North America

Ontario’s Upper Canada Village: Make a date with time

GIrls at play, Upper Canada Village
Photo credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Remember the good ole days?

Upper Canada Village, near Morrisburg, Ontario, is one of the rarest dedications to Canada’s heritage. Recognized by Attractions Canada as the Number One National / International attraction in the country, the village offers an opportunity to visit the past times in “real time”.

Upper Canada Village was created to preserve an important period of Canada’s unique heritage and to provide an entertaining historical interpretation of the past. The village is renowned for its historical accuracy and attention to detail. Upper Canada Village is said to be one of the truest and rarest dedications to our heritage and our past. The village is so authentic that several movies, such as The Liberators, Tom Sawyer and Captive Heart, were filmed here.

The story begins with a river and a half century ago … some 20,000 acres of farmland were destined to be flooded for a hydro dam project. Five hundred buildings were saved. Many of these structures, along with countless artifacts, were relocated on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, on a site known today as Upper Canada Village.

Only 30 minutes from the Thousand Islands Bridge and one hour from Ottawa, Canada’s picturesque Capital, this is a side trip you won’t want to miss. Heralded as one of North America’s foremost restorations and the winner of a three star rating in Michelin’s International Tour Guide, Upper Canada Village is a very popular day or overnight destination for visitors.

Suddenly you are transported back in time to the mid – late 1860s when horsepower was for real. The people you meet are picture-book in period costume and walk, talk and go about their daily chores of the day. Knowledgeable staff in historical costumes illustrates the rural ways of life – religion, education, technology, entertainment and values of the day. Engaging story-telling and music add laughter and life to the Village, as do the sights, sounds and smells that keep visitors enthralled.

There is certainly plenty to do. The village folks describe visiting as “real time past times.” There are many ways to see the village, which is quite extensive. Transportation around the Upper Canada Village is fun. There is the carry-all, a horse-drawn passenger cart that tours the goings-on around the Village, and a miniature train that visits Crysler Beach. You can take a picnic lunch and your bathing suits and catch a later train back. Or journey along the Village canal in a horse-drawn tow scow.

Horse and carriage, Upper Canada Village
Photo credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

You may first want to familiarize yourself with the village by taking a ride along the streets in a horse powered carry-all wagon. Be sure, though, to also take a ride on the miniature train. And just for extra fun, you can journey along the village canal on a horse drawn tow scow. Once you have seen the village, you can then take a cruise on board The Villager and hear an array of colourful tales about the St. Lawrence River, including an historical interpretation of the Battle of Crysler’s Farm, the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the story of the Lost Villages.

Upper Canada Village is located in a riverside region along the St. Lawrence River called The Parks of the St. Lawrence that stretches 155 miles. Aside from the historical attractions of the Village and Fort Henry in Kingston, visitors can drive, cycle or walk along some of the most beautiful scenery this side of the Greek Islands, play golf at one of the finest public courses in Ontario, or fish for bass and pickerel in a quiet cove.

And bring your golf clubs (and binoculars) and play the 18 holes of the Upper Canada Golf Course. This course, right across the road from the Village, is a challenging 6,900 yards of rolling fairways through a sanctuary. You may catch a glimpse of geese, deer and other wildlife.

But you prefer fishing? Well…here’s a hint: Bob Izumi likes fishing in the area.

Upper Canada Village has four different dining options right on site. You can enjoy a delicious 1860s meal at Willard’s Hotel served by costumed staff.  Willard’s is one of the oldest buildings in the Village. The Harvest Barn serves a wide range of cafeteria style foods including hot meals, fresh sandwiches and wraps, hotdogs, hamburgers and french-fries. At the new Village Pantry (adjacent to the Village Store) sample freshly brewed coffee or specialty teas and taste the signature waffles topped with fresh berries and whipped cream.  Village baked bread and artisan Cheddar Cheese from the Village cheese factory is available for sale in the Village Pantry.

During each Spring, Summer and Fall, Upper Canada Village features a variety of special events and activities that attract folks from far and wide. Events such as Sheep Shearing Friday, a Medieval Festival, Wedding Weekends 1860s style, a Civil War re-enactment and Alight At Night are to name a few. See Upper Canada Village for a schedule of special events)

Costumed ladies at Upper Canada Village
Photo credit: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

And here’s some fun facts to know …

  • New Horse foals at Upper Canada Village have official names that start with the letter assigned to the year they are born.  In 2011, this letter was Y and in 2012 it Z.
  • The heavy iron turbine in the Woollen Mill spins on a single rounded point made of from a dark wood called lignum vitae.  You can’t see it though – it’s underwater!
  • The largest and one of the most attractive buildings moved to Upper Canada Village was not moved until the early 1980s, more than thirty years after the site opened in 1961.  Bellamy’s Flour Mill was officially opened in 1984.
  • The wooden boat in the canal is known as a “Scow”, the historical term for a flat-bottomed cargo-carrying barge.  Today, of course, its cargo is our many visitors.
  • The Robertson Home started as a much smaller loyalist home which today is still a part of this notable yellow house – the dining room
  • Fleece from sheep can vary dramatically in its thickness and length.  The average length or “staple” of a Leicester Sheep’s fleece is four to six inches.
  • The “Moss Motto” is a type of artwork literally made from sphagnum moss and other dried flowers sewn onto cloth.
  • Oxen each have four feet, but eight shoes!

And while you are in the area, try and spend some time in Gananoque.

Gananoque puts the leisure back in pleasure!

Filled with castles, sunken ships and known as a playground for the rich and famous, Gananoque and the 1000 Islands a unique excitement while the scenery and stylish charm caters to relaxation.

Located on the St. Lawrence River half way between Toronto and Montreal, and Morrisburg where Upper Canada Village is located, and just 15 minutes from the US border, life has its own rhythm in this endearing community.

The town of Gananoque, accessible by car, boat or train, boasts a marvelous shoreline and 1000 things to do from hiking to antique hunting and from scuba diving to shopping.

The natural landscape does its part to lure visitors from across the globe. Surrounded by beautiful lakes, vast provincial and national parks, the unique Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve and award-winning gardens, the only challenge is to decide which one of the senses to tantalize first.

And while you are here, take advantage of the imaginative cuisine creations of the area’s top chefs. From chic, modern bistros to contemporary French cuisine the local restaurants use fresh ingredients, innovative techniques and artful presentation.

All content © 2011-2018 Great World Getaways unless otherwise noted