The Burlington area is rich in history and activities that celebrate our past. The many natural advantages of this area attracted indigenous people long before the arrival of the first settlers along the lakefront in the late 1700’s. In 1669, famous French explorer Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle landed at the site where La Salle Park is currently located.
Historical Sites in Burlington
Several Museums and historic sites showcase local heritage including:
- Joseph Brant Museum has recently undergone a transformation and hosts travelling exhibits;
- Ireland House at Oakridge Farm which features farm life through 3 periods of history;
- Spruce Lane Farm located within Bronte Creek Provincial Park which showcases the Victorian era and;
- Freeman Station a lovingly restored train station originally built in the early 1900’s.
You can also enjoy self directed walking tours of the historic downtown and participate in several festivals which celebrate our past.
Joseph Brant Museum
For visitors interested in Burlington’s local history & museums, the Joseph Brant Museum is located on North Shore Blvd. With the replica of the homestead of Joseph Brant ‘Thayendanegea’ (1742-1807) serving as a beacon, the facility features three permanent galleries, space for travelling exhibitions and a dedicated programming area for school groups and education programs. The Burlington Gallery explores topics that tell distinct yet interweaving stories, exploring Burlington’s rich history and heritage.
The Discovery Gallery is a special area specifically designed for children to explore, discover and learn in a hands-on environment. They can create a picture on a giant light wall or build a path for their ball to reach the lighthouse.
The Costume Gallery takes us back in history to Burlington’s heyday and when people travelled miles to see their favourite musical entertainer at the Brant Inn. It is said that when the Benny Goodman band performed the OPP had to be called in to handle the traffic jams on the highways!
Ireland House at Oakridge Farm
Ireland House at Oakridge Farm located on Guelph Line was built by Joseph and Ruth Ireland between 1835-37 and has been passed down through four generations of the Ireland family. Visitors to Ireland House enjoy tours of the house, exhibits, demonstrations, special events, and participatory activities in keeping with the character and history of the House.
Spruce Lane Farm
Spruce Lane Farm House at Bronte Creek Provincial Park is a living history museum recreating a glimpse of life in 1900. The farmhouse offers educational programs to school groups, as well as a taste of history to visitors, with special events such as the Maple Syrup Festival offered each year in March.
The Freeman Station is the only building in the city whose historical and architectural significance has been recognized not only locally, but also provincially by the Ontario Ministry of Culture, and nationally by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. This is Burlington’s only surviving Grand Trunk Railway station built in 1906 . Now familiarly called “the Freeman Station” after the hamlet in which it was built, it was formerly signed the “Burlington Junction” or “Burlington West” Station. After moving the station to 1285 Fairview St.(next the Central Fire Station) in 2013 the building is officially open. Recently a mural depicting the station in years gone by was unveiled. This mural adorns the exterior of the historic station and was created by local artist Claire Hall.
Historic Tours and Resources
Stroll the historical streets of the downtown area to discover some of the first homes built in Burlington, dating back to the late 1800’s. Find out more about the History of Burlington. Check out the google map of Burlington Ontario historic plaques.
We have several books on the history of the Burlington area and historic postcards available at the Visitor Information Centre for history buffs.