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Ontario's People & Culture
Ontario’s people are made up of a mosaic of cultures. Discover their stories and histories – celebrated in festivals and events, preserved in architecture and museum, and dramatized at historic sites.
History Comes Alive
Celebrate Ontario's rich and colourful past. Enter the wooden gates of Fort Henry in historic Kingston and transform into a time traveller, witnessing military life in the early 1800s. Visit Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg, where Ontario's pioneer spirit lives on. From broommakers to blacksmiths, learn about the accomplishments of 19th century settlers as they carved out a new life in the wilderness. See how early settlers and Aboriginal people lived alongside one another at Sainte-Marie-among-the-Hurons near Midland. Step back in time at Fort William in Thunder Bay, the world's largest reconstructed fur trading post.
Capitalize On Culture
Indulge your interests at specialized museums and galleries around the province. In Toronto, explore The Bata Shoe Museum, which focuses on the history of shoes, while the Gardiner Museum showcases stunning ceramic arts. Marvel at the works of the Group of Seven, inspired by Ontario's magnificent landscape, at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg. Nature lovers will want to explore the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa or get hands-on at Science North and Dynamic Earth in Sudbury. Imaginations will soar at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton and Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
In our cultural capital Ottawa, feel the echoes of the past in the symbolic architecture of the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Admire Kingston’s heritage buildings crafted from local limestone. In Toronto, take a walking tour through the cobblestone streets of the Distillery Historic District and see a 19th century community now transformed with contemporary galleries, restaurants and boutiques. Modern architecture abounds too – the Art Gallery of Ontario features sleek curved glass and wood designs. The Royal Ontario Museum marries old and new with a giant crystal-shaped expansion, merged with the original neo-romanesque design.
Small Town Charms
Explore Ontario's byways and backroads to discover towns and villages brimming with intrigue. Browse the Mennonite market in St Jacobs, where the horse-and-buggy is a way of life. Explore Stratford, where ‘dinner and a show’ means expertly prepared local produce and a brilliant performance at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Follow the Rideau Heritage Route from Kingston to Ottawa’s Rideau Canal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and discover friendly towns and villages along the way. Immerse yourself in the colourful neighbourhoods of the big cities – Toronto’s Little Italy, Chinatown and the Gerrard India Bazaar are just a few cultural hot spots.
Revel In The Rhythms
Feel the history and power of Ontario’s vibrant Aboriginal community at festivals, Pow Wows and cultural centres across the province. Tour Manitoulin Island along the Great Spirit Circle Trail, bite into bannock or try your hand at traditional Aboriginal handicrafts.
Join The Party
Enjoy local food festivals and cultural celebrations, like Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival or Winterlude in Ottawa.
Tune in to great music at jazz, blues and rock festivals across the province. Flip for pancakes and loads of sweet syrup at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. Join film fans from across the globe at public screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival.