Those craving a change of scenery (and aren't we all?) can take in some of Canada’s most storied sites in a sensory-loaded two-hour experience.
Now at Yonge and Dundas (10 Dundas East), Little Canada transports visitors to some of the country’s most striking landscapes and iconic landmarks with an immersive experience that shines in the details department.
Allowing visitors to take in five destinations -- Little Niagara, Little Toronto, Little Golden Horseshoe, Little Ottawa and Petit Québec (a sixth, Little North, is currently under construction) -- the jam-packed miniature attraction showcases breathtaking scenery, animated features, and moving cars, trains, and boats that all operate on a 15-minute day cycle; upon sunset thousands of tiny lights illuminate the display.
Guests are welcome to become 'little Canadians' themselves by stepping into the on-site Littlization Station to get scanned and 3D printed into their very own Little Me. "We’ll make you an official Little Canadian by placing you into our world," reads the Little Canada website.
To round out the experience, visitors can head to the Little Bites Café and enjoy some quintessentially Canadian food and beverages.
A journey 10 years in the making -- and with a dramatic price tag of $24M -- the attraction was a passion project for Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer, Founder and President of Little Canada. We caught up with Brenninkmeijer to hear more about it...
How did the idea materialize? Was it always a goal to one day have a public display, or was it more of a hobby/passion?
It started as a hobby that turned into a passion. I was inspired by a visit to Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany. This experience left me in awe and I began to develop a vision for a similar miniature world for Canada. As an immigrant to Canada, there was so much about the country I did not know, and I learned many of the wonderful things about Canada through my children’s school projects. I thought I can’t be the only one, there must be many new and old Canadians who don’t know much about their own country. So in 2011, I left my job and turned my full attention to fulfilling this dream of building a miniature Canada. I joined forces with Dave MacLean, a University of Toronto-educated civil engineer and two-term president of The Model Railroad Club of Toronto. We met and quickly realized we shared a similar passion and vision, and the rest is history.
What were some of the challenges encountered along the way in the materialization of Little Canada?
Our biggest challenge in our journey to launch was, and continues to be, COVID-19. Like many businesses we have faced the uncertainty of shutdowns to our construction, the emerging science on how to keep our people safe (#1 answer -- masks!), and what the market is looking like. We have developed an enhanced safety plan to overcome these challenges, to create what we believe will be one of the safest indoor attraction experiences in the city. We are now open to the public and welcoming guests into a safe experience where they feel comfortable, as they would in their own home.
What are the resonating themes you tried to convey in Little Canada?
Our biggest theme is Canada! Our promise is to build a place that everyone can connect with. One that tells the inspiring, diverse and true stories of our country. Canada is an amazing place and there’s so much to explore and celebrate, and our goal is to immerse our guests in an experience of Canada unlike any other.
Why do you think Little Canada is especially appreciated in our current pandemic-ridden climate?
We hope that we can provide people with a new experience, one that hasn’t been seen before. People are looking for new experiences, a place to share with family and friends, to learn new things and connect with others. We hope that Little Canada can offer that. Emerging out of lockdown has left people deprived of experiences both new and familiar, and we want to be a new place in the city that people can escape to, in the safest way possible.
Is there a “star of the show”?
There isn’t only one star of the show in Little Canada. Everything from the CN Tower, our tallest structure, to the tiniest detail, like the leaning tower of pancakes at our Cabane à sucre in Petit Québec, has been crafted with love and each detail adds an impact and is unique in itself.
What do you hope visitors take from the experience?
Our hope is that guests leave having learned something new about Canada. Our goal is create a world where people can connect to the places and stories they see and create memories that will last a lifetime.
What’s next for you?
Canada is a massive country and we’ve only built a fraction of it. Our next destination, Little North, will open next year and after that we’ll be expanding to every other corner of Canada until the journey stretches across the country -- coast to coast to coast.