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Heritage Day Tour of Northumberland County

Come celebrate 150 years of Confederation touring scenic highlights of the Heritage in Northumberland County. We start our tour in Port Hope to see ‘Ontario’s best preserved main street’, Walton St. On Queen St, see its unique atmospheric theatre, the Capitol, its Town Hall and the Ganaraska River. In Cobourg, we visit the Cook-Sifton Heritage Centre and tour King St, discovering Victoria Hall, Victoria Park, St Peter’s Anglican Church and two American ‘cottages’. In Colborne, we view the log home of the founder of the village, Joseph Keeler. In Brighton, we have a tour of the Victorian Proctor Mansion. In Campbellford, we see the Trent Severn Waterway in operation and the Old Mill Park with its giant Toonie. We pass through some of the spectacular rolling hills en route to Roseneath where we will ride on an authentic C.W. Parker Carousel, ca 1906. We conclude our tour with a visit to the Alderville Indian Handicraft Store. 


Tour of the Heritage Cemetery of St Peter`s   


Explore this historic cemetery and learn how memorializing the dead has evolved with different cultures over time.  In this park-like cemetery, we investigate the meaning behind the symbolism used on many tombstones.  As we visit the gravesites of famous Canadians - a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, members of the Family Compact, an Arctic Explorer, wealthy pioneer landowners, and famous industrialists - we will learn about their lives and their legacy to Canada.  Through photos we will discuss several other famous North American cemeteries and be entertained by witty and comical epitaphs. There will be time for browsing on King St and we conclude the day with tea or coffee and petit-fours at 66 King St East. 

Architectural Tours of Port Hope and Cobourg


We visit the towns of Cobourg and Port Hope and examine various architectural styles from the neo-classical Victoria College to the Regency-styled Woodlawn Inn. Port Hope has more designated heritage homes per capita than any other community in Ontario. Various architectural styles are explored, from the ornate Queen Anne Style to the simple Ontario Cottage, from the grand Beaux Arts to the Gothic Revival.  Arguably, the finest building in Cobourg is Victoria Hall which was designed by the young Irish architect, Kivas Tully. It offers a mixture of neo-gothic and palladian styles and has some interesting rooms such as the replica of the Old Bailey deep-welled courthouse, the Grand Ball Room and the office of James Cockburn. Two architecturally noteworthy streets in Port Hope are Dorset St and  King St, made famous for its famous inhabitants, such as Farley Mowat.


Woodlawn Inn


Victoria College

 Replica Old Bailey Courtroom

Historical Tours of Port Hope and Cobourg


This tour includes visits to such buildings as Victoria Hall which features a replica of the deep-welled Old Bailey Courthouse, the James Cockburn Room, the Grand Concert Hall and the Art Gallery of Northumberland. Also in Cobourg are the American 'cottages' which allowed Cobourg to be called the Newport of the North. Learn about its famous  citizens such as Egerton Ryerson, Marie Dressler and  Sir Sandford Fleming.  A gem worth visiting in Port Hope is the wooden St Mark’s Anglican Church, built by the pioneers of the town in 1822. While there, learn about the founders of this town as well as see the graves of G.G. Vincent Massey and  the author, Farley Mowat. Also learn about the lives of Port Hopers: The Great Farini and Joseph Scriven. 

 Victoria Hall 

  St Peter's

 St Mark's

A Victorian Mansion and A Loyalist Home


The Proctor Mansion in Brighton is worth a visit. Sitting on top of a hill, this two storied, Georgian brick mansion was created by the Proctor Family who founded the town. The original furnishings speak of a bye-gone era with a formal parlour for guests, elegant dining room, back kitchen, and bedrooms. Check out the view of Lake Ontario from its belvedere. During the summer months, the neo-classical Barnum House near Grafton is open for visitors.  Founded in 1819, it has original furnishings with a formal parlour, servants’ quarters, a huge hearth in the kitchen and the study of Eliakim Barnum, its founder. It has been lovingly restored by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. 

 Proctor Mansion, Brighton

Barnum House, Grafton

Gore’s Landing: Artists, Artisans and Authors plus a Lady Arctic Explorer


Nestled on the south shore of scenic Rice Lake is the little village of Gore’s Landing. In the 1800s, it was a mecca for artists such as the historical painter, J. D. Kelly and the celebrated miniaturist painter, Gerald Hayward. Hayward’s speciality was painting portraits of the wealthy and famous on thin sheets of ivory. These miniature paintings are now highly prized by collectors for their exquisite detail. St George’s Anglican Church, with a beautiful view from Church Hill Rd., is where you can find the gravestones of Gerald Hayward and his family and many famous locals, such as Thomas Gore (the founder of the village), Daniel Herald of the famous Herald double-planked canoe and the grandson of the literary pioneer, Catharine Parr Traill. Nearby is the home of Archibald Lampman, Canada's Nature Poet. Nearby, is the historical marker to Mina Hubbard, who through a series of events became the first white woman to explore and map the interior of Labrador in 1905. Also nearby, at Mt Ararat, is the site of the home of Catharine Parr Traill where she did some of her finest writing, such as Lost in the Backwoods.  

                                        J.D. Kelly                              St George's Anglican Church                     Hubbard   

Historic Peterborough: the Hutchinson House, the Peterborough Museum       and Archives, Lift Lock of the Trent Severn Waterway, the Canadian           Canoe Museum


The City of Peterborough has an interesting, diversified, historical legacy. The Hutchison House National Historic Site is a living history museum offering a glimpse of life in Ontario in the 1800s. Constructed in 1837, and one of the oldest stone houses in Peterborough, it was built by the patients of Dr John Hutchinson, the first resident doctor of the city, in order to keep the good doctor in Peterborough.   

The lowest floor of the house contains the open hearth kitchen which was used as a gathering place for the family during the cold winter months. Kitchenware from the 1840’s is displayed on the shelves. During July and August, Scottish teas are held here or outside on the terrace. On the second floor you can see Dr Hutchinson’s office with his various gruesome surgical instruments, his desk and his vials of medicines. Across the hall is the formal parlour for the family’s use on special occasions. Upstairs is a bedroom devoted to Sir Sandford Fleming where you can see some of his early maps, his surveying chains and instruments.  The third floor contains interesting bedrooms with their own quilts.

The Peterborough Museum and Archives displays a history spanning well over a century and is home to the second oldest historical collection of its kind in Ontario. The Museum contains 25,000 artefacts, ranging from centuries-old textiles to military items to fossils. Its dioramas illustrate the lives of our First Nations People, the Irish Emigration, pioneer life, the lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill and many of the events which shaped the community. There is a fascinating collection of women’s undergarments here as well. The archives contain a diverse, unique collection such as the pressed flower album assembled by Catharine Parr Traill, the original Peter Robinson Papers and the Basillie collection of Roy Images.

The Peterborough Lift Locks National Historic Site is actually Lock 21 on the Trent Severn Waterway System which are the highest hydraulic dual boat lifts in the world. There is an observation deck from which the public has a good view of the pleasure boats which take 20 minutes to pass through. In the 1980s, a visitors' centre was built beside the lock. It offers interactive simulations of going over the lift lock in a boat and also historical exhibits detailing the construction of the lift lock. 

The Canadian Canoe Museum is a unique national heritage centre that explores the canoe's enduring significance to the peoples of Canada. Here, you can see the world's largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft and learn how the canoe has defined the Canadian character and spirit. Spanning the country from coast to coast to coast, the museum's outstanding artefacts will let you "See Canada by Canoe!"  This is an engaging, family-friendly museum with more than 100 canoes and kayaks on display. 

          Highest Lift Lock in the World!                             Traill                                 Canadian Canoe Museum                           Young Fleming

        G.G. Massey                  Farini over the Niagara Gorge                     Farini                          Currelly, founder of the R.O.M.

Extraordinary Men of Port Hope: Vincent Massey, The Great Farini and                                             Charles Trick Currelly.


Vincent Massey was Canada's first Canadian-born Governor General. Learn about his many contributions to Canadian Arts, the war effort and the legacies he gave to Canada. We visit his grave at St Mark's Anglican Church in Port Hope and tour the church, the oldest wooden church in Ontartio, c 1822. The Great Farini was known locally as William Leonard Hunt. Learn about his feats crossing the Ganaraska River and the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope. He became a great entertainer in Europe, especially in London, as he incorporated human oddities into his act. Over time, he was an African explorer, a world class botanist, an American spy and an inventor.  Charles Trick Curelly was an impressive archaeologist who made many discoveries in the Middle East. Being well-connected, he was asked to collect artefacts and become the founder and first curator of the Royal Ontario Museum. Upon his retirement, he constructed many fine cut-stone buildings in the Canton area; we visit his grave in the United Church Cemetery. 

                          Canadian Wildflowers by C.P.Traill                                       Young S. Moodie  & C.P. Traill                             Moodie's first novel  

Literary Pioneers: The Life & Times of Catharine Parr Traill

                    and Suzanna Moodie


Starting in the 1830s, these two extraordinary sisters wrote about their loves, lives and disappointments when Upper Canada was an unsettled colony. It was here in Northumberland County where they began some of their best writing. For almost two years, Susanna Moodie lived north-west of Cobourg where she encountered and methodically described some of her most memorable and comical characters in her book, Roughing It In The Bush.  The site of her home is commemorated with an historical plaque.  One of her characters from this book, Ol` Joe Harris, moved from the site and lived for a time on Lander Road. His home from the 1830`s is a private residence today.

Susanna’s sister, Catharine Parr Traill, lived at three different locations on the south shore of Rice Lake, where she regained her health and wrote prolifically.  At Wolf Tower, now Tower Manor Road, she renewed her interest in plants and began to write about them.  In The Backwoods of Canada, she describes her love of the rolling hills and the Rice Lake Plains where she found escape in the native plants that she saw around her. Further east, on scenic Lander Road, she wrote Canadian Crusoes for a young British audience. (The novel involves four young teens who are lost for several years in the area; many of the place names used in the novel are still to be found locally.)  An historical plaque marks the site of her family home. Further east, on County Road 9, is Traill Road. The western side of this road, in a copse of black oaks, is the site of Oaklands which was destroyed by fire in 1854; fortunately, Catherine was able to rescue her richly illustrated draft copy of Canadian Wildflowers which became Canada’s first coffee table book. She also wrote much of The Female Immigrant’s Guide at this location. Without these literary pioneers much of the history of the early pioneer settlers’ lives would be lost.

Joseph Scriven


Joseph Scriven is best known as the author of the hymn, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’.  He led a tragic but inspirational life in the Port Hope, Bewdley and Rice Lake areas.  We trace his life in Ireland and England and explain his motivation for coming to Canada.  In Port Hope, we see the site where he lived for 25 years, discover why he became known as the ‘Good Samaritan’ of that town and learn about his ministry to sailors and the town folk.  At his memorial stone on Queen St., we learn the circumstances that caused him to write his famous hymn.  We also visit St Mark’s Anglican Church in Port Hope which embodied the antithesis of his beliefs as an adherent to the Plymouth Brethren.  Near Bewdley, we learn about the bizarre story of the fraudulent Rev Kidd. In Bewdley, we stop at Sawlog Hill, the site where Scriven died mysteriously. We conclude the tour by visiting the Pengelley Cemetery, where he and his fiancée are buried and where we sing his famous hymn at his memorial monument.

The War of 1812 Battlefield Sites in the Niagara Peninsula


In this tour we explore some of the most famous and crucial battle sites in the War of 1812 and learn about some of the personalities of this War. With a local guide, explore the Drummond Hill Cemetery of Lundy’s Lane to learn about the bloodiest Battle of this war. See the graves of Laura Secord and the monuments to some of the casualties of this British-Canadian victory. At the Battlefield of the Queenston Heights, we come to understand the strategy used by both the American and British-Canadian forces and see the monuments to both Laura Secord and Sir Isaac Brock. We tour the homestead of Laura Secord, the Hero of the Battle of Beaver Dams. And finally, we visit Fort George in NOTL for a costumed docent’s tour of the Fort, learn about the strategic role that it played in the War and watch a musket demonstration. 

Canada’s National Air Force Museum in Trenton


Explore the role that Canada’s Air Force has played during times of war, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. See the personal mementos of the men and women of Canada who served in these roles. There is a full scale replica of the infamous tunnels of the Great Escape from the German POW Camp, Stalag 111. See the fully restored Halifax Mark VII Bomber, the only example of its type in North America. In the adjoining Air Park, there are over 20 aircraft, from Spitfires to Hurricanes, from Dakotas to a Labrador Helicopter. The Museum Store offers a wide variety of Air Force and aviation related items for all ages. Nearby is the Canadian Afghanistan Memorial near Lake Ontario.  

The Life & Times of the Great Farini: William Leonard Hunt of Port Hope


Follow the extraordinary life of William Leonard Hunt who was born and raised in Canton, north of Port Hope, and who was known publicly as the Great Farini. A consummate showman, Hunt was known originally as a high wire aerialist, having walked over the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope. As the leader of the Flying Farinis, he was the mastermind behind “Lulu” the female gymnast and the world’s first human cannonball act. He captured the world’s imagination by exhibiting human oddities. As an inventor, he patented the folding theatre seat, the modern parachute and the rollerboat. As an explorer, he claimed to have found the Lost City of Kalahari in Africa. On this tour, see his homestead in Canton, visit the site where he walked over the Ganaraska River on a tightrope in Port Hope, see where he spent his retirement years and visit his grave site.  Time: Spring, Summer and Fall    

           Farini- Niagara River                                         Human Cannonball Act                                                Farini & his Aerialists

Architectural Tour of Port Hope: A Treasury of Early Homes


Explore Port Hope’s unique homes from the 19th Century. See homes of the rich and famous, such as the Bluestone from the founding family of Port Hope. Other stunning mansions to be seen are Belgrave, Barrett’s Octagon, Dunbarton Hall, Muidar, Pinehurst, the Cone, the Trick House, the Charles Smith House, the Willows, the quintessential Ontario Cottage, and the Armstrong Cottage. See pioneer homes such as Canada House and the Molson Millhouse, as well as several workingmen’s homes. Port Hope has more heritage homes per capita than any other community in Ontario. Spend some time shopping for antiques on Walton Street, the best preserved streetscape in Ontario. Time: April to October


Loyalists of the Lakeshore

Come discover the influence of prominent Loyalist families in the pioneer settlements along the Lake Ontario shoreline, from Cobourg to Brighton. Examine the reasons why they were forced to leave their homes after the American Revolution and the trials that they faced here in Canada. In Cobourg, learn about the remarkable lives of Asa and Zacchaeus Burnham and Henry Ruttan. In Grafton, visit the grave of Eliakim Barnum of Barnum House fame and hear about his vision for the development of Grafton.  In Colborne, see the original home of Joseph Keeler, founder of Colborne. In Brighton, visit the Loyalist home of the Proctor family with its formal living and dining rooms and many antique furnishings. 

Ghost Tour of Cobourg

With local guide Peter Brotherhood (dressed in a felon’s costume), visit the haunts of the supernatural specters of Cobourg.  Hear the story of Dr King who was convicted of murdering his wife and see the location where he was publicly executed in 1859. Learn about the ghosts that haunt a local B&B and follow the tragic story of the HMS Speedy whose sinking with all men on board changed the history of Upper Canada.  See the local jail with its own supernatural occurrences. Tour Victoria Hall where you will learn of the Green Lady (Lena Field Fisher) whose presence is still felt, and visit the spot where an Irish assassin mysteriously died on the property of his victim.  Enjoy a Buffet lunch at Arthur's Restaurant at the Best Western Plus.

An Historical Railway Tour in Northumberland County

With local guide Peter Brotherhood, explore two early, but different, railways: the Grand Trunk and the Cobourg to Peterborough Railway. At the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre, hear railway historian, George Parker, explain two phases of the Cobourg to Peterborough Railway using models such as ore cars, loading docks and stations. Visit Harwood, where this Railway crossed over Rice Lake and learn about the disaster associated with its Bridge.  At Memory Junction in Brighton, we visit the original Grand Trunk Station (c 1856) and see its rail cars (caboose, boxcars and locomotive) as well as 5 000 pieces of railway memorabilia.

Time: Mid-April to mid-October.

Famous People of Cobourg  


In their time, the following people left their indelible mark on Cobourg and became even more famous elsewhere: Sir Sanford Fleming, Paul Kane, James Cockburn, Archdeacon Bethune, James Crossen and Marie Dressler.  Sir Sanford Fleming began his career in Cobourg where he designed Canada’s first three-penny stamp and honed his mapping skills by creating the town’s first map.  Later in life, he invented world standard time, was the chief surveyor and engineer for the construction of the CPR and laid an underwater cable from North America to New Zealand.  Paul Kane began his painting career here and married a local woman.  He furthered his career by painting the native tribes of the west.  We will see some of his art work at the Northumberland Art Gallery and discuss his career.  James Cockburn was our Father of Confederation and the first Speaker of the House of Commons.  We see his office with original artefacts in Cobourg’s grand Victoria Hall.  At St Peter`s Anglican Church, we see the prayer book of Archdeacon Bethune, a member of the influential Family Compact. We also investigate the life of James Crossen, whose Cobourg Car Works produced more railway stock than any other company in Canada.  We see his fine homes on George St which he had built for himself, his family and employees.  Finally, we visit the home of Marie Dressler where she was born and see evidence of her illustrious career, both as a stage actress, and her career in silent films and the first talkies.  Visit the Cobourg Museum and its historic model railroad.






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