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Travel

Free Day Trips in Ontario – What Powers the Province?

This post has been sponsored by Bruce Power. My opinion is all my own and it is alway truthful.

Pretty much every summer of my life I have visited Bruce Peninsula with family. Sometimes it astonishes me that there’s anything I have not yet seen up there. But occasionally I am reminded there’s a lot left to learn about the area even still.

So, when I read about Bruce Power’s bus tours and educational Visitors’ Centre I thought why not?

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There are many free day trips in Ontario and there’s much to do within driving distance of London and Southwestern Ontario. But, this is one short trip that’s extremely educational and eye opening. For us, the drive from London to Bruce County or Saugeen Shores up Highway 21 is an easy and pleasant one. I can practically do it in my sleep. To Kincardine, or Tiverton to be precise, where Bruce Power is located, the drive is 2 hours from my home. You could also make it a day trip from Toronto or Kitchener.

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Most parents hope their kids maintain curiosity and an interest in learning over the summer months. And with STEM education being extremely important right now Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre and bus tours are a natural fit. This trip would also be perfect for homeschool groups and school field trips. I’d recommend it for ages 7 and up though. In Ontario while the early grades touch on energy slightly, conservation and generation and types of energy fit into Ontario school science curriculum around grade five and six.

 

My youngest daughter, 14, and I both made the trip to the Visitors’ Centre to do a tour on a Friday morning. The first bus load of the day was full. Quite a few families with school aged children were on board. Clearly, they had the same idea I did.

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Bruce Power employs over 4,000 people. When there is an outage that number can be as high as 10,000. Many students work here and do co-op placements here. Our tour guide Emma is a student at Waterloo’s Wilfrid Laurier University working through the summer at Bruce Power. Throughout the year Bruce Power entertains many school groups.

This power plant is one of the most educational of all the free day trips in Ontario we have done. I found it fascinating to hear about the green nature of nuclear power. Nuclear is one of the cleanest forms of energy production. It is carbon free and in fact if you take the tour you will see for yourself that Bruce Power also walks the walk with car charging stations in the parking lot and a branded electric car.

Ontario’s first ever wind farm – consisting of five turbines – is also visible from the parking lot.

 

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The Bruce Power Plant Environmental Footprint

In and around the sprawling property on Lake Huron’s shoreline there are 235 species of plants, 200 species of wildlife including 150 bird species, 15 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, 20 types of mammals and 90 varieties of fish. In the last ten years Bruce Power has planted 10,000 trees and takes its environmental footprint very seriously. It’s not uncommon to see deer on the land when employees are out walking at lunch or on break.

The Bruce Power bus tours begin at the Visitors’ Centre. You will need government issued identification in order to board the bus. Security and safety are taken extremely seriously here. Get there at least half an hour before your tour to check in and read all of the displays in the Visitors’ Centre. There’s a brief video before the bus tour.

Formed in 2001 Bruce Power has transformed its site returning four units to service through billions of dollars of private investment. It has invested in new hiring and training and strongly supports the surrounding community. For instance, when hiring they seek out students and indigenous people. When contracting for the upcoming refurbishment Bruce Power has engaged local companies and further encouraged them to hire indigenous people. Recently Bruce Power signed a long-term agreement to provide a reliable and carbon-free source of affordable energy to Ontario through 2064. To do so Bruce Power will refurbish six of its eight units over the next two decades. That process is creating thousands of jobs as well.

The Bus Tour

The bus tour drives by both Bruce A and B generating stations with four units each, and the historic Douglas Point generating station (which shut down in 1984). Both Bruce A and Bruce B have 4 CANDU reactors (Canada Deuterium Uranium Technology). Each site is virtually identical. Bruce Power is almost a small city within the greater community containing a works department, fire department, emergency response team, learning centre and medical staff. There are 56 kms of road over 2300 acres.

Waste here is minimal and the waste management program is robust. Much of it is simply things like gloves that are incinerated and stored in impenetrable containers above and underground. The entire organization is committed to minimizing generation of radioactive and non-radioactive waste.

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Things We Did Not Know About Bruce Power:

This is the world’s largest operating nuclear generating facility.

Ontario’s grid is the cleanest grid in North America.

Bus tours have been going every summer since 2014.

In 2005, Ontario had 53 smog days. Since Ontario shut down its coal plants in 2014, mostly thanks to the return of Bruce A Units 1-4, there has only been one.

There are 15,000 annual visitors to the Visitors’ Centre.

Bruce Power was the site of Ontario’s first wind farm.

Expect the Unexpected

What you might not expect to see is the beautiful green space that surrounds the power plant. The Visitor’s Centre overlooks 2,300 across of green space. That’s enough forest to hold the Metro Toronto Zoo, Canada’s Wonderland, Exhibition Place, Ontario Place and African Lion Safari.

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Know Before You Go

Bring Government issued identification with you.

Pro Tip: Book the Bruce Power bus tours on line. They fill up fast.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

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