Love little things? Model railways? Dollhouses? And Canada? If yes, you’re in luck, because Little Canada in Toronto, Ontario blends all that into one experience where tiny moving trains, cars, and light fixtures and buildings recreate the country’s iconic cities and surrounding areas.
Little Canada, located in Dundas Square across from the iconic Eaton Centre, in the heart of downtown Toronto is a welcome addition to the city’s tourism offerings. A list that hasn’t grown much in the last ten years since the Ripley’s Aquarium opened in 2013.
Is Little Canada Dog-friendly?
Unfortunately, no. But a little lobbying might change that.
However, there are miniature dogs throughout the exhibit. Mini dogs. Everything at Little Canada is mini – the entire country … almost.
Right now, Little Canada has five destinations represented: Niagara (focusing on Niagara Falls), the Golden Horseshoe area including Hamilton and extending to Stratford, Toronto, Ottawa, and parts of Quebec. There are plans in the multi-floored exhibition for the addition of Montreal, the prairies, the west coast including the Rockies, and a multi-sensory experience: a low temperature room representing the North.
Little Canada is the dream and passion project of Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer who immigrated to Canada in 1999 and civil engineer and model railway enthusiast David MacLean along with several private investors. The grand opening was delayed until 2021, thanks to the pandemic. But the five completed sections of the exhibition are now open, along with a food and beverage bar and a gift store.
But more than that, Little Canada is a compelling experience appealing to multi-generational visitors, especially those who love the appeal of model trains. Searching through tiny details in the larger vignettes, such as dog-walkers among the tulip gardens of Ottawa to the specific arcades, minigolf of Niagara Falls’ Clifton Hill, and ski hills of Quebec with moving chair lift is part of the fun.
Looking closely is what I did when visiting at the Little Canada opening week media event and noticed all the places across Ontario I’ve visited with my dogs, past and present. I played my own ‘Where’s Waldo?’ style game, only I played “Where’s My Dog Been?’
Find Dog-friendly Spots at Little Canada, Toronto
For instance, I’ve walked along the canals and through the market in Ottawa with my previous dog Victor and more recently checked out Ottawa parks with my current dog, Victoria (yes, she’s named in his honour). I’ve visited the Hamilton waterfront for dog events and, Little Canada’s tiny reproduction of the Festival Theatre reminded me of my recently developed a Stratford with the dog guide. Furthermore, I’ve taken both pups to dog-friendly wineries in Niagara on the Lake.
Plus, the scenery changes from day to night every 15 minutes and fireworks light up the Ottawa Parliament buildings. If you didn’t believe Ottawa’s historic Fairmount Hotel was pet-friendly, check out the dollhouse style interior view reveals dogs in hotel rooms, and a few other strange occurrences if you look closely.
And that’s a big part of the fun of Little Canada – taking a close look at where you might have visited or are planning to with your pup or otherwise. If you haven’t been throughout the represented areas, it’s a good way to learn about Ontario. And that will be true until the rest of Canada in Little Canada is developed – a staff of 35 work on the project and it takes at least 12 months to develop each city, or destination.
Littlelize Yourself at Little Canada Exhibition
Here’s the best part: if you love Little Canada, you can put yourself in it. The ‘littlelization’ process is easy: stand in the 3D camera, poise, smile and get scanned. You can purchase a miniature version of yourself to send home, or for only $59 have a ¾” version of yourself placed somewhere in the Little Canada world.
What about your dog? Interestingly, there are miniature dogs throughout Little Canada destinations and some in the display case promoting the ‘littlelization’ process. But, as of yet, you can’t bring your dog into Little Canada be scanned.
I asked staff if there are any dog-friendly days planned at Little Canada, and they said ‘no.’ But they excitedly encouraged me to add a suggestion to the suggestion box.
Dog-friendly Day at Little Canada, Toronto?
Here’s my suggestion: a specific pet rescue event, one day only (allowing for cleaning that night), and participants could add a ‘littlelized’ version of themselves and dog to the Little Canada.
What do you think? I think a tiny plastic version of my spaniel is exactly what Ottawa’s miniature Byward Market needs. Now, I’ll just have to sneak her into the 3D scanner.
Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for 30 years and travel writer for the last 20. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America, and travels almost weekly with her canine companion.