Ontario: Vastly Different Canadian Beauty
Another region boasts rugged terrain that is as far from the madding crowd as can be imagined. All of this diversity makes Ontario a perfect spot to base a Canadian vacation. A day's itinerary can include water sports, hiking, bicycling, river rafting, fishing, orienteering, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, sight-seeing, and dining in some of the best restaurants in Canada. Your biggest problem will be what to do first!
Toronto is the largest city in Canada. The view atop the CN Tower should not be missed. Located at the southern end of the city, the building is the tallest freestanding structure in the world. From the observatory on top of the roof, on a clear day you can see over 120 miles away. A glass elevator whisks visitors up the outside of the building, and a glass floor on a portion of the conservatory tempts thrill seekers.
Another can't-miss experience awaits visitors to the Royal Ontario Museum. This multi-disciplined museum houses exhibits covering the natural sciences, the animal kingdom, the art and archeology world, and the history of mankind. This is Canada's largest museum, and the collection of Chinese crafts, textiles, and assorted art works is considered one of the best anywhere.
For a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, ferry out to the Toronto Islands, located in Lake Superior. This series of islands has plenty of beaches for sun bathers, as well as hiking and bicycling routes, all in a car-free setting!
East of Toronto, tucked neatly along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, is the vibrant port town of Brockville. During summer, Brockville hosts thousands of tourists from all over the world who come to fish, swim, camp, sail, scuba dive (some of the best fresh water diving in the world!), bicycle, or golf one of the area's 40 courses.
A real treat for history buffs sits at the Fulford Place Heritage Museum. This museum is homage to Senator George Taylor Fulford, who manufactured medicine in Brockville and sold it throughout the world in the 1800s. The 20,000 square foot Edwardian mansion houses a collection of paintings and tapestries collected on Fulford's world travels. The original grounds were designed by Frederick Olmsted of the Olmsted landscaping firm, which also designed Central Park in New York City.
More outdoor fun can be found north of Toronto in the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Located on both Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, the park offers a paradise for nature lovers. Beaches line over 500 miles of shoreline. Charter boats are available to take anglers into the deep Huron waters in search of a day's catch. The park is part of 30+ parks that occupy the area north of Owen Sound.
For an off-the-beaten-path experience, head to the town of North Bay, “the Gateway to the North," located on Lake Nipissing. This vital rail town is popular with anglers and railway buffs. In the winter, snowmobiling and cross country skiing become popular endeavors. For some exercise, look for the Canadore College Nature Trails. This 750 hectare campus has miles of all-season trails. The network goes past Duchesnay Falls, which roar vigorously during the annual spring melting season. Rail buffs will want to visit the Model Railroad Museum, which has a display of over 300 meters of track depicting northern Ontario's relationship with the rail industry.
While in the North Bay area, be sure to take some time to visit Algonquin Provincial Park. The park includes over 7,725 square km of forests, lakes, and rivers. The park is a maze of hiking trails, horseback trails, overnight backpacking trails, and even dogsled trails! Canoe guides are on hand to take visitors through the more than 1500 km of waterways that amble through the park.
More great swimming and fishing opportunities await visitors to St. Joseph's Island, located at the western end of the North Channel in Lake Huron close to the Michigan border. The island covers 140,000 acres, and locals say that it has some of the best walleye and pike fishing in all of Canada. Of interest are the ruins of Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site. The fort dates from the 18th century and is staffed by workers in period costumes depicting military, Indian and fur trading themes.
On the northwest portion of Lake Superior sits Canada's wheat distributor, Thunder Bay. Known as the "City by the Bay," Thunder Bay is Canada's 10th largest city with a population of just over 100,000. The area is known for its great fishing excursions into Lake Superior, and for its famous rock formation sitting just off the coast known as "the Sleeping Giant." Some great swimming and surf fishing can be found by visiting Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Hikers will enjoy the many miles of trails, one that leads out onto the Sleeping Giant rock formation. Back on dry land, history buffs will want to visit Old Fort William Historical Park. The settlement has 42 buildings, and depicts the early, thriving days of the fur trade. Workers dressed in period costumes demonstrate skills and crafts, perform reenactments, and answer questions.
A vacation in Ontario combines history with modern vibrancy, all set in vastly different geographical locales. The Great Lakes weave an aquatic song calling to swimmers, sun bathers, and anglers. Toronto begs the attention of the hip and cultured. Its trendy restaurants and fabulous museums mingle with old town flavors and professional sports venues. Ontario is a marvelously differing vacation destination that has something to offer every visitor.
For inspiration, visit "Top 10 Ontario Cottages".
Best of the web Ontario resources:
- Ontario WikiTravel
- Royal Ontario Museum
- Toronto Islands
- Port town of Brockville
- Fulford Place Heritage Museum
- Town of North Bay
- Lake Nipissing
- Canadore College Nature Trails
- Model Railroad Museum
- Algonquin Provincial Park
- Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site
- Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
- Old Fort William Historical Park
- Photos & Videos
- Frozen Shadows from Ben Lean on Vimeo.com
- Ontario Cottage from Cloud Nine Creative on Vimeo.com
- Waterfall- A collection of Timelapses from Harold Stiver on Vimeo.com
- Ontario Cottages from HomeAway on Vimeo.com
- All Ontario Provincial Parks on Flickr
- Beautiful Ontario on Flickr
- Birds in Ontario on Flickr
- Ontario Travel on Instagram