Pet Friendly Ottawa: Homesteading with the Dog at Upper Canada Village, Ontario

dog at upper canada village in front of barn

If you build it, they will come … and since 1961 they’ve come to Upper Canada Village to check out one of Canada’s largest living history museums, complete with horses and dogs. Well, the dogs visitors bring with them.

(As travel options resume soon and seasonal sites prepare to open, we’re sharing one of our dog-friendly adventures from Summer 2019. NOTE: Upper Canada Village is opening July 2, 2020 for guided tours and using a timed-ticketing system).

Upper Canada Village, in Morrisburg near Ottawa, Ontario, is dog-friendly and any day pups are strolling with their families through the recreated 19th century town past the livery, the active flour mill, the blacksmith, printer, and cow barn – you get the idea.

At The Willards Hotel, the oldest building on site dating back to 1790, you can eat lunch on the patio with your pooch. So long as you move out of the way of Canadian Horse-drawn carriages, you can meander several hours along trails past historic buildings, some original and some recreations.

Essentially, you’re stepping back in time when working the land was the way of life.

Costumed interpreters, including kids, and live animals are actors on set. A costumed 19th century farmer gripping the tether of a long horn cow calls to a young boy leading a calf back to the barn: “Did you get offered a good some for a calf that size? She must be worth at least two dollars.” The young boy in straw hat and linen nickers shrugs, reluctant to play along for the photo-snapping crowd.

Upper Canada Village strives to recreate and English Canadian rural 1866 village as accurately as possible, baking bread in stone ovens (flour is milled on site and sold in the gift store), growing food in gardens, and printing promotional posters using the antique printing presses requiring letter-by-letter type setting. Forty historic villages make up the tour, many rescued during the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway, along with horse-drawn boat taking visitors up and down the river running through the park.

My dog Victor pulled me toward on barn, just before a gaggle of baby pigs the size of your hand ran across his path, confusing him for a moment. But to the barn we went, and fortunately I went inside first because inside two Canadian Horses (a breed bred here) waited to be tacked to a wagon. Horse hooves are not something Victor should mess with. (Check out Horse Lovers Weekend on horsetrotting.net)

However, my dog is living his best life here. This place stinks. That’s right. Smells … according to my dog.  Between the aging buildings, farm animals, fence posts previously marked, and fertilized gardens, my pooch has found his happy place at Upper Canada Village for hours, until it rained. Then we bought a sack of freshly milled flour and headed back to the dog-friendly Sandman Hotel in Ottawa.

NOTE: In loving memory of Victor, who sadly died July 14, 2020.

TRAVEL GUIDE: Along with being a dog-friendly interactive historical interpretive park May to December, Upper Canada Village (13740 County Road 2, Morrisburg, Ontario) celebrates special events throughout the year. Most are included with the price of admission.

MAY: Upper Canada Village plans to open for the 2020 Season the first weekend in May.

JUNE: Medieval Weekend the second weekend of June. 

JUNE AND JULY: Celebrate Halloween early and attend the Haunted Walk Ghost Tour and Storytelling event starting at 8:30 pm every Saturday throughout June and July 2020.

SEPTEMBER: The annual Horse Lovers Weekend draws equine lovers and others every Labour Day weekend. 

OCTOBER: PumpkinInferno starts late September and runs throughout October, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each evening the trails light up after 7 pm with elaborately craved illuminated pumpkins.

DECEMBER: Alight Night is a village-wide Holiday Light Festivals on weekends throughout December.

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