Little Canada brings big, fun, miniature cities to Dundas Square

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Ontarians of a certain vintage will have fond memories of the Cullen Gardens miniature village in Whitby. The now-closed village featured lovingly miniaturized versions of southern Ontario buildings and landmarks. Reconstructions could be specific – a scale replica of a well-known Whitby mansion, for example – or general, as in the various miniature farms depicting Ontario agriculture.

For the nostalgic among you (or anyone intrigued by the idea), the all-new Little Canada The attraction is there to fill that miniature village-sized hole in your heart. Like the village of Cullen, Little Canada is the passion project of one man, in this case Dutch émigré Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer, who set out to recreate his new home using a mix of both new (3D printing) and old (model railroad) technology ).

Little Canada is a fantastic attraction, really much more impressive than the “railway enthusiast” vibe you might expect. Fully realized recreations of familiar locations are here, from Toronto’s Union Station to the Ice Hotel in Quebec City to a vineyard in Niagara. For the moment, only Ontario and Quebec are presented. But with a 10-year plan to roll out the remaining provinces and territories, this new little company could be the next big thing in Dundas Square.

Photo courtesy Little Canada.

BIG DREAMS

The first thing you see when entering Little Canada is a spectacular recreation of Niagara Falls, filled with video-projected waterfalls, a tiny Maid of the Mist wandering back and forth along a hidden magnetic track, and a sample of the footage and familiar sounds of Niagara Falls. There’s the iconic Casino Tower, for example, as well as a truncated version of kitsch Clifton Hill, with its haunted houses, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and other amusements.

For obvious reasons, none of the Little Canada recreations are 1:1 accurate. (You won’t find your home, in other words.) Instead, the Little Canada The team, like Cullen before them, put together elements that evoke a place, rather than recreate it entirely. So while you’ll find a very accurate recreation of Horseshoe Falls in Little Niagara, for example, the nearby US-Canada border crossing – which is hilarious, including a car with smoke billowing from its hood – is supposed to represent every horrible crossing ever.

Little Canada brings big, fun, miniature cities to Dundas Square
Photo courtesy Little Canada.

LITTLE PEOPLE

Little Canada has been in development since 2011, when co-founder Brenninkmeijer quit his job and devoted himself full-time to developing a recreation of the country he had come to call home. In partnership with model train enthusiast Dave MacLean, they assembled a team of craftsmen, engineers and programmers to meticulously design what would become the first sections of Little Canada.

As of the August 2021 launch, you can already visit Little Toronto, Little Ottawa, Little Niagara Falls, Little Golden Horseshoe and Petit Québec. Each area has its charms, but there are obvious highlights. In Toronto, you’ll find a stunning replica of the SkyDome, complete with a retractable roof and a Jumobtron playing highlights from the ‘Unforgettable 7th Inning’. The only thing missing is a tiny Drake figure perched on the CN Tower replica next door.

In Little Ottawa, the Parliament Building lights up with fireworks “every night”. (Little Canada runs on a fifteen minute day/night cycle.) But for my money it’s the tiny little cyclists, pedaling their tiny little legs, that’s the most realistic thing here. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if, after hours, the cyclists dismounted and went to hang out with Buzz and Woody.

Little Canada brings big, fun, miniature cities to Dundas Square
Photo courtesy Little Canada.

EVERYONE ALWAYS ASK WHERE WALDO IS. NOBODY EVER ASK HOW WALDO IS DOING?

While my +1 and I had a real pleasure spotting Little Canada‘s many references – the Bloor Viaduct here, the industrial apocalypse of Hamilton there – the sheer artistry on display cannot be overstated. One of my favorite sections is Petit Quebec, with its beautifully imagined ski resorts and lodges, though I couldn’t associate it with a specific location from my own experience. There’s also a very neat “Littlization Station”: for $79 you can step into a Holodeck-like contraption where they’ll 3D scan and print you a tiny little model, which you can insert anywhere on the Little Canada countryside. (The technology also allows printing of larger, take-home Mini-Me models, if that’s your thing.)

Honestly, there’s incredible attention to detail at Little Canada. Hundreds of Easter eggs abound, like the red and white moose hidden in every scene, the Power Rangers paddling canoes along the St. Lawrence, and the hotel where every member of the Little Canada the team designed their own bedroom. Room themes range from pop culture references to underwater (watch out for the sharks!), to poor little guy being sucked through a portal into space. We haven’t found Waldo, but I’m sure he’s in there.

I also love how the snake of cars along the Don Valley Parkway looks exactly like the road near my house. It is especially impressive at night, when the car’s headlights come on. This is definitely a place that rewards repeat visits.

Little Canada brings big, fun, miniature cities to Dundas Square
Photo courtesy Little Canada.

DO A LITTLE SIGHTSEEING

Although Little Canadathe opening of has been delayed (for the reasons you would expect), it has, in a strange way, arrived at the right time. With inter-provincial travel still limited, it’s quite nice to “visit” Ottawa, Niagara, Quebec and the Golden Horseshoe in a single day. Not all parts of Ontario are here – we’re big fans of Huron County here at Toronto goalie, which unfortunately isn’t pictured – but that’s enough of a slice to make you want another road trip.

It’s also proudly Canadian. We love our country, but not everyone can visit everything, even if we should! With Little North coming next year, and Little East and Little West Coasts on the way, Little Canada might just be the place to go, if you fancy doing some sightseeing.

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Visit the official site for Little Canada here.

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