It’s never too hot for tea. If you’re an honest to goodness tea drinker, you know this to be true. On a spectacular summers day, even as temperatures climbed into the 30 degree celcius mark, it was still a perfect day for the lovely tradition of afternoon tea.
Built in 1897, The Superintendent’s Residence, Sault Ste. Marie Canal, Parks Canada National Historic site provided the venue for folks who had a ticket to the sold out event. “This is the 2nd of 4 Afternoon Tea events” shared Riley Jo Hodgson, Heritage Presenter at The Canal District site. “Tickets for the teas sell out pretty fast. The tickets go on sale in early June every year. The two scheduled in August are already sold out.”
As patrons began arriving, Connie Irwin was tuning her violin, ready to offer a light musical backdrop to the afternoon affair. The Canal site Heritage presenters were busy in the kitchen plating tea sandwiches and goodies, steeping and pouring the elixir known as tea.
Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o’clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon. Later friends were invited to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey and this summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walking the fields.”
In the United Kingdom there is a whole week devoted to Afternoon Tea. August 10-16th, 2015 is the 4th Annual Afternoon Tea Week. Pinky finger up.
C.S. Lewis, scholar and author of ‘The Narnia Chronicles’ was quoted as saying “You cannot get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
Fun Fact. ‘Tea is a drink that is produced from the combination of cured leaves of the Camellia Sinensis (tea) plant. Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, after water. The Camellia Sinensis plant thrives growing in tropical and sub-tropical climates, hence its origins on the continents of Asia and Africa. There are (at least) four different types of tea: white tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea. The type of tea depends on the type of tea processing it undergoes. Tea leaves are prone to wilt and therefore oxidise, if they are not dried quickly. As the chlorophyll breaks down, the tea leaves darken and release tannins; this process is called fermentation in the tea industry.’
Riley Jo Hodgson, Heritage Presenter, encouraged individuals and families to “Come out to the Canal District and Locks. This summer we are offering free air-brush tattoos to people that come down to the Locks area. These tattoos are non-permanent and last for a couple of weeks.” That’s pretty cool. Heritage Presenters are available throughout the summer, and ready to share history and culture, unique to this important junction in the history of Canada.
‘The heritage buildings on North St. Marys Island are an important aspect of the canal’s distinct character and history. The Administration Building, Superintendent’s Residence, Canalmen’s Shelter, Powerhouse, and Stores/Blacksmith Shop were constructed of red sandstone and trimmed with limestone. The red sandstone was excavated from the canal during construction and the limestone was shipped in from southern Ontario and Manitoulin Island. These buildings are beautiful examples of Canadian architectural heritage of the late 1800s.’ http://www.pc.gc.ca