St. Catharines is the urban heart of the Niagara region. The city offers abundant wine and culinary experiences, plus unique festivals and cultural events including live music, theatre and sports. As the largest city in the region, this year-round destination is rich in significant Black and Indigenous history and is within easy reach of any location in the GTHA. (Not to mention a comfortable day’s drive from the U.S.)
April 11, 2023 | Photo Courtesy of Niagara Artists Center
DOWNTOWN ST. CATHARINES — 11:00 AM
NIAGARA ARTIST CENTER AND LUNCH – 12:30 PM
MONTEBELLO PARK — 3:00 PM
FIRSTONTARIO PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE — 8:00 PM
ST. CATHARINES MUSEUM AND WELLAND CANALS CENTRE — 10:00 AM
FOLLOW THE WINE ROUTE — 12:00 PM
PORT DALHOUSIE — 3:30 PM
STEP INTO HISTORY
Indigenous trails predating European settlement underpin St. Catharines’ major streets, including St. Paul Street. The construction of the first Welland Canal along Twelve Mile Creek made St. Paul Street a hub of commerce — the History InSite permanent installations are a great way to view historic locations downtown.
People of African descent began settling in the area in the late 18th century, and their descendants continue to live and thrive in the community today. That deep history is reflected at Salem Chapel BME Church with its famous congregant, legendary Underground Railroad conductor, Harriet Tubman. (Do book ahead for a tour as there are no walk-ins.)
ART AND A MEAL, RIGHT DOWNTOWN
While you’re exploring downtown visit the Niagara Artists Centre, one of the oldest artist-run organizations in Canada, sharing interdisciplinary contemporary arts of all kinds, including film, music and literature. Summer rooftop concerts are a favourite! NAC also runs The Studio Shop, an artist-run vintage clothing and art shop curated with an eye toward one-of-a-kind finds.
Take a lunch break at one of downtown St. Catharines’ many restaurants (there are over 70!): coffee at eclectic The Brazen Café, empanadas at Fiesta Empanada, or vegan cuisine at Rise Above Restaurant & Bakery are just a few of the choices. On Thursdays and Saturdays, check out the Farmers Market, operating since the 1860s and loved in the 2020s for both local produce and work by local artisans. The market regularly hosts live performances and a “Discovery Table,” connecting local farmers with market-goers.
A WALK IN THE PARK
Next, stroll through leafy Montebello Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, famed for co-designing New York City’s Central Park. Montebello has a splendid rose garden and a historic bandshell and pavilion, making it a perfect setting for festivals (including the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival). Another park-walking possibility is Richard Pierpoint, a park named for a one-time enslaved loyalist soldier with a celebrated St. Catharines history. At the age of 68 Pierpoint helped create “the Colored Corps” in the War of 1812, the only unit in Upper Canada composed entirely of men of African descent. Those men both fought in the war and helped repair fortifications at the mouth of the Niagara River.
This beautiful, state-of-the-art cultural complex is right downtown and boasts four impressive performance venues where you can enjoy live music, theatre and film. One of those venues is The Film House, featuring world-class cinema accompanied by Niagara wine and craft beer. Every September the Celebration of Nations holds its annual anchor event here, a three-day festival showcasing Indigenous arts and artists, with traditional and contemporary performing arts, visual arts and films, plus workshops and hands-on activities. FirstOntario PAC is also a partner of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, which means you might catch some emerging talent in performance — all part of the Centre’s role as a catalyst for downtown St. Catharines arts and culture.
FROM LOCKS TO LACROSSE
The Welland Ship Canal is a passageway for both “salties” (ocean-bound ships) and “lakers,” connecting the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Explore its history and get a front rail seat at the Lock 3 viewing platform as vessels pass through the lock. The adjacent park is the site of the Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial, a contemplative spot to reflect on the incredible human demands involved in the creation of such a feat of engineering. Many of St. Catharines’ stories are told in the St. Catharines Museum itself, from the history of St. Catharines’ women to its significant Underground Railroad legacy.
Then there’s the game of lacrosse, Canada’s official summer sport, created by Indigenous peoples. Learn all about “LAX,” as the sport is nicknamed, at the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame, located in the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre.
SO MANY WINERIES; SO MUCH GORGEOUS SCENERY
There are many possible paths through wine country – the entire Niagara Peninsula boasts one hundred wineries! – so plot your route via Wine Country Ontario’s detailed map. The 13th St. Winery, named the top Ontario winery at the 2022 National Wine Awards of Canada, is a lovely and chic jumping-off point that’s only ten minutes from downtown. It’s where you’ll find the 13th Street Gallery, dedicated to Canadian fine art, as well as a delightful sculpture garden. Consider strolling the outdoor space with a glass of wine in hand. Then grab a meal at The Farmhouse Bistro’s locally-inspired cuisine (seasonal hours), or head to the 13th Street Bakery for Canada’s Best Butter Tart (as awarded by House and Home).
Onto more wine, or perhaps ale. There are half a dozen nearby wineries to choose from, including the famed Henry of Pelham family estate with its “old world charm and new world winemaking.” Book a tour to learn about the history of the winery and the life of a wine grape — while sipping on Estate grown wines. The Coach House Café (seasonal hours) is where fine wine meets fine food: charcuterie, inventive mains and the like. Of course, wine isn’t the only beverage the region boasts. Lovers of ale will want to visit at least one of St. Catharines craft breweries along the Niagara Ale Trail: Cold Break Brewing, Decew Falls Brewing Company, Dragan Brewing & Wine, Lock St. Brewery and the Merchant Ale House. Cheers!
ONLY FIVE CENTS A RIDE
Port Dalhousie pretty much defines “waterfront charm.” Located on a small peninsula separating Martindale Pond from Lake Ontario, the town is famed for sandy Lakeside Park Beach, where you can stroll peacefully while taking in spectacular harbour views. If you’re feeling more energetic, you can also swim, paddleboard or kayak. In season, ride the historic Lakeside Park Carousel, purchased for St. Catharines’ early 20th century amusement park (with many visitors arriving by steamship). The menagerie has been meticulously restored to its turn-of-the century glory, and riders of all ages can enjoy a turn-of-the-century price — only five cents a ride!
Follow the walking trail to the wildflowers and willows of Rennie Park where you can watch as rowers glide by on Martindale Pond. It’s also where you’ll find the annual Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, its famous course constructed in 1903. Before heading home, take a turn around Port Dalhousie’s piers to enjoy the sunset, or stay on for dinner — popular spots are classic Italian (“with a twist!”) at The Twisted Pig and Spanish cuisine at Patio Andaluz.
13th Street Gallery
FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
Lakeside Park Beach
Lakeside Park Carousel
Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
Niagara Ale Trail
Niagara Artists Centre
Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Richard Pierpoint Park
Royal Canadian Henley Regatta
Salem Chapel BME Church
St. Catharines Museum And Welland Canals Centre
The Film House
Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial
Wine Country Ontario Map
13th St. Winery
13th Street Bakery
Cold Break Brewing
Decew Falls Brewing Company
Dragan Brewing & Wine
Henry of Pelham Family Estate
Lock St. Brewery
Merchant Ale House
Niagara Grape and Wine Festival
Rise Above Restaurant & Bakery
The Brazen Café
The Coach House Café
The Farmhouse Bistro
The Lemon Tree Mediterranean
The Twisted Pig
The Studio Shop
Charge into adventure! Electric vehicle drivers can explore Ontario with ease thanks to Ivy Charging Network stations located throughout the province.
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.
Ontario Culture Days thanks its tourism partner the City of St. Catharines for their support and assistance with this article. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.
by Heather Caswell
Milton is a pedestrian-friendly blend of modernity and historic charm surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment — the best of both worlds. The town is a rich cultural blend too, with a blossoming South Asian-Canadian population. Arts events reflect Milton’s ever-increasing diversity, from Milton Culture Days to Summer Days/Summer Nights.
April 1, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Conservation Halton
THE MILL POND; MATTAMY NATIONAL CYCLING CENTRE — 10:30 AM
DOWNTOWN MILTON — 1:00 PM
FIRSTONTARIO ARTS CENTRE MILTON — 6:30 PM
CONSERVATION HALTON PARKS — 10:00 AM
HALTON COUNTY RADIAL RAILWAY MUSEUM — 2:00 PM
COUNTRY HERITAGE PARK — 3:30 PM
TIME TO DINE — 6:30 PM
TWO GREAT WAYS TO START YOUR DAY
Before you get moving, consider accepting WildFlour Bakery’s invitation to “come for a coffee, stay for the pastries,” to enjoy some of their Portuguese specialties. Other appealing options include the espresso bar within the Butcher Bar and classic breakfasts at Grill Daddy. A Saturday morning stroll downtown throughout the summer months affords you time to engage with local farmers and artisans selling their wares at the Milton Farmers Market.
Next, head to the Mill Pond, a freshwater reserve that once powered a gristmill and now delights walkers (and sitters). An easy two-and-a-half kilometre loop takes you by a gazebo, an old Canadian National Railway bridge and John Sproat House, built in Georgian style in 1857. (Trivia buffs note — it was once home to P.L. Robertson, inventor of the Robertson Head Screw.)
For a more vigorous start to the day, head to the Mattamy National Cycling Centre which will be the centerpiece of the Milton Education Village and future home to both Conestoga College and Wilfrid Laurier University. This premier indoor facility which welcomes world class professionals and amateur cycling enthusiasts alike. Built for the 2015 Pan American Games, it’s one of only two such facilities in North America, making it a must-stop for fans of the velo or anyone who wants to ‘try the track’. So is the charming nearby hamlet of Campbellville, with its slogan of Hike It! Bike It! Like It! (It’s an excellent jumping off point for exploring the region on foot or bike.)
SHOP, SNACK, STROLL
The eye-catching mural at Main and Charles, painted by two up-and-coming artists, welcomes all to enjoy Milton’s local arts, culture (and shopping!) scene. The Barn Door Studio & Café, as well as Muse Studio & Market, both sell work from local creatives and offer workshops where you can make all manner of useful items from plant stands to dog leash holders. Textile lovers will want to browse Oh Look, Fabric! with its notable selection of modern fabrics and handmade gifts.
On select Saturdays, wander through Milton’s Farmers’ Market, an enticing fresh-air marketplace brimming with local produce and products. There aren’t too many downtowns that lay claim to an operating blacksmith shop, but Milton is one. The Waldie Blacksmith Shop is one of the oldest shops of its kind in the province that’s still in its original location. Watch experienced blacksmiths at work or book your own smithing session. Check ahead for hours and reservations.
If afternoon brings a sweet craving, you’re in luck. Milton boasts not one but two indie ice cream spots: Rock Star Ice Cream and Jay’s Ice Cream & Sunshine’s Gelato. Or, if you want sweetness picked from the tree take a ten-minute trip to Chudleigh’s Apple Farm for apple picking and orchard treks, maybe catching a summer music concert while you’re there. Not apple season? Not a problem. Savour the farm’s famous apple treats all year round at Chudleigh’s Blossom Café right downtown.
INSPIRED BY NATURE, CREATED FOR PERFORMANCE
Bright and airy, the FirstOntario Arts Centre Milton is an interdisciplinary arts venue that hosts a wide range of performances. Enjoy an evening of live music – from folk to the local Philharmonic – or take in a lively lecture series, film forum, or hands-on workshop.
The venue itself is inspired by Milton’s natural surroundings, with limestone, wood finishes and glass reflecting themes of water, agriculture, and the escarpment. If you’re intrigued by the design, consider booking a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more and to get a peek at the stage, green room and the Holcim Gallery with its visual arts exhibitions.
Pair your visit to the arts centre with a fine dining experience at Marquee Steakhouse. The Marquee hosts the region’s talented musical artists in their newly designed second-floor piano lounge. Enjoy live music with your meal inside or outside on their rooftop patio – which boasts an urban garden where the chefs grow vegetables and herbs to be included in their spring, summer and autumn menus.
A WORLD OF GREEN SPACES
You’d be hard-pressed to pick just one conservation area to visit near Milton. The region is home to half a dozen gorgeous spots, where you can hike, bike, rock climb, ski, golf and more. First, fuel up at the aptly named Trail Eatery in Campbellville. Then, noting that reservations are required to visit some conservation areas, you’re spoiled for choice. Crawford Lake Conservation Area features a stroller-friendly boardwalk dotted with wood carvings, as well as cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. It’s also home to the Longhouse Village, with three reconstructed fifteenth-century longhouses and the Three Sisters and Mashkiki Gitigan (medicine garden), a window into Indigenous agriculture and the lives of the meromictic lake’s original residents.
In winter, Kelso Conservation Area is where you’ll find skiing and snowboarding (at Glen Eden); in other seasons you can hike, bike, paddle or swim. Hilton Falls features beautiful waterfalls; Mount Nemo is famed for impressive biodiversity plus a stunning escarpment lookout; and Mountsberg is home to both a raptor centre and an animal barn.
RIDE THE RAILS
It all began in 1954 with a Toronto Transit Commission streetcar saved from the scrap yard by a group of devoted railcar fans. Today, adults and kids alike enjoy Ontario’s largest electric railway museum with its historic railcars that operate on two kilometers of scenic track. The museum has an impressive collection too, from vintage streetcars, locomotives and busses to other related rail paraphernalia (much of which you can wander inside!). No wonder it’s also been featured as a backdrop for film and TV productions, including Anne of Green Gables — it’s a sweet spot. It’s open seasonally, so check ahead.
THE RURAL URBAN CONNECTION
Country Heritage Park makes the connection between rural and urban, farming and food. It’s home to some beautiful 19th century buildings, including a church, a townhall and a schoolhouse. The park runs events of all kinds from craft fairs to truck pulls, as well as selling farm-fresh products. Make time to visit the garden created in conjunction with Grandmother’s Voice (an organization dedicated to sharing the wisdom of Indigenous grandmothers, elders and knowledge holders). The healing garden can be entered from all four directions and holds over thirty species of native plants.
FROM SOUTH ASIAN TO STEAKHOUSE
Milton’s dining choices include some very tasty South Asian cuisine — no surprise given South Asian residents represent close to thirty per cent of the town’s population. Options include buffet style at Bombay Grill, Pakistani dishes at Spice Fusion and naan at Naan Guys. There’s also fine dining of many cultures to be found, including gourmet Indian cuisine at Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana and Italian at Pasqualino (cooking classes also on offer). Feel more like pubbing? For a small city, Milton is replete with pubs, including the Ivy Arms, Rad Brothers Sports Bar & Tap House, Ned Devine’s Irish Pub and Bryden’s Pub & Restaurant. Ask for a local craft beer made by Orange Snail or Third Moon – or simply head straight to the breweries themselves to taste the brews in their original habitat.
Chudleigh’s Apple Farm
Country Heritage Park
Crawford Lake Conservation Area
Mural At Main And Charles
FirstOntario Arts Centre Milton
Halton County Radial Railway Museum
John Sproat House
Kelso Conservation Area
Mattamy National Cycling Centre
Muse Studio & Market
Oh Look, Fabric
Three Sisters And Mashkiki Gitigan
Waldie Blacksmith Shop
Barn Door Studio & Café
Bryden’s Pub & Restaurant
Coffee Culture Café & Eatery
Jay’s Ice Cream & Sunshine’s Gelato
Marquee Steakhouse & Piano Lounge
Milton Farmers’ Market
Ned Devine’s Irish Pub
Orange Snail Brewers
Rad Brothers Sports Bar & Tap House
Rock Star Ice Cream
Third Moon Brewing
Charge into adventure! Electric vehicle drivers can explore Ontario with ease thanks to IVY CHARGING NETWORK stations located throughout the province.
Ontario Culture Days thanks its tourism partner the Town of Milton for their support and assistance with this article. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.
Traveling along the Niagara River offers a vast and stunning experience of nature. The River is quite a sight, often presenting an alluring teal blue colour as it stretches 58 km between Lake Erie and the spectacular Niagara Falls. The River’s extensive journey marks the border between the United States of America and Canada.
Many tourists to Niagara Falls may be unaware of how Black communities have shaped this region for centuries. The area served as the Underground Railroad for many who followed the route seeking freedom in the mid-19th century. During the War of 1812, this is where British colonies’ allies, which included Black and Indigenous soldiers, battled with the United States of America.
January 25, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Destination Ontario
QUEENSTON HEIGHTS AND THE MACKENZIE PRINTERY — 10:00 AM
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE – 12:00 PM
WILLIAM SUSANNAH STEWARD HOUSE, NEGRO BURIAL GROUND AND FORT GEORGE — 3:00 PM
FIRST ONTARIO PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE — 6:00 PM
ST. CATHARINES FARMERS MARKET AND SALEM CHAPEL — 10:00 AM
CARIBBEAN EATS, ST. CATHARINES MUSEUM AND WELLAND CANALS CENTRE —12:00 PM
FORT ERIE — 6:00 PM
WAR OF 1812 AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Follow the Niagara River for a journey into the extensive Black history of the borderlands. Explore Queenston Heights, a lovely park on the Niagara escarpment. Here, you can find the memorials dedicated to the War of 1812, when British colonies in North America defended themselves from the United States of America. Visit the Coloured Corps War of 1812 heritage plaque, which is dedicated to the Black soldiers who fought with the British allies, and the Landscape of Nations Memorial, commemorating the Indigenous soldiers who also fought in the war.
Follow the North Star with Niagara Bound Tours to learn about the migration of Black American slaves coming to Canada. They’ll invite you to join a caravan tour to view the underground railroad. Listen to and learn from the impactful stories about escape from slavery.
Next, make your way to Queenston, a little village in the valley, and stop at Mackenzie Printery. This newspaper museum printed the Act Against Slavery in 1793, a first step in the gradual abolition of slavery in Canada.
BLACK HISTORY THROUGH ART
As you venture through Niagara-on-the Lake, keep an eye out for the memorial plaque to Chloe Cooley. It was her resistance that prompted the Act Against Slavery in the late 1800s. You can also take part in a self-guided walking tour (a handy app is available) as you wander around the Voices of Freedom Park. A series of art installations teach visitors about the history of Black people in the area, including those who were enslaved, Black loyalists, those who sought freedom, and free Blacks. As you make your way through the park, you’re reminded about the often-unacknowledged contributions Black settlers made in developing the area.
As you explore Niagara-on-the-Lake, there are plenty of restaurants and patios to choose from. After lunch, if the weather is warm, why not take a horse-driven carriage ride around the area? It’s a special way to soak in the essence of this popular strip.
AN AFTERNOON OF HISTORY AND HERITAGE
In the afternoon, head over to the William and Susannah Steward House (a viewing-only site). William Steward was African American and a community leader. Nearby you’ll find the Negro Burial Ground – a graveyard at the Niagara Baptist Church where members of the Black community worshiped.
Alternatively, you can pay a visit to Fort George, the home of the Coloured Corps, which is open seasonally. Step inside the fort’s restored buildings to see what life was like for soldiers in the 1800s. In the summer you’ll find re-enactments, costumed guides, and marching bands. Before you leave, be sure to pause at the Niagara River beside the fort.
ENTERTAINMENT IN THE CITY
Once you’re done exploring Niagara-On-The-Lake, make your way to St. Catharine’s for an evening of entertainment. The First Ontario Performing Arts Centre is known for blues, jazz and rock concerts, comedy stand-ups and even local movie screenings.
HARRIET TUBMAN’S TOWN
Make an early start to the day with a trip to the St. Catharines’ farmers market, (open seasonally). Power up with local coffee and nibble on homegrown produce and freshly baked pastries as you stroll and seek souvenirs.
Harriet Tubman is the most famous resident of St. Catharines. You can find her pew in the Salem Chapel in the British Methodist Episcopal Church. This local museum has many tales of Tubman and the Underground Railroad (make sure to call ahead and book a guide). After the tour, extend your afternoon with a stroll around Richard Pierpoint Park – named after a Black hero of the War of 1812.
DIG IN – TO LUNCH AND HISTORY
For lunch, why not check out some of the local Caribbean cafés and restaurants? These include the Caribbean Eatery, Island Spice Take Out and JamRock Irie Jerk, which features Jamaican dishes like slow-cooked oxtail, jerk chicken breast meal, and curry chicken roti.
After lunch, head out to the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre. The temporary exhibit Last Stop: In their Own Words, provides a look at the experience of the Black community in St. Catharines as told in their own words, and as they navigated their new lives in Canada. The viewing Lock 3 platform will provide an up-close view of ships as they lock through the Welland Ship Canal.
BEACH PROMENADE AND BATTLE REENACTMENTS
Fort Erie is a quaint hamlet at the south end of the Niagara River. Start with a visit to Waverly Beach Park and discover an amazing view of the Buffalo, USA skyline. Stroll the shores of Erie Beach Amusement Park which has a series of heritage plaques about the hotel and its role in forming the American Civil Rights movement in 1905. It was the forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Old Fort Erie is a historically rich spot where visitors can view battle sites from the War of 1812. There’s a museum nearby that offers education and context on the war itself. In the summer you can watch scores of re-enactors as they play out specific battles, which include Black and Indigenous troops who were crucial in defending the British colonies. Just down the road is Freedom Park. This small and quiet park is the site of a former ferry terminal and memorial to the Black people who crossed over here for freedom.
End the day with some food at any of the waterfront cafés and restaurants at Crystal Beach – or further along at Port Colborne.
CYCLING ALONG NIAGARA’S NATURE TRAILS
You can do this entire tour on a bicycle by traveling along the Niagara Recreational Trail. The paved trail is mostly along the Niagara River, with a few sections on quiet side roads. The Niagara bike trail joins up with the Welland Canal Trail, which offers another safe and quiet route along the water.
Coloured Corp War of 1812
First Ontario Performing Arts Centre
Landscape of Nations
Memorial Plaque to Chloe Cooley
Negro Burial Ground
Niagara Bound Tours
Niagara Recreational Trail
Old Fort Erie
Richard Pierpoint Park
Salem Chapel in the British Methodist Episcopal Church
St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre.
Voices of Freedom Park
Waverly Beach Park
Welland Canal Trail
William and Susannah Steward House
St. Catharines Farmers Market
JamRock Irie Jerk
All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. Jacqueline Scott, Ramona Leitao, Keira Park and Kaitlyn Patience contributed to this culture guide.
We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
by Rebel Trail Administrator
Some say “art is the new steel” in Hamilton. It’s no wonder — the city best known for its industrial side has become a thriving arts destination for artists and visitors alike. And with easy access from Toronto and Niagara Falls, Hamilton is ideal for a day trip…or two.
January 25, 2023 | Photo Courtesy of Art Gallery of Hamilton
COOL CAFES; ART GALLERY OF HAMILTON — 10:30 AM
JAMES STREET NORTH — 1:00 PM
URBAN MURAL WALKS — 3:30 PM
MUSICTOWN — 8:00 PM
ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS — 10:00 AM
DUNDAS ARTS STUDIOS —1:00 PM
COTTON FACTORY — 4:00 PM
THEATRE AQUARIUS; PLAYHOUSE CINEMA — 7:30 PM
Kickstart your day at a cheery café, of which Hamilton has an abundance. Coffee lovers will be pleased to discover the town where Tim Hortons was born is also home to a plethora of indies. Several are conveniently close to the Art Gallery of Hamilton, including Mulberry Coffeehouse, Redchurch Café + Gallery, and Ark + Anchor Espresso Bar. The AGH itself is the oldest, largest art museum in the region, home to an impressive permanent collection. You’ll find striking pieces by Alex Colville, the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and, notably, Norval Morrisseau. The Morrisseau works represent one of the largest public collections of the influential artist’s paintings, whose ground-breaking style is famous for highlighting the rich culture of the Anishinaabe peoples of Turtle Island.
BIRTHPLACE OF “ART IS THE NEW STEEL”
It’s one of the oldest streets in Canada with a history of “firsts” for Hamilton. First department store (The Right House), first skyscraper (Pigott Building) and first indoor mall (Lister Block). Today, James Street North is one of the first places to go for restaurants and galleries. The early 21st-century arts renaissance (which led to the slogan “art is the new steel”) has spread throughout the city now. But James North is still home to the popular Art Crawl pop-up event each month, plus permanent galleries including You and Me Gallery, and Hamilton Artists Inc. Also consider checking out artist-run co-op The Assembly on King although note — it’s open “by chance or by appointment.” That said, nearby Redchurch Café + Gallery has its own dedicated art space curated in partnership with The Assembly.
A PAINTED CITY
Hamilton has rightfully been called a city of murals, and you’ll see the vibrant public art form everywhere, including James Street North, Burlington, and Mary streets, and features a significant amount of eye-catching work by sought-after Haudenosaunee artist, Kyle Joedicke. Cyclists may choose to explore the one-hundred-plus murals on two wheels, thanks to the Hamilton Bike Share’s “Everyone Rides” initiative Mural Map. And July’s Concrete Canvas Art Festival gives one and all a chance to watch mural artists in the act of creation. Next on your plate could be some excellent dining, since Hamilton’s growing reputation as a creative culinary hotspot makes for many possibilities. To name a few: Mexican cuisine at The Mule, Italian at Born and Raised (home to Top Chef Canada finalist Vittorio Colacitti), pub food at Odds Bar (founded by two members of the band Arkells) and vegan cuisine at Democracy*.
FROM PUNK TO JAZZ TO CLASSICAL
Seems like every few years there’s another article about Hamilton’s music scene blowing up. Not a surprise, given the city is the birthplace of bands like Arkells, Whitehorse and Monster Truck, and home to Daniel Lanois’ world-renowned Grant Avenue Studio. There’s even a TV show (“This Is The Thing”), based on fictional Hamilton musicians — showcasing actual Hamilton musicians and comedians. In September, James Street’s Art Crawl turns into Supercrawl, celebrating music alongside art. Plus, the ongoing scene runs the gamut from punk to jazz to classical. FirstOntario Concert Hall is home to the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra as well as presenting a range of concerts by touring artists. Mills Hardware is a cool live music space with a long history: acts like Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, The Ink Spots, The Tragically Hip and The Ramones have all played at the venue. Today, the programming crisscrosses music genres along with theatre, comedy and more. As for the thriving local scene, check out the beloved Casbah Lounge.
WORLD’S LARGEST BOTANICAL GARDEN
Culture in Hamilton is growing — literally — at the Royal Botanical Gardens, just a few minutes’ drive from downtown. The world’s largest botanical garden has been described as “an interactive museum filled with natural wonders,” and so it is. With its 27-plus kilometres of trails, it’s a lovely place to visit any time of year. In season you’ll find the world’s largest lilac collection plus some 3,000 rose bushes, among other floral splendours. The RBG is also a choice lunch stop, given the Greenhouse Café specializes in local produce and Ontario wines and craft brews. The birthplace of the gardens is just a three-minute drive away at the Rock Garden, with its year-round perennial display that emphasizes sustainable trends in garden design in a heritage setting. Makes sense, considering Hamilton’s unique natural backdrop, with the Niagara Escarpment (nicknamed The Mountain) dividing the city, and sparkling with 100-some waterfalls mere minutes from the downtown core.
THE VALLEY TOWN
Stop in lovely little Dundas on your way back downtown. The “Valley Town,” as Dundas is known, is a true sweet spot: its historic 19th-century centre is dotted with boutiques and cafés and surrounded by green space. (Not to mention it has the distinction of hosting the annual Cactus Festival, which has led some to call Dundas the “cactus capital of the universe.”) Dundas also has a thriving visual arts scene, with the Dundas Valley School of Art, Millworks Creative’s community of artists, and a bustling annual studio tour each fall. Permanent galleries include The Carnegie Gallery, with exhibitions by contemporary Canadian artists (and arts and crafts by locals on offer), plus Danuta Niton — Art of Design Studio, and Lorraine Roy Art Textiles.
COOL, GRITTY…AND CHARMING
From cotton mill to creative hub, welcome to The Cotton Factory. Back in 1900, Hamilton was on the verge of an economic boom that made its steel famous, but textiles played their part too, notably the Imperial Cotton Company’s canvas manufacturing. Today, the charming old building has been repurposed as a centre for artists of all kinds (furniture designers, photographers, musicians, filmmakers etc.) to create and collaborate. Art experiences, markets and open studio days are regular features, with some studios selling the work of local makers. Located in a cool, gritty, and evolving part of Hamilton you’ll also find interesting spots to dine not far away. For instance, Motel Restaurant’s hipster brunches, Mosaic (“a chill bar with a warm vibe”), the Galley Pump’s hometown comfort food, and O Leão Cafe & Restaurant’s Portuguese cuisine.
STAGE AND SCREEN
Theatre Aquarius is known for producing high-quality work and for its interest in bringing new plays to the stage. In other words, the name Theatre Aquarius is synonymous with accessible, challenging, and entertaining live theatre. But it also serves as a vibrant part of Hamilton’s arts community through theatre arts education for young people of diverse backgrounds, and with Indigenous, newcomers, and LGBTQ+ outreach programs. Note too that Hamilton offers a theatre experience of the filmic kind at the Playhouse Cinema, where you can enjoy all manner of movies in a restored and beautiful theatre dating back 105 years.
Art Gallery of Hamilton
The Assembly Gallery
Concrete Canvas Art Festival
The Cotton Factory
Danuta Niton — Art of Design Studio
Dundas Studio Tour
Dundas Valley School of Art
FirstOntario Concert Hall
Grant Avenue Studio
Hamilton Art Crawl
Hamilton Artists Inc.
Hamilton Mural Map
Lorraine Roy Art Textiles
The Right House
Royal Botanical Gardens
You and Me Gallery
Ark + Anchor Espresso Bar
Born and Raised
O Leão Cafe & Restaurant
Redchurch Café + Gallery
Ontario Culture Days thanks its tourism partner THE HEART OF ONTARIO for their support and assistance with this article. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.
Sault Ste. Marie is forever linked to its river, “Bawating” or “place of the rapids”, named by The Ojibwe people. Even French colonists, when they arrived in the 17th century, called the area “Saults de Sainte-Marie”, translated to “St. Mary’s Falls”, again after the spectacular rushing waters. Much of your cultural experience in town can take place along its banks, with galleries, museums and street art rolling along the river. And beyond the city’s limits, with the river situated as a natural highway into the Great Lakes and the ‘further north’, it’s no surprise that the Soo and its river have thrived together.
SCULPTURE PARK & ART GALLERY OF ALGOMA — 10:00 AM
SAULT STE. MARIE MUSEUM — 1:30 PM
THE ERMATINGER CLERGUE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE — 3:00 PM
THE BUSHPLANE CENTRE — 3:00 PM
HUB TRAIL & WHITE FISH ISLAND — 5:00 PM
THRIVE TOURS — 10:00 AM
THE OLD CHAPEL & SHINWAUK CENTRE — 2:00 PM
HISTORIC NEIGHBOURHOODS — 2:00 PM
Founded in 1975, the Art Gallery of Algoma has studios, a cafe, and four exhibition spaces. Their collection of nearly 5000 works has a rigorous Indigenous art collection, including work from John Laford and Norval Morrisseau. The gallery also has a large selection from the Group of Seven and Dr. Roberta Bondar. For anyone looking to brush up on their creative skills, the gallery holds various classes and creative workshops throughout the year, including Woodland Style paint classes.
Conveniently located right next door to the Art Gallery of Algoma, the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park is home to a number of important and eclectic works. Spot an arch composed of leaping dolphins or a totem pole fashioned out of used car parts. And feel the sense of community while you stroll, even in its namesake: the park was named after a devoted volunteer and early supporter of the Art Gallery of Algoma.
Feeling hungry after your gallery visit? Walk over to nearby Queen Street to take in all the fine culinary fare on offer. We hear that Tandoori Garden has the best curry in town!
TAKE IN THE HISTORY OF THE SOO
After your lunch break, head over to the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, which is located in an old Edwardian post office. The museum chronicles the history of the Soo, from when the ancestors of the Ojibwe people first walked along its shores, through to French and British colonization, and into the present day.
The museum’s three floors are full of galleries, displays, and vignettes, including the Walter Wallace Military Gallery, the Sports Hall of Fame, and the Discover Gallery where kids can get hands on.
A slice of 19th century life awaits you at this National Historic Site. Here you’ll find some of the oldest stone buildings in Ontario, which were built for notable fur trader Charles Oakes Ermatinger, and later housed the American industrialist Francis Hector Clergue. Both Ermantinger and Clergue were instrumental in building up industry and infrastructure in the area, allowing the Soo to grow into the commercial hub that it is today.
Stroll through the historic chambers of the Old Stone House and the Blockhouse, or wander its gardens, where period-specific produce and flowers are grown. You can visit the nearby Heritage Discovery Centre to take an interactive tour of 19th century Sault Ste. Marie.
Your final of three options for an afternoon museum will have you find your wings! In Ontario’s northern reaches, the bush plane is vital, enabling shipping and transportation across vast distances.
At this museum, take in dozens of bush planes from across decades. Relax in the theatre and learn about battling forest fires in Ontario, from the air and on the ground, or hop in the Flight Adventure Simulator and experience the unique aerial views of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma.
WIND DOWN WITH A TRIP ALONG THE HUB TRAIL
Sault Ste. Marie is a city with a view, so put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes or grab a bike, and head down the Hub Trail. The trail circumvents the entire city, including a wonderful portion running along the waterfront. It’s a great way to see the river and its American sister city of the same name, Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, across the water. If you’re keen to take a more casual route, the boardwalk also offers a fantastic view and includes a few spots to stop and look at the river.
Either way, you’ll eventually find your way to the Canal National Historic Site, where you can watch ships cruise by or learn about the history of the locks.
Just across the canal is White Fish Island, a popular spot for a leisurely stroll or a beautiful sunset walk. Here, you can take a self-guided, 2-hour tour to learn about Indigenous heritage and culture. This has always been a place of importance for the Ojibway: Elders from Batchawana share that when the Creator told the crane to choose a homeland, he flew in search of it and settled in Bawating. Currently a gathering place for the Three Fires Confederacy between the Ojibway, Potawatomi, and Odawa Peoples. While you’re there, look out for the interpretive signs to learn more of this history!
This walking tour will have you work up an appetite right before dinner – for a late evening bite choose between Chinese, Italian, Thai, and Middle Eastern.
PADDLE, PAINT, AND TREK WITH THRIVE TOURS
Connect to nature on a guided adventure by either canoe, kayak, hiking, or snowshoeing. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced, Thrive Tours is has an option for anyone looking to enjoy nature or learn to kayak. Their outings range from a half-day, 2-hour excursion to a full 6-hour trek. We recommend the tours featuring Indigenous ecology philosophies as well as the Woodland Style paint-and-paddle workshop. Inquire online ahead of time, as pre-registration is required.
For a quick bite on your way back into town, choose Chummy’s Grill. Home of an “All Day Breakfast” and renowned burgers and home cut fries. Don’t miss their ‘R Smokin Store’ drive-thru, which is open 7 a.m. to midnight, 365 days a year.
EXPLORE IN THE EAST
Take in the farther out city spots in the east end. Head to the Bishop Fauqier Memorial Chapel and the neighboring Shingwauk Centre. The Gothic- and Tudor-style chapel (constructed between 1881 and 1883) is named after the first Anglican Bishop of Algoma, and was built to service the Shingwauk Residential School, which ran until 1970.
The University of Algoma took over the site of the residential school and over time has worked to research, document and share the history of the residential school program. You can go for a tour at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre or visit the archives to learn more about the lives of survivors.
Still in the east, you’ll find a handful of blocks that contain some of Sault Ste. Marie’s most charming homes, storefronts and hotels. Wander the streets and you’ll see lovingly- restored examples of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.
For the final stop on your journey, it’s time to turn your gaze to natural delights. Bellevue Park has an abundance of flora and fauna to explore, as well as a greenhouse full of decorative blooms. If you want to get a little closer to the water, walk across the small land bridge to Topsail Island and check out its miniature beach. This is the perfect place for a final sunset to end your trip to the Soo.
Looking to explore a little further afield? Sault Ste. Marie is a major hub for outdoor exploration, and with a twin sister city across the river, there’s plenty to do if you’re looking to extend your northern adventure.
AGAWA CANYON & PICTOGRAPHS
Located to the far north of Sault Ste. Marie, these ancient trails house some of the oldest Indigenous art in the country: the famed Pictographs of Agawa.
Sault Ste. Marie Public Library – James L. McIntyre Centennial Library
Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park
Art Gallery of Algoma
Sault Ste. Marie Museum
Sault Ste. Marie Hub Trail & Boardwalk
Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site
Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site & Old Stone House
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Sault Ste. Marie Heritage Neighborhoods
Bishop Fauquier Memorial Chapel & Shingwauk Centre
All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.
by ON Culture Days Team
Located south of Brantford and running alongside the Grand River, this southwestern territory in Ontario is brimming with history that spans thousands of years. The Six Nations of the Grand River is the only region in the continent where all Haudenosaunee nations live together. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy (which translates to “they build houses”) is made up of the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora nations. Together they contribute to the area’s rich arts, natural elements, history, and ongoing legacy.
November 15, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Six Nations Tourism
HER MAJESTY’S ROYAL CHAPEL OF THE MOHAWKS – 10:00 AM
MOHAWK INSTITUTE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL AND THE WOODLAND CULTURAL CENTRE – 12:00 PM
KAYANASE GREENHOUSE – 4:00 PM
CHIEFSWOOD PARK – 5:00 PM
SIX NATIONS TRAIL – 10:00 AM
CHIEFSWOOD NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE & YAWÉKON – 11:00 AM
SIX NATIONS ARTISANS – 2:00 PM
WINGS & BINGO — 5:00 PM
BEYOND THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS
When you first arrive at Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, you’ll see a quaint building with eight beautiful stained-glass windows. But beyond the infrastructure and picturesque nature surrounding the area lies a history that spans 300 years. Built in 1785, it’s the oldest surviving church in Ontario. The Chapel offers workshops and guided walking tours for visitors to learn more about the history of the Six Nations and its relationship with settler Canada. You can learn more through talks led by community members on this complex history as well as perspectives on reconciliation from Six Nations community members.
LEARNING ABOUT RECONCILIATION
Delve deeper into important history through the Mohawk Institute Residential School and the Woodland Cultural Centre. The Centre was established in 1972 after the closure of the residential school. It is now one of the most extensive facilities in Canada managed by First Nations, with over 50,000 artifacts in its collection and a library of Indigenous-only books, research, and more. Want to learn more? Book a Truth and Reconciliation presentation to further understand the latest progress report and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 10 Principles and 94 Calls to Action. The Centre also offers virtual tours of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, which was in session for 140 years.
Next, visit the locally-owned Burger Barn for lunch. The restaurant is known for having the ultimate comfort food with huge portions. The restaurant – which looks like a barn from the outside —boasts fresh 8oz ground patties and a variety of styled burgers that have toppings like macaroni and cheese and pulled pork.
A HORTICULTURAL TOUR
Now 15 years old, Kayanase Greenhouse is dedicated to restoring the remaining nature after the construction of the Red Hill Valley Parkway. It’s the perfect spot to learn more about ecological restoration and traditional harvesting and planting methods. The greenhouse offers native plants and seeds to purchase, such as wild bergamots and tree saplings. This area is open seasonally, so be mindful of this when you visit.
A DAY OF PLAY
Right next door to Kayanase is Chiefswood Park, known for its forest trails, historical exhibits and outdoor activities. Secure a full- or half-day experience to learn about Haudenosaunee culture and art. Enjoy sports? Pick up the history of the iconic sport lacrosse, and play it too. Want to grasp how food is harvested traditionally? AR/VR experiences are available to learn about the Three Sisters. In the evening, end the day paddling or lounging at the Grand River. Did you know you can also spend the night at Chiefswood Park? Their accommodations range from different-sized cabins to tent camping or glamping in a Riverside Hut.
TAKING IN NATURE ON THE TRAIL
Explore the largest Carolinian forest in Southern Ontario while walking the Six Nations Trail. The trail is suitable for almost everyone and takes about 15 minutes to complete. A guided tour will help you learn more about the Indigenous plants in the area.
AN ARTIST’S PARADISE AND TOP CHEF DISHES
Tour Chiefswood National Historic site, built in the mid-1800s for Chief George Johnson. The site is the birthplace of Indigenous poet, performer, and author E. Pauline Johnson, also known as Tekahionwake. Her poetry is recognized for its strong portrayal of Indigenous women and children. Some of her most notable poems include “A Cry from an Indian Wife,” about the Riel Rebellion, and “Ojitsoh,” about a Mohawk wife who is kidnapped by a Huron captor.
For lunch, try some Haudenosaunee cuisine at Yawékon by Tawnya Brant. Brant is a local chef and former competitor of Top Chef Canada. Yawékon means “it tastes good” in Mohawk, which is quite fitting for this special food spot. Brant likes to use ingredients she grew at home to make dishes like Three Sister soup, and blueberry and pan-seared Bay of Quinte Mohawk trout cakes.
HANDMADE JEWELRY, CRAFTS & MORE
Support Six Nations artisans by shopping locally. Sapling and Flint is named after the twin boys born to Skywoman’s daughter, according to the Ohswekén:’a Creation Story – a fitting name for a shop run by twin sisters! Their handmade jewelry is made of gold, wampum, and sterling silver. Proceeds contribute to cultural projects in Six Nations. Ribbon skirts, pants and plush reversible blankets can be found at GOTribalwear. Or visit I&S Crafts and Supplies for hand-made jewelry and Delica beading supplies.
Iroqrafts is the oldest and largest arts and crafts store in Six Nations, with plenty of goodies to choose from. You’ll find local creations including beadwork, soapstone sculptures, moccasins, and turtle shells. Authentic furs, fur hats, boots, hide, and leather goods are available to purchase as well.
DINNER AND A GAME
End the day with a hearty dinner at Village Pizza and Wings. The restaurant is known for its — you guessed it — stone oven pizza and jumbo wings. The generous portions will not leave you hungry.
Next, test your luck and contribute to the community with Six Nations Bingo. Join matinee and evening sessions where you can win jackpot prizes in the thousands. Six Nations Bingo donates 40 per cent of its annual profits to educational community programs across the region.
Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks
Mohawk Institute Residential School Virtual Tour
Woodland Culture Centre
Riverside Hut at Chiefswood Park
Chiefswood National Historic site
Six Nations Bingo
Sapling and Flint
I&S Crafts and Supplies
Yawékon by Chef Tawnya Brant
Village Pizza and Wings
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.
Ontario Culture Days thanks its tourism partners Six Nations Tourism and The Heart of Ontario for their support and assistance with this article. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Ramona Leitao.
by Keira Enneson Park
Owen Sound has been called “The Scenic City” with good reason. At the mouths of the Pottawatomi and Sydenham Rivers, it’s beautifully situated. It’s also home to fascinating history as the northernmost “station” on the Underground Railroad — the path to escaping slavery once the British Empire abolished it in 1834. Make sure to take time to explore the city’s fine museums, eat equally fine food, and check out the Sound’s great music scene. It’s a small city, but it has a big personality.
November 10, 2022
Photo by Melissa Crannie
WEST SIDE TOUR — 10:00 AM
A MUNIFICENCE OF MUSEUMS — 12:00 PM
HARRISON PARK — 3:00 PM
MUSIC — 7:00 PM
FROM SALVATION CORNERS TO DAMNATION CORNERS
Owen Sound is eminently walkable. Start with a coffee on the East Side, now known as the River District, (Frogs Pond and Birgit’s Bakery Café among other spots), strolling through famously named intersections: Salvation Corners (many churches) and Damnation Corners (infamous taverns of yesteryear). Head west to delve into history and architecture. The West Side Tour has over a dozen stops including the Kennedy Foundry, a machine shop that built WWll ship propellors and was one of a number of Owen Sound businesses to employ Black workers. Molock House was the home of Francis Ebenezer Molock, who escaped from slavery with help from famous Underground Railroad “conductor,” Harriet Tubman. An early congregation of what’s now known as the British Methodist Episcopal Church held Owen Sound’s first Emancipation Picnic, a tradition that continues to this day. On the architecture tip: look out for Wilkinson House, restored to its Arts and Craft beauty, as well as notable examples of homes in the Queen Anne Revival style.
ROOTS AND WINGS
There’s no denying that Owen Sound, built along the Niagara Escarpment within the Bruce Peninsula, has unique natural beauty, including four gorgeous waterfalls in the area. But there are also wonders created by human hands, evidenced in some excellent museums and galleries focused on telling regional stories. There’s the story of Canada’s most famous flying ace, told at the Billy Bishop Home & Museum. There’s the story of Grey County’s diverse roots: Grey Roots Museum & Archives commemorates the struggles and victories of the area’s Black community. Then there’s the story of Tom Thomson. The Tom Thomson Art Gallery honours the iconic artist (who grew up north of Owen Sound), as well as hosting a collection of contemporary artists who engage in landscape, as Thomson himself so famously did. And you’ll find local art throughout the city – look out for more than 20 public artworks produced by the Gallery or independent artists and collaborators.
WALK THE FREEDOM TRAIL
Harrison Park’s Freedom Trail is both figuratively and literally a moving way to explore some of the story of Black settlers in Grey County. It’s a ten-kilometre self-guided trail connected to former slaves who lived and worked in the area. Visit the Black History Cairn, designed by Bonita Johnson de Matteis, a local artist who herself is a descendant of escaped slaves. The cairn traces some of the routes people were forced to take into slavery, and pursued to take out of it. Details include windows modelled on the Little Zion Church (the first Black church in Owen Sound). In August, visitors won’t want to miss the annual Emancipation festival and picnic, held every summer since 1862 to mark the anniversary of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1834. That act abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing enslaved Africans in a number of countries, including Canada. It’s a special event — among other things it’s thought to be the longest-running Emancipation festival in North America. Harrison Park itself has been called the “jewel in the crown” of Owen Sound with 40 hectares of streams, forest, gardens and playgrounds. Visitors may wish to stroll alongside or paddle the river, perhaps stopping by Harrison Park Inn restaurant, a favourite local landmark.
SOUNDS IN THE SOUND
Owen Sound is known for its lively music scene, from classical (as the home of the Georgian Bay Symphony Orchestra), to folk, blues, jazz and rock. Open mic nights and songwriters’ circles are a regular feature around town, so check out spots like Heartwood Hall, Harmony Centre, The Pub and Jazzmyn’s — the last two also popular spots to dine.
Of course, if you want to consider a full range of Owen Sound dining options have a look at the city’s “Savour Owen Sound” venues. They’re worth a visit at any time of year, though the annual, award-winning month-long Savour event may up the culinary stakes. Or visit Naagan, an Indigenous dining experience by chef Zach Keeshig, operating out of the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market. Either way, Owen Sound aims to satisfy your inner foodie with hyper-local deliciousness.
FALL FOR OWEN SOUNDS’ WATERFALLS
When it comes to waterfalls Ontario is rightfully renowned for majestic Niagara, but Owen Sound also claims waterfall glory, thanks to the rocky Niagara Escarpment. Inglis Falls is perhaps most spectacular of the four falls in the area, particularly in winter when intricate ice formations charm snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Pretty little Weavers Creek Falls is accessible from the south end of Harrison Park — adventurers might even hike or snowshoe from there to Inglis Falls, just two and a half kilometres on the Bruce Trail. Jones Falls, west of town on the Pottawatomi, may lure you in springtime for the exquisite Trilliums and Columbines, plus an impressive spring runoff. Last and certainly not least, the horseshoe-shaped Indian Falls: a one-kilometre walk up the escarpment (stairs ease your way) through hardwood forest, giving it definite autumnal appeal.
BILLY BISHOP HOME & MUSEUM
BLACK HISTORY CAIRN
GEORGIAN BAY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
GREY ROOTS MUSEUM & ARCHIVES
HARRISON PARK’S FREEDOM TRAIL
KENNEDY FOUNDRY, MOLOCK HOUSE, AND WILKINSON HOUSE
TOM THOMSON ART GALLERY
BIRGIT’S BAKERY CAFÉ
OWEN SOUND FARMERS’ MARKET
SAVOUR OWEN SOUND
THE PUB AND JAZZMYN’S
Stretched along the Detroit River, Windsor is a hub of cultural, industrial and creative innovation. The region is speckled with galleries, concert venues, international foods, and – as Canada’s southernmost city and a historic entry point into our nation – rich in Black history.
As a border city, Windsor played an important role in the Underground Railroad, an anti-slavery freedom movement that helped thousands to escape enslavement and start new lives in Canada where slavery had been abolished in 1834. This heritage is preserved in local museums and through annual cultural events.
October 11, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Ontario Heritage Trust
RIVERFRONT — 10:00 AM
JOSIAH HENSON MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-CANADIAN HISTORY OR CHIMCZUK MUSEUM — 1:00 PM
THE CHRYSLER THEATRE — 7:00 PM
RUM RUNNERS BUS TOUR — 10:00 AM
ART WINDSOR-ESSEX (AWE) — 3:00 PM
SANDWICH FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH — 10:00 AM
AMHERSTBERG FREEDOM MUSEUM AND FORT MALDEN — 11:30 AM
POINT PELEE NATIONAL PARK— 3:00 PM
LEAMINGTON — 7:00 PM
SCENIC VIEWS AND SCULPTURE
In the morning, start your trip downtown getting to know Windsor’s riverfront, which flows past a variety of landmark experiences. The Detroit River has always been a place of convergence – before settler contact, Indigenous peoples called it Wawiiatanong, meaning ‘where the river bends.”
Whether you travel on foot or pedal along calming bike paths, you must pause to explore the Windsor Sculpture Park. This outdoor gallery holds over 33 works of public art by internationally recognized artists, including Haydn Llewellyn Davies, Sorel Etrog, and Xiaofeng Yin. With waterfront views and paved pathways, this free-entry park can be enjoyed throughout all four seasons.
RECLAIMING BLACK HISTORY
Discover Black history on a drive to the beautiful village of Dresden about 1.5 hours away. Here you can visit the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History, an Ontario Heritage Trust stewarded site. Henson was a preacher, author and, while escaping from slavery, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, rescuing 118 enslaved people in his time. Once in Upper Canada, Henson turned his passion for self-reliance and education into a new settlement, Dawn, with a school, farming community and industries. He was fictionalized as Uncle Tom in an anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But this was an identity and name he refuted – so, the museum has recently renamed itself to reflect his objection. The sites of the Dawn settlement and its Underground Railroad stories are now told here through interactive exhibits, Black History Month programming and special events to mark Emancipation Day.
Then visit the nearby Buxton National Historic Site and Museum. Once a settlement for escaped slaves and free Black people, today the site tells the story of the Buxton community and its significance to the Underground Railroad and Black Canadian history. The museum offers guided tours, exhibits, and educational programs that help paint a picture of the community that once lived there.
Another option in Windsor’s downtown core is the Chimczuk Museum, which features a walk-through of Windsor from the pre-historic era to the modern day, including a darkened tunnel-like space which tells the stories of those who traveled the Underground Railroad.
STAND-UP, SINGERS AND STAGE DOORS
Return downtown for an evening at the Chrysler Theatre. Situated within the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, which boasts a competitive musical theatre program, this facility is abuzz with creative talent and offers another stunning waterfront view. There’s something for every audience, including concerts, stand-up comedy, movie nights, drag shows, and professional theatre and dance.
DANCE THE CHARLESTON
Rum and whisky flowed along the Windsor-Detroit border during Prohibition in the 1920s, when spirits and alcohol were outlawed on both sides of the border. For an immersive experience, hop on the Rum Runner’s Tour bus and let a colourful, funny cast of roaring twenties characters take you back in time. Your ticket to this multi-hour tour includes lunch in a reimagined speakeasy filled with piano music of the era and boards to dance the Charleston on, if you’re feeling adventurous and up for a spin.
AFTERNOON AT THE ART GALLERY
Come back to current times with contemporary art, found at the renowned gallery Art Windsor-Essex. With nearly 4000 works of art, it is the largest public art gallery in Southwestern Ontario and includes an extensive collection of works by Indigenous artists, like Norval Morrisseau and Bonnie Devine, and artwork by Black artists Charles McGee, Kara Springer and Tim Whiten, in addition to related thematic exhibitions. You’ll also find work by a diverse array of artists at the Arts Council Windsor & Region in the Artspeak Gallery, and through their Art.Work workshops and New Voices program.
Later, you can grab a quick bite near the gallery, with The Mini Restaurant (Vietnamese), Dhesi Swaad (Indian), or Steak n Shawarma (Middle Eastern). Or for more delicious options a 5 minute drive away, try Bubi’s Awesome Eats for gourmet burgers, Native Wonders Gourmet Grub’s Indigenous inspired and traditional fare, or Mazaar with its Lebanese cuisine.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF HISTORY
On your final day, dive deeper into Black history around the Windsor area. The first stop is Sandwich First Baptist Church. Sandwich was a town amalgamated into Windsor in 1935, but its history stands tall in this National Historic Site, the oldest – and still active – Black church in Canada. Noted for its simplicity and modest design, the church is built with bricks made of clay dug from the Detroit River. More importantly, the bricks were molded and laid by hand by Underground Railroad refugees, freemen, and runaways who settled in Sandwich. They formed a congregation which further rescued and sheltered more people escaping through the Underground Railroad, often using hidden rooms in the church to shelter newcomers from authorities.
SITES TO THE SOUTH
Next stop is small town Amherstburg, 25 minutes south of your morning’s activities. Here you’ll find two museums: for War of 1812 history and re-enactments, go through Fort Malden; for African-Canadian history, spend the afternoon at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum.
Amherstburg was for many the last stop on the Underground Railroad; between 1800 and 1860, 50,000 men, women and children passed through or settled in this sanctuary. Those people would’ve seen the same sites preserved today by the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, like the Nazrey A.M.E. Church and the home of George Taylor, a formerly enslaved man. The museum offers guided and self-guided tours for walk-ins and tour groups, and if you come during certain seasons, you can catch cultural programming like Ribs & Ragtime and Emancipation Celebrations. Curators at the museum put together limited-run exhibits, in addition to a permanent collection of artifacts that educate and inspire.
For lunch, enjoy a picnic in nearby Centennial Park or along the banks of the Amherstburg Harbour.
For an unforgettable nature experience, take a scenic drive to Point Pelee National Park, Canada’s most ecologically diverse National Park. Birdwatching here is renowned during the migratory seasons and avid watchers can participate in the Festival of Birds, a 3-day event in May. More than wildlife, the park is also ripe for swimming, canoeing, cycling, or hiking the trails. In the fall, enjoy the annual afternoon arts market, Art at the oTENTiks, or biweekly stargazing nights. The park remains open in the winter, where you can explore quiet trails muffled by snow, surrounded by natural ice formations.
Finish your day by choosing from a selection of well-regarded restaurants in Windsor including Eddy’s Mediterranean Bistro, India 47, Thai Time, or Zuleeats (which promises to take your tastebuds on a trip to Ghana with savoury pies, sausage rolls and butter tarts!).
A BLACK MECCA IN CHATHAM
An hour away from Windsor, and run by the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, the Black Mecca Museum is dedicated to uncovering and celebrating the rich history of the region’s Black community. Once known as “The Forks,” Chatham was a sanctuary for runaway slaves and saw a significant increase in its Black population by the mid-1800s. Interactive displays and exhibits explore the lives of Black families who settled there.
VISIT THE ISLAND
Should you find yourself with additional time to enjoy the region, visiting Pelee Island is a must. This beautiful location houses a rare Carolinian forest, two provincial nature reserves and more than a handful of conservation areas. Wine and history buffs may want to sign up for a Pelee Island Adventures tour of Vin Villa – the most historically significant winery in North America. As part of the tour, you’ll be offered delicious tastings, and the opportunity to wander through ruins and a restored basement that will make you feel as if you’ve travelled back in time.
Amherstburg Freedom Museum
Arts Council Windsor & Region
Art Windsor-Essex (AWE)
Black Mecca Museum
Buxton National Historic Site and Museum
The Chrysler Theatre
Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History
Leamington Arts Centre
Point Pelee National Park
Rum Runners Bus Tour
Windsor Sculpture Park
Bubi’s Awesome Eats
Charm’s x 2Cravinn
Cured Craft Brewing Co.
Czech out our Dumplings
Delizioso Italiano Food Truck
The Mini Restaurant
Native Wonders Gourmet Grub
Steak n Shawarma
All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. Jacqueline Scott, Glodeane Brown, Eilish Waller and Kaitlyn Patience contributed to this culture guide.
Its official name isn’t the Beautiful Bay of Quinte but it could be — given the undeniable charms of what locals just call the Bay. As a newer travel destination, it has a very old history — back in the 12th century it was the birthplace of Tekanawita (the Peacemaker) who brought a constitution of peace to the original Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy. Today, the Bay of Quinte is fast becoming known for arts and culture (not to mention plenty of good eats).
September 9, 2022 | Photo Credit Justen Soule
PRESQU’ILE PARK — 10:00 AM
QUINTE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY — 12:00 PM
DOWNTOWN BELLEVILLE — 3:00 PM
THE EMPIRE AND MORE — 7:00 PM
TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY — 10:00 AM
HER MAJESTY’S ROYAL CHAPEL OF THE MOHAWKS — 1:00 PM
TYENDINAGA CAVERN AND CAVES — 2:00 PM
GREATER NAPANEE ‘PALLET’ABLE ART PROJECT — 5:00 PM
MUSIC — 7:30 PM
FROM SHOREBIRDS TO SONGBIRDS
Birding is really taking off (pun intended!) as one of the fastest-growing hobbies in North America. Presqu’ile Park, a hot spot for bird migration with some 338 species identified, is a perfect vantage point to admire both shorebirds and songbirds. With its long sandy beach and Lake Ontario views the park is also ideal for walking, biking and camping. (The marsh boardwalk has been called “a gem” by more than one visitor.) To learn about the area’s natural and cultural history, stop in at both The Nature Centre and The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre, which highlights the park’s cultural legacy and its connection to Lake Ontario’s past.
THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Lunch in nearby Brighton (try The Whistling Duck for patio views of the lake) or press on to Trenton, where culinary possibilities range from Gogi Korean Grill to Tomasso’s Italian Grille. The sparkling new Quinte Museum of Natural History in Trenton (now incorporated into the City of Quinte West) is a must-stop for those intrigued by the wonders of the world. Opening with the acclaimed World of Dinosaurs exhibit, the QMNH has a relationship with the Royal Ontario Museum, meaning expect to see unique specimens from the ROM on long-term loan. It’s not the only compelling museum in town either — the National Air Force Museum of Canada explores the country’s aviation history and has a sixteen-acre air park devoted to flying machines past and present.
HISTORIC CHARM; CONTEMPORARY COOL
Sitting pretty on the Bay and the banks of the Moira, Belleville is a rare find: equal parts historic charm and contemporary cool. Pop in and out of galleries sprinkled throughout downtown, including Belleville Art Association and Gallery 121 (both cooperatives featuring the work of locals) or the John M. Parrott Gallery in the Belleville Public Library. Keep your eyes open for public art too, notably local artist Chris Bennett’s colourful murals adorning a number of establishments. One is on the back patio of Chilangos Mexican restaurant, which, incidentally, is a choice Belleville culinary destination. (Another option is The Lark — intimate, modern, and known for creative cocktails.) Clothes hounds go chic and indie (or thrift) at a clutch of boutiques including Pure Honey, Boretski Gallery, That Special Touch, and Miss Priss. Belleville’s historic architecture provides an elegant backdrop for wandering, and if quoins, window hoods and elaborately detailed porches are your thing check out Bellevue Terrace, luxurious three-story townhouses built in 1876.
A short walk (or three-minute drive) East lands you in the Old East Hill Neighbourhood. The historic homes on these streets date back to the 1800’s, and are the perfect setting for Belleville’s annual September Porchfest – a free, family-friendly music festival which sees thousands of attendees enjoying music played from porches, hosted by the local Rotary Club of Belleville.
THE THEATRES OF BELLEVILLE
For a small place, Belleville (population fifty-some thousand), sure loves its theatre. There’s The Empire, a vintage 1938 theatre presenting indie films and live performances (including some of Canada’s biggest name artists). There’s River & Main Theatre Co. (at the intimate storefront Theatre in the Wings). And there’s the Belleville Theatre Guild (top notch community theatre for over seventy years). Oh, and if for some reason you’re heading back west, note that actors also tread the boards at the City of Quinte’s Old Church Theatre and the Brighton Barn Theatre.
DISTINCTIVE INDIGENOUS ARTS AND CRAFTS
You’ll know you’ve arrived when you start seeing Mohawk language on street signs and buildings. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory was established in 1784, a forced relocation leading to the loss of ancestral homelands. (Visit the Mohawk Landing on Bayshore Road to learn more.) Among the traditions of Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) people is distinctive original artwork and crafts. Make sure to stop at Native Renaissance, featuring emerging and well-known Indigenous artists, notably Thomas B. Maracle whose stone, wood and corn husk creations are prized internationally. Other must-stops include Rebecca Maracle’s Gallery & Gifts, showcasing exquisite feather art; Soaring Eagle Native Arts & Crafts for meticulously handcrafted work with all-natural materials, and Eagle POD Gallery, with its striking, one-of-a-kind sculptures by David R. Maracle. After this feast for the eyes, you may want a feast for the stomach: you’ll find fresh walleye at many local restaurants.
HISTORY AT THE CHAPEL
Mohawks were military allies of the British Crown during the American Revolution and part of that legacy is embodied by the chapel at Christ Church. It’s one of a small number of royal chapels outside of Great Britain and is of historic significance to both the Indigenous and colonial history of Turtle Island/Canada. The church itself, welcoming both Indigenous and non-Indigenous worshippers, was built by Mohawks and contains a triptych in the Mohawk language. Outside of Sunday services hours are variable, but it’s worth stopping by just to gaze at the 19th century Gothic revival style architecture.
AN UNDERGROUND ADVENTURE
Fantastic fossils, cool depths, and a resident ghost: all of the above are found below! Meaning in the caves, which date back thousands of years. Geology lovers should get excited – the fossils found here connect sightseers to the extensive history of this natural wonder. Considered an easy and accessible adventure (at a small enough scale that even littles can enjoy), the Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves are also about ethical and sustainable tourism that gives curious visitors a chance to learn something of the local history and geology.
ART ON THE SKIDS
The ‘Pallet’able Art Project is public art literally created on wooden industrial skids and pallets. Twenty-some charming original works dot the city, making splashes of bright, eye-catching colour. Navigate your way from pallet to pallet via Greater Napanee’s handy online map. (You may want to incorporate a little local history too, via the town’s historic walking tour map.)
PINTS, PUBS, MUSIC
Start your evening relaxing at one of Greater Napanee’s favourite spots, for instance by having a brew at the wee patio of multiple-award-winning Napanee Beer Company. Another option, the (similarly award-winning) Waterfront River Pub and Terrace, located right on the Napanee. (Trivia note: the Napanee River is known for having its own “seiche,” a tidal effect due in part to the strong winds on Lake Ontario’s north shore.) The Waterfront often features local musicians, and for national talent check out the Starstop Concert Series, designed to catch top Canadian talent crossing the country on tour. One final music note: for concerts beneath the skies (and by the river), on a summer afternoon watch for the Music by the River series in lovely Conservation Park.
Bay of Quinte
Quinte Arts Council
The Nature Centre
The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre
Quinte Museum of Natural History
The National Air Force Museum of Canada
Belleville Art Association
John M. Parrott Gallery in the Belleville Public Library
Chris Bennett’s colourful murals
Belleville’s annual September Porchfest
River & Main Theatre Co.
Belleville Theatre Guild
City of Quinte’s Old Church Theatre
Brighton Barn Theatre
Eagle POD Gallery
Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks
Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves
The ‘Pallet’able Art Project
That Special Touch
Rebecca Maracle’s Gallery & Gifts
Soaring Eagle Native Arts & Crafts
Gogi Korean Grill
Tomasso’s Italian Grille
Chilangos Mexican restaurant
Napanee Beer Company
Waterfront River Pub and Terrace
Starstop Concert Series
Music by the River
by Ontario Culture Days