Ontario: The Strange and Interesting. The Search Continues

On down the highway I go

In my search for strange and interesting in Ontario I have come across some What?? and Wow! Travel with me as I discover some really interesting history and a little I have never seen that before. Let’s get on the road.

Discovery Harbour


Discovery Harbour is located in Pentetanguishene, Ontario. When i first seen it online I thought that the only thing I would see was a beautiful tall warship and a nice scenic bay. It turned out, it was much more than that. An entire 1800’s Naval base to explore. Oh this is going to be cool.

1800’s Naval Base

In 1793 as the War of 1812 heated up, Sir John Grave Simcoe was looking for a place for a naval base with a tactical advantage. With its steep sided banks and a open route to and from Toronto, which was then called York, by the bay for supplies. Here in Pentetanguishene was the perfect place. In 1817 the British Royal Navy began to create what is now known as Discovery Harbour. By 1820 there were more than 70 people living at the base and home to over 20 sea faring vessels. It became the permanent home to the warships H.M.S. Tecumseth and H.MS. Newash.

There were other smaller supply ships stationed there as well. They had some unique names such as, the Bee, the Mosquito and the Wasp. I wonder of they were named for their quickness or their sting? Some smaller boats were used as supply boats within the harbour. Bring supplies from land to the seamen aboard the ships. One boat was called the Jolly Boat but was nicknamed the “Blood boat” as it brought fresh meat out to the warships.

Working skiffs

There were two replica ships you could explore. The H.MS. Bee which was a smaller, but not really a small ship was a supply ship that moved men and supplies between Nottawasaga and Pentetanguishene. She is 79 feet long and flies six sails.

The H.M.S Tecumseth is an impressive 124 foot vessel. With masts measuring 24 feet high, it was a sight to behold. It took 12 men to work this ship but there may be 24 men if it was a overnight adventure. She was basically an armed supply ship my tour hosts told me. She was built in 1815 in Chippewa and by the time she came to Pentetanguishene the was was pretty much over. Inside the hull as a little world of it’s own. With a Captains Cabin, a Bread Room, Magazine, Cupboard, storage room as well as a cargo hold, there was a lot of room down there. I was impressed on how spacious it was.

Captain’s Cabin
Inside the H.M.S. Tecumseth

The H.M.S. Tecumseth was reported sunk in the harbour in 1828. The original hull was recovered from Pentetanguishene Bay in 1958. On the grounds of the Naval Base there is a museum that holds what is left of the hull. Even with just the bare bones of the ship visible now, you can see what an impressive ship she would gave been.

What is left of the H.M.S. Tecumseth

The Naval Base had everything to sustain life for its workers and sailors who passed through. In those day Pentetanguishene was an outpost. There was only a long hard road to get there or you could come by sea. As you walked through the buildings of what once was, you are invited to a picture of the past. The Officers Quarters building is said to be the only “original building standing.” There military officers were givin accommodations for their stay. They would also hold recitals and theater there as well for social interactions. A surgeons house, Commanding Officers house, as well as sailors barracks. It was interesting to walk through and see how they lived.

The buildings at Discovery Harbour

The dockyard had a working blacksmith. I must tell you that all through the tour there were people dressed in period clothes to tell you all about the exhibit. This young man was making nails in 90 degree heat just as they would have been doing in the 1800’s.

The blacksmith hard at work

Discovery Harbour was a great find. They have many events at the Naval sight so make sure you check out their website. Right now they have PumkInferno. More than 5,000 hand carved pumpkins, mazes and a Macrabre Mansuon to get you into the Halloween spirit.

North America’s Smallest Jail

Creemore Jail

In the little town of Creemore, Ontario a small stone building represents the Smallest Jail in North America. Well at least according to the sign. In 1892 a parcel of land was purchased for $50. James Clow built this little building for a whopping $425.20. It does not sound like much now but I am sure it was a pretty penny back then. This little jail held criminals that were convicted of drunkenness and disturbing the peace. It also served as a homeless shelter when not filled with lawbreakers. Giving the homeless a warm night’s sleep and some food supplied by the town. In the 1940’s policing changed and the jail was closed. In the 1960’s it was opened as a tourist attraction and given the distinction of “North America’s Smallest Jail.” It is so cute.

Log cabin

Beside the jail is a small cabin that was built in the 1870’s. The first to live in the cabin were James and Abigail Scarrow and their 10 children. Yes you read that right. 10 children. How on earth could you have 10 children plus two adults in that little cabin I will never know. It was sold again in 1909 and was to be demolished in 2011. Instead of being torn down, thanks to many volunteers and town contributors, the cabin was carefully dismantled and reassembled here beside the jail. An interesting little piece of history.

The Cheltenham Badlands

The Cheltham Badlands

Located in Caledon, Ontario is the Cheltenham Badlands. I had been to this area many times but never even heard of this. I am so glad I went to check this out. I have never seen a rock formation of this kind, especially in Ontario. What is it and how did it get this way?

It all started 450 million years ago. Most of this area was under a tropical sea back then. The high mountains on the side of the sea would bring rivers of iron enriched mud and sand into the water and settle on the bottom. Little by little the water would start to recede exposing the bottom to the sun and wind. Erosion would expose a beautiful Queenston Shale. That is what you see here. It kind of looks like a rolling sea of red mounds. The shale is very delicate and can be broken easily. It is fenced off to keep it safe for all of us to enjoy for years to come. A very interesting find for sure. There are a few trails in the area including part of the Brice Trail. A nice hike and some interesting viewing makes for a great day.

A Truck to Match my Dress

They match!!

Ok so maybe not interesting or strange but I thought it was kind of cool when I saw this truck. It matches my favorite sun dress!! 🙂

My tour is just about done but as always no matter where I go I try to find the strange and interesting in every place I visit.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure. See you next week.


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