Framed in the Past

Materials written for escape room, designed to both teach local history and instruct players in criminological methods, which required a synthesis of educational and historical materials and compelling writing. Players must unravel an early 20th century mystery about a missing person, and decided whether to preserve history by rescuing the missing person or alter the flow of time by rescuing them.

Museum Pamphlet:

(Presented to players at the beginning of the game)

Between the explosion of urban spaces due to Industrialization and the railway expansion in North America, the latter half of the 19th Century included a great deal of travelling artistry, including the origins of the modern travelling circus by entrepreneurs like P.T. Barnum.  Though the large conglomerates like Barnum and Bailey, and later the Ringling Bros. included anywhere from three to seven rings for performances, there were many more modest acts that made their living touring the small hamlets and towns that comprised Upper Canada in the years leading up to Confederation.

The broadsheets, leaflets and newspaper notices contained within this portfolio cover a wide range of such performances across the following counties: Norfolk, Simcoe, Wellington, Perth, Oxford and of course, Brant County. Travelling troupes performed traditional circus acts like acrobatic tumblers, trapeze artists, daredevils, and exotic animals, but some also included wholesome and educational ventures, such as theatre and oratory speech-making, or seedier endeavours like sideshows, promoting disfigured humans and animals for audience consumption.

As industrialization and factory production modernized living standards in urban spaces, populations had more leisure time and for many, particularly women employed in textile and tobacco factories, disposable income, and the advertisement of a troupe performing locally attracted many attendees from across the county. Of course, depending on the troupe’s political leanings or performance values, that same crowd could easily turn upon them. So long as entertainment was delivered, it mattered little whether the troupe was the purveyor of entertainment, or the subject of it.

Freebirds Broadside:

(Curator’s Note: Top of sheet is missing)

The troupe most respectfully informs the citizens of Brant they are invited to attend to witness grand and Lofty feats, as virtuous as they are thrilling, and Hopes to Provide Satisfaction and Pleasure;

One night Only! Thursday, June 27;

Witness Feats Most Elaborate and Impressive, High Above the Crowds;

To Commence with Slack Rope performances and thereafter to other Aerial Delights;

Mssrs Bouchard and Elroy will perform Somersaults, salutes and pirouettes upon the Flying Trapeze, Risking Life and Limb;

Madam Duffee will Execute acts of Agility and Speed across rings strung 50 feet above the Ground;

Mr and Mrs Codet will perform a Couple’s Routine upon the Swinging Trapeze, an Ode to Summer Romance;

Test Your Prowess upon the Specially Constructed Static Trapeze – Impress your Friends!

Refreshments Available – Peanuts and Lemon-Aid; Tickets for purchase at Colbourne Pharmacy – only 10 cents!

Mr. Remington’s Benefit

Mr Remington’s Benefit

Whereupon Mr Remington and Company is moste Grateful for the Chance to perform Great Deeds both Heroic and Daring upon Horseback for the general Population this Coming Thursday, June 27

Commencing with Military Maneuvers upon Horseback at High Noon to the accompaniment of Pipers


Madam Remington shall Perform Feats of Horsemanship, elegant Exercises and Acrobatics of Leaping over Pits and Vaulting to and From Horseback;

Master Remington will Execute several Sharpshooter Feats from Horseback, both Long Rifle and Pistol;

For the Children, a Pony most Docile and Gentle to Perform exercises upon the Long Lead, for general Applause and treates of Apples and Carrots;

Admission only 5 cents; free for Children under Five Years

High Rise – High Risk!

(Newspaper clipping from Brant County Herald, June 11th, 1867)


Authorities are asking citizens of Brant County and surrounding areas to alert them to any circus troupes who are performing high-wire acts without safety precautions. Trapeze artists and tightrope walkers are gathering big crowds – and big money – by promising dangerous performances high above the ground without any protections like harnesses or nets in case of a fall. Due to the illegal nature of these performances and the gamblers they inevitably attract, troupes announce ‘without-a-net’ shows through clues on distributed broadsheets advertising their safe performances. Please bring any suspicious broadsheets to the nearby local councilor or militiaman to help end these acts.

(Archivist note: these were filed in City Hall among other donated records, as evidence of these illicit thrill-seekers!)

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