Here’s how Brockville is preparing for ‘lots of visitors’ as total solar eclipse nears

A group of people experience the 2017 solar eclipse together in Madras, Oregon, USA. Photo by Adam Smith

A once-in-a-lifetime Solar Eclipse is coming our way on April 8, and those in Brockville are expecting an influx of outside visitors looking to get the full experience.

Seeing as Brockville is on “the path of totality” – meaning it is situated in a prime location to observe the moon fully eclipse the sun – the usually quiet city is expecting larger than normal crowds. 

The Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing is organizing a ‘Solar Eclipse Viewing’ event on Blockhouse Island, along with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Brockville Tourism. Together, members of these organizations have been hard at work planning this event for nearly eight months. 

Thomas Harder, executive director of the Aquatarium, spoke with Brockvilleist about how they’ve been preparing for the solar eclipse event. While the eclipse itself will last no more than a few minutes, Harder is sure that those who attend the festival will have lots to do.

READ MORE: A rare total eclipse can be viewed in Brockville April 8. Here’s what you need to know

“The RCAF will be there with their pipes and drums that they’ll be playing multiple times and we’ll have some folks there handing out swag,” he explained. “We’re going to have some educational ‘activations’ on the island with the Aquatarium staff. We also have some vendors who will be selling some cool things at a market.”

He continued, “We’ll have an area where we’ll have some amateur astronomers out there who are very knowledgeable and who will be talking us through what’s going on.” 

Harder explained that the Aquatarium intends to do a live broadcast of the telescope on YouTube and Facebook Live, adding “We’re going to be pulling some of that footage back down to the Brockville Arts Centre for those people who would like to see the eclipse and not be outside.”

Harder said he’s been looking forward for this eclipse for years.

“My family has been chasing solar eclipses to other countries and areas,” he noted.

Harder said that while the organizers do not have a concrete projected number of expected non-local visitors, they are anticipating many people will travel from larger cities like Ottawa or even Montreal to experience the full totality. For perspective the City of Kingston says they’re expecting some 500,000 visitors.

Brockvilleist also spoke with Brockville Tourism Marketing Coordinator Lyndsay Bigley, who shared, “We are excited to welcome lots of visitors from Ottawa and other surrounding cities. Even though Ottawa is just an hour north, they are outside the path of totality so Brockville offers a great viewing location for their residents.”

Bigley continued, “Hotels have seen increased booking but there is still space remaining so it’s a great opportunity to come visit. Our friends at Downtown Brockville Business Improvement Association are hosting a month-long space-themed celebration in April so they will be excited to host guests to Brockville on Eclipse Day.”

To keep everyone’s eyes safe during the eclipse, the Aquatarium is giving out free glasses while supplies last starting on Saturday, March 23, 2024. 

The eclipse-safe glasses will be available at the Aquatarium from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the front desk. Limited quantities of glasses are also available at the Brockville Police Station and the Brockville Fire Department. Harder confirmed that 10,000 glasses will also be distributed to children in local area schools in advance of the eclipse. 

To learn more or RSVP to the Facebook event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1807324013033232/?ref=newsfeed

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