This is, hands down, the coldest place I have ever lived in my entire life. The temperature regularly dips below freezing by at least 5 degrees and when you factor in windchill, the negative degree is usually double digits. Needless to say, with three energetic children we were eagerly seeking some outlets to get wiggles out on super cold days. After looking up indoor locations we decided to try out the Canadian Children’s museum, located in Gatineau.
The entrance fee is not terrible, however, if attending the museum multiple times, even more than once, I would recommend researching the membership. Upon entering the museum, the first attraction was a theater on the left. There was a stage where adults could sit and watch children put on plays. I was impressed with the sheer scale of the stage. The ticket booth at the front and the backstage area made it so realistic for the kids. Costumes were readily available backstage for the children to use for performances or they could choose to work the lighting and sound booth behind the audience.
There was a designated craft room well stocked for the project of the day and staffed to assist children with the craft as well as provide educational information. The day we attended we crafted up some musical instruments.
The rest of the museum was set up like a trip around the world. There was replicas of transportation from Thailand, drums in a Nigeria communal living area, arctic ice caps, a port boat to import and export goods, a bazaar marketplace, Japanese kimono shop…the list goes on and on. Each new area held useful information about a geographic location in a fun and interactive learning environment. My kids favorite activity of the day, beside using the import/export boat, was building traditional puppets in Indonesia. As an aside, I was impressed that each location stayed well stocked with supplies throughout our entire stay.
One of the highlights for the children was stamping their individual passport. Upon admission, each child is handed a paper passport and greeted with a sign that says “adventurers only beyond this point”. Outside each unique location within the museum was a post with a stamping station. The station was set up to be easy to use, although younger children need assistance. On the post was a box containing a slot to insert the passport page. Once inserted, a child need only press the button above the passport to issue the stamp. My 4yo and 6yo were fine, needing help occasionally to find the correct page. My youngest (2yo) needed help inserting the page into the slot as well as some extra muscle power to press the stamp button onto the passport so stamp showed up.
The museum is easily a 2-3 hr excursion. Be sure to pack snacks! There is a cafeteria on the premises and also a coffee shop. If you are feeling extra fancy, there is also a sit down restaurant. As a bonus, admission to the children’s museum included admission to the Canadian History Museum. The Grand Hall is not to be missed, housing the largest collection of totem poles in North America. I will be honest and say this museum did not hold the kid’s attention as much as my husband and I, especially after a few hours of intense playtime.
I highly recommend attending this museum. Both the children and I had a wonderful time exploring and I found the size of the museum manageable. Although my husband was with me this time, I would not be intimidated to bring all three children alone. If you take me up on my suggestion, leave a comment and let me know how you liked!