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…]
Canada turns 150 in 2017, and here in southeastern Ontario the party is going to be off the hook all year long. Here’s a look at some of the best ways to toast the country in the region, complete with film fests, pan-Canadian concerts, tall ships and of course Canada Day bashes. Check back often because we’ll keep adding to this list throughout the year.
National Parks and Historic Sites (for free!)
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.
Fort Town Memories
Prescott Public Library, Prescott, Ontario
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.
How Brockville Celebrated the Centennial
Until December 30
Brockville Museum, Brockville, Ontario
See how Brockville celebrated Canada’s last big anniversary at this year-long exhibit. Hint: there were lots of parades, pageants and 1867-era costumes. This lighthearted look at Canada’s last big anniversary includes film footage, a memory wall, photos, artifacts and costumes to try on.
Price: By Donation
Light Up Cornwall
Lamoureaux Park, Cornwall Ontario
Cornwall is ringing in the big year with a festival running all winter in its 91-acre waterfront park. Go skating on the pond, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, launch down the hill on a toboggan or build a snowman. Or, if you’re like me, just take a stroll through the park’s paths with a free hot apple cider and maple taffy in hand.
Constructing Our Identities Speaker Series
February 22 – March 15
Fulford Place Museum, Brockville, Ontario
Every Wednesday afternoon between February 22 and March 15, scholars from Queen’s and Carleton universities will hold Canadian-themed talks in Fulford Place’s billiard room. Topics will range from the way toys and TV shaped Canadian identity in the 50s and 60s to the father of Canadian multiculturalism, Watson Kirkonnell.
17th Kingston Canadian Film Festival
March 2 – 5
The largest showcase of Canadian flicks in the world happens every winter in theatres all over Ktown. This year, expect over 30 docs, features and shorts about our people (e.g. “River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent”) and our identity (e.g. “Angry Inuk”). Check out the special events, too, like free workshops, concerts from Ben Caplan and others, and even comedy from pros like Cathy Jones (“This Hour Has 22 Minutes”).
1867 Confederation Gala
April 8, 5:30 pm
Glengarry Sports Palace, Alexandria, Ontario
Celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial Celtic style at this fundraiser party for the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. Where your kilts and sporrans (or just semi-formal duds) and enjoy an old-fashioned dinner and dance with live music, a silent auction and a lot of Celtic hospitality.
Quilts on the Seaway
April 21 – 22
St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Cornwall, Ontario
A show featuring special quilts made in guilds across eastern Ontario that depict 150 years of Canadian history. The quilts are travelling to different small towns across the region until the fall, but you’ll get a chance to see all of them at St. John’s Presbyterian in Cornwall in April.
Brockville Multicultural Festival
Brockville Memorial Civic Centre, Brockville, Ontario
This fest all about celebrating the diversity of our people feels more important than ever this year. A weekend salute to music, dance and food from around the world, it’s been attracting visitors from near and far wanting to tap into what makes this country great for 35 years. Exact date not yet available.
Price: Not Yet Available
The Breakout Project
May 10 – 12
Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario
This 48-hour competition will be Canada’s biggest social innovation event. Teams of entrepreneurs, marketers, engineers and designers will work around the clock to kickstart 365-day social good projects designed to improve our communities, society and planet. Lend them a helping hand alongside thousands of others. Ticket includes access to all venues, parties and a concert in Springer Market Square.
Canada: Something to Sing About
May 12, 7:30 pm
Aultsville Theatre, Cornwall, Ontario
Canada is something to sing about, darn it, and the Centennial Choir of Cornwall will prove it at this concert in St. Lawrence College’s 658-seat theatre. Expect Cape Breton songs, folk songs dating back to the Upper and Lower Canadian rebellions, French Canadian favourites, and many others that’ll take you through 150 years of Canadian history.
Price: $7 – $15
The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
June 3 – 4
The Crystal Palace, Picton, Ontario
Canada is home to some of the best cheesemakers on the planet, and this annual festival brings many of them together alongside artisan food producers for two days of meeting, tasting, buying and learning. As the biggest artisan cheese show in North America, it features over 130 exhibitors and vendors, seminars and events like farm-to-fork meals and chef competitions.
Price: $25 – $50
First Capital Day
Kingston was named the first capital of the Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. While its time as a political centre was short, being first is still occasion to celebrate, no? Expect free hands-on historical displays and activities, plus several interactive exhibitors representing different aspects of life in 1800’s Kingston.
National Aboriginal Day
Thousand Islands National Park Visitor Centre, Mallorytown, Ontario
One of the best places to mark National Aboriginal Day in the region is at Thousand Islands National Park, located in a traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee people. Learn about what the Thousand Islands mean for First Nations people, try Canada’s national summer sport, lacrosse, and sample Labrador tea. And don’t forget: with a free Discovery Pass, you’ll get free entry to the park all year long.
Quinte West Multicultural Week
June 25 – July 1
Quinte West, Ontario
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.
Canada Day in Southeastern Ontario
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.
Rendez-Vous 2017: Tall Ships Regatta
July 7 – 9
From June 30 until 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.
Rails to Trails
August 10 – 13
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.
Innovation 150: Power of Ideas Exhibition
August 18 – 19
Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Kingston, Ontario
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.
150th Road Rally Celebration
South Frontenac, Ontario
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.
Sesquie for Canada 150
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
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
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.
Prince Edward County
Sybil Frank Gallery
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.
Arts on Main Gallery
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.
Mad Dog Gallery
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.
Bay of Quinte
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.
Land O Lakes
Zynergy Gallery & Shop
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 and Projects
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.
Stone Mills Township
The Piggery Gallery
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
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.
Tett Center for Creativity and Learning
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.
Agnes Etherington Art Centre – Queen’s University
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
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.
Brockville Arts Center
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.
From Here to Infinity
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.
Rideau Heritage Route
Gray Art Glass
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
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.
Cornwall & the Counties
Priests Mill Glassworks
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!
The Glass Blowing Place
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.”
Vivid Visual Escapes in Southeastern Ontario
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!
Love it or hate it, winter isn’t going anywhere soon.
While some people tend to hunker down and hibernate the cold months away – others embrace the crisp winds of winter and take full advantage of the broad selection of things to do throughout Southeastern Ontario. Getting outdoors during the winter with friends and family is not only healthy, but a great opportunity to make an otherwise dark and dreary season into a collection of positive memories you’ll keep for life.
One of my fondest memories dates back to my childhood. Every March Break I would go up to Eagle Lake near Parham for a week of ice fishing with my grandfather. We would rip around on his snowmobile and spend hours in the fishing shack listening to old school country tunes. Usually, we would catch a whole lot of nothing.
I remember one momentous day when my grandfather triumphantly pulled a rather large whitefish out of the water, only to watch it fall from his eager grasp and right back down the hole. That was also the day I learned a few bad words, but that’s a different story altogether.
To help inspire your next winter outing, here is a collection of fantastic activities and events happening from Cornwall and the Counties to the Bay of Quinte this winter.
Cornwall and The Counties
Cornwall’s Outdoor Skating Rinks
There’s likely nothing more distinctly Canadian, than hitting up an outdoor skating rink with friends and family, feeling the crisp winter’s breeze in your face until your cheeks tingle and finishing it all off with a cup of piping hot cocoa.
The City of Cornwall has 11 awesome outdoor rinks located throughout town. These rinks are maintained by dedicated community volunteers and are free for public use. To help you select which rink you want to visit, the City has a handy online map on their website.
Two Creeks Conservation Area
Two Creeks Conservation Area offers a diverse selection of ecological points of interest spanning a beautiful 457 acres.
This wonderful network of natural spaces is accessible year round and maintained by both the South Nation Conservation group and local partners.
Among Two Creek’s newest offerings is a breathtaking 4.5 km marked trail that is prime for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter hiking. This particular conservation area boasts a lush biodiversity, with several animal and bird species to observe; so don’t forget your binoculars!
Two Creeks also allow on-leash dog walking, so it’s ok to bring your puppy along for a romp in the wilderness.
15th Annual Alexandria Ice Fishing Derby
Cornwall and the Counties is one of many premier destinations for anglers year-round.
The Annual Alexandria Ice Fishing Derby is an event not to be missed by any fishing enthusiast – especially with over 40,000 dollars in prizes up for grabs.
This classic fishing derby will also have an early morning brunch, and a 50/50 draw for some sweet prizes. The proceeds of this year’s draw will benefit the Optimist Club of Alexandria.
Saturday, February 18th, 2017.
Island Park, Alexandria, Ontario.
For full details visit: AlexandriaFishingDerby.com.
Rideau Heritage Route
Murphy’s Point Provincial Park
Nestled between Westport and Lombardy you will find a majestic destination for x-country skiing, and snowshoeing at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park.
Here, you will find over 20 kilometers of various trails, captivating scenery, and quaint chalets for warming up.
For a more rugged snowshoeing experience there are also non-groomed trails for that purpose. Murphy’s Point has two parking areas maintained during the winter months for day-use.
There are no equipment rentals available, so it’s a bring your own gear scenario. It’s also noteworthy that dogs are not permitted on the ski trails.
For full details, I highly recommend reviewing the Trail Info page over at the Tay Valley Ski Club’s website.
Tay Valley Ski Club Loppet
A Loppet is a fun winter skiing event that draws its roots from Scandinavian history. It refers to a particular route that a former King of Scandinavia skied over 500 years ago.
Today, the Tay Valley Ski Club keeps this tradition alive with a fun filled day of cross country skiing with an emphasis on fun and participation.
Date: Feb. 12th, 2017
Info, Contact & Registration: Tay Valley Loppet Online Registration Site.
The Cataraqui Trail is a former CN railway line that once connected Smiths Falls to Strathcona which is just North of Napanee.
During winter, and when snow levels permit – this sprawling trail is groomed for a variety of uses including snowmobiling, cross country skiing and more!
This beautiful trail is kept in operation thanks to proceeds gathered through donations and membership fees. If you go out and enjoy the Cat Trail – perhaps take some time to visit their website’s support page; to learn more about how you can help this great destination remain open for years to come.
Outdoor Skating in the City of The 1000 Islands
As weather conditions permit, Brockville has two outdoor skating locations. The first is located in the city’s North end at Memorial Park (Laurier Blvd at Bridlewood). The memorial park rinks operate from January to mid-March.
The second outdoor skating venue is located at Rotary Park (King Street West at Gilmour Street.) It sports an artificially chilled natural hockey rink which is open from early December to the end of March.
Rotary Park also has an excellent synthetic rink for casual skating (hockey is not permitted) which runs from November to April. Additional information and contact details are available on the City of Brockville website.
Brockville Winter Classic Weekend
Starting March 3rd, 2017 the Brockville Winter Classic Weekend will return once again to fill the air with a public celebration of hockey and good old fashioned outdoor Canadian fun.
2017 is the event’s third anniversary and will feature a smorgasbord of activities ranging from hockey tournaments, prize draws, community skating, and a headlining hockey game between Boston Bruins Alumni and a local all-stars team.
The full team of Bruin’s alumni isn’t fully confirmed yet, but such greats as Ray Bourque, Rick Middleton, and Al Iafrate are set to hit the ice.
For full details including ticketing information visit the Winter Classic Weekend website!
Mac Johnson Wildlife Area
A scenic drive North of Brockville will bring you to Mac Johnson Wildlife area. This breathtaking conservation area spans over 500 hectares of wetlands, rolling fields, critical wetlands and scenic forested areas.
During the winter months, Mac Johnson Wildlife area becomes a sought after destination for outdoor activities and special events.
In addition to the traditional hiking, cross-country skiing, and skating options – Mac Johnson is also host to a great lineup of events this year. Below is a handy list including links to help plan your outing.
Every Saturday in January and February, weather permitting @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Saturday, January 28 (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
Monday, February 20 (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
Epic Snowshoeing at Jones Creek Trails
Parks Canada says it best on the Thousand Islands National Park website: “Don’t let the chill of winter keep you cooped up indoors.” I intend to heed this advice and try snowshoeing for the first time this year.
Jones Creek Trails look like a good place to start out, as their routes vary in difficulty from easy 20 minute walks to more moderate hikes that can last up to two hours or more depending on experience.
To help determine your path, there is a handy downloadable map available on the Parks Canada Website.
Outdoor Skating at historic Springer Market Square
In beautiful downtown Kingston, the winter months are brightened up each year by the opening of the outdoor rink at Springer Market Square.
It’s free to the public, and there are skate rentals, public restrooms and lockers available in the Market Wing of City Hall.
The best part is that Kingston’s fabulous downtown cafes and restaurants are all within easy walking distance to warm up and enjoy some nibbles after a glide around the rink.
The rink is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (closes in March, weather permitting). For full details check the City of Kingston website.
Feb Fest 2017
Since it’s inaugural event over a decade ago, Feb Fest has become a much-anticipated premier winter event in Kingston.
This year’s event kicks off on Thursday, February 2nd and continues until the 5th. As always, Feb Fest will feature a slew of awesome events.
Stay tuned to the Downtown Kingston! Website for news and updates about Feb Fest ‘17.
Little Cataraqui Creek
Owl Hoot & Coyote Howl Hike
This guided night hike at Little Cat Creek is a perfect opportunity to bring the family for an outdoor adventure they won’t soon forget.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll see any coyotes or owls – you’ll likely hear them as they call out across the frosted twilight.
Cost is $2 per person plus regular gate fee. Registration for this event is required to ensure there are enough hike leaders. To book your spot on the hike visit: crca.ca/online-services.
Saturday, January 14, 6:30 p.m. weather permitting.
Starlight Snowshoe Hike
Join the crew at Little Cataraqui Creek for a novice level snowshoeing trek beneath a starlit sky. If you’re looking for a chance to try out snowshoeing, this is an affordable and guided trek.
This is a night hike, so don’t forget to bring a headlamp or flashlight. Hot chocolate and snacks will be available.
Registration is required for this event also. Registration forms are available at crca.ca/online-services. Registration closes Friday, February 10 at 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 11, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.
Land O Lakes
Frontenac Provincial Park
Winter is an ideal time of year to visit Frontenac Provincial Park. Visitors can enjoy 11 kilometers of track-set trails that are perfect for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and spotting wildlife.
After the hustle and bustle of summer, the forests and trails of Frontenac become a quiet and tranquil environment perfect for escaping the urban grind.
For details about activities and other helpful info, visit: OntaroParks.com/Frontenac/Activities.
Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race
For those of you with a bit more snowshoeing skills and savvy, the 2017 Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race is something to consider competing in.
The race takes place over a 6.5 km route that follows a rugged, broad and single track that traverses variable terrain with a combination of potentially deep snow and packed sections of trail.
Chances are, that if you’re participating in a snowshoe race, you already have your own gear. If you do not, there are limited rentals available.
January 14, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Race day registration from 8:30 – 9:45 a.m. at the Park Office
Location: Frontenac Provincial Park – at Park Office
For full Details & Online Registration visit: HealthandAdventure.com.
Napanee Winter Chill Festival and Family Day
Last year, the Town of Greater Napanee combined the annual Winter Chill Festival and Family Day to create one huge day of fun.
This year’s event has been confirmed for Monday, February 20th to coincide with this year’s Family Day.
One burning question remains, however. Will the chili challenge be back? Stay Tuned to The Town of Greater Napanee website to find out!
Bay of Quinte
Ice Fishing in the Bay of Quinte
Ice fishing is an activity that has made this list more than once. It’s a great outdoor activity and a staple in Canadian culture.
Each season, the Bay of Quinte becomes a sought after destination for winter anglers from all over. It is, after all, one of the best places in the world to hook some serious Walleye.
To help give you an idea or two, and for some handy links to licensing and other info for anglers in Ontario, check out this post on our blog by Jordan Whitehouse.
Enjoy the Serenity of Presqu’ile Provincial Park
For travelers looking for a mild winter stroll, Presqu’ile Provincial Park offers a relatively flat level of terrain making it accessible to seniors, or novice hikers.
It’s also a prime spot for birdwatching in peak seasons, and the trails are perfect for a relaxed walk or cross country ski among nature.
Family Day Winter Soup Hike at Presqu’ile
Enjoy a fun-filled and educational day at Presqu’ile, which involves birding, animal tracking, plant and fungus identification and more!
After the day’s activities visitors can enjoy a hot bowl of soup or hot chocolate. Cost is 5.00 per person or 8.00 per family. Prices include park admission.
February 11, 2017 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Registration is required. Call: (613)475-1688 ext. 2
For details visit: OntarioParks.com/events
City of Quinte West
Carve Some Powder at Batawa Ski Hill
Situated roughly 15 minutes north of Trenton, Batawa Ski Hill is a well-known destination for families and anyone looking to enjoy outdoor winter fun.
Batawa is a non-profit operation and offers a range of activities including alpine skiing, hiking, and snowboarding. There are also camp programs, and special events including, concerts and more!
Prince Edward County
Milford Winter Carnival
Make sure you visit the County January 27th & 28th for an epic two days of fun at the Milford Winter Carnival!
There will be a great collection of winter activities, a pancake breakfast, hot dogs and hot chocolate (a winter classic) and more!
Some of the activities depend on weather conditions so stay tuned to the event page on the County’s website for details!
Jan 27 – 28, 2017
Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area
Macaulay Mountain is a popular summer destination for hikers and picnickers. The conservation area features over 400 acres and trails offering easy hiking in the lowland area, and more advanced trekking on the escarpment portion.
When winter arrives, and a good layer of snow blankets Macaulay Mountain – it becomes a favourite place for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It’s also a good place to bring your toboggan or sled to shred some hills.
Wellington Outdoor Rink
Enjoy an outdoor skating session at Wellington’s outdoor rink. Located at 266 Main Street Wellington (across from the library).
The Wellington outdoor rink was generously donated by local entrepreneur Michael Hymus, in memory of his late father.
There is a limited amount of skates available (40 pairs total) that range in size from children’s small to men’s large. The skates are available for free to anyone who wishes to borrow a pair.
The rink is open to the public seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Details and other information are available on the rink’s Facebook page
Winterfest at Sandbanks Provincial Park
Sandbanks Provincial Park is easily the most iconic attraction in Prince Edward County. Winter is an especially beautiful time of year for the park.
Winterfest is a great activity which takes place on Family Day (Feb. 20, 2017). The event is free and includes all the expected outdoor activities in addition to live music and kids activities.
If you’re musically inclined – make sure to bring a musical instrument and join the “Kitchen Party Jam!”
Feb 20, 2017 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Embrace Winter’s Beauty!
After compiling this list of epic winter activities, I can safely say that I will be spending far less time on the couch this year. With such a wide range of places to visit and things to do, I can hardly wait to get out there and show winter who’s boss.
Yes, I get it. It’s cold out there, but trust me. Once you get outside, take in a deep breath and embrace winter’s beauty, you’ll feel a certain warmth in your soul that even Jack Frost can’t nip away at.
Get Out There & Enjoy Winter!
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.
4th Annual Rockin’ New Year’s Eve
6:30 pm – 12:30 am
National Air Force Museum of Canada,
220 RCAF Road, Astra
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
All You Need is Love Rocks New Year’s Eve
The Empire Theatre, 321 Front Street, Belleville
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
Drake Devonshire NYE 2017: Under the Big Top
Drake Devonshire, 24 Wharf Street, Wellington
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
New Year’s Eve at The Waring House
The Waring House, 395 Sandy Hook Road, Picton
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
New Year’s Eve at Fort Henry
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Fort Henry, 1 Fort Henry Drive, Kingston
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
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Rogers K-Rock Centre, 1 The Tragically Hip Way, Kingston
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
A Turpin’s Trail New Year’s Eve
7:00 pm – 1:00 am
The Cove Country Inn, 2 Bedford Street, Westport
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
Glen House New Year’s Party
The Glen House Resort,
409 Thousand Islands Parkway, Lansdowne
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
25th Annual New Year’s Eve Concerts
6:00 pm – 12:00 am
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
Alight at Night
4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Upper Canada Village, 13740 County Road 2, Morrisburg
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
CAPE New Year’s Eve Party
8:00 pm – 2:00 am
Agora Catholic Centre Hall, 301 McConnell Avenue, Cornwall
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!
That magical time is just around the corner. Everywhere you look colourful lights are being strung from houses, and beautiful emerald trees are being decorated. The familiar tune of festive songs fill the air, and before you know it, the holiday season is upon us.
Here in the Great Waterway, the celebration is a pretty big deal. From the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties this entire region offers an assortment of prime destinations for those looking to get into the holiday spirit.
Without further delay, here is a collection of merry festivals, events, and other fun-filled activities that are sure to help get even the grouchiest of Scrooge into the spirit of the season.
Prince Edward County
Wassail is a tribute to an ancient tradition that commemorates the harvest and winter’s approach. It stems from the ancient phrases: “wæs hæil” (Middle English) and “ves heill” (Old Norse) both meaning: “Be in (good) health!”
The celebration involved “merrymakers” who would travel from house to house singing songs of joy, sharing in feasts, and raising a glass of delicious mulled cider or wine. Today, Wassail is wonderfully observed throughout The County by similar traditions including the ceremonial burying of grapevines to protect them from the approaching winter.
Prince Edward County Winery Tours
Visitors can take the self-guided route or join bus tours and experience a culmination of the cultural and agricultural elements that make The County’s Wassail celebrations so fantastic.
More information about tickets and participating locations can be found on the Prince Edward County Wine Growers Association’s website.
November 19 & 20, 26 & 27, December 3 & 4 2016.
Sandbanks Estate Winery Wassail & Wreath-Making
Join in the celebration the harvest as the vines are buried in preparation for winter. Enjoy late harvest mulled wine with delicious treats.
Guided tours are available as well as interactive wreath making workshops using harvested grapevines. Details are available on the Prince Edward County website.
November 19, 20 and 26, 27 December 3, 4, 2016
Wreath making: 11AM-3PM
Vineyard tour walk about: 10:30 a.m. & 2:00 p.m. Saturdays.
Macaulay House (Candlelight Wassail)
The halls of Picton’s Macaulay House are decked in the fashion of an 1850’s Christmas. Sample savoury heritage recipes, entertainment in the parlour and more!
You can also get your hands on some delicious plum pudding and other items in the gift shop. This heritage twist on the holidays is not one to miss!
Full details are available at the Prince Edward County Website.
November 19, 26, and December 3, 2016
Candlelight Tours from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Ameliasburgh Heritage Village
Bundle up and prepare for an afternoon of holiday cheer throughout the beautiful village of Ameliasburgh.
Take horse-drawn wagon rides that stop at various locations including the Town Hall, Library, a Masonic Lodge, the schoolhouse, and more!
Enjoy refreshments, crafting workshops for the kids, irresistible bake sales, and other festive themed events.
For details visit the Ameliasburgh Event Calendar.
December 4, 2016, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Picton Santa Claus Parade
In addition to the seasonal festivities of The County; there is, of course, the annual Picton Santa Claus Parade. Enjoy the music of the marching bands and enjoy the shops restaurants and cafes of Main Street with family and friends alike.
Details of the event are available right here on The Great Waterway.
November 27, 2016
The parade begins at 2:00 p.m. ending with the arrival of Santa.
Bay of Quinte
As the holiday season approaches, the Bay of Quinte transforms into a brightly lit winter wonderland. Several public parks and spaces are lovingly decorated with gorgeous lighting displays.
These vivid and vibrant displays of lights stem from a legendary local history and offer visitors some of the region’s most breathtaking evening walks alongside fantastic options for holiday shopping and dining.
Jane Forrester Park – Belleville
The annual displays of Jane Forrester Park draw thousands of people each year as the park is brought to life by way of brilliant lights and festive ambiance.
There are free coach buses on hand courtesy of Franklin Tours. They will pick up visitors and residents from locations throughout Belleville and shuttle them to and from the event.
This magical lighting ceremony is Belleville’s official Christmas kick-off and can be enjoyed from the first Friday after Remembrance Day until January.
More information is available on Belleville’s website.
Frankford Christmas Fantasy of Lights – Trenton
This event offers visitors a double feature which combines the 27th annual Frankford Santa Claus parade and the Fantasy of Lights.
Enjoy a classic parade featuring Santa himself. Find elaborate floats and fun for the whole family starting at 2 p.m. Later on the Fantasy of Lights kicks off with entertainment by local musician Dave Charron. Follow that up with fireworks and more!
The Fantasy of Lights display will continue until January 2nd, 2017. More info is available on the Bay of Quinte website.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Frankford Santa Claus Parade at 2:00 p.m.
Lighting Celebration at 5:00 p.m.
The Doug Whitney Fantasy of Lights – Trenton
Doug Whitney was a dedicated Trenton City Councillor who served five terms and was well known and loved throughout the community.
To commemorate his service to the community and those whose lives were touched by Mr. Whitney, the Fantasy of Lights event at Fraser Park has been dedicated to his memory.
Tour magical waterfront light displays while listening to classic holiday tunes, enjoy hot chocolate and other tasty treats. Event details are available on the Quinte West website.
November 26, 2016, to January 2, 2017
Hot dogs and hot chocolate starting at 3:30 p.m.
Land O Lakes
The Land O Lakes region is well known for its summer activities. As winter approaches, however, it transforms into a snowy landscape filled with a variety fun activities. The holiday celebrations and the welcoming of the coming New Year are felt throughout the area – and everyone’s invited.
Downtown Napanee Big Bright Light Show
Napanee’s Big Bright Light Show is most certainly something to see. Once the lighting ceremony and block party kick off, this historic downtown strip transforms into Holiday Central.
Browse the shops under the glow of elegant lighting and window displays, and enjoy some scrumptious holiday munchables.
Lighting Ceremony and Block Party
November 25, 2016, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Lights are on each and every night,
from November 25, 2016, to January 31, 2017
9th Annual Downtown Napanee Annual Shopping Party
December 16, 2016 from 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Parade of Lights – Napanee
Santa is coming to Greater Napanee on Saturday, December 3rd for the Greater Napanee Parade of Lights!!
Join in the fun as hundreds line the streets and celebrate the holidays with over 70 decorative floats, music, and good old-fashioned fun!
Details are available at the Greater Napanee website.
December 3, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Lennox & Addington County Archives: A Christmas Tree
Enjoy an evening of holiday cheer, music and goodies as the L&A County Archives hosts the third annual “A Christmas Tree” event.
Bring the kids, and watch their reactions when they get to meet “Father Christmas” himself and some of his reindeer in the courtyard. Full details are available over at GreaterNapanee.com.
I would like to add at this point, that Santa has to got to be the best multi-tasker in the known universe.
December 13, 2016, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Tamworth Village Craft Show
Together, the Tamworth Library and Tamworth Hotel host the Village Craft Show. These fantastic events are perfect for finding unique handmade gifts and stocking stuffers made by local makers.
Remember to bring some non-perishable food items for the Lion’s Club food hamper! Details available at Tamworth.ca.
December 4, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Royal Canadian Legion #458 Santa Claus Parade
Continuing with his planet-wide travels, Santa always swings by Tamworth for a party with his friends at the Royal Canadian Legion.
Check out some locally made crafts, enjoy some refreshments after the parade, and have your kids bring their letters for the big man himself.
This is also another opportunity to contribute non-perishable food items to Lions Club Christmas Hamper. Full details can be found at Tamworth.ca.
Santa Claus Parade starts at 1:00 p.m. December 4, 2016.
This may sound biased since I am a certified and unapologetic Kingstonian, but the Limestone City and surrounding area(s) have everything required to get you amped up for Advent.
In addition to historically themed window shopping, ice-skating in Springer Market Square or the variety of delicious dining options; there are several holiday-themed events that I’m sure Yule fall in love with.
Snow Much Fun
This is a relatively new addition to Downtown Kingston’s series of holiday/winter events. However, it offers a host of fun (FREE) activities for the whole family.
Take a spin on the Holiday Tour Trolley, shop the Holiday Market, Enjoy free ice skating, and epic live entertainment. Visitors can also donate to the Kingston Toy Drive, chill with Santa and participate in fun holiday themed games. Event details are available on the City of Kingston website.
Pro-tip: Make sure you score some of the maple taffy on snow. If “omg” were a flavour, this would be it.
December 9, 2016, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Skating in Springer Market Square begins December 9, 2016 (weather permitting) until spring melt.
More information on skating and rentals are also on CityofKingston.ca.
Little Cataraqui Creek
Winter is by far the most popular time of year at Little Cataraqui Creek. For as long as I can remember people have gathered here each year for cross-country skiing, skating, snowshoeing and scenic hikes.
Equipment is available for rent at the Outdoor Centre. And for complete newbies like myself – they offer cross-country ski lessons as well
The CRCA hosts a series of events each year leading up to and after the holidays making Little Cat Creek a prime destination for near limitless winter fun.
Below is a convenient round-up of events fit for the whole family.
December 3, 2016, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Cost is $2 per person plus the regular gate fee.
Registration is required and available online at www.crca.ca/online-services.
Outdoor Christmas Party For the Animals
There’s nothing more relaxing and grounding than getting in-tune with nature and hand feeding some chickadees.
The best part is, the kids will be blown away as they watch the little birds eat directly from their outstretched palm (if they can hold still long enough)!
December 18, 2016, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Open Year Round, 7:30 a.m. to dusk, daily.
For more information on all CRCA events visit: CRCA.ca.
Starting December 1st, Fort Henry National Historic Site will undergo a transformation of mystical proportions.
“In the magical land of Lumina Borealis, winter’s secrets are kept safe. Visitors will journey across a frozen landscape and into another world, to reignite their winter spirit. They will be guided from ice to fire, and from darkness to light, finding their way through a mysterious land of enchantment, to the very source; where Winter’s secrets are yearning to be discovered and unlocked.”
In Gananoque, the upcoming Holiday Season is marked with a host of favourite events that draw many visitors each year. To top it off, Gananoque’s historic downtown area presents visitors with an opportunity enjoy a nostalgic window-shopping wonderland that’s sure to inspire and enrich the overall experience.
Holiday Gift Show & Before The Rush
If you are looking for some unique ideas for gifts this year, then look no further than the Gananoque Holiday Show. Here you will find a combination of local artisans, creative one of a kind gifts and a welcoming atmosphere. Check Gananoque.ca for details.
Also, be sure to check out “Before the Rush” which is another gift show happening on the same weekend. This show features more in the way of home furnishings, and art. (They also have food & wine!)
Admission to either show is free.
November 25, 2016, from 4PM to 8PM
November 26, 2016, from 10AM to 4PM
November 25, 2016, from 6PM to 9PM
November 26, 2016, from 10AM to 5PM
November 27, 2016, from 10AM to 4PM
Gananoque Horticultural Society’s: Celebrate The Season
Celebrate the Season is a hands-on workshop where participants will create a unique holiday decoration, and enjoy refreshments with excellent company.
More information can be found at Gananoque.ca.
December 14, 2016, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Carols By Candlelight
On December 4th, Gananoque will echo with the sound of the season carried upon the collective voices of the Gananoque & area Choral Society. If you haven’t witnessed a live Christmas Choir, then this is your chance to experience something you won’t soon forget!
Admission to the event is a good will offering (likely a non-perishable food item) check Gananoque.ca for details.
December 4, 2016, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Rideau Heritage Route
This historically rich area of the Great Waterway possesses a uniquely evocative atmosphere for scenic drives, beautiful hikes and a bevy of activities for all ages. From Westport to Merrickville and beyond, the Rideau Heritage Route is a genuinely captivating destination for those seeking the holiday spirit.
Winter Walks at Foley Mountain Conservation Area
After the year’s first blanketing of snow Westport’s Foley Mountain becomes an ideal place to take a romantic winter hike with that special someone.
There are trails suited for multiple skill levels, offering hikers a nice choice of options for exploring this 800-acre conservation area and spotting wildlife.
For more information, check out this post right here on the Great Waterway.
Old Stone Mill National Historic Site’s: Christmas at the Mill
I’ve written about this majestic mill previously, but during the Christmas season this awe-inspiring example of history hosts a holiday event for the ages.
The building is lit up with candlelight as part of Delta’s Celebrating the Season event – and has a unique gift shop open for guests.
For more information see DeltaMill.org.
Mill open from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
November 19, 26 and December 3, 10, 17, 2016.
An Evening Stroll through Lower Beverley Lake Park
The “Celebrating the Season” event involves over 80 THOUSAND lights and a series of seasonal displays that is sure to amaze. Along with this vivid visual display, there are wagon rides which are sure to add a particular element of joy to what is already a grand event.
Open from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
November 19 & 26, December 3, 10, 17, 2016.
For more information see BeverlyLakePark.com.
The Merry Christmas Shoppe
The aptly named “Merry Christmas Shoppe” is the biggest Christmas store between here and Ottawa – and to top it all off, it’s open all year long.
Explore two floors bursting with everything ‘Christmas’ and enjoy a one stop shop for all your decorations and other Yuletide supplies.
“Christmas in Merrickville”
When it comes to finding epic holiday shopping environments, all you have to do draw a big red circle around Merrickville.
This event is a superb place to bring the kids. They can have breakfast with Santa (the big man needs to stop for meals from time to time), go nuts at a petting zoo, and squeal with glee and sing songs on horse-drawn wagon rides.
There is also live music and performances from entertainers, fire barrels for warming up, glass blowing demonstrations, a parade – and my favourite part of all: holiday snacks.
December 3rd, all-day
A detailed list of events and times are available at ChristmasinMerrickville.ca.
Annual Christmas Market
This popular event is held at the Brockville Farmers’ Market and kicks off December 3rd. This market features local crafts and other items of seasonal interest.
Check BrockvilleFarmersMarket.ca for news and updates.
December 3, 10, 17 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Brockville Rotary Santa Claus Parade
Still making his way across the region, Jolly ol’ St. Nick always makes a stop in Brockville for the Rotary Santa Claus Parade.
This year, volunteers will be collecting non-perishable food items to support the Brockville Food Bank so make sure you bring lots of items to contribute.
Also, don’t let your kids forget to bring their letters to Santa to hand to the volunteers who will also be collecting them along the route. Translation: You’ll be able to get your wishlists to Mr. Claus nice and early.
November 26, 2016, at 2:00 p.m.
For more information visit RotaryBrockville.com.
Get Outdoors at Mac Johnson Wildlife Area
Hike, snowshoe or cross country ski over 11 kilometers of trails woodland, wetlands, and sprawling fields. While weather conditions cooperate – there is also a maintained skating pond on-site complete with a bonfire pit.
Who says it has to be summertime to roast marshmallows and hotdogs? I won’t judge.
Conservation Areas open daily at 7:30 a.m. until dusk
More information is available on the CRCA website.
Cornwall & the Counties
At the Eastern edge of the Great Waterway lies Cornwall and the Counties – home to two particular holiday light festivals that are so epic they can likely be seen from space. This huge list of festive happenings throughout the region may be coming to a close – but don’t worry, we saved the best for last.
Upper Canada Playhouse Presents: Miracle on 34th Street
You may have seen the movie. However, nothing compares to a live production of this essential Christmas story. This December, join the Upper Canada Playhouse cast & crew for their dedicated production of Miracle on 34th Street.
Treat your family and friends to the timeless magic of live theatre and let the Miracle on 34th Street fill you with the wonder and spirit of Christmas!
The phrase “Bah-Humbug!” won’t even exist in your vocabulary after this. I guarantee it.
Running from December 2 to December 18, 2016.
For tickets & showtimes, visit UpperCanadaPlayhouse.com.
Alexandria Festival of Lights
The 11th Annual Alexandria Festival of Lights brings together the entire community from businesses to schools and other organizations as they hoist over 200,000 lights and create a spectacular event.
There’s also free hot chocolate up for grabs and a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. Visitors can also vote on their favourite displays throughout this month-long event.
More information can be found at AlexandriaFestivalofLights.com.
FREE Nightly, 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
November 26, 2016, to December 31, 2016
Opening Night Celebrations November 28
Christmas Eve – Open all night
Closing Night Fireworks December 31
Upper Canada Village’s: Alight at Night
Bundle up and get ready for a festive and fun-filled evening stroll through a completely transformed holiday version of Upper Canada Village.
Close to one million lights are lovingly strung from the heritage buildings, trees, and fences of this historic village frozen in time. The end result is a truly unique and utterly captivating backdrop for this famous holiday festival. If that’s not enough – Santa will be visiting the festival from December 2nd to 23rd. Is there anywhere he can’t be?
Special Warning: Exposure to Alight at Night may result in exuberant outbursts of joy, spontaneous caroling and a persistent craving for eggnog and shortbread. Speak to your doctor to find out if Alight at Night is right for you.
Alight at Night is not a daily event. For detailed information on dates and times for Alight at Night visit: Alight at Night – Upper Canada Village.
As the saying goes: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And frankly, I couldn’t agree more. The cider is mulling, the fires are crackling and I can already smell the aroma of festive feasts and hear the songs of unanimous cheer.
Regardless of how you celebrate the changing of the season, and the arrival of a New Year; whether it’s Hanukkah, Eid al-Fitr, Christmas or Festivus let it be merry, safe and filled with friends, family and those you love.
Plan Your Holiday Trip
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.
Bay of Quinte
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
Bay of Quinte Fall Activities
Prince Edward County
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
Prince Edward County Fall Activities
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
Land O’Lakes Fall Activities
Kingston 1000 Islands
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
Kingston Fall Activities
Rideau Heritage Route
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
Rideau Heritage Route Fall Activities
Gananoque 1000 Islands
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
Gananoque 1000 Islands Fall Activities
Brockville 1000 Islands
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
Brockville 1000 Islands Fall Activities
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
Cornwall and The Counties
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
Cornwall and The Counties Fall Activities
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
Have you ever driven along some county road and come across a hamlet with an old Legion building with a couple of shingles missing or a community hall without a crooked board in sight? Ever wondered what goes on in there? Truth is, the doors are sometimes open, but if you need a good excuse to check out a few of these back road treasures in eastern Ontario this month — and want to hear some good music, too — the third annual Ontario Festival of Small Halls is it.
From September 14 to October 2, two dozen hamlets from Lyndhurst to Spencerville and beyond will open the doors of their community halls to you and 33 musicians, many of the roots, folk and bluegrass-inspired indie persuasions.
Some of those musicians you may know — Basia Bulat or Elliott Brood, for example — but a few you probably don’t. No worries, though. The team behind Ottawa Bluesfest and Ottawa’s CityFolk Festival are organizing this one, too, and they know how to pick them.
“Really, the common denominator in how we choose bands is that they put on a very entertaining and high-energy show,” says Festival Manager Kelly Symes. “It may not be something you’ve heard before, but it’s going to be a great live show because that’s how we choose.”
You may have never heard April Verch fiddle, sing or stepdance before, but you should definitely change that. The Ottawa Valley native will hit four stages at the festival with her two bandmates, one who plays stand-up bass and clawhammer banjo and the other who plays guitar. Expect a lot of variety — old-time Americana, bluegrass, Celtic-influenced stuff, more — and expect a few stories about where they learned their tunes and why they wrote them.
If Verch had to pick a favourite type of venue to tell those stories and play those tunes, a small hall would be it. “It’s where I feel the best connection,” she says. “It’s big enough to have a buzz about it, but it’s small enough to feel like you’re really up close and connecting with people.”
It wasn’t necessarily an easy process for Kelly Symes and her team to pick those 24 halls this year, by the way. Forty halls applied, each judged on the quality of the venue, the capacity, the charm and the enthusiasm of the volunteer force.
“Those community champions were a big part of it,” says Symes. “If we had a strong and enthusiastic person come forward and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got this beautiful hall,’ and it’s within the area that we’re doing the shows, that’s mainly how we chose.”
Many of these halls aren’t just beautiful, though, but historic pillars of these communities as well. Take Chaffey’s Lock Community Hall, for instance, opened in 1932 — just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Rideau Canal — with the Chaffey’s Lock Women’s Institute at the helm. Or Delta Old Town Hall, which has served as a meeting place, courthouse, jail, community theatre, masonic lodge, municipal office and museum since 1880.
If you want to learn more about that history or just meet people from these communities, show up early or stick around after the show. A few venues will host special coinciding events like community suppers, farmers’ markets, a scavenger hunt, an architectural walk, a ceilidh, or even an arts and crafts exhibition.
Judging from last year, those special events should be a hit. And no wonder, says Symes. “You don’t leave the city and go on a road trip so that you can hang out with people from where you’re from. You go and really want to experience the culture and flavour of where you are.”
As for the shows themselves, the reasons for attending may not be so clear. Sure, you could be fascinated by the charm of these halls and the genre of music, but as April Verch suggests, music can satisfy a wide range of personal needs. “And it’s our job to get out of the way and let them take that journey,” she adds. “So when people are leaving our show at the end of the night, I hope that they’re like, ‘Yeah, I didn’t even know that’s what I needed, but that was it.’”
Click Below for the Full 2016 Lineup, Tickets, and More
The Great Waterway of Southeastern Ontario is world famous for its rich history. Home to two UNESCO world heritage sites and the place of several significant battles; we are constantly standing where a nation was forged – more often than not: in combat.
The story from then until now wasn’t always squeaky clean. There were times when public executions were not uncommon. Smugglers, cutthroats, and even the occasional pirate once stalked the St. Lawrence River. At one time an illness that is easily treated today – could be your undoing at the ripe old age of 35. Our forebears faced a daily gauntlet of ways to meet an early end. As a result, this entire region is a prime destination for paranormal enthusiasts.
Whether you’re a firm believer in the supernatural or a guarded skeptic, It will be hard to deny the icy chill you feel up your spine while exploring these fascinating and frightening locations.
1) Historic Cornwall Jail
In the 1800’s the justice system was a much different version of what is in place today. In addition to murderers, thieves, and other villainous criminals – jails were also a repository for the insane, mentally disabled and other unfortunates that society would deem undesirable.
In addition to this – women and children of similar disposition were thrown into the mix. The ‘Gaol’ as it was called then, was often over-populated. Suicide, horrific diseases, and violence were rampant within the confines of incarceration.
The Cornwall Jail opened in 1834 and was in operation until as recently as 2002. Today it is open to the public as a museum. Needless to say, this is an alleged hot-spot for paranormal activity. The jail’s current location was where an army barracks once stood during the war of 1812. In 1826 it burned down while several soldiers and livestock were trapped inside.
Various unexplained encounters, sights, creepy sounds and even ghastly odours have been reported by visitors and staff. Phones that have been disconnected for years will often ring. Ghostly apparitions appear, and doors slam. Visitors even claim to have even been ‘touched’ by cold and unseen hands. Over the years, these chilling tales have inspired scores of ghost hunters and supernatural detectives to explore and investigate. Should you possess the bravery – this notorious building belongs on your itinerary.
2) Lost Villages Museum
The Lost Villages consist of ten hamlets, villages; and an entire farming community which no longer exist. These communities were not lost due to natural disaster – but rather they were authorized by the government to be ‘disposed of’ in the interest of expanding the St. Lawrence Seaway.
As a result, over six thousand people were displaced and lost their homes and very livelihoods. Today, they are commemorated at the Lost Villages Museum located in Ault Park on Fran Laflamme Drive, a short drive East of Long Sault, Ontario. Visitors can (seasonally) participate in Ghost Hunting sessions alongside a group of seasoned paranormal investigators. Perhaps you’ll make contact with some lingering earthbound spirits lurking within their former dwellings.
3) Fort Wellington National Historic Site
Fort Wellington was first commissioned during the War of 1812 by the British. The garrison’s construction was integral at the time, to guard a major artery of Upper Canada’s shipping and commerce.
Today, the fort is open for the enjoyment and education of the public. According to a study conducted by the Toronto & Ontario Ghosts & Hauntings Research Society: The historical reenactors aren’t the only soldiers who roam the fort today. Based on their findings and testimony provided by staff, there is a ghost who inhabits the second floor of the blockhouse. Reportedly a lost soldier from the War of 1812 by the name of Terrence Anderson, this alleged spectre is known to slam doors, startle staff members and is particularly active during fife practice.
4) Fulford Place
Fulford Place is a turn-of-the-century Edwardian (1901) mansion famous for its lavish décor and rich local history. It is an incredible edification to Canada’s industrial elite. Originally built as the summer home of George Taylor Fulford, this illustrious manse was designed by then-famed Architect: Albert W. Fuller of Albany New York. Today the home is a museum featuring original furnishings, rare antiquities, and the stories of her former inhabitants.
Mr. Fulford was the proprietor of a drug store and later came into pharmaceutical fame after patenting Pink Pills for Pale People. Mr. Fulford’s wife Mary (nee Mary White) was reportedly fascinated with spiritualism and the occult. It is said that many séances were hosted by Mrs. Fulford after her husband’s untimely death in a car accident at 53 years of age.
Mary was close friends with Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King – who was a well-known paranormal enthusiast. King attended the home to participate in several of Mrs. Fulford’s séances. Along with their own personal mediums King and Mrs. Fulford would ‘commune with the dead’. In fact, Mr. King was known to stay at the residence long after Mary’s death as a close friend of the family.
Does the lonesome spirit of Mary Fulford roam the mansion’s grand halls in search of her lost husband? The presence of once cherished furnishings and belongings within the house – coupled with the history of spiritual communication certainly make this a must-see location. Several of the paintings seem to watch your every move – especially a portrait of Mrs. Fulford on the grand staircase. It’s unimpressed facial expression and dark eyes seem to stare right through you.
5) The Blinkbonnie House
For over 170 years the Blinkbonnie has stood as an icon of 1000 Islands culture, heritage, and the subject of local legend. The property was first inhabited by Charles MacDonald who was a prominent businessman and co-founder of the town itself. Later, in 1920 the house’s owner William; son of Charles II died of an unexpected heart attack. He left no will behind – which left his father suddenly displaced from his own ancestral home.
In 1923 a local schoolteacher: Rebecca Edwards bought the home and turned it into a lavish hotel. Charles II begged her to allow him to live out his remaining years in the home. She agreed and ensured that the 86-year-old MacDonald was made comfortable. She re-purchased some of the home’s original furnishings in order to please the aging progenitor of the home. He remained at Blinkbonnie until his death in 1928.
The house has been visited by psychics, and there are theories that Charles II never left his beloved family home. There have been accounts of disconnected taps running, slamming doors, unexplained footsteps, and other odd occurrences.
Today the Blinkbonnie sits vacant with only the dust and echoes of her long and near-mythical history within. The future may be bright for the house, however. A recent article in the Gananoque Recorder reports that the house has been purchased with the intent of restoring it into a bed & breakfast or pub. It would appear that soon this house could be a prized landmark attraction once more.
6) Fort Henry National Historic Site
It should come as no surprise that the Limestone City is a hotbed of paranormal activity – with generations of stories and testimonials from residents and visitors alike. Topping Kingston’s list of haunted places is Fort Henry. For over 170 years this fort has stood guard over Kingston and was never once attacked. Over the years however, the fort has been the site of hangings, and even a prisoner of war camp.
The fort was even featured on an episode of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters. In the episode, staff members were interviewed, and the team recorded convincing evidence to support the countless tales of the Fort’s supernatural incidents. From summer to early September the Fort is also included in the Haunted Walk’s roster of tours.
Visitors who want to be truly scared out of their pants should check out Fort Fright; an annual event which begins outside the fort and ventures into the darkest bowels of this ancient fortress. There, visitors will be treated to what is inarguably the most horrifying funhouse ever created.
7) Skeleton Park
The official name of this location is McBurney Park. However, the grisly nickname stems from a rather dark and macabre history indeed. The park that today hosts a playground, wading pool and basketball courts was once a massive cemetery with over ten thousand graves. Established in 1814 it was one of the City’s first and largest graveyards.
In 1864 the cemetery was closed and left more or less derelict. Over the next thirty years, reports of skeletal remains surfacing in the park and complaints of a horrid stench forced the City to eventually ‘clean up’ the mess. Grave desecration and robbery were also rampant at this point in history – as medical students attending Queen’s University were made to provide their own cadavers for exams.
Headstones were bulldozed and the only the bodies transferred to another cemetery were those whose families could afford it. Otherwise, over ten thousand corpses were left in the now transformed grounds. Human remains are still discovered occasionally to this day and what remains of gravestones can be found in the grass if you look close enough. There are several reports and witness accounts of supernatural incidents including terrifying dreams, strange visions, ghostly mists, and even physical apparitions.
8) The Haunted Walk of Kingston
The Haunted Walk of Kingston is most certainly a must do for any paranormal enthusiast to visit the city. For over two decades this interactive and fun tour has operated and has remained a popular and educational attraction ever since. The good news is that there is still time this season to get in on the ghastly goodness. Tours still run until the end of November. The Fort Henry tours run until September 4th.
9) The Prince George Hotel
Now home to a trio of pubs, this former hotel was once the home of the Herchmer family during the 1800’s. Their daughter Lily is said to have had a love affair with a rum smuggler and would leave a lit lantern in the window to signal for him. One night this caused a fire which set the building ablaze and claimed Lily’s life.
Her ghostly figure has been seen staring out her third-floor window looking for her lover. Also, during the buildings operation as a hotel – there are stories of cleaning staff encountering bizarre incidents such as radios turning on, whispers and more. Apparently, a former employee of the Tir Nan Og pub abruptly quit after a frightening encounter, according to an article in the Queen’s Journal.
10) Rochleau Courtyard
Few urban locales send shivers up one’s spine quite like Kingston’s beautiful and infamous Rochleau Court. This picturesque series of alleys and carriageways is accessible from either Princess, Brock Street or King Street East and lead to the courtyard proper where Chez Piggy Restaurant and the Toucan Pub are located today.
The eerie tale tells of a woman named Theresa Ignace Beam who was strangled to death in the carriage-way by her lover (John Napier) in 1868. During a secret meeting; Theresa informed him that she was pregnant. Being a prominent entrepreneur, he was overcome with anger and panic.
In a fit of rage, he murdered and later dismembered Theresa, burying her remains in random locations throughout the courtyard and alleyways. Some claim that her remains are buried in the basement of an adjacent building. Despite past efforts, her remains have yet to be discovered.
The alley is featured in the Haunted Walk tour and was also in a segment of Creepy Canada (Skip to 30:36). Does Theresa’s restless spirit wander the shadowy back alleys of Rochleau Court, eternally in search for her unceremoniously disposed of remains?
11) The Hochelaga Inn
The Hochelaga Inn is another of Kingston’s most popular paranormal buildings. Originally built in 1879 by a relative of Sir John A MacDonald, and later used to house travelling Bank of Montreal employees – The Hochelaga Inn was opened as a bed and breakfast in the mid-80’s.
There are a series of stories from former guests that describe the ghostly apparition of a woman in black sitting in their room at night, an unearthly wailing baby and even mischievous child-spirits who throw objects and turn on televisions. One particular TripAdvisor review entitled: “I think it’s haunted” only adds to the intrigue surrounding this quaint and historic inn.
12) Allan Macpherson House
Allan Macpherson was a prolific entrepreneur and member of Napanee’s budding society in the mid-1800’s. Today his former home is a landmark for local tourism and potentially a spiritually active building.
The mansion, which is now a museum – has been investigated multiple times by at least two paranormal groups. The Canadian Haunting & Paranormal Society (CHAPS) conducted a search in 2014 which rendered ‘inconclusive’ results. Another group: Bytown Paranormal investigated MacPherson House around the same timeframe.
One thing I can say for certain is that this house has always given me the creeps. This could be partially due to the fact I lived next door to it while in high school, and while arriving home at night I’d always get an uneasy feeling as though I was being watched. Maybe it was the cardboard cut-out of Sir. John A MacDonald blankly staring out from the upstairs window that overlooked our driveway… You be the judge.
13) Prince Edward Heights / PRZ Paintball
Photo Credit: The Paranormal Seekers
As far as freaky ominous buildings go; they don’t get much freakier than abandoned government asylums. Technically, the Prince Edward Heights facility was not an actual asylum – but that doesn’t make this place any less scary. Originally a military barracks and then converted to a “hospital for the mentally disabled” in 1971 the building and images from within invoke spine-tingling reactions.
There are several unconfirmed stories of patient abuse and even fatalities while the hospital was in operation. Supernatural investigators: The Paranormal Seekers visited the complex in January 2014, and their gallery is full of menacing images of the derelict asylum’s interior. Another group by the name of PROO(f) TV conducted an extensive event – which they posted on YouTube.
Today, Prince Edward Heights is an ideal destination for paintball enthusiasts more than ghost hunters. Current tenant: PRZ Paintball has turned this massive complex into what is undoubtedly the most epic competitive paintball arena ever. So if you want to shoot your friends, while being simultaneously scared out of your wits, this is the place for you.
As always, thanks for reading! The Great Waterway possesses a venerable bounty of opportunity to immerse one’s self in our nation’s history – in addition to the wide variety of other activities there are to choose from. Whether it’s hiking, dining, or tracking ghosts our activity planner can help you get started!
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Listen close enough and you just might hear that “whoosh” of a scrambler followed by that distinctive scream of joy from kids and kid-ults. The 2016 fairs season is here, and wherever you are in southeastern Ontario this August and September, you’ll likely find a fair nearby. Here are 18 of them, each with something to help you get your scream on.
South Mountain Fair
August 18 – 21
Mountain Township Agricultural Hall, 2967 Lough Road, South Mountain
Since 1892, this has been a fair to remember. Highlights: midway, beer garden, demolition derby, beef and horse shows, corn maze, petting zoo, Terri Clark and more live music, baby contest, pizza-eating contest, tractor pull. Under 3: Free. $20/day, $50/weekend. southmountainfair.ca
August 19 – 20
Parham Fairgrounds, Parham
A small town fair with a big heart now in its 124th season. Highlights: midway, horticultural contests, Power Wheels derby, chainsaw carving demos, country fair games, greased pig competition, best dressed cowboy/cowgirl. Under 13: Free. Adults: $7/day. parhamfair.ca
Shannonville World’s Fair
August 26 – 28
Melrose Recreation Complex, 363 Melrose Road, Shannonville
A small country fair with a big emphasis on agriculture and community. Highlights: tractor pulls, demolition derby, horse show, silent auction, celebrity baking contest, family games. Admission: $5/day, $12/weekend. facebook.com
August 26 – 28
Chesterville Fairgrounds, 153 Queen Street, Chesterville
Dubbed “the small fair with big value,” the Chesterville Fair turns 85 this year. Highlights: midway, gate decorating contest, kids zone, horse and beef shows demolition derby, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu demos, home crafts. Check website for admission prices. chestervillefair.com
Mallorytown Village Fair & Artisan Show
Mallory Coach House Gardens, 1523 County Road 2; Mallorytown Community Centre, 76 County Road 5
A fun day for the whole family with a “Pioneer Spirit” theme this year. Highlights: kids games, face painting, horse and wagon rides, artists and artisans, live music, garden contests, baking contests, craft contests. Check website for admission prices. mallorytownvillagefair.blogspot.ca
Stormont County Fair
September 2 – 5
3666 County Road 14, Newington
This one has been bringing the goods since Canadian Confederation. Highlights: midway, 3-pitch tournament, heavy horse and Holstein shows, parade, magic shows, pro wrestling, petting zoo, farmers’ market. Under 13: Free. Adults: $8 – $15/day, $30/weekend. stormontcountyfair.weebly.com
Belleville Agricultural Fair and Quinte Exhibition
September 1 – 4
Belleville Fairgrounds, 18 Yeoman Street, Belleville
One of the most popular fairs in the region, and rightly so. Highlights: midway, beer garden, Jersey championship, demolition derby, dairy show, talent show, heavy truck and tractor pull, live music. Under 6: Free. 6 – 12: $5. Adults: $8. Family (up to 2 adults, up to 3 kids): $20. qer.ca
September 2 – 3
26 Lake Road, Centreville
Begun in 1853 for the purposes of trading; now run for the purposes of fun. Highlights: family fun zone, bingo, horse races, live music, livestock and poultry competitions, Power Wheels derby, baby parade, Medieval Times demo, pie-eating contest. $6/day. centrevillefair.ca
September 8 – 11
Spencerville Fairgrounds, 22 Ryan Street, Spencerville
“The biggest-little fair in Eastern Ontario” attracts over 25,000 people annually. Highlights: midway, super dogs, critters zoo, illusionist, parade, agricultural shows, helicopter rides, truck and tractor pulls, demolition derby, live music. Check website for admission prices. spencervillefair.ca
September 9 – 11
Picton Fairgrounds, 375 Main Street East, Picton
Started in 1836, this is one of the oldest fairs in Ontario. Highlights: midway, tractor pulls, mammoth pumpkin contest, live music, karaoke, pro wrestling, demolition derby, celebrity bake-off, dog show, agricultural shows. Under 13: Free. 13 – 17: $5/day. Adults: $8/day. pictonfair.org
Kingston Fall Fair
September 15 – 18
Kingston Memorial Centre, 303 York Street, Kingston
Picked the most improved fair in Ontario in 2009 by World’s Finest Shows, and it’s still getting better. Highlights: midway, country singing showdown, demolition derby, agricultural shows, home crafts, baking. Under 6: Free. 6 – 18: $5/day. Adults: $10/day. kingstonfair.com
Lyndhurst Turkey Fair
A fair that hearkens back to a time when farmers would gather in the village to sell their poultry and then celebrate. Highlights: voyageur canoe rides, live music, antique car show, pony rides, petting zoo, wagon rides, climbing wall, turkey calling contest, skiff rowing. Free. turkeyfair.com
Milford, Prince Edward County
A real expression of the County’s rural roots that’s celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Highlights: livestock shows, art and photography, crafts, tractor pulls, parade, agricultural competitions, live music, prizes, face painting, PIE! Free. milfordontario.com
1860s Fall Fair Weekend
September 17 – 18
Upper Canada Village, 13740 County Road 2, Morrisburg
Step back in time to a 1860s fall fair at this popular heritage village straight out of the 19th century. Highlights: beard competition, quilt show, livestock, agricultural and dairy products, fine arts, music and magic shows, 50-cent treats. Under 6: Free. Adults: $12 – 18/day. uppercanadavillage.com
September 24 – 25
Roblin Lake Fairgrounds, 15 Coleman Street, Ameliasburgh
The theme this year is “One for All & All for One!” and no one should miss the County’s third and final fair of the year. Highlights: softball tournament, parade, historical re-enactment, livestock shows, petting zoo, live music. Under 12: Free. Adults: $5/day. ameliasburgh.com