In the early 1600’s, adventurer, Samuel de Champlain navigated some of Ontario's rivers and waterways. Retrace his route to discover experiences, attractions and Francophone culture that reflect his legacy.
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Blazing the trail for future explorers to proceed on to James Bay, Champlain crossed from the Outaouais to Georgian Bay, from the Mattawa River to the portages marked by the First Nations and voyagers as far as the delta of the rocky French River.
Brûlé, Champlain, Recollects and Jesuits journeyed extensively throughout Simcoe County. Experience the region's gems for yourself, from apple pies to archaeological and historical sites, magnificent beaches and heritage places.
Over 120 years ago, humans traversed 386 km of waterways to create the navigable Trent-Severn, an integral part of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, with its high locks and marine railways. Discover the impressive history of the canoe.
Champlain was captivated by the beauty of the shores of the St. Lawrence during his military expedition and, upon his return, during a hunt. Now it’s your turn to revel in what he described as a most beautiful and pleasing land.
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Discover Ontario’s history and the stories that define our diverse cultural mosaic.
Many adventurers have explored Ontario, but as one of the first Europeans, France’s Samuel de Champlain holds a special place. Champlain was a cartographer, a naturalist, an ethnographer and, above all, a visionary in terms of his intention to establish a New France in America, and in fostering a relationship with First Nations people. Today historians consider him the father of New France.
The Ontario Champlain Scenic Route is based on Champlain’s 1615-1616 great expedition navigating the Ottawa River, the Mattawa River, Lake Nipissing, the French River and the waters of the Georgian Bay in search of a suitable site for a trading post and a viable path to the ‘northern sea’. Follow in Champlain’s footsteps with experiences and attractions that reflect the explorer’s legacy as well as our unique Francophone culture on these Champlain itineraries:
Ottawa and Countryside
Haliburton Highlands to the Ottawa Valley
The Great Waterway
Discover more on the Champlain Route at RouteChamplain.ca.
During the American Civil War, Ontario served as the final stop on the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that allowed enslaved African-Americans to escape to freedom. Visit John Freeman Walls' 1846 log cabin, which served as a terminal on the route, or study the artefacts and images at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum.
North Buxton was Canada's first Black settlement and home to the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, which recounts the area's proud story of growth and self-sufficiency. Uncle Tom's Cabin National Historic Site in Dresden was the residence of fugitive slave, Josiah Henson.
German-speaking Mennonites immigrated to Kitchener-Waterloo in the early 1800s in search of religious and cultural freedom. Visit the Joseph Schneider Haus in Kitchener, and don’t miss the annual Oktoberfest, the largest Germanic celebration outside of Germany.