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heritage

Toronto for History Buffs

EXPLORE TORONTO’S RICH HISTORY WITH THESE ACTIVITIES AND RESTAURANTS

Black Creek Village shoots

Step back in time to the 19th century at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Fort York National Historic Site played an essential role in the city’s turbulent past, and today boasts the largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings. Throughout the summer, the Fort York Guard, comprised of musketmen and musicians, perform various demonstrations including artillery firing, drills, battle tactics performances and more.

Black Creek Pioneer Village recreates Ontario life as it was in the 19th century, complete with more than 40 heritage buildings including a town hall, a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, harness shop and saddler, and a broom maker’s shop.

Take a grander look at the city’s past at Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival home that was once the private estate of financier Sir Henry Pellatt and his family. Built from 1911 to 1914 at a cost of $3.5 million, the majestic palace boasts more than a dozen rooms, towers and an underground tunnel that connects to the stables. Open in 1913, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres is the last surviving Edwardian double-decker theatre in the world, and has hosted the likes of such performers as Charlie McCarthy and George Burns and Gracie Allen. Twice a week, guests can tour the former theatre, which was home to vaudeville acts and silent films, to see the historic dressing rooms and hand-painted flats and drops.

Situated across from the current City Hall (100 Queen St. W.), Old City Hall (60 Queen St. W.), was the largest municipal building in North America at its time of completion in 1899. Until it closed in 1966, it was home to local government offices and courthouses. A looming clock tower is one of the building’s identifying features, along with bronze casts of gargoyles that were reinstalled in 2002, in tribute to the original four statues that flanked each corner.

high tea

A spread of dainties at Afternoon Tea at the King Edward Hotel.

EAT Partake in the centuries-old English tradition of afternoon tea at the Omni King Edward Hotel (37 King St. E.), which serves savory finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with Devonshire cream in an elegant setting.

Once a private home that was transformed into a diner in 1929, The Senator is the city’s oldest restaurant. With fixtures from 1948, the menu is chock-full of comfort foods like bacon and eggs with baked beans, homemade meat loaf, and liver and onions. Barberian’s Steak House dates back to 1959 and boasts an extensive collection of Canadiana art and artifacts that includes paintings by members of the Group of Seven and firearms and rifles used during the War of 1812. A menu of classic dishes includes New York strip loin, shrimp cocktail, rack of lamb and French onion soup, as well as an after-theatre menu with cheese or beef fondue and a Grand Marnier soufflé for two.  —Linda Luong Luck

New UNESCO World Heritage Site: Nova Scotia’s Grand Pré

The historic church at Grand Pré (Photo: H. Holm, Nova Scotia Photo Album)

Every year, UNESCO adds sites of cultural or natural importance to its World Heritage List. This year’s new UNESCO World Heritage sites include 25 places, among them a species-rich coral reef system in Palau, the supposed birthplace of Jesus in Palestine, and Nova Scotia’s own historic Acadian settlement of Grand Pré, which is a Canadian national historic site.

Founded in the 17th century, Grand Pré was a farming community that used a unique hydraulic drainage system to work the marshy land that is affected by the world’s highest tides in the nearby Bay of Fundy. Archaelogical remnants of the original village of Grand Pré can still be seen here, though the majority of the Acadian community was exiled beginning in 1755 in what is known as the Grand Dérangement, or Great Expulsion.

Grand Pré is Nova Scotia’s third UNESCO World Heritage site. Others are the historic maritime village of Lunenburg and the Joggins Fossil Cliffs palaeontological site.

Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Who’s Next for Consideration?

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Atikaki boreal forest, Manitoba-Ontario border (Photo: Briand/Ontario Tourism)

In 2012, Canada is hoping to add these nine unique historical and cultural hot spots to the fifteen sites of  environmental and historical significance already on the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list. (more…)

Canada’s National Parks

Photo by ShutterRunner

Canada’s National Parks show the beautiful variety in our country’s topography—from British Columbia’s turquoise-tinged glaciers and Alberta’s jagged mountains to the coasts of Ontario’s lakes and seaside in the Maritimes. Among them are UNESCO World Heritage Sites recognized for their unique natural beauty, and while some are easy to access others are located in remote corners of our untamed nation. A full list of all 42 National Parks of Canada, which was the world’s first national park service, can be found at www.pc.gc.ca. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada, and to celebrate there are special events and celebrations—don’t think just because summer is over the fun is done, many parks are at there most stunning when the snow falls—check out a list of upcoming events here. (more…)

Road Trip: Eastern Townships – Sherbrooke to Montreal

Photo by Waheeda Harris

By Waheeda Harris

Although not a lengthy distance, this part of La Belle Province is packed with heritage towns, tempting boites and plenty of Quebecois charm. Many distractions can be found in the Eastern Townships in the towns of North Hatley, Magog, Orford and Brome before ending the journey in Montreal.

Modes of Transport

Driving can make this into a day trip, but take the time to meander off Autoroute 10 to discover some of the lures of the region. Cycling is another way to enjoy the leisurely pace of the Townships, and if a day on two wheels has tired you out, the Taxi-Velo can come to the rescue.  From point A to point B its 157 kilometres as the crow flies (just under two hours), but consider taking a long weekend and  another 50-75 km for side trips.

Roadside Attractions

Make time in Sherbrooke to visit the 11 al fresco murals that are found throughout the downtown. Each one reveals some history of the town, its citizens and the region, as well as a snapshot of the changes that occurred in the 20th century. (more…)

Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

For travellers planning their summer trips in Canada this year, the regional editors of Where magazine have released their top picks for summer travel. The winners of Where Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011 represent the most exciting attractions – new, significantly improved, or celebrating major milestones this year. A diverse group of attractions from coast to coast, this year’s winners offer a wide range of activities and events suitable for any family, art lover, sports fanatic, nature lover or adventurer. Together, these attractions serve as the top must-see and must-dos for anyone travelling in Canada this summer. (more…)

Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet App Lets You Travel Back in Culinary Time

By Annemarie Dooling

Instead of using an app to locate a gourmet restaurant, why not download an iPhone app that will make you a gourmet chef?

Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet is like a trip to dine at the tables of Canadians from the 18th century to today. Browse through more than 70 recipes sorted by ingredient, themed menu, region or period for a list of Canadian traditional and modern delicacies. The app lists both little-known retro plates and old familiar favorites, such as Quebec’s Fort Chambly Pea Soup, an 18th century Halibut and Bacon dish and a recipe for traditional  Sourdough Flapjacks, which were originally cooked over an open flame. The shopping list and bookmarking features make it easy to save meal picks on the go and locate every ingredient you need, and behind-the-scenes videos and cooking tips connect the dots between the past lives of the meals and your current kitchen.

But this isn’t just a standard recipe app, this is a traveling food-lover’s dream. Each recipe comes with a historic biography and timeline, detailing when the dish first made its debut. Plus, a “site” tab lists current travel information on the corresponding national historic site so that you have the most well-rounded and informed Canadian meal possible. Be sure to check the app often, as recipes are improved and added all the time.

The app: Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet (for iPhone)
Cost
: Free
Where to download: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/parks-canada-heritage-gourmet/id451612819

Holiday Happenings: Heritage Traditions

Festive family fun abounds this month at the city’s heritage sites and historic museums. Step back in time and experience old-fashioned Toronto traditions that will delight both young and old. Events occur during daily museum hours except where noted.

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma
Experience holiday magic as classic storybook tales are brought to life at this enchanting hilltop castle. The attraction also offers a variety of registration-only special events: on December 13 and 20 families can feast on scrumptious pancakes at a breakfast with Santa Claus; or help your little elf decorate a miniature gingerbread house on December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20. And on December 22 and 30, get physical with a holiday-themed family archery lesson and learn the history and techniques behind this ancient sport.

1 Austin Terrace. Admission and special event prices vary; call 416-923-1171 for more information and to register.


Mackenzie House

Eschew the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping for the charm of a traditional Christmas in the 1859 row-house of Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie. Sample mulled cider and warm biscuits in an authentic 19th-century kitchen while little ones write letters to Santa Claus the old-fashioned way—using a pen and ink pot, plus stationery made with a circa-1845 printing press. And on December 13 and 20, gather in Mackenzie House’s cozy family room for an afternoon storytelling session featuring Christmas tales from the Victorian era.

82 Bond St. Adults $5.71, children $3.33; call 416-392-6915 for details.


Todmorden Mills Museum

Discover the simple pleasures of a Regency-era Christmas at Todmorden Mills—the site’s early 19th-century homes are adorned for the season with a lovely array of evergreen garlands and festive decorations. You can even create your own tree ornaments using a traditional felting technique. Register for the Cast Iron Chef cooking series on December 5 and prepare tasty holiday treats on an open hearth. On December 12, creative visitors can use wires, pliers and natural materials to make custom holiday decor at the wreath-making workshop.

67 Pottery Rd. Adults $5.24, children $2, workshop prices vary; call 416-396-2819 for details and to reserve.

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Black Creek Pioneer Village
Step back in time to a Victorian country Christmas and enjoy festive performances, hands-on activities and festive treats at this living history museum. On December 5, 12, and 19 the historic village is bathed in the flickering glow of candlelight and oil lamps for Christmas by Lamplight, an annual celebration with costumed carollers, games and storytellers. Then return December 6, 13, and 20 for a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings served in the Village’s historic brewery restaurant.

1000 Murray Ross Pkwy. Admission prices vary; to purchase tickets for Christmas by Lamplight, call 416-736-1733, ext. 5331. For Sunday Christmas Dinner reservations, call 416-667-6295.


Colborne Lodge

Celebrate the holidays in winter-wonderland surroundings in a restored 1837 regency villa. Tour the picturesque home of High Park’s founders, John and Jemima Howard, while nibbling on delectable holiday snacks and toast the season with mulled cider warmed by an authentic wood stove. Sign up to make a festive seasonal wreath to take home on December 5, 6 and 10; on December 12, 13, 16, 17 and 19, craft custom adornments for your dinner table at the two-hour Christmas centrepiece workshop.

Colborne Lodge Drive. Adults $5.71, children $3.33, workshop prices vary; call 416-392-6916 for details.


Gibson House

Holiday traditions of yore come to life at this north Toronto family farmhouse built in 1851. The Georgian-style exterior is resplendent with seasonal finery; costumed staff lead capture the spirit with tours of this historic rural landmark. On December 19 and 20 the museum hosts Mincemeat, Pomanders and Paperchains—a weekend event with festive crafting for kids in the Discovery Gallery and traditional holiday fare from the open-hearth kitchen.

5172 Yonge St. Adults $5.48, children $2.62; call 416-395-7432 for more information.


Montgomery’s Inn

Enjoy plentiful seasonal entertainment throughout the month at this early-1800s Etobicoke landmark. Ring in the holidays on December 4 by singing 19th-century carols while sipping period-relevant drinks in the tavern at this historic inn. On December 4 and 5 the Humber River Shakespeare Company performs an original production of Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol. Also on December 5, master baker Monika Paradis presents a delightfully decadent Gingerbread House workshop. And on December 12, cozy up by the fire and enjoy readings of The Ghost of Christmas Present and many more seasonal stories.

4709 Dundas St. W. Admission prices vary; call 416-394-8113 for registration information.

Weekend Roundup, September 18th to 20th

Explore the city on foot with a walking tour a day.

Friday: check out downtown with Muddy York Walking Tours (photo by amish.patel).

Friday: check out downtown with Muddy York Walking Tours (photo by amish.patel).

Friday, September 18th
Discover the history behind the names of some of the city’s major avenues on the Toronto Street Names: Downtown tour by Muddy York Walking Tours.

Check out the art show, food, music, dancing and demonstrations at the Toronto Ukranian Festival, the continent’s largest street celebration of Ukranian culture.

Saturday, September 19th
To commemorate its 10th year as a Canadian Heritage River, follow the flow of the Humber waterway on a guided Heritage Toronto Walk.

Catch remix kings Electic Method at Yonge-Dundas Square, as part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s outdoor closing party.

Sunday: Harken back to pioneer days of yore (photo by Gary J. Wood).

Sunday: Harken back to pioneer days of yore (photo by Gary J. Wood).

Sunday, September 20th
Explore the city’s first post office, St. Lawrence Market, St. James Cathedral and other charms of Old Town Toronto on today’s ROMwalk.

Watch butter churning, try out Victorian dancing and bid on handmade country quilts at the Pioneer Festival at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Rail Heritage

VIA Rail

VIA Rail

The railway has been part of Jasper since 1911.

  • Admire the arts and crafts architecture of the restored 1926 Jasper Heritage Train Station
  • See 1923 CNR steam locomotive 6015, displayed by the station
  • Read railway interpretive panels along the Discovery Trail that parallels the tracks
  • Visit Jasper-Yellowhead Museum railway history displays
  • Take in Yellowhead Pass, Fraser River and Mt Robson during a half day train tour with SunDog Tours or Jasper Adventure Centre. —JN

Jasper’s Original Landmark Building

Jasper Info Centre by Brian Catto

Jasper Info Centre by Brian Catto

The newly renovated 1914 Jasper Information Centre is the impossible-to-miss stone and timber national historic site in the centre of town (it now has a brown roof). Originally home and office to Jasper Park’s first superintendent, its arts and craft architecture influenced later buildings such as the 1926 railway station across the street. Drop by to consult with Park Canada and Jasper Tourism counsellors, and to peruse the Friends of Jasper store. Learn about history during free Jasper…A Walk in the Past tours that depart here. —RM