Our recent boat research/shopping trip took us to a charming little town on the St. Lawrence River called Brockville. It is located in the province of Ontario, and was just a 30 minute drive past where we crossed the border into Canada. While our main purpose was to look at a couple of boats, I thought it was a good idea to make the trip more satisfying to our young posse. We spent our Sunday afternoon at the Aquatarium in Brockville, and it was a great way to spend the day.
The Aquatarium in Brockville
The Aquatarium is located in Brockville, Ontario. It is located in the Tall Ships’ Landing right on the water in downtown Brockville. It has a lovely view of the river from almost all of its big windows. It is filled with boats to play on, a giant water play area, and aquarium life from the St. Lawrence River. It is a delightful children’s museum.
The first floor, in the gift shop where we bought our tickets, is a wooden sailboat. The boys were jumping up and down asking if they could play on it. The answer, thankfully, was yes. They could have spent an hour just adjusting the sails, pulling the lines, and going in the cabin, then climbing around on top. There was nothing fancy, no lights or buttons, it is an old wooden sailboat. But it was perfect.
The very top floor of the Aquatarium had a boat simulator-drive a power boat, tugboat, or container ship! And also a wind room filled with giant fans and a couple sailboats. We had a lot of fun racing our boats and seeing how to position the sails and boats to the “wind” to get more speed.
Row your Boat, or row your scull. The Aquatarium had 2 classic sculls for the kids to row, complete with interactive videos so they could race each other. It was pretty impressive and fun. They liked it so much they begged to do it again towards the end of our visit.
The elevator stood out as its own attraction to all of us. When the doors open, you step into a submarine, and the ceiling is a screen which shows the hatch opening to see sea life swimming around us. It was very cool. We had to ride the elevator a couple of times.
Immediately departing the elevator is a touch tank with the only salt water creatures we would find there. Where we were used to be part of the Champlain Sea and was salt water. There were fossils to see, found in the area, and in the touch tanks were crabs, starfish, urchins, and various sea snails and mollusks.
There are 2 replicas of ships which the kids can play on and in, and I thought those would be a big hit with the kids, especially after the sailboat downstairs. But no, they headed straight for the water play area. We could have spent all day here! All three kids enjoyed this space. The St. Lawrence River has become the Seaway with a series of locks which allow container ships from the Atlantic Ocean to enter the Great Lakes. The water play area was designed to replicate the Seaway. There were a series of locks to navigate, turning wheels to allow them to fill with water and then empty. At the “bottom” of the waterway were clear PVC pipes and connectors so the kids could build their own water structures, and move the water from one area to another. Silas undertook a project to bring the water upriver by about 6 feet. There were rubber duckies and play boats. The low end of the water table was short enough for Ivy, with a step stool, and she was just as enamoured with it as the older kids. They did have various sizes of waterproof aprons for anyone who didn’t want to be drenched at the end of playing.
There was a separate water structure which allowed you to build channels to divert the water to wheels (turbines) to show how hydroelectric plants work. We (adults included) spent a lot of time there, too.
River otters. Alright, so I love otters. Otters used to hang out on our dock and boat when we lived aboard in Washington state, many moons ago. They are so playful, and so much fun to watch. The Aquatarium has 3 rescue river otters which live there. They had a large area to play, complete with logs to climb, and a waterfall to slide down. We got to watch them get their afternoon snack of a frozen puck of smelt, sounds delish, eh?
There were several large tanks with fish found in the St. Lawrence. And there were some smaller tanks with eels, turtles, and everyone’s favorite awful invasive species…Sea Lampreys. After reading about them in this book, I was so excited to actually see one…contained and not in the wild.
There isn’t any food in the Aquatarium, and they have a no food inside policy, which is a bummer for folks like us who like to pack a lunch. There was a cafe in the building, but it appeared to only serve sweets. But thankfully, behind the building was Don’s Fish and Chips! It was a little red building, standing by itself. When we first parked, it looked fairly empty. When we circled back around to it about 15 minutes later, it had a line going out the door! The inside is tiny. Just room to order and stand in line to pick up. Behind the glass, one man was frying and wrapping orders, another man (presumably Don) frying and keeping track of orders, and one man taking orders. Behind them was a large fryer and a bathtub full of fresh cut potatoes for chips. It was perfect. I ordered 2 large orders of fish and chips, and we sat by the water to eat it, complete with tartar sauce and my favorite, malt vinegar. Everyone devoured it.
There were some restaurants down by the water also, but they looked a bit fancy for my crew. We got Lebanese food elsewhere downtown for dinner.
Parking, Hours, Other Pertinent Information
You do have to pay for parking, and there were several lots in area where the Aquatarium is located. They seemed to be about $1 per hour. There is a gated lot at the Tall Ships’ Landing, but it was more expensive.
We went in October, and the hours were 10am- 5pm, closed Sunday and Monday. Please check their website for up to date information. They also have special events, so be sure to check out the website before you visit.
My posse of 3 were 18 months, 4, and 7 when we visited. There were definitely older kids there also having a great time. There is a ropes course which looks like a lot of fun, but is for ages 8 and up.
What else is Around:
The Aquatarium is located in downtown Brockville, which has plenty of food options and shopping. There is a playground a short walk away on Block Island, which also had boat tours and a lunch stand (both seasonal).
All photos and opinions are mine. I was not paid, or nor did I receive any compensation for this article.
Pin for Later: