Kids are tactile little beings, needing to touch and experiment and move. Museums for all their stunning artifacts, are not always successful in engaging children to learn more.

As we’ve crossed Canada, I’ve been impressed with how many museums my kids have thoroughly enjoyed. These places have gone beyond the traditional ‘artifact behind glass’ displays and manage to engage people of all ages, personalities and learning styles.

The following are some of our faves by province. Do comment below any we’ve missed so we can try to visit as we travel along!

BC

UBC Anthropology museum

Pros

The kids (everyone actually) are captivated by the totem poles and First Nations art. When the displays start to be a bit much, the outdoor space is gorgeous and a perfect space to run wild and free

Cons

There are a lot of artifacts behind windows and only held my kids attention for a limited time.

The price ($14adult/$12child or $35family) is pretty high for how short a time my kids stayed engaged.

Britannia Mine Museum

Pros

Outdoor/Indoor mix with good information and underground mini rail tour.

Gold panning and rocks & minerals are always a hit.

Sandpits, dump trucks and loaders for play time.

Cons

Expensive $29.95adult/23.95 children/$110 family

Underground rail tour pretty short but still very cool.

Alberta

Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump

Pros

Friendly, informative staff

Learned so much from the interactive displays & movie

Path to the views

Price $15/$10/$40

Cons

Parking on a busy summer day

Royal Tyrrell Museum

Pros

Price $18/$10/$46

Everything

Cons

Can’t really complain here. Everybody happy and learned a lot.

Manitoba

Human Rights Museum

Amazing place. Go here if you get the opportunity!


Pros

Amazingly thought out

Stunning

Price $18/$9/$50

Inspiring

Interactive

I was nervous about if it was child appropriate but was happy to find it was child inspirational!

Cons

No cons. A couple areas can be avoided for younger or sensitive children. Staff was amazing in describing the areas so I had a better sense of where to watch for.

Ontario

Parliament Tour

Pros

Amazing homeschooling field trip

Forget the kids, I learned a ton

Free!

Architecture, history, art- who knew politics would be so captivating

Cons

Limited spaces and books up fast

Arrive before 9am to ensure you get a ticket

Security check

Very regimented and little time to take each area in

Quebec

Canadian Museum of History (Including the Childrens Museum)

Pros

Huge, varied, something to please all

Price $20/$16/$50

Unique around the world inspired Children’s Museum section

Children’s Museum entirely interactive and hands on!

Includes a movie in the domed Ciné- stunning!

Cons

Unfortunately, after being told the Children’s museum was entirely hands on- touch, climb, pretend, explore- my youngest found a super fun ticket booth, went in and spoke on the intercom. I did not see but heard a kids voice and laughed. When I round the corner, my daughter is crying because a security guard has reprimanded her. He was grumpy and mean and probably should not have been in a children’t museum on this day. And let me tell you, where she wandered looked just like everywhere else around we were allowed to go!

She was mortified, so distraught and never fully recovered to be able to enjoy the experience. Ironically, we had come here just for her as she is the imaginative soul who plays pretend EVERYWHERE we go. I knew she would adore this place. Ruined by one miserable guard who could have handled the mistake entirely differently.

Nova Scotia

Whale Interpretive Centre– Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton Island


Shout out on this one to all those small, intimate treasures across our land that aim to educate and inspire further research. From little nooks in an info centre to discovery centres at our National Parks, I can think of quite a few places that we thoroughly enjoyed wandering. Rogers Pass Discovery Centre stands out, Wawa and Grasslands visitor centres too.

Pros

Small, intimate

Friendly!

Holding a baleen, peeking in aquarium

Mini scavenger hunt

Cons

Not a ton to it but the staff and information were top notch. The info stuck with us.

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Pros

Beautiful building, land and artifacts

Fascinating information

Huge planes and hydrofoils impress

Kids fascinated by old phones

Mystery box was unique

Kite flying fun

Citizenship ceremony made me cry (in the best way!)

Cons

Could use some old phones, morse code instruments to actually interact and play with

Needs some triangle crafts or games to play

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

#1 top pick for all the museums we’ve been across Canada! I went in expecting my kids to dutifully go through and answer their homeschooling questions I asked of them but without much enthusiasm. To my surprise, this museum is modern, interactive and really brings history alive. I loved it and my kids were captivated. They are drawn to the electronics, the touch screen choices and giant screen animations and curious about the booths with headphones, listening to more personal accounts of immigration than even I did. My style tended to be to read the displays more than I listened. The museum caters to both beautifully. Later my kids inputs their own family’s immigration story and puts together words with photos of their feelings. In one area, there are kids games from the early 1900’s, not just picturing them, but letting us sample them. Escargot is their favourite, a snail-shaped hopscotch game that we plan on recreating come spring. Do get yourself here if you can!

Pros

Technology and personal stories work together

Interactive beyond any other place we’ve been

Pretend play area where you can actually use old phones, practice morse code, play chess, run a cash register, play with china dolls and other old fashioned toys.

Cons

Can not think of one

 

 

 

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