Top 100 Unusual Things to See In Ontario by Ron Brown. Boston Mills Press 2007.
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to Ontario residents or anyone with an interest in the province. Ron Brown has done a great job of assembling a diverse collection of fascinating sights. The Top 100 include both natural landscapes and quirks of nature, and the built environment and historical sites. The book is nicely laid out, with a double page spread and a colour photograph devoted to each Top 100 choice. Brown’s commentary is just right, not so detailed as to bog you down with facts and figures but informative enough to intrigue the reader.
As Brown notes, Ontario is full of hidden treasures. In chosing a Top 100, Brown has ranged across the province. Most of the sights are easy to see and available to the general public either through admission or from a public vantage point. I was familiar with a number of spots, such as West Montrose’s covered bridge and Yorkville’s Big Rock but still found Brown’s commentary added to my appreciation of them. Some places, such as Marmora’s Big Hole, I have passed close by to many times without ever realizing the mined out quarry-turned-lake was there.
My one complaint about the book is that the Top 100 are randomly ordered. This is fine for casual reading, but if you are actually planning a trip to a region it would be helpful to have the sights grouped by physical proximity. Alternatively, a couple of maps supplementing the text at the end of the book would have served the same purpose.
If you have ever been looking for a destination for an outing on a pleasant day or sought something different to do with vacationing kids, this book is for you. But you don’t have to leave home to enjoy it. Just reading the book will leave you with a greater appreciation and understanding of Ontario and its history, both cultural and natural.
Below is Top 100 Listing Number 13, Canada’s oldest railway tunnel. Begun in 1854, it runs beneath the city of Brockville. Functional until 1954, the tunnel is now sealed, but marked by a commemorative display in the tunnel entrance.