Toronto, Ontario, Canada

» January 26, 2002 «
First annual symposium on Entertaining in the Canadas in the 18th & 19th centuries
» «

A day-long celebration of music, food and dance held on January 26, 2002 beginning with a symposium focusing on entertaining in the Georgian Era and culminating in a lavish period banquet and ball in costume
at Historic Fort York in Toronto

The 2002 Participants:

  • Tina Bates, Curator for Ontario History, Canadian Museum of Civilization, "Real Men Waltz: Dance and Deportment from the Minuet to the Polka."
  • Peter and Miyoko Twist, "Costumes of the Canadas in the 18th & 19th centuries.
  • Melanie Garrison, co-ordinator of the Volunteer Historic Dance programme at Fort York will lead the dance workshops.
  • Ken Purvis, senior military interpreter at Fort York and member of Marlarky and its new incarnation, Gin Lane, will lead musicians playing authentic period instruments.

The Schedule, January 26, 2002:

12:00 - 1:00 pm Registration and Absolute Beginners Workshop
(if you have never done English Country Dancing before it is strongly recommended that you participate in this workshop)
1:00 - 1:45 pm Presentation: Tina Bates - Real Men Waltz
1:45 - 2:30 pm Presentation: Peter and Miyoko Twist - Costumes
2:30 - 2:45 pm Break with Refreshments
2:45 - 4:45 pm English Country Dance Workshop
4:45 - 6:00 pm Break - Lounge area available for informal discussion
6:00 - 6:30 pm Cash Bar
6:30 - 7:30 pm Supper "A Profusion of Every Delicacy"
7:30 - 10:30 pm "An Elegant Ball" - period costumes encouraged

The Banquet: "A Profusion of Every Delicacy": Presented by Jessup Food & Heritage. "A profusion of every delicacy" was the term used to describe the midnight supper served at one Queen's Birthday ball in York (Toronto) in January of 1817. In re-creating the supper for Queen Charlotte's Ball, the organizers have specifically chosen foods, their methods of preparation and the manner in which they are served, to reflect the Georgian culinary style. Vegetarian selections will be made available to those who request it on their registration forms. In preparing this menu account was taken of the extent of the British empire at the time -- the sun really didn't set on it -- as well as the season. Expect humble parsnips, potatoes, onions and rutabagas from local larders cheek by jowl with the products of the more exotic colonies -- curries, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, dates and almonds from the furthest reaches of the empire. Pears poached in port, anyone?

An Elegant Ball: The dances in the workshop and at the ball are taken from original dance manuals of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Some are the actual dances mentioned in diary excerpts and newspaper accounts of balls from the period, e.g. Jupon Rouge and Tars of the Victory.

English Country Dance of the late 18th and early 19th century differs from the modern Cecil Sharp - Playford style of dance frequently practiced today.  Originally, only one couple began the dance, and progressed through the figures until there were two active couples, then three, then four and so on until all the couples are involved.  At Fort York, dances will be danced in smaller sets, in this historic style, and not in "take hands four from the top" style.

This couple were celebrating the lady's own birthday -- they'd wanted to do something special because it was 'one of those ones with a zero at the end' and she'd seen the poster and thought it looked like fun. He admitted that if anyone had told him a month before that he'd be wearing purple velvet knee-breeches he'd have told them they were crazy. Originally they'd planned to wear modern formal dress, but the closer it got the more they figured, why not? So they rented these costumes.

The colour co-ordination was just luck, he told me, "It was the only one left in my size."

The participants ranged in age from teenagers to 60+, just like they did in Jane Austen's day. The appeal of good food, good music and country dancing are ageless.


Bandmaster Ken Purvis strikes up Tars of the Victory. The dancers look to the Dancing Mistress who will call instructions..
As Dancing Mistress Melanie Garrison calls the figures the couples get into the swing.
Ladies cross to the left, gentlemen cross to the right. Corner ladies, greet your new partner, oops, only one corner lady per set!
Dancing is hungry work! A cup of punch and a coffee meringue, perhaps, or a bit of trifle, and.perhaps an opportunity to pursue the acquaintance of that very interesting person who was your partner for the third figure....




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