As the wind grows ever colder, and the days shorter – there is an awakening of sorts in our collective psyche. For as long as recorded history, human beings have seemingly shared a common observation as summer turns to fall – and the long dark quickens its approach. [Read more…]
Photos: Heidi Csernak
Summer might be officially over, but the greatest and most exciting events are just getting started here in The Great Waterway! Autumn is an inspiring time of year as South Eastern Ontario’s picturesque landscapes and gorgeous locales take on a vivid spectrum of warm colours. The cool breeze carries with it the whisper of a season’s end – but also promises a wonderful array of new beginnings.
Rather than mourn the loss of another summer, there are several captivating ways to embrace autumn and experience the best the season has to offer. Chief among them is a particularly brilliant and spectacular evening event presented by Parks of the St.Lawrence.
Pumpkinferno is an artistically fueled annual event held at Upper Canada Village, in Morrisburg Ontario. The event offers visitors a breathtaking assortment of handcrafted pumpkin-lanterns, that transform the village into a vibrant and interactive visual journey like none other. When we received an invitation to attend the opening night of Pumpkinferno 2017 – Heidi and I were beyond excited. We were going to be experiencing the event for the first time, and during this year’s premiere no less!
Without further delay, let’s get right into our (mostly) spoiler-free account of Pumpkinferno 2017!
The Elegant Hospitality of Willard’s Hotel
Our evening began with a dinner reservation at the famous and historic Willard’s Hotel. Situated on Queen Street, and just a few steps from Crysler Store, Willard’s is a wondrous and historically significant venue that once operated near Prescott. The building was first constructed in the late 1700’s and remained a hotel until the 1850’s. Today, Willard’s Hotel continues to welcome travellers and visitors alike; operating as an authentic time-period restaurant with an inviting and rustic Victorian charm.
The area where we were seated, was towards the back of the main floor beside a welcoming hearth. The dimly lit area had a wonderful ambience and was decorated to coincide with Pumpkinferno. The special menu we were presented with had some delectable items to choose from. Heidi decided to go with the oven roasted chicken breast, which came with a delicious mushroom sauce, roast potatoes and root vegetables. I could not resist the pork tenderloin with peppercorn sauce.
The food was beyond amazing – and more akin to an authentic homemade meal. The meat was tender, the vegetables were fresh – and the potatoes were roasted to perfection. The peppercorn sauce was rich and had just the right amount of zip – while the mushroom “gravy” that accompanied Heidi’s dish was the perfect companion for the tender and flavourful chicken.
For dessert, we were presented with a number of tantalizing options. In the end, Heidi had the apple rhubarb crumble, and I delved into the sweetest and most delectable British pudding I have ever encountered, which was absolutely drenched in warm toffee syrupy goodness.
If you’re interested in dining at Willard’s as part of your Pumpkinferno experience – reservations can be made by calling 613-543-0660. Walk-ins are typically not an issue, but it’s best to call ahead.
Night Descends Upon the Village
After an amazing dinner, we left Willard’s Hotel to realize that a gorgeous cobalt dusk was settling upon the village. We did a bit of exploring around the Hotel as the night approached. The waning daylight had begun to reveal the illuminated displays that we would soon be observing on our much-anticipated tour. Not wanting to spoil too much – we soon met up with our guide: Susan Le Clair – the Manager of Customer Service & Corporate Communications with Parks of the St. Lawrence.
It was time to begin our journey through Pumpkinferno!
Enter a World of Autumn Fantasy!
Susan led us back to the main entrance of Upper Canada Village which was now beneath a darkening sky. The bridge was adorned with a delightful display of lights and jack-o-lanterns each with a uniquely carved visage.
As we passed beneath their glowing grimaces amid the cool autumn twilight, we had the distinct impression that we were walking into something magical. We were taking a step beyond the confines of reality, and into a realm of creativity and eerie fascination.
Standing ever watchful upon the other side of the crossing, was Pumpkinferno’s official greeter and usher: Jack. This wasn’t the last we’d be seeing of Jack – as he and his multiple selves were waiting throughout the village to guide us along the path.
To prevent from spoiling the entire experience, I’ll only highlight but a few of our favourite exhibits. I don’t want to give everything away. I want you, beloved reader, to feel the same level of excitement and wonder that we did – when you first arrive at Pumpkinferno.
Here, There be Dragons
Early on in our journey, we came face to face with a mythical and larger than life creature born of Far Eastern legend and lore. Towering beyond a large tree adorned with lanterns bearing various ancient symbols was an enormous and elaborately crafted dragon!
This legendary creature and her young hatchling (that’s right, TWO dragons!) were among the very first – and absolutely vexing displays we set our eyes upon. We had hardly begun our tour – and were absolutely blown away by these jaw-dropping carvings of epic proportion! Made up of intricately designed pumpkins – these towering giants were simply spellbinding!
Dia de los Muertos
Likely my favourite of the displays was the striking Day of the Dead exhibit. The elaborately crafted Calaveras (skulls) and dazzling dancers dressed in ornate flamenco fashions were simply breathtaking. I could practically hear the jubilant music, smell the tamales – and taste the sugar skulls as I stood in absolute awe of this intricate and elaborate homage to Mexican folklore. Qué hermosas!
Stroll Through an Otherworldly Art Gallery
Another memorable exhibit was the Night at the Gallery display. Here, we observed an eclectic collection recreations representing the masterworks of several famous artists.
Each piece was an affirmation and testament to the creative talent at work by Pumpkinferno’s amazing artists. These fabulous tributes were easily recognizable – but infinitely unique in their own way.
It was truly astounding to see just what could be done by using pumpkins as an artistic medium. My favourite of these re-creations had to be the portrait of Vincent Van Gogh – showing his good ear of course.
A Celebration of Canadian History & Culture
The core theme for this year’s Pumpkinferno was a diverse variety of authentically Canadian cultural and historical representations. They ranged from wildlife to key time periods and other uniquely patriotic icons. From the Fur Trade to the Aurora Borealis there was a consistent and wonderfully familiar narrative at play, deeply entrenched within Canada’s diverse cultural saga.
So much more than Jack-O-Lanterns
At first, without knowing much about Pumkinferno, you might be thinking: “Ok, big deal, it’s a bunch of jack-o-lanterns.” WRONG! It is so much more than that.
This mystical event takes the concept that began as the traditional pumpkin lantern – and takes things to an entirely new level of awesome. After a guided tour of this captivating and inspiring event – I can tell you with absolute confidence – that Pumpkinferno is the most inspiring and memorable event you can experience this fall.
Prior to attending the event I tried to keep a fresh head – and avoided as many spoilers as possible. I wanted to go into this with a blank slate. This story that we’ve created is but a tiny morsel of the immense and incredible spectacle that awaits you – at Upper Canada Village.
I highly recommend that you fill the car with family and friends – and experience it for yourselves! It’s also worth mentioning that you can visit a really cool “fall fair” styled area of the village called Pumpkin Park. Here you will find an array of fun activities for the whole family, as well as a free WI-FI zone where you can share your favourite pictures on social media.
Be sure to tag us in your #Pumpkinferno memories with #GreatWaterway!
Exit Through the Gift Shop
By the end of our experience, we were absolutely blown away. Pumpkinferno far exceeded our expectations and left us with memories that we will not soon forget. We would like to wholeheartedly thank Susan and the entire staff of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.
Congratulations are also in order – to the numerous artists who poured an immeasurable amount of passion and painstaking dedication into creating this arresting and interactive gallery.
After saying our goodbyes, Heidi and I could not pass up the opportunity to peruse the fabled gift shop, that was filled with vintage finery, irresistible confections – and of course: the ever famous fresh loaves of bread that were nearly picked clean by the time we wrapped up our visit.
Experience the Magic of Pumpkinferno!
Get tickets now!
Autumn is here, and although summer has come to pass, a stunning array of colourful beauty awaits. Already, the days grow shorter, if ever so slightly and the night’s breeze carries a cool whisper of the next changing of the season. The vivid emerald shades of summer are giving way to a breathtaking palette of fiery fall colours that will envelop the region in an explosion of colour and beauty.
As the fall approaches, there is a collective celebration all throughout South Eastern Ontario in honour of the coming harvest, friends, family and most importantly community. Historically, celebrating the harvest season is an important tradition that strengthens our social bond and reminds us that we won’t be facing the cold embrace of winter alone.
Collected here, for your reading pleasure is a fun assortment of fantastic fall festivities and local farms to visit in The Great Waterway this year!
Cornwall & the Counties
Explore a Visual Wonderland at Upper Canada Village’s Pumpkinferno
The brilliant and visually stunning spectacle: Pumpkinferno makes a triumphant return to Upper Canada Village this fall. Take a wonderful stroll through a beautiful outdoor exhibit consisting of 7,000 hand crafted pumpkins that illuminate the night with a warm and gorgeous ambience, arranged along a kilometre-long path situated within the village’s vivid Victorian atmosphere.
Pumpkinferno is only open for select dates between September 29th and October 29th, 2017. This year’s event will have a fun Canada 150 theme that showcases Canadian culture amid a wonderland of glowing pumpkins.
Rideau Heritage Route
Take the Squad Apple Picking at Mountain Orchards
Apple picking with friends and family is a staple and authentically Canadian autumn activity. For the past 44 years, the Lyall and Hobson families have been the proud owners of Mountain Orchards. Originally from Manotick, the families purchased this historic farm in 1973 pursuing a simpler way of life well away from the urban sprawl.
Today, they continue to welcome visitors to their orchards each season. In addition to several varieties of apples throughout the season, Mountain Orchards also has a bakery store that’s filled with delicious delights!
Brockville & 1000 Islands
Score Some Apples, Cider and Baked Treats from Hall’s Apple Market
A short 8-minute drive from downtown Brockville will land you at Hall’s Apple Market – your one stop apple shop in the 1000 Islands region!
Kingston & 1000 Islands
Get Lost in The Wolfe Island Corn Maze
Another staple fall activity is visiting a good ol’ fashioned corn maze. For the past 16 years, visitors have flocked to the famous Wolfe Island Corn Maze for a fun fall adventure. For a closer look at the corn maze, and the owners – check out this blog post by Jordan Whitehouse
This year, the Wolfe Island Corn Maze has two uniquely designed mazes to discover along with a refreshment area in between called the Oasis Rest Stop. Wolfe Island Corn Maze sits on a large 50-acre property that is prime for a variety of fun activities for the whole family!
Corn Mazes, Pumpkin Patches and More at Fruition Berry Farm
When it comes to fun outdoor activities – you need not look further than Fruition Berry Farm in Kingston. From pumpkin picking to wagon rides and a creative and unique corn field adventure – there’s a whole lot happening at Fruition this fall!
This year’s theme for their famed corn maze is “Celebrating Canada 150.” Also – pro tip for any teachers who may be reading this – they do school visits!
Fruition is a great place to bring a picnic lunch and make a day trip of it. After your visit, make sure to pick up some delicious honey, preserves or apple cider to bring home!
Always Something Happening at Glocca Morra Farms
Formerly a dedicated dairy farm, Kingston Ontario’s Glocca Morra Farms has expanded to include several diverse agricultural offerings in its six generations of farming. The Doyle family’s farm, located on Highway 15 very close to the 401 is in a prime location on the Limestone City’s growing East end.
Chickens and a greenhouse now adorn the veteran farm, along with a robust roadside market, a food truck and even a creative craft studio! As the fall season approaches, Glocca Morra is a great place to stop to visit some cows, support a local independent farm and even pick your own pumpkins!
Stay tuned to Glocca Morra’s Facebook page, as they do several events throughout the year; including art classes as well as giant pumpkin carving and family fun events in October!
Celebrate AppleFest With Waddell Apples Orchard & Bakery
Waddell Apples has been in operation since 2003. However, farming has been a part of the family for well over a century. Today, the farm uses sustainable and ecologically sound agricultural practices – and enjoy sharing the fruits of their labour with the public every year during the late summer to fall harvest.
Every year in September, Waddell Apples holds AppleFest, a community fundraising initiative that features family entertainment, live music, orchard wagon tours, a corn roast and much more. The 2017 event has not been announced yet, so be sure to stay tuned to their Facebook page for more info on AppleFest, and a slew of other exciting events at the farm!
Get Scared Out of Your Pants at Fort Henry
For thrill seekers and horror aficionados alike – there is likely nothing as exquisitely blood curdling as a trip to Fort Henry National Historic Site to experience Fort Fright. Prepare yourself for a spine tingling tour into the darkest depths of the fort’s undercroft, filled with marvellous macabre moments and memories you won’t soon forget!
As an added bonus for those who long for thought provoking history, and paranormal intrigue, visitors can also partake in the Haunted Walks Experience at Fort Henry. Take a guided tour through this immense 19th Century fort for a unique and thrilling adventure of the supernatural variety.
To be completely honest, I’m a little freaked out already.
Land O Lakes
Take a Drive to Spring Meadow Orchards, Adolphustown
Located on the scenic Loyalist Parkway (Highway 33) Spring Meadow Orchards has been a choice destination for apple picking and family fun since 1969. Spring Meadow is a short and beautiful 35-minute drive West of Kingston, situated close to the Glenora Island Ferry and Prince Edward County.
The main orchard on the farm today was grafted from the famous Macintosh apple originating in the 1900’s. There are now several varieties of apple growing at Spring Meadow, as well as other fresh fruits and vegetables.
Spring Meadow holds an extra-special place in my memory, as it’s where I went apple picking as a kid with my family, and on class trips.
Rideau Heritage Route
A Unique Experience at Wendy’s Country Market – Lyndhurst, ON
Amid the scenic charm at work throughout the Rideau Heritage Route is the unique and wonderful Wendy’s Country Market. Located in Lyndhurst, this market has been featuring the produce of over 70 local farming operations for the past decade. In fact, on August 27th, 2017 Wendy’s Country Market celebrated their 10th anniversary!
Aside from an ample produce market, there is a scrumptious array of food entrees available at Wendy’s. Visitors can pick their own food, and then have it prepared for them in a fantastic farm to table dining experience. During the recent On The Way campaign, our guest blogger Melissa Eapen visited Wendy’s mobile market – and you can read all about it in her awesome blog post!
Prince Edward County
Visit Campbell’s Orchard & Country Market – Carrying Place, ON
Located close to Rednersville in Prince Edward County, Campbell’s Orchard & Country Market is a huge farm with a lot to offer visitors. The farm’s owners Colin and Dianne Campbell have been in business for over 30 years and love to welcome families to their farm. They also help students and visitors alike learn more about agriculture through a variety school tours and wagon-ride adventures!
Campbell’s is a fantastic destination for a range of harvest goodies. They grow over 19 varieties of apple, in addition to fruits and veggies and a robust on-site bakery. Within the bakery, you’ll find a cornucopia of delicious items that can be made to order or purchased during your visit! They also have a great selection of jams and preserves to stock the pantry with!
Have an Adult Beverage (or two) at County Cider Company – Waupoos, ON
We’ve touched on several apple picking venues in this post, each of them fantastic in their own way. There is another Apple-related activity, however, that takes place long after they are picked. And pressed. And fermented! Oh, yes indeed! I’m talking about sweet, delicious cider (the one for the adults) – and Prince Edward County is home to some of the best cideries in Canada.
Well known among them, is The County Cider Co. They have been specialising in delicious hard ciders since 1995, and have won several awards over the years. County Cider Co. is located on a gorgeous plot of land that overlooks Lake Ontario. They offer fantastic educational tastings for groups or individuals and also serve up some amazing food to enjoy while taking in the view.
Bay of Quinte
Join the Festivities at Belleville’s Flavours of Fall Festival
The Flavours of Fall Festival is a spectacular celebration of the fall harvest, held in historic downtown Belleville. Ran and organized by the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, this festival is ideal for families, and will feature an entire day of fun activities, several vendors from the community as well as pony rides, a petting zoo, food tastings and so much more!
The 2017 event is taking place in the former Quinte Hotel’s parking lot on September 30th from 10 am to 3 pm. For additional details, follow the Flavours of Fall Facebook page!
Celebrate the Harvest Season!
As the leaves begin to fall, and the breeze grows ever colder, there is no better time to pack up the car with friends and family and get out for a fun road trip to a local farm, orchard or autumn festival! South Eastern Ontario has a ton of places where you can get your hands on some excellent harvest goodies, and meet the people who dedicate their lives to growing and making it!
I hope this post has provided you with some ideas, and inspiration to make the most of this fall season! As always, check out the Google Map below, which has, even more, epic places to go apple picking, or discover the amazing agricultural features here in The Great Waterway.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Celebrate Harvest Season!
Explore South Eastern Ontario!
What a whirlwind month! When I was first approached to travel through The Great Waterway with the ‘On the Way’ team, I knew this would be a rare and unique opportunity. After 32 days of amazing moments, wonderful adventures and awesome food, I have no regrets, it was truly incredible.
For 32 days we hit the road and explored the regions of The Great Waterway, which include; The Bay of Quinte, Prince Edward County, Land O’Lakes, Rideau Heritage Route, Kingston 1000 Islands, Gananoque 1000 Islands, Brockville 1000 Islands, and Cornwall and the Counties. As a pretty seasoned traveller, if I’m not on an adventure, I’m planning one. For example, right before this trip, I was lucky enough to go to Iceland, then head to Vancouver for a few weeks. Now, after exploring The Great Waterway, I realize how much diversity we have right here in South Eastern Ontario. Now I don’t have to go far to discover tons of great things! I’m going to continue travelling through this part of Ontario, whether it’s hiking through Rock Dunder, taking a cruise through 1000 Islands, visiting breweries and vineyards; there’s so much to do and see right in our own backyard.
Here are some of my favourite stops along the Great Waterway:
Prince Edward County
Visiting Prince Edward County was a great way to kick off this campaign. This region is up and coming, with so many great things to see and do. A trip to The County can include everything from touring breweries and vineyards to seeing local artisans work to visiting quaint shops and so much more. With so many experiences to try, travellers are sure to find something that interests them, whether it’s adventure, relaxation or even a new hobby! While there, we were able to participate in many activities and one of my fondest memories was our visit to Parsons Brewing Company. The food was fantastic and the beer was delicious. We even had the incredible opportunity to talk with the owners about their inspiration behind the beer and brewery. Ever since visiting Parsons, I’ve been following them on Instagram and can’t wait to take a trip back.
Bay of Quinte
Admittedly, I had no idea how many things this region has to offer until stopping here – we had so much fun! First there was the incredible adrenaline rush that we had kayaking through in the region with Twiggy of Cruising Canoes and then wakeboarding for the first time at Trenchtown Wake Park. This region also had the cutest coffee shop called The Brake Room, which is also a bike shop. The coffee was great and the vibe was even better. While in Belleville, I had the best Indian food I’ve ever had in Ontario, at the Royal Haveli. The Bay of Quinte should definitely be a stop for any adventurer in South Eastern Ontario.
Ah, Land O’Lakes, our location where weather was not on our side. There were many stops on this trip that had to get rescheduled due to wet weather and unfortunately this happened a lot in this region. We were able to have a quick stop on Wolfe Island before the rain hit and I’m excited to go back to explore it more for myself. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. It’s one of my favourite breweries, so this was an incredible experience! While there we were able to see the farm and taste some of their delicious beer. Luckily, in September, we will be back in this region for the #OnTheWay campaign, so check in then to catch all the things we will be exploring!
Kingston 1000 Islands
My oh my, exploring Kingston was a real treat. As a resident of Kingston, I find that many people often take the beautiful architecture and history of Kingston for granted. Having the opportunity to travel through Kingston like a tourist opened my eyes to a lot that Kingston has to offer. We were able to visit the Kingston Pen, which has been on my list of places that I wanted to visit. The architecture and history is absolutely incredible. If you haven’t visited the Pen yet, drop everything you’re doing and book a tour now!
The Kingston Food Tour was also a great experience and allowed us to taste food at many different locations in Kingston. The food was great but what I really appreciated, was learning about how many restaurants in Kingston use local suppliers for food.
Gananoque 1000 Islands
In this stunning region, we were able to explore by land, water and sky. We started by touring the area from above with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours – so amazing! Then we saw the region by kayaking on the water. 1000 Islands Kayaking Co. made sure we had everything we needed to have a fantastic time paddling. We also spent time exploring the waterfront and driving through the area. It was incredible to see how beautiful this region is from every angle. Many people travel to waterfront properties and beaches in different countries, but Ontarians should definitely be spending their time here instead. The 1000 Islands is one of the most beautiful places on earth and there are so many fun things to do!
Brockville 1000 Islands & Rockport
This is the region where we finally had the opportunity to visit Boldt Castle! After hearing so much about it and seeing it from the sky, it was amazing to finally be able to set foot in this majestic castle. The castle and the island have an interesting history that includes a love story that’s both tragic and beautiful, read about it here.
One of the most thrilling parts of our entire trip was being able to visit Skywood Eco Adventure Park. Here, we navigated through the treetops on a series of adventure courses that included ropes and zip lines. It was a fun challenge and I definitely want to go back to try the expert course one day!
In Brockville, we were able to get a sneak peek of the Railroad Tunnel, which is an incredible location and is now open to the public!
Rideau Heritage Route
The best way to describe this region of Ontario is by comparing it to a remote oasis. Filled with beautiful small towns and peaceful nature, it’s the perfect destination if you want to spend some time outside. Rock Dunder, which recently became a popular go-to spot because of numerous posts on Instagram, is a great spot to hike and see awesome water views. If you’re a fan of cliff jumping, there’s a great spot to do this at Rock Dunder.
Another great spot here is Jones Falls; I’m a huge fan of history, so I loved that local historical interpreters teach visitors about the area. There are many areas to explore in this region, making it a fun adventure for all ages!
And last, but certainly not least…
Cornwall and The Counties
I just need to start off by saying I dream about the poutine we had in Cornwall, I even wrote about it in the blog for that region. Needless to say, it was the best poutine I’ve ever had and totally worth a visit to Cornwall to try it at Sheep Head’s Bistro.
Being a penchant for history, I loved that we were able to visit the Historic Cornwall Jail. It was interesting to learn about the prisoners and executions that took place there. Another wonderful spot to visit and learn about history is Upper Canada Village. Plus it’s always a fun time for any age group!
So there you have it. 32 days travelling with someone who I didn’t know at all beforehand and it was a total blast! Now, I tell everyone how amazing this region is and I totally recommend traveling here. Before booking your next trip anywhere else, consider making this region your destination location. There’s so much to do, so many great people to meet, local food to taste, and so much more! Follow The Great Waterway on Instagram to see what all this region has to offer!
In the coming months, our full video adventure will be released. Be sure to check back soon!
The Rideau Heritage Route is a beautiful area that has become popular with millennials, as the entire region is completely Instagram-worthy. With stunning landscapes, unique local shops and amazing food, I highly recommend visiting this region. I loved it so much that I returned the weekend after I was there with the “On The Way” team!
Day 31: August 2, 2017
We began our first day in the region with breakfast at Hotel Kenney, which is also where we were staying during our trip. Hotel Kenney is located in Jones Falls and right on the water. They have different rooms to suit your budget and a menu that changes every day!
After breakfast, we walked to the Jones Falls Lockstation, which is about a thirty-second walk from the hotel (probably not even that far!). There are two separate locks, which change the elevation by 18 meters. The lock system was handmade, which completely blows my mind! Another incredible aspect to this location is the hydroelectric power generation, which resulted in what looked like a very strong waterfall.
We also took a walk to the blacksmith’s shop, that’s just a stone throw’s away from the lock station and watched the blacksmith in action. He talked to us about the history of the building and we also learned about his craft. Scott and I even got to help a little bit!
The blacksmith suggested we stop in at Sweeney House; which was a defensible stone house built in 1841. Once there, we learned about the life of Peter Sweeney, who was the lockmaster from 1839-1871. Sweeney documented the early history of the canal operation in his personal diary and his life is now interpreted at the house. At Sweeney House, historical interpreters in period clothing take you back in time to the 1800’s when Peter Sweeney’s was at the lock station.
After all of the walking, we were a bit hungry so we headed to Westport for lunch! We went to The Cove Country Inn Restaurant & Boat Launch, which is beautifully located on the water. The menu was vast with lots of options, so everyone in our group found something to their liking! After exploring Westport a bit, we were off to Wendy’s Country Market.
Wendy’s Country Market is located inside a historic schoolhouse that was built in the late 1900s, and offers organic and locally grown produce from over 70 local farmers and artisans. There’s a wide variety of options, from fruits to cheese and everything in between!
We had a really unique experience while we were there, that was a lot of fun. Chef Mark, showed us how to forage for our own food, then that food was included in our Farm to Table dining experience! I learned a lot about which weeds could be eaten and the nutritional benefits of foraging. It was incredible and so tasty!
The meal had many different courses; starting with an incredible charcuterie board, an entree with boar and chocolates handmade by the chef. The entire experience is difficult to describe in words – it was magical. We sat outside the herb garden under a white tent eating this meal from the land around us. Wendy chatted about the renovations that her and her business partners are doing at Furnace Falls Farm, which is located across the road. They’re re-using as many of the old materials as possible, while still making it fresh. When they are finished, this cool space will be a B&B, with cooking classes! I’m excited for them to open and I’m definitely booking a night there.
Day 32: August 3, 2017
Our final day. So bittersweet.
We started the day by traveling to Merrickville, which is a beautiful town filled with unique and quaint local shops; many of them offering handmade items. Our first stop was Nana B’s Bakery, where we had some incredible butter tarts (I went back to get seconds a few days later). They were amazing and tasted like honey. My favourite was their plain butter tart, although there was nothing plain about the flavour!
After filling up on more butter tarts that we probably should have eaten in one go (so worth it!), we headed to Gray Art Glass Glassblowing for a glass blowing demonstration. We learned a lot about this art form and were amazed to see how talented these artists are! If you had a chance to see my Facebook Live video, you’d know that we watched an artist make a horse out of absolutely nothing! Needless to say, we were all stunned by what we saw.
Next stop: food! We headed to the Yellow Canoe Cafe, which was delicious. The food was incredible, tasted fresh and there were so many different options. Everyone loved their meals and their patio had a great atmosphere.
After lunch we jumped in the car, traveled to Chaffey’s Lock and hopped on paddle boards with Rideau Tours. We paddled in the area above Chaffey’s Lock and it was a lot of fun! I’m not the strongest swimmer, so water sports always make me a bit hesitant, but paddle boarding felt secure and steady. It took a bit to get the hang of it, partly because I was distracted by all of the fish and turtles that were swimming underneath but soon I was off! We finished with a “Flavours of the Rideau” gourmet picnic and guess what they included? More, butter tarts, yum!
We quickly went home to change and then headed to the Opinicon Dining & Resort for dinner. This restaurant has a beautiful ambiance, decorated very crisp and white and the food was amazing. After our meal, we went into the tiki bar area, where we played some board games, met some other travelers from Brockville and enjoyed our last night on this journey.
And sadly… that’s a wrap! The entire crew had an amazing time on this journey and you may see us back in a few weeks to try some things that we missed along the way due to the weather. We had a blast and I hope you follow in our footsteps and plan your own trip to The Great Waterway regions! You will not be disappointed.
I’ve never been to Cornwall before. I’ve driven through it multiple times on the way to Montreal and I’m glad I had the opportunity to check it out during this trip! Now, I not only have a place to stop through on my travels, but it is now one of my new destinations!
Before our “official” leg of the trip in Cornwall began, we had an amazing meal at Sheep’s Head Bistro. I have since been dreaming about the Reese’s Pieces cheesecake we had there and craving their poutine. It was by far the best poutine I’ve ever had; the cheese curds are mixed in with the gravy while it’s cooking so the cheese gets really soft and gooey. It’s amazing. If you’re a poutine lover, make sure you head to Cornwall to grab some poutine at Sheep’s Head Bistro!
Day 27: July 29th, 2017
In the morning we headed to Love Love Food Cafe for breakfast and man oh man, this was a fantastic way to start off a day. We had french toast waffles for breakfast, served with farmhouse sausage and maple syrup. Not french toast and waffles, but waffles that were dipped into french toast batter. They were incredible.
We then had a bit of a break until it was time for lunch at Mindful Cookery & Food Market. We’ve had so many wonderful meals during this trip and this restaurant didn’t disappoint. Everything was fresh, organic and wholesome. As a lover of cold press juice, it was a fantastic stop on our trip.
After lunch, we headed to the Historic Cornwall Jail. With a penchant for history, especially crime-related history, I was excited to learn about the inmates and hangings that happened at the jail. Built in 1833, the jail operated until 2002. Many areas of the jail are set up as they would be when it was a functional prison, such as the cell blocks and common areas. There were a few hangings that took place at this prison, the most notably of Peter Balcombe, who was the last of the hangings.
After a fantastic experience at the Cornwall Historic Jail, we travelled to Rurban Brewery. Rurban Brewery is an independent family owned small batch brewery. As Cornwall hasn’t had a brewery in over 100 years, Rurban Brewery brings unfiltered and unpasteurized beer into the community. My favourite beer that we tried there was “Sit, Russ” (say it fast, do you hear the dad joke?), which is an American wheat, featuring lime zest, mandarin orange and kumquat juice! I can certainly say that before drinking this beer, I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer (or any other drink) with kumquat juice. It was a perfect summer patio drink.
To finish the night, we headed to Truffles Burger Bar. This restaurant has such a powerful backstory. Within months of opening, the historic building Truffles was located in burned to the ground. The owners powered through and rebuilt their business from scratch, even adding an additional restaurant, Table 21, above Truffles. Truffles has some incredible burgers, most notably the Solid Gold Burger, which was beef and foie gras, with black truffle shavings, 23 carat gold dust (yes, actually!) and a glass of champagne. They even have some exotic burgers, such as rabbit, duck, llama camel, alligator, kangaroo, boar and more!
To begin our day, we headed to Nautica Grill and Wine in Dundas and Glengarry County. Located on the water, the patio offered a beautiful view of the area. Nautica is a family run restaurant, with a casual setting.
Day 28: July 30th, 2017
Before heading to Upper Canada Village, we toured the Long Sault Parkway. We stopped at a few different locations such as a park and beachfront and both were calm and serene.
Upper Canada Village, located in Morrisburg, had been on my to-do list for quite some time. I’ve been there a few times in the winter when the village itself wasn’t open, so it was amazing to be there when the lively village was in full swing. Time for another history lesson! In 1958, construction of Upper Canada Village began, which required the permanent flooding of ten communities now known as the lost villages. Upper Canada Village was part of the heritage preservation plan, and many buildings were transported directly from The Lost Villages. If you visit Upper Canada Village, any of the buildings that have an arrow on their plaques were moved to Upper Canada Village.
I never grow tired of writing about South Eastern Ontario’s vast historical significance. Every destination from The Bay of Quinte to Cornwall, and beyond is built upon a fascinating series of stories, each chapter contributing to the overall story of Canada itself. The chapter that we will be exploring in this article is a personal favourite of mine: Transportation. [Read more…]
I’m relatively new to Kingston and I don’t consider myself a true “Kingstonian” yet, so I was really looking forward to exploring the Limestone City on this trip. Kingston never disappoints and seeing other things it has to offer, just confirmed why I love this city so much.
Day 17: July 19, 2017
I had been waiting for this moment for the last two years! I was unable to get tickets to the Kingston Penitentiary last year and then this year, I purchased tickets but ultimately couldn’t use them due to another trip. So when I learned this was one of our stops, I was incredibly excited and I’m happy to say, this tour didn’t disappoint. The Kingston Penitentiary (aka the Kingston Pen), was a maximum security prison that was decommissioned in 2012. It was the home to many infamous inmates; such as Paul Bernardo, James Donnelly, Russell Williams and more. In 1971, there was a riot which lasted 4 days, caused the death of 2 inmates, heavily damaged the prison and led to prison reforms. Last year, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) began public tours in the Kingston Pen. On our tour, we met many people that worked at the Kingston Pen when it was still functioning as a prison. Prior to taking the tour, I had no idea that it was lead by former guards and employees of the pen. Kudos to the SLPC for creating a genuine experience!
The architecture of the Kingston Pen is what fascinated me the most. It was built by inmates and both the interior and exterior are stunning. There are some large sweeping staircases, beautiful arches and interesting details in the buildings. I highly recommend taking a trip to visit the pen, to learn about the history or to see the architecture. More tickets were released recently, which means you have no excuse not to check it out!
This tour worked up our appetite, so we headed to one of my favourite spots in Kingston- Juniper Cafe. The cafe is located on the ground floor of the Tett Centre, facing the lakeshore. The Juniper has the best breakfast sandwiches in Kingston, some amazing coffee and a beautiful view to boot.
After refuelling, we headed back to downtown Kingston and jumped on a Kingston Trolley Tour. The Hop On, Hop Off Trolley Tours are an excellent way to travel around Kingston and see some of exciting destinations while learning about our historic city. Locations include City Hall, RMC, Fort Henry, Bellevue House and more! We completed the entire tour and then hopped off in downtown Kingston for lunch at Wooden Heads. Wooden Heads is one of downtown Kingston’s best restaurants and specializes in gourmet pizza. This popular spot is always busy, so if you’re planning on heading there, I highly recommend making a reservation!
One of my favourite historic sites in Kingston is Fort Henry National Historic Site. Also run by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission; Fort Henry invites visitors to experience 19th century military life. The Fort Henry Guard is a group of highly disciplined university student recruits that are trained to act as British soldiers from 1867, interact with visitors and create an immersive environment. When we arrived at the fort, we were greeted by Mark Bennett who is the Supervisor of Programs. Mark was in full character from 1867 and he taught us how to properly salute and fire rifles.
To finish our long (but exciting) day, we boarded the Sunset Dinner Cruise by 1000 Islands Cruises. We were treated to a four course meal aboard the Island Star and some hilarious live entertainment. Shoutout to Billy Bridger, a true Kingston gem. We watched the sunset while experiencing a wine tasting by Pelee Island Winery and then headed back to downtown Kingston for the rest of the night.
Day 18: July 20, 2017
We started off our day at another awesome cafe, Northside Kitchen and Espresso. Inspired by the thriving cafe culture of Melbourne, Australia; Jess and Cade created an instagram-worthy cafe with excellent food and coffee in downtown Kingston. My favourite dish is the avo smash, with a side of bacon and a warm cappuccino. It’s hands down the best way to start off your day, trust me.
After an excellent breakfast, we travelled to Agnes Etherington Art Gallery to meet Peg Dunnem, the Program Coordinator. I have visited the Agnes before but didn’t know much of its history until this guided walkthrough. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre carries The Bader Collection, with nearly 200 paintings including three Rembrandts (the art history student in me swoons at this). The art collection is mostly Canadian, with some exciting contemporary art. With free admission (donations are welcome), this should definitely be on your list to visit in Kingston.
Random fun fact: Did you know that Kingston has more restaurants per capita than any other city in Canada? We have some really incredible food in this town. You can experience a variety of this culinary greatness during a Kingston Food Tour. Kingston Food Tours is a walking tour of downtown Kingston with tastings at some of the best restaurants in the city. Bonus: they are locally owned and operated and are fantastic people. On our tour, Dan was our guide as we travelled to some great places; such as Chez Piggy, Tango Neuvo, General Brock’s Commissary, Kingston Olive Oil Company and more! At an affordable price point that includes an excellent guide; I highly suggest taking this tour to try out samples from Kingston’s top restaurants.
To finish our day we had a fantastic (and boy do I mean fantastic) meal at Bayview Farm Restaurant; owned by Kingston’s renowned chef, Clark Day. Bayview Farm is Clark Day’s family homestead, which has seen some transformations throughout the years. Starting as a working farm, Bayview Farm has also been a tourist home, an ice cream business and a hobby farm. Today it’s an amazing restaurant, using ingredients from the farm. Everything we had was exquisite and it was an unforgettable dining experience. We were served by the chefs and were able to talk to them about how they prepared our food. Prior to this, I hadn’t heard about Bayview Farm, but boy am I glad I had the opportunity to eat here on this leg of the trip.
Make sure you’re following @greatwaterway to watch our live stories! Our next stop is Gananoque.
Kingston Blooper Reel
Billy Bridger had us choking from laughter aboard the Sunset Dinner Cruise.
Are you a geology nut who loves to spelunk for cool rocks or minerals? Perhaps biology is more your thing – and you’re dying to unravel the mystery of the American Eel’s decline. Have you ever wanted to hunt for fossils, dig up dinosaur bones – or even spend a day walking among some life-sized prehistoric giants? [Read more…]