History Buff's Guide

Entrench yourself in the rich history in the Heart of Georgian Bay! We are so fortunate to have multiple historic sites, landmarks and areas within our region that people from all over the world come to learn about and be immersed in culture. From the Indigenous, Huron Wendat people to the French and English explorers to marine and industry heritage, this area has a story for everyone!

Every history junkie needs to experience it for themselves and this guide highlights the perfect areas for you to check out while in the Heart of Georgian Bay. 

MIDLAND

Former Library 

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526 Hugel Avenue, Midland
This first library in Midland was established in 1882 in the Midland Mechanic's Institute, a place where people could come and learn, that also had a collection of books. Over years of moving the books around this location was designated a Library in 1914. This building is now home to the Olde Town Library which is an antique and home decor shop that also has a cafe.

The Huronia Museum

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549 Little Lake Park Road, Midland

Featuring a replica of a “pre-contact” Huron/Ouendat village you cannot miss this place when on a historical tour through North Simcoe. The museum itself also contains tens of thousands of historic artifacts ranging from photographs, native archeology and art by the Group of Seven, and so much more.

Midland Mural Tour

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Downtown Midland 

The streets of Downtown Midland are filled with breathtaking murals that depict stories of Midland’s rich history. Come and spend some time soaking up all of this beautiful art work. One of the most well known murals is painted on the grain elevator in Midland Harbour. Measuring 80ft high and 250ft wide this gorgeous mural is showing Jean de Brebeuf and a Huron Indigenous person at Sainte-Marie Among the Huron.

PENETANGUISHENE

Beck Mausoleum 

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79 Church Street, Penetanguishene

Constructed in 1910, the Beck Mausoleum occupies a prominent place in the cemetery. The Beck Family was very influential in the Town of Penetanguishene and Charles Beck donated a piece to the Presbyterian Church so his wife's remains could go there rather than another cemetery in the town. 

Discovery Harbour 

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93 Jury Drive, Penetanguishene
The history at this site spans over three centuries and is every History Buffs’ heaven. The roots of Discovery Harbour date back to 1793 when Sir John Graves Simcoe scouted Penetang Bay as a strategic site for a navel base. Since then the site has been home to a Naval Establishment, a Military Establishment and more in the last 300 years.

Parc Penetanguishene Rotary

Champlain Wendat Park

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90 acres located along the waterfront in
Penetanguishene Harbour 
Throughout this magnificent park there are a multitude of statues and plaques that commemorate local histories and stories. The statue pictured above is called ‘The Meeting’ that depicts Samuel de Champlain and Chief Aenon, the chief of the village of Toanche, meeting for the first time.

Penetanguishene Centennial

Museum and Archives

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13 Burke Street, Penetanguishene
Displaying one of the most historic towns in Ontario, the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archives is located in the original General Store and Lumber Office. You will be really entrenching yourself in history as you walk through the original buildings while looking at the large numbers of artifacts and archives.

St. Ann's Church 

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28 Robert Street, Penetanguishene

Otherwise known as 'The Cathedral of the North' this church was built in the late 1800s as a Jesuit Memorial to honor the Jesuit Saints who lived and spread catholicism in this area before the Martyrs' Shrine was built. The first mass held on this site was on September 5th, 1886.  

St. James On The Lines 

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215 Church Street, Penetanguishene
This church was built in 1836 for the military men and their families that were stationed at the British military and naval garrison of Penetanguishene, now know as Discovery Harbour. It was built "On the Lines" meaning the communications road that was made between the base in Penetanguishene and Fort York.

TAY TOWNSHIP

Martyrs’ Shrine

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16163 Highway 12 West, Tay
The Martyrs’ Shrine is a National Shrine to the Canadian Martyrs. It honors eight Jesuit Saints who lived, worked and died there over 350 years ago. The holy relics within the Shrine are from St. Jean de Brebeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant who were heavily involved with the Huron Wendat, the Indigenous people of North Simcoe, and spreading catholicism to the world.

Mission of St.Ignace

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1611 Rosemount Road, Waubaushene
The Mission of St.Ignace is located in what was once Huron Wendat land. The significance behind this site contributes to the end of the Jean de Brebeuf story. This is the location where Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were killed by the Iroquois after being captured at Saint-Louis Mission. The attack of the Iroquois lead to the fleeing of the Huron Wendat people.  

Sainte-Louis Mission

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The corner of Granny White Sideroad and Reeves Road, Tay
This significant historic site also adds to the Jean de Brebeuf story, this being the site of where him and Gabriel Lalemant were captured by the Iroquois people, which lead to their inevitable fate. The capture of these men are what began the end of the Huron Wendat people occupying the Huronia area. 

Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons

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16164 Highway 12 East, Midland 
The story of Sainte-Marie Among the Huron dates back almost 400 years and began as the homeland of the Huron Wendat people. This site was also where the French Jesuit Priests operated from when trying to spread Catholicism throughout the world. Sainte-Marie Among the Huron is widely known around the world due to being the final resting spot of Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant. 

S.S. Keewatin

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311 Talbot St, Port McNicoll
This ship was one of five owned by Canadian Pacific and partially responsible for populating Western Canada while also boosting the economic development of Alberta and Saskatchewan. This ship was designed with comfort, class and beauty in mind and is now on display for all to see! Travel back in time aboard the S.S. Keewatin and see what it would have been like to be a passenger on this ship in early to mid 1900s. 

The Village Mercantile 

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154 William Street, Victoria Harbour 
Built in 1902 as a general store for the lumber company that operated out of Victoria Harbour, this building is still standing and operating today. The outside of the building remains largely the same, distinguishable with the yellow and white paint.

Victoria Harbour Former Library

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152 William Street, Victoria Harbour
The library for the villagers of Victoria Harbour was built by John Waldie, owner of Victoria Harbour Lumber Company, because they voted for prohibition in the village. This building served as a library until 1927 when the last mill closed. 

TINY TOWNSHIP

Caraghouha

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Cedar Point Road and the 18th Concession, down the dirt road
(44.7671793, -80.0882419)
Two crosses occupy this site and they are worth the trip. This was the location of the first Catholic mass in Ontario. The inscription on the cross says “The First Mass in Ontario, August 12, 1615, ‘Champlain and fourteen men plus Father LeCaron Recollet” Present for this mass by Father LeCaron Recollet was Samuel de Champlain, his men and the Huron peoples.

The Calvary Cross

East of the village of Lafontaine on the north side of the
16th Concession 
This cross has an interesting story of how it came to be erected on this site. Being on the farm land of Louis Deschenaux, the first settler in the area. The Parish Priest at the time had a cross made to closely resemble the one Jesus was crucified on and carried it on his back as far as he could from the doors of the church. The site of the cross is where he fell. 

The Randolf Cross

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The corner of County Road 6 and the 15th Concession 
This cross is used to mark the site of a small Anglican Church that was relocated across the road from St. James on the Lines in Penetanguishene. Although it is made of wood the Randolf Cross has held up well as a result of the good care is has received.