Know What’s Happening in The Great Waterway.
*Listings last updated 6/26/2017.
*Listings last updated 6/26/2017.
Canada turns 150 in 2017, and to help you celebrate in South Eastern Ontario, here’s a handy list of Canada-themed events happening in the region throughout the year. Check back often because we’ll keep adding to this list.
Parks Canada is throwing down the welcome mat with free admission to all of its properties all year long (with a free Discovery Pass). In Southeastern Ontario that means unfettered access to over 10 national parks and historic sites, including Thousand Islands National Park and the Rideau Canal, where lock fees will be waived.
With Fort Wellington, over 75 historic homes and sites, and the St. Lawrence at its doorstep, Prescott definitely has a few stories to tell about the impact it’s had on Canada. Read, listen to and watch close to 100 of them at the public library, where volunteers have been collecting tales about all aspects of life in the over 200-year-old town.
Take a culinary trip across Canada with The Drake Devonshire as your guide. Every Sunday until Canada Day this gorgeous, award-winning resto on the banks of Lake Ontario will feature a unique heritage dinner inspired by the food and drink of different areas in the country. Each month the $35 menu will be inspired by a different province, territory or region.
The city of Quinte West isn’t settling for just one day of partying. They’re planning a week-long multicultural bash leading up to Canada Day that’ll include daily celebrations. Details are still being set, but events could include a Francophone music festival, an Aboriginal art festival, an Oktoberfest celebration, a Celtic picnic, and an Italian and Greek food fest.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will be in Canada to help celebrate our 150th, and they’ve chosen Prince Edward County as one of their destinations during their three-day visit. Arriving at CFB Trenton, they’ll make their way to the Wellington Farmers’ Market for an event that will be open to the public.
Plans are still in the works for Canada Day festivities across southeastern Ontario, but since a 150th birthday only comes around once, you can count on each community truly bringing it this year. Canada’s first capital, Kingston, will host the biggest bash, but almost every other community in the region will celebrate, too. Stay tuned to our events page, thegreatwaterway.com/events, for details.
This month-and-a-half long celebration of Canada will feature a documentary photography exhibition; four Saturday night shows focussing on the sights, sounds and food of a different region; and regular photography workshops and outings.
Offered on Saturday evenings in July and August, this immersive family-friendly theatre experience will use the historical backdrop of Upper Canada Village to explore the issues and changes about to come with Confederation.
Prices: Not yet set
The curators of the Brockville Public Library’s art gallery have invited artists to submit works that celebrate Canada’s 150th. Submission will be exhibited throughout July and August, and winners will be chosen by people’s choice ballots. Winners announced July 31st.
Voted one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario, and it’s easy to see why: four days of midway, food from all over the world, adventure sports (zip line or parasailing, anyone?), laser tag, family fishing, a vendor exhibition and even a dog-jumping show. This year, special Canada 150 events will include ParticipACTION Sports Expo and Canada 150 Sesqui Celebration, which is a revolutionary 360° cinematic experience touring all over Canada.
From June 30 to August 20, more than 40 tall ships will sail Canadian waters to honour the country’s 150th. Scheduled to stop in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, the fleet will make its southeastern Ontario port of call in the historic village of Bath. Head to the waterfront and tour these majestic cathedrals of the sea for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see history up close.
This community talking circle, co-designed with community partners and Indigenous leaders, will be an open discussion on the theme of reconciliation. The intent is to increase our overall cultural competence around Indigenous issues, building on what residents know, how residents feel and how well residents put this knowledge into practice. Additional talking circles will happen throughout the year.
Part of the Kemptville Live Music Festival, this special culinary event will celebrate the bounty Eastern Ontario has been bringing to Canada for 150 years. The centrepiece will be a farmers’ market with over 60 vendors, but there will also be food and drink tastings, exhibits from local artisans, and live music to keep you moving.
Canada’s rail system is like its backbone, connecting communities all across this great land, so it’s fitting that Brockville, home to Canada’s first railway tunnel, will honour it at this special four-day fest. The centrepiece will be the grand re-opening of the tunnel underneath downtown, but there will also be a vintage carnival, a sideshow and even a 5K run.
After a 2016 hiatus, the Wolfe Island Music Festival returns this year. And thank goodness. Where else in the country can you take a 20-minute ferry to an intimate island festival featuring some of the biggest names in Canadian indie music? The headliners this year include Born Ruffians, Land of Talk, Hannah Georgas, Said the Whale, Dilly Dally and Donovan Woods.
Price: $95 – $150
Take a ride in an illuminated dragon boat on the Rideau Canal, get enveloped by the Northern Lights and take in 90 other breathtaking scenes in this 20-minute immersive film experience. Featuring scenes shot in every province and territory and over 380 on-screen performers, this visually stunning journey will show you Canada from a whole new perspective.
Travelling to schools and science centres across the country, this Signature Canada 150 event is all about channeling that inner innovator in all of us. Think immersive, hands-on displays about everything from the world’s largest science experiments to changing ideas about our universe to stories of Canada’s past.
Join thousands of spectators for an unforgettable evening of free entertainment outside on the grounds at the Lennox & Addington County Court House in Napanee. On Saturday, August 19th at 7pm, you’ll hear a live performance from headliner The Irish Descendants, as well as from 70’s Revolution featuring Andrew Martin, and Sol & the Switchblades. Circus Orange will also be on hand for an amazing aerial performance. More details at www.County150.ca.
Take a Canada themed road tour through South Frontenac, where locations in each of the four districts will feature special events devoted to a particular province. Locations will include hidden gems, like the train track park in Battersea, Fermoy Hall in Bedford, as well as more well-known venues such as the Point in Sydenham and rally headquarters at Centennial Park in Harrowsmith. Exact date not yet available.
Throughout 2017, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is partnering with orchestras and ensembles across the country for a special pan-Canadian celebration. Over 40 new works — including two-minute pieces called “Sesquies” — will be co-commissioned and presented from coast to coast to coast. Kingston location and concert details not yet available.
Price: Not Yet Available
This Canada-wide portrait competition showcases the work of 30 contemporary artists. Open to any Canadian artist who depicts a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, the juried prize is partially meant to develop an historical record of Canadians by Canadians. The winner receives $20,000, and the exhibition of the 30 finalists will be held at two venues: the Firehall Theatre in Gananoque and the Peel Art Gallery in Brampton.
We’ll keep adding to this list all year, so stay up to date on Canada 150 events in southeastern Ontario by bookmarking this page. In the meantime, head over to our events page for even more things to do.
See More Events In The Great Waterway
South Eastern Ontario is an artistically dynamic region with plenty to offer for art and music lovers alike. During the warmer months, the Great Waterway is home to a variety music and arts events happening from the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties all summer long.
June is just the beginning of what will be an eclectic and inspiring season of festivals and special events! Without further delay, here is a list of awesome art & music events happening throughout the month of June.
Discover Art & Culture in South Eastern Ontario!
Explore a World of Art & Creativity
South Eastern Ontario is a beloved destination, made famous for a seemingly endless list of reasons. Iconic among them is a rich and vibrant artistic community of talented makers and artists. [Read more…]
As we roll into March, there is a resounding sigh of relief in South Eastern Ontario as yet another winter ends up in our collective rear-view. The vanishing snow reveals the once buried grass, and soon enough, the iconic images of shamrocks and other green things mark the approach of Saint Patrick’s Day. [Read more…]
As the frosty grip of winter continues to take hold of Southeastern Ontario, we find ourselves in a particularly darker and less colourful time of year. The days become shorter, the nights even longer, and we understandably long for the coming spring and summer’s warm embrace.
My last article presented an epic list of outdoor activities and events taking place throughout The Great Waterway this winter. However, not all of you are the outdoorsy type, and that’s totally fine. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Might I suggest a trip to an art gallery, or four? Art galleries offer a series of visual voyages and epic escapes that are sure to transport you from the monochrome and the mundane, and into a multiverse comprised of vivid colour and life.
Sybil Frank Gallery is a relatively new addition to Prince Edward County’s vast selection of art galleries and artist studios.
Curator, Craig Alexander has gathered an inspiring collection consisting of multiple styles and mediums.
Here you’ll find vivid metal, and glass sculptures as well as bold abstract pieces. The ever changing collection is also complemented by and gorgeous florals, stunning landscapes, and interesting still life examples.
For updates, images, and more information visit the Sybil Frank Facebook Page.
Situated in historic Picton, Arts on Main is a fantastic gallery that is run by a collective of talented artists.
Prepare to be amazed by a collection of sweet eye candy consisting of mixed media, graphic art, sculpture, quilts, weaving, silks, and so much more.
While browsing the Arts on Main Gallery, it’s easy to forget the snowy, slushy noise outside and be captivated by the stunning work on display.
For 27 years, Mad Dog Gallery has been offering visitors an extraordinary collection of contemporary and fine art, created by some of the County’s most talented artists.
Located on the northeast side of East Lake in a spacious renovated barn, the property is surrounded by 25 acres of gardens and walking paths complimented by outdoor sculptures.
Mad Dog Gallery is a short drive from Picton and definitely worth adding to your list of galleries to check out.
For additional information visit Mad Dog’s website.
Gallery 121 is a unique non-profit cooperative gallery that was founded in 1991. Located mere steps away from Downtown Belleville’s shopping and dining, this eclectic gallery is a must see.
The main exhibit changes every six weeks, which means that with each visit, you’ll be treated to something new and exciting.
The styles range from realism to abstract work spanning a broad spectrum of media, including oil, acrylic, watercolour, crayon, graphite, pastel, fibre, clay, and more.
For contact info, hours of operation, and details on upcoming exhibits visit Gallery 121’s website.
Zenergy Gallery & Shop presents visitors with a spacious retail venue containing a diverse collection of items ranging from jewelry to visual art, pottery, and stained glass creations to name but a few.
The owners are committed to providing beautiful Canadian made work but also Fair Trade exotics from around the world.
Best of all, Zenergy features a “Kidz Korner” where the little ones can colour or play games while you experience the gallery in relative peace.
Clarke Art & Projects is a joint venture between artists Ann Clark and Ben Darrah that was officially launched in 2014.
The gallery itself is a historic building dating back over 150 years. Today, the gallery houses a creative hub for the entire community.
Visitors to the website, are encouraged to check out the current exhibition, past exhibitions, and upcoming events pages. Clark Art & Projects also hold several classes and workshops throughout the year for aspiring artists and visitors alike.
The aptly named Piggery Gallery is a marvelous artisan gallery nestled along Lennox & Addington County Road 27 on Wartman road.
The gallery was once upon a time an actual piggery but has been entirely renovated since.
The Piggery is home to a stunning collection of handcrafted and painted furniture, rugs, quilts, pottery and other items to at pizzazz to the home.
The gallery is open Tuesdays, and Friday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. making it an ideal weekend road trip.
Quinn’s of Tweed Fine Art
combines some of Canada’s greatest artists and creators with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
The gallery space encompasses an immaculate 6000 square foot historic building. The building’s 12 ft. high walls allow art to be displayed in the classical French Salon style.
A visit to Quinns is an experience in itself shared between building itself, and the captivating selection of fine artwork on display.
Overlooking Kingston’s historic Springer Market Square is Studio 22, a commercial fine art gallery and design studio representing several Canadian artists.
Many of the artists on display are from the Kingston and surrounding area, as well as other creators from Newfoundland and British Columbia.
There are several mediums and styles to observe at Studio 22, many of which utilize innovative techniques and unique materials.
For gallery hours and more information check out the Studio 22 website.
The Tett Centre is essentially Kingston’s creative citadel. Within this lovingly renovated limestone building you will find a broad range of creative activity as well a pair of stunning galleries: Modern Fuel and Creativity Studios.
Side note: make sure you pop by the Juniper Cafe and enjoy a hot beverage or a delectable snack while exploring this fantastic cultural centre.
For 40 years Modern Fuel has represented a catalyst for creativity in Kingston. Upon completion of the Tett Centre, this non-profit, artist-run centre moved in and has called it home since.
There is an ever-changing series of exhibitions to enjoy at Modern Fuel that covers several interdisciplinary methods and fascinating styles. Modern Fuel is open Tuesday – Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00.
On the Tett’s second floor you’ll find Creativity Studios. It’s a cool studio that’s split into eight spaces which house eleven artists, who are at various stages of their careers.
Feel free to drop by and meet the artists. When I popped in, I definitely walked in on their lunch break – but they were very cool about it.
Ceativity Studios presents the public with an excellent opportunity to speak with the artists and learn more about the people behind the art and the amazing creations they’re working on.
Among the Kingston’s more unique galleries is Martello Alley which branches off from Wellington Street in downtown Kingston.
As soon as you step into the alley, you begin a fun and engaging journey through the collective works of several local artists.
If you happen to visit when David Dossett is there, you’re in for a treat. He is very engaging and greets visitors with a warm and inviting manner.
It’s almost as though David as a sixth sense and knows when visitors arrive before they’ve realized it themselves. Everything you see on your way into, and throughout Martello Alley has a cool story behind it – which is told best by David. You have to experience it for yourself.
Martello Alley is open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more info check out their website.
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University is home to over 16,000 works of art from Canada and around the world.
The impressive collection of Canadian art includes many examples of 20th-century painting and also showcases some truly arresting displays of Indigenous art and Inuit art.
For art history buffs there is an excellent collection of nearly 200 historical European pieces to peruse, including works by Rembrandt.
Throughout the year you can catch some amazing exhibitions at the Agnes – so stay tuned to their website for news and updates!
Heather Haynes Gallery originally opened in Kingston in 2012, but later moved to its new home in Gananoque in 2016.
When I last checked, there was also a display of image art by Kingston photographer Suzy Lamont, and of course the exquisite and thought-provoking art by Heather herself.
The displays rotate on a monthly basis and were established with the purpose of enhancing public awareness and interest in visual art.
It also goes without saying that this is the perfect place to experience some epic performances only steps away from Brockville’s beautiful downtown area.
A stroll through downtown Brockville will also lead you to From Here to Infinity, a remarkable gallery situated in a historic building dating back to the 1840’s.
The gallery operates an archive of historic photographic prints and negatives, in addition to an amazing collection of rare and antique books.
From Here to Infinity is a fresh fusion between a curios shop and gallery, and is certainly worth a visit.
Galop Gallery is best described as a small art gallery with immense purpose. Based in the quaint riverside community of Cardinal Ontario, this little building plays a big role in the surrounding arts community.
Galop is more than just a gallery and is also a meeting space, workshop, studio, and craft market. They offer classes for kids and adults, and also hold events.
For full details and a few examples of what you’ll find visit Galop Gallery’s website.
Housed in what was once the historic Spencerville Hotel, ArtScene is a cooperative gallery created by 12 local artists.
This successful gallery contains a fabulous assortment of art including photography, glass works, pottery, painting, and fabric.
The hours and schedule for ArtScene are variable – so check out their website for full details.
Since ancient times, humans have been perfecting the craft of glassblowing. This millennia-old art form is kept alive at Gray Art Glass in Merrickville.
Between the amazing gallery and studio and live demonstrations, Gray Art Glass is an inspiring and amazing spectacle to behold. For hours and details visit their website.
The Grotto Artworks was founded 12 years ago, when 13 Merrickville artists combined their creative talents and resources to open a year-round venue for showcasing their works.
Today, the gallery offers a broad range of fine local crafts such as: pewter, pottery, jewelry, wood turnings, woven silk scarves, carvings, glass, and textile art.
Also on display are oils, collages, acrylics, watercolours and mixed-media creations including letterpressed prints.
For gallery hours, contact info and more visit the Grotto’s website.
Priests Mill Glassworks is on a mission “to build a Centre of Glass Excellence & Learning while providing a collaborative environment for artists of all mediums.”
One visit to their location in Alexandria Ontario is sure to please, as they are making good on their objective.
In addition to browsing several examples of varying levels of beauty, you can also take lessons!
I’m not going to lie; glassblowing is so hot right now. Especially in Alexandria Ontario.
The Glassblowing Place sports an extensive gallery, a learning space for the visual arts, and stunningly repurposed antiques.
Also worth checking out is the Chillax Café & Creative Lounge, free demonstrations, educational courses, and “Master workshops.”
I feel that one of the biggest contributors to the elusive Winter Blues is the fact that our surroundings transition from the lively and vibrant colour spectrum of summer and autumn, to a drab grayscale backdrop that quickly becomes an eyesore as we traverse the urban grind.
Luckily, Southeastern Ontario is a region teeming with creativity and an abundance of opportunities to appreciate and enjoy the work of our local artisans. Not only that but in many cases, you’ll get to meet the artists and learn more about the people behind the work.
Who knows, after exploring some of these amazing galleries you may find yourself inspired to explore a new creative outlet of your own. Maybe you’ll find a stunning piece of artwork to bring home. Perhaps you’ll create a masterpiece of your own to be showcased.
Either way, I hope that this blog helps brighten things up and gives you a few ideas for your next weekend excursion. Thanks for reading!
Discover Southeastern Ontario’s Artistic Side!
It goes without saying that 2016 has been a particularly unique year.
Here in Southeastern Ontario, this past year has been particularly exciting for travellers and locals alike. Spanning from the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties, 2016 has been a year brimming with fun-filled activities, wonderful special events, delicious culinary experiences, and great music festivals.
In the short time since I first joined in on the journey, we’ve traveled to some fascinating places together. We’ve gone off the beaten path and visited a remarkable variety of destinations hidden in plain sight. We bravely explored The Great Waterway’s paranormal history – and even stepped through time to rediscover this region’s rich and living heritage.
As we rapidly approach the New Year, it’s the perfect time to take a look back and reflect on 2016’s outstanding events and happenings. Without further delay, here is a collection of some of our favourite moments from 2016.
June 25-26th 2016 saw the triumphant return of this epic aviation event after a long, seven-year hiatus. Roughly 75,000 spectators gathered at CFB Trenton to marvel at aerobatic performances by the Snowbirds, the ever popular CF-18 demo, and a variety of other gorgeous aircraft from both the Royal Canadian and United States’ Air Forces.
If you’ve never experienced the thrill and adrenaline rush of an air-show, fear not! The 2016 Quinte International Air Show was so successful that it has been confirmed to be a biennial event, coming back in 2018!
The Trenton Scottish-Irish Festival is always a fun event for the whole family. September 2016 marked a bigger than ever celebration of the Bay of Quinte’s Celtic ancestry with a variety of traditional music, highland games, and authentic heritage foods.
The 2016 festival’s most unforgettable moment perhaps, was a fantastic performance by Alan Doyle, best known for his vocals in the popular Canadian Celtic band: Great Big Sea!
Savour was an especially tasty event held in October at Trenton’s Knights of Columbus Hall. It brought together a spectacular collection of local wineries, brewers and culinary masters from the surrounding area, resulting in a casual and uniquely local celebration of music, food, and beverages, as well as beautiful exhibits of fine art.
April 2016 was a rather momentous occasion for the Prince Edward County Authors Festival as attendees helped celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary. This literary festival began as a “small idea in 1996″, first originating in Milford Ontario.
Two decades later, the PEC Authors Festival has grown into a four-day extravaganza featuring poetry readings, kids story sessions, and in-depth conversations with Canadian literary icons including Linwood Barclay and Nino Ricci, and more!
Stay tuned to their website for details about next year!
Countylicious is a bi-annual celebration of Prince Edward County’s unique culinary creativity and talent. During the 2016 celebration, chefs from participating restaurants carefully crafted County inspired three-course meals that came at incredible ‘prixe-fixe’ rates.
Great Waterway blogger: Jordan Whitehouse took us behind the menus of Countylicious and sat down with three of the participating chefs to get an insider’s look into this famous (and delicious) event.
The cosmic events viewable from the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area top the list of The Great Waterway’s far from ordinary activities. This ideal destination for astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers alike offers some of the best views of our night’s sky.
Professional astronomers have described the Dark Sky Viewing Area as the most southerly point in Ontario, presenting a “perfect” and undisturbed opportunity to observe some amazing interstellar sights including the Northern Lights, the Perseid meteor showers, constellations and so much more.
For directions and more information check out the L&A Dark Sky Facebook Page.
While many of our stories take place among scenic driving routes, picturesque national parks, and other fantastic attractions – one destination, in particular, showcases a wondrous world of discovery directly underground. Back in June, The Great Waterway’s adventure blogger: Jenn Pinarski took her family to the Hell Holes and gave us a first-hand glimpse into this fascinating underworld.
The Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves near Napanee boasts a huge choice of geological attractions including walking trails, a mini-like rainforest environment, and some seriously cool caves ripe for spelunking.
For the fifth year in a row, Seed to Sausage has hosted the ‘Day of the Pig” food festival in Tichborne Ontario. The festival boasts an eclectic gathering of chefs, craft brewers, wineries and other artisan food producers from Southeastern Ontario and beyond.
In May 2016 visitors flocked to the Land O Lakes region to indulge their taste buds with a menagerie of mouthwatering local fare. Day of the Pig has been growing each year in popularity and is sure to make a return in 2017. Stay tuned to Seed to Sausage’s Facebook for details.
August 20th, 2016 was the day that Kingston became our nation’s capital once more. The Limestone City was the final stop for The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem Tour, and perhaps the band’s last show.
Over 25,000 fans flocked to Kingston from all over Canada to pay homage to Gord Downie and collectively celebrate an iconic group of Canadian musicians in their very own hometown. We were on hand to attend the celebration in Springer Market Square, where we spoke with fans and stood witness to a momentous occasion fit for the history books.
For nearly a century and a half, Kingston Penitentiary has stood as an infamous and formidable structure looming over Portsmouth Village with an ominous air of history, and intrigue. Some of Canada’s most notorious criminals have been incarcerated here over the years, and some have even escaped from this massive limestone prison.
In June, Jenn Pinarski bravely took us beyond the North Gate, and into Kingston Pen’s labyrinthian cell blocks and it’s deepest dungeons on an incredible exploration of this iconic destination.
Kingston Pen Tours will be returning from May to October 2017, so be sure to stay tuned for ticket info!
Lumina Borealis surprised us all in a good way and took the region by storm after launching on December 1st, 2016. This mystical adventure of mythic proportions has transformed Fort Henry National Historic site into something out of a storybook.
Our very own Jenn Pinarski wrote an excellent article about her magical experience at Lumina Borealis and how this event offers a unique and creative winter attraction for the entire family.
The best news is that Lumina will continue until February 4th, 2017 so there is still time to score tickets and experience it for yourself. This winter, make the trip to Kingston and unleash your imagination in the frozen fantasy realm of Lumina Borealis!
I can remember being a kid, watching Return of the Jedi for the five hundredth time, and wishing I could run around in a real life Ewok tree village. Thanks to the 2016 launch of Skywood Eco Adventure Park that childhood fantasy has pretty much, become a reality.
This fantastic outdoor attraction is Ontario’s largest zip lining and canopy adventure park featuring a tree-top village for the kids in addition to a selection of courses that meet a variety of skill levels.
The park is closed for the winter, but this article on our blog should give you a good idea of what to expect when Skywood re-opens this spring!
Hydroplane racing has been a popular event in the 1000 Islands region since the 1940’s. Back then, the event was made possible through the sponsorship of Gananoque native: Frank LaQue, the Vice President of the International Nickel Company.
To this day, the Gananoque Nickel Cup still draws thousands of spectators to watch these fascinating speed boats reach pulse-pounding speeds more than 200 miles per hour and revel in the rumble and roar of the engines.
On September 16-18th 2016 Brockville’s waterfront was graced once more with the elegant majesty of the Tall Ships Festival. For three exciting days, an estimated 40,000 or more visitors amassed along Brockville’s scenic waterfront to view a venerable fleet of ships representing several eras of maritime heritage.
Like silent, graceful gods of the sea, these beautiful ships sailed through the St. Lawrence and perhaps time itself; as they paraded before a massive crowd. Visitors were also able to step aboard some of the ships, meet the crews and come face to face with history.
The long-awaited grand opening of the Brockville Aquatarium was held on May 6th, 2016, after over half a decade in development. This interactive marine centre presents visitors with a fun and experiential way to learn about the St. Lawrence River’s history and ecology.
The Aquatarium is a 25.5 million dollar labour of love that is open year round to visitors. There are so many fun activities to choose from, that you could easily spend an entire day at this amazing attraction. Luckily, we have you covered with this handy guide.
In tandem with the 178th anniversary of the famed Battle of the Windmill, the Windmill Brewery opened it’s doors in Johnstown on November 12, 2016. This new, up and coming Ontario craft brewer is located only steps away from the historic site for which it is named. Their crisp, golden Czech style pilsner uses local ingredients and is a must try for any who enjoy a cold pint.
Right next door to the brewery is yet another new, and welcome addition to Ontario’s roster of craft beverage producers: King’s Lock Craft Distillery. King’s Lock opened their doors in June 2016 with a debut selection of handcrafted spirits using local, organic ingredients and sustainable practices.
At the end of the 2012 season, the famous and legendary Opinicon Resort had to close its doors due to several overlapping economic factors at the time. For a while, it was uncertain as to what would become of this cherished summer escape.
In September 2015, the Opinicon made international headlines when it was confirmed that the resort would once again reopen. Ever since the reopening the beloved Ontario destination has been undergoing renovations with each passing moment. The exciting journey of the Opinicon’s is lovingly chronicled on their Facebook page by the current owner, with regular video blogs.
As recently as November 2016, the Opinicon’s comeback story was presented to the Canadian Senate. The Opinicon’s return has been hailed as an economic boon for the Rideau Lakes community and tourism sector.
After a successful launch in 2015, Rideau Tours has expanded their 2016 offering from what was only a few custom tours and bike rentals to a great selection of “signature experiences.” The new roster of activities includes kayaking, cycling adventures and even boat trips.
What’s more, Rideau Tours has also added fun packages like gourmet picnics for the family, in addition to a steadily growing list of features. The picnics include delicious foods sourced from local sources and offer an excellent way to relax and enjoy a picnic while exploring the magnificent Rideau Canal.
Two hundred years ago, some of the first settlers of Upper Canada embarked on a perilous 100-kilometer journey from what is now Brockville to Perth. They were promised land and a fresh start in a new world, but it did not come to them with any level of ease.
Today, this historical trek is commemorated by a dedicated group of community organizers at the Settler’s Trek; who just celebrated the event’s bicentennial journey in 2016. By today’s standards, a 100 km drive doesn’t sound like much. But in 1816 it was a grueling six-day journey where survival was not guaranteed.
If you’re up to the task and want to literally walk in the steps a 19th-century settler, day trekkers can register and join in on the journey for a small fee. Emergency medical assistance is available throughout the trek, but luckily your chances of contracting scurvy will be slim and nil in 2017.
Whether ye have some Scottish in ye or nae – The Glengarry Highland Games are the grandest spectacle of traditional games, music and cultural entertainment this side of Edinburgh. The inaugural games were held in 1948 by a group of businessmen who wished to preserve Scottish traditions and heritage while inspiring younger generations to carry on these ancient and cherished customs.
2016 was the 69th anniversary of the Glengarry Highland Games, which drew thousands of visitors to Maxville to witness or even take part the games. The 2017 event will be held on Aug 4, 2017 – Aug 5, 2017, and will surely draw visitors from far and wide to help celebrate the games’ platinum jubilee.
The Cornwall Summer Beer Fest is an interactive wine and beer tasting festival which draws its roots from the Seaway Food Festival. Visitors can sample a range of tasty beverages and foods, as well as meet the talented people who make them.
The 2016 festival added some great new features including educational workshops that allowed attendees to learn about food pairings, beer making, and other fascinating topics. The 2017 dates are still to be announced so stay tuned to the festival’s website for details!
For the 25th consecutive year, the Apples and Art Studio Tour took place in Stormont, Glengarry, and Dundas. This last event featured over 60 artists showcasing their creations in 26 locations throughout Cornwall and the Counties.
The 25th annual tour was the biggest yet, with more artists and locations along the route than ever before. Visitors were treated to a diverse range of mediums including paint, sculpture, ink, wood, glass and more. In addition to the variety of creations guests also had an opportunity to meet the artists and chat with the creative minds behind the artwork.
With the passing of each New Year, there comes not an ending, but a bounty of new beginnings. 2016 was most certainly an excellent year for Southeastern Ontario – filled with fun activities, delicious foods, stunning artwork, and jubilant celebrations shared from the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties.
These unforgettable moments would not be possible without such a fantastic network of communities. Everywhere you go throughout this stunning region; you encounter an amazing culmination of people who continuously make Southeastern Ontario both a premier travel destination and a place I am very proud to call home.
What are your fondest memories of 2016? Let us know on our Facebook page, hit the comments below – or share your pictures with us on Twitter or Instagram! Don’t forget to use the hashtag: #GreatWaterway!
Start Planning Your 2017 Trip
It’s time to bid adieu to the year that brought us the Rio Olympics and too much Trump, and toast 2017. The only problem: where to cheers on New Year’s Eve? A nice restaurant? A rock show? Both? If you’ll be in southeastern Ontario when the clock strikes 12, read on. I’ve scoured the listings from across the region and crafted a foolproof list of New Year’s Eve events that’s sure to include a party for you.
Think top-40 50s and 60s rock n’ roll with the backdrop of vintage air craft at this one. Freddy Vette & The Flames is the entertainment, but that World War II Halifax Bomber (the only one of its kind in the world) is pretty compelling, too. Held in the main exhibition area of Canada’s only air force museum, the night starts with a roast beef dinner and ends with Freddy Vette’s dance party. In between: a cash bar and a chance to check out some of the hundreds of artifacts and aircraft on display. $70. freddyvette.com | airforcemuseum.ca
Rock out in a gorgeous 700-seat theatre like it’s 1969, arguably the greatest year in rock music. Belleville’s All You Need is Love will play songs from some of that year’s best records, including The Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” The Who’s “Tommy,” and Led Zeppelin “I” and “II.” They’ll also blast classics by Neil Young, MC5, The Rolling Stones and others from the time. And don’t worry, this isn’t your dad’s basement tribute band. Each of the six bandmates is an accomplished musician, and together they’ve played venues from Liverpool to San Francisco. $50 (late-night munchies included). theempiretheatre.com
The hippest — and most recognized boutique hotel and restaurant in southeastern Ontario will ring in the New Year with a multi-course seated dinner, a couple of circus acts and a Motown dance party. Choose from a four- or five-course dinner with options like oyster carpaccio, head cheese terrine and braised beef cheek ravioli while enjoying a little tableside magic. Take a break with a fire spinning performance outside by the lake, and then head back in to get down with a DJ spinning everything from Stevie Wonder to The Supremes to The Jackson 5 to Marvin Gaye. $35 – $125. thedrake.ca
Three parties, one place, you pick. That’s been the New Year’s Eve pitch for years at this County-loved resto and inn. This year, one party happens in The Barley Room Pub and includes a three-course dinner, live music by The Reasons and bubbly at midnight ($49). Another, in Amelia’s Garden restaurant, features five courses, bubbly and, if you want, music by The Reasons in The Barley Room Pub ($65). And the third, in Waring Hall, is a dinner buffet with a dance starring former Guess Who frontman Carl Dixon and his band ($65). Accommodation packages available. waringhouse.com
Though fine on their own, Fort Henry’s two New Year’s Eve options are best paired together. One is a three-course, Cajun-style dinner served in the decorated heritage mess rooms ($40). The other, called “Lumina Borealis,” is an illuminated outdoor night walk through the grounds of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (kids under 6: free; 6-12: $10; adults: $12). I’d recommend dinner first — you might need the heat of the gumbo, stuffed pork, warm pudding or seven other options to keep you going on the 1-kilometre walk. foodandheritage.com | luminaborealis.com
A great option for families and a non-alcohol event, the annual K-Town Countdown happens inside and outside the 6,700-seat Rogers K-Rock Centre arena. Inside there will be skating, of course, but there will also be live music and a drum circle to groove with, along with face painting, arts and crafts, and even a magician. Brant “FireGuy” Matthews will be outside performing a busker-style fire and light show, and there will be wagon rides out there, too. Then, at 9 pm, the big finale: a fireworks display at Confederation Park. Free. cityofkingston.ca
If you’re up for a cozy New Year’s Eve with an east coast twist, this is your ticket. The night starts with Chef Joanne Edwards’ buffet dinner and ends with Kingston-based Turpin’s Trail, a quartet that draws from Celtic, folk, bluegrass and pop persuasions. Both will give you a good taste of the legendary Cove, whose grand old house has been standing beside Upper Rideau Lake since 1876. Today The Cove is best known for quality comfort food, quaint accommodations and some of the best live music you’ll find up and down the Rideau. $50. Accommodation specials available. coveinn.com
This classy New Year’s Eve party in the Thousand Islands is all about good food and classic tunes inside a historic inn on the banks of the St. Lawrence (and champagne at midnight, of course). The buffet will feature prime rib, baked salmon and roasted turkey, while the three-piece tribute band, Trilogy, will play everything from The Beatles to Abba to Amy Winehouse to Adele. Accommodation packages (with a New Year’s Day brunch) are also available. $89 – $429. glenhouseresort.com
Need more music options on New Year’s Eve than what the usual tribute band or DJ can offer? Then head to a few of the 16 concerts happening in six historic churches all over downtown Brockville. Local bands, choirs, ensembles and soloists will play everything from classical to bluegrass to show tunes to jazz, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding something you’re into. And since the concerts are happening in churches with great acoustics, the sound should be impeccable. At midnight, join Brian Porter at Wall Street United Church as he channels the ghost of Sir John A. MacDonald and kicks off Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. Free. brockvilletourism.com
This annual light festival stays open an hour later on New Year’s Eve, meaning you’ll have more time to explore the 19th-century replica village all lit up by almost one million lights. You’ll also be able to linger over dinner, maybe take an extra ride on the Ferris wheel or toy train, or get lost in the Mistletoe Maze. And hey, maybe this year you’ll finally book that horse-drawn carriage ride. With so much going on — and an extra hour to see it all — you might need this list of 10 tips for making the most of Alight at Night. $12 – $14. Kids under 6: free. uppercanadavillage.com
This is the only New Year’s Eve party in the region where you can don a costume and not feel out of place. Hosted by the same folks behind the Comic-Con-like festival held every spring in Cornwall, this third annual NYE party welcomes everyone, whether you’re in jeans, a tuxedo or Iron Man getup. Over 300 people are expected, and two tribute bands — Lost Boyz and Spare Partz — will keep you moving all night long. There will also be a hot and cold buffet, party favours, silent auction and door prizes. $30. cornwallpopevent.com
As you can see, southeastern Ontario isn’t lacking for a wide range of things to do on New Year’s Eve. But even if you don’t see a party for you on the list, don’t worry — stay tuned to The Great Waterway’s events page for even more ways to ring in 2017!
Sure, the crisp air and bright foliage may be enough to entice us off the couch in the fall, but for local or long-distance travellers looking for great places to visit in Ontario, autumn has way more perks to keep us happy: no summer crowds, better deals and some of the best local experiences of the year. From harvest-inspired food fests, to voyageur canoe tours, to 1000 Islands helicopter trips, there’s plenty of things to do in southeastern Ontario this season. Here are a few ideas in 8 areas across the region.
Home to more than 200,000 people between Quinte West and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, the Bay of Quinte region is known for its fishing and love for the cheese, veggies and other bounty its farmers produce. But insiders also know that Bay of Quinte is a hotspot for golfers, gourmands and theatregoers. Throw in an 85-kilometre waterway, 30 conservation areas, 12 crafter breweries and cideries, and you’ve got the makings for a fall trip for the ages.
2 hours from Toronto
3 hours from Ottawa
3.5 hours from Montreal
Though recently dubbed the “gastronomic capital of Ontario” for its 30-plus wineries and gourmet eateries, the County has always been a hidden gem of Ontario travel. Why? Because of gems like Sandbanks Provincial Park and its three sandy beaches or The Regent Theatre and its ever-improving lineup of movies, music and festivals. Whatever your reason for going, expect tasty eats and drinks sourced from stunning local farms, a thriving arts community, and laidback rural island vibes.
2 hours from Toronto
3 hours from Ottawa
4 hours from Montreal
Fall Countylicious (October 28 – November 20)
Creepfest Film Festival (October 28 – 30)
From the Farm Cooking School Class
Wassail (November 19 – 20, November 26 – 27, December 3 – 4)
With over 5,000 lakes, almost 600 trails and a population scattered across small towns like Napanee and Tamworth, Land O’Lakes allows you to experience the best of the Canadian outdoors. And when you do, you’ll discover a few of the 356 native bird species, rolling farmlands and beautiful provincial parks that includes the 5,000-hectare Frontenac Provincial Park. Not the outdoors type? Hit up MacKinnon Brothers Brewing, the Lennox & Addington County Museum and Archives or the United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park.
2.5 hours from Toronto
2 hours from Ottawa
3.5 hours from Montreal
Maybe you know Kingston as the home of The Hip or as Canada’s first capital or as the place to find Kingston Pen. The point is, this vibrant city on Lake Ontario, home to over 100,000 people, has been famous since before Confederation. Today, its world-class restaurants, bustling downtown and renowned arts hubs like The Grand Theatre, The Tett Centre and Isabel Bader Centre keeps it on the map.
2.5 hours from Toronto
2 hours from Ottawa
3 hours from Montreal
Stretching over 200 kilometres between Kingston and Ottawa and incorporating 47 locks, 16 rivers and 2 lakes, the Rideau Canal is a gorgeous marvel of engineering might. And up and down its banks you’ll find quaint villages and welcoming locals wanting to show and tell its story. At Fort Henry, for example, it’s the story of Canada’s beginnings up close. At Rock Dunder, near Morton, a snippet of the Canadian Shield’s four-billion-year-old tale. While Jones Falls Locks is a testament to the ingenuity that went into building this waterway.
3.5 hours from Toronto
1 hour from Ottawa
2.5 hours from Montreal
Called “The Gateway to the 1000 Islands” because it sits close to where the 1,864 islands begin, Gananoque is an ideal jumping off point for a cruise, hike, scuba diving trip, round of golf or even helicopter tour. And though it has a population of just 5,000, Gananoque boasts a surprising range of fantastic dining options, not to mention acclaimed theatre and musical productions at the Thousand Islands Playhouse on the banks of the Saint Lawrence.
3 hours from Toronto
1.5 hours from Ottawa
2.5 hours from Montreal
With attractions like Canada’s oldest railway tunnel, Fulford Place and the Brockville Museum, you might think Brockville’s population of 22,000 is all about its history. But you’d be wrong — there’s far more. The “City of the 1000 Islands” also celebrates its present and future at places like the Brockville Arts Centre, which is one of the finest medium-sized theatres in Canada, and the new Aquatarium, a state-of-the-art, 27,000-square-foot learning centre all about the waters and wildlife of the region.
3.5 hours from Toronto
1 hour from Ottawa
2 hours from Montreal
Mac Johnson Wildlife Area Fall Festival (October 22)
Hike The Brock Trail
Escape Room (October 18 – 30)
Brockville Farmers’ Market
Brockville Country Club (Golf and Curling)
Brockville Tasting Tours
Haunted Walk on Temperance Lake
Anchored by the City of Cornwall, population 46,000 and one of Canada’s oldest permanent settlements, this region includes six other townships: North Stormont, South Stormont, North Dundas, South Dundas, North Glengarry and South Glengarry. When taken together, they all show off the history of Upper Canada, the beauty of the Saint Lawrence and the vibrancy of small town Ontario. Highlights here include Upper Canada Village, a 19th-century replica village; Cornwall’s Waterfront Trail, a multi-use trail that spans the city’s entire waterfront; and the Glengarry Highland Games, the largest highland games celebration outside of Scotland.
4 hours from Toronto
1 hour from Ottawa
1.5 hours from Montreal
McMaze Family Fun Farm
Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Seaway Food Festival Restaurant Week (October 13 – 22)
Martintown Haunted Mill (October 31)
Hike Glengarry Trails
Click Below to Learn More About Our Destinations
One of the most fascinating aspects of Southeastern Ontario is the diverse number of ways to immerse one’s self in history. From the earliest days of Upper Canada and beyond the echoes of our past are everywhere you look- ranging from stunning architecture, charming villages, art, industry and more.
This particular story collects a sampling of locations throughout The Great Waterway that are open year-round; allowing visitors to see, feel and even taste a dynamic culmination of activities that are both fascinating and uniquely local. Whether you’re a history buff or even mildly interested, these locations are prime stops on your next autumn road trip.
The Bethune-Thompson House serves as an intriguing example of the tried and true building methods of both the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The house presents a marriage not only of timelines but also cultural influences; featuring both French Canadian and British attributes.
Once the home of two prominent figures in Canadian history, this house is synonymous with a pivotal era in our heritage. The first Presbyterian Minister in Upper Canada: Rev. John Bethune purchased the house 1804. He was a Scottish-born military Chaplain before being posted to a Loyalist Battalion and eventually becoming one of a few Scottish ministers in Upper-Canada before 1812.
In 1815 the house was purchased by David Thompson: a famous cartographer and explorer for the North West Company. He is credited with exploring and mapping out a great deal untamed wilderness that is now Western Canada.
Situated along the world-famous Rideau Heritage Route in Smiths Falls, the Heritage House Museum stands today as a pristine example of Canada’s industrial coming of age. The original owner was a businessman from Athens who later came to own two mills located in nearby Sly’s Rapids.
Built during the 1860’s and strategically placed between the railway and the nearby mill it allowed proximity between them – and made the movement of raw materials from the mill to the nearby trains easier and more cost effective.
The house remained inhabited by various residents for nearly a century before being purchased by the Town of Smiths Falls to be restored as a museum. Today, visitors can have a picnic on the houses beautiful grounds which feature a picturesque gazebo and gardens. The museum also hosts several different special events ranging from new exhibits, historical workshops, kids programs and art shows.
Heritage House Museum
The Brockville Museum is a fantastic stop for the whole family boasting a fascinating collection of exhibits. ‘From Carriage to Car’ provides a look at Brockville’s once thriving carriage manufacturing industry and subsequently fleeting automotive legacy. On display is a pair of vintage Briscoe automobiles – and some wonderfully preserved carriages.
The exhibit is a nice segue into ‘Made in Brockville’ which showcases an assortment of products once manufactured right in town which included cables, metalworks, and even Stetson hats. Another exhibit of interest is Brockville’s Rail Story, which provides an intriguing illustration of how the advent of trains shaped and influenced Brockville’s development.
A fascinating brand new exhibit has made its debut as of September entitled: Brockville’s River Story. It provides a comprehensive look at Brockville’s waterfront and how it has changed over time from an industrial epicenter to the residential and commercial area we see today.
The Brockville Museum
Brockville’s waterfront has undergone many transitions over the past two centuries. Once the site of a series of mills that saw prominence in the mid to late 1800’s, the area was at one time a bustling hub at the dawn of the industrial age. The Robert Shepherd Grist Mill in Brockville is a grand monument to that pivotal era – and one we nearly lost.
The mill itself and surrounding lands were purchased and repurposed as a coal depot for the rail lines which replaced the mills near the turn of the century. Later, it was used as a storage house. The City of Brockville came to own the property in the 70’s – and by 1984 the mill was slated for demolition.
Rather than see this important piece of history lost forever, current owner Peter Hoogendam won a bidding competition and set to work repairing the derelict mill. Over the course of nearly a year, the mill was gutted and painstakingly renovated using as much of the original materials as possible. Today, The Mill Restaurant serves up a delectable selection of genuinely local dishes with a Mediterranean flare. All three stories of the building contain spectacular areas for dining, special events, and live entertainment.
For 37 years the Frontenac County Schools Museum has been providing visitors an experiential glimpse into Canada’s educational history. Within this impressive stone structure is an impressive collection of school records, texts and other items of intrigue which date from the pioneer era right up to the turn of the century and beyond.
Most notable is a recreated classroom modeled in the fashion of the 1900’s-1930s. The fun and interactive classroom has everything you’d expect complete with desks, books and the famous great, great, grandfather of the iPad: otherwise known as the slate.
Frontenac County Schools Museum
Not far from the museum – in beautiful downtown Kingston is a unique pub with a genuinely historic edge. In fact, this charming restaurant has a direct line to our nation’s Confederation. The namesake for the pub is in no need of lengthy introductions. From 1849 – 1860 the building was once the law office of none other than our first Prime Minister: Sir John A. MacDonald.
Sir John’s Public House sports a warm and inviting atmosphere reminiscent of the taverns and tap-houses of the mid-nineteenth century. The menu even features dishes that are inspired by and prepared using the ingredients and techniques of the period.
Take a Trip Through History
The L&A County Museum & Archives gives visitors an astonishing glimpse into the lives of those who lived during the late 18th to 19th centuries with exhibits, artifacts, and stories centric to Lennox & Addington County. The museum has a modernized reading room, genealogical research materials in addition to regular programs throughout the year.
L&A County Museum & Archives
Take a Look
Built in the 1880’s Glanmore National Historic Site is a superb example of the Second Empire style of architecture made popular in the later 1800’s. The house’s official name is the Phillips-Faulkner House, which is partially derived of home’s original owner: John P.C Phillips. Glanmore remained a family residence until 1971 when it was sold to become a museum.
Today, the home’s interior is lavishly furnished with both original components of Glanmore itself, as well as different collections of artifacts and curios of the timeframe. Visitors can tour the home and get an in-depth look at upscale life in a bygone era.
Glanmore National Historic Site
Take a Look
The building which now houses the Trent Port Museum is an important piece of Trenton’s municipal heritage. First erected in 1861 it served as the inaugural town hall for what is now Quinte West. It has been the sight of a courthouse, a market and was once home to the police station until the 1980’s.
In addition to the museum’s exhibits, visitors can sit and enjoy a coffee and baked goodies in the Heritage Café. Staffed entirely by volunteers this quaint little café offers a lovely place to relax and enjoy the wonderfully restored town hall. All proceeds from the café go to support the Trent Port Historical Society – and the museum itself.
Trent Port Museum
The Tweed & Area Heritage Centre is a one-stop introduction to the rich heritage, both past and present, of the Tweed area.
Amid the charming warmth of Tweed Ontario is a popular destination for history buffs and travelers alike that exceed the expectations of a typical welcome center. The Tweed & Area Heritage Centre hosts a local arts and crafts gallery, a museum as well as a research area and archives.
While exploring this scenic region just north of Belleville this fun little stop offers an education time capsule of sorts and a glimpse at the history of those who built Tweed and the surrounding hamlets and villages.
Tweed & Area Heritage Centre
Take a Look
The scenic roadways and breathtaking driving routes along The Great Waterway run parallel with a living, breathing history that is both interconnected, and exceptionally unique with each and every town, village and city you unveil. It’s a remarkable series of tales told with great pride by the communities who keep it alive.
As always, thanks for reading! I hope this post has inspired you to experience everything the Great Waterway has to offer. To get started on planning your next adventure hit the link below!
Explore Ontario’s Heritage
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