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Pioneer villages

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Pioneer villages, open-air and living history museums are a travel topic.
Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada

A pioneer village is a form of living museum in which a village-size group of historic buildings is restored to their use in an earlier time period, typically with museum guide staff in period costume carrying out the tasks of tradespeople of that era with traditional methods and tools, including or similar to historical re-enactment. The target eras for such historic reconstruction vary, with the "pioneer era" (widespread global colonisation by Europeans in the 1600s and 1700s, ending with adoption of steam power in the Victorian 1800s) among the most popular. Native or Viking settlements are also occasional targets for reconstruction, as a village may represent any era before the adoption of 20th century automation, industrialisation and mechanisation.

Although the term "pioneer village" is colonial in origins and context, comparable attractions also exist in Europe, the UK and other locations, as "living history museums" or "open-air museums". These terms do not have quite the same meaning but, given the substantial overlap, feature here.

Often, the village (or at the very least a distinct group of buildings) in such museums is assembled from authentic local historic buildings which are relocated to a common site as a means of historic preservation; this may preserve structures which otherwise would be lost due to urban development or destroyed by flooding after construction of a hydroelectric dam.

A living museum may not recreate an entire village or settlement; in some cases, just one or a handful of buildings (anything from an individual mill or blacksmith shop to a historic fortress) are restored to operation. Confusingly, the term "living museum" also is often applied to nature museums or protected areas, which are not the same concept.

By its nature, this is not a comprehensive list.


Main Street of Sovereign Hill (Victoria)
  • Pioneer Village Museum, Burnie (Tasmania), covers local economic boom period from 1890-1910.
  • Sovereign Hill in Golden Point (a suburb of Ballarat, Victoria), 1851 gold rush town with sixty historically recreated buildings, costumed staff and volunteers
  • Timbertown Pioneer Village, Wauchope (New South Wales), on Oxley Highway, very good old timber town of the 1880s set on 87 acres (35 hectares).


Sherbrooke Village, Nova Scotia
  • Bar U Ranch near Longview (Alberta), ranging life during the time period 1882-1950
  • Batoche (near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan), Métis settlement and site of the defeat of Louis Riel in 1885.
  • Black Creek Pioneer Village, North York (Ontario)
  • Doon Heritage Village, Kitchener (Ontario), 22 buildings recreate life in rural Waterloo County in 1914.
  • Fanshawe Pioneer Village, London (Ontario)
  • Fortress of Louisbourg (Nova Scotia). Village-sized historic French military settlement, destroyed after English conquest and later reconstructed.
  • Heritage Park Historical Village, Calgary (Alberta).
  • Kawartha Settlers Village, in Bobcaygeon (Ontario).
  • Kings Landing Historical Settlement, near Fredericton (New Brunswick), United Empire Loyalist village.
  • Lang Pioneer Village Museum, near Peterborough (Ontario)
  • L'Anse aux Meadows, on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula, partial reconstruction of small Viking settlement.
  • Pickering Museum Village, Greenwood, near Pickering (Ontario), depicts live pioneers in 18 heritage buildings.
  • Pioneer Village Museum, in Beausejour (Manitoba)
  • Sherbrooke Village, open-air museum in Sherbrooke (Nova Scotia)
  • Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, near Midland (Ontario), reconstructed Jesuit mission settlement.
  • Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village (Село спадщини української культури), near Elk Island National Park (Alberta), shows the lives of Ukrainian Canadian settlers from 1899 to 1930.
  • Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg (Ontario), depicts Lost Villages from St. Lawrence Seaway (1958) flooding.
  • Village Historique Acadien, Rivière-du-Nord near Caraquet (New Brunswick), depicts an Acadian community between 1770 and 1939.
  • Village Québécois d'Antan, Drummondville (Québec)
  • Walter Wright Pioneer Village, Dawson Creek (British Columbia), depicts Dawson Creek before the Alaska Highway.


  • Boso No Mura (房総の村), reproduction of a samurai-era Japanese town street, Narita
  • Hokkaido Pioneer Village, on the outskirts of Sapporo


  • Sarawak Cultural Village, reconstructed native settlements, Sarawak


Line of Staatse (Dutch) troops firing at the Spanish enemy at the 2008 reenactment of the Siege of Grolle.
  • Bourtange, a town, built entirely inside of a 16th-century pentagonal fort, which was fully restored in the 1960s to its state in the 1740s.
  • Nederlands Openluchtmuseum, a 44 hectare-large museum in Arnhem that sets out to document the Netherlands' history.
  • Groenlo holds a bi-annual reenactment of the 1627 Siege of Grolle (Groenlo).

New Zealand[edit]

South Africa[edit]

South Korea[edit]

  • Seonbichon Village (선비촌), Yeongju, living museum depicting traditional Seonbi life.



See also: Vikings and the Old Norse
  • Foteviken Viking Museum, in Höllviken in Vellinge municipality near Malmö


  • Open-Air Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life (Музей народної архітектури та побуту - Muzey narodnoyi arkhitektury ta pobutu), Krasnoznamennaya street, 1, Pyrohiv, near Kiev. Nineteenth-century Ukrainian life is depicted in six restored rural villages with old huts, wooden mills and churches from all over Ukraine. Description is primarily Ukrainian-language, although some guided tours in other languages are available.

United Kingdom[edit]

Wax candles are home-made at Ulster American Folk Park
  • Beamish, County Durham. One of the best known 'recreation' of a "northern" village in England
  • Black Country Living Museum, Dudley (England), twenty-six acre outdoor recreation of the local area, including a coal mine, canal port and rebuilt houses.
  • Cosmeston Medieval Village, near Lavernock in the Vale of Glamorgan (Wales). Re-creation of 14th century peasant life in the Late Middle Ages, groups of reenactors camp in tents around the village outskirts and perform historical combat displays.
  • Living History Village of Little Woodham, seventeenth century village on ancient woodland in Rowner (on the Gosport peninsula, Hampshire). Gosport Living History Society villagers dress in costume to talk about Charles I, the impending war between the King and Parliament, their village life and day-to-day existence as if it were the summer of 1642.
  • Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, County Tyrone (near Omagh, Northern Ireland). Historical lifestyle and experiences of immigrants who sailed from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. 30 buildings, agricultural displays and animals, samples of local foods such as smoked salmon and bread, volunteers in period costume demonstrate bread making, cooking, arts and crafts, embroidery, spinning and printing.
  • Blists Hill, Iornbridge, reconstruction of a partial 19th-century town complete with some shops, a bank and other buildings.
  • 1 Skye Musuem of Rural Life, Kilmuir, By Portree, Isle of Skye, IV51 9UE, +44 1470 552 206, e-mail: . A semi-recreation of a pre-modern Highland village, consisting of single storey cottages and crofts.. £3. Skye Museum of Island Life on Wikipedia Skye Museum of Island Life (Q2414262) on Wikidata

United States of America[edit]

See also: Early United States history, Old West
Covered bridge at Old Sturbridge, Massachusetts
  • Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village, Waynesville (Ohio), 19 original Quaker buildings from the 1700s and early 1800s.
  • Cass County Pioneer Village, Ayr (near Fargo, North Dakota), old barber shop, school, ice cream parlor, bank, gas station, depot and cook shack.
  • Colonial Williamsburg, historic area re-creates 18th-century Williamsburg (Virginia) before and during the American Revolution.
  • Divide County Museum and Pioneer Village, Crosby (North Dakota), 25 pioneer buildings including a bank, printing press, general store and dwelling shacks.
  • Harold Warp Pioneer Village, Minden (Nebraska)
  • Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, Mitchell (South Dakota), an archeological site with reconstructed native lodge.
  • Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge (Massachusetts) re-creates life in rural New England during the 1830s.
  • Pioneer Village, Salem (Massachusetts), 3 acres (1.2 hectares) re-creation of a Puritan village.
  • Prairie Village, Madison (South Dakota)

See also[edit]

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List of open-air and living museums