Best of Canada: Patriotic Destinations

Feeling patriotic? Salute Canada at these historic sites.

 

HMCS Ojibwa: Why I Feel Like a Spy Here

Everything about Canadian Cold War-era submarines used to be hush-hush. Shrouded from prying eyes in port, they came and went stealthily at night. HMCS Ojibwa, a decommissioned Oberon class sub, is about to blow that image right out of the water. For one thing, in November 2012, the imposing 90-metre-long boat arrived at a new home – on dry land – in Port Burwell, on Lake Erie’s north shore. The Project Ojibwa team has been restoring her interior for a grand opening in July. The boat is the anchor attraction of a Museum of Naval History, opening in 2014, to celebrate the centenary of Canada’s submarine service (British Columbia’s premier bought our first two subs in 1914) and the centennial year of the beginning of the First World War.

So many have already come to Port Burwell to see the Ojibwa that, in April, 45-minute guided Inside the Fence tours began around the sub’s exterior, occasionally led by former submariners. In July, tours inside the boat will reveal the challenging life (including shallow narrow bunks) led by these undersea experts. During her 34 years in service, Ojibwa had many clandestine missions, especially in the North Atlantic, sneaking into enemy harbours to snoop out secrets of Soviet ships and military facilities or landing and picking up secret agents on forbidden shores. Operations demanded absolute quiet. Worse, only cooks showered, so after weeks at sea, clothes were burned on return to port. Welcome home, honey! project ojibwa.ca  —Jayne MacAulay

Salute Our Military History for Less in St. Thomas

For a local take on military lore, march into The Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas, about 30 minutes from London. Touted as a museum it’s focused on Elgin County and features a model ship collection, a gallery that salutes the monarchy’s connection to Canada’s military, a War of 1812 room and even one devoted to Jumbo, P.T. Barnum’s giant circus elephant, tragically killed by a train in the city in 1885. It may just be the only museum that has a whole room dedicated solely to an elephant. 30 Talbot St., www.elginmilitarymuseum.ca  —Jayne MacAulay

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Wave the Flag for Free in Ottawa

Feeling patriotic? Visit Parliament Hill (www.parl.gc.ca/vis) and tour the halls of Canada’s highest level of government, the iconic Peace Tower and the scenic grounds of this one-time location of military barracks for free. For a more intimate experience, try Rideau Hall (www.gg.ca), where our Governor General lives and works. Tours run every day (reservations required), and if you pass Gov. Gen. David Johnston, a.k.a. Grandpa Book, in the hall, wave hello.  —Mike Crisolago