Time Travel in the 19th Century

Uh, Amy? I honestly don't want to disturb you, but the time has come for you to either time travel to the 21st century or remain in the 19th century.


Yeah, I'm coming there.
Please just give me another minute, okay? 
It's so hard to say goodbye to Charlotte.

And I'm kinda afraid, to be honest with ya.
What if I don't like it in 2017? What if I'm not happy in the 21st century? What if ...

It's time, Amy.  Everything is ready. Just stay right where you are and let me handle everything.


What’s happening?!


 Just a few more seconds, Amy. 

Oh yeah? Then you gotta tell me where I am.
Like, just exactly where am I now?

Oh, uh ... okay, don't panic! I think there's been a slight problem with transmitting you to 2017 ... some kind of power surge of sorts.

Don't worry, Amy. I'll get it all straightened out. Just describe to me what you see around you. 

I'm walking aound a big house. And there's a band playing music in front of it. 
And people are dancing on the grass, like they're celebrating somethin'.

And there's people dressed in army costumes everywhere. Hold on, someone dressed like a sailor is coming over to me.

Uh oh ... oh dear ... I think I've accidentally stuck you into a World War II victory celebration, Amy.

I think I've sent you to the year 1945!

Amy? Amy? Coming up for air any time soon?

Anton Chekhov in the 19th Century

"The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it." - Anton Chekhov

Please talk to me, Amy. I know it's difficult for you to decide whether to live in the 19th century or the 21st century, but the time has come. Are you there, Amy?


Okay then. You have to come out of hiding and let me know if you are staying in 1868, or returning to the 21st century. I can't proceed with writing about you if I don't know what century you've decided on.

The decision is totally yours.

Ya, but basically you gotta help me, right? I mean, how can I choose?
You haven't even let me know what's been happening  in the 21st century, like, for a whole year. 

Well, Amy ... the truth is that I didn't want to sway your decision in any way. 

I can tell you about hurricanes, floods, droughts, bomb threats, racial issues, terrorism, mistrust of governments, genocide, poverty, growing wealth disparities, pollution, unfair treatment of the Indigenous peoples, religious based conflicts, right to choose discord, gender bias ...

Or I can tell you that things may improve in the coming year with uncomfortable effort. I can tell you that people putting aside their differences to work as one might start to happen; that you could be part of the most wonderful time in history when world leaders gather together to bring greater peace to the world and calm to the planet.

can tell you that in the 21st century you will no doubt live into your eighties. In the 19th century, it is possible you will survive into your forties.

I can tell you of the advances in 21st century medicine, where women are making huge strides in the battle against illness and are improving the quality of life to countless patients.

I can tell you that young women in modern Canada are free to make their own choices, to own their own property and vote for their rights.


I hafta think about everything. You gotta give me more time! 

I told ya Charlotte's havin' a baby, right? I mean, sure she's got maids and everything ... and what about Barker? What if I never find a guy as good as him in the 21st century?

But maybe I could make a difference there. Maybe I could change things for the better somehow ...


"The world perishes not from bandits and fires, but from hatred, hostility, and all these petty squabbles."
                                   - Anton Chekhov


Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in Taganrog, Russia in 1860, just eight years before 1868, when you currently exist. He will become a famous short story writer and playwright and through his success, will support his parents and siblings financially.

In the 1880s, Chekhov will practice as a physician, often treating his patients for free. During the same period, will write short fiction such as "The Steppe", which will become a major success, earning the author the Pushkin Prize in 1888. 
He will oversee the completion of three schools to help the local communities. 

Through the 1890s until his death in 1904 at the age of 44, Chekhov will continue to write plays such as "The Seagull" (1895) and "Uncle Vanya" (1897). Short stories will include "The Lady with the Dog" and "Ward No. 6".

In 1901, Anton Chekhov will marry an actress from the Moscow Art Theatre, Olga Knipper.

Their union will provide no children, partly due to the distance between them - Anton will live in Yalta while Olga pursues her acting career in Moscow. They will correspond with one another through letters.

Anton Chekhov will succumb to tuberculosis during a stay at a German health retreat where he seeks treatment; Olga is by his side.

His body will be returned to Moscow for his funeral.

"One must be a god to be able to tell successes from failures without making a mistake."
                                                   -Anton Chekhov     

Robert Frost and the 19th Century

So, Amy, you've been in the 19th century for a year now. And I think that's enough time for you to have figured out where you want to live: The 19th century, or the 21st century. Please don't leave the decision up to me. It might not be the one you prefer.

Ya, right. Like it's an easy decision. 

It's like, there's a ton of stuff I love about this place. And there's Charlotte and even her husband George who's kinda quiet, but that's nuthin' really negative.

And then there's Barker to think about. He's my favourite, that's for sure. But he's basically got nothing, and so what kinda life would I have here? 

And Charlotte would be just fine without me. She'll have her new baby, and this mansion to live in ... yeah, she'd be just fine without me.                   Right?

So, it's Barker the brewer you decided on. Finally, you've told me. 

Well, Amy, the reality is that this decision has to be yours.
You have the power to stay right where you are without me nagging anymore, or come back to the 21st century and live your life in modern times, with everything that comes with it,  good or bad.

I can give you only a matter of days to make your final decision. And it's obviously an important one.
It will change the rest of your life.

For now, I leave you with this poem by Robert Frost --

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler,
long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally layIng leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day
! Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost

Although Robert Frost hasn't been born yet in the year 1868, when you currently live, he soon will be - in 1874.

Born in the United States in San Francisco, Frost's poems will use rural backdrops, many of them situated in New England. In his poems he will philosophize on everyday life.

He will become famous, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes in Poetry and forty honorary degrees. In 1960 he will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, an award bestowed by the  United States Congress.

Although not fond of school books in grade school, his attitude will change in high school. He will graduate in 1892 as co-valedictorian and will share this spotlight with his future wife, Elinor Miriam White.

In 1894, he will have his first poem, "My Butterfly: an Elegy" published. He will marry in 1895 and eventually have six children, although two will die shortly after their births.

From 1900 to 1911, Robert Frost's home will be a farm in New Hampshire.
It is here where he will write many of his poems, including Mending  Wall and Tree At My Window.
Realizing he isn't cut out to be a farmer, he will confess in later years that he was simply "too lazy".

In 1928, when Frost is 38 years of age, his first book of poems will be published, entitled,  "A Boy's Will".

Robert (Lee) Frost will die in Boston on January 29, 1963, from complications resulting from prostate surgery.

Writing a 19th Century Character

Oh, there you are, Amy. I figured you must be terribly busy in the 19th century considering I haven't heard anything from you for days. But you're simply sipping tea.

I'm pretty certain that you realize I'm dying to know which guy you've chosen to be with - Barker or Sam - because I've actually TOLD YOU THIS many times!

C'mon ... out with all the details about this new relationship of yours.

The actual truth of the matter is that I lost control of your actions a while back.

You've carved out a life all your own. You've made your own decisions, good or bad. 

You changed Charlotte's life from that of a saddened maid to one of an aristocrat - a place beyond her wildest dreams.

You supported her from heartbreak to marriage, a situation every young woman in the 19th century wishes to achieve. There aren't many other options.


And although I put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keys, it was your road we've followed. 

It is your heart we've listened to. It is your independence that's taken us to situations we weren't expecting to encounter..


So, here's to you, Amy. 

And soon, when I ask you if you still want to return to the 21st century, you can tell me your decision.

A 19th Century Apothecary

Okay, Amy. What's been happening these past few days. I get anxious just thinking about what's going on with you back in the 19th century, where as we all know, you've had a bit of trouble adjusting ... well, at least until recently.


And you still haven't told me which fellow you've decided to end up with - Sam or Barker - you know, the one with the money, or the one who's a simple brewer? Which one, Amy? Neither of them? Both of them???  *shudder*

Yeah, that. I'll get back to ya in a minute 'bout that.
All you gotta do is realize that I'm doin' good.
I can take totally take care of myself.
Isn't that what you wanted when ya stuck me in the 19th century?

For heaven's sake, Amy. Just tell me what's been happening. Why do you have to make this so difficult?

Just give me a sec, will ya? I gotta get away from Charlotte and her crazy brother. He came to the mansion yesterday to make sure Charlotte is doing okay ... now that she's preggers and everything ... but he's, like, totally boring. He just sits there lookin' at her. Bleh!

I told ya that me and Charlotte went into town the other day 'cause she's been craving candy, so  maybe that's what you wanna hear about.

Sooo, turns out she wanted some other stuff too 'cause she hasn't been feeling well, 'cause she's pregnant and everything, so she was lookin' for something called "laudanum" to get from a drugstore kinda place called an apothecary on the main street.


What?? Please tell her not to take this during her pregnancy! Even though Laudanum is a commonly used medication in the 19th century, it's actually derived from opium, alcohol and spices - not something a young woman who is pregnant should be drinking. Tell her! Hopefully she'll believe you. 


The Niagara Apothecary, a pharmacy museum, is located on Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada.

Nearly 100,00 visitors enter beyond the arched glazed double doors every year; a glorious experience of stepping back in time.


First opened in 1820, and operating under six owners across a time span of over 150 years, The Niagara Apothecary is one of the oldest pharmacies in Canada, meticulously restored in 1971 to the 1869 opening of this building. It's a perfect example of attention-to-detail, high-style, mid-Victorian architecture and the talent of wood carvers and craftsmen.

Show globes (vessels containing coloured liquid) are situated in the windows, just as in the past, when they advised those seeking medical assistance that this was the place to come. At night, these globes, normally in colours of red and green, were lit from behind - a welcome symbol of the Apothecary to the sick.


Artifacts such as bottles imported during the first half of the 19th century are striking in one's awareness of their history. The larger of the bottles, each containing oils for instance, are not identical, they were created by glass blowers.

The glazed white container, the "Leech Jar" (far right), is of interest to everyone. 
Attached to the skin, leeches were a common treatment in the 19th century, but also made a comeback in the 1970s as a treatment in microsurgery.

Until 1964, these scales were in use in the Niagara Apothecary, specifically to weigh greater quantities than what was required for the weighing of prescription medications.

Jim Dunsdon

Jim Dunsdon

Many thanks go to Jim Dunsdon, retired pharmacist; former Registrar, Ontario College of Pharmacists, which operates the Apothecary in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Memorial Bell Tower -Niagara-on-the-Lake

Memorial Bell Tower -Niagara-on-the-Lake