Once again, ladies and gentlemen; we find ourselves quickly approaching that #festive time of year. The trees are being raised in every town square, colourful lights are hung from the lamp-posts with care – and that all familiar music suddenly fills the air. [Read more…]
What a whirlwind month! When I was first approached to travel through The Great Waterway with the ‘On the Way’ team, I knew this would be a rare and unique opportunity. After 32 days of amazing moments, wonderful adventures and awesome food, I have no regrets, it was truly incredible.
For 32 days we hit the road and explored the regions of The Great Waterway, which include; The Bay of Quinte, Prince Edward County, Land O’Lakes, Rideau Heritage Route, Kingston 1000 Islands, Gananoque 1000 Islands, Brockville 1000 Islands, and Cornwall and the Counties. As a pretty seasoned traveller, if I’m not on an adventure, I’m planning one. For example, right before this trip, I was lucky enough to go to Iceland, then head to Vancouver for a few weeks. Now, after exploring The Great Waterway, I realize how much diversity we have right here in South Eastern Ontario. Now I don’t have to go far to discover tons of great things! I’m going to continue travelling through this part of Ontario, whether it’s hiking through Rock Dunder, taking a cruise through 1000 Islands, visiting breweries and vineyards; there’s so much to do and see right in our own backyard.
Here are some of my favourite stops along the Great Waterway:
Prince Edward County
Visiting Prince Edward County was a great way to kick off this campaign. This region is up and coming, with so many great things to see and do. A trip to The County can include everything from touring breweries and vineyards to seeing local artisans work to visiting quaint shops and so much more. With so many experiences to try, travellers are sure to find something that interests them, whether it’s adventure, relaxation or even a new hobby! While there, we were able to participate in many activities and one of my fondest memories was our visit to Parsons Brewing Company. The food was fantastic and the beer was delicious. We even had the incredible opportunity to talk with the owners about their inspiration behind the beer and brewery. Ever since visiting Parsons, I’ve been following them on Instagram and can’t wait to take a trip back.
Bay of Quinte
Admittedly, I had no idea how many things this region has to offer until stopping here – we had so much fun! First there was the incredible adrenaline rush that we had kayaking through in the region with Twiggy of Cruising Canoes and then wakeboarding for the first time at Trenchtown Wake Park. This region also had the cutest coffee shop called The Brake Room, which is also a bike shop. The coffee was great and the vibe was even better. While in Belleville, I had the best Indian food I’ve ever had in Ontario, at the Royal Haveli. The Bay of Quinte should definitely be a stop for any adventurer in South Eastern Ontario.
Ah, Land O’Lakes, our location where weather was not on our side. There were many stops on this trip that had to get rescheduled due to wet weather and unfortunately this happened a lot in this region. We were able to have a quick stop on Wolfe Island before the rain hit and I’m excited to go back to explore it more for myself. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. It’s one of my favourite breweries, so this was an incredible experience! While there we were able to see the farm and taste some of their delicious beer. Luckily, in September, we will be back in this region for the #OnTheWay campaign, so check in then to catch all the things we will be exploring!
Kingston 1000 Islands
My oh my, exploring Kingston was a real treat. As a resident of Kingston, I find that many people often take the beautiful architecture and history of Kingston for granted. Having the opportunity to travel through Kingston like a tourist opened my eyes to a lot that Kingston has to offer. We were able to visit the Kingston Pen, which has been on my list of places that I wanted to visit. The architecture and history is absolutely incredible. If you haven’t visited the Pen yet, drop everything you’re doing and book a tour now!
The Kingston Food Tour was also a great experience and allowed us to taste food at many different locations in Kingston. The food was great but what I really appreciated, was learning about how many restaurants in Kingston use local suppliers for food.
Gananoque 1000 Islands
In this stunning region, we were able to explore by land, water and sky. We started by touring the area from above with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours – so amazing! Then we saw the region by kayaking on the water. 1000 Islands Kayaking Co. made sure we had everything we needed to have a fantastic time paddling. We also spent time exploring the waterfront and driving through the area. It was incredible to see how beautiful this region is from every angle. Many people travel to waterfront properties and beaches in different countries, but Ontarians should definitely be spending their time here instead. The 1000 Islands is one of the most beautiful places on earth and there are so many fun things to do!
Brockville 1000 Islands & Rockport
This is the region where we finally had the opportunity to visit Boldt Castle! After hearing so much about it and seeing it from the sky, it was amazing to finally be able to set foot in this majestic castle. The castle and the island have an interesting history that includes a love story that’s both tragic and beautiful, read about it here.
One of the most thrilling parts of our entire trip was being able to visit Skywood Eco Adventure Park. Here, we navigated through the treetops on a series of adventure courses that included ropes and zip lines. It was a fun challenge and I definitely want to go back to try the expert course one day!
In Brockville, we were able to get a sneak peek of the Railroad Tunnel, which is an incredible location and is now open to the public!
Rideau Heritage Route
The best way to describe this region of Ontario is by comparing it to a remote oasis. Filled with beautiful small towns and peaceful nature, it’s the perfect destination if you want to spend some time outside. Rock Dunder, which recently became a popular go-to spot because of numerous posts on Instagram, is a great spot to hike and see awesome water views. If you’re a fan of cliff jumping, there’s a great spot to do this at Rock Dunder.
Another great spot here is Jones Falls; I’m a huge fan of history, so I loved that local historical interpreters teach visitors about the area. There are many areas to explore in this region, making it a fun adventure for all ages!
And last, but certainly not least…
Cornwall and The Counties
I just need to start off by saying I dream about the poutine we had in Cornwall, I even wrote about it in the blog for that region. Needless to say, it was the best poutine I’ve ever had and totally worth a visit to Cornwall to try it at Sheep Head’s Bistro.
Being a penchant for history, I loved that we were able to visit the Historic Cornwall Jail. It was interesting to learn about the prisoners and executions that took place there. Another wonderful spot to visit and learn about history is Upper Canada Village. Plus it’s always a fun time for any age group!
So there you have it. 32 days travelling with someone who I didn’t know at all beforehand and it was a total blast! Now, I tell everyone how amazing this region is and I totally recommend traveling here. Before booking your next trip anywhere else, consider making this region your destination location. There’s so much to do, so many great people to meet, local food to taste, and so much more! Follow The Great Waterway on Instagram to see what all this region has to offer!
In the coming months, our full video adventure will be released. Be sure to check back soon!
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.
Day 24: July 26th, 2017
We started our day by having breakfast at Island View Restaurant in Rockport. We sat on the patio that overlooks the water and enjoyed the beautiful view. We arrived just after the restaurant opened, so it was peaceful and quiet. We then walked over to the Rockport Boat Line, which meant I was finally about to take the tour to see the inside of Boldt Castle! (If you’ve had a chance to read my Gananoque post, I’ve basically seen Boldt Castle from every angle – both sky and water – but haven’t yet been inside). The smooth ride to Boldt Castle took only 30 minutes on the Rockport Boat and I’m happy that it was a short ride because it meant we arrived at Boldt Castle quickly. If you’re not familiar with Boldt Castle, it is the physical memento of a tragic love story.
Time for a quick history lesson! Bold Castle was created by George C. Boldt, the millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. He loved spending time near 1000 Islands and as such he wanted to create a grand castle as a display of his love for his wife, Louise. Starting in 1900, construction began on the 120 room castle that would be six stories high. In January 1904, Louise passed away, leaving Boldt broken hearted. He couldn’t imagine his castle without Louise and commanded workers to immediately stop construction on the castle. From 1904 to 1977, the castle was left to be destroyed by vandals. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority then acquired the property and have put millions of dollars into rehabilitating Boldt Castle.
When we arrived at Boldt Castle, we quickly went through customs and finally were able to see the castle! It kind of felt like seeing the castle from Beauty and the Beast- it is incredibly majestic and beautiful. We walked into the castle and toured various rooms and reconstructions of the castle. It was interesting to see the contrast of the rehabilitated rooms of the tower, compared to the old rooms that had not been redone and were still covered in graffiti. I personally hope that the entire castle doesn’t get rehabilitated, just so everyone can see what the castle looked like compared to the rehabilitation. Both are beautiful, in different ways.
The ride back to Canada took us an hour, as the boat takes a different path to get back to Rockport. After docking, we quickly changed and headed to Skywood Eco Adventure Park, which was by far the most adrenaline-packed adventure of our trip!
Located in Mallorytown, Skywood Eco Adventure Park is Canada’s largest aerial adventure and zip line park. I had mistakenly thought Skywood only had zip lines, but it has so much more. It is basically an extremely fun obstacle course up in the trees. Being at least 15 feet off the ground navigating through the forest canopy on wooden planks or ropes is super fun (and for some less daring, possibly a bit scary). We started with the beginner course and made our way up to intermediate. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to conquer the advanced course, which means I’ll be heading back there soon! After the course, we zip lined back to the base. It was an incredible experience and I highly recommend checking it out with your family or friends. Pro tip: Take bug spray with DEET and water! You’ll need both, I promise.
After quickly freshening up, we headed to Tall Ships South Coast Grille for dinner, located above the Aquatarium in Brockville. Not only does this restaurant have a beautiful view of the water but the menu is incredible with lots of options.
Day 25: July 27, 2017
I’m a huge animal lover, so I get really excited to see animals regardless of if they are land or water dwellers. It made my day when we started off the morning with a visit to the Aquatarium in Brockville. Scott and I raced on antique row boats (I obviously won) and then we began to explore the aquarium. There were so many creatures, but my favourite animals were the otters! They were incredibly adorable and it was a fun experience to watch them get fed. I would never have known, but the Aquatarium also has a high ropes course! At first, I thought it was designed for children as it was themed to resemble a ship, but as soon as I started climbing, I realized that it was actually fairly difficult! It was a good challenge. Similar to Skywood, it was a lot of fun and it makes you feel preeeeetty invincible!
After the Aquatarium we headed to The Brockberry for lunch. The Brockberry has a southern inspired menu, with items such as “Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken”, “Memphis Pulled Pork”, “Low Country Cornbread” and more. They also have some fantastic traditional unsweetened iced tea that they make in house.
Then we were off to Fulford Place. We had driven by this beautiful mansion a few times and now we were finally able to go inside and explore. Another quick history lesson: Fulford Place was built by Senator George Taylor Fulford, who made millions of dollars from “Pink Pills for Pale People”. It was a patented medicine he created in Brockville and sold around the world. With his success, he was able to build the 20,000 square foot Edwardian mansion, Fulford Place, between 1899 and 1901.
The house is incredibly beautiful, with original tapestries, paintings and more items collected during their world travels. It’s very grandiose, with large rooms and expensive decor. Fun fact: The family often hosted many Canadian Prime Ministers in this house for dinner! And last, but not least, we ended our leg in Brockville by having a sneak peek of the railway tunnel. Man oh man, I had seen a few sneak peeks of this on Instagram before, but it was absolutely incredible. It felt like we were transported to a different world, and the lights and sounds were absolutely beautiful.
Canada’s first railway tunnel was built in 1860 in Brockville. It was completed 21 years before the Canadian Pacific Railway and was very controversial for its time. It is now being restored for access for the general public and act as a connection from the Trail at the city’s waterfront, through the Gorge, and to other sections of the Trail. The Railway Tunnel opens on August 12, 2017, so make sure to check it out!
And there ends our journey to Rockport and Brockville. We only have two more destinations left; are you following along? Check out the live stories on Instagram at @greatwaterway, and check out some of the other destinations we went to, like Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte, Gananoque, and Kingston!
Brockville/Rockport Blooper Reel
Enjoy Scott’s rendition of MTV Cribs at Boldt Castle!
(That’s an easy way to remember the pronunciation, right?)
Gananoque is located between Toronto and Ottawa and is a refreshing change of pace from a large city. A quiet, calm town with a lot to see and do; Gananoque is a perfect pit stop for a few days or if you’re travelling through the area!
Day 19: July 21st, 2017
We started the day bright and early with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours. Located off of the 401 in Gananoque, 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours is a once in a lifetime experience. It was incredibly exciting to be up in a helicopter, flying over this stunning area. Seeing the islands from a bird’s eye view, magnified the richness and beauty of the area. Our pilot was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force and hearing about his experiences and narration of the region was fantastic. While up in the air, we caught our first glimpse of Boldt Castle (and I’m excited that we will be visiting the castle on a later leg of this trip). Our pilot chatted to us about this majestic castle and how George Boldt was building it for his wife, when she unexpectedly passed away. He abandoned the project, broken hearted and never returned. It was left unfinished for over 75 years until it was purchased by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority two decades ago. Seeing this castle from the sky was only one of many magnificent things that we got to see during this unreal helicopter ride.
After the tour, we headed to Panache Bakery and Cafe in downtown Gananoque. They serve a variety of soups and sandwiches that will satisfy all preferences. I enjoyed a tuna sandwich on a fresh croissant and it was delicious!
Fun facts about Gananoque: It is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Thousand Islands”.
After lunch, we stopped into the Arthur Child Heritage Museum. This was the perfect place to learn more about Gananoque.
The museum interprets the history and ecology of Gananoque and the 1000 Islands. The museum’s location was originally the main station for the Thousand Islands Railway, which was eventually destroyed by fire in 1990. In the museum, we saw displays about the history of the islands, the First Nations people, early settlers and military leaders.
Day 20: July 22nd, 2017
We got up bright and early and headed to 1000 Islands Kayaking. Paddling through the islands was a great way to explore this beautiful area. Experience isn’t necessary, so even if you’re a first-time kayaker, you’ll have a great time! My favourite part was seeing Half Moon Bay, where people would travel by boat to meet for a Vesper Service in the summer time. There are photographs from 1887 of the congregation in rowboats and canoes and the tradition continues on today.
After kayaking, we headed to the Gananoque Boat Line; which is the biggest and oldest cruise company in the 1000 Islands. They offer different cruises, which can satisfy the adventure seeker in you. We took the 2.5 hour, The Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands tour, which gave us another view of Boldt Castle (my excitement is growing!). We also got a glimpse of how the rich live, as we cruised by “Millionaire’s Row”. These incredible homes and “cottages” are absolutely stunning. Since this was The Lost Ships tour, we also learned about various shipwrecks and saw side-scan sonar images which gave us another awesome perspective of the islands. Having now explored the islands by sky, land, sea, and sonar, we’ve had an all encompassing experience of the beauty of the 1000 Islands.
I’ve wanted to have a meal at The Socialist Pig since moving to the region, so I was excited to have lunch there on Day 20! The Socialist Pig has food for everyone; with handcrafted espresso, premium sodas and handmade lemonade. They also have an awesome counter, made of books! They try to use local farm fresh ingredients as much as possible and are involved with the Gananoque community. Their food did not disappoint; I highly recommend checking this place out!
We had a bit of a break (so we could get hungry again) and then headed to Riva for dinner. Inspired by the osterias of Italy, Riva’s menu is full of traditional Italian dishes. My favourite item on their menu was the gnocchi di gorgonzola; which was a potato gnocchi, gorgonzola cheese, fresh ground black pepper, bacon, lemon, and arugula salad. I’ve definitely been well fed on this trip! After dinner, we headed to the Thousand Island Playhouse to watch Leading Ladies, a screwball comedy. We watched the play on opening night and it was a riot! Leading Ladies runs July 21st-August 19th, so make sure you check it out before it’s gone! I don’t want to ruin it for you, so you can read more about the play here if you’d like!
We’re heading to Rockport and Brockville next. Keep an eye on @greatwaterway to follow our journey!
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.
Being on this trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Truthfully, if I had 5 weeks to travel, I would never have thought about traveling so close to home. It has helped me gather a deep appreciation for regions in The Great Waterway and especially for the ones we’ve already visited on our trip; such as Prince Edward County and Bay of Quinte. I can’t wait to see what the other regions that we’ll be visiting have in store for us. The best part is that they’re all so close to home (Kingston), that I can take day-trips, bring friends with me and show off my new found knowledge!
Land O’ Lakes was our third destination, but weather was not on our side. We had plans to travel to Frontenac Provincial Park by canoe, camp overnight, eat lunch at the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace in Napanee and enjoy the Dark Sky Viewing Area. Unfortunately, due to the rain and lacklustre conditions, this portion of our trip had to be postponed.
This is the reality of production. It is especially important to have blue skies with big white fluffy clouds for a tourism video. Also, we shouldn’t look completely miserable on camera! If we were camping in the pouring rain and trying to set up all of our gear, this probably wouldn’t look the best on camera. But the upside is, we will likely be re-visiting this portion of our trip at the end of the 5-week trip. Although the majority of our visit has to be rescheduled, here are some things that we were able to do:
Experiencing Wolfe Island
Before this, I had only been to Wolfe Island to experience the Corn Maze around Halloween, so I was excited to visit the island during summer. We took the 20-minute ferry to the island and ate an early lunch at The Wolfe Island Grill. The view was beautiful, with the patio right on the water. They also had some pretty good curry! If you’re visiting Kingston, I highly recommend taking the (free!) ferry over to Wolfe Island to eat a meal at The Wolfe Island Grill and explore.
Bon Eco Suites
I honestly didn’t realize that there was anything in Tamworth, Ontario, so I was pleasantly surprised by the shops, antique stores, and cafes located in this quaint town. Bon Eco Suites, where we stayed during our trip to Land O’ Lakes, was absolutely beautiful. Located in a historic building, there were 3 separate apartments. The apartments are furnished with many reclaimed materials; such as tires, old trim, hubcaps and more. It’s very easy to be inspired here, so close to the wilderness.
MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co.
MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. has a special place in my heart. When I first moved to Kingston, I wasn’t a huge fan of beer. One day while visiting Red House Kingston, I had some of the MacKinnon Brother’s Brothers House Ale and I fell in love with their beer. It is very lightweight and a bit too easy to drink. Since then, Crosscut (Canadian Ale) and Red Fox (Summer Ale) have become my favourites. I was extremely excited to visit their farm in Bath, Ontario.
Both Ivan and Dan MacKinnon showed us around the farm, and we were able to taste some of their beer. Unsurprisingly, they were all fantastic. If you’d like to visit them, they’re hosting an event called “Back To The Farm” on August 20th, from noon to 10 pm. There will be a bunch of really great bands playing; such as The Mahones, Lost Cousins and more.
Our next stop is Kingston! I’m excited to see what my home city has in store for us. Make sure you’re following our live stories on The Great Waterway’s Instagram @greatwaterway!
*Because I Knew Nothing About It.
Bay of Quinte: This region is pretty much in my own backyard but I knew very little about it. I’m glad that changed!
Day 5: July 8, 2017
We started our fifth day of this adventure by heading to the National Air Force Museum of Canada. Nev, our guide, told us personal anecdotes about his experience flying planes for the Air Force. The craziest and most exciting part of the museum for me was the Handley Page Halifax. This plane was shot down over a Norwegian lake and was located by sonar detectors in 1981. It took 14 years to raise the plane from the lake and another year to transport it to Canada. Then 10 more years and many volunteer hours later, the Halifax was unveiled. To further appreciate the Handley Page Halifax, know that the museum was built around this incredible plane that is fully functional. Don’t expect to see her in the sky though, there’s no way of getting her out of the museum! After our interesting and informative tour we said goodbye to Nev and we were off to Port Bistro Pub in Trenton.
The Port Bistro Pub is located by the water, and has a beautiful patio to enjoy the view. We were served an amazing charcuterie of La Cultura Saluma cured meats and various house cheeses and pickles. Then it was time to sample some authentic pub fare. Scott ordered “The Phil Burger”. This wonderful creation is custom made for you; you tell the chef your allergies and he makes a burger! Crazy, right? Crazy awesome. Scott had a deep fried patty, which I had never seen or heard of before. Pretty neat and oh so good. I had the Crispy Chicken Sandwich; that had apple, brie, red onion, red pepper and was a refreshing change from a typical Crispy Chicken Sandwich. The crew had the Tower of Nachos and the title perfectly describes what it was: literally, a tower of nachos.
After eating, we headed to Trenchtown Wake Park, which is a cable wakeboarding destination. Let me tell you something crazy, I don’t swim. And I can’t swim. I’m basically a doggy paddle champ. Before joining this trip, I had actually signed up for adult swim lessons in Kingston, because I thought it would be an important life skill to have. If only I was psychic and knew to sign up for these sooner! Needless to say, I was a bit worried about heading to Trenchtown. I was convinced I would be horrible at wakeboarding and drown. Luckily for me, I wasn’t horrible and I didn’t drown! I consider this a win.
On our arrival, we were greeted by Will, who along with Kaelen is one of the owners of Trenchtown. This fun place is located at the mouth of the Trent-Servern Waterway. It has a two system 2.0 cable system, a 350 foot beginner cable, and a 600 foot advanced cable.To top it off, it’s locally owned, family friendly and affordable. Will was by far was the best instructor/teacher I’ve ever had. He was super motivating, very kind and was really helpful with making sure I didn’t drown (just kidding). It was a blast to be on the water and so satisfying to be able to do a lap without falling. I liked it so much, that I’m heading there soon with some friends to do it again! Take it from me, you need to stop by Trenton to check this out.
To keep the adrenaline pumping, we met with Twiggy of Cruising Canoes and kayaked around the Moira. Pro-tip: If you don’t have the strongest upper body strength (like me), don’t do wakeboarding and kayaking on the same day. Needless to say, I got pretty tired, pretty quickly. Although as a former rower, it was great to be gliding on water again, it’s such a satisfying feeling. At the end of our adventure, Twiggy found us a new friend. Our new friend almost jumped on my face… that would’ve been baaaaaaaad.
To end of the day (and to celebrate that I made it through alive) we were off to try some beer at Signal Brewing Company. It was a neat experience to meet the owner and taste some of their beer. Their branding is on point; their beer names relate to signals/radios and they use local artwork on their chubby bottles. The brewery is located on a piece of land that has a lot of history and the building was built by the owner of Signal Brewing Company. Their soft opening date is set for July 23rd and I highly recommend checking out this awesome beer and beautiful space!
Day 6: July 9, 2017
Day 6 was a fairly relaxed and slower paced day. We left the hotel around 6 AM and headed to the marina to meet Ozzy, who took us on a boat ride around the Bay of Quinte. I’m not much of a morning riser, but the view could not be beat. It was stunning and so fun to listen to Ozzy’s experiences and life story.
After taking a break, we headed to Burger Revolution. According to their description, Burger Revolution is a “flavour revolution between two buns”… and this is highly accurate. We tried a few different burgers and my personal favourite was The Chevre Guevara. This yummy burger was topped with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, bacon, and smoked tomato jam. (Drooling, yet?)
Coffee is the fuel for this trip, so we headed to The Brake Room to grab some. The Brake Room is hands down one of best places we went to in Belleville. Not only do they serve some delicious Pilot coffee, they also serve amazing local food. The cafe is also complemented by a bike shop (hence The Brake Room, get it?!). The owner was incredibly friendly, and the shop in general had a really awesome atmosphere.
We were more awake and energized after drinking coffee, which was perfect because we were going to try yet another activity I’ve never done before – golfing. We arrived at Black Bear Ridge Golf Course, which was much bigger and far more beautiful than I would’ve imagined. Located in Corbyville, this golf club was rated in ScoreGolf’s Top 100 Canadian Courses. Unfortunately Mother Nature was uncooperative so we were only able to go to the driving range. Let’s just say I won’t become a golf pro anytime soon…
The day ended on a beautiful patio on the water, The Boathouse in Belleville. They had the best caesar I’ve ever had, with the most perfect looking shrimp on top. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals and the dessert was to die for. Braden and I split a delicious cheesecake slice, which I would highly recommend.
And there ends the Bay of Quinte portion of our trip. I had never taken the time to explore this area before and boy was I missing out. I learned of the many things that this region has to offer and I’ll definitely be heading back to check out more of them.
P.S. If you’d like to follow along “live”, make sure you follow @greatwaterway on Instagram. I’ve taken over the instagram stories and will be posting at every location and destination. You can also follow myself @melissaeapen and @scottcavalheiro– Scott posts some pretty funny content about our trip.
BAY OF QUINTE BLOG BLOOPER CONTENT
So… my first time getting up while wakeboarding wasn’t the most successful. I may have fallen… hard. Check it out below, it’s even in slo-mo.
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…]