KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.
For one weekend this summer, Brockville felt like it was one of the largest ocean ports in the world. Our family visited the Tall Ships Festival over the Labour Day weekend.
We arrived at the Brockville Marina and things were already hopping at eleven in the morning. The festival gave a chance for people to get on board a Tall Ship. There must have been eight or nine tall ships in port. We walked around and picked climbed aboard a replica ship of Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria. The amount of detail was amazing. It felt like we were stepping back five hundred years in history.
Another highlight of the festival was seeing the continual comings and goings of the Tall Ships. At any point in the day, there was at least one or two majestically sailing on the St. Lawrence River.
Our son, David, loved seeing the ships and also enjoyed seeing all the exhibits on display. We met John Casselman who was a retired Aquatic Biology professor from Queen’s University. He shared with us the different aquatic life found in the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes. David was fascinated as he would like to get into Marine Biology as a profession.
This was a perfect segue way for a visit to the Aquatarium. The Aquatarium features exhibits about both the historical and biological aspects of the St. Lawrence river. Naturally, David headed to the exhibits focused on biology. We first found the aquatic touch tank. I was somewhat tentative to touch all the creatures as I thought they may be slimy. David reached right in and did not give me a choice placing them in my hand as well.
Our next stop was to see the river otters. It was fun to watch them diving and playing in the water. We would also like to return when they are being fed.
The final display we checked out was one featuring various reptiles of the St. Lawrence. David was quickly able to identify all the different turtles and snakes. He gave me more facts about each reptile than I will ever remember. I guess he does have a future in biology.
Sadly, we did not explore all the exhibits as the Aquatarium was closing and we wanted to see more of the festival. We will definitely be making a return trip.
Once leaving the Aquatarium, we went back down to the river and visited a display about the Canadian Coast Guard. One of the options was to take a ride on a small inflatable coast guard boat. We hopped on the boat and were cruising around the St. Lawrence. There were only nine of us on the boat so it gave us a chance to talk with the captain and another employee of the coast guard. Taking twists and turns on the boat, I felt like Relic from the TV show, The Beachcombers (ask your parents or maybe even your grandparents!).
It was near the end of the day so of course we were hungry. I am sure there are many fine restaurants in Brockville but we always eat at Don’s Fish and Chips. It is hands down the best fish and chips we have ever tasted.
With our fish and chips in hand our final stop was to the Bluenose II. Of course, we had to get a photo beside the huge dime with the Bluenose on the front. It seemed like the perfect way to wrap up the Tall Ships Festival with delicious seafood and experiencing Canadian naval history.
There are plenty of other things to do in Brockville. The town is chock-a-block full of charming heritage buildings. A must is also the restored Brockville Railway Tunnel. It is possible to walk through the tunnel which is enhanced by beautiful LED lights and ambient music. Besides, it is free so life doesn’t get better.
For all events and attractions in Brockville, visit www.brockvilletourism.com.