Welcome back to the beautiful Ottawa River Valley Today, we are going to take a look around one of the larger towns in Renfrew County, Petawawa Ontario. The area here at the confluence of the Ottawa and Petawawa Rivers was once an Algonquin First Nation settlement, which is where the town gets its name, which means “where one hears a noise like this” Later, in the 1800s, it became a robust logging town. Then around the turn of the 20th century, the Canadian military took up residence here, eventually building the Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, which remains in operation today. You can learn more about the long history and evolution of the Canadian Armed Forces in the area at the CFB Petawawa Museum. In addition to the military base, Petawawa is home to the only certified airfield between Carp and North Bay.
If planes and uniforms aren’t really your style, Petawawa also has the wonderful local shops of Downtown and delicious food at Madameek. Also, being nestled just across the river from the Laurentian Mountains and east of Algonquin Park, you know there are plenty of outdoor spaces and activities to keep you busy. Check out Centennial or Terrance Provincial Parks for their miles of trails and breathtaking views. And a trip to Petawawa wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Petawawa Point Beach to enjoy the sun and the waterfront park.
Downtown PETAWAWA ONTARIO
Anyone who wants to get a feel for the character of Petawawa should be sure to check out the Downtown area. Take a stroll down Petawawa Blvd. and enjoy the diverse range of local shops. The menfolk will enjoy Millbrook Tactical, where you can find all your outdoor needs from hiking boots to canteens and hunting knives, as well as a new line of beard care products. Everyone will enjoy a trip into Looking Glass Toys, which features a large selection of candy, puzzles, and games. Don’t be fooled; this isn’t just a store for the kids. They have escape room and adult-themed games too. There are also bike shops, pet stores, and plenty of boutiques.
Petawawa Point Beach
One of the most popular places in Petawawa is the beautiful sandy stretch of land at Petawawa Point Beach. The locals call the area ‘the Point’ and it is one of the best places for outdoor recreation in town. The park features all the things you would expect, such as picnic areas, playgrounds, and a volleyball court, but there are also several options for those wanting to enjoy the water. In the summer months, you can rent canoes or kayaks to paddle around on the Ottawa River. There is also a designated swimming area for kids or those looking to enjoy the river at a more leisurely pace.
Just north of town, you will find Canadian Forces Base Petawawa or CFB. This historic base was established in 1905 when the Department of Militia and Defence purchased over 20,000 acres from local farmers and landowners and set up what was then called Camp Petawawa. Over the last century, the base has housed many different regiments of the Canadian military. It has also been the site of historical happenings, such as Canada’s first successful military flight in 1909. As well as serving as an internment camp during both World Wars I and II. Some of the barracks on the base were designated as Federal Heritage Buildings in 1995 due to their long service to Canada through difficult times. Today the CFB employs approximately 5,000 servicemen and women and is one of the largest and oldest bases in the country.
Military Museum Petawawa ONTARIO
A great way to learn more about the history of CFB Petawawa is to take a trip to the Petawawa Military Museum. Located on Colborne Rd, the museum is home to several collections spanning the over one-hundred-year history of the Canadian military presence at Petawawa. For example, learn about the Silver Dart and how it flew into the history books as the first military aircraft in Canada. Or view ariel photographs of the invasion of Normandy as well as treasures taken from German prisoners during WWII.
Pembroke and Area Airport
Continuing Petawawa’s tradition of aviation and air service is the Pembroke and Area Airport. The only certified airport in the area, Pembroke and Area, is an essential part of the local aviation community, offering aircraft maintenance, grooming, and storage as well as their mile-long runway. However, they also serve the community as a recreation destination with the Aircraft Golf Academy and Driving Range and Valley Paintball.
Petawawa is also home to some great parks and walking trails, such as those at Centennial Park. Located near Downtown, this area that is known to many locals as ‘the Catwalk’ has all of the usual park features such as playgrounds and a lovely gazebo. However, you will be hard-pressed to find another park with such beautiful views. Situated along the shore of the Ottawa River, Centennial Park gives visitors access to some magnificent rapids that can be enjoyed from the beach but are a favorite of local kayak enthusiasts.
If all of your adventurings have worked up an appetite, let me show you the place to stop in Petawawa. Welcome to Madameek. This lovely eatery was built as a tribute to a local hero and Royal Dragoon Marc Diab, who fell in the line of duty before he was able to realize his dream of bringing his native cuisine to his home in Petawawa. Madameek serves a wide range of Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine such as falafels, cheese rolls, and the best shawarma around. This place is a local treasure for the food, the inviting atmosphere, and the fantastic service.
Terrace Provincial Park
Our last stop in town is another wonderful outdoor area, Petawawa Terrace Provincial Park. With 215 hectares of trails and wildlife habitat, Terrance is the crowning jewel of Petawawa parks. In the summer, the park is a favorite for hiking, biking, and bird-watching. However, it is also popular in the winter months as the cold weather makes the lower, marshy part of the park more accessible, and it is ideal for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.