As winter sets in, many across the country will be seeking ways to keep engaged and entertained—and maybe even learn a little something—while protecting themselves from the elements. And what better way to accomplish all of the above than by visiting a museum? Across Northeastern Ontario, museums of all shapes and sizes highlight the region’s heritage, architecture, and natural history, from polar bears to the region's famous log cabin "castle." And while a number of museums remain closed due to seasonal hours, or due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are many that are still open, or will be open after the provincial lockdown expires. Before you visit, please be sure to check websites for opening hours, admission requirements, and any additional health and safety notices.
Here are seven great museums to check out this winter.
From displays exploring Callander’s rich geological history to a look at the 128 men and women from the area who served in the Second World War, Callander’s museum is a thorough look at the area’s history and evolution. Most notable, though, are the museum’s exhibitions devoted to the Dionne quintuplets, five identical twin sisters who gained international fame in the mid-20th century, and who were born just outside of Callander.
Thursday-Saturday, 10-5; Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment only
For more info visit: https://www.mycallander.ca/en/visiting-us/museum
The Canadian Polar Bear Habitat is home to three adult bears—Ganuk, which means “snowflake” in Inuktitut, Henry, and Inukshuk—who roam the habitat’s 24 acres of subarctic and boreal natural environment. Bear sightings aren’t guaranteed, particularly since the habitat is so vast, and the bears are allowed to wander as they please, but most visitors will spot at least one during their visit. Visitors have the chance to view the bears, and to learn about the species through several educational exhibitions. This is truly a bucket list experience for the whole family.
Seven days a week, 10-4
For more info visit: https://canadianpolarbearhabitat.com/visit/
The Timmins Museum hosts a number of traveling and rotating exhibitions throughout the year, such as the recent Crossroads, which focussed on the visual art of Franco-Ontarians. The museum’s permanent exhibit, Where We Stand: Stories of the Land, launched earlier this year; it focuses on the area’s history and settlement patterns, and will feature an ever-changing rotation of artefacts and pieces of personal history from Timmins residents.
For more info visit: http://www.timminsmuseum.ca/plan-a-visit/
Ideal for history buffs, the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah, which was constructed in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday, features a collection of artefacts from the Sheguiandah Archaeological Site, as well as displays of the home and work life of settlers to Canada in the mid-19th century. There are also occasional workshops and children’s events; give the museum a call ahead of your visit to see what’s on. Located in Nemi on Manitoulin Island, this makes a great stop on your island tour.
Open Saturday-Sunday, 10-4
For more info visit: https://www.townofnemi.on.ca/p/museum
This museum was originally the home of Harry Oakes, an American-born miner who made his millions in the cobalt mines of Northeastern Ontario in the early 20th century—and who was murdered under circumstances that still remain mysterious. The museum features items once owned by the Oakes family, and a substantial collection of artefacts that reflect the area’s rich mining history. At the gift shop, you’ll find items from local artisans and artists, including paintings, wall hangings, and one-of-a-kind jewellery.
Open Tuesday-Friday, 12-5, and Saturday, 12-4.
For more info, visit: http://kirklandlake.hosted.civiclive.com/things_to_do/museum_of_northern_history
The Mac Daddy of Northern Ontario museums, Science North is heaven for curious children and kids at heart. Currently, the museum is showing an exhibit explaining the science behind some of the most incredible Guinness World Records, sure to fascinate and amaze visitors of all ages. The museum also supports a number of citizen scientist programs in the Sudbury area, and while not technically museum exhibits, some of the experiments can be seen on Science North’s grounds, including 80 bee boxes placed there for research last year.
For more info visit: https://www.sciencenorth.ca/home
While technically not a museum, White Otter Castle in Ignace is one of Northeastern Ontario’s most interesting and historic buildings. Constructed in the early 20th century by woodsman Jimmy McOuat, the “castle” is in fact a three-storey log chalet built by hand, using freshly-felled logs. Tours of White Otter Castle, which is accessible by snow machine only, can be arranged via Brown’s Clearwater West Lodge.
By appointment from https://www.brownsclearwaterlodge.com/
As museums begin to reopen across the province in 2021, check back for updates on where to visit in the new year. For now, enjoy the many spots across Northeastern Ontario where you can enjoy some culture this winter.
If your intitution is welcoming visitors this winter, and you'd like to be included in this roundup, please email us here.