Canada’s got lots of world-class museums–the ROM in Toronto, the Canadian Museum of History in Hull, the Haida Heritage Museum in Skidegate, BC, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.
Some museums, though, are a little more niche. They appeal to an audience interested in the unusual, the bizarre, the ephemeral, or the unique musical stylings of Anne Murray. More than being quirky tourist spots, these oddball museums are often important sources of revenue for small towns across Canada. The next time you’re on a road trip, take a quick detour and check one out. You may be a little weirded out, but you definitely won’t be bored.
The Anne Murray Centre, Springhill, Nova Scotia
Yes, there’s a museum dedicated to the Snowbird herself. Springhill is the small coal-mining town where Anne Murray grew up, so it’s only natural that they have a comprehensive collection of Murray memorabilia, including videos, awards, clothing, and instruments. Along with the musical memories, the centre–which has welcomed more than 400,000 visitors since its opening in 1989–also promotes Acadian and Nova Scotian music.
More info: Annemurraycentre.com
Gopher Hole Museum, Torrington, Alberta
You might think that the Gopher Hole Museum would be all about gophers and their impact on the environment in the western provinces. Yeah, not so much. The gophers at the Gopher Hole Museum are presented in lifelike dioramas indulging in their “favourite activities”–which for these taxidermied rodents include going to the post office, preaching in church, and playing in a band. The Huffington Post called it “one furry freak show you HAVE to see,” and we think they’re right.
More info: Gopherholemuseum.ca
Canadian Tractor Museum, Westlock, Alberta
What do you get when you put more than 100 restored vintage tractors in one 20,000-square-foot facility? Why, the Canadian Tractor Museum, of course. Tractors are a big part of the agricultural history of Canada, and the Canadian Tractor Museum makes sure that history isn’t lost. Along with tractors, the museum also displays vintage gardening equipment, steam engines, tractor handbooks, and the jewel in the tractor crown, a working weather vane crowned with a 1942 Model D Case tractor.
More info: Canadiantractormuseum.ca
Canadian Clock Museum, Deep RIver, Ontario
We’re willing to bet Canada’s only clock museum is a loud place at noon and midnight. The Canadian Clock Museum showcases Canadian clock sellers and manufacturers from the early 1800s to the present. Along with clocks from manufacturers like the Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company, Westclox, and Snider, the museum also has two watchmakers’ work benches, complete with tools. Overall there are more than 2,500 horological items, as well as a reference library. Hey–it’s never too late to learn about clocks.
More info: Canclockmuseum.ca
Niagara Apothecary, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
A restored 1869 pharmacy, the Niagara Apothecary is the only surviving building in Niagara-on-the-Lake from the period of Confederation. Run by the Ontario College of Pharmacists–who helped ensure the accuracy of the display–the museum is a replica of a practicing pharmacy, complete with bottles, compounding equipment, patent medicines, and an elaborately carved dispensary. If you can’t get enough of the nineteenth century at the Apothecary, you can always take a horse-and-carriage ride along the main street.
More info: Ocpinfo.com
The Sardine Museum and Herring Hall of Fame, Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick
Not just sardines, but herring too! The Sardine Museum and Herring Hall of Fame was founded by friends Michael Zimmer (a “from away”) and Tony Nunziata and is housed in three abandoned smoke houses. It features a collection of tools, furniture, and products related to the smoked herring and sardine industry. Although both Zimmer and Nunziata have passed away since the museum was opened 20 years ago, the facility is kept running with the help of locals.
More info: Grandmanannb.ca
Trekcetera Museum, Vulcan, Alberta
Although Vulcan, Alberta, wasn’t actually named after Spock’s home planet on Star Trek, that hasn’t stopped the town from capitalizing on its appeal to Trekkers across the globe. (Where else in the world is the tourism information station housed in a spaceship?) Vulcan is home to Canada’s first and only Star Trek museum, which opened in 2013 and features–what else–Star Trek memorabilia, along with costumes and props from movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, Thunderbirds, Superman, and more. If you’re in the area in July 2016, check out Vul-Con, a Star Trek convention which, this year, will celebrate the series’ 50th anniversary.
More information: Trekcetera.com
Canadian Potato Museum, O’Leary, Prince Edward Island
Located in the western part of Prince Edward Island, the Canadian Potato Museum is dedicated to all thing potato, including the largest collection of potato harvesting farm implements and machinery in the world. Beyond the spud souvenirs, the museum also has historic buildings on site, including a telephone switchboard office, and the world’s largest potato sculpture is right outside the front door.
More info: Peipotatomuseum.com
Canadian Canoe Museum, Peterborough, Ontario
Providing a view of Canadian history from the unique vantage point of the canoe, the Canadian Canoe Museum has more than 600 canoes, kayaks, and paddled watercraft. The museum features canoes from many different Aboriginal traditions both in Canada and beyond, as well as craft mass-manufactured in Canada. According to their website, the museum is contemplating a move to a site on the Trent-Severn Waterway, combining two significant (and related) historical elements in one site.
More info: Canoemuseum.ca