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Toronto, Ontario, Canada


QUEEN CHARLOTTE'S BIRTHDAY BALL:

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The annual symposium on Entertaining in the Canadas in the 18th & 19th centuries

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Reference and Resources «

        • About Her Majesty, Queen Charlotte
        • Some Dances we have done
        • Various interesting and informative Links for your perusal concerning the History, Food, Clothing and Dance of the Georgian and Regency periods.
        • The People behind Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball
        • Wonderful things we have eaten and drunk

 


Queen Charlotte (1744 - 1818) Sophie Charlotte, Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and Queen and Consort of George III, King of Great Britain and Ireland, and Hanover from 1761 until his death in 1820. Her Majesty seems to have been a remarkable woman by all accounts. She was a devoted wife and mother. She bore King George 15 princes and princesses and stood by him with dignity and strength through the illness that lead him into madness in 1788 and eventually killed him. She was a patroness of art, music and literature and a friend to the poor and needy. Her own accomplishments included playing the harpsichord -- Johann Christian Bach was her friend and teacher -- as well as needlework and botany. The famous Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew flourished under her personal support. Her letters show her to be an intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful woman and a true and loyal friend, a splendid example of a lady of character. For an excellent introduction to Queen Charlotte's life and works, see Angelika S. Powell and Jean L. Cooper's Queen Charlotte, 1744-1818: A Bilingual Exhibit

Some dances we have done:

 


 

  • Carey Owen
  • Butter'd Pease
  • Tars of the Victory
  • Jupon Rouge
  • Voulez Vous Dancer
  • Irish Washerwoman
  • Bobbing Joan (or Love and Whiskey)
  • College Hornpipe
  • Drops of Brandy
  • Roger D'Coverley or The Finishing Dance

(I will be posting descriptions and instructions for these dances soon)

Divers Links of interest and usefulness to the aspiring Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball-goer:

  • Jessica Warner, author of Craze. Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason -- Dr. Warner is Professor of History at the University of Toronto and also a reesearch scientist at the Cantre for Addiction and Mental Health. She describes her book as "a parable about drugs, why some people take them and other people worry when they do." Her account of the original urban drug problem and officialdom's attempts to eradicate it make for interesting and thought-provoking reading. By the way, her website is called www.mothergin.com.
  • Need a costume in a hurry? Malabar's Costume Rental in downtown Toronto has a large stock of excellent quality period garments for men and women. They're not cheap but the quality is very good, and staff is knowledgable and helpful. Look on the racks marked "Empire". Expect to pay $100 or more, but you'll get a beautifully-constructed theatrical quality costume with all the right accessories and if you give them a couple days notice they will alter it to fit you perfectly. Tell them you're going to Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball!!
  • Prints George, an extensive collection of Georgian, Regency and Victorian prints & map reproductions &ct., many available on CD ROM. Excellent source for period fashion engravings, hairstyles, recipes, beauty tips and cartoons scanned from period sources such as Ackermann's Repository, La Belle Assemblée, The Lady's Magazine, and The Lady's Monthly Museum. Caution: The warning reads, "This site is best viewed with tongue in cheek"
  • Eras of Elegance -- These people offer a wealth of information about the Georgian and Regency and other periods. Their pages include history, fashions, scientific discoveries and other highlights of each era. They also sell period-related books, movies and accessories.
  • Antique and Vintage Dress Gallery -- OK, this is the *real* thing. If you are interested in gowns this lady has some beauties, they're 200 years old and in the $1,000 to $2,000 USD bracket. Big problem (besides the $) is that these dresses are *tiny* -- but visit her site frequently and scoop all the pretty photos, then make one in your size. Last time I looked she had a pair of 1830's silk slipper/boots, made in Paris, asking a mere $385 USD, size 2 1/2. Sigh.
  • Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion is an excellent resource for Regency apparel and fashion. Very knowlegeable and comprehensive. Large sections for gentlemen's fashion, footwear, hairstyles and undergarments.
  • English Country Dancing in Toronto -- our good neighbours up the road, tell 'em we sent you.
  • Contra-dance etiquette -- "The Top Ten (plus) Things That Make a Good (Contra) Dancer" -- pointers on sense and sensitivity from Jonathan Sivier's website.
  • Elegant Arts Society -- dedicated to the preserving, teaching and dancing historic dances. Based in New York City, New Haven, CT and frequently appearing, oddly enough, at science fiction conventions. Well, maybe not so odd... what would be danced on Darkover or Pern?
  • Jenny Chancey of Sense and Sensibility Patterns has designed gowns in the Regency style and (oh joy!) has made modern-style paper patterns for people who'd like to make their own gowns and Butterick just doesn't get the look right.


The People behind Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball


Those of us who have enjoyed the Queen Charlotte's Birthday Balls over the past five years know that the Moving Forces behind this event are the staff and volunteers of Historic Fort York in Toronto, the Friends of Fort York and the York Regency Dancers who are based there. We are especially grateful to:

        • Melanie Garrison, Historic Fort York's secretary and mainstay of the Fort York Regency Dancers, who is our Dancing Mistress for the dance workshops and the Ball. She won't admit it, but we suspect this whole Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball thing is her idea.
        • Ken Purvis, program officer at Historic Fort York, who organizes all the music, much of which he has transcribed from original manuscripts. Ken plays flute for the dance workshops and leads the musicians for the Ball, the Rakes of Hogtown (2002 and 2003) and Captain Ken and the cHarlottes (2004). He is also a member of the period band Gin Lane.
        • Bridget Wranich, program officer at Historic Fort York and co-founder of Culinary Historians of Ontario, who organizes the very authentic, extremely tasty and, I must add, plentiful food and drink.
        • The Fort York Volunteer Cooks division of the Friends of Fort York who make us wonderful and authentic snacks and desserts and rarely hang around to get the thanks they deserve. By the way, guys, congratulations on your newly restored brick bake oven!

Wonderful things we have eaten and drunk:

  • Mulligatawny Soup (2003 and 2004 versions)
  • Kit-Kat Pie (2004)
  • Potato and Onion Pie (2003 and 2004)
  • Grilled Sausages with Cheese (2004)
  • Braised Red Cabbage
  • Grilled Root Vegetables
  • Queen's Cakes
  • Apple Charlotte (2004)
  • Pears Poached in Port (2002)
  • Everlasting Syllabubs (2004)

Recipes here.

Not only the recipes but the menus are based on period sources. The original recipes have been adapted for modern cooks and kitchens by Bridget Wranich, program officer at Historic Fort York and are reproduced with permission. For more recipes and information on period cooking at Fort York contact her at (416) 392-6907, ext 225.


The break-time snack table at the 2004 dance workshop, many thanks to Fort York's Volunteer Historic Cooks.


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