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The Trans-Canada Highway – or Highway 7 – connects several quaint, historic, and major cities in Ontario. Explore metros like Peterborough, Perth, Smiths Falls, and the capital city of Ottawa in the eastern part of the province for many a National Historic Site of Canada, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the stunning Parliament Hill.
Found on the Otonabee River, Peterborough is located in central Ontario north of Lake Ontario. Known as the Electric City, Peterborough impresses art and history lovers alike.
A National Historic Site of Canada, the Peterborough Lift Lock is the largest and highest hydraulic lift lock in the world. Spanning the Trent Canal, the lift lock is also known as Lock 21 along the Trent-Severn Waterway.
Constructed in 1904 and maintained by Parks Canada, the Peterborough Lift Lock is also a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Travelers to Peterborough are encouraged to explore the Peterborough Lift Lock Visitor Centre.
A unique stop in Peterborough, the Canadian Canoe Museum features events and exhibits about the history of the canoe, kayak, and paddleboat. Established in 1957, the CCM also yields tours, adult workshops, and children’s programs – plus a film and gift shop.
Petroglyphs Provincial Park is located about 55 kilometres northeast of Peterborough along County Road 4 and County Road 6. Another National Historic Site of Canada, the park covers 17 square kilometres, and contains Canada’s largest collection of petroglyphs.
If you’re looking for a hike, try the one-kilometre Ratarat Trail, the five-kilometre West Day-Use Trail, the 5.5-kilometre, and the seven-kilometer Marsh Trail.
Located 190 kilometres east of Peterborough, Perth is another fun stop along Highway 7.
Settled in 1816, Perth features a picturesque downtown area. Set on the Tay River, Historic Downtown Perth yields boutique shops, quaint eateries, and historic attractions. Be sure to see the Crystal Palace, Perth Town Hall, and the Matheson House & Perth Museum.
The Mammoth Cheese is very much that – mammoth. Weighing in at 22,000 pounds, this quirky attraction is six feet tall, and 28 feet in circumference.
The Mammoth Cheese was created in 1893 by the cheese industry of Canadian and the Dominion Department of Agriculture for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
If you've brought your clubs, Perth features seven golf courses within a 35-kilometre radius, including Perth Golf Course – the oldest continuously operating golf course in Canada.
Just 20 kilometres east of Perth on Lanark County Road 43, Smith Falls makes for a worthy detour from Highway 7.
Yet another historic city in eastern Ontario, Smiths Falls offers an array of culture centers. Be sure to visit the Victorian-era Heritage House Museum, the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, and the Rideau Canal Visitor Centre – exhibiting a National Historic Site of Canada, a Canadian Heritage River, and a UNESCO World Heritage site in one.
Summer brings the Smiths Falls Farmers' Market to town – held each Saturday from May through October, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Head to the RCAFA parking lot for fresh fruits and vegetables, handmade crafts, fresh cut flowers, baked bread, and more.
Smiths Falls is home to a number of parks throughout the city. Check out Centennial Park – “home of 100,000 blooms” – for picnic spots and walking trails, and visit the Community Centre Park for tennis, baseball, and skateboarding. Other city playgrounds include Gleeson Park, Lower Reach Park, Murphys Point Park, and Victoria Park.
Stay on Highway 7 for 85 kilometres until you reach Ottawa – the capital of Canada and fourth largest city in the country. It may be hard to know where to start in Ottawa, but we have some suggestions.
Set on the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, Parliament Hill is marked by Centre Block and houses the Parliament of Canada. Constructed in 1859, the Parliament Buildings National Historic Site of Canada is an incredible example of Gothic revival architecture.
Another National Historic Site of Canada, the Rideau Canal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1832 to connect Ottawa to the city of Kingston on Lake Ontario, the site is operated by Parks Canada.
The best part comes in winter, as a portion of the locks become the Rideau Canal Skateway – the largest skating rink in the world. The Rideau Canal also allows kayaking and canoeing, and features scenic walkways along the water.
Ottawa is a must-visit city for cyclists around the world. Capital City features a heavy network of bike paths for road bikes, and 90 kilometres of mountain biking trails in Gatineau Park.
Cyclists are also encouraged to try the Capital Pathway, and Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays – where all vehicles are banned from River Parkway each Sunday morning from May to Labour Day.