Originally posted April 18, 2023

My family recently enjoyed our first visit to Little Canada and it will definitely not be our last! We had grandparents visiting from out of town who always wish to spend time with the kids while also touring the sights of Toronto. Seeing Little Canada turned out to be a great activity for a multi-generational family trip because it packs big views in a little area!

Cozily tucked away under shopping, restaurants and movie theatres at Yonge-Dundas Square, the space is not too vast to require extensive walking, but there is so much to look at that you can easily spend plenty of time discovering all its details. Our guests declared that visiting Little Canada was an “inspired choice”. Like Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer, its Dutch-born founder, they are European immigrants and therefore share his interesting perspective of their chosen homeland.

Crossing off clues for the Maurice the Moose scavenger hunt in the Niagara Falls section. Photo credit: Melissa Mohaupt

Little Moose, Big Cities

Of course, it’s not hard to keep kids entertained with so much to see! As an interactive element, the hosts gave my daughter a clue sheet to participate in a scavenger hunt to find Maurice the Moose figurines throughout the displays. Once finished, she was excited to receive a little prize from the gift shop!

Even though my kids were born in Toronto, they enjoyed playing tourist in this section, picking out the different spots we have visited around town. Throughout our Little Canada visit, my daughter relished showing me the different surprises she had found, like Meilin from “Turning Red” hanging out on a roof in her neighbourhood of Chinatown.

A dragon dance street party in Chinatown – can you find Meilin from “Turning Red”?

Little Details, Big Impressions

We were fascinated by the tiny moving parts in the models, like hockey players in the Wayne Gretzky area and farm chickens in the Niagara Peninsula. There are various trains running and cars driving on highways. My father is a retired architect and appreciated it when they were able to create wide swaths of true-to-life cityscapes.

It was also really neat to see the behind-the-scenes elements. We saw a worker replace a section of the Union Station roof, while another model maker recharged cars on the Golden Horseshoe highway. The model workshop for upcoming areas was also popular, where the polite employees were happy to chat with visitors about their ambitious plans.

One of the busy model builders fixes the roof of Union Station. Photo credit: Melissa Mohaupt

Little Fans, Big Championships

As a sports fan, one of my favourite spots to visit in Little Canada was the models of the Scotiabank Arena and Rogers Centre in the Toronto area. The Raptors’ scoreboard plays footage of their championship year’s finals games, which was nice to reminisce about, plus the “OK Blue Jays” seventh-inning stretch song is instantly recognizable. I was amazed to see how many tiny people the creators were able to fit into these tight spaces.

Even though we know these spaces well, it was still an interesting experience to see them from a different perspective, and certainly a different size!

Fond memories of the Toronto Raptors championship finals, both in the arena and outside at Jurassic Park. Photo credit: Melissa Mohaupt

Little Rooms, Big Laughs

I found out from one of the guides that the display areas are on a 15-minute loop of 10 minutes of daytime and five minutes of night. It was cool to see the lights in the buildings turn on at dusk. In Little Ottawa, a Canada Day concert and fireworks display take place at Parliament Hill every “evening”. As in real life, it’s a great photo opportunity and is sure to draw a crowd!

It was also good to see that the spaces have a sense of humour to go along with their ingenuity. At Ottawa’s famous Château Laurier hotel, we spent time looking through all the different amusingly decorated hotel rooms, including a ball pit and homages to video games Among Us and Minecraft. And in the basement, I had a laugh too: I attended my high school prom in its ballroom and the little people in this scene looked to be having a party as well!

A sneak peek into the hotel rooms of Château Laurier in Ottawa. Photo credit: Melissa Mohaupt

Littlization and Big Excitement

Of course, my daughter wanted to join in the fun so at the Littlization Station, she went into a 360-degree photo booth to get her 3-D likeliness captured. Back online at home, I then ordered a mini model of her to go in the display. You can even request the specific area you wish to be added, which is a cute idea. She chose Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls because she wants to go back there – what an interesting way to manifest a dream! I also purchased a larger figurine as a surprise for her upcoming birthday so she can add it to her shelf of collected treasures.

Little Canada is still a work in progress with future Little Destinations being built, including Little North (located in its own separate room as it will be climate-controlled), Little East Coast, Little Prairies, Little Rockies, Little West Coast and Petit Montréal. We are looking forward to seeing more of Little Canada and bringing more of our friends and family there.

My daughter strikes her favourite pose to be added to the displays. Photo credit: Melissa Mohaupt

Little Canada

When: Year-round
Time: Monday-Friday 10:30am-6:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 10:30am–7:00pm
Where: 10 Dundas Street East, Toronto
Website: www.little-canada.ca

Learn more about Museums in Toronto and the GTA here!