Pembroke, Ontario

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The change of weather was brutal. On Friday, it was still around 35°C, and we walked around in shorts and t-shirts, sweaty and tan. When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was shivering – overnight, the temperature suddenly fell to 15°C. Bye-bye summer… here comes fall.

To celebrate the last long week-end of the summer (Labour Day was today), we decided to take a short trip to rural Canada. We hit the road on Saturday morning and followed the bumpy Trans-Canada highway. Our first stop was in Pembroke, Ontario, 150 km from Ottawa.

We parked outside the town and strolled along the main street. The many murals painted on the buildings caught my eye: indeed, Pembroke dubbed itself the “city of murals”, with 30 full-scale murals depicting the town’s history from the early 1800’s to 2000. Except for the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s (where we had parked the car), the main street definitely had a small town feel: no franchises but small businesses, such as the local bakery, sports store (selling golf equipment in the summer and hockey gear the rest of the time), cafés etc. Forestry and farming are still the backbone of the local economy, and many stores sell fertilizer, heavy farming machinery and… yes, bear baits. Note to self: do not go deep into the forest.

Pembroke is also nicknamed “Canada’s Hockey Town” because it is the birthplace of several NHL players, including Harry Cameron, Hugh Lehman and Frank Nighbor. There was something going on at the arena when we walked by and we could definitely hear people cheering – celebrating an early hockey season start, maybe.

We had another surprise driving by the baseball field: hundreds of R.Vs had set up camp and four-wheel drives were parked on the shoulder of the road. I guess many people didn’t want to drive to far because of Hurricane Earl and took a short holiday in Ontario instead of going to the U.S.

You can see the whole Ontario Travels set here.

On the Trans Canada Highway (still sunny!)

Pembroke, Ontario

Pembroke, The City of Murals

The Waterfront

Hockey Town Canada

Truly Local Television

Bagpipe Player

Pembroke Residents

Canadian Flag and Proud Residents

At Church

Little Bakery

Play It Again Sports

Schoolbus Mirror

And Great Customer Service!

Boat Launch

Rural Schoolbus

The Timber Raft

Railroad Tracks


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I love the waterfront picture! I was thinking that we would have a warm fall, but it looks like fall is going to get here early after all. I wore sweaters all weekend!

  2. i bet a hockey town in ontario knows how to swear in french just as well as native quebecois or parisians.
    i don’t know though… visiting a town known for its murals. i mean, once you see them, there isn’t anything to back for.
    except hockey?

  3. Hi -lovely post!
    You should have stopped at the arena, where you would have enjoyed the 35th Annual Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing Competition, that takes place every Labour Day Weekend, and is the largest of its kind in North America. People come from all over Canada and the US (and beyond), staying at Fiddle Park in their RV’s (which you saw) and spend Fiddle Week enjoying traditional music and dance. Now that the weekend is over, the ice will be put in to the Pembroke Memorial Center, and the Lumber Kings, cosnecutive 4 x Canadian Junior Hockey League winners will host their games there. And there’s lots to come back for all year round!

  4. Hey Zhu,

    Summer is already gone there? Oh my God!
    Well, officially officially…our summer ends on the 21st of September; however it can go until October/November (depending on the year). Today it is colder (28ºC) but tomorrow it will get hotter :(…I am wishing for autumn already.

    Rural Canada is beautiful, I loved the pics :D!


  5. Zhu – that is so neat!! I need to post photos from my trip to the City of Murals on Vancouver island. It’s much like that as well, but tells the story of the South West… I envy your get up and go attitude… I guess it’s different when you lack the car! :0) Ah one day…

  6. Pembroke looks like a lovely place to spend the end of summer. I just love the artwork on the buildings. I really like this type of art, available to the masses! I am looking forward to seeing more of your trip through rural Canada!

  7. @Yogi – Unfortunately, we have Walmarts in Canada — Ottawa has three. They multiply like crazy…

    @Soleil – The weather is really weird. It was colder over the WE but now it’s hot again. I don’t know how to dress anymore!

    @Seraphine – You don’t swear in hockey, you just punch the opponent and lose a few teeth in the process but who cares… it’s the game 🙂

    @khengsiong – Yes, Canada and the US celebrate Labour Day in September, but France and most of Europe I believe celebrate it on May 1st.

    @London Caller – I don’t think so… but now I have to check!

    @Susan Ellis – Thank you for your explanation! We loved Pembroke, it was a really nice stop along the way. The murals are quite fun to spot and the town seems to be quite lively.

    @Max Coutinho – We are between Summer and Fall, the weather is really weird. It’s like a kate Perry song, “you are hot and you are cold…” 😆

    @expatraveler – I’m glad we have a car, it’s pretty useful to take short trips around the region. Let’s face it, the Greyhound doesn’t really help. I had no idea you had a city of murals in the West too!

    @DianeCA – A few more posts are coming up… 😉

    @Sidney – It was an interesting stop, for sure!

    @shionge – Aren’t they! It’s a great way to show the city’s history.

  8. Hi Zhu,

    If it was Labour Day in Pembroke, then what you heard at the Pembroke Memorial Centre (PMC, cheering) and the reason you saw so many RV’s at the “Baseball park” (Riverside Park) was the annual Old time Fiddling and Step Dancing compettition. I has been held on Labour day every year since the mid 70’s and is attended by people from all over North America. They call Riverside Park “Fiddle Park” during that time.

    One thing you definitely missed and should go back and see is Algonquin Park. It is jus toff Highway 17 near Pembroke. There is the Barron Canyon Trail to see. It is a short trail (1.2 km) that travels along the edge of a 300 foot deep canyon. It is one of the most “spectacular” natural wonders of the park, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources. If you continue along the main road you get to Achray Station campground. It’s over 100 years old, that little former railroad stop. The most famous painting in Canadian history was painted there, by Tom Thompson (Jack Pine). There is a Tom Thompson museum there and some wonderful hiking trails. Actually I shouldn’t tell you about Achray because you’ll probably fall in love with it and go there every year, which will limit my access to the campground because reservations are 1st come 1st served for overnight cmaping. I don’t think there are any reservations required for a day trip. There are bears, but they are not really a problem. just don’t dangle strips of raw bacon from your belt.

    Anyway, Go back! Do a half an hour’s research on the web (Algonquin Park Achray) before you go.

    Have fun.

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