by Stephen Johnson
I have always loved visiting Brockville, Ontario. The combination of heritage buildings and riverside pathways has been the principal draw. Now, there is an attraction that is sure to attract families to the city. The Aquatarium is an aquarium and discovery centre that highlights the history and biology of the Thousand Islands region. Our family had an opportunity to visit the Aquatarium before the busy summer season.
The first thing you notice about the Aquatarium is the location. Situated in the new Tall Ships Landing condominium complex, it’s is literally steps from the St. Lawrence River. A person can imagine the possibilities for outdoor camps and educational activities. The first critters our son, David, wanted to visit were the otters. When we arrived, the otters had just finished eating but were still in the mood to put on a show. They dipped and dived in their tank with amazing speed and energy.
After that, we moved on to the saltwater touch tank. David had a chance to touch underwater creatures including a starfish. Up next was the aquarium which held creatures found in the St. Lawrence River. It was amazing to see the diversity of life that is right in our own backyard. David loved the underwater tunnel and the pop-up bubbles inside the tank which gave him a fish’s eye view. Another cool feature was that the aquarium served as the backdrop to the theatre. A person could see video features about the St. Lawrence while watching real fish swim by.
Of course all of this activity made us hungry, so we went to Don’s Fish and Chips, which is only a block from the Aquatarium. I would argue that Don’s produces the best fish and chips in Ontario. We enjoyed our meal beside the St. Lawrence River watching the huge freighters go by.
After lunch, David was eager to return to the Aquatarium. Our first stop was at something called the Aquadrop. For a small extra fee, David was harnessed up and took a step over a forty foot drop. A safety line almost immediately catches the participant. The look on my face and my wife’s did not match David’s; he was as cool as a cucumber. There was also a ropes course that will be perfect when David is a bit older.
One thing that I loved about the Aquatarium was that there was a perfect balance of technology and hands-on activities. Some of the cool “techie” features were a green screen where you could do a Thousand Islands weather report, and a video experience where you steered a ship on the St. Lawrence.
There was also an area called the Castle Library which seemed tailor-made for parents to take a breather.
There is certainly enough at the Aquatarium to keep small and big kids entertained for a few hours. It would be the perfect stopover for someone traveling on the 401 highway with a car full of kids. Also, make sure to stop at Don’s Fish and Chips and tell them Steve sent you!
For more information about the Aquatarium, visit www.aquatarium.ca.