Located on the banks of Lake Erie, Elgin County’s ports and beaches make it a popular tourist destination all year round. The local conservation areas offer a variety of winter hiking and sightseeing destinations and the rich local history offers many lesser-known treasures to explore and uncover. If you looking for fun winter activities, here are 20 fun things to do in Elgin County during winter.
- Hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski along the Carolinian forest trails of EM Warwick Conservation Area.
- Walk along the waterfront in Port Stanley. As you pass the many fishing boats in the harbour awaiting spring, ask a local about the history of this port and if you happen to stumble upon a knowledgeable storyteller, you’ll be amazed to find out that this area is a bit of a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of the Great Lakes.
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- In the late 1800s, Elgin County experienced a boom thanks to the construction of two rival rail lines. Step back in time at the Elgin County Museum and visit the re-creation of Colonel Talbot’s ancestral castle.
- Thomas Railway has been a part of the community since 1856. As you walk around the old terminal, look up at the murals that capture the history of the local railway. When you are done exploring from the outside, get up close to the restored locomotives inside the museum.
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- Developed by the St. Thomas Street Railway Company, the Pinafore Park was designed to attract tourists to visit here on the newly built railway. Over a century and a half later, the park’s pavilions, lake, and wildlife sanctuary are still attractive to visitors that frequent this area.
- Visit the oldest wooden lighthouse in Canada at the Port Burwell Marine Museum.
- Get a glimpse into the history of Elgin County at the Dan Patterson Conservation Area. As you enjoy a leisurely walk along the Kettle Creek, you’ll come across a historic windmill, water tower, and a log cabin along your route.
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- Enjoy a self-guided tour of the Quai Du Vin Estate Winery. As one of the highest elevated points in Elgin Country, the winery’s romantic feel is enhanced by the stunning view of the surrounding area. Step inside the winery for a wine sample and pick up a bottle or two as a souvenir or a gift to take home with you.
- Enjoy the peace and quiet as you hike the trails of Port Burwell Provincial Park. A popular birder’s paradise for watching migrating birds in the fall and in the spring, you’ll see blue jays, chickadees and many other birds that winter on the shores of Lake Erie.
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- Enjoy the view from a 33-meter cliff overlooking Lake Erie at the John E. Pearce Provincial Park. Learn about the history and the culture of rural Victorian society along a trail with fifteen interpretive stops along the century-old forest. Then step inside the 1850s Georgina style house at the onsite Backus Page House Museum.
- Learn about Ontario’s rich agricultural and dairy history at the Gay Lea Dairy Museum. Visit the museum for some hands-on demonstrations, view over 1,600 artifacts, or take a hike along one of the museum’s trails.
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- Learn about the Canadian Force’s involvement in various wars at the award-winning Elgin Military Museum. Historic cannon will greet you at the museum entrance and a submarine and various naval model ships await you inside.
- The Elgin Military Museum may be the only Military museum in the world to pay homage to an elephant. A giant statue of Jumbo, the largest captive elephant in the world that resided in the area over 100 years ago, can be seen in the museum parking lot.
- Enjoy a walk along the beach at Port Bruce Provincial Park and the park offers free admission.
- After enjoying a meal at one of St. Thomas’s eateries, take a leisurely stroll at the neatly landscaped Waterworks Park. If you enjoy bird watching, pause for a minute or two on one of the park’s bridges and you’ll be sure to spot a chickadee, a Northern cardinal or even a woodpecker.
- Archie Coulter Conservation Area is ideal for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing, but sure to get a map before you go, as this mainly untouched natural area is easy to get lost in.
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- The archeological area, known as Southwold Earthwork National Historic Site, contains the remains of a 500+-year-old village belonging to Attiwandaron, who originally inhabited this area.
- Relive old customs and superstitions at the Old St. Thomas Church. Visit the witches’ grave at the adjacent churchyard cemetery or step inside the church to see the prisoners’ balcony up above the congregation.
- One of the highlights of the Bruce Mines Trail is Ye Old Jail. The smallest jail in North America, it is also a relic from Elgin County’s mining heritage.
- Go fishing for perch, pickerel, or salmon off the fishing pier at the environmentally accredited Blue Flag Beach at Port Glasgow Yacht Club and Marina.