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  • Madeline Kerr

The great escape!

Few kids want to head back to school midway through their summer holiday, but the possibility of finding hidden treasure might convince them.


Fairbairn House’s new Log Cabin Escape Challenge is a fun and free activity for all ages, taking visitors back in time to the days of one-room school houses.


“Help school teacher Margaret find the gold stashed by her husband…just before he headed back out west to the B.C. gold rush,” reads a description on the Wakefield museum’s website about the game.


Visitors must complete a series of puzzles in order to uncover the hidden treasure and escape from the log school house.


Escape rooms, which are interactive, timed, and usually collaborative challenges, like the one at Fairbairn House, have become especially popular in the last decade. What sets this one apart is the price: while a visit to an escape room in Ottawa typically costs around $30 a person, the Fairbairn Log Cabin escape room is completely free.


Unsurprisingly, since opening on June 24, it’s been popular. Fairbairn House’s website shows that availability for the next couple of weeks is already sparse.


One visitor lucky enough to get a spot was 11-year-old Henry Dean, who recently visited the escape room with his friend’s family. Henry, who lives in Edelweiss, told the Low Down that the experience was on par with other escape rooms he’s visited.


“It was pretty fun,” he said, “and some of the puzzles were pretty hard. We even had to ask for help one time.”


Henry said that his group managed to find the treasure and escape the log cabin, although he admits that they needed an extra 15 minutes to finish the final challenge.


For anyone interested in trying the Fairbairn escape room for themselves, Henry offered some advice: “Look in places that you wouldn’t think to look,” he said, adding about the overall experience, “I would definitely recommend people try it.”


The Log Cabin escape room is designed to take about one hour to complete by a group of up to six people. The website states that the challenge is suitable for children six and up. Children under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.


Looking to hone their gumshoe skills before visiting the escape room? Or can’t make it in person? The Fairbairn website features a virtual escape room. The online series of puzzles use scenes from the Fairbairn House museum to teach users about local history and test their code-breaking chops.


Visitors can book a timeslot for the Log Cabin escape room in advance through Fairbairn’s website. Currently, spots are available until September 24.


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