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Must-See Culture & Heritage Stops in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

old canoes on display

Whether you’re an art admirer, heritage hunter, or culture connoisseur, you’re sure to find incredible stops in Peterborough & the Kawarthas.

Art Galleries & Studios

The Art Gallery of Peterborough is a public art gallery dedicated to exhibiting and collecting contemporary Canadian art. It features art exhibitions, talks, a Gallery Shop, art workshops for all ages, Family Sundays and more.

Artspace is Peterborough’s only artist-run centre, a non-profit organization committed to supporting contemporary art and artists. It strives to produce thought-provoking exhibitions that engage with diverse cultural and political perspectives through collaboration with artists.

The Kawartha Potters’ Guild is a not-for-profit that promotes the art and craft of ceramics in the community and provides a forum for local potters to share their knowledge of clay. This knowledge is passed on through guest speaker presentations, member’s show and tell, workshops, exhibitions, and more. The KPG offers visitors a pottery shop, public and private classes for all ages, and special holiday events and sales.

Culturally Significant Stops

Petroglyphs Provincial Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy the country’s largest concentration of indigenous rock carvings. It is considered to be a sacred site and is known as “The Teaching Rocks.” The educational focus continues when visitors head to the Learning Place Visitor Centre where they can discover and delve into the traditions and culture of the Ojibway (Nishnaabe) people. This park is also the site of McGinnis Lake whose blue green coloring gives its secret away as a meromictic lake whose water layers don’t mix.

Whetung Ojibwa Centre offers a spectacular 10,000 sq ft of Anishinaabe arts & culture. This includes a museum and store featuring fine art, jewelry, moccasins, leather work, crafts, sculptures and much more from Curve Lake First Nation and other Indigenous communities across Canada.

Heritage & Historic Sites

Opened in 1904, with a lift of 19.8 metres, this is the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world and the first of two built in North America, both on the Trent-Severn Waterway. When completed in 1904, it was the highest hydraulic lift lock ever built, with a vertical lift of nearly 20 metres (65 feet) and was reputed to be the largest unreinforced concrete structure in the world. The lift lock continues to function as part of the Trent–Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada under the management of Parks Canada.

Interested in cruising the Trent Severn Waterway and riding up the Lift Lock? Book a Liftlock Cruise here!

Did you know that you can Skate Under the Liftlock? Click here for the status of skating on the canal.

Museums & Historical Societies

This living museum was built in 1837 by volunteers for Dr. John Hutchison, Peterborough’s first resident physician. It is now a beautiful historical attraction which also features a room dedicated to Sir Sanford Fleming (proposer of standard time zones, designer of Canada’s first postage stamp, surveyor, map maker, and railroad engineer) who was a cousin of Dr. Hutchison.

Lang Pioneer Village Museum is an outdoor museum that features over 30 restored and recreated buildings. Discover the history, language and culture of the Michi Saagiig (Mississaguas) at Aabnaabin Camp. Costumed interpreters also demonstrate the settler story as they demonstrate the life and trades of a settler in the 1800’s. Many of the buildings were relocated to the Village from within Peterborough County in order to preserve the region’s history.

Just up the hill from the Peterborough Lift Lock, the Museum’s ever-changing interactive exhibits, exciting programs, nationally-significant collections and warm, friendly atmosphere make this the perfect stop for families, residents and visitors. They focus on preserving and celebrating the collective memories of our community – stories, images and traces of the people and the land.

The Canadian Canoe Museum is a unique national heritage centre that explores the canoe’s enduring significance to the peoples of Canada, through an exceptional collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. It is an engaging, family-friendly museum with more than 100 canoes and kayaks on display, and an additional 500 paddled watercraft in holding. Visitors will enjoy interactive, hands-on galleries, a scavenger hunt, model canoe building and puppet theatre for children. Through inclusive, memorable and engaging exhibits and programs we share the art, culture, heritage and spirit of paddled watercraft with our communities.

Theatre & the Performing Arts

Idyllic, rural, and quintessentially Canadian, 4th Line Theatre presents Canadian plays written by and about Canadians, from small town stories to broad national sagas. This magical theatre presents unforgettable outdoor, epic theatrical experiences. Thousands of visitors, young and old alike fall in love with our farm experience complete with picnics, birdsong and sunsets in the country.

Located in a 19th century clocktower in the heart of the downtown Peterborough, Market Hall Performing Arts Centre Inc. is a not for profit charitable organization which operates as a busy, vital cultural centre, multi-functional space. They host a wide variety of performing arts groups, a series of youth presentations, community fundraising events and educational programmes.

Market Hall Performing Arts Centre has played an indispensable role as host to the region’s community-based and avant-garde performing arts activities, hosting a wide variety of national and international performers. It is unique in Peterborough and the region in its steadfast support of artist and in its commitment to engaging young people in the arts, through opportunities to create work and by exposing young people to high quality, curriculum linked theatre, dance and music. Market Hall is wheelchair accessible and provides a hearing assist system.

Since its inception in 1965, The Peterborough Theatre Guild has entertained thousands of Peterborough area residents and visitors alike with award-winning live theatre. The building (formerly St. Luke’s Anglican Church) was gutted by fire in 1959. A local group of theatre enthusiasts raised the funds to purchase the old church and after extensive renovations, staged their first play just a few a years later.

Showplace Performance Centre has been Peterborough’s regional centre for the performing arts since October 1996. They have a mission to present, promote, and sustain the performing arts; encourage and support active community involvement; maintain its facility; provide opportunities for local and touring artists to perform in a professional quality venue; entertain, inspire, nurture, educate, and empower artists and audiences alike

Historic Walking Tours

Millbrook & Cavan Historical Society, 5 King St., Millbrook
Visit the Website
Download the Tour Booklet

The Millbrook and Cavan Historical Society is committed to preserving the stories and the artifacts, manuscripts and photographs that illustrate the history of Millbrook, Cavan and the surrounding area in south central Ontario for present and future generations. It also seeks to inspire interest in the value of local history by keeping the stories alive.

Please visit our Visitor Centre located at 270 George Street North in downtown Peterborough to pick up a physical brochure and map for this walking tour.