The town of Midland is set on the shores of Georgian Bay with its harbour built for small cruise ships, grain ships and recreational boats of all sizes. The town is filled with hundreds of years of history.
One of our favourite spots to spend a weekend in any season, exploring the beautiful town and surrounding areas on Georgian Bay. Being the gateway to the 30,000 islands on Georgian Bay, home to many great places to eat and things to do Midland is a must visit place.
The history of Midland plays a large part on the town’s existence today. The area was home to the Huron Wendat nations for hundreds of years prior to first contact with the Europeans. In the mid-1600’s the Jesuits arrived and set up Ontario’s first European Community, Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, which would be the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people. Over the next two hundred years the Europeans began to settle the area and what is now known as Midland began to flourish.
The First Nations roots of Midland and the surrounding area are still celebrated to this day with murals throughout the city, statues, museums celebrating their heritage as well as shops run by families of the original First Nations settlers.
North Americas Largest Outdoor Historical Mural – A must see in the Midland Harbour is North Americas largest outdoor historical mural displaying Sainte-Marie Among the Huron as it would have looked in the mid-1600’s. You can easily view this mural from the town docks. There are also plenty of other small murals on the buildings along the main streets of Midland depicting the history of this town.
Miss Midland – Ever cruised Georgian Bay and experienced the 30,000 Islands? If not make sure to book a tour on the Miss Midland! Enjoy this two and a half hour sightseeing cruise that will take you through the dramatic rocks of the Canadian Shield, alongside the windswept pines that Georgian Bay is known for and see all the hot spots in the area. For tour information on the Miss Midland 30000 island cruise click here.
Sainte-Marie Among The Hurons – Visit the first European Community established in Ontario – Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is a re-creation of its original site that tells the story of the Wendat and French interactions and life during the 1600’s. Visitors get the unique opportunity to see what the earliest Canadian pioneer life would have looked like through self-guided visits, special events and group tours. For more information on visiting Sainte-Marie click here.
Martyr’s Shrine – The Martyr’s Shrine is the National Shrine to the Canadian Martyrs. The shine is a memorial to honour the the 8 Jesuit Saints who lived, worked and died in Midland over 350 years ago. The Shrine offers tours, church services and engaging activities for all ages.
The Boathouse Eatery – The Boathouse Eatery is a Midland favourite for both locals and boaters alike. Located right on the shores of Georgian Bay you can access the restaurant by car or boat. Here you can have a light snack, drinks, or a full lunch or dinner. Regardless of what you order the view cannot be beat and the food is equally as good! Make sure to ask for a seat on the patio to watch the boats drive by or even watch the sunset into the horizon.
Dillon’s Wood Fired Pizza – Dillon’s Wood Fired Pizza is one of the newest restaurants to Midland but it is taking the town by storm. This cozy restaurant offers hand made, wood oven fired pizza that will leave you wanting more. The owner – Dillon – is almost always around to greet everyone with his warm smile and make great recommendations. Located right on the main street of Midland (King Street) and steps to the docks on Georgian Bay.
Mom’s Restaurant – Mom’s Restaurant is a staple in Midland that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. They are best known for their incredible breakfast menu and a great place to take the family and enjoy great food and company. Located a 5 minute drive from the downtown.
Uncle Roy’s Restaurant – Uncle Roy’s offers an American breakfast menu and then changes to Chinese food for lunch and dinner. If you are looking for great eat in or take out Chinese, Uncle Roy’s is a great option during your visit to Midland. Located on King Street in Midland and is within easy walking distance to Georgian Bay.
Take a step back in time to visit the former resident of two of Canada’s most important Prime Ministers. This Second Empire mansion in downtown Ottawa was the heart of Canada’s political life where both Sir Wilfred Laurier and Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King were able to call home. The Laurier House National Historic Site is a Parks Canada site and a must visit while in Ottawa.
The Laurier House is the former residence for both Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King. The house was built in 1878, but has gone through several alterations throughout its years. The home was the personal residence of Sir Wildrid Laurier from 1897 to 1919 and then was given to Mackenzie King to serve as his home during his time as the leader of the Liberal Party from 1923-1950. Upon Kings death he granted the house to the country and their people
Laurier House is located at 335 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa. There are several different options on how to get here.
On Foot: Located just over 2 kilometres from Parliament Hill on a nice day this site is easily walkable. Taking just over 20 minutes from Parliament to Laurier House it is a nice peaceful walk that will take you past the Shaw Centre, along the Rideau Canal, through the University of Ottawa Campus and finally arriving to the house.
By Car: From highway 417, take exit 118 for Nicholas Street/Lees Ave (if you are coming from the eastbound direction of the Queensway, you must turn left onto Lees Ave). Turn turn onto Mann Ave, then left onto Chapel Street. Laurier House is on the corner of Laurier Avenue East and Chapel Street. Note: There is no on site parking, but there is street parking nearby.
By Bus: There is a bus that takes you from the War Memorial, leaving at the corner of Wellington and Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, and is about a ten minute drive to Laurier House. Take the number 5 bus for an easy and hassle free commute to the national historic site.
For the 2017 year Laurier House National Historic Site is free to all visitors to celebrate Canada 150th birthday.
The hours of operation are as followed:
May 1-June 30 – Open Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday & Wednesday) 10:00am – 5:00pm
July 1 – September 4 – Open daily, including holidays – 10:00am – 5:00pm
September 5 – October 9 (Thanksgiving) Open Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday & Wednesday) 10:00am – 5:00pm
Self-Guided Tour: The visitors centre provides you with a self guided tour book that explains the layout of the house with floor plans, the history of each of the Prime Ministers when the lived in the house and much more. Additional to the guide books the house is full of Parks Canada Guides that are more than happy to share their additional knowledge of each of rooms and the history behind the house.
Take a Guided Tour: If you are interested in taking a guided tour they are offered for $7.30 by the Parks Canada Guides. They will take you through the collection of antiques and paintings that were owned by each of the Prime Ministers during their time living on Laurier Avenue as well as the lives and accomplishments of both Sir Wilfred Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. Tip: If you visit on a week day during off-peak times (morning, after lunch) you will likely find yourself in the house with very few other visitors and the Parks Canada staff will be happy to give you a mini-tour of each floor without having to pay for a guided tour.
Have Afternoon Tea on the Veranda: Every Saturday throughout the summer (July & August) light tea and pastries are served on the veranda. There are two time slots for your historic tea at the Prime Ministers house which are 11:00am an 2:00pm. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance through Cordn Bleu by calling (613) 236-2499 or emailing email@example.com. If you are in town on a Saturday make sure to stop by and stake a step back in time and sit where both Laurier and Mackenzie King would have and enjoy some tea and pastries!
Second World War Homefront – Canada’s Kitchen: This brand new exhibit that opened May 1, 2017 allows you to explore what a kitchen would have looked like in Canada during the Second World War. The kitchen was normally the largest room in the house as so many activities took place in this space. In the kitchen you will find both original and replica books for rationing, price inflation, coupons and much more. Make sure to open the fridge, oven, cupboards to explore what is behind each door and decide if you would have wanted to dine in the 1940’s.
The Elevator: Did you know there is an elevator in the Laurier House? If you did not make sure to ask one of the Parks Canada staff to show you! The door to the elevator blends so well into the wooden walls you would never notice to look for it unless you knew it was there. Unfortunately, you cannot ride in the elevator as it has been getting stuck since the time Laurier lived in the house, but its cool enough to be able to go in and take a look at!
One of Ottawa’s newest hotels on the scene, The Andaz Hotel, is the perfect spot to stay during your visit to Ottawa. Located right in the downtown core, steps to Byward Market and Parliament, you couldn’t get a better location than this!
Beautiful spacious guest rooms filled with natural light and stunning views of Gatineau Hills, historic buildings, the Byward Market, and Parliament in the background. I checked into a deluxe room with a King bed, a cozy living room area perfect for relaxing or doing some work, and a beautiful view of the Byward Market and the Parliament Buildings looming in the background.
With 200 rooms in the hotel there are many room options to choose from, including standard rooms, deluxe, rooms with a view, and suites. All rooms are modern with a Canadian flare, including nice touches like local artwork and contemporary furnishings.
One of my favourite touches in the rooms was that all non-alcoholic beverages and snacks in the mini bar are complimentary and replenished daily.
Each floor on the hotel is designed to reflect the rich history and character of the Canadian provinces and territories through the artwork and decorations. Make sure to visit each floor for the full experience!
The Andaz plays host to a Canadian cuisine restaurant, lobby lounge, and rooftop bar. Each of these spaces to eat and drink offer a unique local experience.
Feast + Revel: This Canadian inspired restaurant with new Canadian cuisine featuring local, organic and sustainable products is a must visit while staying at the Andaz. The open kitchen, high ceilings, and bright open windows invite guests to come to the long 14 foot central table and truly feast and revel. From the appetizers to the desserts you will not be disappointed with the selection available on the menu.
Copper Spirits & Sights: Head to the 16th floor of the Andaz to experience Copper Spirits & Sights and take in one of the best views in the city. This rooftop patio bar is boasts premium lounge seating, incredible views of Parliament and the Byward Market. They have seating both inside and outside depending on your preference but regardless the view is one that cannot be beat.
With the Byward market steps outside the doors of the Andaz, and Parliament not much further away, all of downtown Ottawa is at your fingertips so you will always find something to do.
Visit the historic Byward Market, established in 1826, this market remains one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets in the country. You will be treated to local vendors selling anything from baked goods, homemade items and much more.
Inspiration Village is one of Ottawa’s newest areas for entertainment. Located on York Street just around the corner from the Byward Market, this village is home to special exhibits, performing art events, and exhibits for each of the provinces. The village is only temporary and is open daily noon to 8PM until September 4, 2017. The village is free to visit and fun for all ages.
Ottawa is the nation’s capital and home to the beautiful parliament buildings which are free to explore! Take a guided tour of Centre Block, explore the Peace Tower, Memorial Chamber, or stroll through on your own to discover the monuments that are found all across the grounds.
Looking for even more to do? Check out our list of 15 free things to do in Ottawa during the summer!
Ontario encompasses over one-fifth of the worlds fresh water with its 250,000 lakes. These waterways play a key part in the history and development of the province through the means of transportation for early explorers, a source of food and influencing where towns would be built. Next to the five great lakes, Georgian Bay is the largest body of water in Ontario and is often considered the sixth great lake.
One of our favourite places to explore, photograph and enjoy is beautiful Georgian Bay. With its 30,000 islands and 2,000 kilometers of shoreline, this large bay has many popular areas and hidden gems. Georgian Bay has everything from beautiful white sand beaches, hiking trails, island camping, boating, picturesque lighthouses and so much more.
Less than a two hour drive from Toronto, Georgian Bay lets you see another side of Ontario. Here you will leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and enter a place of wind-swept pines, waves crashing up onto the Canadian Shield, small and large cottages dotting the lake and the 30,000 islands.
Many areas of Georgian Bay along the shoreline can be accessed from the road. This includes Collingwood, Midland, Parry Sound, French River, Killarney and Tobermory to name a few. Tobermory and Collingwood have a steady stream of tourism to the areas with their great attractions such as the Bruce Peninsula National Park and Blue Mountain. Other towns such as Midland and Petetanguishene are less frequently visited by tourists, but have a lot to offer.
To drive around all of Georgian Bay it is 1285km drive including a ferry crossing at the northern end that connects you between Manitoulin Island and Tobermory. This drive can be done in as little as 2-3 days or leisurely take up to 15 days to enjoy and immerse yourself in this beautiful area. To drive to some of the destination cities or do the entire loop either way you will not be disappointed in what you see as with each new bend in the road there is a different view of the Bay and beautiful Ontario.
Although there are many great destinations that you can access around the perimeter shoreline of Georgian Bay, some of the best destinations are on the many islands throughout the bay. Most of these islands are accessible by boat in the summer and many can even be accessed by snowmobile throughout the winter months.
Our two most visited islands for both the summer and winter months are Giants Tomb and Beckwith, each of which are a short trip from Midland / Honey Harbour by boat or snowmobile. Both islands offer great day trip destinations in the summer and winter months and allow you to explore the perimeter on the water / ice or head into the island and explore the islands on foot.
Giants Tomb takes the shape of a sleeping giant and native legend has it that the giant God Kitchikewana laid to eternal rest here after creating Georgian Bay. The island is a great destination for day trips, great swimming and camping on the beach. During the winter months when the bay freezes over, a series of natural ice caves can be found on the West side and is popular amongst snowmobilers. The actual size of the ice caves can vary each year as they are caused by the waves freezing as they crash into the island.
Located just beyond Giants Tomb, Beckwith is a boater’s paradise. Thanks to it’s sandy bottom, this island has crystal clear water and long beaches. There is no development on the island except for a simple outhouse to serve boaters, campers and picnickers. The island provides you with everything you need to spend the day or night in complete tranquility. This is a popular destination for us on weekends to relax on the beach and swim in the warm waters of Georgian Bay. One of our favourite moments is when the boat pulls up to the island and the bay transforms into clear turquoise waters – This is one of the few places you will find clear water like this on Georgian Bay.
One of the best things about Georgian Bay is that it is ever changing with beautiful landscapes and new adventures around each corner. From day trips to week long adventures, Georgian Bay has something to offer everyone. If you get the change stay out late, watch the sunset and wait for the stars to come out as it is a sight you will not soon forget.
Georgian Bay is beautiful in every season so if you are looking for a weekend adventure anytime throughout the year take a drive to one of the many beautiful towns along the bay.
We have always enjoyed exploring areas in off season as it often has little to no tourists, chances of seeing wildlife are higher and for all intensive purposes it is incredibly peaceful to be on your own in the outdoors. We just finished exploring Killbear Provincial Park in winter where we saw more wildlife than people! Killbear gets over 380,000 visitors each year during its operating season (May-October). While during the busy months it is still very peaceful to camp and hike along the shores of Georgian Bay, the winter offers an unparalleled experience with almost no one in sight.
Located just north of Parry Sound just short of a two hour drive from Toronto Killbear Provincial Park it an easy destination for a day trip or an over night adventure. Camping is not available in the winter season but accommodations can be found in Parry Sound. Depending on your weather conditions while driving to Killbear Provincial Park in winter your drive could be closer to just over three hours.
We hope these photos will inspire you to visit Killbear Provincial Park in winter, its off-peak season to explore the true beauty it has to offer.
2017 means a new year filled with new adventures and possibilities as well as marks the year of Canada 150th Birthday! This year we will be focusing on our travels within Canada as our beautiful country celebrates its 150th birthday and all of the parks, national historic sites and national marine sites are free to the public.
To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday admission to all Parks Canada places will be free for the entirety of 2017. In order to gain free admission to the parks you must order your free parks pass by ordering their 2017 Discovery Pass (free of charge) here: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/voyage-travel/admission.aspx
With 47 national parks, 171 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas there is so much to discover from coast to coast. We plan on attempting to explore as many of these national parks and historic sites before the end of 2017. Below is our bucket list items to celebrate Canada 150th birthday broken down by province.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park has been on our list of must do hikes for quite sometime, especially in the fall when the leaves change colour. The park is located in the small town of Mono located Northeast of Orangeville, Ontario.
There is a per vehicle park fee of $14.50 payable at a pay-and-display machine in the parking lot. You will also be able to find the washrooms there before you start your hike. This is a day use only park that is open year round.
There are 8 hikes that you can choose from throughout the park that range from 600 meters to 4.8 km.
We started off hiking down the Carriage Trail that takes you through fields full milk weed plants that were blowing in the wind, and hundreds of trees letting go of their leaves for the Fall. There were few people in the park that day which make for a very peaceful hike.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is located on 750-hectarces of land and features 30-meter cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, ponds and streams. The Bruce Trail connects through this park as well. As you leave the meadow and enter the thick forest full of colourful falling leaves, you pass some ponds and then head up a set of stairs. Once up the stairs, the Carriage Trail ends and gives way to the Cliff-Top Side Trail which you can either go North or South. When we visited, we opted to go north towards the viewing platform. The walk towards the viewing platform was stunning as the orange and yellow leaves had covered the trails and there wasn’t another person in sight.
Once we reached the viewing platform we were not disappointed with the view! It overlooks one of the large ponds in the area and provides a great view from the top of the escarpment.
If you continue to head North on the Cliff-Top Side Trail you will come to three way split where you have an option to go on the McCarston’s Lake Trail, Walter Tovell Train or the Link Trail – We choose to head down the stairs to the Link Trail. To our surprise as we headed down the stairs we found ourselves in-between two pieces of the escarpment and felt like we were entering a cave.
Between the colours of the leaves and the rocks it was quite a sight to see. The wooden boardwalk takes you through the escarpment and explains the various efforts of the park to keep it in a natural state by trying to educate those visiting the park with display panels and interpretive signs. Unfortunately, as we got to the end of the boardwalk we found the Link Trail was closed as they were trying to preserve some of the land on the trail. We ended up turning around and headed back the way we came on the Walter Tovell Trail.
The Walter Tovell Trail meets up with Spillway Trail which would return us to the Carriage Trail to complete our loop for the day. We choose to take that route as the sun was beginning to set for the day. Once back on the Carriage Trail you return back to the meadow and from there you are only a short walk back to the parking lot.
Throughout our walk we were privy to learn about the many species of animals and plants that live in the park. There are over 450 species of plants, and some of the trees found throughout the park are hundreds of years old. Taking a hike through Mono Cliffs Provincial Park as the trees are losing their leaves provides a unique perspective through it’s untouched land that is so close to such a largely developed area of of the province.
It is amazing how Ontario has so many beautiful places to visit, Elora being one of them. The enchanting village of Elora is one of Ontario’s most picturesque areas with its rolling hills and Mennonite farmland contrasted by the breathtaking Elora Gorge. With its 80 foot limestone cliffs and both the Grand and Irvine Rivers rushing through it, the gorge is one of Elora’s most popular tourist destinations.
The best place to visit the gorge is in Elora Gorge Conservation Area. The conservation area costs six dollars per person to enter and use their facilities. This includes access to all the hiking trails, splashpad, fishing and their general day use area.
There are three kilometers of hiking trails throughout the conservation area that offer different views of the gorge. The trails take you to several scenic lookouts including Hole in the Rock. The trail also takes you to the top of a staircase that appears to vanish deep into the ground. This stairway takes you down into Hole in the Rock where it is believed that the First Nations people of the area, the Neutral Indians, cashed their wampum belts. A wampum belt is made of channeled whelk shells and quahog or hard-shelled clam. These belts were used as a form of gift exchange as well as a form of currency.
From Hole in the Rock you continue down the trail following around the top of the gorge. There are fences to stop you from going too close to the edge as it is a steep drop!
A great spot to check out is down by the tubing launch area. Here for $25 you can ride the gorge on a tube for 2km down the river. If you are not looking for an adventurous ride you can also walk along shore of the gorge taking in the beauty from the bottom of the limestone cliffs.
Another activity that you can do at Elora Gorge is canoeing or kayaking. The 300 kilometer stretches of the Grand River are suitable for paddlers of all levels. White-water enthusiasts are drawn to the gorge with various access points throughout the river and the sections of white-water rapids.
After completing all three easy kilometers of the hiking trails that the Elora Gorge Conservation area has to offer, we headed off into town to find the access point to the bottom of the gorge where we could view the historic David Street Bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1867 by local stonemasons over several years. Late in 1875 a new bridge was constructed on the same location using the same pier. Subsequently, new bridges were built again on the same pier in 1921 and then again in 2004.
Both pier and bridge have become one of the many landmarks of the village of Elora. What makes this bridge unique is that it is a rare example of an open-spandrel concrete arch bridge.
Getting down to the bottom of this gorge took a bit of asking around to find the best access point without having to hike several kilometers. We found that if you drive into the town and head to Victoria Park (also called Lovers Leap Park) and head right from the parking lot you will find a set of old concrete stairs.
Watch your step as you go down these uneven steps. Once at the bottom continue to head down the cliff of the gorge (running shoes are suggested) and you will reach the water. Once you are down at the river you will be able to see the David Street Bridge on your right.
You can easily walk down some of the submerged rocks along the shoreline to get closer to the bridge. As you walk towards the bridge there were two large looking caves on the south side.
Hiking down to the bottom of the gorge to visit the bridge is a must do on your trip to Elora.
This village very much has still kept its old world charm. Walking the streets of the village with its original stone buildings from the 1800’s makes you feel like you have taken a step back in time. There are some great galleries, gift shops, studios and great restaurants that have made Elora the perfect place to visit in any season.
Killarney, Ontario is the gateway to the North Channel situated right at the entrance amidst the stunning white quartzite peaks and unique pink granite rock. Sitting on the waterways of Georgian Bay, the village of Killarney is the oldest community on the northern shores. The permanent population of the village is less than 500 people but it does not stop this stunning town from being a popular place for boats, hikers and general tourists from around the world.
Killarney, Ontario was originally known as Shebahonaning, an Obkibwe name meaning safe passage. The native peoples that enhabited this area hunted, fished and trapped here and eventually were joined by the French and English on their exploration of Canada. Killarney was established as a fur trade post in June of 1820. Fur tradining, logging, fishing, mining and tourism were the major players in building the local economy. The village had no road access until 1962. Prior to that steamships carried passengers and freight to the various locations on Georgian Bay and through the North Channel. Today mining and tourism are still Killarney, Ontario main industries.
Nestled into the base of the La Cloche mountain range this quaint little town is a reminder of an old fishing village complete with two working lighthouses to guide in boats. The mountain range that runs through Killarney are a small part of the Canaidan shield that stretches south to the township of Massey, through Killarney and southwest to Sudbury. These mountains are very popular for campers and hikers alike. There are many day and overnight hiking trails through the mountain range as well as Killarney Province Park is nestled into the middle of them.
Many of the visitors that come to explore Killarney also spend sometime in one of Ontarios most popular provincial parks, Killarney Provincial Park. You can read of our adventures in the provincial park here.
Thinking of staying at a hotel or B&B in the town? Make sure to book early as options are limited and fill up quickly, especially in the summer.
Killarney Mountain Lodge
Situated right on the waterfront this beautiful mountain lodge provides a great view of the marina and the Northern Channel. The hotel is only open Spring to Fall and books up very quickly. You have a choice of standard rooms, suites and cabins with rates varying from $160-$949 depending on your room choice and if you add a meal package onto your stay.
This inn is an old-time, three-storey Inn that has also been given a massive rennovation. Don’t let its old-style fool you with its interior being sleek and chic with modern wood furnishings, gas fireplaces and flat screen tv’s. All the rooms have a waterfront view and there is a large communal porch for people to relax on at anytime throughout the day. There are suites, motel style units as well as a few cabins to choose front. If you are coming in by boat there are many slips right infront of the Inn that provide power and can even deliver food to the boat.
Some other options that we did not have a chance to check out in the town are Killarney Bay Inn and Rock House Inn.
There are a few options to eat in Killarney. Both The Sportsman Inn and Killarney Mountian Lodge offer full service dining as well as a more casual bar side option. We got the chance to eat at the Killarney Mountain Lodge and really enjoyed the service, the view of the sunsetting and our food.
Herbert Fisheries is also very well known for their fish and chips. This can be very busy but the line is well worth the wait if you are a fish and chips lover! If you are looking for some ice cream then stop by Channel Marina where you will be able to find lots of options. You can also purchase camping and boating supplies here if you are in need of those.
Lastly, if you are looking for some groceries instead of eating out, then the general store is the place to go. Located on the main street, they have everything you could need from forgotten overnight supplies, food and drinks. Close by to the general store you will be able to find an LCBO.
Despite its small year-round population, this is one of the best small towns in Canada. Between the views of Georgian Bay and the La Cloche Mountains, the great accommodations, food and actvities to do there is something for everyone and is great to visit in all seasons.