When it comes to history and culture, Ontario doesn’t fall short. The province is filled with stories and beautiful historical sites waiting to be uncovered by you!
Here are our top 10 must visit historical sites in Ontario!
1. Pic River Site
If you’re a nature lover, you don’t want to miss out on this breathtaking view! Pic River Site has been a traditional fur trading site for Ojibway and artifacts date to 1000 B.C including pottery that show for the first time in Ontario during this time period!
Learn more about Pic River Site and the findings here.
2. Ermatinger House
Charles Oakes Ermatinger built his home astride the St Mary’s River and his residence is the OLDEST remaining stone house in Canada northwest of Toronto. Luckily, it is a year-round attraction for visitors and residents to Sault Ste. Marie! The Ermatinger house is also close to neighboring attractions including the Art Gallery of Algoma and the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, and is the perfect place to visit if you’re touring in the area!
Read more about the Ermatinger House here.
3. Sault Ste Marie Ship Canal
A stunning view RICH in history! St Mary’s River Rapids at Sault Ste Marie present one of the largest obstacles for waterborne traffic between the Lower Great Lakes and Lake Superior and the West. Whether you’re going on a stroll or bike ride, Sault Ste Marie Ship Canal is a relaxing and popular site! Fun fact: Its hydro-electric powerhouse powered the world’s first electric lock!
Read more about it here.
4. Hillary House
If you’re a fan of architecture, The Hillary House is a MUST-see site! The house is a Gothic Revival villa owned by the Aurora Historical Society and is located on Yonge Street in the heart of Aurora. The house showcases the medical profession over the years and contains possessions of three generations of doctors!
Fun fact: The Hillary House is associated with the development of tennis in Ontario, as the members of the Hillary family were sports enthusiasts and founded the Aurora Tennis club at their private lawn court!
Read more about the Hillary House here.
5. Nipigon River Forts
In 1679, colonization in the territory began when a fort was built at the mouth of Nipigon River to serve as the main depot for territories to come under French control between James Bay and Lake Superior. In 1944, the Nipigon River Forts were designated to be of national significance and a future federal plaque may well overlook this historic setting on Railway Street in the Town of Nipigon. If you love the outdoors and are wanting to go on a hike, this is the perfect site for you! The Nipigon River is the largest lake that’s entirely within the boundaries of Ontario.
Read more about the Nipigon River Forts here.
6. Wellington County House of Industry & Refuge
By law in 1903, every house in Ontario was required to have a house of refuge. Built well before 1877, this is the oldest one still standing. These houses were shelters of last resort for the homeless, elderly, and “feeble-minded” and in exchange for their labor, they received clothes, simple food, and spartan accommodation.
Overlooking the Grand River, the former refuge is now known as the Wellington County Museum and Archives, with spacious reading rooms, computers, and free access to Ancestry.ca - a must-visit site for all historians!
Read more about the Wellington County House here.
Get ready to be blown away with this beautifully designed house - the perfect site to visit for architecture lovers! The Claverleigh is a rare example of houses done in the Gothic Revival style and was built in 1870 by William Forster. These gothic pointed arches, wooden building material, the verandah, and rural setting by a river make for a picturesque property. It was designated a national historical site in 1990 and a federal plaque was placed during a ceremony in 2017.
Read more about the Claverleigh here.
8. Beausoleil Island
Who doesn’t love a good island? Beausoleil Island is a cultural landscape of great significance to First Nations for as many as 7 millenia and is located at the heart of Georgian Bay Islands National Park. With a variety of topography and vegetation, it seems that First Nations were attracted to the island for fishing, hunting, berry gathering and traditional ceremonies.
If you’re a lover of the outdoors and pretty scenery, this stunning island is definitely worth the visit!
Read more about Beausoleil Island here.
9. Beechroft and Lakehurst
Designed in 1870 by the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, these two adjoining estate properties were designated to be of national significance in 1978 due to their architectural and historical landscape elements.
This spectacular property is sure to take you back in time where you can experience what popular country villas were like in the third quarter of the 19th century!
Read more about Beechcroft and Lakehurst here.
10. Algonquin Provincial Park
You don’t want to skip out on this unforgettable experience! Ontario’s first Algonquin Provincial Park dates back to 1893 and is a national historic park in company with the Trent-Severn Waterway. It contains numerous lakes, rivers, bogs, and pine stands well over 350 years old and is popular with those seeking a wilderness experience!
Fun fact: Did you know the well-known Group of Seven artists promoted its wonders through their landscapes?
Learn more about the Algonquin Provincial Park here.
What is your favorite historical site?
So there you have it, 10 must-visit historical sites in Ontario. We hope you enjoyed the history & stories behind these historic sites!
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