Ottawa – Gatineau

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism

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Ottawa – Gatineau

As far as capital cities go, Ottawa is reasonably walkable. Whether you’re exploring its many heritage sites, browsing its galleries, or taking scenic strolls along the river, you can do it all with a good pair of shoes or a trusty bicycle.

September 9, 2022



Day One

EXPLORE NEW EDINBURGH – 9:00 AM

START YOUR MORNING IN HISTORIC NEW EDINBURGH

New Edinburgh is an upscale neighbourhood by the Rideau River. Once an industrial centre, many of the area’s early residents were mill workers. Locals are eager to share their neighbourhood’s charm with visitors and have put together a self-guided walking tour that sheds light on its storied streets.
This neighbourhood is home to multiple embassies and Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General. This stately building used to be the home of Thomas McKay, a stonemason and entrepreneur who founded New Edinburgh back in 1832 and helped build the Rideau Canal. The grounds of Rideau Hall are a horticulturalist’s dream—carefully landscaped rose gardens, greenhouses, and lawns blur the line between order and the wilderness. If you visit in the colder months, try skating at the winter pavilion.

Tent Room at Rideau Hall. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism.

VISIT THE OTTAWA ART GALLERY – 3:00 PM

THIS GALLERY’S ARCHITECTURE IS SIMPLICITY DONE WELL

The Ottawa Art Gallery’s new building has an almost ethereal quality to it; the perforated metal mesh of its facade creates soft transitions from the sharp lines of the cube toward the sky. Originally established by local collectors O.J. and Isobel Firestone, the gallery’s Firestone collection focuses on 20th-century Canadian art. It has a significant number of works from the Group of Seven, especially A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris.

Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism

THE NATIONAL GALLERY – 4:00 PM

MEET MAMAN AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA

There’s another gallery not too far away from the Ottawa Art Gallery, and it’s right near the place to take in one of the best views in the city. Keep an eye out for the giant, metallic arachnid, Maman, by Louise Bourgeois, who greets everyone who walks up to the National Gallery of Canada. The gallery has one of the most substantial collections of Canadian and Indigenous artwork and also hosts a significant collection of works representing artistic traditions from all over the world.

A short walk from the gallery is the Alexandra Bridge Lookout, which gives a sweeping view of the Ottawa River and the city of Gatineau on the opposite shore.

Food tip: For a filling snack nearby, try The Tavern on the Hill. If you are crossing over to Gatineau, there’s an assortment of French, Italian, and Thai restaurants just a stone’s throw from the bridge.

This friendly neighbourhood spider has sisters at major galleries across the world, including the Guggenheim Bilbao, and the Mori Art Museum in Japan. Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Day Two

STROLL THROUGH OTTAWA’S CIVIC CENTRE – 9:00 AM

START THE DAY WITH A LEISURELY STROLL THROUGH CONFEDERATION PARK & OTTAWA’S CIVIC CENTRE

Opened in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial anniversary, Confederation Park boasts several public art pieces and monuments, including the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument by Noel Loyd Pinay.

Take a short walk to Ottawa’s city centre to admire the geometry of the courthouse, check out the modern City Hall designed by Canada’s Raymond Moriyama, and explore a few museums along the way. Learn about Canadian military history at the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum. You may also pass by the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, by sculptor Melvin Charney, which stands at the corner of Lisgar and Elgin.

The National Arts Centre is on the other side of Confederation Park. The brutalist building recently opened its new wing, courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects. The most striking addition to the centre is the Kipnes Lantern, a hexagonal tower wrapped in transparent LEDs. At night the tower comes alive with intense, colourful displays by Canada’s leading artists.

The National Arts Centre offers a stage to some of Canada's most talented performers and productions. Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism.

VISIT PARLIAMENT HILL – 11:30 AM

EXPLORE CANADA’S PARLIAMENTARY PRECINCT

Start at the bronze statue of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and walk past the buildings of the East Block. This imposing structure, done in the Gothic-Revival style, once held the offices of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. Now, it houses the offices of the Senate.

Next up, you’ll arrive at the Centennial Flame. This fountain, and its not-quite-eternal flame, started out as a temporary monument to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. Prime Minister Lester P. Pearson lit the flame on New Year’s Eve in 1966; the monument was so beloved by the public that it became a permanent fixture.

The Parliament of Canada, with its iconic Peace Tower rising skyward, is just up the way. Its style is typical of 19th-century Gothic Revival, featuring medieval embellishments like pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and gargoyles. Further along is the Confederation Building, which currently houses the offices of several serving MPs. Opened in 1931, it’s a more recent addition to the Parliamentary Precinct.

You’ll soon arrive at the Supreme Court of Canada, where two allegorical “Truth” and “Justice” sculptures stand beside the main steps leading into the Grand Entrance Hall. The Canadian War Museum is just up the road from here. Military history buffs should consider this one a must-see; it has a massive collection of military vehicles.

CROSS OVER TO QUEBEC – 3:00 PM

CROSS OVER TO GATINEAU

Crossing the Ottawa River into Quebec is a simple affair, with two bridges nearby and a water taxi available in the warmer months. On the way to your destination, you’ll pass by the Palais de Justice de Gatineau and the Maison due Citoyen.

The Canadian Museum of History sits at the opposite shore of the Ottawa River across from Parliament Hill. Learn about 15,000 years of history, beginning with the earliest human settlements in North America all the way to the present day. The building, designed by Douglas Cardinal, is an architectural gem, defined by the undulating forms of its two main wings, which emulate the winding riverbank below.

Wrap up the day with a stroll through Jacques Cartier Park, enjoying its sculpture, gardens, and historic structures, or just wander about and see what the streets of Gatineau have to offer.

DISCOVER A GEM IN GATINEAU: THE MACKENZIE KING ESTATE

Take a side jaunt in Gatineau to the summer home of Canada’s longest serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. King bequeathed the estate to the people of Canada, and visitors are luckier for it. In the heart of beautiful Gatineau Park, the estate’s English and French flower gardens are stunning, and nearby wooded trails link up with the broader trail network of the park. Learn more about the famously colourful King (among other things he turned to séances in hopes of speaking with his late mother and dogs). Enjoy the beauty of ruins King salvaged and reconstructed on the grounds, using stones from the fire that destroyed the Parliament Buildings in 1916, among other historic sources. In summer take an ice cream or cool drink break at the cute Café Pat. It’s named after the PM’s beloved Irish Terriers — Pat l, Pat ll, and Pat lll.

Photo: © Destination Ontario

YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE


NEED A MAP?

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.


We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.


Niagara Region

Photo courtesy of Destination Ontario

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ST. CATHARINES – NIAGARA FALLS – NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE

People like to think that they know Niagara, but there’s so much more to the region than its famous falls. The remains of British fortresses tell the tale of a war in 1812, artists immortalized the river rapids and worn rock faces beyond the falls, and wine cultivation thrives among the far-stretching fields. So prepare to explore the Niagara you never knew.



DAY ONE

LEARN ABOUT LOCAL BLACK HISTORY WITH NIAGARA BOUND TOURS – 10:00 AM

EXPLORE LOCAL HISTORIES ON A CAR CARAVAN TOUR

Start off your morning exploring the area’s history on Niagara Bound Tours’ Car Caravan Tour! Learn about the migration of Black Americans as they escaped slavery in the mid-19th-century and settled in the region. You’ll uncover local stories with an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide.

EXPLORE ST. CATHARINES – 1:00 PM

YOUR LONG-WEEKEND FORAY INTO THE NIAGARA REGION CONTINUES IN ST. CATHARINES

Once a hub for travellers called Shipman’s Corners, St. Catharines grew into a thriving city after the construction of the Welland Canal in 1820 brought significant trade and commerce to the region.

While the canal continues to bring business through the city, St. Catharines has also become a thriving centre for the arts. In 1969, several artists came together to form the collective known as the Niagara Artists Centre. Now, the Centre features works by local artists across various media, including painting, sculpture, performance art, and even film.

Photo Credit: City of St. Catharines.

VISIT THE ST. CATHARINES MUSEUM – 3:30 PM

LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF ST. CATHARINES

The St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre traces the history and development of the entire Niagara Region. The museum has collected a wealth of written materials documenting Victorian life and follows the city’s rapid transformation into an industrialized urban centre. The Museum also has an observation deck where you can watch ships navigate the Welland Canal as they have for centuries.

TAKE IN A SHOW AT THE FIRSTONTARIO PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE – 6:00 PM

ST. CATHARINES HAS A LONG TRADITION OF THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE

Many actors, directors, and playwrights have gathered together to form collectives and theatre companies, staging bold productions in venues across the city.

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is the largest venue where you can catch a show in St. Catharines. Whether you’re looking to settle in and watch a play or jam out to the sounds of a local band, their roster of in-person performances is growing as they continue to develop guidelines for safe enjoyment in their spaces. Look for the return of the Film House to enjoy the best in indie film programming, and stick around after a show to connect with the filmmakers behind the flick you just watched.

Photo Credit: First Ontario Performing Arts

DAY TWO

WANDER QUEEN VICTORIA PARK – 9:00 AM

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO NIAGARA FALLS BEFORE, YOU’VE BEEN TO QUEEN VICTORIA PARK.

This stretch of green has the best views of the American & Horseshoe Falls. Its gardens, ponds, and flowerbeds are decorated with a rotating display of seasonal flowers.

Explore the garden’s hidden gems, including the various memorials to battles fought here in 1812, as well as statues of notable figures like Nichola Tesla and King George VI.

During the winter months, the park is the best place to view the light shows, illuminating the cascading waterfalls on a nightly basis.

Photo Credit: Jeff Hitchcock.

LEARN THE HISTORY OF NIAGARA FALLS – 12:30 PM

LOCATED A SHORT WALK AWAY FROM THE HEART OF NIAGARA’S TOURISM DISTRICT, THE NIAGARA FALLS HISTORY MUSEUM IS SOMETHING OF A HIDDEN DELIGHT

The War of 1812 takes pride of place here with an entire gallery dedicated to its battles, but for anyone interested in a more niche history of the region, this museum teaches visitors all about the storied attempts to traverse or survive a trip of the falls by locals and adventurers alike. The Museum also hosts several travelling exhibitions, including a recent one documenting the lives of descendants of those who passed through Niagara along the underground railroad.

Photo Credit: Niagara Falls History Museum

EXPLORE THE BOTANICAL GARDENS – 3:00 PM

LIKE QUEEN VICTORIA PARK, THE BOTANICAL GARDENS ARE HOME TO COLOURFUL DISPLAYS AND TRANQUIL CORNERS.

The gardens, established in 1936, can be explored on foot or by horse-drawn carriage and feature 99 acres of horticultural delights. Visit the Niagara School of Horticulture grounds, where you can watch students honing their green thumbs in the surrounding gardens.

Make sure to check out The Butterfly Conservatory⎯⎯a tropical transplant replete with waterfalls, thick vegetation, and thousands of butterflies fluttering around the interior. It’s not uncommon for butterflies to land right on you, so be gentle if you want to grab a selfie with the winged locals.

Photo Credit: The Niagara Parks

DAY THREE

STROLL THROUGH QUEENSTON HEIGHTS PARK – 9:00 AM

QUEENSTON HEIGHTS PARK, AT THE TAIL END OF THE BRUCE TRAIL, IS A HIKING PATH THAT WINDS ITS WAY NORTH TO THE VERY TIP OF THE BRUCE PENINSULA

It’s a fitting spot to begin the end of your journey through Niagara. The park houses many monuments dedicated to the Canadians who played a pivotal role in the War of 1812, like the towering column memorializing General Brock and the bite-sized monument to Laura Secord.

The Landscape of the Nations, a memorial dedicated to the First Nations who fought alongside the British during the War of 1812, is home to bronze statues commemorating John Norton and John Brant of the Mohawk Nation, a father-son duo fought alongside British forces at the Battle of Queenston Heights. The Memory Circle, a sunburst made from eight limestone walls, commemorates the Six Nations and the other Indigenous peoples allied to the British during the War of 1812.

Photo courtesy of Destination Ontario

WORK THE PRESS AT THE NEWSPAPER MUSEUM – 11:00 AM

NEWSPAPERS ARE NOT ANCIENT HISTORY, BUT THEY ARE PART OF A LONGER TRADITION OF PRINTING THAT STRETCHES BACK CENTURIES

At the Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum, learn all about the history of printing production, from pamphlets to newspapers. Working replicas of linotype equipment and a printing press let you try your hand at printing the old-fashioned way.

ENJOY LOCAL ART AT THE NIAGARA PUMPHOUSE AND LEARN ABOUT CURES & QUACKERY AT THE APOTHECARY – 2:00 PM

CHECK OUT THE PUMPHOUSE GALLERY AND STUDIO CENTRE, AND THEN PERUSE CABINETS FULL OF “MIRACLE CURES” AND ACTUAL MEDICINE.

Set up in a 19th-century building that once served as the pumping station for all of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the building was converted in 1994 to become the artistic hub it is today. Now, the Pumphouse hosts a rotating series of exhibitions, workshops and events throughout the year. It’s the perfect place to grab a souvenir crafted by a local artist or pick up a new artistic skill.

After the Pumphouse, walk a few minutes down the road to the Niagara Apothecary Museum for a window into Canadian medical history. The Apothecary, a precursor to our modern pharmacies, changed hands several times over the centuries before finally opening as a museum in 1971.

Photo Credit: Richie Diesterheft.

TAKE IN A SHOW AT THE HOME OF THE SHAW FESTIVAL – 5:00 PM

EXPLORE THE HOME OF THE SHAW FESTIVAL

Three different theatres are located along Picton/Queen Street, all with varying rosters of programming, are surrounded by restaurants and breweries to please every palate.

Check out the many boutique shops, galleries and cafes all along the main street, or grab dinner after the show and go for a stroll along the Niagara River. Either way, make sure to wave to the statue of George Bernard Shaw as you go along.


WANT TO TAKE A DETOUR?

Looking for something off the beaten path? We’ve only just scratched the surface of what the Niagara Region has to offer. If you’re looking to take a broader, more winding route, then here are some must-sees:

Pearl Morissette Restaurant & Winery – Lincoln

Situated west of St. Catharines, Pearl Morissette is a restaurant & winery situated on a picturesque vineyard in Jordan Station, Ontario, noted for its striking design by Ontario architects gh3. Their European-style menu features fresh ingredients sourced directly from local farms and complemented by their many locally produced wines. With glowing reviews in the Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, and Bon Appetit, this is a must-visit for foodies of all stripes.

Balls Falls – Lincoln

Nestled in the heart of a conversation area, Balls Falls is a well-preserved example of a 19th-century hamlet. Established by United Empire Loyalists in the wake of the American Revolution, the village features a lovingly-preserved blacksmiths shop, a church, and a flour mill. It’s a picturesque door into a different time and place, surrounded by equally captivating views of the Twenty Mile Creek, high cliff faces, and the southern stretches of the Bruce Trail.

Fort George National Historic Site – Niagara-on-the-Lake

This historic fort, which played a crucial role in the British defensive lines, was destroyed during the War of 1812 but has since been restored to its early 19th-century form. Now, you can explore the grounds and see staff in period garb engaging in re-enactments of military drills and mock battles.

Photo courtesy of Destination Ontario.

Oak Hall – Allanburg

This early 20th-century, Tudor-style manor was built for Canadian business tycoon Harry Oakes. Marvel at the intricate stonework, glare at the gargoyles and visit the lovingly-preserved main floor of this 37-room mansion. Oak Hall sits on the same stretch of green that hosts the annual Winter Lights Festival and is within walking distance of the former Toronto Power Generating Station, a wonderful Beaux-Arts style building from 1906.


YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE

YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff.


We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.


Waterloo

Photo courtesy of Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Association

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WATERLOO, KITCHENER, AND CAMBRIDGE

Tech may be what comes to mind when you think of Waterloo. While home to start-ups and the Canadian offices of tech multinationals like Google, ‘Canada’s Silicon Valley’ wouldn’t be where it is now without the history of the Neutral and Six Nations people who were first there, and the Mennonite immigrants who followed. The region pays homage to its roots while staying thoroughly modern with new companies and tech spaces growing in its historic buildings.

November 15, 2022



Day One

WALK WATERLOO’S PUBLIC ART ROUTE – 9:00 AM

WARM UP WITH A TOUR OF WATERLOO’S PUBLIC ART

Start your romp through the Tri-Cities in the heart of downtown Waterloo. Over the years, the city has done a lot of work to beautify its streets while creating landmarks for residents and visitors alike, even providing an online guide to help you chart your course. This includes a thriving collection of outdoor, public art.

The first piece in this public collection is an ode to Waterloo’s agricultural roots, a time before big tech was the region’s economic engine. The John Labatt Barley Field is a collection of hand-forged steel stalk forms of barley made by artist Jane Buyers. Continuing along the route will take you past several other sculptures, landscapes, and murals, leading up to Waterloo Park.

Along your way, chow down on a variety of cuisine in the downtown core, like Mexican, Chinese, and Caribbean restaurants, including Island Mix Restaurant & Lounge.

Take a whirlwind tour of Waterloo while hunting for public art. Photo Credit: Matthew Smith.

THE CANADIAN CLAY AND GLASS GALLERY IN UPTOWN WATERLOO – 12:30 PM

THE ONLY OF ITS KIND IN CANADA

The Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery is housed in an award-winning building designed by Patkau Architects, right on the edge of Waterloo Park and next to the renowned Perimeter Institute. The gallery itself has enormous windows, flooding the spaces with natural light, and the stained glass windows create dazzling displays as the sun makes its daily arc across the sky.

The gallery’s collection features pieces from the traditional media of ceramics and glasswork and incorporates new sculptural and material methods, including 3D printing. A glance through their catalogue proves that there’s much more to tactical crafts than teacups and bowls.

Walking around Silver Lake, you may come across a modest log structure; this is the old Log Schoolhouse, constructed in 1820 by Pennsylvania German settlers. It’s the oldest school building in Waterloo (and maybe even the entire province)!

Continuing from there, take one of the many paths through the park and find three more sculptures. Keep your eye out for a unique pair of tables near the skate park by artist Ted Fullerton.

Clay-and-Glass-Gallery
The finest in Canadian ceramics, glass, and stained glass is found right here in Waterloo. Credit: Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation.

CHECK OUT KITCHENER’S CIVIC CENTRE – 2:00 PM

STROLL THROUGH CIVIC CENTRE PARK AND SWING BY KITCHENER-WATERLOO ART GALLERY.

Take a stroll through Civic Centre Park to discover a remarkable monument. The Kitchener Fallen Firefighters Memorial stands as a solemn tribute to firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Civic Centre Park is a key hub of Kitchener, with easy access to the Kitchener Public Library, the aptly named Centre in the Square, and Waterloo’s Regional Headquarters.

Continuing through the park, you’ll arrive at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. The space is home to
over 4,000 works in its permanent collection, including works by major Indigenous artists like Kent Monkman and Shelley Niro. If you’re travelling with someone with sensory needs, then make this an early stop; between 10 AM and 12 PM, the KWAG hosts “Sensory Friendly Saturdays”, where the galleries and public spaces have reduced light and volume levels.

Photo Credit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchener_City_Hall

EXPLORE DOWNTOWN KITCHENER – 3:00 PM

STROLL THROUGH DOWNTOWN KITCHENER

Spend the remainder of your afternoon exploring downtown Kitchener, and check out the former industrial buildings that remain a fixture in the city. Highlights include the Kaufman Lofts, a footwear factory turned residential building, the Tannery Building that now houses several tech companies, and the Abe Erb Brewery. The local spot is an ode to Abraham Erb, one of the first Mennonite immigrants from Pennsylvania. To see where icons like Eleanor Roosevelt and Louis Armstrong stayed while in town, check out the Walper Hotel, a red brick beauty constructed in 1893.

But keep 3:30 open, as you don’t want to miss out on Stroll Walking Tour’s ‘Black Presence in Berlin’. This Black history walk strings you between the region’s first Black residents (1806) to modern era musicianship, like Louis Armstrong’s 1953 visit. Learn about the teachers, lawyers, domestic workers and politicians who worked in the neighbourhood, owned businesses, and celebrated Emancipation Day at the local hotel.

Photo Credit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchener_City_Hall

Day Two

DISCOVER NEW IDEAS AND EXPERIENCE AT THEMUSEUM – 10:00 AM

VISIT THEMUSEUM FOR A VERY DIFFERENT MUSEUM EXPERIENCE

You won’t always find famous works of art or paintings here. Instead, prepare to move your body and get creative. Permanent exhibitions include a virtual graffiti wall with a light-powered spray can, a stop motion animation studio, and a six-foot piano you can walk on. THEMUSEUM is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

After that, cut across town to Victoria Park, where you’ll find the Clocktower of the Old City Hall amid a garden and pond. It used to rest atop Kitchener City Hall, but that building was demolished decades ago. Fortunately, enough of the Clocktower survived, and with some much-needed restoration, it continues to keep time for Kitchener’s citizens.

THEMUSEUM in Kitchener-Waterloo.

EXPLORE THE IDEA EXCHANGE AND DOWNTOWN CAMBRIDGE – 1:30 PM

THE IDEA EXCHANGE IS CAMBRIDGE’S PUBLIC LIBRARY, BUT IT’S NOT YOUR TYPICAL LIBRARY SYSTEM

You’ll find your first stop in Cambridge near the water. The Idea Exchange Old Post Office is housed in a former post office building from 1885. Designed by architecture firm RHDA, the new library, which opened in July 2018, features a 9,000 square foot transparent pavilion that wraps around the original building and looks over the Grand River. This digital hub has gaming areas, recording suites, and more.

Across the water is the Design at Riverside Gallery at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture. The gallery hosts a variety of lectures, concerts, and film screenings.

Continuing along the Grand River, you’ll arrive at the Cambridge Sculpture Garden. The grounds are full of carefully manicured filled with several pieces of mind-bending sculpture. At night, the sculptures are illuminated, revealing details you might miss in broad daylight.

The unexpected intersection of the old and new at the Idea Exchange is a breeding ground for fresh ideas. Photo Credit: Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation.

SEE HISTORIC ESTATES IN CAMBRIDGE – 6:00 PM

TAKE A RIDE TO THE LUXURIOUS SIDE

Langdon Hall was originally built as a summer home in 1898 by the great-grandson of the American real estate tycoon John Jacob Astor. Gardens surround the estate, all carefully arranged to reinforce the Victorian Era charm of its long-standing residence.

Nowadays, Langdon Hall caters to those searching for absolute luxury; there, you’ll find fine dining, high tea, and even a spa.

The Cruickston Park Estate, which has its own luxury home, lies a little further afield. The English mansion was refurbished after its purchase by Matthew Wilks in 1858, and was later expanded to the nearly 1000 acres it currently occupies. You might recognize this Tudor-style manor house from shows & movies like RED, Cold Creek Manor, and CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries.

The area also gives you easy access to the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, which closely follows the banks of its namesake waterway. Follow the trail to Devil’s Creek Falls, where you can catch a glimpse of a small but stunning waterfall.

Langdon-Hall
Spend the night like a 19th century aristocrat at Langdon Hall. Credit: Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation.

YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE


YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.
All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.


We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.


1000 Islands / Brockville Region

Photo courtesy of 1000 Islands Tourism

Français

1000 Islands / Brockville Region

Does Ontario come to mind for your next island getaway? It should. The Thousand Islands region stretches east along the St. Lawrence River and includes a staggering 1,864 islands between Canada and the United States. Originally a favourite spot for the Haudenosaunee, who called it Manitouana or “Garden of the Great Spirit,” the region shines in the summer and has plenty to do during the cooler months too.

Updated November 15, 2022



Day One

A TURN OF THE CENTURY ESTATE – 10:00 AM

FOUNTAINS, SCULPTURE, AND PAINTINGS – OH MY!

Senator George Taylor Fulford made his fortune selling “Pink Pills for Pale People,” an iron-rich tonic that treated anaemia, clinical depression and lack of appetite or energy. This invention afforded him a 20,000-square-foot mansion, finished in 1901 and built as his summer home.

Fulford Place was lovingly restored by the Ontario Heritage Trust. Inside, find original tapestries, ceramics, and paintings from his world travels. Outside, enjoy a stroll through the Italianate-style gardens. Originally designed by the Olmsted Brothers – who also designed New York’s Central Park.

Photo Credit: Brockville Tourism

AN INDUSTRIOUS NINETEENTH CENTURY CITY – 11:00 AM

ICONIC CANADIAN ARCHITECTURE ALONG THE RIVER

Settled along the bank of St. Lawrence, Brockville was one of many ports where ships would dock and ferry goods and visitors from far afield. The city became even more integrated with trade networks across Canada when the Brockville Railway Tunnel opened in 1860. The historic tunnel was recently refurbished and is now open seasonally, often featuring special community events and live music inside.

The downtown core is packed with historic buildings that served multiple purposes for the bustling nineteenth-century community – even City Hall used to be a combination concert hall, office space, and indoor market!

As you drive up County Road 29 to the stately Brockville Courthouse, spot the intricate stonework of the Thomas Fuller Building, named for, and designed by the 15-year-tenure architect for the Canadian Government. This building also used to be the Brockville Post Office, further connecting the community to news, business, friends, and family from across the country.

WHAT’S IN AN AQUATARIUM? – 2:30 PM

LEARN ABOUT THE ST. LAWRENCE’S HISTORY AND ECOSYSTEM.

Your next port of call is the Aquatarium, an interactive science and education museum which teaches about the unique ecosystems of the St. Lawrence and the ships that once cruised it. Navy buffs will love it here: there’s a reconstructed Captain’s Cabin from the 1780 HMS Ontario, a storm-sunken British warship used during the American Revolutionary War.

For a picnic in the area, head over to the scenic Blockhouse Island, which is walkable from the mainland by a short road.

LOCAL HISTORY AT BROCKVILLE MUSEUM – 3:30 PM

Since 1981, the museum has housed the stories of Brockville’s past. Learn about the Indigenous legacy and presence in the area, dive into the industrial and manufacturing story, and discover notable history from the region, including its Black history. The museum also centres the role immigration played for the city with its award-winning exhibit, Travel Trunk: Unpacking Brockville’s Cultural Stories, geared towards children and featuring newcomers’ firsthand accounts.

Keen on the spookier, creepier side of Brockville? Take one of many Brockville Ghost Walks and Haunted Tours offered by the museum during the summer.

STROLL THROUGH KING STREET WEST – 6:00 PM

FIND YOUR CREATIVE HOME AT THE ARTS CENTRE.

A place for music, talks and theatre shows, the Brockville Arts Centre has a long history of serving creative communities. Now situated in a building first constructed in 1858 as a townhall and fire engine house, in its nearly 125-year history, it transitioned artistic uses as art and entertainment technologies evolved, welcoming opera performances and cinema screenings alike. In 2009, the building was fully restored and renovated to be a fully accessible building while retaining much of its original charm, including some original stone.

After a show at the centre, round out your night with an evening walk along the waterfront, stopping in at shops, cafes and sights to see along the St. Lawrence River.

Photo Credit Brockville Tourism

Day Two

THE SECRETS OF THE LAKE – 10:00 AM

WAKE UP EARLY FOR ISLAND HOPPING.

From the neighbouring city of Gananoque, you’ll head off on a 2.5-hour cruise. Aim to arrive in Gananoque half an hour early, as the boat departs at 10:00 am sharp. On your boat ride, see the remarkable islands, historic structures along the river, and even treasures sunken beneath the water’s surface.

For a different kind of watery adventure, check out The Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands Cruise. Over the centuries, the St. Lawrence has seen thousands of ships pursue travel, trade, and warfare, but not every vessel completed its journey – many wreckages now rest underwater, and at least one, the Iroquoise/HMS Anson, has been sitting there for well over two centuries.

This cruise takes visitors past the famous Boldt Castle (c. 1900), the 1000 Islands International Bridge, and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Catch glimpses of dozens of wreckages, like the Islander, Oconto, and Kinghorn. On the boat, get to know these ships better with an audio-visual presentation and side-scan sonar images of the various wrecks.

Photo Credit: Tourism 1000 Islands

THE CHARM OF DOWNTOWN GANANOQUE – 12:30 PM

A MUSEUM ON THE BANKS

You won’t have to go far after disembarking your boat ride: the 1000 Islands Museum is in the Heritage Village district, right on the picturesque waterfront. The museum is a treasure trove of local history, documenting the islands, the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee First Peoples of the region, and the European settlers who came after. At the museum, you’ll also learn about the Black history of the area, like stories of Black soldiers, sailors and farmers in the region.

Stepping into downtown Gananoque, you’ll find a charming small town with a collection of antique stores, galleries and shops to peruse. Several historic structures are hiding in plain sight, like the local library which was once the Victoria House & Jones Shovel Company.

Then detour down Stone Street to take in more of the small town’s history. Visit the Clock Tower, which chimes every hour, before making your way to the swing bridge by the water.

Close your night out with a cut across to watch the sunset on the waterfront. The area around the 1000 Islands Playhouse is charming, with a great view of the islands and plenty of spots to eat, including Japanese, steakhouse and Italian cuisine.

Photo Credit: Captured by Sage

YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE


YOUR TRIP AT A GLANCE

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.
All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.


We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.