Know What’s Happening in The Great Waterway.
*Listings last updated 6/26/2017.
*Listings last updated 6/26/2017.
Photos: Mike Hector
Before we get started, I should be completely honest with you. I have lived in Kingston, Ontario for the better part of my life – so, naturally, this particular experience was on familiar territory. After spending a sunny afternoon with Kingston Food Tours, however, I was amazed at just how much I didn’t know about the Limestone City. [Read more…]
Canada turns 150 in 2017, and to help you celebrate in South Eastern Ontario, here’s a handy list of Canada-themed events happening in the region throughout the year. Check back often because we’ll keep adding to this list.
Parks Canada is throwing down the welcome mat with free admission to all of its properties all year long (with a free Discovery Pass). In Southeastern Ontario that means unfettered access to over 10 national parks and historic sites, including Thousand Islands National Park and the Rideau Canal, where lock fees will be waived.
With Fort Wellington, over 75 historic homes and sites, and the St. Lawrence at its doorstep, Prescott definitely has a few stories to tell about the impact it’s had on Canada. Read, listen to and watch close to 100 of them at the public library, where volunteers have been collecting tales about all aspects of life in the over 200-year-old town.
Take a culinary trip across Canada with The Drake Devonshire as your guide. Every Sunday until Canada Day this gorgeous, award-winning resto on the banks of Lake Ontario will feature a unique heritage dinner inspired by the food and drink of different areas in the country. Each month the $35 menu will be inspired by a different province, territory or region.
The city of Quinte West isn’t settling for just one day of partying. They’re planning a week-long multicultural bash leading up to Canada Day that’ll include daily celebrations. Details are still being set, but events could include a Francophone music festival, an Aboriginal art festival, an Oktoberfest celebration, a Celtic picnic, and an Italian and Greek food fest.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will be in Canada to help celebrate our 150th, and they’ve chosen Prince Edward County as one of their destinations during their three-day visit. Arriving at CFB Trenton, they’ll make their way to the Wellington Farmers’ Market for an event that will be open to the public.
Plans are still in the works for Canada Day festivities across southeastern Ontario, but since a 150th birthday only comes around once, you can count on each community truly bringing it this year. Canada’s first capital, Kingston, will host the biggest bash, but almost every other community in the region will celebrate, too. Stay tuned to our events page, thegreatwaterway.com/events, for details.
This month-and-a-half long celebration of Canada will feature a documentary photography exhibition; four Saturday night shows focussing on the sights, sounds and food of a different region; and regular photography workshops and outings.
Offered on Saturday evenings in July and August, this immersive family-friendly theatre experience will use the historical backdrop of Upper Canada Village to explore the issues and changes about to come with Confederation.
Prices: Not yet set
The curators of the Brockville Public Library’s art gallery have invited artists to submit works that celebrate Canada’s 150th. Submission will be exhibited throughout July and August, and winners will be chosen by people’s choice ballots. Winners announced July 31st.
Voted one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario, and it’s easy to see why: four days of midway, food from all over the world, adventure sports (zip line or parasailing, anyone?), laser tag, family fishing, a vendor exhibition and even a dog-jumping show. This year, special Canada 150 events will include ParticipACTION Sports Expo and Canada 150 Sesqui Celebration, which is a revolutionary 360° cinematic experience touring all over Canada.
From June 30 to August 20, more than 40 tall ships will sail Canadian waters to honour the country’s 150th. Scheduled to stop in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, the fleet will make its southeastern Ontario port of call in the historic village of Bath. Head to the waterfront and tour these majestic cathedrals of the sea for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see history up close.
This community talking circle, co-designed with community partners and Indigenous leaders, will be an open discussion on the theme of reconciliation. The intent is to increase our overall cultural competence around Indigenous issues, building on what residents know, how residents feel and how well residents put this knowledge into practice. Additional talking circles will happen throughout the year.
Part of the Kemptville Live Music Festival, this special culinary event will celebrate the bounty Eastern Ontario has been bringing to Canada for 150 years. The centrepiece will be a farmers’ market with over 60 vendors, but there will also be food and drink tastings, exhibits from local artisans, and live music to keep you moving.
Canada’s rail system is like its backbone, connecting communities all across this great land, so it’s fitting that Brockville, home to Canada’s first railway tunnel, will honour it at this special four-day fest. The centrepiece will be the grand re-opening of the tunnel underneath downtown, but there will also be a vintage carnival, a sideshow and even a 5K run.
After a 2016 hiatus, the Wolfe Island Music Festival returns this year. And thank goodness. Where else in the country can you take a 20-minute ferry to an intimate island festival featuring some of the biggest names in Canadian indie music? The headliners this year include Born Ruffians, Land of Talk, Hannah Georgas, Said the Whale, Dilly Dally and Donovan Woods.
Price: $95 – $150
Take a ride in an illuminated dragon boat on the Rideau Canal, get enveloped by the Northern Lights and take in 90 other breathtaking scenes in this 20-minute immersive film experience. Featuring scenes shot in every province and territory and over 380 on-screen performers, this visually stunning journey will show you Canada from a whole new perspective.
Travelling to schools and science centres across the country, this Signature Canada 150 event is all about channeling that inner innovator in all of us. Think immersive, hands-on displays about everything from the world’s largest science experiments to changing ideas about our universe to stories of Canada’s past.
Join thousands of spectators for an unforgettable evening of free entertainment outside on the grounds at the Lennox & Addington County Court House in Napanee. On Saturday, August 19th at 7pm, you’ll hear a live performance from headliner The Irish Descendants, as well as from 70’s Revolution featuring Andrew Martin, and Sol & the Switchblades. Circus Orange will also be on hand for an amazing aerial performance. More details at www.County150.ca.
Take a Canada themed road tour through South Frontenac, where locations in each of the four districts will feature special events devoted to a particular province. Locations will include hidden gems, like the train track park in Battersea, Fermoy Hall in Bedford, as well as more well-known venues such as the Point in Sydenham and rally headquarters at Centennial Park in Harrowsmith. Exact date not yet available.
Throughout 2017, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is partnering with orchestras and ensembles across the country for a special pan-Canadian celebration. Over 40 new works — including two-minute pieces called “Sesquies” — will be co-commissioned and presented from coast to coast to coast. Kingston location and concert details not yet available.
Price: Not Yet Available
This Canada-wide portrait competition showcases the work of 30 contemporary artists. Open to any Canadian artist who depicts a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, the juried prize is partially meant to develop an historical record of Canadians by Canadians. The winner receives $20,000, and the exhibition of the 30 finalists will be held at two venues: the Firehall Theatre in Gananoque and the Peel Art Gallery in Brampton.
We’ll keep adding to this list all year, so stay up to date on Canada 150 events in southeastern Ontario by bookmarking this page. In the meantime, head over to our events page for even more things to do.
See More Events In The Great Waterway
Right on the heels of our last food related mini-blog is yet another bite-sized article about the many edible experiences to be had in South Eastern Ontario. From wine and cheese festivals to craft beer fests and beyond, June is shaping up to be one tasty month indeed.
Time to clear my calendar, and perhaps invest in a pair of stretchy pants. It’s about to get real.
Discover a world of flavour!
Explore even more delicious dining experiences
Confession time: I love food. There. It feels better getting that out in the open. Then again, who doesn’t? Here in South Eastern Ontario, there is an incredible selection of places to eat from casual settings to fine dining venues that are fit for royalty. [Read more…]
As the damp rainy days of April give way to the lush emerald hues of May – we find ourselves at the dawn of South Eastern Ontario’s more beautiful (and delicious) time of year. May is a month filled with breathtaking blooms of flowers and blossoms that fill the air with a lively and luscious aroma.
Also upon the air is the scent of bar-b-q’s, smokehouses and an altogether sense of awareness that one is surrounded by a multitude of mouthwatering culinary experiences throughout The Great Waterway. [Read more…]
There’s nothing more cult-classic, and carnivorously comforting than sinking your teeth into the juicy bliss of an epic hamburger. I’m not talking about fast food here, but rather the experience of enjoying a master crafted burger from a wide range of fantastic pubs and unique restaurants, right here in South Eastern Ontario. [Read more…]
As we roll into March, there is a resounding sigh of relief in South Eastern Ontario as yet another winter ends up in our collective rear-view. The vanishing snow reveals the once buried grass, and soon enough, the iconic images of shamrocks and other green things mark the approach of Saint Patrick’s Day. [Read more…]
As we find ourselves in February, we can finally see that light at the end of that tunnel known as winter. The sun holds fast to the evening horizon as the days grow longer if ever so slightly, and yes, love is in the air.
This year, instead of the typical box of truffles, or Netflix and chill; why not drop the kids at grandma’s and whisk yourselves away for a romantic getaway here in beautiful Southeastern Ontario? Don’t have kids? Then my friend, your planning phase just got way easier.
For your consideration, I present this lovely list of amorous escapes and relevant romantic dinner suggestions that will make this year’s Valentine’s one for the history books.
**Note: the vacancy of these venues was checked as of January 27th, but availability is definitely limited.
Auberge Chesley’s Inn is a beautiful Georgian style house and B&B that has quite an interesting history. First built in 1814, it has been host to many famous guests over the centuries including famed writer Charles Dickens himself!
The decor of the Chesley’s suites are akin to stepping into a long lost and romanticized era, but with all the modern amenities one would expect, including ensuite baths and rainforest showers.
In the morning, be prepared for some epic breakfast choices at Chesley’s Inn, ranging from lighter fare to a full-fledged French Canadian breakfast spread.
Russell Manor is a glorious manse, first built in the early 1870s. The house is a striking tribute to French Second Empire architecture, with a warm and authentic Victorian-inspired decor.
I stayed here with my wife for a weekend in 2011 when we were in town for a Medieval Festival and were blown away.
Today, this elegant bed and breakfast is still going strong and has received nothing but positive reviews over the years. The owners; Michael and Ron are excellent hosts and serve what is, in my opinion, the best omelettes I’ve ever had, using herbs grown in their gardens.
They are planning a special dinner event for guests checking in on Valentine’s Day, so seize your chance to experience this one of a kind b&b in Morrisburg.
Situated in the beautiful riverside town of Prescott, The Colonel’s Inn is a breathtaking example of 19th-century construction. In 1835 it was the home of Colonel Alexander McDonnell and has close military ties. At one point, the basement was a temporary barracks for soldiers stationed at Fort Wellington National Historic Site.
Today, the Colonel’s former residence offers guests an incredible opportunity for a romantic getaway in true Victorian style and decadence. The rooms are classically decorated and feature a fabulous fusion of lavish furnishings and modern conveniences.
The most romantic, and eye-catching of the suites would have to be The Loft, which is located in a separate building that was once the carriage house. This spacious room features an en-suite whirlpool and private entrance.
Although the Inn does not do dinner on a regular basis, romantic dinners at The Colonel’s Inn are available with advanced notice for booked guests. If you are more in the mood for a restaurant, the management can suggest a number of options.
A full hot breakfast is served each morning with free flowing coffee and tea available throughout the day, and on-site parking is free. For more information visit the Inn’s website.
The Sir Isaac Brock B&B is a painstakingly restored 1824 limestone Georgian-style house that today, offers luxurious suites in a unique and heritage styled atmosphere in Brockville’s charming downtown area.
This captivating B&B is only steps away from Brockville’s premiere attractions, shopping and dining venues making it a novel choice for a fun-filled escape for two. The Sir Isaac Brock B&B is also a 2017 Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice winner with rave reviews.
For dinner, I’d recommend a short five-minute stroll down John Street for a decadent meal at The Mill Restaurant. This piece of Canada’s history is a real labour of love that was brought back from the brink when it was purchased and renovated into the charming restaurant it is today.
Just one look at the Noble Suites in Brockville and you can feel a certain romantic tingle in the air. The ornate and ancient inspired ionic pillars which embrace the main entrance is a near mythical sight of which Cupid himself would be smitten.
The extravagant suites within are absolutely arresting in decor, and about as close as one can get to spending the weekend in a Victorian romance novel. This is definitely a destination for a private and personalized stay in a vintage style inn with modern comforts.
Abbott Road Suites is a very private venue comprised of two magnificent suites of a more modern and refined atmosphere. Situated in a taking executive bungalow, the suites are equally luxurious and have private access.
I’d call dibs on The West Suite, however, which sports a fireplace, a heated tile washroom complete with separate walk-in shower, and a Jacuzzi.
For dinner, it’s certainly worth the short drive to experience Kemptville’s iconic and storied fine dining venue: The Brigadoon; for a mouthwatering Filet Mignon. If beef isn’t your thing, I hear that the Chicken Drambuie is to die for. At any rate, the Brigadoon’s menu more than speaks for itself.
Standing proudly in Merrickville since 1860, the stunning Baldachin Inn features a heritage designated interior with original stained glass windows, stonework, and other brilliant features.
The on-site restaurant & pub offers traditional old world inspired cuisine along with the warm hospitality and atmosphere associated with the timeline.
It’s large stone fireplace, and arched windows are beautiful and certainly help enhance an already unforgettable experience. One night here, and you’ll know why many refer to Merrickville as the Jewel of The Rideau.
Situated in the heart of Westport, the Lockhouse B&B offers guests a pair of spacious and private suites only steps away from town. The suites are well-priced and feature private and comfortable accommodation.
The Lockhouse sports an attractive library and living space for relaxing; and serves a full breakfast with both vegan and gluten free options available. The Lockhouse B&B’s website is currently under construction, so for contact info visit their page on BB Canada.com.
The Tangled Garden Cafe is a short but splendid walk from the B&B and presents a versatile menu of delicious choices ranging from creative omelets to super sandwiches; as well as some great pasta dishes and entrees.
The Cove Restaurant & Resort has been a favourite spot for travelers since 1988. Current chef Joanne Edwards applies her passion and culinary talent, crafting home cooked dishes based on the now legendary menu items made famous by Mary Cowan, the Cove’s owner.
The ambiance and atmosphere of the Cove’s dining room are both memorable and inviting, making this restaurant a treasured element of Westport’s experience. The menu has items suited for every taste, from steaks to pasta; as well as the prized Westport original: The Growley Basket.
On top of the epic food, the inn itself is wonderful and has a luxurious spa conveniently located next door for all your de-stressing desires.
When I last checked there was still weekday availability at the Inn, but be sure to check the Cove’s website to confirm vacancy.
The fabled Gananoque Inn has a special place in my heart, not only for it’s rich and significant local history; but also because my wife and I spent our first anniversary there. This visually striking building that was once a carriage-works became a famous inn prior to the turn of the century.
The suites and interior of the building proper, boast an accurate and welcoming Victorian charm, with one of the most picturesque dining rooms I’ve ever visited: The Watermark. The atmosphere and accommodations are a living example of 19th-century luxury and service.
Speaking of which, it’s worth mentioning the Valentine’s Getaway Package; which features chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling wine, one night’s accommodation, dinner for two and also includes breakfast.
There is only weekend availability during winter, so spots will likely go quickly. For accommodations and bookings, visit the Gananoque Inn & Spa’s website.
This divine utopia of relaxation and luxurious accommodation is an all-in-one destination for couples looking to melt the stress away and unwind in style.
My dinner choice to accompany a night at the Rosemount would have to be Windmills Cafe, where fine dining and amazing local artwork intersect. The dinner menu is full of superb choices and covers a variety of tastes.
After returning to the Rosemount don’t forget to take advantage of their magnificent breakfast menu. I am told that the Welsh Toast is the stuff of legends.
The inn’s mesmerizing interior features a grand parlour with turret window seating, ‘fainting couches’ and furnishings made popular in the 1830’s set around an ornate fireplace. The lovingly decorated suites are evocative of an era when comfort and luxury were more of an artform.
For dinner, consider Stone City Ales, which is just a short walk from the inn. Not only is this one of Kingston’s famed craft breweries, but it’s also a favoured taproom and dinner venue serving up some amazing dishes. I’d recommend sharing a more intimate and interactive dish like their popular charcuterie boards, paired with a flight (or two) of Stone City’s excellent brews.
Among Kingston’s most recognizable overnight options is the famous Hochelaga Inn. This arresting French Victorian Mansion features 21 rooms each different in their own way but sharing in the Hochelaga’s vexing Victorian theme.
The most famous suite is the Tower Room for obvious reasons. It’s almost mystical in a way with its tiny staircase that leads to a stain glass illuminated turret room that also has a ladder that leads to the tower proper, and a meditative room.
For dinner, I suggest the low-light ambiance of Megalos Restaurant. The menu is robust but not complicated and features a selection of really sexy sounding pasta dishes. For dessert, ask about the “Show Stoppers” and thank me later.
The Frontenac Club Inn is an acclaimed bed and breakfast located in the heart of Kingston’s historic downtown area. Originally built in 1845 as a bank, this charming limestone building later became a gentlemen’s club in 1903.
Their suites are bright, lively in decor, and perfect for weekend retreats and exemplary comfort. Breakfast the next day will be an experience in itself comprising of locally sourced ingredients.
Not far from the Frontenac Club is the Brock Street Common and one of Kingston’s most popular dining choices: the Chien Noir Bistro.
This bistro has an ambiance that screams romance and comes with an equally fanciful menu. I highly recommend the poutine, which features Quebec brie, shredded duck confit, and a brilliant “green peppercorn cognac jus”.
Hidden in plain sight on Kingston’s West end is the Green Acres Inn. Positioned a short drive from downtown, and surrounded by prime shopping and dining options, this quaint but luxurious Inn has plenty in store.
One look at the suites is all you need. The Tulip Suite has a jacuzzi, and not one but two fireplaces; one of which is in the bathroom along with a television.
Now you can watch When Harry Met Sally while soaking in the hot tub and relaxing by the fire simultaneously. What a time to be alive!
When hunger strikes, Ramekins is a quick six-minute drive or cab ride away. For 20 years this local family owned establishment has been well known for casual fine dining at it’s best. The quiet and relaxed atmosphere is perfect for an intimate dinner for two. The menu is full of tantalizing choices and has the best price for a pound of mussels I’ve seen on this side of Halifax.
Belleville’s St. John’s Inn and B&B is in a prime location that places this lovely stone house in proximity to several local attractions including the Empire Theatre, Spa 237 and the Pinnacle Playhouse.
Paulo’s Italian Trattoria is a mere nine-minute walk from St. John’s; and nothing quite says “amore” like a romantic Italian dinner. Paulo’s website is a bit old school, but their menu features a bounty of Mediterranean finery including pasta, pizza, steaks and more.
For more information and booking options, please visit St. John’s Inn’s BB Canada page.
Reminiscent of the grand plantations of the American South, the Montrose Inn & Tea Room is an enchanting example of antebellum architecture, right here in The Great Waterway. The mansion was built in 1916 and still has several original features; over a century later.
The elegance of the suites only serve to enhance the overall experience with their authentic furnishings and extravagant decor. The room that caught my eye is the Adelina which boasts an en-suite ‘two-person thermal masseuse tub’, gas fireplace, spa robes and splendid furniture.
To add to the romantic energy, consider the eastern delights of the nearby Royal Haveli for a spicy and exotic meal of fine Indian cuisine. There’s something about Indian food that invokes a certain romance. Perhaps this is because it originates from the very same culture that produced the Kama Sutra.
Prince Edward County is regarded as one of Southeastern Ontario’s most famous destinations for romantic escapes, fantastic food, and arresting scenery. The Waring House is no exception to those claims, as you will soon discover.
This astonishing Inn is a memorable choice for couples seeking an unforgettable retreat. Among their splendid choice of suites, I have my heart set on the Vineyard View Cottage, because, that’s how I roll.
You won’t have to go far to find a delicious dinner at Amelia’s Garden which is located in-house. One glimpse at one of their sample dinner menus will have you scrambling to make a reservation.
Nestled away in Picton, at the heart of the County is the elegant and historic: Merrill Inn.
Host to 13 wonderfully appointed suites, the Merrill’s accommodations feature original local art, pillow-top bedding and (depending on which room) jacuzzi’s and cozy fireplaces.
Stays include a complimentary hot breakfast and afternoon refreshments. Enjoy a sumptuous meal consisting of County bistro cuisine; created by the very talented: Chef Michael Sullivan, in the Merrill’s intimate on-site restaurant.
Angeline’s Inn is a grand Victorian edification to the history and mesmerizing charm of Prince Edward County. The building dates back to the prosperous Barley Days era between 1860 and 1890 and has a rather extensive story of its own.
The management was kind enough to inform me that the in-house eatery is closed for January and February but suggested the nearby Saylor House Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and Agrarian Bistro for lunch and dinner.
Last but certainly not least is the Drake Devonshire. This epic destination takes ownership of its own unique blend of culture, community, and enriched hospitality.
The rooms feature a stunningly modernized design that clearly differentiates from more vintage themed inns throughout the region.
Dining at the Devonshire is always a treat, with a mouthwatering menu catering to brunch, lunch, or dinner. The only difficult aspect of staying at the Drake Devonshire is leaving.
While we’re still a couple of weeks away from Valentine’s, there are still plenty of opportunities to plan for and arrange a much-needed escape. With our proximity to Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto, The Great Waterway offers a bounty of options here in Southeastern Ontario that are only a short drive away.
I hope that this collection of ideas inspires you and that special someone to treat yourselves to a truly memorable and refreshing retreat. This year, do something spontaneous and enjoy a romantic experience you won’t soon forget.
Your Romantic Escape Awaits!
It goes without saying that 2016 has been a particularly unique year.
Here in Southeastern Ontario, this past year has been particularly exciting for travellers and locals alike. Spanning from the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties, 2016 has been a year brimming with fun-filled activities, wonderful special events, delicious culinary experiences, and great music festivals.
In the short time since I first joined in on the journey, we’ve traveled to some fascinating places together. We’ve gone off the beaten path and visited a remarkable variety of destinations hidden in plain sight. We bravely explored The Great Waterway’s paranormal history – and even stepped through time to rediscover this region’s rich and living heritage.
As we rapidly approach the New Year, it’s the perfect time to take a look back and reflect on 2016’s outstanding events and happenings. Without further delay, here is a collection of some of our favourite moments from 2016.
June 25-26th 2016 saw the triumphant return of this epic aviation event after a long, seven-year hiatus. Roughly 75,000 spectators gathered at CFB Trenton to marvel at aerobatic performances by the Snowbirds, the ever popular CF-18 demo, and a variety of other gorgeous aircraft from both the Royal Canadian and United States’ Air Forces.
If you’ve never experienced the thrill and adrenaline rush of an air-show, fear not! The 2016 Quinte International Air Show was so successful that it has been confirmed to be a biennial event, coming back in 2018!
The Trenton Scottish-Irish Festival is always a fun event for the whole family. September 2016 marked a bigger than ever celebration of the Bay of Quinte’s Celtic ancestry with a variety of traditional music, highland games, and authentic heritage foods.
The 2016 festival’s most unforgettable moment perhaps, was a fantastic performance by Alan Doyle, best known for his vocals in the popular Canadian Celtic band: Great Big Sea!
Savour was an especially tasty event held in October at Trenton’s Knights of Columbus Hall. It brought together a spectacular collection of local wineries, brewers and culinary masters from the surrounding area, resulting in a casual and uniquely local celebration of music, food, and beverages, as well as beautiful exhibits of fine art.
April 2016 was a rather momentous occasion for the Prince Edward County Authors Festival as attendees helped celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary. This literary festival began as a “small idea in 1996″, first originating in Milford Ontario.
Two decades later, the PEC Authors Festival has grown into a four-day extravaganza featuring poetry readings, kids story sessions, and in-depth conversations with Canadian literary icons including Linwood Barclay and Nino Ricci, and more!
Stay tuned to their website for details about next year!
Countylicious is a bi-annual celebration of Prince Edward County’s unique culinary creativity and talent. During the 2016 celebration, chefs from participating restaurants carefully crafted County inspired three-course meals that came at incredible ‘prixe-fixe’ rates.
Great Waterway blogger: Jordan Whitehouse took us behind the menus of Countylicious and sat down with three of the participating chefs to get an insider’s look into this famous (and delicious) event.
The cosmic events viewable from the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area top the list of The Great Waterway’s far from ordinary activities. This ideal destination for astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers alike offers some of the best views of our night’s sky.
Professional astronomers have described the Dark Sky Viewing Area as the most southerly point in Ontario, presenting a “perfect” and undisturbed opportunity to observe some amazing interstellar sights including the Northern Lights, the Perseid meteor showers, constellations and so much more.
For directions and more information check out the L&A Dark Sky Facebook Page.
While many of our stories take place among scenic driving routes, picturesque national parks, and other fantastic attractions – one destination, in particular, showcases a wondrous world of discovery directly underground. Back in June, The Great Waterway’s adventure blogger: Jenn Pinarski took her family to the Hell Holes and gave us a first-hand glimpse into this fascinating underworld.
The Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves near Napanee boasts a huge choice of geological attractions including walking trails, a mini-like rainforest environment, and some seriously cool caves ripe for spelunking.
For the fifth year in a row, Seed to Sausage has hosted the ‘Day of the Pig” food festival in Tichborne Ontario. The festival boasts an eclectic gathering of chefs, craft brewers, wineries and other artisan food producers from Southeastern Ontario and beyond.
In May 2016 visitors flocked to the Land O Lakes region to indulge their taste buds with a menagerie of mouthwatering local fare. Day of the Pig has been growing each year in popularity and is sure to make a return in 2017. Stay tuned to Seed to Sausage’s Facebook for details.
August 20th, 2016 was the day that Kingston became our nation’s capital once more. The Limestone City was the final stop for The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem Tour, and perhaps the band’s last show.
Over 25,000 fans flocked to Kingston from all over Canada to pay homage to Gord Downie and collectively celebrate an iconic group of Canadian musicians in their very own hometown. We were on hand to attend the celebration in Springer Market Square, where we spoke with fans and stood witness to a momentous occasion fit for the history books.
For nearly a century and a half, Kingston Penitentiary has stood as an infamous and formidable structure looming over Portsmouth Village with an ominous air of history, and intrigue. Some of Canada’s most notorious criminals have been incarcerated here over the years, and some have even escaped from this massive limestone prison.
In June, Jenn Pinarski bravely took us beyond the North Gate, and into Kingston Pen’s labyrinthian cell blocks and it’s deepest dungeons on an incredible exploration of this iconic destination.
Kingston Pen Tours will be returning from May to October 2017, so be sure to stay tuned for ticket info!
Lumina Borealis surprised us all in a good way and took the region by storm after launching on December 1st, 2016. This mystical adventure of mythic proportions has transformed Fort Henry National Historic site into something out of a storybook.
Our very own Jenn Pinarski wrote an excellent article about her magical experience at Lumina Borealis and how this event offers a unique and creative winter attraction for the entire family.
The best news is that Lumina will continue until February 4th, 2017 so there is still time to score tickets and experience it for yourself. This winter, make the trip to Kingston and unleash your imagination in the frozen fantasy realm of Lumina Borealis!
I can remember being a kid, watching Return of the Jedi for the five hundredth time, and wishing I could run around in a real life Ewok tree village. Thanks to the 2016 launch of Skywood Eco Adventure Park that childhood fantasy has pretty much, become a reality.
This fantastic outdoor attraction is Ontario’s largest zip lining and canopy adventure park featuring a tree-top village for the kids in addition to a selection of courses that meet a variety of skill levels.
The park is closed for the winter, but this article on our blog should give you a good idea of what to expect when Skywood re-opens this spring!
Hydroplane racing has been a popular event in the 1000 Islands region since the 1940’s. Back then, the event was made possible through the sponsorship of Gananoque native: Frank LaQue, the Vice President of the International Nickel Company.
To this day, the Gananoque Nickel Cup still draws thousands of spectators to watch these fascinating speed boats reach pulse-pounding speeds more than 200 miles per hour and revel in the rumble and roar of the engines.
On September 16-18th 2016 Brockville’s waterfront was graced once more with the elegant majesty of the Tall Ships Festival. For three exciting days, an estimated 40,000 or more visitors amassed along Brockville’s scenic waterfront to view a venerable fleet of ships representing several eras of maritime heritage.
Like silent, graceful gods of the sea, these beautiful ships sailed through the St. Lawrence and perhaps time itself; as they paraded before a massive crowd. Visitors were also able to step aboard some of the ships, meet the crews and come face to face with history.
The long-awaited grand opening of the Brockville Aquatarium was held on May 6th, 2016, after over half a decade in development. This interactive marine centre presents visitors with a fun and experiential way to learn about the St. Lawrence River’s history and ecology.
The Aquatarium is a 25.5 million dollar labour of love that is open year round to visitors. There are so many fun activities to choose from, that you could easily spend an entire day at this amazing attraction. Luckily, we have you covered with this handy guide.
In tandem with the 178th anniversary of the famed Battle of the Windmill, the Windmill Brewery opened it’s doors in Johnstown on November 12, 2016. This new, up and coming Ontario craft brewer is located only steps away from the historic site for which it is named. Their crisp, golden Czech style pilsner uses local ingredients and is a must try for any who enjoy a cold pint.
Right next door to the brewery is yet another new, and welcome addition to Ontario’s roster of craft beverage producers: King’s Lock Craft Distillery. King’s Lock opened their doors in June 2016 with a debut selection of handcrafted spirits using local, organic ingredients and sustainable practices.
At the end of the 2012 season, the famous and legendary Opinicon Resort had to close its doors due to several overlapping economic factors at the time. For a while, it was uncertain as to what would become of this cherished summer escape.
In September 2015, the Opinicon made international headlines when it was confirmed that the resort would once again reopen. Ever since the reopening the beloved Ontario destination has been undergoing renovations with each passing moment. The exciting journey of the Opinicon’s is lovingly chronicled on their Facebook page by the current owner, with regular video blogs.
As recently as November 2016, the Opinicon’s comeback story was presented to the Canadian Senate. The Opinicon’s return has been hailed as an economic boon for the Rideau Lakes community and tourism sector.
After a successful launch in 2015, Rideau Tours has expanded their 2016 offering from what was only a few custom tours and bike rentals to a great selection of “signature experiences.” The new roster of activities includes kayaking, cycling adventures and even boat trips.
What’s more, Rideau Tours has also added fun packages like gourmet picnics for the family, in addition to a steadily growing list of features. The picnics include delicious foods sourced from local sources and offer an excellent way to relax and enjoy a picnic while exploring the magnificent Rideau Canal.
Two hundred years ago, some of the first settlers of Upper Canada embarked on a perilous 100-kilometer journey from what is now Brockville to Perth. They were promised land and a fresh start in a new world, but it did not come to them with any level of ease.
Today, this historical trek is commemorated by a dedicated group of community organizers at the Settler’s Trek; who just celebrated the event’s bicentennial journey in 2016. By today’s standards, a 100 km drive doesn’t sound like much. But in 1816 it was a grueling six-day journey where survival was not guaranteed.
If you’re up to the task and want to literally walk in the steps a 19th-century settler, day trekkers can register and join in on the journey for a small fee. Emergency medical assistance is available throughout the trek, but luckily your chances of contracting scurvy will be slim and nil in 2017.
Whether ye have some Scottish in ye or nae – The Glengarry Highland Games are the grandest spectacle of traditional games, music and cultural entertainment this side of Edinburgh. The inaugural games were held in 1948 by a group of businessmen who wished to preserve Scottish traditions and heritage while inspiring younger generations to carry on these ancient and cherished customs.
2016 was the 69th anniversary of the Glengarry Highland Games, which drew thousands of visitors to Maxville to witness or even take part the games. The 2017 event will be held on Aug 4, 2017 – Aug 5, 2017, and will surely draw visitors from far and wide to help celebrate the games’ platinum jubilee.
The Cornwall Summer Beer Fest is an interactive wine and beer tasting festival which draws its roots from the Seaway Food Festival. Visitors can sample a range of tasty beverages and foods, as well as meet the talented people who make them.
The 2016 festival added some great new features including educational workshops that allowed attendees to learn about food pairings, beer making, and other fascinating topics. The 2017 dates are still to be announced so stay tuned to the festival’s website for details!
For the 25th consecutive year, the Apples and Art Studio Tour took place in Stormont, Glengarry, and Dundas. This last event featured over 60 artists showcasing their creations in 26 locations throughout Cornwall and the Counties.
The 25th annual tour was the biggest yet, with more artists and locations along the route than ever before. Visitors were treated to a diverse range of mediums including paint, sculpture, ink, wood, glass and more. In addition to the variety of creations guests also had an opportunity to meet the artists and chat with the creative minds behind the artwork.
With the passing of each New Year, there comes not an ending, but a bounty of new beginnings. 2016 was most certainly an excellent year for Southeastern Ontario – filled with fun activities, delicious foods, stunning artwork, and jubilant celebrations shared from the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties.
These unforgettable moments would not be possible without such a fantastic network of communities. Everywhere you go throughout this stunning region; you encounter an amazing culmination of people who continuously make Southeastern Ontario both a premier travel destination and a place I am very proud to call home.
What are your fondest memories of 2016? Let us know on our Facebook page, hit the comments below – or share your pictures with us on Twitter or Instagram! Don’t forget to use the hashtag: #GreatWaterway!
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