In celebration of the launch of the Province’s #RediscoverON campaign to highlight all Ontario has to offer, Huron Historic Gaol outreach and engagement assistant Kyra has put together a perfect way to spend the day exploring all of our sites while enjoying the sites in and around Goderich.
To start things off, make sure to call at least a day in advance to book a tour of the Huron Historic Gaol. To accommodate physical distancing requirements, all visits to the Gaol must be booked in advance and will be guided by staff. Please call 519-524-6971 during open hours to book a visit.
If you are unfamiliar with the Huron Historic Gaol, this National Historic Site is a unique octagonal building which served as the County Jail from its opening in 1841 until closure in 1972. At the time of construction it was viewed as a model of humanitarian prison design. Over the years, the Gaol housed inmates registered for crimes from misdemeanors to criminal convictions, including three men who were hanged for crimes of murder. Men, women and children all spent time in the Gaol throughout its history. See admission rates and current hours on the website. Please note that only the first floor is wheelchair accessible.
Start your day by arriving at the Gaol for your 9:30 a.m. tour and park on Gloucester Terrace, which is where the main entrance of the Gaol is located. Parking is FREE all day and the nearby park offers a spectacular view of the Maitland River valley and the Menesetung Bridge. Please wait at the entrance for staff to welcome you in for your tour, which takes about 45 minutes.
After your tour has ended, head down to the Maitland Trail and enjoy a lovely scenic walk on your way to Gairbraid, the burial plot of Goderich founder Dr. William ‘Tiger’ Dunlop. His plot is located on a large tract of land on a bluff overlooking the Maitland River just north of Goderich. This was where Dunlop had plans to build a new town called Gairbraid, named after a town near Glasgow, Scotland. The town was never built, and after Dunlop’s death in 1848 he was buried there. The small park and stone-walled tomb enclosure are the last remnants of Gairbraid.
After your lovely walk, it is likely time for some food! And what’s better than a picnic lunch on the beach? Order takeout from your favourite local restaurant and head over to the beach to enjoy the sunshine and go for a swim in the sparkling turquoise waters! Please note that paid parking is in effect at the Goderich Waterfront.
Once you are recharged with some excellent local food, it might be time to explore Downtown Goderich. Actually an octagon, the Courthouse Square has a variety of shops, restaurants, and businesses. After some shopping, grab some ice cream or coffee and relax in the shade in Courthouse Square Park.
Enjoy the afternoon exploring the Huron County Museum, which is a short stroll from the Square down North Street. This location does not require an appointment to visit, so you are welcome to swing by anytime during their hours of operation, which are 10:00am – 4:30pm Monday to Saturday, 10 am-4:30 pm and Sundays, 1–4:30 pm. And for Huron County locals, admission is free with your Huron County Library card!
The Huron County Museum is home to thousands of artifacts that illustrate the history of both rural and urban communities in a variety of themes and topics. Permanent exhibitions feature early settlement, agriculture, military, and main street galleries including a full-size steam locomotive central to the building. A variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year investigate and explore topics of local significance. The Huron County Museum typically offers many events, activities and exhibits throughout the year to welcome the public through our doors and online. Please regularly check the website or Facebook page for the most up-to-date information. The Museum is wheelchair accessible.
Once you have enjoyed the Museum, you’ll likely be contemplating what to get for dinner. Well have no fear, Goderich has no shortage of amazing restaurants, many with outdoor patios. Pick your favourite and indulge!
When you have finished your meal, the sun will be close to setting. And there’s nothing better than ending you day watching a famous Lake Huron sunset. Lighthouse Park, Sunset Park, or anywhere along the waterfront all offer breathtaking sunset views.
Thank you for spending your day with us! We hope you enjoyed your visit and we look forward to seeing you again soon!