Pembroke Ontario Canada
Welcome to the Heart of the Ottawa Valley, also known as the City of Pembroke. Located about an hour and a half north of Ottawa, this beautiful and historic town is situated where the Muskrat River joins the Ottawa River. The first European settlers came to what is now Pembroke in the early 1820s, drawn by the area’s vast lumber resources and the confluence of the rivers, which made transporting their goods easy. The town grew quickly, and by 1858 it was an official Canadian city. Although much of the downtown was destroyed during a terrible fire in 1918, some of the older structures still stand. Visitors and newcomers alike can learn about the city’s history at the Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village or by checking out the dozens of Pembroke Heritage Murals that pepper the town’s buildings. You can also feel like you’ve jumped back in time by taking in a show at the Skyline Drive-In Theatre. While the local economy has diversified over the past decades, forestry and farming are still important parts of life for many people living in the Ottawa Valley. Because of this, and because the city sits so close to the Algonquin Provincial Park, the Pembroke branch of the Algonquin College offers several unique courses geared towards careers in the great outdoors. Folks from Pembroke don’t just work outside; they also enjoy spending their leisure time outdoors, especially along the Waterfront, home to many walking trails and local parks. Let’s take a trip around town so you can see how truly special Pembroke is.
Downtown Pembroke Ontario Canada
The Downtown area is the thrumming heart of many small cities, which is undoubtedly true in Pembroke. A stroll through the Downtown area, either on your own or with a guided walking tour, will have you feeling like you have stepped back in time to the heyday of the area’s lumber barons. Several magnificent homes from the turn of the century still line the streets around downtown, such as the Arunah Dunlap Residence, built in 1880, or the Old Rowan Stone House, built in 1850 as housing for saw-mill workers. And don’t forget spots like Victoria Hall, Pembroke’s original town hall, and the first municipal building in Canada to get electricity.
The first of Pembroke’s iconic Heritage Murals appeared Downtown in 1990, and since then, over 30 more have come to grace the local buildings. Depicting scenes from Samuel de Champlain’s visit to the area in 1613 through the town’s years as a hub of forestry and farming to more modern events. The Murals are scattered all over the downtown area and are hard to miss. However, suppose you are interested in more than just a casual look at them. In that case, the annual Pembroke Visitors Guidebook features a current list of murals as well as a free audio download that you can listen to as you stroll around Downtown.
Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village
Another great way to discover the history of Pembroke is to check out the Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village. Inside the Museum, you will find relics from the town’s past, such as Pembroke’s first motorized fire engine and an enormous engine that once powered the local saw-mill. The Museum is also home to many local Native Canadian artifacts. Outside in the Village, you can stroll through a schoolhouse built in the 1830s that served the families of Pembroke for over 100 years. There is also a restored pioneer home and several buildings featuring historical farming equipment. The Trail Museum and Village is a must-stop for anyone interested in pioneer life.
If you are looking for some vintage fun, you have to check out Skyline Drive-In Theatre. Located on Forest Lea Road, Skyline will have you feeling nostalgic for a simpler time. So bring the whole family and watch one of the two movies shown nightly from June to October. The Theatre broadcasts the movies over FM radio, so it is good to bring a portable radio, and some money for snacks at the concessions stand. This event is pretty popular, so it is a good idea to purchase your tickets online before the show.
For those folks seeking higher education, Pembroke is home to a branch of Algonquin College. The beautiful, water-front campus offers some traditional courses, but the main focus is on environmental sciences and classes that would be hard to teach in an urban environment. Students at Pembroke’s campus can earn degrees in Urban Forestry, Outdoor Adventure or become certified Environmental or Forestry technicians. Pembroke campus is also home to Algonquin College’s varsity Loggersport team. What is Loggersport? It is precisely what it sounds like, lumberjacking (or jilling) as a team competition. Students from the Forestry Technician program compete against other schools in chainsawing, log-decking, snowshoeing, and ax-throwing.
Waterfront Of Pembroke Ontario Canada
The college campus isn’t the only important Pembroke landmark located on the banks of the Ottawa River. Thanks to donations from the city and private donors, Pembroke’s Waterfront area has become one of the towns crowning jewels. Along groomed trails and boardwalks between Waterfront and Riverside parks, you can find picnic areas, pavilions, children’s playgrounds, a splash pad, and even space for camping. During the summer months, the Riverside Amphitheater hosts local musicians and movie showings almost every night. A short way up the River, you can find the 18 holes Pembroke Gulf Club. This par-71 championship course is located directly on the banks of the Ottawa River and is a great place to unwind and enjoy the fresh Canadian air.