Spotlight: FRONTIER HOUSE by Simon Shaw



I finally own this book after years of wanting it.  The historical reality show it’s based on is one of my favorites.  I’ve learned so much from it and been tremendously inspired by it.  One of things which fascinate me most about history is how ordinary people lived, they’re the real heroes in my eyes.  Not the warrior queens or the gallant knights in shining armor.

There’s a pandemic on and we can learn a lot from history about how to get through it.  After all, this certainly is not the first one.  Pandemics are terribly frightening monsters because you can’t see the virus’ relentless march until it bites you.

The two most important lessons we can learn from Frontier House right now are often heckled by the average viewer of the show.  I have learned the hard way that there is nothing to heckle.  Most humans, my family included, are extremely challenged by these two things.

  1. The ability to adapt to a new situation.
  2. The ability to cooperate with others to survive.

These two challenges are repeated every single historical reality show.  My favorites are the ones in which the participants try the hardest, embrace the adventure, and really throw themselves into it.  In reality, most of us would do no better than the participants we would heckle from the comfort of our convenient and predictable homes.

Check out this quote, so often attributed to Charles Darwin-

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent.  It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”


Darwin as a seven year old child, painted by Ellen Sharples.  I like it because it emphasizes the fact that even the strongest and most brilliant of us start out as helpless babies.  We all must grow and learn.

Some say Darwin never said the aforementioned quote.  Doesn’t matter.  Because it’s painfully true.  One only needs to compare the rat to the koala to see that.

We humans have a hard time letting go of ‘business as usual.’

I’ve bungee-corded old child-safety gates, dog yard panels, and a large scrap of plywood around the sides of my flimsy, falling-apart chicken coop.  I’ve done this because I only go to the store when absolutely necessary, to avoid bringing the virus home to my immune-compromised husband.  And I must protect our only egg-laying hen from the dog.

That’s adapting.

Consider what is needed and then brainstorm ways to accomplish it with whatever materials are on hand.  Our ancestors did it and we can too.

You can find Frontier House for free at your local library, which is likely closed at the moment, and YouTube, or buy online from places like Amazon and eBay.

You’ll learn a lot from just watching Frontier House.  If you want to go deeper, I highly recommend the book.  You’ll find in-depth history behind the homesteaders and the impact on the Native Americans.  There are details, like lists of what was packed in those tiny covered wagons for the journey.

Most of all, you’ll learn how some of the pioneers survived and thrived, which will inspire and educate you to do the same.

Be Kind, Stay Safe.


P.S.  Here is a YouTube link to The Making of Frontier House.  And here is my all-time favorite historical reality show, The 1940s House.

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