Museums & Galleries
Museums & Galleries
Visiting a museum or art gallery is a great way to get to know local history and culture, and experience a sense of community (and pay a visit to the gift shop).
Whether an immersive experience in Anishinaabe art and traditions or a trip through train-related time in a retired CN railcar, there is a gallery or museum in Northeastern Ontario to suit everyone’s tastes. In many places, the museum is the gallery, with permanent and featured exhibitions from local artists on display.
In bustling Sudbury, North Bay, Cochrane, and Timmins, you’ll find dozens of art galleries showcasing contemporary artists alongside the work of the Group of Seven (we even boast Canada’s largest mural). But it’s not just the bigger cities with art and culture to spare – tiny Hearst is home to a lively arts scene; in Kapuskasing, Galerie Paquin at the Centre régional de Loisirs culturels features monthly art exhibits.
Northeastern Ontario is home to several galleries featuring First Nations artists and craftspeople. With works from second-wave woodland artists such as Blake Debassige, Shirley Cheechoo and Leland Bell as well as up-and-coming multidisciplinary artists and traditional quillwork and beading, this is the perfect region to explore Indigenous art.
Museums of all shapes and sizes highlight our heritage, architecture and natural history. From a one-room pioneer log cabin to the epic scope of Science North, museums and galleries across Northeastern Ontario pay homage to the area’s rich history, and shine a light on both our present and our future.
Exploration, adventure, celebration… it’s all waiting for you at the Museum.
In the Very Beginning
The earliest stewards of the land that is now Northeastern Ontario have lived here for millennia – in fact, artifacts from Sheguindah Hill on Manitoulin Island have been carbon-dated to 10,000 years ago, just after the last ice age. The Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah is the place to go to learn about the region’s earliest human activity.
If you’re interested in First Nations history, a visit to the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation on Manitoulin Island (Mnidoo Mnising in Ojibwe) is a priority. Featuring an art gallery, museum, theatre, and amphitheatre, the centre exists to preserve and revitalize the language, culture, arts, and traditions of the Anishinaabe people.
Early European Settlers
The fur trade took Northeastern Ontario by storm with the arrival of the first Europeans to the region. With Hudson’s Bay trading posts popping up on the shores of our larger lakes and rivers, and voyageurs paddling historic canoe routes on their way to the west, it’s no surprise there are many places to experience this era today. From the old fur press and Hudson’s Bay buildings at the Moose Factory Centennial Park Museum on the shores of James Bay to the Voyageur Heritage Centre in Mattawa, you’ll be immersed in the romance and mythology of the coureurs de bois – and gain a greater insight into the harsh realities of their lives on the water.
Homesteading and the Pioneer Life
Our many pioneer museums offer a glimpse at life in the past, and often an up-close look at heritage buildings steeped in centuries of everyday life. From the Mississagi Lighthouse on the windswept rocks at Meldrum Bay, to the replica 1930s Shepherdson Basket and Pump Works in New Liskeard – which now houses the Little Claybelt Homesteaders Museum – there are many opportunities here to experience days gone by.
The First Spike – The Railroading History of Northeastern Ontario
As industry spread north from the cities, so too did the railroad, and there are plenty of places in Northeastern Ontario for train-lovers (and their patient families) to revere its long and fascinating history. Visit the Discovery North Bay Museum located in the beautifully restored Canadian Pacific Railway station, or lose yourself for a day (or two) at the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum & Heritage Centre complex in Capreol. In Kapuskasing, the unusual Ron Morel Memorial Museum is housed in two Canadian National Railway passenger cars and a CNR 5107 engine.
Striking it Rich – The Drama of our Historic Mines
With mineral and metals galore, early mining in the region took hold with a frenzy to rival the Klondike. Starting with the 1903 discovery of silver in the tiny town of Cobalt, known as the cradle of Canada’s mining industry, to the 1909 gold rush in Porcupine, near Timmins (named after an entrepreneurial mine owner) and the 1911 find in Kirkland Lake, and over 130 years of mineral mining in Sudbury, the enormous wealth dug out of the ground across Northeastern Ontario is disproportionately larger than the legendary Klondike gold fields. Take that, Yukon! You can discover the mysteries, drama, and mining history at museums across the region.
No trip to Northeastern Ontario would be complete without a stop at Science North — heaven for curious children and kids at heart. This family-friendly spot has a ton of exhibits as well as an IMAX theatre and a planetarium.