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The Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors in an average year to its complex in the heart of the National Capital Region, making it one of Canada’s most-visited museums. With roots dating to 1856, it is one of the country’s oldest public institutions and a respected center of museum excellence, sharing its expertise in history, archaeology, ethnology and cultural studies within Canada and abroad.

The undulated museum building is in Gatineau, Quebec, across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.

In addition to its ongoing exhibitions, including the spectacular Grand Hall and First Peoples Hall, each year the museum presents several special exhibitions focusing on Canadian and world history, and civilizations. These exhibitions include those developed by the museum and many produced by other Canadian or international institutions. The museum is also home to the Canadian Children’s Museum and the CINÉ+, a 295-seat movie theater equipped with a giant 3D screen and a giant dome.

Credit: © Canadian Museum of History

Research activities are concentrated in the fields of history, archaeology, ethnology and cultural studies. The National Collection consists of more than 4 million artifacts, specimens, works of art, written documents, and sound and visual recordings. More than 218,000 artifacts in the collection are accessible in an online database.

“As Canada’s national museum of history, we are THE place to learn all about Canadian history,” said Stephanie Verner, senior media relations and communications officer.

The Grand Hall is a stunning gallery focusing on the First Peoples of Canada’s Pacific Coast and housing the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. The First Peoples Hall exhibition showcases the history and cultures of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

“Our signature exhibition, The Canadian History Hall, will let you discover the events, personalities and historical currents that have shaped Canada — from time immemorial to the present day,” Verner said. “Through authentic artifacts and compelling stories, get a new take on Canada’s ever-evolving history. By sharing stories through multiple perspectives, the Canadian History Hall celebrates Canadian achievements, while also exploring darker chapters of the past.”

The Canadian Stamp Collection presents a comprehensive collection of more than 3,000 stamps — every stamp that Canada has ever issued — as well as behind-the-scenes stories and unique artifacts.

“The Grand Hall and its towering collection of totem poles always provides a spectacular and impressive first impression to students when they enter the museum,” Verner said.

The museum offers a wide range of on-site and virtual (coming in 2022) school programs that allow students to pursue a deeper understanding of Canada’s history. Also available are gallery activity sheets, guided tours and group menus at the cafeteria.

In the summer, visitors can enjoy complementary experiences from partners located on the site: Indigenous Experiences and Rabaska Canada.

Credit: © Canadian Museum of History

Indigenous Experiences brings Indigenous history and culture to life through engaging, authentic and interactive programming for visitors of all ages. They provide traditional interactive pow wow dance programs and interactive song and music workshops.

After a guided tour of the museum, climb aboard a traditional Montréal canoe to trace the route of voyageurs during the late 1700s, as the group explores the Ottawa River and its rich historical surroundings with Rabaska Canada.

“We hope that students visiting our museum come away with a better understanding of Canada’s history and appreciation for the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped our country and reflect our country’s identity, as well as a deeper appreciation for the cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples in Canada,” Verner said.

While groups are in the National Capital Region, Verner recommended they continue their journey of discovering Canada’s history by also visiting the museum’s sister institution, the Canadian War Museum.

The Canadian War Museum is internationally renowned for its symbolic architecture and its inspiring stories. Students discover Canada’s rich military history through artifacts, personal stories, artwork, photos and interactive presentations.

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David Hoekman is a former newspaperman on a quest to tell the stories of the world’s various places and cultures in compelling ways. He especially enjoys learning and writing about the business of group travel. His favorite destination is wherever he is going next and his travel tip is to always pack an emergency granola bar or two.