Let’s Go To Cottage Country School!

Cottage country is full of great geology, rich history, and stunning geography so with so many kids (and their parents) working and learning at home, it makes perfect sense to take a break from the kitchen-table routine and head out for some experiential exploring.

Here’s some great spots to take the kids, notebooks and cameras and get a shot of outdoor education.

Kinmount – Icelandic Settler Memorial

Kinmount, Ontario – Courtesy of Wikipedia

The tiny village of Kinmount has a tragic history as the monument to the Icelandic Settlers shows.  In 1874 a group of 352 emigrants left Iceland during a period of economic distrress and made their way to Toronto.  

The memorial documents the hardship faced by the group of Icelanders:

“In the 1870s, economic distress prompted mass emigration from Iceland. On September 25th, 1874, 352 Icelanders, exhausted and weakened by illness arrived at the emigration sheds in Toronto. When the Victoria Railway Company offered work constructing its line from near Kinmount, the provincial government housed the Icelanders in log shanties down river from here. Poor ventilation, sanitation and diet allowed sickness to rage through their cold, over-crowded quarters. Within six weeks, twelve children and a teenager had died. By the spring of 1875, the death toll had doubled and many of the settlers scattered in search of a better life. In the fall, most regrouped in Toronto and travelled west to found the settlement of Gimli, Manitoba.”

Huntsville – Madill Church

In the mid 1860’s John & Matilda Madill moved from Hamilton to Huntsville to begin a new life in Muskoka. In 1872 they donated some of their land to the community of settlers and they came together to build a church.

“Each member of the congregation donated two logs that were then squared, dovetailed and fitted together by volunteer labour. Many items that couldn’t be manufactured locally had to be brought in by wagon along rutted roads all the way from Bracebridge, a journey that took a day each way. “ Muskoka Life

Madill Church is one of the few square-timbered churches remaining in Canada. It was thought at one time the building would need to be demolished but a group of local people have raised the funds needed for restoration.

When you visit make sure you check out the small cemetery on the grounds as you’ll find graves of many prominent pioneers, including Captain George Hunt, founder and namesake of Huntsville.

Wilberforce – The Geocaching Capital of Ontario

Geocaching has been around for years and is experiencing a revival as it’s a great outdoor activity that’s fun and doesn’t require you to be around a lot of people. So, great for social distancing.

Head out to Haliburton and to the half-dozen small hamlets and villages that make up the self-styled Geocaching Capital of Canada. Start off in Agnews General Store in Wilberforce where you can pick up some tips and swag, and try out the Geo Tour.

The Geocaching Capital of Canada GeoTour is a collection of 150 fun to find caches. Spread out through the Municipality of Highlands East, these caches will take you along quiet hiking trails, beside beautiful lakes and to interesting historic sites and points of interest.  The GeoTour caches can be downloaded for your GPS in one handy file from geocaching.com or find it on your phone app by searching for GeoTour GT5D.

Kirkland Lift Lock

The Trent-Severn Waterway is 386km long and connects Lake Ontario with Lake Huron There are 44 locks including 36 conventional locks, two sets of flight locks , hydraulic lift locks at Peterborough and Kirkfield and a marine railway at Big Chute which transports boats between the upper and lower sections of the Severn. 

Just a few kilometres north of the village of Kirkfield a concrete edifice appears to be sitting in a field, and it’s not until you get up closer and see the water that you realise what an amazing engineering structure it is.

The Kirkfield Lift Lock is the second highest hydraulic lift lock in the world with a lift of 15 metres (49 ft). The lock is situated at the highest point along the Trent SevernWaterway at 256.20 meters (840.5 ft) above sea level. 

Kinomagewapkong – The Teaching Rocks

Drive picturesque Northey’s Bay Road to the north side of Stoney Lake and you might almost miss the entrance to one of our most unique provincial parks.

Petroglyphs Provincial Park has the largest collection of ancient first nation rock carvings (petroglyphs) in Ontario. The carvings are believed to have been created sometime between 900 and 1100 AD and they represent aspects of First Nations spirituality, including images of shamans, animals, reptiles, and, possibly, the Great Spirit itself.

These are just a few of the cool things to discover in cottage country so if you are doing a school project that needs some research, why not get off Google and Wikipedia and go check them out for yourself.

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