Jump to: Kingston Gananoque Brockville Ottawa Map
Follow the shores of the St. Lawrence River then head Northward to discover the small cities and communities in eastern Ontario that are punching above their weight when it comes to arts and culture. Kingston and Ottawa bookend this Trek, taking you from the spectacular 1000 Islands region up to the scenic Rideau Canal.
All weekend, various events
Kingston has a lot to be proud of with the Tett Centre for Creativity & Learning. A community arts hub in the greatest sense of the term, it’s home to arts organizations, artist studios, and accessible public spaces. A gorgeous venue right on the lake, the mix of historic facade and sleek modern additions make this a must-see for architecture buffs.
The Tett Centre is hosting an all-weekend Culture Days hub featuring back-to-back programming. Drop in to dozens of activities, workshops, demonstrations, kids crafts, performances, and more.
King St • Sunday, noon-8pm
For one day only, the town of Gananoque will be transformed into a bustling, open-air gallery featuring hands-on events and workshops facilitated by local artists. With over 20 artists and organizations taking part, prepare to be dazzled by a kaleidoscope of activities.
Thousand Islands Shipwreck Tour
2.5 hours, departing daily, various times
Shipwrecks... in Ontario? Hop on Gananoque Boat Line’s Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands tour and learn more about the underwater history of the St. Lawrence river. There are about a dozen shipwrecks to discover, with the oldest dating back to 1763.
If you’ve got time, head up to Lyndhurst to take a self-guided studio tour:
Various Locations, Lyndhurst • Sunday
Get face-to-face with makers, artists, and historians right where they live and work. There are over 34 spots to choose from: brush up on stained glass techniques, tour a book dealer’s collection, learn about timelapse photography, and more. Heck, you can even visit some donkeys and take home some donkey milk soap (yes, you read that correctly).
The City of Brockville is one of those special hidden gems that you might miss while driving down the 401. The historic waterfront downtown is laden with limestone buildings and stately manors, but the vibe is undeniably fresh and lively. Best of all, Brockville is a total arts and culture town—we’re talking dozens of festivals, events, street parties, and long-standing theatres and museums.
Trust us, once you visit, you’ll never pass it by again.
Arts and culture take over central Brockville streets with this annual celebration—a street festival with music, dance, artists, sculptors, buskers, food, youth groups, and cultural activities programmed down a gorgeous promenade.
The Brockville Museum • Saturday 11am-3pm
Have you ever wondered where and how a museum collection is stored when not on display? The Brockville Museum is offering a glimpse into this rarely seen realm with behind-the-scenes tours for Culture Days.
Intersection of King Street W and Buell Street • Saturday, leaving at noon
Consensus Bus, created by artist Alex Snukal, is a bus that can travel anywhere—so long as all of the passengers are in agreement. It’s a fun, playful, and sometimes maddening investigation into public agency and loss of control. Come prepared for an adventure!
Consensus Bus is part of the Ontario Culture Days’ special exhibition, DO BLUE BUTTERFLIES EAT PARTS OF THE SKY?
DO BLUE BUTTERFLIES EAT PARTS OF THE SKY? is a province-wide exhibition of playful and accessible artworks that invite participation, while simultaneously exploring what it means to solicit this form of collaboration.
A few more must-sees in Brockville
Brockville Railway Tunnel
Free • Open daily, 9am-9pm
While you’re meandering through downtown Brockville, you may not realize that there’s a significant piece of pre-Confederation industrial heritage hidden right under your feet. The Brockville Railway Tunnel opened in 1832 and remains a popular tourist site, so head underground and travel back to the days of the early railroad.
The Upper Canada Quilt Works
With the temperatures starting to drop, it’s a good time to start thinking about upping your winter hygge game—and that means quilts!
The Upper Canada Quilt Works has been providing studio space for quilters, sewers, and other craft-makers since 2004. Drop in and see what’s happening in the studio and check out their workshops.
Refresh your vinyl collection and look for some rare finds at Grizzly’s Records. Their huge collection will take you on a nostalgic musical journey back through the decades.
The Book Trader
The Book Trader is a well-known little spot to find new and used books. Just finished a good read? Bring it in and take part in their book buying program.
Places to eat
Fort Wellington National Historic Site
Open daily, 10-5pm
This 19th century military base was once an imposing fortress, key to protecting access to the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812. You can now visit the site to try on costumes, witness a cannon firing, and explore the wreck of a gunboat.
Catch the end of Mòshkamo, the National Art Centre’s Indigenous Arts Festival. This three-week celebration is commemorating the launch of the NAC’s new Indigenous Theatre Department. For Culture Days, the NAC will be hosting a family arts day with hands-on workshops for visitors of all ages.
Got those early-Fall blues and missing the summer sun? The National Gallery has your fix with the Art of Camping family event. Join in a campfire sing-a-long, create your own forest creature, and take an art hike.
An all-day party celebrating Caribbean culture! Join in on workshops and kid’s activities, and take in all kinds of entertainment. Oh, and don’t forget the food!
How has living and working in Ottawa impacted your artistic practice?
The community has definitely enhanced my artistic practice, simply because it is super encouraging. I go for beers with other muralists, and even though we are technically each other’s competition, everyone is extremely supportive and we all get stoked to keep making new work and pursue new projects.
A must-see piece of public art in Ottawa is...
Maman, by Louise Bourgeois. This mammoth spider sculpture sits in front of the National Gallery!
You can’t leave Ottawa without visiting...
Gatineau Park! Just a short drive from downtown and you’re fully surrounded by nature. There are so many great trails, and at the end of your hike you can grab a beer in charming Old Chelsea.
Any fun facts about Ottawa?
Every year Ottawa is sent thousands of tulip bulbs from the Netherlands as an act of thanks. This tradition is the basis for the Tulip Festival in May. During WWII a portion of the Ottawa Civic Hospital was designated as international territory for a short time, so that the Dutch Princess Juliana could give birth to her daughter and have her automatically become a Dutch citizen.
Events, hubs, & attractions Eat & sleep
Photos by Matthew Smith Photography and Captured by Sage.
Culture Trek is presented by OLG. It is produced by Ontario Culture Days with the support of national Culture Days. Our partners for this guide include the City of Brockville.