Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
The 8 Best Historical Experiences in Ontario Parks

The landscapes of our provincial parks are like a vault of stories waiting to be opened.

This publication showcases the province’s eight major historical experiences that shed light on the land’s unique history.

Discover the mosaic of Ontario’s rich cultural history while visiting our parks!

1. Compete in the historic “Amazing Race” at Rondeau Provincial Park

Rondeau’s astonishing historic run takes teams across the peninsula. It’s like the TV show, but with a historical twist so the contestants learn about the history of the park.

Rondeau Park staff in costume taking a group selfie

Each stop involves a different historical figure from Rondeau’s past. Teams complete challenges related to historical figures and learn what their roles used to be in the park.

Sandy shore with grasses and poplars in summer under a blue sky

This year, the race is scheduled for Saturday, July 13, 2019. Teams can call the Visitor Center (519-674-1768) to pre-register.

2. Visit Spruce Lane Farm in Bronte Creek Provincial Park

Built in 1899 by Henry Breckon, Spruce Lane Farm and Farmhouse is open to visitors daily from July to August. A visit to the farmhouse is like traveling to the turn of the century.

Red country house with green trim and black roof with blue sky

There are daily tours and programs where visitors can discover what life was like in the early 20th century in the Bronte Creek area. Visitors can meet staff dressed in Victorian-era attire and witness some of the activities of that era, such as sewing, baking, butter making, and more.

Panoramic view of more Bronte Creek activities

Spruce Lane Farm House is open daily from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm in July and August.

3. Paddle like a traveler in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

Samuel de Champlain offers the unique experience of a Voyageur Adventure Tour, where you can travel in time and paddle a voyageur canoe.

Group in a voyageur canoe with a costumed staff member at the front of the canoe

Participants have the opportunity to discover the life of a traveler at the height of the fur trade by paddling the stunning Mattawa River with a park naturalist.

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traveling canoe from above

Tours run daily in July and August. Tour information and scheduling can be found here.

4. Discover the Agawa Rock Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park

A visit to Lake Superior’s Agawa Rock pictographic site is incredible. Generations of Ojibwe have recorded dreams, visions and events at this sacred place. It is one of the few pictographic sites in Ontario that is accessible on foot. There are 35 red ocher images visible.

A staff member shows visitors pictographs on the rocks.

The site is open from mid-May to mid-September. During July and August, park naturalists are on site to provide information about the pictographs daily, from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm (weather permitting).

Lake Superior pictographic site (cliffs plunging into the water) on a clear sunny day

The park also features an exceptional Visitor Center, which highlights the park’s cultural history, natural features, and recreational opportunities. The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (open until 8:00 pm in July and August) from May 17 to October 15, 2019.

5. Tour the remains of a World War II prisoner of war camp in Neys Provincial Park

Before becoming a park, Neys was the site of a prisoner of war (POW) camp during World War II. The camp primarily housed high-ranking German prisoners of war and was in operation between 1941 and 1946.

People looking at a mark in the forest, with the sun coming through the trees.

Today, the remains of the camp buildings are scattered throughout the camp area. During July and August, park naturalists offer weekly tours of the site to discover the fascinating history and stories of Neys Camp 100.

collage of historical images of the prisoner of war camp

The knowledgeable staff at the park’s Visitor Center also sheds light on this history. Visitors can see a model of the camp, photographs, documents and other intriguing artifacts.

6. Get hands-on with heritage at Sibbald Point Provincial Park

Experience life first-hand as a “gentle pioneer” in Upper Canada by joining a Hands On Heritage program at Sibbald Point. Programs are set against the backdrop of the picturesque Eildon Hall Museum, the historic property of the Sibbald family since 1835.

Large white mansion-like structure with brown trim and roof, on grass with a blue sky

Hands On Heritage programs provide visitors with the opportunity to take part in daily activities and entertainment from the early Victorian period. Whether making your own historical toy, writing a letter to a loved one with pen and ink, or competing to see who can master the heritage games, these drop-in shows make history fun for the whole family.

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Hands On Heritage programs run from July 3 to August 31., 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Thursdays, and from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays. Eildon Hall Museum is open daily during July and August.

7. Explore French River Culture at French River Provincial Park

The French River was the first river designated as Canadian Heritage. Located at the junction of the French River and Highway 69, the park’s Visitor Center was awarded the Governor General’s Medal for Architecture in 2010.

Interpretive skeleton display with a child looking at it and staff explaining

Explore the exhibits at the Visitor Center to discover the rich history of the First Nations and the French and English cultures who lived, worked and traveled along the French River over time.

wooded gorge

The Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm during July and August and Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in spring and fall.

8. Attend “Ships and Sails,” a one-day naval event at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park

Ships and Sails is a one-day naval event to commemorate the 91st anniversary of a War of 1812 battle between Americans, British and First Nations, which resulted in an American victory with the sinking of the British schooner Nancy.

Held at the Nancy Island Historic Site, this event will feature authentic naval tactics from the War of 1812, including cannon firing, musket demonstrations, machete drills, model ships, and displays of naval artifacts, station to build your own boat, tie knots. , and much more.

Ships and Sails will take place on August 17, 2019.

Can’t join us on August 17?

No problem! The Nancy Island Historic Site is open daily throughout the summer.

Visit the Welcome Center, built to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, highlighting the natural and cultural riches of the Wasaga Beach area, as well as acting as a gateway to Nancy Island.

While on site, visitors can interact with costumed staff and take part in hands-on demonstrations, as well as visit the theater to see an award-winning performance, the museum to see the real HMS Nancy as it stands today, and the lighthouse where you can! Enjoy the best view of Wasaga Beach!

Plan your historical experience today!

Ontario’s provincial parks offer countless opportunities to delve deeper into Ontario’s rich and diverse history and culture.

You can find a list of special events here to help you plan your historic adventures!