During our recent trip to the Outaouais region of Quebec located in the southwestern corner of Quebec – just a short hop from Ottawa, we had the opportunity to visit the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.
The Canadian Museum of History is one of Canada’s oldest public institutions and a must see if you are visiting the Capital region. Within the museum, there are several ongoing exhibitions including the Grand Hall, which focuses on the First Peoples of Canada’s Pacific Coast and houses the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. We only had the morning to spend at the museum so we unfortunately didn’t get to explore the whole museum however we did experience the brand new Canadian History Hall.
The Canadian History Hall features over 1500 authentic artefacts to help trace Canada’s history from the end of the last Ice Age to the present day. It is an impressively large and comprehensive exhibition on the history of Canada but what really makes it worth seeing is the unique way the story is told.
Through compelling stories and the experiences of real people, and the way it provides multiple perspectives on how we became the country we are today, the exhibit becomes especially meaningful.
After we explored the Canadian History Hall we made our way to the Grand Hall which is really my favourite part of the museum as it houses the totem poles and the First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest exhibition. It is such a beautiful part of the museum, and a definite must while visiting.
Throughout the exhibits you can find plenty of interactive displays and multimedia presnetations. My girls (3 and 5 years old) quickly caught on to learning what they could and could not touch pretty quickly as they noticed that there was an illustration of a hand near everything they could interact with. As soon as they realised this they were immediately way more engaged with the exhibitions as they could easily tell by themselves what was OK to explore and what was not.
Unfortunately we did not have the time to take the girls into the Canadian Children’s Museum. The Children’s museum takes children on an adventure around the world to introduce a sense of intercultural understanding. It features interactive displays, props, costumes and plenty of toys and games all geared towards play based learning and exploration – something I know the girls would have adored.
The museum also features a CINÉ+ movie theatre, special exhibition gallieries and a performing arts theatre.
You could easily spend a full day of discovery at the Canadian Museum of History so I would plan for at least a 4 hour long trip depending on how much you want to see and do. This is definitely a must for visitors to the area and locals alike whether you plan to explore solo or as a family. The architecture of the building itself makes it worth the trip, it is a really gorgeous building but the exhibits found inside are truly treasures and provide an experience that immerses you in the history of Canada, the good and the bad.