Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
Sites to See
anada has hundreds of national historic sites to see. Unfortunately, we don’t have the space to list all of them here. But we do have enough room to feature 16 of our favourites! Let’s start with five national historic sites that honour some of the different cultures that have helped shape the country.
Cultural Communities Gitwangak Totem Poles Wanuskewin Heritage Park
L’Anse aux Meadows
Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
L’Anse aux Meadows L’Anse aux Meadows is an awesome site in northern Newfoundland. About 1,000 years ago, Vikings settled there for a while. Today, actors at the site recreate what life was like at a Viking camp in the 11th century. You can explore replicas of Viking sod huts and check out all kinds of Norse artifacts!
PortRoyal Nova Scotia’s Port-Royal Habitation is a reconstruction of one of the earliest European settlements in North America. A group of Frenchmen settled there back in 1605. Today, you can learn about their lives by exploring the Habitation’s buildings and talking to costumed guides. You may even get to try on some costumes yourself!
At Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, you can explore the reconstructed headquarters of a French Jesuit mission from the 1600s. Cool presentations will help you discover how French missionaries interacted with the area’s Wendat Huron nation. Be sure to try your hand at old-fashioned candlemaking, fire-starting, and other activities. This site is located near Midland, ON.
Gitwangak Wanuskewin Totem Heritage Park This is no ordinary park! Wanuskewin Poles
The Gitwangak Totem Poles are located in Gitwangak Village, northern British Columbia. These poles tell the story of the Gitwangak peoples. They are the oldest collection of totem poles to be found in their original village anywhere in BC! Nearby, you can visit Gitwangak Battle Hill. It was once the site of many fierce First Nation tribal battles.
(near Saskatoon, SK) honours the Northern Plains peoples who hunted in this area for over 6,000 years. You can check out ancient camp sites, bison kill sites, a medicine wheel, and lots of exhibits. You may even get a chance to help build a tipi or bake some bannock!
Defending the Nation
here are all kinds of historic forts, buildings, and battlefields associated with the defence of Canada. If you’re interested in military and defence, try to visit one of these sites this summer:
Fortifications of Québec Fort York
Fortifications of Québec Quebec City is the only remaining walled city in North America. The walls that surround the “Old Town” stretch for 4.6 kilometres. They are known as the Fortifications of Québec, and they are part of the city’s historic defensive system. Today, you can explore the fortifications by walking on, over, under, and even inside them!
Fort York Fort York was built in 1793 to defend the town of York (now Toronto, ON). During the War of 1812, Americans attacked the fort twice. Today, Fort York is home to Canada’s largest collection of War of 1812 buildings — all for you to discover! You can also watch 19th century musket, drill, and music demonstrations.
Diefenbunker Here’s your chance to explore a topsecret bomb shelter! The Diefenbunker is a huge, underground bunker near Ottawa, ON. It was built in 1959–61 to house Canada’s leaders in the event of a nuclear attack. Today, it’s home to Canada’s Cold War Museum, and you can take a guided tour of the whole spooky facility!
The Halifax Citadel is one of Canada’s most visited national historic sites. Construction of this star-shaped fort was completed in 1856, and the British Army occupied it until 1906. Today, the Citadel features many exhibits of early military life. You can watch soldiers in action and check out the fort’s powder magazine, garrison cells, and barracks. KAYAK #16
Fort Walsh In 1875, the North-West Mounted Police (now the RCMP) built Fort Walsh in southwest Saskatchewan to bring law and order to the area. Today, guides in costumes demonstrate what life was like for some of these early Mounties. You can tour the fort … and maybe even become a RCMP recruit for the day! KAYAK #16
rom fur trading to gold mining, early industrial activities in Canada played an important role in developing the country. Visit the sites below to learn more about some of Canada’s best-known historic industries.
Dawson Historical Complex Gulf of Georgia Bar U Cannery Ranch
Lower Fort Garry
Dawson Historical Complex Daring gold-seekers helped open up the Canadian West in the late 1800s. In Dawson City, Yukon, you can walk in the footsteps of some of these men and women. The Dawson Historical Complex has lots of buildings and sites from the Klondike Gold Rush for you to explore. While you’re there, try panning for gold! KAYAK #16
Bar U Ranch Ever wonder what life was like for a working cowboy in the Old West? Just head to the Bar U Ranch in southwest Alberta to find out! This site reveals the history of ranching in Canada. You can wander through ranch buildings, take part in old-fashioned ranching activities, and taste some real cowboy grub.
Lower Fort Garry Lower Fort Garry (near Winnipeg, MB) is the oldest stone fur-trading post still intact in North America. All summer, interpreters in costumes recreate life at the fort in the mid-1800s. You can watch a blacksmith demonstration, feel the animal pelts in the fur loft, or become a fur-trade employee for a day.
Beaubears Forges du Saint-Maurice Island
Gulf of Georgia Cannery Fish, fish everywhere! In the late 1800s, mountains of fish were processed at canneries along British Columbia’s coast. Today, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery (in Richmond, BC) honours Canada’s west coast canning industry. Hear the stories of cannery workers, and see what it was like to work in the smelly, slimy world of fish processing! KAYAK #16
Shipbuilding is one of Canada’s oldest industries. On Beaubears Island (near Miramichi, NB), you can see the remains of a shipbuilding community that operated for nearly 100 years! The guided walking tour allows you to meet historical characters with colourful stories of life on the island in the 1800s.
Forges du Saint-Maurice If you want to see sparks fly, check out the Forges du Saint-Maurice near Trois Rivières, Quebec. It’s the site of the first ironworks in Canada. From 1738 to 1883, workers at the Forges produced all kinds of iron products. Today, you can explore many exhibits there and visit the old blast furnace to see how cast iron was made.
Photo credits: p. 6 Parks Canada/J. Steeves/H.01.11.01.04(26); p. 7 (top left) Parks Canada/C. Reardon/H.03.38.06.11(132); p. 7 (top right) Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, Midland, Ontario; p. 7 (bottom left) Parks Canada/R. Beardmore/H.10.96.06.17(06); p. 7 (bottom right) Wanuskewin Heritage Park/ Naomie Slinn; p. 8 Parks Canada/J.-P. Jérôme/H.03.32.02.07(23); p. 9 top left Parks Canada/P. St.Jacques/H.05.52.02.07(54); p. 9 top right iStockphoto/Arpad Benedek; p. 9 (bottom left) Diefenbunker Museum; p. 9 (bottom right) Parks Canada/E. Rohatensky/H.08.83.06.14(07); p. 10 (left) Parks Canada/J.F. Bergeron/H.11.18.06.09(28); p. 10 (right) Parks Canada/Ken Mayer Studios/H.10.106.06.11(96); p. 11 (top left) Parks Canada/J. Pleau/H.09.91.09.06(05); p. 11 (top right) Parks Canada/D. Dealy/H.07.70.06.11(40); KAYAK #16 JUL/AUG 07 KAYAK #16 JUL/AUG 07 p. 11 (bottom left) MightyMiramichi.com; p. 11 (bottom right) Parks Canada/E. Kedl/H.05.63.06.03(27).
Here are some of our favourite sites to see.