Books, Places, TV and Movies

The history of fictional worlds

I was about 13 years old the first time I read the Lord of the Rings books. I was captivated by the story, but more than that, I was captivated by the fictional world it occupied. And when I discovered the Silmarillion – packed with the world’s history and lore – I was hopelessly hooked.

I’ve written before about the finality of history, how it can be comforting to study something you cannot influence at all. But I also find the history and lore of fictional worlds just as comforting – maybe even more so, as our own world is well out of it, not affected. Almost like a video game, it’s an immersive experience that’s almost consequence-free.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying YouTube videos created by people analyzing book and video game histories, answering questions and searching the source material for answers. Here are some examples.

VaatiVidya sharing some beautifully-presented Bloodborne video game lore:
Rawrist exploring Game of Thrones history (*Spoilers*):
Game of Thrones again; this time Preston Jacobs using history to examine book theories. (*Spoilers*):

I’m a writer, but I’m not a world-building sort of writer. Maybe I’m fascinated by fictional histories for this reason. Maybe I’m drawn to the sort of concentration and focus that’s necessary to be a world-builder. I know I don’t feel like I have those skills in abundance most of the time.

Also, there’s this idea that the manmade is somehow inferior to the organic, too perfect, too considered. But one thing I love about the history and lore of fictional worlds is that it’s often imperfect. In these videos, sometimes there are unanswered questions or loose ends, theories that may only lead to other theories. I like that too. It’s somehow satisfying to know that a history created by people potentially with charts and lists and beta readers at their disposal can be as messy and open to chance as real history.

19th Century and Onwards, Places

Old Oakville post office and Thomas House

I just wanted to write a quick post to share two more Old Oakville buildings – this time, a couple of places that are slightly outside my usual circuit when I visit the area.

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The first is the old Oakville post office, a wooden building built in 1835. In the 1950s, it was moved from its original location to Lakeside Park, overlooking Lake Ontario, and restored. It’s a museum now, but according to Canada’s Historic Places, it also served as a “blacksmith shop and stable, as well as a welding business and tannery storehouse.”

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Just next door is Thomas House, built for the family of Merrick Thomas. It was also moved to Lakeside Park in the ’50s. Thomas was the brother-in-law of Oakville’s founder, and a developer of the early village of Oakville. Today, the house is also a museum.

I hope to visit them both this summer!

19th Century and Onwards, Places

A visit to Fort George

A few weeks ago, I visited Fort George during a day in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant to go – apparently I’m still a little wary of forts since a class trip to Fort York in grade eight. Teenage ennui and military re-enactments do not go hand-in-hand!

However, I took to Fort George better than I did Fort York! My War of 1812 knowledge has, sadly, gotten rusty from lack of use over the years, so I was very interested to read about this particular fort’s role in the war, and in the period surrounding it.

For instance, I didn’t know that it had actually been captured by American forces in 1813. By 1815, the Americans were out, but the fort was ordered to be abandoned. According to one informational plaque, “The present works are a reconstruction done in 1937-40, and represent the fort as it was in 1799-1813.”

The only original building is the stone powder magazine (not pictured).

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The officers’ quarters and mess.

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The blockhouse.

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The other fort mentioned above is Fort Niagara, in New York on the American side of the Niagara River. The proximity must have made an already-tense situation worse!

The fort did a good job of mixing educational things to read with more visual displays. Some of my favourites:

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On the left: Officer’s coat, 49th Regiment of Foot, British Army.On the right: Officer’s coat, New York State Militia.

I couldn’t helped but be a bit amused by the inverted colours of these coats, worn by enemies of each other. It’s almost like a comic book. “It’s me, your evil counterpart! You can tell because I’m wearing the same colours as you, but the opposite way.

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The soldier’s barracks, where students can actually sleep during the fort’s Overnight Program. In this program, students also get their own red officer coats, perform some 1812 soldier’s duties, and attend workshops. Maybe I would have liked that better than what we did in Fort York!

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I can’t resist historical food. Potted ruff! Or maybe “potted russ”? I don’t want to know what that is; it sounds bizarre and fantastic.

And of course, the highlight of the day, the musket demonstration (pardon the vertical orientation):

Military history still really isn’t my cup of tea, but all in all it was an enjoyable visit!