“Come into Montreal for the day and we’ll do….something. You choose.”
And so began a late summer outing with my mom and oldest boy, which turned into a really great day visiting the Lachine Fur Trade Museum, and culminated with a tour through my mom’s hometown of Lachine.
“Can we go to Dairy Queen?”
“It’s not even open yet!”
It was early in the morning, so while we waited for the 10am opening of the museum, we walked through parc Saint-Louis (near 34th Avenue) and admired the lighthouse at the end of the pier. Looked at my mom’s old school, the church where my parent’s got married, and lamented the lack of ice cream at 9am.
Driving over to the Lachine Canal, we easily found parking in the large lot at the base of 12th Avenue and
we I was delighted to see that it was FREE with a pass from the museum.
After some scenic photos (man, it’s pretty!) we went inside the teensy-tiny museum which is housed in an old stone warehouse from 1803. We’ve been to a couple of Parks Canada locations (you can read another one HERE), and I always find them well-run, with amazingly insightful staff, and with some cute activities for kids.
Since our visit was in 2016 we paid our nominal entrance fee, but remember, all Parks Canada National Historic Sites are FREE in 2017! Order your pass HERE, OR you can pick one up in person at the museum or other Parks Canada locations.
If you’ve got kids with you at the museum, make sure to pick up a Parks Canada Explorers booklet. Once four activities in the booklet are completed you’ll get a souvenir and certificate. They can also wear a traditional sash, toque, and scarf (SO cute) before you start your exploring.
The museum is essentially one room, and I kind of went “wow, that’s small”, but once we started reading the signs and completing the activities it took us about 40 minutes to go around the room. You could probably do it in 10 if you zipped through!
We touched fur pelts and tried to guess what animal they were, pretended to paddle a voyageur canoe, found out if we’d have been hired as a voyageur (not me! At 5’9″ I would have been way over the maximum height of 5’5″!), and looked for “Touki” the site’s mascot. There’s also a colouring table and chairs in the middle of the room for weary toddlers.
If you want to wander around outside on a Geocache search, you can borrow a GPS at the visitor area.
The rest of our day!:
After finishing the Explorer booklet, we claimed our bag of souvenirs, said thanks to the friendly staff, and wandered east along the Lachine Canal paths, stopping to read signs and admire ducks. Crossing over a foot bridge, we came back along Boulevard Saint-Joseph, and then veered up 12th Avenue to the yard of St. Stephen’s Church. The Parish of St. Stephen is one of the oldest Anglican churches in Canada and recently celebrated its 194th anniversary. We found the headstone to a great-great (great?) uncle and quietly wandered up and down the haphazard rows, reading names and dates.
And then, our tummies rumbled. There are a lot of food choices along the main street bordering the water, but nothing seemed to be exactly what we were looking for: Cozy, cheap-ish, and breakfast-y. So we piled back into the car, and headed north (pausing to look at my mom’s old house) to Rue Notre Dame and the adorable Café Du Marché (corner 19th Av and Notre Dame) which is connected to the Marché de Lachine. During our lunch we tried out our history knowledge with the “Fathers of Confederation” cards we’d received at the museum (my mom knew seven of forty, I knew…three. Hangs head in shame.)
And then, a stroll through the fantastic market with its excellent selection of gourmet products, cheeses, and an impressive selection of microbrews. Outside is the farmers’ market where we picked up strawberries for dessert and ate them all in the car on the way home. It was a fun, relatively inexpensive, nostalgic outing that we all enjoyed. And while I was writing this my 8-year old was reading over my shoulder and said “Hey, can we go back to that museum?”, so it looks like we’ll be using our free passes this summer for another visit!
If you want to hang around Lachine a bit more, there’s the giant LaSalle Park with the stunning splash pad and wading pool, or visit any other of the neighbouring parks (you’ll find them all under “Playgrounds-Lachine” in the top menu.
*Note that the museum is wheelchair/stroller accessible.