2017 marks Canada’s sesquicentennial, and Parks Canada is offering a free Discovery Pass to anyone who requests one. The Discovery Pass provides free admission to 46 national parks, 171 national historic sites, 4 national marine conservation areas as well as historic canals and waterways.
Coming from a family of road trippers, I can tell you that Canada is blessed with a wide variety of beautiful places. I have vivid memories of my family’s visit to Banff National Park- Canada’s first national park established 1885 – with its striking mountain peaks, and stunning vistas, and our visit to Fundy National Park with the world’s largest tidal ranges (16.3 meters).
If you don’t fancy a drive across Canada, there are shorter trips you can enjoy. Ontario’s scenic Highway 2 is the keeper of lesser known treasures such as Windmill Point Lighthouse and Fort Wellington near Prescott, Ontario. With my Discovery pass in hand, it was time my family and I discovered more of our Canada.
About an hour’s drive south of Ottawa and a little west on Highway 2, we found Windmill Lighthouse Point—also known as the Battle of the Windmill. Overlooking the St. Lawrence River, the windmill was originally built in 1832. Although it is quiet today, you could imagine the action the windmill saw during the 1837-38 Upper/Lower Canada rebellions. 1872 saw its conversion into a lighthouse with its service ending in 1978. Today the park-like setting, beside the picturesque St. Lawrence, offered a splendid place for a family picnic.
Continuing on Highway 2 brought us to Fort Wellington. Built during the War of 1812, it defended Canada’s shipping interests in the St. Lawrence River and subsequently impeded an American invasion during the 1837-38 rebellions. The fort stands well preserved and still keeps a stoic vigil. It offers visitors the opportunity to witness periodic military drills including a cannon firing. If one returns in either June or August, you can enjoy “Just a Wee Dram Scotch Whisky”–a food pairing with whisky tasting event. It’s a fascinating place to learn about the history of whisky.
A Sunday drive brought history alive for us. A little adventure allowed us to experience some real Canadian history. There are many such destinations across Canada to visit. Check out the Parks Canada website for locations and historical descriptions. With the thought of more road trips in the future, we welcome Canada’s year-long birthday celebration!