Here at the Great Waterway we’ve explored some amazing locations together and told countless stories about the variety of things to do and places to see on dry land. However, it’s beneath the surface of the St. Lawrence River, that we discover an entirely different story. One that began as far back as when the Earth was forged, and still continues to unfold today. [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…]
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
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!
Plan Your Trip Today
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
Ribfests, garlic fests, corn fests, oh my — the food festivals lineup this summer is heating up from Belleville to Cornwall. In K-Town, there’s Taste of Kingston, for example, a one-stop sampling of creations from some of the city’s most talented chefs. At Upper Canada Village: two days of 19th-century cuisine. And in Prince Edward County: an heirloom tomato festival with a huge harvest table as the centrepiece and over 100 varieties to try. Read on for the details on all 9 of the food festivals coming up this summer. Commence drooling.
Kingston: September 9 – 11
Break out the bib — you’re going to need it. Each of these ribfests will pack a local park with ribbers from all over North America, all of them vying for your vote and the title of best ribs, chicken, pork or other barbecued treasure. Every ribfest on this list will have live music and kids zones as well, and Kingston’s version will even have a craft beer fest featuring 16 breweries and 3 cideries going on at the same time. Free admission. cornwallseawaylionsclub.ca; brockvilleribfest.com; quinteribfest.org; kingstonribandbeerfest.com
Cornwall Food Festival
August 20, 10 am – 8 pm
Pitt Street, Cornwall
It’s only in its second year, but no wonder the Cornwall Food Fest is quickly becoming a local foodies’ favourite. Pitt Street, between 1st and 3rd streets, will close down for the day and local cafés, restaurants, gourmet food trucks and dairy bars will take over. Walk the two blocks, sampling along the way, and then take a break or dance off some of that deliciousness in the entertainment tent, where six bands will play from 11 am to 8 pm. Free admission. beyond21.org/food-fest
Main Street, Athens
Those crunchy cobs don’t get any fresher or sweeter than at this annual fest in the village of Athens. Locally-grown corn will be cooked by a steam engine all day, tempting you with wafts of melted butter. There will also be a community breakfast earlier in the day; sausages, hamburgers, sandwiches and fresh lemonade to accompany your cobs; a farmers’ market; a children’s corn-themed parade; live music; a rock-climbing wall; and way more. Free admission. facebook.com/athenscornfest
Food Lovers’ Field Days
August 20 – 21, 9:30 am – 5 pm
Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg
Taste what your ancestors ate at this two-day fest in a 19th century replica village. Reenactors will cook up period fare throughout the village using local ingredients and traditional methods. After your historical food tour, stop by the farmers’ market on the fairgrounds and then sit down for a special meal at Willard’s Hotel Restaurant. For a bit of modern-day fun on Saturday, check out the Iron Pan Competition at 1 pm, where chefs will compete in a Chopped-like contest. $12 – $19. Kids under 6: Free. uppercanadavillage.com
Eastern Ontario Garlic Festival
August 28, 9 am – 5 pm
Lamoreux Park, Cornwall
Breath mints won’t be included with this one, but there’ll be no need to be embarrassed — over 5,000 of our fellow garlic lovers will be on hand to sample garlic-centric goodies and take some home, too. We’ll also be able to brush up on our knowledge of these bulbs — historical, horticultural or culinary — at demos in the park and the farmers’ market. Plus: face painting, an artists’ corner, live music and a corn roast. All proceeds go to Kozroots Community Empowerment Projects. Free admission. kozroots.com
Verona Lions Garlic Festival
September 3, 9 am – 2 pm
Verona Lions Club, Verona
Keep the garlic train going in the village of Verona with more samplings and the Eastern Ontario Garlic Awards. If the kids aren’t that into garlic, maybe they’ll be up for arts and crafts, mini golf or the mini-tour train. Either way, you’ll be supporting the Lions Club as it helps support local, national and international causes that include Almost Home and the CNIB. Free admission. veronalions.ca
Heirloom Hurrah Tomato Tasting Festival
September 3 – 4, 9 am – 4 pm
Vicki’s Veggies Farm, Prince Edward County
Balance all of that garlic with a lot of heirloom tomatoes at this 20-acre organic vegetable farm 10 minutes southeast of Picton. Over 100 varieties of the bright beauties will be displayed and diced, ready to be tried, on a huge outdoor harvest table. Pair with food trucks, new friends and farm vibes. Later, look out for Vicki’s fresh vegetables, hot sauces and preserved products at its own roadside store and at farmers’ markets, restaurants and stores across southern Ontario. vickisveggies.com
The sky is flawlessly blue and the June sun shines high overhead, but I feel chilled in the limestone passage way of the 138 year old Kingston Penitentiary. Part of it I know is a logical chill – the rock walls keep out most of the heat. But the other part is an emotional reaction to going behind the walls of the historic jail. I’m holding my breath, but I’m not sure if it’s because I’m nervous or excited, and chances are it’s a bit of both.
Guided tours of Kingston Penitentiary is the result of a partnership between the Correctional Services of Canada, the City of Kingston and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, which operates and sells tour tickets. In 2013, all of the 18,000 tour tickets available sold out, making this one of the most sought after travel activities this summer. Many dates this summer have already sold out, but last minute tickets are sometimes available, and visitors buying a Kingston K-Pass will unlock tickets to sold out tour dates and received preferred pricing on tickets.
Our tour starts in the VC – Visitor’s Centre for short – where we’re given bracelets so we don’t get lost or left behind (it’s a fast-paced 90 minute walking tour covering more than kilometer of the prison’s labyrinth of ranges).
Knowledgeable guides share many of Kingston Pen’s most notorious facts and figures: The institution opened in 1835 and was built mostly by inmates; there have been three riots over the years; in the Metal Shop, inmates made everything from padlocks for the public to wrought iron for the parliamentary library; escapee Norman “Red” Ryan scaled the wall in the recreation yard at its lowest point.
What sets this tour apart from any other tour is that your guides aren’t just guides, but former guards and skilled storytellers at that. Corrections officers, most having spent at least 30 years working at the Pen, add colour to the stories. For me, this vibrancy is unexpected and adds a decidedly human touch to a tour that could lapse into recitation of those notorious facts and figures.
“Don’t get me wrong. It was a hard job, you know? It’s a prison after all. But we had some good times in here, we had some laughs with the guys,” recalls a guard who leads us through the G Range, the block of 32 cells that are open to the public. When referring to Kingston Pen, he uses feminine pronouns, giving me the feeling that guards and inmates here developed a relationship with the jail.
And though there are cells on the G range that are set up to look as those they would have when the prison was open, it’s tiny details that connect you with what life was like here.
A tattered net hanging from a basketball hoop on the yard.
A message to Kingston Pen written in black marker.
Faded footprints in the Shop Dome where inmates had to stand before being allowed in or out of the shops.
Shreds of sheets tied and still hanging from the bars of Cell 13.
A multi-coloured clown painted on the crumbling wall of the VC.
And that’s what everyone should take away from Kingston Pen Tours, is that it’s not just one story of the Pen, which follows a neat timeline from it’s construction to its closure. More accurately it’s a collection of stories, and yes mysteries, that you should try to unravel yourself.
One guard explains the tours best.
“You can go on Wikipidia or Google and read about the Pen. Go ahead. But this is your jail too, and the limestone will get into your bones as your walk through here. Ask questions, lots of questions, because that’s the only way you’ll really get to know her the way we know her.”