Rough hands of the artist hold a delicate glass creation.

Ontario art and history trips that will spark your imagination

Rough hands of the artist hold a delicate glass creation.

Travel to places where history lives on outside of books, and art extends far beyond gallery walls with these four escapes in Ontario.

Follow the Group of Seven

Take art appreciation to the next level by viewing the scenery and vistas that inspired these artists … in person.

The Group of Seven was a collection of adventurous artists in the early 1900s who challenged the philosophy of art at the time and whose work came to represent a distinct Canadian artistic identity. The rugged Ontario outdoors served as their muse, and the wilderness of Algoma County was one such place. Stand in some of the exact locations and view the landscapes that inspired them along the Moments of Algoma Discovery Route.

Admire Group of Seven paintings and sketches at the Art Gallery of Algoma.

Tip: the gallery’s guided tour includes a mini lesson on how to paint in Group of Seven style.

Celebrate the artistic spirit of the region during the annual Algoma Fall Festival, a multi-disciplinary arts event held in October in Sault Ste. Marie.

Arts and artisans

Ontario’s central counties are a hub of artistic innovation with inspiring galleries and inviting studios. Catch the creative bug on a three-day artsy getaway.

McMichael Canadian Art Collection, located on a forested property of 40 hectares (100 acres) in Kleinberg, is uniquely devoted to Indigenous and Canadian art, including pieces by (and influenced by) Norval Morrisseau and a large collection by the Group of Seven.

Natural sculpture in outdoor exhibit, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg.

DYK: Six of the seven members of the Group of the Seven were laid to rest in the McMichael Cemetery, part of the gallery’s ‘outdoor exhibit’ that includes a wilderness garden, forest trails, installations and outdoor sculptures.

Explore contemporary creative expression and catch artists in action at the Alton Mills Arts Centre, a heritage venue of shops, working studios, galleries and a café on the banks of Shaw’s Creek.

Rejuvenate your mind and body at the elegant Millcroft Inn and Spa next door. This upscale country hotel is a converted historic mill, while the newest addition to their spa facilities are outdoor hot spring pools. What better place to reflect on your own artistic spirit!

Relaxation tour

Art and the art of ‘relaxation’ go hand-in-hand in the picturesque lakes, forests and towns in Muskoka, Ontario’s iconic resort and cottage country.

Tom Thomson, avid outdoorsman and an honorary member of the Group of Seven, holds a special place in the hearts of locals here for his life-long passion for Algonquin Provincial Park and ultimately his mysterious death on Canoe Lake 100 years ago.

Communities in the Huntsville and Lake of Bays area celebrate the Group of Seven with an impressive, (guided and self-guided) outdoor trail featuring over 90 large scale mural replicas of the work of the Group of Seven and Thomson. Follow the Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery as you tour Muskoka and find your own creative inspiration.

Living capital history

Dive into Canada’s incredible story through its art and discover dark, intriguing tales from the past in the nation’s current and first capital cities.

In conjunction with Canada 150, The National Gallery of Canada put together a permanent collection of almost 800 pieces of Canadian and Indigenous art, the largest exhibit ever presented at the gallery – Canadian and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967.

Culture, history and storytelling flow through the heritage buildings and streets in Canada’s capital. Hear stories that haunt this city on one of the Haunted Walks Halloween tours.

Or opt for Haunted Walks in Canada’s original capital. Located at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, where the river meets Lake Ontario, Kingston was United Canada’s first capital city and the home of first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

The downtown Ghost Walk Tour leads you deep into the city’s past with ghostly stories of hauntings, hangings and grave robbings.

Kingston overlooks the 19th century military garrison of Fort Henry across the Cataraqui River, a living history museum. St. Lawrence Parks hosts Fort Fright, a Halloween event with haunted walks, a coffin ride and escape games at Fort Henry. The city is also home to the notorious Kingston Penitentiary, a former maximum security jail. Take a peek into the prison’s past; the site has opened its storied doors for guided tours.

Last updated: March 11, 2023

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