The rich and longstanding culture and heritage of Ontario’s Highlands can be experienced through the architecture, festivals, food, and historic landmarks found throughout the region. Immerse yourself in the region’s history with a daytrip to one of the many museums. Or simply wander the town streets and read historic markers that explain how the area’s diverse past has shaped its people and culture.
What a delicious way to mark the end of winter! Come and get your fill of the sweet golden nectar that flows from the maple tree. You can tour an operating sugar bush and learn more about the process of making maple syrup or simply stock up on some tasty maple treats in Lanark County, the Maple Capital of Ontario. Maple syrup production takes place in the months of March and April, but some attractions are open year-round.
|Lanark County – Welcome to the Maple Capital of Ontario|
|National Geographic’s Top 10 Foods to Eat in Ontario – Featuring maple syrup in Lanark County|
|Festival of the Maples, Perth – An annual festival featuring maple syrup, vendors, and amazing music|
|The Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario – Learn more about maple syrup, the sap that rises with the onset of spring|
|Wheelers Maple Heritage Museum – Listed as one of the best maple experiences in Canadian Geographic Magazine|
Rideau Heritage Route
The Rideau Heritage Route is a popular landmark in Ontario’s Highlands and can be enjoyed from many of the region’s towns and communities. The waterway is listed as one of 936 UNESCO World Heritage Sites declared to be an important part of cultural and natural heritage and perceived as having outstanding universal value. The route covers 202 kilometres of the Rideau and Cataraqui Rivers and the canal, located in Ottawa, is the only remaining operational canal that was built in the early 19th century.
|UNESCO World Heritage Centre – Preserving and bringing awareness to World Heritage sites|
|UNESCO World Heritage list – Includes 936 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value|
|Rideau Heritage Route – Learn more about the villages, towns, and cities along the Rideau Heritage Route along with things to see and do, festival and events, and nearby accommodations|
History of Ontario’s Highlands
Ontario’s Highlands is home to the Algonquin First Nations, the first people to greet Samuel de Champlain when he arrived from Europe in 1603. As the first European settlers began to arrive, the dawn of the historic fur trade industry saw voyageurs paddle down the Rideau Heritage Route all the way to Georgian Bay. The lumber, mining, and farming industries were also crucial contributors to the region’s economy and you can see remnants of their past at some of the area’s historical sites.Many of the festivals reflect the traditions of these first settlers, and today you can still experience Irish, German, Polish, and Scottish customs and cuisine at the many festivals and local restaurants.
|Genealogy, Wikipedia – Learn more about the study of families and tracing lineages and history|
|Lanark County history – The history of Lanark County, from the First Nations and first European settlers to the 20th century and today|
|Lanark County Genealogical Society – Assisting those interested in family history in the local geographical area of Lanark County|
|The Wilno Heritage Site – Information on the oldest Polish settlement in Canada, also known as Canada’s Kashub Heartland|
|Extension Notes: Forest History in Eastern Ontario, PDF – Learn about the types of forests in the region, historical forest patterns, the status of forests pre- and post-European settlements, and the logging industry|
|Mining, Hastings County Heritage Atlas – Information on mining deposits in the region, including the first discovery of gold in Canada at the Richardson farm near Madoc|
|Algonquins of Pikwakanagan – About the Algonquin community, history, and culture|
|Algonquin Nation, Omamiwinini – About the culture, traditions, customs, practices, heritage, language, and arts of the Algonquin Nation|
|Hastings County history and genealogy – Sources for genealogical and historical information in the Count of Hastings|
|Land O’ Lakes history and genealogy – Links to websites, resources, and information about the history and genealogy in the Land O’ Lakes region|
|Haliburton, Ontario History Geography – The history of Haliburton County|
|County of Renfrew history – The origins of the Ottawa Valley and the Renfrew community|
Annual Cultural Events
All across Ontario’s Highlands, people are coming together to celebrate their heritage and community roots or to learn about another culture and what makes it unique. Through song, dance, and delicious food, you too can take part in the festivities – from drumming and dance to bluegrass festivals.
|Palmer Rapids Twin Music Festival, Palmer Rapids – An annual summer festival of bluegrass and country music|
|Calabogie Blues & Ribsfest, Calabogie – Class axe guitars, Calabogie blues, and ribs for an entertaining summer family event|
|Drum Nation Festival, Madoc – Come celebrate music and dance as an art form and the presence of the drum in each culture|
|Minden Hills Bluegrass Festival, Minden – A weekend full of live music and camping|
Annual Heritage Events
Appease the Scottish in you with pipes and drums at the Haliburton Highland Games; get in touch with your Polish side at the Kashbub Day Festival; and join in the sacred ceremony at the Annual Algonquins of Pikwakanagan Traditional Pow Wow. With annual heritage events and some county fairs that have been returning annually for more than 100 years, you’ll find plenty of ways to celebrate the local heritage and join in the fun.
|Haliburton Highland Games, Haliburton – Food and music and large men throwing stuff|
|North Lanark Highland Games, Almonte – Celebrate the Scottish culture and heritage of the Ottawa Valley|
|Almonte Celtfest, Almonte – A free afternoon of Ottawa Valley and Celtic entertainment performed in the natural amphitheatre of Gemmill Park in the heart of Almonte|
|Timberfest, Barry’s Bay – A weekend of family fun celebrating the timbering heritage of Barry’s Bay and the Madawaska Valley|
|Kashub Day, Wilno – A celebration of the rich Polish heritage and unique Kashub culture in the Ottawa Valley|
|Algonquin Pow Wow, Pikwakanagan – Join hundreds of dancers, numerous drums, and thousands of spectators in the festivities that celebrate this annual festival|
|Rockfield Farm Pioneer Day, Boulter – Features demonstrations of farming with horses such as ploughing, discing, cultivating, potato planning, rock pulling, logging, and manure spreading|
Find fresh and quality farm products for purchase direct from the producer. These markets provide you the chance to support local communities directly and purchase products you won’t find anywhere else.
|Farmers’ Markets Ontario – Buy top-quality, farm-fresh products at a local farmers’ market near you|
|Carleton Place Farmers Market, Carleton Place – The place to find farm fresh produce and meats, homemade preserves, and baking as well as handmade crafts and artwork|
|Ellenberger Organic Farm, Coe Hill – The only providers of certified organic seed potatoes in all of Ontario; also offering beef, pork, strawberries, corn, and other seasonal products|
|Stirling-Rawdon Water Buffalo Food Festival, Stirling – Featuring cheese products produced from local water buffalo milk, raised water buffalo meat, and additional tastes with an authentic Italian twist|
|Hastings County Beer Festival, Stirling – Enjoy the bounty from the local harvest|
|Ontario’s Artisan Cheese Region – Local cheese events and announcements in Ontario’s Frontenac, Hastings, Lennox and Addington, and Price Edward regions|
|Perth Garlic Festival, Perth – One of the world’s top 10 garlic festivals|
|Harvest Hastings, Hastings County – Local food and other products according to what’s in season and fresh|
Maybe you’re a history buff or you’re spending a getaway weekend with the family and want something educational for the kids. Maybe it’s raining outside and you’re looking for an indoor attraction to take in. The numerous museums you’ll find in Ontario’s Highlands can entertain and inform on anything from the lifestyle of the mid 1800s to the origins of maple syrup in Canada.
|Rideau Canal Museum, Smiths Falls – See a real working hand winch, wooded lock gates, and audio interpreted interactive displays|
|Heritage House Museum, Smiths Falls – Visit this restored, classically styled Victorian home depicting the lifestyle of an upper middle class family living in Smiths Falls around 1867 to 1875|
|Matheson House Museum, Perth – Enter the world of the 1840s at the elegant Matheson House, home of the award-winning Perth Museum and a National Historic Site|
|Wheelers Maple Syrup Museum, Lanark County – The world’s most extensive collection of maple related artifacts|
|Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, Smiths Falls – A museum located on 10.5 acres including a station building built in 1912 which has been declared a National Historic Site|
|42nd Field Regiment RCA Regimental Museum, Pembroke – Located in Pembroke and open to the public|
|Hastings Museum of Agricultural Heritage, Stirling – Celebrate the culture of rural Ontario, the importance of agriculture, and the farmers who provide us with safe, local food|
|Waba Cottage Museum and Gardens, Arnprior – Full of memories of the past and heritage buildings such as a school house, reading house, and small stone house|