You can’t travel back in time, but you can travel across Canada to experience a wide variety of historical and interactive getaways. From the monumental struggles between the British and French and the eventual Acadian expulsion, to the Klondike Gold Rush and the sacred sites now guided by the Haida Watchmen, the crucial turning points that define our history still resonate with us today.
“These places bring the past alive in a way books and television can’t. People young and old can get a feel for what things were like in the past. And for young people, a positive experience at a historic site will often ignite a lifelong interest in further explorations of our history and heritage,” said Nelle Oosterom, Senior Editor of Canada’s History magazine. “This special project is a fun way for us to do two things: draw attention to ten National Historic Sites that we feel are leaders in creating unforgettable visitor experiences and secondly, encourage Canadians to tell us how they have been impressed, enthralled, entertained, or enlightened at the historic places they’ve experienced.”
In honour of Parks Canada’s centennial, Canada’s History magazine and Adventure Canada invite you to share your stories. Whether your experience is as a visitor, an employee, a volunteer or someone who has helped to build or construct one of almost 1,000 National Historic Sites, Canada’s History wants to hear about your memories of these storied places.
Canadians of all ages are encouraged to write an essay of no more than 500 words about their favourite National Historic Site, and submit it online along with a photograph. Entries to the Storied Places Contest will also be accepted by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by regular mail at:
Storied Places, Canada’s History
Main Floor, Bryce Hall
515 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2E9
The grand prize is an all expenses paid cruise for two from Greenland to Newfoundland tracing the Voyages of the Vikings and visiting one of our top national historic sites, L’Anse aux Meadows. Other prizes will be awarded for runners-up and honourable mentions. Deadline for entries is July 25th, 2011.
There is also a school-based contest that will run until December 31st, 2011. Teachers and students who submit entries as part of a class project will be eligible to win the “ultimate class field trip” to Ottawa. Five regional prizes, involving a visit to a National Historic Site are also available to be won.
Canada’s History has selected its top ten places that bring history alive in Canada on the basis of historical significance and visitor experience. This is the definitive “bucket list” for Canadian historical tourism. They are:
Fortress of Louisbourg, N.S. – Shine a Light on Canada’s Seafaring Past
Louisbourg was once one of the busiest seaports in North America, thanks to the lucrative cod fishery of the Grand Banks. France spent 26 years constructing the strongest fortress on the continent. During the siege of 1758, the British dismantled every stone and brick. In 1961, the Canadian government began reconstructing the Fortress of Louisbourg and it now spans five hectares and features fifty buildings.
L’Anse aux Meadows, N.L. – When Vikings Roamed Canada
Did you know that Vikings landed in Canada around the year 1000 C.E? Imagine sitting by a fire in a Viking sod house in Newfoundland. A reconstructed Viking village rests on the isolated northern tip of Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula. Explore tales of Vikings travelling to North America and experience how iron was first forged in the New World.
Grand-Pré, N.S. – On Broadway… Acadian Style
The heartbeat of Acadian history beats proudly in Grande-Pré, Nova Scotia. In 1755, Acadian settlers were expelled from the Maritime colonies and relocated to Britain, France and various British colonies. Fortunately, a memorial and celebration of their way of life still exists in the Annapolis Valley. Paintings of the deportation are on display in the Memorial Church and interactive theatre portrays life in Grand-Pré before the expulsion.
Fortifications of Québec City, Que. – North America’s Only Fortified City
Thanks to the diligent efforts of Lord Dufferin, the Governor General of Canada from 1872 to 1878, the old French walls of Québec were proudly preserved for future generations. With layer upon layer of military history dating back four centuries, this UNESCO World Heritage Site tells the colourful story of Québec’s military and urban past.
Rideau Canal, Ottawa-Kingston, Ont. – Waterway Built at a Huge Human Cost
Tension between British North America and the United States after the War of 1812 sparked the construction of an alternate shipping link between Montreal and the Great Lakes. This remarkable engineering feat took five years to accomplish and required thousands of workers. Malaria contracted from swamps along the way is estimated to have killed 500 of the labourers, many of whom were recent Irish immigrants.
Lower Fort Garry, Man. – Heyday of the Fur Trade Comes Alive
The oldest stone fur trading post in North America, Lower Fort Garry was the headquarters for the Hudson’s Bay Company’s vast trading empire. Later, it was used as the first training base for the North West Mounted Police. It was also the site of the signing of the first numbered treaties and it later served as a penitentiary and insane asylum.
Batoche, Sask. – Métis Last Stand
The land southwest of Prince Albert is the site of the last battle between Métis and a militia organized by the federal government to quell the resistance movement led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont.
Bar U Ranch, Alta. – Round Up Cattle Country History
Legendary for the colourful characters that passed through its corrals, the Bar U Ranch south of Calgary was home to 30,000 head of cattle in 1881. The offspring of its 1,000 Percheron workhorses pulled carts and trolleys in cities across North America. Learn how to throw a lasso and rein in a team of horses while reliving the Wild West at an historic cattle ranch.
Nan Sdins, B.C. – The Haunting Remains of a Haida Village
Visitors to this abandoned village on a remote island at Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) can see elaborately carved poles and houses that reveal what was once rich and flamboyant society. Today, Haida Gwaii Watchmen oversee the site and act as guides for the visitors who come here.
Klondike National Historic Sites, Dawson City, Yukon – Pan for Gold
At its peak in the 1890s, Dawson City was the largest community northwest of Winnipeg. Fuelled by a gold rush fever, saloons and brothels sprang up overnight to accommodate 30,000 people eager to risk their lives in search of new fortunes. Today, tourists explore a historical complex of Klondike-era buildings and visit a restored river boat, the largest wooden gold dredge in North America, and the Robert Service cabin.