Ontario Travel Planning Resources

Ontario Travel Secrets is a personal travel guide – my view of my home province. Ontario is huge, and even though I was born here and have explored a great deal of it, I obviously can’t cover everything. I review places I’ve visited, or that my “trusted sources” (i.e. friends and family) have visited.

If you’re looking for MORE information than you find here – and I hope I've just whetted your appetite – then here’s a list of other resources I’ve found helpful for my own trips. I’ll start with magazines, newspapers and web sites, and then suggest some good books for those who want to delve a little deeper.

*NOTE: for maps, see Ontario Maps


Ontario-Wide Resources

Festivals and Events Ontario
Click on their home page and then look at the right-hand bar. See the link for the Guide? Click on that you’ll have the most comprehensive list of Ontario festivals you’ll find anywhere.

Ontario Festivals Visited
Reviews of Ontario festivals and events by a couple of frequent festival-goers. Get the scoop while you're making your Ontario travel plans!

Local Resources

Many Ontario communities have local magazines that list and review local attractions and events. You can buy these off a newsstand or you can order them online. Some of them have free articles you can read online too. Here are some examples:

Toronto Life http://www.torontolife.com
Hamilton Magazine http://www.hamiltonmagazine.com
Ottawa Life www.ottawalife.com
Niagara Life http://www.niagaralifemag.com
Niagara Escarpment Views - http://www.neviews.ca
Muskoka Magazine http://www.muskokamagazine.com

Then there’s the “Where” magazine chain. Many hotels give them out for free. They contain feature articles on current festivals and events and exhibits, plus listings of permanent attractions, hotels, etc. They have some content available online too: www.where.ca

Where Ottawa
Where Toronto
Where Muskoka

In many cities you’ll also find free, usually weekly, newspapers that feature local arts and entertainment. Sometimes they’re called the “alternative” press. They tend to cater to a younger readership. You can pick these up from boxes on the streets or in many local restaurants and shops. Most of these newspapers have web sites as well where you’ll find some or all of their articles/listings. Some examples:

NOW Toronto http://www.nowtoronto.com
View Magazine (Hamilton) http://www.viewmag.com

In addition, you'll find local web sites devoted to sharing the highlights of specific cities and towns. For example:

Ottawa-Information-Guide.com - For ideas on accommodations, attractions, restaurants, wedding planning and more in Canada's beautiful capital city, the Ottawa Information Guide is a great resource for everything you want to know about Ottawa, Canada.


Artist's and Photographer's Guide to Wild Ontario. By Rob Stimpson, Craig Thompson. Boston Mills Press, 2007. Beautiful book. Great pictures! Also lists galleries, museums, shops etc that may interest the traveller.

Ontario Architecture: A Guide to Styles and Building terms, 1784 to the present. By John Blumenson. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1990. From Georgian to Post-Modern. Good illustrations. For the general reader/traveller.

Looking for Old Ontario. By Thomas F. McIlwraith. University of Toronto Press, 1997. A great intro to the architectural heritage of Ontario. One of my favourites. A little more academic in tone than the book above.

Weird Ontario Places. By Dan de Figueiredo. Blue Bike Books, 2006. A bank tower coated in real gold. A see-through floor 342 metres above the ground. A ghost who sets tables. A school for spies. A museum containing "wax renditions of all your favourite murderers." Sheesh. And that's just a tiny sample. And you thought Ontario was so straight-laced.

Ontario's Secret Landscapes: 50 More Visits to Unusual Ontario. By Ron Brown. The Boston Mills Press, 1999. Ontario's most unusual buildings, Ontario ruins, nature's puzzles and more. Brown has published 18 books about Ontario. He also leads tours. Very readable author.

Castles and Kings, Ontario's Mansions and the Men and Women Who Built Them. By Ron Brown. Polar Bear Press, 2001. Bet you didn't know that Hamilton has more "castles" than any other Ontario city!

Much to Be Done: Private Life in Ontario from Victorian Diaries. By Frances Hoffman and Ryan Taylor. Natural Heritage Books, 2007 (2nd edition). A sneak peek into diaries of our ancestors, accompanied by insightful commentary about courtship and weddings, childbirth, home, cooking, servants, poverty, celebrations and holidays, etc. Fascinating.

Old Niagara on the Lake. by Peter John Stokeswith drawings by Robert Montgomery. Old Niagara on the Lake, with drawings by Robert Montgomery. University of Toronto Press, 1971. Great sketches. Out of print, but you might find in online, or in a used bookstore.

The Niagara Peninsula. A Pictorial Record. Historical Prints and Illustrations of the Niagara Peninsula, Province of Ontario, Canada, 1697-1880. By Charles P. DeVolpi. DEV-SCO Publications Ltd., 1966. Hard to find but worth tracking down if you're keen on Niagara history. Full-page black-and-white plates of scenery from the whole area going back to 1697! One of the treasures in my book collection. Out of print, but you might find in online, or in a used bookstore.

For more books: Pinecone Publishing, which publishes The Country Connection magazine, has an online bookstore Country Cabin with hard-to-find specialty Ontario travel, heritage, arts and nature books. Check it out here: Country Cabin Mail-order

Ontario Travel Secrets  > Resources