In Which We Visit the Frontier

Deep in the forests of Point Defiance, along a long and winding trail, there lies a lost colonial fort. Oh, no – not the original colonial fort, Gentle Reader – a lost replica. And it’s not very lost at all, actually. Anymore. Perhaps I should back up.

Deep in the forests of Point Defiance (Park), along the scenic Five Mile Drive, there lies a living history museum that was neglected and understaffed for a long, long time. Ex-Husband and I know this for a fact, because we stumbled upon it by accident one day, despite having taken that road many times and never having seen it before.


Of course we were going to explore it, because when you see a tower and palisade where a tower and palisade should not be, of course you explore it.

And so we stepped back to the cash-strapped fur-trapping days of the Pacific Northwest. In those days, the museum was underfunded, so there weren’t any fancy candlelight tours or swanky new buildings available to rent for fancy parties, oh no – there were only a few volunteer actors here and there, including one at the front gate to take our fare. We explored the fort; we entered the company store, where a man in a shockingly battered top hat pretended to sell us general goods and sundries.

And was cross when I correctly identified the china pattern he pretended to sell.

And was cross when I correctly identified the china pattern he pretended to sell.

We then entered the dread lair of the Chief Factor, Dr. William Fraser Tolmie – well, it wasn’t a decaying manse or anything, it was just a square whitewashed building that, while considerably dusty and more elegant than any frontier house has a right to be, was just a square whitewashed building.  The furniture was probably incredibly hard to transport there, given the time period, and we were told so by a woman in a bonnet.


It was a pleasant surprise, a long lazy Sunday afternoon, and something that wouldn’t really stand out in one’s memory.

And then, several years later, we went back. This time, they clearly had funding. I could tell, because of the extensive and dedicated staff.

Fort N

There – there was a fresh coat of paint on the big house! Inside, things had been dusted; new reproduction wallpaper and carpets had been applied – things were looking decidedly improved.


Further, a brand new building had been added. Sure, it wasn’t period accurate, but it was devoted to presenting the history of the local Native Americans, and their interactions with this outpost of the Hudson Bay Company. Also, there were presentations!


It was vital and dynamic and absolutely improved.

We recreated our exploration, moving through the museum in something like the same path we’d taken years before, re-living that golden afternoon – but remastered, and in technicolor.

About Ty DeLyte

Madame DeLyte has suffered a grave disappointment - YET AGAIN - and still believes that freedom, beauty, and truth are what's valuable, rather than vulgar cash. He'd add love to that list - but, well, what can he say about love?
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