Brockville Railway Tunnel
Walk ten feet in from the entrance and you can feel it - the temperature drops, the sunlight is behind you, and you’re surrounded by the sound of music and water dripping from the ceiling. You’re in the first railway tunnel in Canada, refurbished to its former glory (with a few modern touch-ups.)
The Brockville Railway Tunnel was built between 1854 and 1860 to service the Brockville and Ottawa Railway. Completed 21 years before the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, this historic tunnel predates all other major tunnel projects in Canada, including the rail tunnels in the western Rockies. A committee came together to renovate this historic site for the people of Brockville in 2011, and in 2017, the tunnel opened its doors to the public once again.
Accessible from either end, the Brockville Railway Tunnel is a great way to reach the waterfront and downtown core. The rails have been replaced with a smooth concrete path, and the tunnel is now lit with a state of the art LED light and sound display. Both the north and south entrances have wheelchair-accessible access, so it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
In 1832, Brockville became the first incorporated, self-governing town in Ontario - two years before Toronto! Our rich history runs throughout the city much like the St.Lawrence runs through our 1000 Islands. Our city’s name evokes memories of wars long past. Named after Sir Issac Brock, the great British general from the war of 1812, Brockville has history scattered throughout the downtown and waterfront, waiting for you to explore.
Enter a world of opulence, politics, tragedy, and even a little mysticism when you walk through the doors of Fulford Place. Home of Senator George Taylor Fulford, Fulford Place is a shining example of the wealth that used to live along “Millionaire’s Row”. After buying the patent for Dr.William’s “Pink Pills for Pale People”, George Fulford made a fortune. He had his mansion built between the St.Lawrence River and The King’s Highway (now known as King Street.) The gardens were designed by Frederick Olmsted of the Olmsted landscaping firm, which also designed Central Park in New York City. Be sure to check out the Italianate-style gardens, the elaborate triton fountain, statuary, stone walls and gates, all lovingly restored by the Ontario Heritage Trust. Hear stories of prime ministers who used to visit for both business and leisure, and learn about how the life of the Fulfords’ wasn’t as idyllic as it seemed after a series of deaths at the turn of the century. If you’re taking a tour through the house, be sure to ask your tour guide if they know of any good ghost stories - there are quite a few throughout the mansion!
Sitting atop the historic town square in Brockville is the Leeds and Grenville County Courthouse, or simply known as the Courthouse. Framed by churches and steeples, the Courthouse overlooks the downtown core of Brockville. Identified as a National Historic Site in 1966, this building catches your attention quickly, even from as far as the harbour, with its grandiose architecture. While you’re appreciating this neoclassical monument, be sure to look up - way up - and meet Sally Grant, Brockville’s name for our Lady Justice statue.
There’s no better way to experience this history than by visiting the Brockville Museum. With relics from Brockville’s industrial past, you can learn all about how factories ran the waterfront for decades. From carriages to cars, Pink Pills for Pale People and even Stetson hats, learn about what used to be Made in Brockville. Brockville’s evolution from an industrial town to one of recreation is also highlighted, as are all the eras in between. If you haven’t visited the Brockville Museum yet, be sure to check out their Digital Exhibits as well.