Windsor, Canada's most southerly city, welcomes you to a unique area of Canada. A temperate climate prevails in this area and temperatures on average are much warmer than the rest of Canada due to the southern latitude. Looking north across the Detroit River to the Motor City of Detroit, the city of Windsor has magnificent parks and gardens, and its newest attraction, Casino Windsor, is right in the heart of the downtown area with excellent shopping, dining and accommodation close by.
Beyond the city, there are lush and fertile farms, quaint towns and miles of picturesque waterfront and beaches. Fort Malden in historic Amherstburg was a strategic military post used to defend Canada from invading Americans during the War of 1812. Spend a day on Pelee Island, a unique micro-climate that produces excellent wine and has made this area world famous. Nature enthusiasts won't want to miss Point Pelee National Park, the southernmost tip of Canada's mainland and internationally renowned for its spring and fall migrations of birds and Monarch butterflies.
This area also figured prominently in the heroic story of the "Underground Railroad". Beginning in the 1820s, after the War of 1812 and before the American Civil War, thousands of refugee slaves made their way to this area seeking safety and a new life. Following "The Road That Led To Freedom" will lead you to many historical sites in this area that commemorate this important period in North American history.
Both Essex and Kent Counties offer a number of unique agricultural tours. Visit a buffalo ranch, watch a border collie herding demonstration, see exotic birds and animals, or learn about the growing and harvesting techniques of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Last but not least, the Sarnia-Lambton area offers many natural attractions, including spectacular sand dunes and rock formations, as well as miles of beautiful "Bluewater" scenery. The history of "black gold" in this area is traced in a number of displays, including the Oil Museum of Canada and Petrolia Discovery, a 60-acre oil field with 20 producing wells.
There's something for everyone in this area of the province.
Day 1: Arrive in Windsor, the City of Roses. Tour the city with a local guide or enjoy an afternoon cruise on the Detroit River, the world's busiest international waterway. After check-in at the Holiday Inn Select, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and then try your luck at Casino Windsor. For evening entertainment, see what's playing at the Chrysler Theatre or the beautifully restored Capitol Theatre.
Day 2: Today, enjoy a scenic drive through some of Canada's most fertile agricultural land. For the nature lovers, make a stop at Jack Miner's Bird Sanctuary and see thousands of migrating birds during the spring and fall. Just down the road is Colasanti's Cactus & Tropical Gardens, a huge greenhouse complex containing millions of flowering plants and beautiful exotic birds. Enjoy a wine tasting at one of the many local wineries. For groups that want to try something really different, why not head out to Pelee Island, just an hour's ferry ride offshore in Lake Erie and the most southerly spot in Canada, for a day of wine tasting and relaxing - it's a world apart. Spend the afternoon at Point Pelee National Park. Explore the marshland boardwalk, take a tram to the Canadian mainland's most southern point (equal in latitude to Northern California) and see spectacular migratory birds and Monarch butterflies in spring and fall. Or enjoy a tour of some of the area's unique farms. See roses being cut, learn about herbs, visit a pheasant farm, or see how popcorn is produced.
On your way back to Windsor, drive through the picturesque towns of Kingsville and Amherstburg and stop for dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Detroit River. Watch ships sailing up the river and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Those who aren't too tired can enjoy an evening of harness racing at Windsor Raceway or play bingo at one of the city's many emporiums. Overnight in Windsor.
Day 3: Start your day with a visit to Walker's Fine Candies and learn the art of making truffles. Then it's off to tour the Canadian Club Distillery or the Windsor Wood Carving Museum. After lunch and shopping at the spectacular Devonshire Mall, leave Windsor and head east to Chatham for overnight. After dinner, spend an exciting evening trying out some of the many activities in The Wild Zone, an entertainment complex featuring over seven acres of indoor, climate-controlled rides, games and amusements.
Day 4: Today, your group has the chance to marvel at a number of unique bird and animal displays. They can visit a local buffalo farm or tour an aviary and game farm featuring everything from canaries and love birds to jaguars and pot-bellied pigs. Or they may want to watch border collies demonstrate their sheep-herding techniques before continuing on to the city of Sarnia, located at the entrance to the St. Clair River, for overnight.
Day 5: The first oil well in North America was drilled in Lambton County, and this morning your group will tour the Oil Museum of Canada to gain insight into the industry's early history. Next, they will visit Petrolia Discovery, a 60-acre oil field with 20 producing wells. After lunch, it's time to head home or continue on to another area of Ontario.
AFRICAN CANADIAN HERITAGE TOUR
Suggested Itinerary: The Underground Railway Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Windsor and visit the John Freeman Walls Historic Site. In 1846, John Freeman Walls, a fugitive slave from North Carolina, built this log cabin on land purchased from the Refugee Home Society. Re-live the journeys of escaping slaves as they made their way to Canada and to freedom. Overnight in Windsor.
Day 2: Today, visit the Buxton Historic Site & Museum near Chatham. Originally known as the Elgin Settlement, this area served as a haven for slaves in the pre-Civil War years. Black settlement flourished, and it became a self-sufficient community of about 2,000 people. The museum displays materials and artifacts of the Raleigh settlers, with special emphasis on their descendants. Continue on to Chatham and visit First Baptist Church. It was here that John Brown held his first "convention" to plan the raid on Harper's Ferry in Virginia, for which he was later executed. Enjoy lunch at the W.I.S.H. Centre while a local historian offers a slide presentation tracing local Black history. After lunch, drive to Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site near Dresden. The flavour of the past is recaptured through artifacts, slide presentations and a tour of six buildings on the site of Josiah Henson's original settlement. Author Harriet Beecher Stowe was inspired to recreate Henson's life in her book "Uncle Tom's Cabin". This evening, enjoy a live theatre presentation at the Acorn Dinner Theatre in Wallaceburg.
Day 3: Travel to Olde Sandwich Towne for a stop at the Sandwich Baptist Church. As early as 1821, there were services being held here under the patronage of the Black community in Sandwich. The church was built in the Gothic Revival style, and its simplicity and modesty reflect the basic and humble life the slave in bondage once led. Continue to the North American Black Historical Museum & Cultural Centre in Amherstburg. Trace the beginnings of slavery in Africa to its final abolition in North America. The museum features historical artifacts, including documents of ownership of slaves and clippings from the Black newspaper, "The Voice of the Fugitive". Farming implements, musical instruments used by the slaves and songbooks written by Blacks in the 1900's are also on display, together with various articles illustrating the progress of the Black community in the Essex County area. Enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant, only a few blocks from the museum and overlooking the beautiful Detroit River. Then it's time to head for home.
- Celebration of Lights: Sarnia - Marvel at the sparkling displays as Canada's Chemical Valley becomes a shimmering fairyland of lights (mid-November to early January)
- International Freedom Festival: - A 10-day celebration encompassing both the American and Canadian national holidays (July 1 and 4), featuring free entertainment, street performers, parades and fireworks (end of June/beginning of July)
- Southern Ontario Tourism Organization: Phone (519) 756-3230, Fax (519) 756-3231, Toll Free 1-800-267-3399 (U.S./Canada), Website: http://www.soto.on.ca
- Windsor, Essex County & Pelee Island Convention & Visitors Bureau: Phone (519) 255-6530 Fax (519) 255-6192, Toll Free 1-800-265-3633, Website: www.visitwindsor.ca
- Chatham-Kent Tourist Bureau: Phone (519) 354-6125, Fax (519) 351-9669, Toll Free 1-800-561-6125, Website: www.city.chatham-kent.on.ca
- Sarnia-Lambton Convention & Visitors Bureau: Phone (519) 336-3232, Fax (519) 336-3278, Toll Free 1-800-265-0316 Website: www.tourism-sarnia-lambton.com
Holiday Inn Select: 1855 Huron Church Road, Windsor, Ontario, N9C 2L6. Phone (519) 966-1200, Toll Free 1-800-HOLIDAY (U.S. & Canada), Fax (519) 966-2521
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