Explore 10 Historic Sites in Canada for a Peek in the Past!


Thank you to USA Today 10best for inviting me to write: “Explore the history of Canada at these 10 fascinating sites. Take a peek into the past”

As the world’s second largest country that spans six time zones, borders three oceans and shares the longest undefended border in the world, Canada has much to offer any tourist that decides to visit this northern wonderland. 

While most tourists visiting Canada stick to the main tourist attractions of the western national parks or the eastern metropolises, they miss out on many hidden gems spread across the country that tell stories of Canada’s history, which made the country what it is today.

L’Anse Aux Meadows | Newfoundland and Labrador

L’Anse Aux Meadows — Photo courtesy of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Nearly 1,000 years ago, Norse explorers settled along the eastern shores of the Atlantic Ocean in today’s eastern Canada. L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and contains the first known artifacts that confirm European presence in North America.

Early expeditions set out from Greenland and once the explorers landed along the rugged cliffs, they set up settlements comprised of timber and sod buildings.  Today, costumed Vikings lead tours around the compound.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 | Halifax, N.S.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 — Photo courtesy of Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax offers visitors a hands-on experience on what it was like to immigrate to Canada.  Nearly 20% of all immigrants from abroad passed through Halifax from 1928 to 1971.

At this museum in eastern Nova Scotia, visitors can experience the past by dressing like immigrants did, hearing first person stories and seeing what people brought with them on their journey to their new home.

Pointe-a-Calliere Museum | Montreal

Fort Ville-Marie Pointe-à-Callière — Photo courtesy of Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History

Most people don’t know that Montreal is one of the oldest cities in Canada, let alone North America. So, the Pointe-à-Callière Museum showcases Canadian history through both permanent and temporary exhibitions.  Permanent exhibitions provide insight on how Montreal began, how it was built and how archaeologists uncovered what the city was like before human settlement.

Previous temporary exhibits have explored how hockey has shaped culture and how the population adapted to snow, in addition to other similar culture-based exhibitions.

Canadian Museum of History | Gatineau, P.Q.

Canadian Museum of History — Photo courtesy of Canadian Museum of History

Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, has much to offer any visitor – history buffs included.  At the center of it all is the Canadian Museum of History.  This museum has 25,000 square meters of showrooms, a 295-seat 3D movie theater, and presents exhibitions that cover over 20,000 years of human history.

To enhance visitor’s experiences, hands-on activities are sprinkled throughout the complex such as artifact hunts, hockey documentaries and other intriguing activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Casa Loma | Toronto

Casa Loma — Photo courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission

Toronto is home to many great tourist attractions, one of the most intriguing being the residence of former Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt. To locals, this exquisite landmark is known as Toronto’s Majestic Castle and is complete with fabulously decorated private suites, secret passages, horse stables, a 5-acre garden and more. The massive grounds also play host to a multitude of events such as car shows and symphony performances.


Canada is home to some of the world’s most beautiful art

New Iceland Heritage Museum |  Gimli, Man.

Mini vikings – New Icelandic Heritage Museum — Photo courtesy of Dan Harper New Icelandic Heritage Museum

Not many people know that Manitoba is home to the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland.  To share Iceland’s heritage, the Icelandic Cultural Corporation was formed in early 1972 with the main priority of founding a museum.

The museum itself is located on the western shores of Lake Winnipeg in the small town of Gimli.  Interested visitors can explore the grounds that illustrate the stories of how the first settlers came to Manitoba and how they set up their permanent settlements.

RCMP Heritage Center | Regina, Sask.

RCMP Sunset Retreat Ceremony — Photo courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan/Hans-Gerhard Pfaff

One of the world’s most distinguishable police forces is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  They have been a fundamental piece of Canada’s historical and cultural scene for over 140 years, helping to protect Canada.

To document the history of the police, a museum in Regina, Sask. was developed.  Here, state-of-the-art exhibits covering 18,000 square feet are coupled with multimedia technologies that help bring the history to life.

Calgary Stampede and Rodeo | Calgary, Alta.

Calgary Stampede and Rodeo — Photo courtesy of Calgary Stampede

Arguably Canada’s most famous event is the Calgary Stampede.  This festival is held every July for ten days and features parades, concerts, agricultural competitions and stage shows, as well as the main attraction: one of the world’s largest rodeos. The event has roots that date back to the late 1800s, and today, it attracts more than one million people from around the world.

Britannia Mine Museum | Britannia Beach, B.C.

Britannia Mine Museum — Photo courtesy of Britannia Mine Museum

Situated roughly 34 miles (55 kilometers) north of Vancouver is the Britannia Mine Museum.  Between 1925 and 1930, the mine was the biggest copper mine for the British Empire.  By the end of the 1960’s, the mine had produced nearly 50 million tons of copper.  Today, tourists can visit the mine and relive what it was like to live and work there.

Aboriginal history museums | British Columbia

Canadian Museum of Civilization — Photo courtesy of Canadian Museum of History

Canada’s Pacific Northwest province of British Columbia is arguably most famous for its Aboriginal history and culture, with traditions and a spiritual way of life that still thrive today. Spread across the province are many historical sites that offer sightseers a great road trip with a diversity of attractions that everyone will enjoy.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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