History and CultureSee & Do » History and Culture
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The success of our area apple orchards are one the single most important components of our region’s prosperity. The South Georgian Bay region is perfect for apples. The valley on either side of the Beaver River protects the area from most of the severe weather, and the proximity of Georgian Bay moderates the coldest winter weather. One of the pioneers in the development of the local fruit industry was John G. Mitchell. Mitchell lived near Clarksburg and grew apples and plums. In 1932, the company built a large cold storage plant on Hwy #26 east of Thornbury. In 1939, one of the largest canneries in Canada was built across the road. Over the years many packers, families and growers have made small fortunes in wholesaling apples. With greater technology and tree improvements, the industry is poised for success. Come and visit some of our members, who have apples on their minds 24/7, they include Grandma Lambes, Farmer’s Pantry and Fernwood Farms.
It was the arrival of the railroad in 1855 that cemented Collingwood’s worth as a centre for shipping and shipbuilding, since the rail line offered the ability to transport goods, materials and people easily and efficiently through the Great Lakes and points west. For 103 years, Collingwood built lake freighters, corvettes, minesweepers, barges, ferries, ice breakers — anything that could sail on the Great Lakes and beyond. All of the ships were all launched sideways, usually about 12 noon. Expect to see numerous exhibits at the Museum showing Collingwood’s ship-building history, Petun First Nations’ culture and our transportation heritage. The museum is in the Railroad Station on Huron Street and St. Paul, footsteps from the harbour.
The town of Collingwood is proud of its rich, architectural heritage that dates back to the late 19th century. In order to preserve, restore and compliment the wonderful and historically significant buildings, the downtown core has been designated an official Heritage District — the first historic designated downtown in all of Canada. Learn more through a self-guided walking tour of the downtown core and a driving tour through some of the city’s residential neighbourhoods. Tour on foot, save gas and escape worrying about parking cars.
Four hundred and forty-five million years ago, The Town of The Blue Mountains was submerged under a most unusual sea. This Ordovician Sea was not at all like our modern deep ocean basins. It was extensive and shallow, probably warm, oxygenated and sunlit. These factors combined to make the perfect environment for one of the world’s first species of animal to flourish — the trilobite. Trilobites enjoyed a long history of scavenging the bottom of our ancient sea, all this happening approximately 250 million years before the first dinosaur walked the earth. Ideal geologic and atmospheric conditions allowed for fossilization of these creatures, giving us the unique opportunity of viewing these ancient inhabitants of our area.
The Blue Mountains
The Depot owes its existence to Sir Sandford Fleming, Canada’s celebrated railway engineer. In 1872, Sandford’s father, sold a parcel of land to the Northern Railway for the purpose of constructing a station for the community. By 1880 a handsome station with the very newest architectural design, a rounded turret, opened its doors to the whistle of the locomotive and promise of prosperity for the community. In a direction quite unforeseen by the Flemings, the little station became the hub of ski trains from Toronto in the early 1940’s, and planted the seeds for what was to become Ontario’s premier ski and four season recreational destination. On September 21st 2008 the Craigleith Heritage Depot reopened their doors as a community heritage interpretation centre and tourism office.
A growing demand for artificial light led to the establishment, in 1859, of plant called the Craigleith Oil Shale Works to obtain oil through the treatment of local bituminous shales. The enterprise, the only one of its kind in the province’s history, failed by 1863. The inefficiency of its process made its products uncompetitive after the discoveries of “free” oil at Petrolia and Oil Springs, near Sarnia. A commemorative plaque can be found at the Craigleith Provincial Park off Highway #26.
Doors Open invites us to explore our community, share spaces and stories, and step into our shared past. In 2013, the Ontario Heritage Trust celebrates the many artistic traditions that have helped shape our province. And what better way to celebrate these cultural expressions than by attending Doors Open Collingwood. The theme of Cultural Expressions will provide an opportunity for communities across the province to celebrate the relationship between heritage and the arts. Visit some of the town's historic treasures to learn more about the railway, shipbuilding, our downtown Heritage District and some of the grand homes that line our heritage neighbourhood streets.
One of the most historic structures on the Great Lakes. The Nottawasaga Lighhouse was constructed from 1856-1858. It soars 68 feet and is one of the few remaining symbols of our bold and diverse marine heritage. The imposing limestone structure suffered structural breakdown in 2004 and was stabilized in 2005.
Beautifully restored and renovated, the Meaford Hall Arts & Cultural Centre thrives in historic downtown Meaford. For over a century, Meaford Hall has echoed with music, drama and debate, serving as the political, social and cultural heart of Meaford.
Did you know that Wasaga Beach was the scene of a battle during the War of 1812? As we celebrate the 1812 Bi-Centennial over the next 3 years, learn more about the surprise attacks, the sinking of a British schooner and the brave actions of H.M.S. Nancy’s crew and more. An award winning movie, interpreters and a museum that resembles the sails of a ship will help you imagine the struggles of the Nancy. View the actual remains of the Nancy here. A replica lighthouse offers an interesting view of this historic site which has an intriguing array of special events from May to September. Don’t miss the wonderful re-enactment “Wasaga under Siege”. The Museum is open mid June to Labour Day daily and Labour Day to Thanksgiving weekends only.
A former president of the Ontario Archaeological Society, Garrad spent many years unearthing the sites of two Petun villages next to the Nipissing Ridge in the Craigleith area. A few of the hundreds of artifacts discovered during the digs are now on display at the museum in the Craigleith Heritage Depot. Samuel de Champlain found a series of well-built villages belonging to an agricultural and trading people in 1616. He inexplicably named them Nation de Petun (Tobacco Nation). They were the Ouendat (Wyandot) people who had broken away from the Huron Nation and moved into the area around Craigleith to participate in the fur trade.
The Blue Mountains
The Scenic Caves are situated at one of the highest points on the Niagara Escarpment from which you can view the town of Collingwood, the spectacular shoreline of Georgian Bay and several thousand square miles of unsurpassed scenery. They were carved millions of years ago by the glacial ice. The caves are set in one of Canada’s six UNESCO biosphere reserves and reveal rock formations from another era. One cave is so deep that snow and ice remain here all year round defying summer’s hottest days. The earliest written records of this area were by the Jesuit missionaries, who, in the first half of the 17th century, lived with the Hurons. The Hurons were the largest First Nation in North America at one time. Over 30,000 Natives lived, farmed the land and hunted here. The area around the Scenic Caves was the home of the Petun tribe or “Tobacco Nation”, who used to grow tobacco for trade. Excavations at Scenic Caves from 1975 to 1978 by archaeologist Charles Garrad, confirm that this area was once visited by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain and is the historic site of the Hurons’ village of Ekarenniondi, which is named after its famous rock, which they used to worship. The deep clefts and the imposing standing stone of the site lent themselves perfectly to the spiritual beliefs of the native people who migrated northward to the region before the arrival of the Europeans. Today, no-one disputes that the sacred Rock marking the trail to the Village of the Dead is the rock long so identified at the Scenic Caves. It is the only rock which meets all the tests implied in the legends.
The museum tells the story of the black communities of Oro, Collingwood, and Artemesia (Priceville) and offers guided educational tours describing interesting facts and stories about the early families who lived in Collingwood. Through displays and artefacts, visitors may gain an understanding of the trials and successes of Ontario’s early Black pioneers. View some actual slave chains, and learn of the ‘Underground Railroad’ that helped many to freedom. Discover the many marine and military accomplishments of the Black settlers in the Collingwood area. The museum is located outside of Clarksburg on Clark Street and open seasonally.
Celebrate the War of 1812 Bicentennial in Collingwood! Experience the breathtaking power and beauty of authentic Tall Ships as they visit Collingwood Harbour August 16-18! Collingwood is one of 16 ports across the province that will welcome the TALL SHIPS® and the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2013 Series to its shores during this summer-long commemoration of a defining moment in Canadian history. Step aboard for a deck tour of the ships, watch the Parade of Sail, enjoy the War of 1812 land activities, interactive displays, live musical entertainment, and special activities throughout Downtown. Presented By: The Town of Collingwood, Collingwood Downtown, and the Georgian Triangle Tourist Association
Live Professional Summer Theatre! Put More PLAY in Your Life! Join Theatre Collingwood at the Gayety Theatre for our exciting 2013 theatre season! Blue Suede Shoes by Chris McHarge & Colin Stewart - Elvis tribute artist, Roy LeBlanc, stars in this unique take on “the legend that is Elvis” (June 11th-16th); Billy Bishop Goes to War by Eric Peterson & John MacLachlan Gray -Director Sandy Thorburn stars as the narrator with award-winning actor Mark McGrinder as Billy Bishop, Canada’s greatest flying ace and inspiring hero (July 10th-20th); On a First Name Basis by and starring Norm Foster - the story of a very cantankerous novelist who suddenly discovers that he knows nothing about his maid of 28 years. She, on the other hand, knows absolutely everything about him! Surprising, funny and extremely moving, with witty dialogue and vivid imagery (July 30th- August 4th); Forever Plaid One of the most popular and successful musicals ever performed, this deliciously goofy revue centers on four young singers killed in a car crash in the 1950's on the way to their first big concert, now miraculously revived for the posthumous chance to fulfill their dreams and perform the show that never was (August 14th-24th); Same Time Next Year by Bernard Slade – Doris and George are married to others but have rendezvoused once a year for 26 years! A rainbow of emotions, manners and morals are hilariously played out by the lovers (September 18th -28th). Group rates , Stay & PLAY and Dine & PLAY packages are available. Performances: The Gayety; 161 Hurontario St. Tickets: 65 Simcoe St.,Collingwood