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Let it Snow: Winter Activities to Enjoy at Canada’s Historic Places

Some choose to hibernate during the long Canadian winters, while others embrace the glistening ice and fluffy powdered snow. Canada's historic places provide excellent opportunities for all to benefit from the best of the season.

While most historic places reduce programming from October to April, many still offer winter activities, allowing you to visit and appreciate their historic significance. No matter where you live in Canada, instead of hiding away from Old Man Winter, throw on your wool socks and knitted hat and get out and explore!

Ottawa, Ontario - For the Winterluders!

Rideau Canal, Parks Canada / Le canal Rideau, Parcs Canada

During winter's coldest months, the Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becomes an enchanting winter wonderland for people of all interests and ages. For the more active folks, there are several kilometres of groomed ice between the historic locks that are perfect for skating. Along the way, there are stunning ice and snow sculptures as well as warm, decadent beavertails and steaming hot chocolate to enjoy. Many choose to wander around on foot, while others challenge themselves to cover as much distance as possible along this skate-way recognized as the largest naturally frozen outdoor rink in the world!

Winnipeg, Manitoba - For the social butterflies

The Forks National Historic Site of Canada, located at The Forks, Parks Canada / La Fourche, Parcs Canadathe confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in Winnipeg, has served as a meeting point for thousands of years. It remains a place where people can enjoy activities year round. Skaters and skiers can take advantage of the frozen rivers, while others can enjoy the concerts under the Northern Lights! From mid-December until March, the Arctic Glacier Winter Park is open to all who wish to tear down the toboggan run, explore the Interactive Ice Castle or show off their moves in the professionally designed Snowboard Fun Park. New Years Eve offers a special celebration, complete with fireworks!

Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia - For the solo artists

Those looking for a quieter, more introspective winter activity may wish to take a peaceful snowy walk around Grand Pré National Historic site of Canada. At Horton Landing, note the Deportation Cross that marks the area from which the Acadians - early French settlers - were loaded onto boats and deported in 1755. Take a minute to appreciate the significance and symbolism of this important historic place.

Fort Langley, cheungsabbatical.blogspot.com

Langley, British Colombia - For the craftsmen

Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada offers many opportunities for crafts. Enjoy activities, stories and workshops intended for the whole family. In January, put on your voyageur hat and turn your mind to French-Canadian traditions: delight your palate with traditional foods, try your hand at finger weaving and sing your heart out with a voyageur song or two!

Rocky Point, Prince Edward Island - For the thinker

Burn off some of those holiday calories by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing across the grounds and ungroomed trails of Port-la-Joye - Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada. Imagine what life was like 200 years ago, when it served as a port of entry for settlers to the island, and remember: they didn't have the modern luxury of thermal underwear or a toasty car to warm up in!

Calgary, Alberta - For the Restauranteur

Beaulieu National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Lougheed House, offers year-round visitation, and features lunches and brunches at The Restaurant. Once the centre of Calgary's social scene, the house is now one of the last remaining examples of an upper-class Prairie mansion, and has been restored to its original splendour. Escape the wintery weather for an afternoon and tour the house, shop, or just appreciate the elegance of the late-nineteenth-century era.

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador - For the hardyWinter surf at Cape Spear, Parks Canada / Surf des neiges au Cap-Spear, Parcs Canada

Imagine hiking your way up Cape Spear National Historic Site of Canada on a crisp Sunday in February - you are now at the most easterly point of North America! While catching your breath, cast your gaze across the deep-blue Atlantic waters with Newfoundland's oldest surviving lighthouse at your back. Take shelter from the wintry gusts in the Second World War gun battery, installed at Cape Spear to defend the entrance to St. John's Harbour.

Whitehorse, Yukon - For the adventurous

At Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada you can enjoy any number of winter activities such as snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, geocaching, winter camping, alpine skiing or snowboarding. Every third weekend is set aside for non-motorized activities. Before you go, consult the schedule as well as valuable winter safety tips.

Québec, Québec - For the romantic

Although there may not be interpretive activities at the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site of Canada during winter, snow-covered Vieux Québec, a World Heritage Site, is always a beautiful sight and nothing is stopping you from experiencing the site in all its winter glory. The Funicular is open all winter!

These winter activities are just a taste of what is available at, and around, Canada's historic places. Try something new this winter, and visit a nearby site!