Rare & Heritage Breed Animals

At Black Creek Pioneer Village, you’ll enjoy the chance to see how people farmed in early Ontario, and learn all about the important role that animals played in everyday life.

Our history actors will show you how farmers of the era tended to their animals, using them for food, transportation, clothing and heavy labour.

Many of the farm animal breeds that were central to life in 19th century rural Ontario are now rare. The Village is home to a number of these heritage breeds including Cochin chickens, Border Leicester sheep and the ever-popular Clydesdale horses.

Some of the Rare Heritage Breeds You’ll Meet:

Border Leicester Sheep: In early Ontario, sheep were raised mainly for wool, but there was also a small market for spring lamb and mutton. The Border Leicester, a Cheviot/Leicester cross, combined the good mutton of the Cheviot and the spinning wool of the Leicester. Its wool is typically white, and medium to long. The breed, developed in England during the mid-1700’s, became popular in Canada about a century later. A hardy breed, the Border Leicester adapted well to the cold climate.

Join us on select weekdays this May and June to watch a sheep shearing demonstration! Check our weekly programming schedule for dates and times.

Border Leicester sheep at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Clydesdale Horse: Settlers brought heavy horses like Clydesdales to pull ploughs, wagons and carts, and to provide power on sweeps, treadmills, and other farm machinery. Intelligent and comparatively lightweight, the Clydesdale was an excellent farm worker, with sound feet that also made it suitable for town haulage. Rare Breeds Canada now lists the Clydesdale as an “at risk” breed.

Two Clydesdale horses in front of the mill

Tamworth Pig: Tamworths are among the oldest and purest breeds of pigs. Their long, lean bodies are reddish in colour, with fine snouts and upright ears. Known for their large litters, they are well adapted to outdoor life. The Tamworth pig is considered to be a rare breed, with fewer than 35 registered in Canada.

a Tamworth pig at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Toulouse Geese: These massive, heavy geese, grey in colour, were  originally bred in Southern France. The Toulouse is also known as the wild European goose. Rare Breeds Canada now lists the Toulouse as a “rare” breed, with fewer than 499 breeding females registered in Canada.

a rare Toulouse Goose lurks buy a water bucket at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Ridley Bronze Turkey: Gland, the Ridley Bronze is the largest of the turkeys: an adult male can weigh as much as 32 pounds, and a female as much as 22 pounds. Rare Breeds Canada lists the Ridley Bronze Turkey as a “critical” breed, with fewer then 100 breeding females registered in Canada.

Ridley Bronze turkey at Black Creek Pioneer Village