With settlements dating back to 1784 it’s no wonder that Cornwall and the Counties has historic gems tucked around every corner. Here are 7 pieces of Ontario history to discover on your Great Waterway adventure.
It was one of English speaking Canada’s oldest Roman Catholic churches. Though it caught fire in 1970, the outer walls and even the church bell were spared, making it a fascinating place to visit. Take a wander through the ruins, and be sure to peek out the back doorway to admire the rolling country fields.
In quaint Williamstown, Ontario you’ll find an important piece of Canadian history tucked in the village: The Nor’wester & Loyalist Museum. Inside the museum, learn the story of Sir John Johnson and his Loyalist followers who settled in the area after the American Revolution in 1784. You’ll also find out about partners of the North West Company (a competitor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the Fur Trade Days!) who called the area home.
The Star Inn, a stagecoach stop in the 1860s, is believed to be one of the oldest preserved bars in Eastern Ontario, and is a must-see at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. Wander through 10 buildings, which all form a unique part of Glengarry history, including a school house, a blacksmith shop and a cheese factory. 4. Long Sault Parkway – Long Sault, Ontario
In 1958 the St. Lawrence River was flooded during the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. It left behind a series of 11 islands that were created from high points of land, which you can island hop via the parkway, or camp on in one of the three campgrounds run by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.
You’ll learn more about the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway at the Lost Villages Museum, which is made up of 10 heritage buildings that were preserved and relocated at the time of the area flooding. From the train station of the lost village of Moulinette to the Roxborough School House, each building has been restored to the time period. As you explore the surrounding area look closely – you may see a road that disappears into the St. Lawrence, or notice remnants of the villages under the clear water. Read more about all of the lost villages here and check out aerial shots of the sunken villages here.
One of the most famous attractions in the Cornwall & Counties is Upper Canada Village, a collection of original heritage buildings from the 1860s. History truly comes to life in the village. Watch sheep’s wool be transformed into a blanket in the Woolen Mill, or see timber become lumber in the Sawmill. You can also follow the journey from grain to sandwich, by visiting the flour mill, bakery, and finally the restaurant, where bread made in the village is served up as delicious grilled cheese sandwiches (with Upper Canada Village cheese too!). Prepare to be amazed in the at the skill of the interpreters, and bring your camera for great photo ops as you travel back in time.
Want a historic home base for your Cornwall & the Counties adventure? Russell Manor, a short drive from Upper Canada Village, is a boutique B & B in a beautifully restored 1870s home. On a sunny day enjoy an evening in their beautiful gardens, and be sure to take some time to savour their delicious breakfasts.
Whether you love history, camping, festivals or just exploring a new areas there’s lot’s to do in Cornwall & the Counties. See more here. What are your favourite things to see & do in the region?