Brockville Beckons

Have you been to Brockville lately? Named for War of 1812 hero Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, the historic Thousand Islands city is a lovely place to tour, especially in warmer weather.

Brockville is a lovely spot to explore. Photo: Chris Hebert

One unique, must-see spot is the Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing. It’s ideally located by the waterfront so you’ll enjoy checking out the scenic surroundings, too. Appealing for all ages, the Aquatarium features animals from the region, interactive exhibits and replicas of ships found in the St. Lawrence River. Daily shows provide insights into life along the St. Lawrence River. This is a great opportunity to see and learn about 50 species of aquatic animals native to the area. Visitors can also meet Brock and Oliver, the resident river otters, and Justin Beaver, the industrious “Locally World Famous North American” beaver.

Recreations of ships sunk in the St. Lawrence over the past 200 years provide a fascinating view into the challenges of navigating the river. A video system guides you in retracing the history of the area by tracking the evolution of rocks and glaciers. The Aquatarium’s herpetology collection in the enrichment exhibit also introduces you to a trio of musk turtles, painted turtles and spotted turtles, as well as three tree frogs, a bullfrog, an American toad and Jeff the garter snake. In the Boathouse Exhibit, you may encounter Tina the red-eared slider, Cooper the grey rake snake and Sebastian the map turtle. The gift shop sells keepsakes take home. See for details.

Brockville trail at the waterfront. Photo: Brockville Tourism

The incredible preservation of Brockville’s old homes and business buildings is evident on every street. Many buildings are adorned with plaques designating the original owners and the construction dates. The Brockville Museum, 5 Henry Street, built in 1840, was originally the home of Isaac Beecher, a local tanner and politician. The museum houses memorabilia from the past.

The railway tunnel is a must-visit attraction. Photo: Brockville Tourism

The Brockville Railway Tunnel on Blockhouse Island, with its massive oak doors, is another very popular spot. Canada’s first railway tunnel, it dazzles with its million-dollar sound and light show. You can go through as many times as you want or take a miniature train ride through. The vivid, changing colours and cool, damp, dark environs are particularly compelling on a hot summer day.

The eleven-bedroom Fulford Mansion, 287 King Street East, was built at the turn of the 19th century for Senator George T. Fulford, whose worldwide sales of the cure-all remedy “Pink Pills for Pale People” made him a veritable fortune. The grand, 20,000-square-foot, 35-room “summer” residence was designed to reflect the senator’s elevated social stature. Guests in those times included prime ministers, royals and other VIPs. Today, several walking tours encourage you to delve into the site’s storied history.

Aquatarium shipwreck. Photo: Aquatarium

Restaurants of every flavour abound in Brockville and choices range from waterfront patios to fine dining establishments and budget-friendly takeout. There is a plethora of shops, too, offering everything from jewelry and fashion to art, pottery, collectibles, furnishings, flowers, records and leather goods. There are accommodation choices to suit every taste and pocketbook from brand-name hotels to motels, cabins, campgrounds and lodges, as well as heritage, rural and in-town bed-and-breakfast establishments.

Brockville’s residents and merchants are more than proud of their city and its heritage and their hospitality shows it. For details, check, and Or, once you’re in the city, just ask the next person you meet on the street to direct you. Brockville is that kind of a place.