Kickstands Down – The Top 10 Historic Sites Worth Stopping For

/ December 22, 2016

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No really, these history lessons are worth pulling your steed over for. Most riders think of historical plaques as dull and boring and just crack the throttle as they cruise by. But we guarantee some of the stories you will learn at these sites will move you to your biker core.

Riding through Ontario’s Highlands can sometimes feel like you’ve travelled back in time, literally. Being a location of early settlement in Ontario, it is no surprise this area is rich with history. Early settlers chopped their way through the harsh, unforgiving landscape looking to make a better life for their families. You will quickly realize the significant impact Ontario’s Highlands and its people had in shaping the rest of Ontario, and even Canada. This is why we have created a list of some of our most powerful historical sites, which we feel are worth dropping the kickstand for.


Canada’s First Polish Settlement

Located beside the Our Lady Queen of Poland Roman Catholic Church, this historical plaque explains how the town of Wilno became Canada’s oldest Polish settlement. A total of 300 Polish immigrants came to Renfrew County in 1864, with another wave in the early 1900’s.

Wilno Church

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Why stop: Much of Wilno’s Polish cultural heritage is still alive. Enjoy authentic Polish cuisine at the Wilno Tavern and learn about Wilno’s rich Polish history at the Polish Kashub Heritage Museum. There is an incredible photo op in front of the church with your bikes.

Route: The Highlands Loop


Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost

Declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 2003, the Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost was the first Red Cross Outpost Hospital in Ontario, opening in 1922. Nurses resided in the building until 1957, with medical services continuing until 1963.

Red Cross Outpost

Photo Credit –

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Why stop: The Red Cross Outpost has turned into a museum and is open to visitors daily, except on Tuesday, throughout the summer from 11 am to 4 pm. Make this one of your motorcycle stops and learn how the Red Cross nurses provided health and medical services for over four decades.

Route: The Highlands Loop & Dynamite Alley


Crooked Slide Park

In 1829, a Canadian completely changed the face of the logging industry when he invented the log chute. Crooked Slide Park is a reconstruction of an original log chute that was used by loggers on Byers Creek in the early 1900s.

Crooked Slide Park

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Why Stop: Logging is very important to the heritage of this region. Loggers cleared the path for the roads we are blessed with today. There used to be dozens of log chutes in the area, but now only a few remain. Make this a pit stop to see how log chutes were used to bypass rapids and rough terrain.

Route: Deep Valley Run


Peterson Road Historic Plaque

Located in downtown Maynooth, this historic plaque on Peterson Road, pays homage to Joseph Peterson, the surveyor who originally mapped out Peterson Road from Opeongo Road to Muskoka Falls. While a large portion of this road is overgrown and no longer exists, the Maynooth – Combermere section aided lumbering and is now a favourite road for riders since it follows it original twists and curves.

Peterson Road

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Why stop: Get your heart pumping on this curvy Top 10 Road. Don’t forget to tip your helmet to Mr. Joseph Peterson for mapping out this outstanding piece of asphalt when you pass this plaque.

Route: The Highlands Loop & Deep Valley Run


Zurakowski Park

This park honours the work of renowned test pilot Janusz Zurakowski and includes a sized down model of the Avro Arrow airplane. Janusz Zurakowski immigrated to Canada in 1952 after serving in the Polish Air Force during World War II as an instructor at the Central Flying School. He is most famous for having tested the supersonic CF-105 Avro Arrow.

Avro Arrow

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Why stop: Park your bike at the Barry’s Bay Railway Station (tourist information centre) and walk over to Zurakowski Park. You will learn about this icon in Canadian aviation history and the Avro Arrow project and the reason why it was scrapped.

Route: The Highlands Loop & Deep Valley Run


Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park was the first provincial park in Canada, established in 1893. It is known for its rugged lakeshores, wooded slopes and fall colours. Algonquin is the leader as a multipurpose park and many methods used across Canadian parks were first developed here.

Algonquin Park

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Why stop: Both the Highlands Loop and Dynamite Alley wind you through Algonquin Park on highway 60. Stop at the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre especially in the epic fall season to learn more and take in the spectacular view (and selfie) on their lookout platform.

Route: The Highlands Loop & Dynamite Alley


The Black Donald Mine

This mine was Canada’s most important graphite producer in the first half of the twentieth century and one of the largest deposits in North America. The Black Donald Mine produced 90 percent of Canada’s graphite during World War I to 1927. All graphite production ceased in 1954 as a result of the cave-in that took place in 1950.


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Why Stop: Once a vibrant mining village with 118 workers at the mines, the Black Donald Mines community no longer exists after the creation of the hydro dam at Mountain Chutes. The backwater from the dam flooded 8,500 acres, submerging Black Donald Mines under 80 feet of water. All that remains is a historic plaque and a few photographs. It’s hard to believe that a once bustling village is now lake bottom.

Route: Deep Valley Run


Marchand Covered Bridge

Spanning a total of 499 feet over the Coulonge River, the Marchand Bridge is arguably the longest covered bridge in Quebec. This red covered bridge has been a landmark since 1898, linking Fort-Coulonge and Mansfield-et-Pontefract.

Pont Marchand

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Why stop: The Deep Valley Run loop will ride you past this bridge on Highway 148. There are very few covered bridges of this magnitude in Canada; since you are riding by, it only makes sense to stop. While it is currently unpassable due to repair, this bridge is still impressive to look at and is perfect for a photo opportunity.

Route: Deep Valley Run


Dorset Lookout Tower

Located just off Highway 35 north of the village of Dorset, this 100-foot structure was originally built as a fire lookout tower in 1922. After towermen were replaced by aircrafts in 1962, the tower became an attraction for people to enjoy the view. To ensure people’s safety, the tower was rebuilt in 1967 to include stairs, a much better alternative to the original interior ladder.

Dorset Lookout Tower

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Why Stop: Find out if you’re brave enough to climb to the top and experience the wind across your helmet 100’ above the ground.

Route: The Highlands Loop & Dynamite Alley


Szare Szeregi (Warsaw Polish Monument)

This monument was built by the Polish-Canadian community to honour the 10,000 Polish scouts and 1,100 guides who were killed during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944; as well as those who lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps during the occupation of Poland (1939 – 1945).

Warsaw Polish Monument

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Why stop: Learn about one of the youngest armies in the world in this deeply moving tribute.

Route: Deep Valley Run

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