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*Updated December 22, 2020*
This journey through Durham Region begins and ends with its lakes. Start with the shores of Lake Ontario before turning north to explore the charming communities of Lake Scugog. Along the way, you’ll enjoy the well-preserved estates and historic quarters of the region, and do a little stargazing…
START THE DAY at Pickering Nautical Village – 9:00 am
DAY 1 – 9:00 AM: SPEND THE MORNING TAKING IN THE VIEW OF LAKE ONTARIO AT THE PICKERING NAUTICAL VILLAGE.
Pickering is your first stop on this journey from lake-to-lake, and where better to kick things off than on the shores of Lake Ontario? Like any settlement on the water, Pickering was and is a nexus of trade, travel, and communication.
Sheltered along the coast of Frenchman’s Bay and watched over by a lighthouse, Pickering Nautical Village is a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. The wide streets are flanked by picturesque buildings, each housing one of the many boutique shops, restaurants, and spas. Beware of the subtle aromas wafting out from nearby windows because they’re sure to stoke your appetite.
Afterwards, make your way over to Millennium Square to enjoy the waterfront more thoroughly. The nearby marina is full of boats, yachts, and just about anything that floats. If you’re in the mood for a walk, consider the Waterfront Trail, but don’t go too far—it runs from Gros Cap in Sault Ste. Marie to Cornwall!
Get to know the history of Whitby & experience settler life in the 1800s – 11:00 am
DAY 1 – 11:00 AM: LONG BEFORE OUR MODERN MOTORWAYS, THERE WAS A NETWORK OF ROADS CONNECTING TOWNS SPREAD ACROSS CANADA, AND IT WAS A WHITBY LOCAL WHO HELPED LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR WHAT YOU’RE DRIVING ON TODAY.
Jabez Lynde, a United Empire Loyalist, became one of the first landowners in the region. As taskmaster for Whitby, he helped develop the roads which would be so vital for trade, communication, and moving troops in the area. Lynde’s home, built in the infamous year of 1812, became a tavern and inn during the great war between British North America and the United States. General Brock was one of the many people of note who stayed within the walls of Lynde House. And now, at the Lynde House Museum*, visitors can immerse themselves in the 19th century experience of the home and learn all about the history of the area.
Once you’re done reliving the days of General Brock, keep an eye out for a pair of green spires and a curiously paint-splattered locomotive. The Station Gallery*–formerly Whitby’s Grand Trunk Railway Station– is where local artists gather to exhibit their work and teach their craft to the public. Come by at the right time and you might just catch a concert or talk taking place on the porch.
*NOTE: Lynde House Museum will reopen on September 1st. Pre-registration is required.
*NOTE: The Station Gallery has re-opened as of August 4th. Pre-registration is required.
Learn about local art & explore the McLaughlin family home – 2:00 pm
DAY 1 – 2:00 PM
Oshawa is a city built on getting people moving, which is fitting because the name of the city comes from an Ojibwe term which means “that point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.”
Downtown Oshawa is notable for the architectural styles of Oshawa City Hall and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery*. The latter is named after the founder of General Motors Canada, and has the largest collection of works by the Painters Eleven, a group of artists who helped make abstract art popular in Canada. One of the artists, Alexandra Luke (also known as Margaret McLaughlin) helped establish the gallery along with her husband Ewart McLaughlin.
The McLaughlin family’s fingerprints are all over Oshawa, with even a former residence of theirs being declared a National Historic Site. Parkwood Estate* was designed by Darling and Pearson, the architecture firm responsible for the Royal Ontario Museum and Toronto General Hospital among other major commissions. The estate’s Classical Revival style and Georgian flares have made it an iconic structure, and it’s not just architecture enthusiasts who have noticed. It’s been the backdrop for many productions including: X-Men, Anne of Green Gables, Chicago, Murdoch Mysteries and countless others.
You never know who you might bump into in the area… So keep your eyes peeled!
*NOTE: As of iour last update, Robert McLaughlin Gallery has re-opened.
*NOTE: House tours of Parkwood Estate are cancelled until August, 2020. Other tours may be available on a limited, pre-registered basis at a later date.
Head Up to Cozy Port Perry – 5:00 PM
DAY 1 – 5:00 PM: BEFORE THE SUN SETS, HOP IN A CAR AND DRIVE NORTH.
Port Perry is a picturesque community nestled on the south-west shore of Lake Scugog. Take a stroll through streets of its Victorian-era downtown, where there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to cater to the weary traveller. The town is small enough that you can walk off dinner with a quick jaunt to the marina or through Palmer Park. Watching the sun set over the calm waters of Lake Scugog is the perfect way to end the night.
CHECK OUT LOCAL ART AT META4 – 9:00 Am
DAY 2 – 9:00 AM
Port Perry might be small, but it’s not without its own gallery. META4*, which is part art supply shop, part studio, and part exhibition space, is the brainchild of three artist-entrepreneurs. Local artists stop by to stock up on materials and talk shop while instructors teach a variety of techniques depending on the day. And of course, there’s no shortage of art on display, with over 130 artists’ work available for viewing or purchase.
*NOTE: META4 is currently open to the public. Please note that hours are subject to change depending on public health recommendations.
Visit the Home of Lucy Maud Montgomery – 12:00 PM
DAY 2 – 12:00 PM: THIS NEXT STOP IS A MUST FOR FANS OF ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.
This next stop is a must for fans of Anne of Green Gables. Fans of Anne may not know that the author married Presbyterian minister Ewan McDonald and moved to Leaskdale, Ontario when she was 37. Montgomery wrote 11 novels during her time there.
Her home, Leaskdale Manse*, is now run by the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society. In a testament to Montgomery’s significance to Canada’s literary tradition, the modest brick home became an Ontario Historic Site in 1965 and then a National Historic Site in 1997. Just next door is St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, where Montgomery’s partner was a minister. The church now serves as an interpretive centre, and as a venue for local events.
There’s a lovely garden in the back of the Manse, where there’s a life-sized, bronze statue of Montgomery reclining on a bench. No Anne super-fan should miss out on a chance to sneak a selfie with the likeness of this famous author.
*NOTE: Leaskdale Manse is currently operating at regular hours through July and August. Pre-registration is required in order to visit the site.
visit the thomas foster memorial – 5:00 PM
DAY 2 – 5:00 PM: The last stop on your Durham excursion is the Thomas Foster Memorial, where former Toronto mayor Thomas Foster now rests.
The building* was inspired by Foster’s visit to the Taj Mahal and by Byzantine architecture. Outside, several minarets reach skyward, while inside, copper domes rise up, held aloft by thick marble columns and stone capitals. Large stained glass windows fill the space with light, causing the mosaics to glimmer. Take a moment to reflect upon this solemn, but striking piece of Canadian architecture as you bring your journey to a close.
*NOTE: All programming at the Thomas Foster Memorial is cancelled for the foreseeable future. The grounds are still accessible, and a virtual tour is currently available.
YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE
Pickering Nautical Village – https://www.pickering.ca/en/discovering/nauticalvillage.aspx
Beachfront Park & Millenium Square – https://www.pickering.ca/en/discovering/beachfrontparkmillenniumsquare.aspx
Lynde House Museum – https://www.lyndehousemuseum.com/
Station Gallery – https://www.stationgallery.ca/
Robert McLaughlin Gallery – http://rmg.on.ca/
Parkwood Estate – https://www.parkwoodestate.com/
META4 Gallery – https://www.meta4gallery.ca/#/
Leaskdale Manse – http://lucymaudmontgomery.ca/
Thomas Foster Memorial – http://www.fostermemorial.com/
Open Studio Art Cafe – https://openstudioartcafe.com/
Nice Bistro – http://nicebistro.com/
Marwan’s Global Bistro – http://www.marwansglobalbistro.com/
Old Flame Brewing Co. – http://oldflamebrewingco.ca/
Pantry Shelf Cafe – https://www.facebook.com/PantryShelfCafePortPerry/
Urban Pantry – https://www.facebook.com/urbanpantry/
Piano Inn and Cafe – https://pianocafe.ca/
This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting a few of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.
The Regional Municipality of Durham provided information and assistance for the creation of this guide. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Esther Lee.