a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Sep, 2020

Road trip to the Brockville Railway Tunnel (safe and physically-distanced… for the most part)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

Earlier this month we set out on a road trip. The occasion was Mark’s birthday, and the birthday tradition in our house dictates that the birthday boy or girl gets to set the agenda for family activities or celebratory dining. Mark’s destination of choice was Kingston. The youngest is living/studying there right now and we wanted to visit (and stock up her fridge and pantry) and he thought it would be nice to celebrate as a family. (FYI, I made a dinner reservation on the back patio at Woodenheads. If you like pizza, you’ll like Woodenheads too.)

Since it was Mark’s day, we stopped in Brockville on the way. It was his birthday wish to see the Brockville Railway Tunnel, the oldest railway tunnel in Canada. I’d seen bits and bobs about the railway tunnel here and there, but wasn’t quite sure whether it would be worth pulling over for. Was it a light show? Or was it a historical exhibit? Well, I’m happy to say it’s BOTH, and it’s fabulous, in a way only a historical light show can be.

If you have a hankering for an easy little road trip right now, do it. Brockville is a relatively short drive from Ottawa and the whole thing is actually pretty novel.

According to the Brockville Railway Tunnel website, the season runs until mid-October but can change without notice due to Covid protocols not being followed.

It is, in fact, the oldest railway tunnel in Canada. Built between 1854 and 1860, it’s surprisingly long at 1721 feet. It’s an easy stroll along a wide concrete sidewalk. There are a surprising amount of things to spot in this particular underground rail tunnel –  informational panels as well as cool rock/ stalactite formations – and the lighting compliments it very nicely. It probably takes 20-30 minutes to walk from end-to-end, depending of course on how much you linger and how many photos you take.

Brockville Railway Tunnel entrance

Brockville Railway Tunnel

Brockville Railway Tunnel

Brockville Railway Tunnel

Moss growing inside the Brockville Railway Tunnel

The Brockville Railway Tunnel has a lot going for it. Admission is by donation, it’s accessible (perfectly fine for strollers/wheelchairs), parking is free and nearby, even dogs are allowed. It’s right near a waterfront park, so if you have squirrelly kids and you want to run them ragged before piling back into the car, this is the place to do so.

The single negative I have about our experience is that there were quite a few non-mask wearers while we were there. It’s possible the message is finally getting through now and there’s better mask wearing now as opposed to when we went, but we were dismayed to see people going in without a mask even though signage clearly states otherwise. (I didn’t worry too much. The tunnel is spacious and essentially outdoors, but it still bothered me and thought it was worth noting here.)

I also have miiiiilllllld regrets about not grabbing a bite at Don’s Fish & Chips while we were in Brockville, but as Mark pointed out, delicious pizza awaited us and it would have been a bit much food to take in during a span of only a few hours.

All in all, the Brockville Railway Tunnel is a great little stop on the way to Kingston.

Have you been? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1 Response to "Road trip to the Brockville Railway Tunnel (safe and physically-distanced… for the most part)"

1 | Lynn

October 2nd, 2020 at 3:39 pm


We also went at the very end of August and it was indeed a very nice day trip. I think most people in the tunnel when we were there (which was an uncrowded Friday) were wearing masks, which was good. We paired the tunnel with a boat tour of the St. Lawrence which was open-air, and it was also very nice (new life goal: get million dollar “cottage” on private island).

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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