New website, ON Culture Guides, provides a dedicated digital hub to explore Ontario’s hidden treasures and undiscovered arts and culture experiences
TORONTO, ON — Ontario Culture Days announces the launch of ON Culture Guides, an easily accessible website that highlights overlooked and undiscovered cultural gems and experiences throughout less visible regions of the province. During the COVID-19 crisis, and in anticipation of ongoing physical distancing requirements, ON Culture Guides offers users a reprieve from self-isolating routines and the chance to travel and explore from the safety and comfort of home. The vast and varied content shines a light on local artists, community members, and diverse stories about the rich history and heritage of communities across Ontario from Waterloo to the 1,000 Islands.
“Community and connection are as important as ever during this time of uncertainty,” says Ruth Burns, Executive Director of Ontario Culture Days. “The arts and culture sector has been severely impacted by this crisis, but it has also been a healing salve for many in this pandemic. We have seen individual artists, organizations, museums, and institutions step-up to the challenge of connecting with audiences as we all do our part to flatten the curve by staying home — the creativity that abounds online keeps us hopeful and positive. ON Culture Guides is one way to pass the hours indoors and look forward to the future, while learning about the myriad facets that make our province unique and singular.”
Originally envisioned as travel guides for domestic and international tourists, ON Culture Guides evolved out of a series of itineraries that highlighted the province’s hidden arts and culture hotspots. Featuring in-depth content from tourism experts, local artists, and community partners, the guides provide an insider perspective on the unsurpassed charm of each distinct region – from best places to eat, sleep, have fun, and find inspiration.
Within the new reality of the pandemic, ON Culture Guides is a particularly ideal resource for Ontarians who are dreaming about future trip planning, but are mindful of not venturing too far amidst inter-provincial travel warnings. And for local residents of Brockville/1000 Islands, Durham Region, Guelph, and more, it’s the perfect opportunity to uncover new finds in their very own neighbourhoods.
This new initiative was made possible through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) Canadian Experience Fund, which supports the creation, improvement or enhancement of tourism products, facilities and experiences.
“With COVID-19 putting a pause on tourism for the moment, visitors from across Canada and around the world can still discover the wonders of Ontario through the ON Culture Guides digital hub,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “Thanks to the partnership between FedDev Ontario, the Canadian Experiences Fund and Ontario Culture Days, this new website will show off Ontario’s hidden gems, bringing people from inside of their homes to the heart of the province’s most stunning regions.”
Users are encouraged to learn more about the cultural landscape of Ontario, as the guides offer a treasury of information about history and heritage — from deep dives into how a town was established to must-see artworks in a storied sculpture park. Artist profiles, narrative features, and local legends will be added over time, with fresh content ensuring the guides remain relevant and up-to-date. Itineraries are currently available for the following regions:
● Durham Region: A lakeside community with strong contemporary arts institutions (including the Robert McLaughlin Gallery), historic waterfronts, abundant natural trails, and vibrant artist communities in its northern reaches.
● Guelph: An architecturally stunning region, with the Cathedral dominating the landscape, and home to a booming brewing scene that draws on a century of agricultural excellence.
● Waterloo Region: At the intersection of storied heritage and future tech hub, this region has a rich history of Indigenous culture and Mennonite immigration.
● Brockville / 1000 Islands: The St. Lawrence River and the communities along it are a breathtaking backdrop for a bustling cultural scene that boasts heritage sites right on the border of the United States and Canada.
A second edition of regional guides will be released in early summer, with more to follow.
ON Culture Guides is accessible from desktop, tablet, and mobile devices with no sign-up or app download necessary.