“Look!” my son points out, “I can see where we just were! I can see the bridge we walked over.” We have just made it to the top of the mountain, and the view stretched out below us is beautiful. We gaze out over the lake, count the church steeples (six) and watch cars snake their way along the country roads. We are at Foley Mountain Conservation Area, up on “Spy Rock” looking out over the village of Westport, a small village found along the Rideau Heritage Route.
The village of Westport is nestled along the western shore of Upper Rideau Lake (part of the Rideau Canal) This quaint, somewhat sleepy little town is rich in history. It’s roots lie in milling; the first mill was built in 1828. When the Rideau Canal opened in 1832, the village (at the time named Manhard Mills) became accessible to Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal.
In 1830, the first store was established, it was the start of a new life for the village, more businesses were established, home and cottages were built, a town hall was constructed, Irish immigrants settled (including my husband’s ancestors) and the town was renamed Westport (possibly after a village in County Mayo, Ireland?)
Since then, Westport has become a tourist destination. For part of the year, Westport is a sleepy little village. But come summer, especially when boaters are travelling the canal, and again in the months leading up to Christmas, the town comes alive! I believe it is due to the many wonderful shops and boutiques; this little old mill town is now a shopping destination.
My Mom, who lives in Toronto, comes to visit early November every year, and a shopping trip into Westport is always on the agenda. The drive to Westport from Kingston is about 40 minutes and follows historic Perth Road. Once parked, we take to the streets and check out the shops. Shops range from furniture, to ladies wear, to general country store, as well a little boutiques featuring local art.
After our third trip back to the car to unload our packages, we decide all this shopping has made us hungry. There are a few options; The Cove Inn being one of them. This hotel features both fine dining and pub fare, as well as the nicest patio in the village, overlooking the lake. It’s a favourite spot for dinner, or to visit the pub when they have live music (which is almost weekly!) But for lunch, we will visit The Tangled Garden Cafe (they have a great kids menu!) where you can find a good, filling well priced meal-just the fuel one needs to continue on a shopping expedition.
After a trip to the Westport Bakery for some fresh bread and a sweet treat, we take a walk down by the harbour (in the summer months we always do this walk with ice cream cones, but alas they were not open on this November afternoon) and a climb up the mountain before we call it a day and head home. And we can officially say that we have begun our Christmas shopping!