Not everyone is head-over-heels in love with winter. And that’s totally understandable. While the picturesque snow-laden landscapes of South Eastern Ontario are absolutely beautiful, winter in the big city can be a cold, hectic and rather messy ordeal. Whether it’s getting slushed at the bus stop, traversing icy sidewalks, or the seemingly endless shovelling – winter can be a cruel beast indeed. [Read more…]
One of my fondest holiday memories, is sinking my teeth into a freshly baked piece of my Grandmama’s shortbread. She made it from scratch, using the old school British method, resulting in a heavenly flavour, and rich buttery texture that would dissolve in your mouth. My little sister and I would sneak into the parlour every year and raid the fancy glass tray before dinner. We thought we were like little ninjas, but my grandmother likely saw everything. [Read more…]
Confession time. I am the King of last-minute holiday shopping. You know that guy who’s always frantically traversing from store to store trying to acquire the gifts and goodies that he should have a month prior? That’s me. [Read more…]
Confession time: I love food. There. It feels better getting that out in the open. Then again, who doesn’t? Here in South Eastern Ontario, there is an incredible selection of places to eat from casual settings to fine dining venues that are fit for royalty. [Read more…]
Autumn is here, and although summer has come to pass, a stunning array of colourful beauty awaits. Already, the days grow shorter, if ever so slightly and the night’s breeze carries a cool whisper of the next changing of the season. The vivid emerald shades of summer are giving way to a breathtaking palette of fiery fall colours that will envelop the region in an explosion of colour and beauty.
As the fall approaches, there is a collective celebration all throughout South Eastern Ontario in honour of the coming harvest, friends, family and most importantly community. Historically, celebrating the harvest season is an important tradition that strengthens our social bond and reminds us that we won’t be facing the cold embrace of winter alone.
Collected here, for your reading pleasure is a fun assortment of fantastic fall festivities and local farms to visit in The Great Waterway this year!
Cornwall & the Counties
Explore a Visual Wonderland at Upper Canada Village’s Pumpkinferno
The brilliant and visually stunning spectacle: Pumpkinferno makes a triumphant return to Upper Canada Village this fall. Take a wonderful stroll through a beautiful outdoor exhibit consisting of 7,000 hand crafted pumpkins that illuminate the night with a warm and gorgeous ambience, arranged along a kilometre-long path situated within the village’s vivid Victorian atmosphere.
Pumpkinferno is only open for select dates between September 29th and October 29th, 2017. This year’s event will have a fun Canada 150 theme that showcases Canadian culture amid a wonderland of glowing pumpkins.
Rideau Heritage Route
Take the Squad Apple Picking at Mountain Orchards
Apple picking with friends and family is a staple and authentically Canadian autumn activity. For the past 44 years, the Lyall and Hobson families have been the proud owners of Mountain Orchards. Originally from Manotick, the families purchased this historic farm in 1973 pursuing a simpler way of life well away from the urban sprawl.
Today, they continue to welcome visitors to their orchards each season. In addition to several varieties of apples throughout the season, Mountain Orchards also has a bakery store that’s filled with delicious delights!
Brockville & 1000 Islands
Score Some Apples, Cider and Baked Treats from Hall’s Apple Market
A short 8-minute drive from downtown Brockville will land you at Hall’s Apple Market – your one stop apple shop in the 1000 Islands region!
Kingston & 1000 Islands
Get Lost in The Wolfe Island Corn Maze
Another staple fall activity is visiting a good ol’ fashioned corn maze. For the past 16 years, visitors have flocked to the famous Wolfe Island Corn Maze for a fun fall adventure. For a closer look at the corn maze, and the owners – check out this blog post by Jordan Whitehouse
This year, the Wolfe Island Corn Maze has two uniquely designed mazes to discover along with a refreshment area in between called the Oasis Rest Stop. Wolfe Island Corn Maze sits on a large 50-acre property that is prime for a variety of fun activities for the whole family!
Corn Mazes, Pumpkin Patches and More at Fruition Berry Farm
When it comes to fun outdoor activities – you need not look further than Fruition Berry Farm in Kingston. From pumpkin picking to wagon rides and a creative and unique corn field adventure – there’s a whole lot happening at Fruition this fall!
This year’s theme for their famed corn maze is “Celebrating Canada 150.” Also – pro tip for any teachers who may be reading this – they do school visits!
Fruition is a great place to bring a picnic lunch and make a day trip of it. After your visit, make sure to pick up some delicious honey, preserves or apple cider to bring home!
Always Something Happening at Glocca Morra Farms
Formerly a dedicated dairy farm, Kingston Ontario’s Glocca Morra Farms has expanded to include several diverse agricultural offerings in its six generations of farming. The Doyle family’s farm, located on Highway 15 very close to the 401 is in a prime location on the Limestone City’s growing East end.
Chickens and a greenhouse now adorn the veteran farm, along with a robust roadside market, a food truck and even a creative craft studio! As the fall season approaches, Glocca Morra is a great place to stop to visit some cows, support a local independent farm and even pick your own pumpkins!
Stay tuned to Glocca Morra’s Facebook page, as they do several events throughout the year; including art classes as well as giant pumpkin carving and family fun events in October!
Celebrate AppleFest With Waddell Apples Orchard & Bakery
Waddell Apples has been in operation since 2003. However, farming has been a part of the family for well over a century. Today, the farm uses sustainable and ecologically sound agricultural practices – and enjoy sharing the fruits of their labour with the public every year during the late summer to fall harvest.
Every year in September, Waddell Apples holds AppleFest, a community fundraising initiative that features family entertainment, live music, orchard wagon tours, a corn roast and much more. The 2017 event has not been announced yet, so be sure to stay tuned to their Facebook page for more info on AppleFest, and a slew of other exciting events at the farm!
Get Scared Out of Your Pants at Fort Henry
For thrill seekers and horror aficionados alike – there is likely nothing as exquisitely blood curdling as a trip to Fort Henry National Historic Site to experience Fort Fright. Prepare yourself for a spine tingling tour into the darkest depths of the fort’s undercroft, filled with marvellous macabre moments and memories you won’t soon forget!
As an added bonus for those who long for thought provoking history, and paranormal intrigue, visitors can also partake in the Haunted Walks Experience at Fort Henry. Take a guided tour through this immense 19th Century fort for a unique and thrilling adventure of the supernatural variety.
To be completely honest, I’m a little freaked out already.
Land O Lakes
Take a Drive to Spring Meadow Orchards, Adolphustown
Located on the scenic Loyalist Parkway (Highway 33) Spring Meadow Orchards has been a choice destination for apple picking and family fun since 1969. Spring Meadow is a short and beautiful 35-minute drive West of Kingston, situated close to the Glenora Island Ferry and Prince Edward County.
The main orchard on the farm today was grafted from the famous Macintosh apple originating in the 1900’s. There are now several varieties of apple growing at Spring Meadow, as well as other fresh fruits and vegetables.
Spring Meadow holds an extra-special place in my memory, as it’s where I went apple picking as a kid with my family, and on class trips.
Rideau Heritage Route
A Unique Experience at Wendy’s Country Market – Lyndhurst, ON
Amid the scenic charm at work throughout the Rideau Heritage Route is the unique and wonderful Wendy’s Country Market. Located in Lyndhurst, this market has been featuring the produce of over 70 local farming operations for the past decade. In fact, on August 27th, 2017 Wendy’s Country Market celebrated their 10th anniversary!
Aside from an ample produce market, there is a scrumptious array of food entrees available at Wendy’s. Visitors can pick their own food, and then have it prepared for them in a fantastic farm to table dining experience. During the recent On The Way campaign, our guest blogger Melissa Eapen visited Wendy’s mobile market – and you can read all about it in her awesome blog post!
Prince Edward County
Visit Campbell’s Orchard & Country Market – Carrying Place, ON
Located close to Rednersville in Prince Edward County, Campbell’s Orchard & Country Market is a huge farm with a lot to offer visitors. The farm’s owners Colin and Dianne Campbell have been in business for over 30 years and love to welcome families to their farm. They also help students and visitors alike learn more about agriculture through a variety school tours and wagon-ride adventures!
Campbell’s is a fantastic destination for a range of harvest goodies. They grow over 19 varieties of apple, in addition to fruits and veggies and a robust on-site bakery. Within the bakery, you’ll find a cornucopia of delicious items that can be made to order or purchased during your visit! They also have a great selection of jams and preserves to stock the pantry with!
Have an Adult Beverage (or two) at County Cider Company – Waupoos, ON
We’ve touched on several apple picking venues in this post, each of them fantastic in their own way. There is another Apple-related activity, however, that takes place long after they are picked. And pressed. And fermented! Oh, yes indeed! I’m talking about sweet, delicious cider (the one for the adults) – and Prince Edward County is home to some of the best cideries in Canada.
Well known among them, is The County Cider Co. They have been specialising in delicious hard ciders since 1995, and have won several awards over the years. County Cider Co. is located on a gorgeous plot of land that overlooks Lake Ontario. They offer fantastic educational tastings for groups or individuals and also serve up some amazing food to enjoy while taking in the view.
Bay of Quinte
Join the Festivities at Belleville’s Flavours of Fall Festival
The Flavours of Fall Festival is a spectacular celebration of the fall harvest, held in historic downtown Belleville. Ran and organized by the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, this festival is ideal for families, and will feature an entire day of fun activities, several vendors from the community as well as pony rides, a petting zoo, food tastings and so much more!
The 2017 event is taking place in the former Quinte Hotel’s parking lot on September 30th from 10 am to 3 pm. For additional details, follow the Flavours of Fall Facebook page!
Celebrate the Harvest Season!
As the leaves begin to fall, and the breeze grows ever colder, there is no better time to pack up the car with friends and family and get out for a fun road trip to a local farm, orchard or autumn festival! South Eastern Ontario has a ton of places where you can get your hands on some excellent harvest goodies, and meet the people who dedicate their lives to growing and making it!
I hope this post has provided you with some ideas, and inspiration to make the most of this fall season! As always, check out the Google Map below, which has, even more, epic places to go apple picking, or discover the amazing agricultural features here in The Great Waterway.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Celebrate Harvest Season!
Explore South Eastern Ontario!
Here in The Great Waterway, there is a multitude of ways to have fun on the water ranging from paddling to boating, windsurfing, wakeboarding and beyond! [Read more…]
What a whirlwind month! When I was first approached to travel through The Great Waterway with the ‘On the Way’ team, I knew this would be a rare and unique opportunity. After 32 days of amazing moments, wonderful adventures and awesome food, I have no regrets, it was truly incredible.
For 32 days we hit the road and explored the regions of The Great Waterway, which include; The Bay of Quinte, Prince Edward County, Land O’Lakes, Rideau Heritage Route, Kingston 1000 Islands, Gananoque 1000 Islands, Brockville 1000 Islands, and Cornwall and the Counties. As a pretty seasoned traveller, if I’m not on an adventure, I’m planning one. For example, right before this trip, I was lucky enough to go to Iceland, then head to Vancouver for a few weeks. Now, after exploring The Great Waterway, I realize how much diversity we have right here in South Eastern Ontario. Now I don’t have to go far to discover tons of great things! I’m going to continue travelling through this part of Ontario, whether it’s hiking through Rock Dunder, taking a cruise through 1000 Islands, visiting breweries and vineyards; there’s so much to do and see right in our own backyard.
Here are some of my favourite stops along the Great Waterway:
Prince Edward County
Visiting Prince Edward County was a great way to kick off this campaign. This region is up and coming, with so many great things to see and do. A trip to The County can include everything from touring breweries and vineyards to seeing local artisans work to visiting quaint shops and so much more. With so many experiences to try, travellers are sure to find something that interests them, whether it’s adventure, relaxation or even a new hobby! While there, we were able to participate in many activities and one of my fondest memories was our visit to Parsons Brewing Company. The food was fantastic and the beer was delicious. We even had the incredible opportunity to talk with the owners about their inspiration behind the beer and brewery. Ever since visiting Parsons, I’ve been following them on Instagram and can’t wait to take a trip back.
Bay of Quinte
Admittedly, I had no idea how many things this region has to offer until stopping here – we had so much fun! First there was the incredible adrenaline rush that we had kayaking through in the region with Twiggy of Cruising Canoes and then wakeboarding for the first time at Trenchtown Wake Park. This region also had the cutest coffee shop called The Brake Room, which is also a bike shop. The coffee was great and the vibe was even better. While in Belleville, I had the best Indian food I’ve ever had in Ontario, at the Royal Haveli. The Bay of Quinte should definitely be a stop for any adventurer in South Eastern Ontario.
Ah, Land O’Lakes, our location where weather was not on our side. There were many stops on this trip that had to get rescheduled due to wet weather and unfortunately this happened a lot in this region. We were able to have a quick stop on Wolfe Island before the rain hit and I’m excited to go back to explore it more for myself. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. It’s one of my favourite breweries, so this was an incredible experience! While there we were able to see the farm and taste some of their delicious beer. Luckily, in September, we will be back in this region for the #OnTheWay campaign, so check in then to catch all the things we will be exploring!
Kingston 1000 Islands
My oh my, exploring Kingston was a real treat. As a resident of Kingston, I find that many people often take the beautiful architecture and history of Kingston for granted. Having the opportunity to travel through Kingston like a tourist opened my eyes to a lot that Kingston has to offer. We were able to visit the Kingston Pen, which has been on my list of places that I wanted to visit. The architecture and history is absolutely incredible. If you haven’t visited the Pen yet, drop everything you’re doing and book a tour now!
The Kingston Food Tour was also a great experience and allowed us to taste food at many different locations in Kingston. The food was great but what I really appreciated, was learning about how many restaurants in Kingston use local suppliers for food.
Gananoque 1000 Islands
In this stunning region, we were able to explore by land, water and sky. We started by touring the area from above with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours – so amazing! Then we saw the region by kayaking on the water. 1000 Islands Kayaking Co. made sure we had everything we needed to have a fantastic time paddling. We also spent time exploring the waterfront and driving through the area. It was incredible to see how beautiful this region is from every angle. Many people travel to waterfront properties and beaches in different countries, but Ontarians should definitely be spending their time here instead. The 1000 Islands is one of the most beautiful places on earth and there are so many fun things to do!
Brockville 1000 Islands & Rockport
This is the region where we finally had the opportunity to visit Boldt Castle! After hearing so much about it and seeing it from the sky, it was amazing to finally be able to set foot in this majestic castle. The castle and the island have an interesting history that includes a love story that’s both tragic and beautiful, read about it here.
One of the most thrilling parts of our entire trip was being able to visit Skywood Eco Adventure Park. Here, we navigated through the treetops on a series of adventure courses that included ropes and zip lines. It was a fun challenge and I definitely want to go back to try the expert course one day!
In Brockville, we were able to get a sneak peek of the Railroad Tunnel, which is an incredible location and is now open to the public!
Rideau Heritage Route
The best way to describe this region of Ontario is by comparing it to a remote oasis. Filled with beautiful small towns and peaceful nature, it’s the perfect destination if you want to spend some time outside. Rock Dunder, which recently became a popular go-to spot because of numerous posts on Instagram, is a great spot to hike and see awesome water views. If you’re a fan of cliff jumping, there’s a great spot to do this at Rock Dunder.
Another great spot here is Jones Falls; I’m a huge fan of history, so I loved that local historical interpreters teach visitors about the area. There are many areas to explore in this region, making it a fun adventure for all ages!
And last, but certainly not least…
Cornwall and The Counties
I just need to start off by saying I dream about the poutine we had in Cornwall, I even wrote about it in the blog for that region. Needless to say, it was the best poutine I’ve ever had and totally worth a visit to Cornwall to try it at Sheep Head’s Bistro.
Being a penchant for history, I loved that we were able to visit the Historic Cornwall Jail. It was interesting to learn about the prisoners and executions that took place there. Another wonderful spot to visit and learn about history is Upper Canada Village. Plus it’s always a fun time for any age group!
So there you have it. 32 days travelling with someone who I didn’t know at all beforehand and it was a total blast! Now, I tell everyone how amazing this region is and I totally recommend traveling here. Before booking your next trip anywhere else, consider making this region your destination location. There’s so much to do, so many great people to meet, local food to taste, and so much more! Follow The Great Waterway on Instagram to see what all this region has to offer!
In the coming months, our full video adventure will be released. Be sure to check back soon!
Day 24: July 26th, 2017
We started our day by having breakfast at Island View Restaurant in Rockport. We sat on the patio that overlooks the water and enjoyed the beautiful view. We arrived just after the restaurant opened, so it was peaceful and quiet. We then walked over to the Rockport Boat Line, which meant I was finally about to take the tour to see the inside of Boldt Castle! (If you’ve had a chance to read my Gananoque post, I’ve basically seen Boldt Castle from every angle – both sky and water – but haven’t yet been inside). The smooth ride to Boldt Castle took only 30 minutes on the Rockport Boat and I’m happy that it was a short ride because it meant we arrived at Boldt Castle quickly. If you’re not familiar with Boldt Castle, it is the physical memento of a tragic love story.
Time for a quick history lesson! Bold Castle was created by George C. Boldt, the millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. He loved spending time near 1000 Islands and as such he wanted to create a grand castle as a display of his love for his wife, Louise. Starting in 1900, construction began on the 120 room castle that would be six stories high. In January 1904, Louise passed away, leaving Boldt broken hearted. He couldn’t imagine his castle without Louise and commanded workers to immediately stop construction on the castle. From 1904 to 1977, the castle was left to be destroyed by vandals. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority then acquired the property and have put millions of dollars into rehabilitating Boldt Castle.
When we arrived at Boldt Castle, we quickly went through customs and finally were able to see the castle! It kind of felt like seeing the castle from Beauty and the Beast- it is incredibly majestic and beautiful. We walked into the castle and toured various rooms and reconstructions of the castle. It was interesting to see the contrast of the rehabilitated rooms of the tower, compared to the old rooms that had not been redone and were still covered in graffiti. I personally hope that the entire castle doesn’t get rehabilitated, just so everyone can see what the castle looked like compared to the rehabilitation. Both are beautiful, in different ways.
The ride back to Canada took us an hour, as the boat takes a different path to get back to Rockport. After docking, we quickly changed and headed to Skywood Eco Adventure Park, which was by far the most adrenaline-packed adventure of our trip!
Located in Mallorytown, Skywood Eco Adventure Park is Canada’s largest aerial adventure and zip line park. I had mistakenly thought Skywood only had zip lines, but it has so much more. It is basically an extremely fun obstacle course up in the trees. Being at least 15 feet off the ground navigating through the forest canopy on wooden planks or ropes is super fun (and for some less daring, possibly a bit scary). We started with the beginner course and made our way up to intermediate. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to conquer the advanced course, which means I’ll be heading back there soon! After the course, we zip lined back to the base. It was an incredible experience and I highly recommend checking it out with your family or friends. Pro tip: Take bug spray with DEET and water! You’ll need both, I promise.
After quickly freshening up, we headed to Tall Ships South Coast Grille for dinner, located above the Aquatarium in Brockville. Not only does this restaurant have a beautiful view of the water but the menu is incredible with lots of options.
Day 25: July 27, 2017
I’m a huge animal lover, so I get really excited to see animals regardless of if they are land or water dwellers. It made my day when we started off the morning with a visit to the Aquatarium in Brockville. Scott and I raced on antique row boats (I obviously won) and then we began to explore the aquarium. There were so many creatures, but my favourite animals were the otters! They were incredibly adorable and it was a fun experience to watch them get fed. I would never have known, but the Aquatarium also has a high ropes course! At first, I thought it was designed for children as it was themed to resemble a ship, but as soon as I started climbing, I realized that it was actually fairly difficult! It was a good challenge. Similar to Skywood, it was a lot of fun and it makes you feel preeeeetty invincible!
After the Aquatarium we headed to The Brockberry for lunch. The Brockberry has a southern inspired menu, with items such as “Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken”, “Memphis Pulled Pork”, “Low Country Cornbread” and more. They also have some fantastic traditional unsweetened iced tea that they make in house.
Then we were off to Fulford Place. We had driven by this beautiful mansion a few times and now we were finally able to go inside and explore. Another quick history lesson: Fulford Place was built by Senator George Taylor Fulford, who made millions of dollars from “Pink Pills for Pale People”. It was a patented medicine he created in Brockville and sold around the world. With his success, he was able to build the 20,000 square foot Edwardian mansion, Fulford Place, between 1899 and 1901.
The house is incredibly beautiful, with original tapestries, paintings and more items collected during their world travels. It’s very grandiose, with large rooms and expensive decor. Fun fact: The family often hosted many Canadian Prime Ministers in this house for dinner! And last, but not least, we ended our leg in Brockville by having a sneak peek of the railway tunnel. Man oh man, I had seen a few sneak peeks of this on Instagram before, but it was absolutely incredible. It felt like we were transported to a different world, and the lights and sounds were absolutely beautiful.
Canada’s first railway tunnel was built in 1860 in Brockville. It was completed 21 years before the Canadian Pacific Railway and was very controversial for its time. It is now being restored for access for the general public and act as a connection from the Trail at the city’s waterfront, through the Gorge, and to other sections of the Trail. The Railway Tunnel opens on August 12, 2017, so make sure to check it out!
And there ends our journey to Rockport and Brockville. We only have two more destinations left; are you following along? Check out the live stories on Instagram at @greatwaterway, and check out some of the other destinations we went to, like Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte, Gananoque, and Kingston!
Brockville/Rockport Blooper Reel
Enjoy Scott’s rendition of MTV Cribs at Boldt Castle!
I never grow tired of writing about South Eastern Ontario’s vast historical significance. Every destination from The Bay of Quinte to Cornwall, and beyond is built upon a fascinating series of stories, each chapter contributing to the overall story of Canada itself. The chapter that we will be exploring in this article is a personal favourite of mine: Transportation. [Read more…]