Whether you're interested in art, history, medicine, the military, indigenous culture and early settler life, or if you’re looking to get up close and personal with a jet aircraft, London, Ontario has an amazing variety of museums waiting for you to explore!
Are you into military history? Well, there are a few great museums that you will want to visit! The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum is one of the oldest Canadian museums, dating back to 1886! Located in the historic Wolseley Barracks, home to the 31st Canadian Brigade Group, the museum’s exhibits are interactive, hands-on experiences covering the regimental history from the 1800s all the way up to present day peacekeeping missions and the Afghanistan conflict.
Discover the fascinating history of the modern Royal Canadian Air Force at the Jet Aircraft Museum. Here you’ll immerse yourself in military and aviation artifacts. Step inside the hanger and get up close with historic aircrafts or take to the skies and experience the thrill of flying in a vintage training jet by purchasing a flight in “The Red Knight.” Don’t miss out on the chance to witness the Jet Aircraft Museum’s planes in action at air shows and events across Canada, including Airshow London presents SkyDrive!
(Photo by IG: @mr_eleganza)
Want to learn more about the top-secret side of World War II? The Secrets of Radar Museum tells the story of the thousands of Canadians who served in all aspects of radar. Everyone involved was sworn to secrecy - not even allowed to tell their loved ones about their involvement until the Official Secrets Act expired in 1991! The museum features a number of impressive physical exhibits as well as a large research archive that helps tell the story of one of the most important aspects of the Second World War, that, until recently, nobody was allowed to know about.
For a dose of inspiration and a glimpse into the medical heroes of Canada, we prescribe a trip to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. This museum, dedicated to honouring those who have made lasting contributions in medicine, celebrates close to 150 Canadians whose contributions advanced the medical field in Canada and around the world. The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame also works to encourage and inspire the next generation of Canadian medical heroes through class trips and their “Museum School” program.
Did you know that the birthplace of insulin is right here in London, Ontario? Banting House, the former home of Sir Frederick Banting, is credited as the birthplace of the lifesaving discovery of insulin. Take a guided tour of the museum and National Historic Site while taking a step back into the 1920’s to learn more about the medical discovery that helped to save the lives of millions of people around the world. Don’t forget to grab a photo in front of “The Flame of Hope” monument outside the house. This eternal flame will burn until a cure for diabetes is found.
Uncover the mystery and charm of the Eldon House, London's oldest residence. Overlooking the forks of the Thames River, this 1834 home has been passed down through four generations of the Harris family and holds rich history and tradition. Stepping through the front door is like going back in time, as the home and the decor has hardly changed since John and Amelia Harris and their seven children first lived there. Explore the historic property at your own pace with a self-guided tour and be sure to take a stroll through the beautiful gardens outside which have been re-created just the way the Harris family kept them.
If you’re looking for a broader look into London in the 19th century, then the Fanshawe Pioneer Village may just be the place you need to visit! Focused on the rural communities and townships of London and the surrounding area from 1820-1920, Fanshawe Pioneer Village is where the past is present. The village is split up into four different time periods that allow you to travel through the different eras of the London’s history. You can experience hands-on demonstrations, like learning to make your own yarn and seeing how laundry was done in the 1800s! New this year, you can visit London’s historic fugitive slave chapel. Dating back to 1848, the chapel was the London stop on the underground railroad, a clandestine network of Black and White activists who helped slaves in United States escape to find a new life in Canada.
Working to educate and preserve local First Nations history, the Ska-Nah Doht Village is a must visit in London, Ontario. Explore a replica longhouse village (one that the Haudenosaunee lived in nearly 1,000 years ago) and imagine yourself making a clay pot or grinding corn into flour with a mortar and pestle. There’s even a spot for bird and wildlife watching. Afterwards, make sure to head inside and take a trip through the museum. It features hands-on exhibits and displays with artifacts from their archaeological collection.
Another look into London’s past can be found at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. Working to understand and interpret the human occupation of Southwestern Ontario over the last 13,000 years, the main gallery takes you on a journey back in time to what life would have been like in the area at the end of the Ice Age, all the way up until European settlers arrived, including a specific exhibit focused on First Nations culture over the last 1,000 years. They have a public archaeology lab where you can learn about how artifacts go from the ground to being displayed in the museum. This museum is bound to have something that everyone digs!
Calling all art history lovers! Museum London promotes regional art, culture and history all in one place. Situated on the forks of the Thames River, the building’s many windows give you a spectacular view of the river that you can’t get anywhere else in the city! The museum’s art collection is extensive, with over 5,000 regional and Canadian artworks and more than 45,000 artifacts resulting in a variety of exhibits throughout the year, each with differing themes. The possibilities of what you might see are nearly endless, meaning that no matter what type of art you are looking for, you’ll be able to find it at Museum London.
What about a history experience that’s geared towards the kids? London has that, too! The London Children’s Museum allows the little ones to learn about and explore history and culture in a hands-on, fun way! The kids can learn to dig for dinosaur bones, become a teacher in a one room schoolhouse, crawl through an igloo and blast off to another planet in a spaceship! These exhibits are sure to make for a fun day of exploring for the kids and maybe even the kids at heart, too!
Did you know that London’s Labatt Memorial Park is the oldest continually operating baseball grounds in the world?! It’s even in the Guiness Book of World Records! You can take a tour of this historic ballpark (which dates back to 1887) and imagine yourself rounding the bases after hitting a home run or do your best Vin Scully or Harry Carey impression from the press box. The tour will take you throughout the ballpark, including into the Roy MacKay Clubhouse (built in 1937) where you'll be able to see some historic baseball artifacts. This is a can’t miss stop for the sports lover!
Calling all music lovers! London, Ontario is Canada’s first and only UNESCO City of Music. This unique designation is certainly backed by a rich musical history. The London Music Hall of Fame honours local musicians and their outstanding musical contributions. Touring the Hall of Fame will give you a unique perspective into the musical talent from London’s past and you’ll learn about the inductees through their biographies while enjoying musical treasures and artifacts along the way!
All these great museums and exhibits tie into the rich history and culture that exists in London, Ontario and the surrounding area. It doesn’t matter what type of history buff or art lover you are, or if you’ve just started exploring new interests, there is bound to be a museum that will have you looking to learn more!
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