Perched on the southern end of Georgian Bay, Midland boasts spectacular views of the bay and its many islands. The town, rich with history, has several notable attractions that let travellers step into another time. Numerous parks and islands retain the unspoiled beauty of the frontier landscape.
The town was founded in 1871, when Midland Railway of Canada selected the spot for a new terminus. But Midland's main historical landmark displays life before that milestone. The French Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, a popular Midland attraction located just south of downtown, has been lovingly restored as a living museum, where actors play the parts of missionaries and tell the story of the historical buildings. A blacksmith forge, carpenter's workshop and chapel, as well as a vegetable garden, all reflect life during the mid 1600s, when the mission was first in operation. Frequent festivals and numerous activities for children draw a steady crowd and create a family-friendly vibe. A related sight, the Roman Catholic Martyrs Shrine, honours five of the missionaries who died during the Huron-Iroquois wars.
Also close to downtown, Huronia Museum features a replica of a "pre-contact" Huron/Wendat village, complete with wigwam, lookout tower and full-size longhouse. The museum's nearly one million artefacts include art, photographs and crafts. Open year-round, Huronia Museum's village is a particular draw, showing life in the 16th century before Europeans arrived. A shaman's lodge, corn field, fur drying rack, sweat lodge and other buildings give visitors a sense of the lives of the Huron and Wendat people during that important era. In summer, kids can attend a theme camp onsite by the day or week.
After steeping in history, take in some wilderness vistas, one of the top things to do in Midland. For a stunning view of the bay, head northwest to Awenda Provincial Park, just outside Midland. Tucked into Georgian Bay, the park stretches for 29 kilometres, and visitors can canoe and swim in glacier-carved Kettle Lake, as well as camp in one of six public campgrounds. Several hiking trails wend through the lush park, with the most notable, Robitaille Homestead Trail, taking hikers around ancient sand dunes created during the last glacial retreat. Giants Tomb Island, part of Awenda, is a popular spot for day trips.
Only a short drive south from the park, ferry service is available to Christian Island, a Midland attraction that is situated just offshore. The island's charming, small community nestles close to the ferry dock. The rest of the island is an Ojibwa reserve, with scenic forestland that's beloved by campers and hikers, as well as sailors who can navigate to nearby, uninhabited Beckwith Island.
Picturesque, bay-facing Midland offers an opportunity to slow down and take in the water views, while still putting outdoor adventure and historical sights on a holiday schedule. Whether travellers are taking in Sainte-Marie's Thanksgiving Harvest Festival in October or walking along the long, sandy beaches of Christian Island, they find plenty of things to do in Midland.