Highway 417 is part of the Trans-Canada Highway and when travelers enter Ontario from Québec on it, they often stop at the provincial travel information centre near the boundary to find out what there is to discover in the province, and locally.
According to staff at the Ontario Travel Information Centre on the westbound 417, the top five Ontario destinations and attractions tourists who stop at the centre have asked about this summer are Ottawa, sightseeing on the Trans-Canada Highway across Ontario to Manitoba, Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario, Georgian Bay, and Algonquin Provincial Park.
Travelers ask about what there is to see and do in Prescott and Russell counties, too.
Vankleek Hill has topped the questions and answers. The staff said that when travelers ask if there is a “cute little town” nearby, they recommend they visit Vankleek Hill. Information about Beau’s Brewery is a popular request, and the staff said they often suggest Ouimet Farms as a destination for families looking for fun.
Questions about the Old Jail museum in L’Orignal are also common.
In the days before the Guinness World Record threshing event in St-Albert, the staff were also answering many questions about it.
Another common request is where the next gas station is along the highway.
Given its location at the Québec boundary, the Highway 417 travel information centre offers fully bilingual services. Most of the people who stop there are from Québec and the New England states. As for international visitors, many tourists from Germany visit the facility as part of bus trips.
Questions and confusion about geography are common at the information centre too. Employee Zach Bernique said the large size of Ontario is often a challenge for the German visitors to understand when they are trying to plan which sights they want to see.
“People don’t realize how big Ontario is,” agreed employee Emily Krawcyek.
On a recent afternoon, a tourist asked if he was still in Québec. Staff politely informed him that he had crossed into Ontario.
The employees said one visitor this summer asked if it was possible to go to the West Edmonton Mall on the way to Niagara Falls.
Emily Ravary and Michael Krawczyk have also been working at the tourist information centre this summer. The facility is open daily until Thanksgiving from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.