1800s. They were economic, social and political centres.

Settlers in Upper Canada belonged to colonial, continental and global networks. They farmed for export, consumed imports, borrowed money, and corresponded with faraway friends and family members.

Connected by an ever-expanding road and canal network, their villages, towns and cities offered the markets, shops, banks and post offices that made these transactions possible. They also boasted taverns, fraternal lodges and other social venues.

Taverns were popular gathering places across British North America. Signs and carved statues, like this one of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, welcomed thirsty patrons. Serving all classes, taverns varied considerably in furnishing. Some boasted silver candlesticks and fine china. The interior of the rural tavern pictured above was more modest.

Men and women frequented taverns for entertainment and to socialize. Taverns also became centres of political discussion and organization.


Photo at top of page:
Spectacle in a Tavern in Mosa
William Elliot, 1845
Western University Archives, A09-093-001