When you think of museums, your first thought might be a flashback to middle school class trips spent roaming the halls of massive buildings, wondering at the displays around you. If that’s the image in your head, we hope to change it.
Ontario’s Highlands is a land rich in heritage, culture, and many forms of art, with unique museums dotting the region. Instead of daunting hallways, try imagining intimate buildings, with displays ranging from unique to quirky, and friendly hosts so passionate about history that many of them actually volunteer their time to share their knowledge with you. Here’s our suggestion of seven museums that are true hidden gems, sure to change your museum memories for good.
Where: Petawawa, ON
Discover the stories of sacrifice, battles won and lost, and aid brought to thousands, that are told through collections comprising of 20,000 artifacts. While roaming displays indoors and outside, you can broaden your horizons and learn about the birth of the village of Petawawa, different divisions of the Canadian Forces, parachuting and the Canadian Guards.
Where: Smiths Falls, ON
Travel back in time to celebrate the rich history of the railway and discover the impact it had on local communities at this National Historic Site. Enjoy the museum’s small-town feel and get an up-close look at the machines used, the ways of communication, and the lifestyle of railroaders. Feel a part of history by taking a ride on the diesel-electric locomotive and booking a bonus experience to spend the night in a 1940s caboose.
Where: Perth, ON
Leave the 21st century behind as you walk straight into the 1840s at this elegant house, originally built for the Honourable Roderick Matheson, a senator in Canada’s first parliament after Confederation. Keep your eyes open for the acclaimed pistols that were used in Perth’s “Last Fatal Duel” in 1833, and marvel at the dwelling’s four period rooms, expertly restored to bring the era to life. Wander through gardens featuring plants and flowers in line with the 19th century time period and check out the specialty outdoor oven and herb garden, used for events held throughout the year.
Where: Deep River, ON
Explore two centuries of Canadian-made clocks as you peruse Canada’s only clock museum, which collects, preserves and displays some of Canada’s most interesting and beautiful clocks dating back to the early 1800s. Feel amazed by the number of Canadian clock companies between the 1820s and 1970s and discover the passion of founder, Allan Symons, which brought this museum to life during a guided tour.
Where: Carleton Place, ON
Wonder at more than 10,000 artifacts, obtained by the museum for a relevance to the people of Carleton Place and Beckwith Township. Experience the exciting culture, history, and passion that runs through this small town and watch for unique events and tours offered.
Where: McDonalds Corners, ON
Discover the artistry of basket making as you explore the only basketry museum in Canada, with 200 exhibits made from materials found in the environment. More than just baskets, you can explore all sorts of items made using basketry techniques and see many of the natural materials growing in the surrounding gardens. Get a feel for the art form by attending a demonstration or signing up for a hands-on workshop.
Where: Renfrew, ON
True hockey fans know that Renfrew is the birthplace of the National Hockey Association (NHA)/National Hockey League (NHL). Learn about the monumental moment in 1909, when the NHA began under the leadership of M.J. O’Brien, and later became the NHL in 1917. Uncover the history of the ‘Original Six’ and marvel at artifacts showcasing the early days of the league.
Ontario’s Highlands Insiders
Knowledgeable in uncovering hidden gems, making fresh tracks, embracing new perspectives, and disconnecting from the everyday, this group of experts is happy to share their wisdom with you. With a passion for local stories, a love of delicious food, and a thirst for unrehearsed days, this team is made up of creative minds and wandering souls.