In Pursuit of Quality of Life
Growing up, my parents would drag my sister and I once a summer to Midland, Ontario. We would go for a family picnic with extended family, so I would get to see cousins and other family I normally would not get to see. When I became a teenager, I stopped going up to the annual pilgrimages with my parents because I had better things to do. It was not until 2017 that I went back with my then-girlfriend and all the memories came back.
Midland is about a 90-minute drive up Highway 400. Historically, it was Huron-Wendat lands. About 400 years ago, colonists began moving into the area after its discovery. There are a few claims to fame in Midland – one of them is the Martyrs Shrine. Although I know the story from so many years of travelling up here, according to Wikipedia, “[the Martyrs Shrine] is consecrated to the memory of the Canadian Martyrs, six Jesuit Martyrs, and two lay persons from the mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. It is one of nine national shrines in Canada.”
The Iroquois came in and murdered the whole group of Jesuits in the mission. The photo below the historical sign post is the remains of some of the Jesuits, including Jean de Brebeuf, near the altar. As I also understand it, Pope John Paul II held mass at this church in the early 1980s as part of a visit to Canada. So, for Catholics anyways, it is sacred ground, or as close as you can get to it in Canada.
Another claim to fame is the mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons across the street. This is a preserved settlement. My earliest memories of this place was the video that played at the start of the tour. You learn about the settlement and Indigenous populations that lived in the area. Not to take the seriousness of the site out of hand but after the five or 10-minute video, the screen would then lift up like a garage door inviting you to tour the settlement. I always thought that was so cool. I am also pretty sure the same video played on the screen that did back in the 1980s and 1990s when I visited last.
As you visit each part of the settlement there are staff there to explain in further detail what life was like. Because this is a historic settlement, everyone is dressed up like they did 400 years ago. It is worth a visit when coming to Midland.
This is going to sound funny but when we would come up to Midland, we never went anywhere outside of these two places. Because my sister and I, and our cousins, we not old enough to drive, we could not go anywhere. No adult wanted to take us out of the park either. So, I did not know what the rest of Midland looked like until 2017. I know, it is crazy.
When you venture downtown, the buildings have these beautiful murals, which according to Wikipedia, “…were painted by now deceased artist Fred Lenz. The largest, depicting a meeting between a local native and Jesuit Missionary Jean de Brebeuf is on the silos overlooking the main harbour. This work was completed by Lenz’s sons following his death in 2001.” Some of these depict the history of the Town and activities that took place. They are so colourful and a nice splash of life to old buildings in the downtown.
If you are looking for a short day trip in Ontario, consider Midland. Learn a little bit about Indigenous culture and the history of its settlement. Take some time and walk the downtown area and waterfront where the marina is. It is a beautiful town to visit and spend some time in.
Have you visited Midland before? Tell me what you thought of it in the comments below.