Insight Advisor

Historical Gems Tucked Around Every Corner

Explore an era past in this region that was originally known as Upper Canada. Detour off the main road and take a historical trip to one of the oldest surviving building in Ontario; Sir John Johnson House National Historic Site.

Then meet villagers in traditional period costume from the 1860’s with a trip to Upper Canada Village. This is more than a living museum; re-enactments and special events greet you, year round. These include the wildly popular Alight at Night Alight festival leading up to Christmas and Pumpkinferno, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s “Best Event of the Year”.

A visit to this area wouldn’t be complete without stopping into Cornwall for great theatre, galleries, shops and dining.

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Cornwall and The Counties at its Best

History Springs to Life
History Springs to Life
Extraordinary Events
Extraordinary Events
Cornwall Outdoors
Cornwall Outdoors
Dream Builder Studios
Dream Builder Studios
Haunted or Not?
Haunted or Not?

History Springs to Life

Visit Upper Canada Village and time travel back to 1866, to a pre-confederation Canadian village. Here, you will experience all the sights, sounds and smells that went along with village life on the St. Lawrence River, during this period.

Historical interpreters in period costume go about their daily business as they would have in 1866, sewing the latest London fashions, blacksmithing, making cheese, carving furniture, farming and churning out the latest Gazette from a period printing press. Just be sure to keep an eye on the road to avoid running into a horse-drawn carriage. This creates an environment so realistic, that even the most nitpicky Canadian history buffs come away having learned something new.

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Though you might be a visitor to Upper Canada Village, you’re hardly a spectator. Try your hand at everyday tasks like hand-milking a cow or spinning yarn. Depending on the time and the day, you may be able to participate in a local election and hear the two candidates duke it out. Or you might stumble upon a wedding ceremony in front of the church. Wrap up your trip into the past with a refreshing ginger beer or sarsaparilla at Cook’s Tavern and Livery.

Upper Canada Village is located in the village of Riverside, near Morrisburg, Ontario.

Looking to pair other things with your visit to Upper Canada, start planning your trip on our searchable trip planner, Activities Await.

Extraordinary Events

Glengarry Highland Games held on the Civic Holiday weekend, this highly anticipated event is the largest of its kind outside of Scotland and features North America’s largest performance of massed pipe bands. This yearly event attracts visitors from all over the globe to take in the piping and drumming competitions, the world famous highland dancing competitions and the heavyweight competitions like the caber toss. Take in the traditional Scottish fare and enjoy the dances held on each night.

The Pumpkinferno Festival lights up the night sky in Upper Canada Village every October. This hauntingly beautiful and spellbinding outdoor exhibit showcases close to 6,000 awe-inspiring, hand-carved artificial pumpkins. Once lit, the night-time backdrop makes for an incredible sight! You’ll marvel as you stroll through and see incredible renditions of historic ages, animals, mythical characters and so much more… all carved from pumpkins! Pumpkinferno has earned “Best New Event in Ontario” designation by Festival and Events Ontario, and “Tourism Event of the Year ” by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. This mesmerizing display of artist-inspired, glowing pumpkins is a not-to-be-missed event for ALL ages!

Alight at Night held each year at Upper Canada Village is transformed into an awe-inspiring, magical holiday season setting. Close to one million lights adorn the heritage buildings, trees and fences, creating an enchanting winter wonderland! Bundle up and take a horse drawn wagon ride or go for an evening stroll through this picture-perfect setting and enjoy the amazing display of lights.

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Start planning your trip, see our Events to mark your calendar.

Cornwall Outdoors

With the St. Lawrence River at your doorstep, along with 105 kilometres of waterfront trail, 4 conservation areas and 5 beaches, you won’t be lacking for things to do outside here. There are also 12 golf courses scattered throughout the region, and the Summerstown and Glengarry trail systems offer up some of the best hiking and cross-country skiing in The Great Waterway.

Cycling is huge, too, and no wonder. The section of Waterfront Trail that runs through here is one of the most uninterrupted, plus many of the roads have plenty of shoulder and ample spots to take a break. And this isn’t even mentioning the welcoming communities and beautiful scenery all the way along.

Some interesting experiences to check out in your travels include:

Lost Villages Scuba Diving
When the St. Lawrence Seaway was built, 10 communities were submerged. See their ghostly remains and “Lock 21” on a scuba diving adventure.

Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary
A place for expert and rookie ornithologists alike. 9,000 hectares, 200 bird species and 8 kilometres of nature trails for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing.

McMaze Family Fun Farm
Always something to do no matter the time of year. Five mazes, including a 4-acre corn maze, Easter egg hunts, pumpkin picks, horse-drawn sleigh rides, farm animals and more.

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Ice Skating

Cornwall has a variety of outdoor rinks for family fun for all ages.

The outdoor rinks at Optimist and King George parks feature outdoor
lights that are on from 5 pm to 11 pm each night.

Outdoor Rinks

Alexander Park – Eighth and Adolphus Street
Broadview Park – Henry Street and Thirteenth Street
Broadview Park – Dover Road and Robertson Avenue
Gallinger Park – Lottie Avenue and Branch Drive
Grant Park – Kennedy Drive and Grant Avenue
King George Park – Seventh Street and York Street
Mattice Park – Edward Street
Memorial Park – Bedford and Third Street
Menard Park – Concorde Avenue
Optimist Park – Sunnyside Avenue and St. Michel Avenue
Reg Campbell Park – Leitch Drive and Fraser Avenue


Big Ben Ski Centre is a great place to fine-tune your skiing or snowboarding skills during the winter months. Keep warm in the heated chalet, enjoy the ease of the towline that will return you to the peak, and perfect your tricks in the snowboarding half pipe. Big Ben also offers inexpensive ski and snowboard lessons for all age groups. So bring your gear and carve up the hill under the lights of Big Ben, and get a great view of the city from the top!

Start planning your trip on our searchable trip planner, Activities Await.

Lights, Camera, Action

Big city production – right here in Cornwall. This one stop shop for theatre and studio needs is a great space for productions, including concerts, plays and other live performances. Dream Builder Studios is also home to state of the art audio and film studios where you can record your musical and acting talents right here in Cornwall. If you have a dream, they can help you bring it to life.

Haunted or Not?

INJAOne of the most fascinating sites in this region is the Historic Cornwall Jail, located 11 Water Street West Cornwall. Built in 1833, this jail was the reluctant home to many frightening criminals. Today it runs as a museum and you can view it in much the same way it operated. The cell blocks, common areas, exercise yard and visitation area are maintained just as they were, when populated by inmates. Step into a cell and imagine what life must have been like behind bars, in the 1800’s.

A visit to the museum is a trip back into a time when men, women, children, the mentally and physically handicapped, the insane, and basically anyone who didn’t fit into society were thrown in jail and often forgotten. Men could be hung for stealing a cow but only had to pay a fined for beating his wife. Hangings were a part of the jails history and continued up until 1954.

You’ll hear about all this, plus about great escapes, eerie ghost stories and tales of inmates who died.

Start planning your trip on our searchable trip planner, Activities Await.

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