The Wallingford-Back Mine is about an hour north of Ottawa (near Buckingham QC) and features these amazing gigantic caverns, formed from large pillars that were left to support the terrain above. In the winter the lower level is completely frozen over with 2 feet of ice and makes for an eerie stroll through the cave-like structures with massive ice formations flowing through holes and hanging overhead.
The lower level is flooded in the summer and the crystal clear water takes on a cool blue hue from the remains of the quartz. You can bring your canoe or kayak in to paddle around the caverns, and I guess you can swim there too:
Looks like it’s a bit of a draw for local divers:
The mine opened in 1924 and was the largest of it’s type in eastern Canada until a “better mine site” was discovered in Ontario and the mine was closed in 1972. I read that there has been talk of opening the mine to tourists but I’m not sure where that report came from.
A fun little day trip if you’re looking for something cool to check out. Erica and I both found it really cool, and it blew a 3-year-old’s mind.
A few tips:
- use caution, there are any number of ways to hurt yourself or worse here
- Park at the top of the hill in the winter, unless you’ve got a serious 4×4
- It’s about a kilometre hike in and out in the Winter, and a steep hill on the way out
To get there:
- Take highway 50 east toward Buckingham
- Exit onto highway 309 North and follow this road for 13 km.
- Take a right merge onto Chemin De La Mine and follow to the end and stop at the top of the hill.
- Hike down the hill, pass the lake on your left, and you should see the mine entrance ahead