Tents, sleeping bags, S’mores, and freaky ghost stories by a crackling fire. They’re all synonymous with a cultural phenomenon that has lasted centuries. Well, maybe it’s more like several millennia. [Read more…]
It goes without saying that 2016 has been a particularly unique year.
Here in Southeastern Ontario, this past year has been particularly exciting for travellers and locals alike. Spanning from the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties, 2016 has been a year brimming with fun-filled activities, wonderful special events, delicious culinary experiences, and great music festivals.
In the short time since I first joined in on the journey, we’ve traveled to some fascinating places together. We’ve gone off the beaten path and visited a remarkable variety of destinations hidden in plain sight. We bravely explored The Great Waterway’s paranormal history – and even stepped through time to rediscover this region’s rich and living heritage.
As we rapidly approach the New Year, it’s the perfect time to take a look back and reflect on 2016’s outstanding events and happenings. Without further delay, here is a collection of some of our favourite moments from 2016.
BAY OF QUINTE
Return of the Quinte International Airshow
June 25-26th 2016 saw the triumphant return of this epic aviation event after a long, seven-year hiatus. Roughly 75,000 spectators gathered at CFB Trenton to marvel at aerobatic performances by the Snowbirds, the ever popular CF-18 demo, and a variety of other gorgeous aircraft from both the Royal Canadian and United States’ Air Forces.
If you’ve never experienced the thrill and adrenaline rush of an air-show, fear not! The 2016 Quinte International Air Show was so successful that it has been confirmed to be a biennial event, coming back in 2018!
Trenton Scottish Irish Festival
The Trenton Scottish-Irish Festival is always a fun event for the whole family. September 2016 marked a bigger than ever celebration of the Bay of Quinte’s Celtic ancestry with a variety of traditional music, highland games, and authentic heritage foods.
The 2016 festival’s most unforgettable moment perhaps, was a fantastic performance by Alan Doyle, best known for his vocals in the popular Canadian Celtic band: Great Big Sea!
Savour: Bay of Quinte Food and Drink Festival
Savour was an especially tasty event held in October at Trenton’s Knights of Columbus Hall. It brought together a spectacular collection of local wineries, brewers and culinary masters from the surrounding area, resulting in a casual and uniquely local celebration of music, food, and beverages, as well as beautiful exhibits of fine art.
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY
20th Anniversary of the Prince Edward County Authors Festival
April 2016 was a rather momentous occasion for the Prince Edward County Authors Festival as attendees helped celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary. This literary festival began as a “small idea in 1996″, first originating in Milford Ontario.
Two decades later, the PEC Authors Festival has grown into a four-day extravaganza featuring poetry readings, kids story sessions, and in-depth conversations with Canadian literary icons including Linwood Barclay and Nino Ricci, and more!
Stay tuned to their website for details about next year!
Countylicious is a bi-annual celebration of Prince Edward County’s unique culinary creativity and talent. During the 2016 celebration, chefs from participating restaurants carefully crafted County inspired three-course meals that came at incredible ‘prixe-fixe’ rates.
Great Waterway blogger: Jordan Whitehouse took us behind the menus of Countylicious and sat down with three of the participating chefs to get an insider’s look into this famous (and delicious) event.
Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area
The cosmic events viewable from the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area top the list of The Great Waterway’s far from ordinary activities. This ideal destination for astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers alike offers some of the best views of our night’s sky.
Professional astronomers have described the Dark Sky Viewing Area as the most southerly point in Ontario, presenting a “perfect” and undisturbed opportunity to observe some amazing interstellar sights including the Northern Lights, the Perseid meteor showers, constellations and so much more.
For directions and more information check out the L&A Dark Sky Facebook Page.
Subterranean Adventures at the Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves
While many of our stories take place among scenic driving routes, picturesque national parks, and other fantastic attractions – one destination, in particular, showcases a wondrous world of discovery directly underground. Back in June, The Great Waterway’s adventure blogger: Jenn Pinarski took her family to the Hell Holes and gave us a first-hand glimpse into this fascinating underworld.
The Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves near Napanee boasts a huge choice of geological attractions including walking trails, a mini-like rainforest environment, and some seriously cool caves ripe for spelunking.
Seed to Sausage’s 5th Annual Day of the Pig
For the fifth year in a row, Seed to Sausage has hosted the ‘Day of the Pig” food festival in Tichborne Ontario. The festival boasts an eclectic gathering of chefs, craft brewers, wineries and other artisan food producers from Southeastern Ontario and beyond.
In May 2016 visitors flocked to the Land O Lakes region to indulge their taste buds with a menagerie of mouthwatering local fare. Day of the Pig has been growing each year in popularity and is sure to make a return in 2017. Stay tuned to Seed to Sausage’s Facebook for details.
The Tragically Hip Celebration in Springer Market Square
August 20th, 2016 was the day that Kingston became our nation’s capital once more. The Limestone City was the final stop for The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem Tour, and perhaps the band’s last show.
Over 25,000 fans flocked to Kingston from all over Canada to pay homage to Gord Downie and collectively celebrate an iconic group of Canadian musicians in their very own hometown. We were on hand to attend the celebration in Springer Market Square, where we spoke with fans and stood witness to a momentous occasion fit for the history books.
Re-opening of Kingston Pen Tours
For nearly a century and a half, Kingston Penitentiary has stood as an infamous and formidable structure looming over Portsmouth Village with an ominous air of history, and intrigue. Some of Canada’s most notorious criminals have been incarcerated here over the years, and some have even escaped from this massive limestone prison.
In June, Jenn Pinarski bravely took us beyond the North Gate, and into Kingston Pen’s labyrinthian cell blocks and it’s deepest dungeons on an incredible exploration of this iconic destination.
Kingston Pen Tours will be returning from May to October 2017, so be sure to stay tuned for ticket info!
Lumina Borealis surprised us all in a good way and took the region by storm after launching on December 1st, 2016. This mystical adventure of mythic proportions has transformed Fort Henry National Historic site into something out of a storybook.
Our very own Jenn Pinarski wrote an excellent article about her magical experience at Lumina Borealis and how this event offers a unique and creative winter attraction for the entire family.
The best news is that Lumina will continue until February 4th, 2017 so there is still time to score tickets and experience it for yourself. This winter, make the trip to Kingston and unleash your imagination in the frozen fantasy realm of Lumina Borealis!
The Launch of Skywood Eco Adventure Park
I can remember being a kid, watching Return of the Jedi for the five hundredth time, and wishing I could run around in a real life Ewok tree village. Thanks to the 2016 launch of Skywood Eco Adventure Park that childhood fantasy has pretty much, become a reality.
This fantastic outdoor attraction is Ontario’s largest zip lining and canopy adventure park featuring a tree-top village for the kids in addition to a selection of courses that meet a variety of skill levels.
The park is closed for the winter, but this article on our blog should give you a good idea of what to expect when Skywood re-opens this spring!
Gananoque Nickel Cup Hydroplane Regatta
Hydroplane racing has been a popular event in the 1000 Islands region since the 1940’s. Back then, the event was made possible through the sponsorship of Gananoque native: Frank LaQue, the Vice President of the International Nickel Company.
To this day, the Gananoque Nickel Cup still draws thousands of spectators to watch these fascinating speed boats reach pulse-pounding speeds more than 200 miles per hour and revel in the rumble and roar of the engines.
BROCKVILLE & 1000 ISLANDS
Brockville Tall Ships Festival
On September 16-18th 2016 Brockville’s waterfront was graced once more with the elegant majesty of the Tall Ships Festival. For three exciting days, an estimated 40,000 or more visitors amassed along Brockville’s scenic waterfront to view a venerable fleet of ships representing several eras of maritime heritage.
Like silent, graceful gods of the sea, these beautiful ships sailed through the St. Lawrence and perhaps time itself; as they paraded before a massive crowd. Visitors were also able to step aboard some of the ships, meet the crews and come face to face with history.
The Brockville Aquatarium Officially Launches
The long-awaited grand opening of the Brockville Aquatarium was held on May 6th, 2016, after over half a decade in development. This interactive marine centre presents visitors with a fun and experiential way to learn about the St. Lawrence River’s history and ecology.
The Aquatarium is a 25.5 million dollar labour of love that is open year round to visitors. There are so many fun activities to choose from, that you could easily spend an entire day at this amazing attraction. Luckily, we have you covered with this handy guide.
New Craft Brewery and Craft Distillery lift spirits in Johnstown
In tandem with the 178th anniversary of the famed Battle of the Windmill, the Windmill Brewery opened it’s doors in Johnstown on November 12, 2016. This new, up and coming Ontario craft brewer is located only steps away from the historic site for which it is named. Their crisp, golden Czech style pilsner uses local ingredients and is a must try for any who enjoy a cold pint.
Right next door to the brewery is yet another new, and welcome addition to Ontario’s roster of craft beverage producers: King’s Lock Craft Distillery. King’s Lock opened their doors in June 2016 with a debut selection of handcrafted spirits using local, organic ingredients and sustainable practices.
RIDEAU HERITAGE ROUTE
The Ongoing Rejuvenation of The Opinicon Dining & Resort
At the end of the 2012 season, the famous and legendary Opinicon Resort had to close its doors due to several overlapping economic factors at the time. For a while, it was uncertain as to what would become of this cherished summer escape.
In September 2015, the Opinicon made international headlines when it was confirmed that the resort would once again reopen. Ever since the reopening the beloved Ontario destination has been undergoing renovations with each passing moment. The exciting journey of the Opinicon’s is lovingly chronicled on their Facebook page by the current owner, with regular video blogs.
As recently as November 2016, the Opinicon’s comeback story was presented to the Canadian Senate. The Opinicon’s return has been hailed as an economic boon for the Rideau Lakes community and tourism sector.
After a successful launch in 2015, Rideau Tours has expanded their 2016 offering from what was only a few custom tours and bike rentals to a great selection of “signature experiences.” The new roster of activities includes kayaking, cycling adventures and even boat trips.
What’s more, Rideau Tours has also added fun packages like gourmet picnics for the family, in addition to a steadily growing list of features. The picnics include delicious foods sourced from local sources and offer an excellent way to relax and enjoy a picnic while exploring the magnificent Rideau Canal.
200th Year Anniversary of the Settler’s Trek
Two hundred years ago, some of the first settlers of Upper Canada embarked on a perilous 100-kilometer journey from what is now Brockville to Perth. They were promised land and a fresh start in a new world, but it did not come to them with any level of ease.
Today, this historical trek is commemorated by a dedicated group of community organizers at the Settler’s Trek; who just celebrated the event’s bicentennial journey in 2016. By today’s standards, a 100 km drive doesn’t sound like much. But in 1816 it was a grueling six-day journey where survival was not guaranteed.
If you’re up to the task and want to literally walk in the steps a 19th-century settler, day trekkers can register and join in on the journey for a small fee. Emergency medical assistance is available throughout the trek, but luckily your chances of contracting scurvy will be slim and nil in 2017.
CORNWALL & THE COUNTIES
Glengarry Highland Games
Whether ye have some Scottish in ye or nae – The Glengarry Highland Games are the grandest spectacle of traditional games, music and cultural entertainment this side of Edinburgh. The inaugural games were held in 1948 by a group of businessmen who wished to preserve Scottish traditions and heritage while inspiring younger generations to carry on these ancient and cherished customs.
2016 was the 69th anniversary of the Glengarry Highland Games, which drew thousands of visitors to Maxville to witness or even take part the games. The 2017 event will be held on Aug 4, 2017 – Aug 5, 2017, and will surely draw visitors from far and wide to help celebrate the games’ platinum jubilee.
Cornwall’s Summer Beer Fest
The Cornwall Summer Beer Fest is an interactive wine and beer tasting festival which draws its roots from the Seaway Food Festival. Visitors can sample a range of tasty beverages and foods, as well as meet the talented people who make them.
The 2016 festival added some great new features including educational workshops that allowed attendees to learn about food pairings, beer making, and other fascinating topics. The 2017 dates are still to be announced so stay tuned to the festival’s website for details!
Apples and Art: 25 years of Celebrating the Arts
For the 25th consecutive year, the Apples and Art Studio Tour took place in Stormont, Glengarry, and Dundas. This last event featured over 60 artists showcasing their creations in 26 locations throughout Cornwall and the Counties.
The 25th annual tour was the biggest yet, with more artists and locations along the route than ever before. Visitors were treated to a diverse range of mediums including paint, sculpture, ink, wood, glass and more. In addition to the variety of creations guests also had an opportunity to meet the artists and chat with the creative minds behind the artwork.
Happy New Year!
With the passing of each New Year, there comes not an ending, but a bounty of new beginnings. 2016 was most certainly an excellent year for Southeastern Ontario – filled with fun activities, delicious foods, stunning artwork, and jubilant celebrations shared from the Bay of Quinte to Cornwall and the Counties.
These unforgettable moments would not be possible without such a fantastic network of communities. Everywhere you go throughout this stunning region; you encounter an amazing culmination of people who continuously make Southeastern Ontario both a premier travel destination and a place I am very proud to call home.
What are your fondest memories of 2016? Let us know on our Facebook page, hit the comments below – or share your pictures with us on Twitter or Instagram! Don’t forget to use the hashtag: #GreatWaterway!
Start Planning Your 2017 Trip
This incredibly beautiful section of the Waterfront Trail in the 1000 Islands is 37 kilometers long and runs between Brockville in the east (begins near Butternut Bay) and Gananoque in the west. It excels for day cycles or for multi-day cyclo-touring. You feel like you’re away from the city but still have the convenience of small townships and amenities along the way.
It’s so easy to let yourself go here and enjoy fresh breezes cooling you from across the water as you cycle in the sunshine while birdsong competes with the buzz of cicada. It’s summer in the 1000 Islands!
If you like sandy beaches, swimming in clear water, parks with restrooms, picnic areas, hiking trails, charming small townships, restaurants, camping and lodgings scattered along a cycling route, you’ll like this one.
Since the 1000 Islands bike path has been repaved, it has become one of my favourite off-road cycling routes in Ontario’s Waterfront Trail network. You can relax and not worry about road traffic. And, you can’t get lost. Signs along the adjacent 1000 Islands Parkway give you indications to other destinations you may want to visit.
The 1000 Islands are recognized around the world. There are 1,864 islands located in an 80-kilometre (50-mile) stretch along the St. Lawrence River between Canada (Brockville to Kingston, Ontario) and the United States (New York State). That’s a lot of islands, and a never-ending canvas of interesting views for you to enjoy.
Enjoy the beautiful, newly-paved 1000 Islands Waterfront Trail lined with scenery of the 1000 Islands, wildflowers, gardens, granite cliffs and picturesque waterfront cottages. The water is across the road from the cycling path, so be careful if you cross.
Brown’s Bay Beach: Large 25-30 acre park, two sandy beaches, 1,000-foot long roped-in swimming area, picnic spots in shade or sun, boat launch, cantine, restrooms, parking fee, six waterfront campsites with no services for RVs. The park restrooms close at 8:00 p.m., depending on the season.
Mallorytown Landing: Five waterfront oTENTiks for overnight camping (must be reserved), picnic areas and picnic shelter, historic 1904 gazebo, restrooms, hiking trails, parking, boat launch, docks, parking fee, Visitor Centre.
Landon Bay Centre: 125 campsites, RV and tent camping, large covered pavilion surrounded by gardens, swimming pool, restrooms, showers, hiking trails with lookouts, and a natural swimming hole across the 1000 Islands Parkway on the St. Lawrence River. No beach.
Rockport: Restaurants, inn, marina, boat tours and cruises. I enjoy the Boathouse Restaurant. It’s best to reserve ahead of time.
Ivy Lea Campground: 146 campsites, RV and tent camping, four camper cabins, laundromat, showers, beach, swimming, playground, washrooms, trails, boat launch, docks, Visitor Centre.
For more information about cycling the 1000 Islands:
You may also enjoy:
- What I like about the Mallorytown Landing oTENTik
- The Long Sault Parkway: A cyclist’s dream!
- A sweet cycle on the Waterfront Trail, Gray’s Creek to Guindon Park, Cornwall, Ontario
- Cycling the Moira Riverfront Trail, Belleville, Ontario
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.ca
Hello world! For three days, from August 20-22, 2013, Google Trekker visited the 1000 Islands National Park of Canada.
The views from Google Trekker around the world gives me chills of the best kind.
What is Google Trekker?
Google Trekker is a backpack-mounted camera system that captures 360-degree panoramic images. It weighs about 40 lbs and is worn by a Google operator who can leave the street and go anywhere a person can hike. It’s Google Maps Street View gone wild – I mean off-road, onto trails, and sometimes even into caves and other nooks and crannies that a car, bike, trolley or snowmobile just can’t reach.
Where have I been?! Lucky for me, I’ve been in some of the same awesome places kayaking, hiking, cycling, and camping that the Trekker has just visited in the 1000 Islands.
The Trekker visit is part of a partnership between Parks Canada and Google Canada to go off-road and photograph Canada’s beautiful national parks and inspiring historic sites. The off-road, interactive panoramic views may inspire you to plan a trip, let you discover a part of Canada you didn’t know, or you can simply enjoy revisiting an awesome destination you’ve already experienced.
Here’s the Trekker at the new Parks Canada oTENTik on McDonald Island.
McDonald Island is in the Admiralty Islands chain in the 1000 Islands National Park on the St. Lawrence River. I’ve camped here. It’s only a short paddle or boat ride across from the charming town of Gananoque, Ontario. Gananoque is located on the St. Lawrence River, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Ottawa, 300 kilometres (186 miles) east of Toronto, and 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of Montreal.
I’m happy the Trekker found the Mallorytown Landing historic gazebo built in 1904. This is one of my favourite awe-inspiring spots! The views are fantastic in every direction.
When will the new Trekker images of the 1000 Islands National Park be available on Google Street View?
Once all the newly collected images are edited, and GPS information is verified. you’ll be able to enjoy stunning 360-degree panoramic views of some of the 1000 Islands National Park’s most popular islands, trails, waterfront views on the St. Lawrence, and historic sites on Google Maps Street View. It may take a few months, be patient.
2013 is the first year Google Trekker is being used in Canada. Parks Canada and Google Canada will eventually bring Trekker to over 120 national parks and historic sites across Canada including:
- Ontario’s historic Rideau Canal
- Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
- Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Sites
- Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
- Banff National Park, Alberta
- Jasper National Park, Alberta
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia
The collection work began in the spring of 2013 and will continue until the fall of 2014. If you’re trekking off-road, you may see that big blue ball bounding across some of Canada’s awesome park trails and historic sites. Wouldn’t that be cool!
For more information or to plan a trip in the 1000 Islands National Park of Canada visit:
- Parks Canada, Thousand Islands National Park
- For guided kayaking tours, courses, outfitting for kayak camping on the park islands, or to rent a kayak, contact 1000 Islands Kayaking
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.ca
You may also enjoy:
- What I like about the cool new oTENTik at Mallorytown Landing in the 1000 Islands
- Breaking camp at Camelot and heading home – My first kayak camping trip in the 1000 Islands
Credits: Special thanks to Parks Canada for providing me with information and images about Google Trekker in the 1000 Islands and other Canadian national parks and historic sites, and for answering my questions. Sophie Borcoman, is the Visitor Experience Manager for the 1000 Islands National Park of Canada and is the spokesperson for the Parks Canada project with Google in the 1000 Islands. Images courtesy of Parks Canada.
Suddenly my bike didn’t feel like a bike anymore. It felt like a motorized scooter gliding down a series of gentle rolling hills in the countryside. It was such an uplifting feeling of freedom.
My cycle partner said, “I really like this route.” He’s that little spot in the distance flying down our favourite stretch of the route on a lightweight cyclocross bike. I’m shooting the picture from behind with one hand on the handlebars, and the other balancing a hand-held camera as my heavier hybrid mountain bike moves on its own down the hill.
We were touring the Township of Rideau Lakes on cycle route 8, from Delta, Ontario.
It’s 23 kilometers (14 miles) of smooth, hard-packed gravel and paved roadway that loops around Upper Beverley Lake through mostly farm and pasture land, with an optional 7 km loop to stretch the route to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles).
This post will give you a visual taste of what you’ll find along the way.
Cycle route 8 starts from the beautiful Old Stone Mill National Historic Site in Delta, Ontario.
We rented a small waterfront cabin, surrounded by massive oak trees, at Lower Beverley Lake Park so we could spend a few days touring the region by bike and by kayak. It only takes 5 minutes to cycle from the park to Old Stone Mill.
The Township of Rideau Lakes has a nice list of self-guided cycling tours.
You can download and print out the PDF directions and map of this itinerary and many more cycling routes in Ontario, or use the GPS coordinates, or download a free cellphone app of the routes. Pretty cool! See: Cycling Routes, Township of Rideau Lakes, Ontario
We did it the old-fashioned way with a paper print out of the directions, reading glasses, and a kayak compass strapped onto the handlebars of one of our bikes to make sure we we heading in the right direction.
Cycling in the region, we noticed people often said “Hi” as you passed by, gave you a wave hello, or the head nod that says, “Good day.” My cycle partner remarked, “People are friendly around here.” It’s common in small towns in Ontario and countryside where the pace is not hurried, there are no crowds, and wide-open spaces abound. We quickly learned how to do the head nod accompanied with a smile.
I was hoping there would be some fragrant, purple lilacs along the way. The route did not disappoint. They just smell good!
What would a backcountry route be without a few beautiful horses. I love Pintos. Or, is it a Paint?
Cycle route 8 runs mostly through farmland and pasture. I find the black and white spotted milk cows (Holsteins) incredibly cute and iconic.
My cycling partner remarked, “Cows really like music. Look at this . . . ” There were two curious young cows at the fence looking at us as we passed. He stopped and pulled up some gentle, classic rock music on his cell phone. Slowly, the whole herd wandered over to listen.
As you follow the cycle route directions, you’ll see that Daytown Road turns into Plum Hollow Road and ends at a Stop sign overlooking the scenic valley of Plum Hollow Creek. Turn right at the Stop onto paved County Rd 5, coast down the hill on smooth roadway a short distance to Lake Street at the bottom of the hill and turn right. You’re on the right route and back on hard-packed gravel.
Fisherman’s Folly at Plum Hollow Creek
Cycle route 8 takes you in a big loop around Upper Beverley Lake. You don’t see the lake on this route but you do cross Plum Hollow Creek on Lake Street north east of Upper Beverley Lake. It is obviously a popular local fishing hole judging from all the fishing lures and bobbers wrapped around the overhead power line crossing the creek.
How a bobber managed to find its way into a small hole in a dead tree across the creek is a real mystery. If you’re cycling with someone who also likes to fish, they’ll enjoy the humor of this spot, or may wish to drop a line in Plum Hollow Creek and try their luck too. Bring extra bobbers!
Black’s Church, Hwy 42
At Black’s Church on paved Hwy 42, this is where you can decide if you want to continue directly on to Delta to complete the 23 kilometre route, or you can turn off Hwy 42 onto Black Church Road to add on the 7 kilometre loop along Lower Oak Leaf Road and Holton Road to extend your cycling route to 30 kilometres.
Tips – Cycling Route 8
- Bring water, snacks, bike repair kits, and whatever you need for a few hours, this is backcountry cycling.
- The route consists of backcountry paved roads and hard-packed, but surprisingly smooth gravel roadway through farmlands and pasture lands, with a few kilometers of smooth paved highway on the last leg of the loop on Hwy 42.
- We cycled the 23 kilometre (14 mile) option of Route 8, which took us only a couple of hours cycling at a moderate pace – there is a 30 km (18.6 mile) option on this route. I appreciated the orientation of this cycling itinerary which kept us going down most of the hills. If you are on a training mission, you can do Route 8 in reverse and you’ll get a great workout cranking up the rolling hills.
- We downloaded the directions and map from Cycling Routes, Township of Rideau Lakes, Ontario. The indications were excellent, simple, and easy to follow.
- There were only a few cars on the backcountry sections of the route. They travel fast but gave us wide berth. There is a fair amount of high-speed traffic on the last few kilometres of the route on Hwy 42, a 2-way paved highway, but you can cycle the white line on the right, or cycle in the wide, loose-packed, gravel shoulder.
- This is not a cycling route for young children.
For more information
- Old Stone Mill, National Historic Site, Delta, Ontario (Fantastic website for maps, images, videos, and regional touring information.)
- Lower Beverley Lake Park, Delta, Ontario
Looking for more cycling itineraries in Ontario?
You may also enjoy
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.ca
Sometimes, the best part about the beach is what you find at the beach. There are obvious things we expect to find, like soft sand and inviting water to swim in.
A big, blue, 10′ x 10′ floating dock to catch some sun, or to jump off of for a swim is a plus.
Other times, it’s what shows up at the beach that steals the show.
What you find at a public beach and what you find at a little wild beach can be different and wonderful just the same.
It’s nice to have both in the same spot!
In May, we rented a small waterfront cabin at Lower Beverley Lake Park, a 106 acre, full-service public campground and park nestled into beautiful mature forest, with large open grassy areas on the north east shores of Lower Beverley Lake.
Lower Beverley Lake Park, located in Delta, Township of Rideau Lakes in Ontario, has a public beach in the campground and little wild beaches along its shores.
It was an easy 1 ½ hour drive south from our home in Canada’s National Capital Region (Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec). For others, the park is only a 40 minute drive from the U.S. Border, 2 ½ hours from Montreal or 3 ½ hours from Toronto.
When we arrived at Lower Beverley Lake Park I asked the friendly woman at the campground reception where we could launch our kayaks. She responded with a smile, “Hon, you can launch right in front of your cabin.”
I responded, “Awesome!”
Our cabin, number 8, had it’s own dock running out from a little wild beach. A perfect spot for launching our kayaks and many photo ops.
Other cabins are close to the public beach, so there is a good choice of cabin location depending on your preference. The cabins are located waterfront, away from the campgrounds for more privacy.
I didn’t have to go far. I just kept looking out the cabin window. The Canadian geese always put on the best show. The Mallard duck was not impressed, but it always makes us laugh to see a big goose upside-down.
The geese are very shy here and protective of their babies, unlike urban geese in Ottawa, Ontario, who often let you walk amongst them. I had to shoot these images from the cabin window, otherwise they would quickly swim away.
We didn’t even need to bring a dog. The neighboring cabins always seemed to have one we could borrow. Dogs are kept on a leash throughout the park, and are not allowed on the public beach. And it seems dog owners, and the park administration, are very good about picking up after dogs on the grounds.
Hey look! Just as we thought it was too windy to paddle that day, and decided we’d try out one of the region’s back-country cycling itineraries instead, a fleet of 12 paddlers in awesome sea kayaks poured out of Delta Creek, just south of our cabin, and zipped past.
I had to run out of the cabin barefoot to catch them.
When I returned to the cabin, my paddle partner said, “Your eggs are really cold now.”
It’s silly to try and eat breakfast next to a window in a waterfront cabin on a little wild beach on Lower Beverley Lake.
This is when all the action happens.
Or is it? The full moon showed up that night and it stayed until dawn.
Enjoy the beach. Large or small, near or far, public or wild, beaches bring us hours of pleasure and many surprises. We certainly enjoyed the beaches at Lower Beverley Lake Park in Delta, Ontario. In the heat of summer, and early fall, the water will be warm enough for a refreshing swim.
As with any beach in a popular park, the busy season is from mid-June until the end of August.
For more information about Lower Beverley Lake:
- Lower Beverley Lake Park, Delta, Ontario
- Map and tours, Lower Beverley Lake, Old Stone Mill, National Historic Site of Canada, Delta, Ontario
In my upcoming stories about Delta, Ontario in the Township of Rideau Lakes, we’ll get off the beach at Lower Beverley Lake Park and into the sea kayaks.
Lower Beverley Lake is an an awesome lake for day tripping with kayaks, wind surfing, boating, and fishing, with 28 kilometers (17 miles) of diverse shoreline adorned with granite rock formations, forest, marshland, small sandy beaches, and some cottage development.
Lower Beverley Lake offers open water, large and small bays to hide in on windy days, 14 islands to skirt around, and several adjoining creeks that are interesting to explore (Delta, Lyndhurst, Morton).
It’s a fairly deep lake with an average depth of 9.1 meters (30 feet), the deepest parts are 28.7 meters (94 feet).
There are some limestone shoals to watch out for. Most are marked with small white rock buoys with reflectors and lights.
We’ll also get off the beach and onto the bikes to test one of the Rideau Lakes region’s back-country cycling itineraries.
I’m a recreational cyclist who is more of a tourist preferring easy off-road pathways with my hybrid mountain bike. My cycle partner is a real cyclist with big strong legs and a hot red and white cyclocross bike for on and off-road touring at higher speeds who prefers to let loose on the open road. So you’ll get two points of view from two different types of cyclists on the same route.
Here’s more on that in my blog story on The Great Waterway: Backcountry Biking, Route 8, Rideau Lakes, Ontario
You may also enjoy:
Top Ten Beaches: Sandbanks, Grass Creek, Joel Stone, and more! By Peggy Varner
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.com
“The beach is good!” That’s a quote from someone, or just about anyone who’s been to the beach. It’s a simple statement. Just look at the face and body language of someone talking about a beach. The memories and feelings of being on a beach are still alive and glowing. It’s remarkable.
There is something special about spending time at the beach. Time goes by differently . . . slower, more wistfully. We feel better. We breathe with more ease. We melt into the soft sand and relax. We get inspired. We ignore the sand in our shorts.
The water laps or pounds the shore. Yet both are soothing and invigorating at the same time.
We love the beach.
Beaches large and small, sandy or rocky, are found near and far, in urban centres, remote places, along cycling paths, in campgrounds, parklands, and conservation areas. Along oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks, and ponds, beaches give us easy and beautiful access to the water.
Indeed, it feels good to be at the beach. It’s even better to know where to find one.
If you’re looking for a beach and want to know the features each one offers you, here are some of my favourites in Ontario’s Great Waterway tourism region from Quinte West to Cornwall. There are many more!
I often visit beach areas by kayak, or by bike, so my photographs are mostly taken from this perspective. If you visit public beaches by kayak, make sure to respect areas designated for swimming, and to only land and launch in permitted areas.
Sandbanks Provincial Park – Lake Ontario, Prince Edward County
Wow! People are inspired to build incredible sandcastles here. And, I am even more inspired to walk along the beach and admire them. Look at the detail on this one, there are stairs leading up to the towers.
Sandbanks is Ontario’s most famous park for miles of beautiful, soft, sandy beaches on Great Lake Ontario. The big water of Lake Ontario looks and feels more like ocean. The giant sand dunes remind you of desert. Yet the forest is right next door for shade.
Sandbanks Provincial Park campgrounds are scenic, spacious, and well-kept with a total of 549 campsites and clean full-service camping facilities for tent camping or RV. There’s a choice of waterfront or wooded sites.
It’s a truly awesome, must-visit park and beach. I love it for camping, swimming, cycling, jogging along the beach, climbing the dunes, and kayaking! Photo ops abound.
For more information visit Sandbanks Provincial Park website
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Grass Creek Park, Kingston
This is one of my favourite parks and beaches on the St. Lawrence River. I love the beautiful, pristine, white sandy beach at Grass Creek Park, a 51 acre community park, just 16 kilometres east of Kingston off Highway 2, and west of Gananoque and the 1000 Islands.
A large part of Grass Creek Park’s beauty and peacefulness comes by it being nestled into a conservation area and nearby marsh. Every time I’m on the Grass Creek Park beach, it just feels good!
The views of the beach from the water or from the beach looking out onto the St. Lawrence are . . sweet!
The MacLachlan Woodworking Museum, open from April to December, is at the entrance to the park if you’d like to combine a day at the beach with a museum visit.
Inside the park, there is a public boat launch on a small stream that leads you through a wetlands and out onto the open waters of the St. Lawrence. You’ll have to pick your way carefully through the marsh though!
Make note though, during the Kingston Sheep Dog Trials, which are held in the park every August, that there is a fee to enter the park, and the boat launch is closed. The 2013 Sheep Dog Trials will be held August 9, 10, and 11. This is one awesome event!
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- Kayaking to Milton Island Magic in the 1000 Islands by Peggy Varner
- Attending the Kingston Sheep Dog Trials with a sheep dog that didn’t know sheep! by Peggy Varner
Joel Stone Park, Gananoque
It’s an urban beach, next to the Municipal Marina, so it’s close to water tours, either by boat or kayak, as well as restaurants and lodging.
The park is nestled into the heart of the historic village of Gananoque off Water Street. I always enjoy the park’s attractive landscaping of natural rock, colourful flower gardens, park benches, trees, paving stone pathways, clean public restrooms, and nearby parking.
1000 Islands Kayaking is right next door if you’d like to get off the beach and paddle the beautiful Admiralty Islands in the 1000 Islands or check out some of their courses and events. Remember to keep kayaks out of the swimming area and boat channels, and launch from designated areas.
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Coming Soon! More Top Ten Beaches in The Great Waterway:
- Big Sandy Bay, Wolfe Island, Kingston
- Merrickville Beach and Park, Merrickville
- Lower Beverley Lake Park, Rideau Lakes
- Foley Mountain Conservation Area, Westport
- St. Lawrence Park, Brockville
- Charlottenburgh Park, Cornwall
- Kelly’s Beach, Prescott
Enjoy the beach!
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.ca
If you like to paddle and hike, the trail to Blue Mountain on the east side of beautiful Charleston Lake is perfect for this. Blue Mountain is the highest point in Leeds County. I love the panoramic views it gives you of the surrounding area.
The trail head to Blue Mountain is only accessible by water from Huckleberry Hollow, so you can paddle and park the kayak or canoe on the shoreline, and follow the winding trail to Blue Mountain’s scenic vista to get an inspiring look at Charleston Lake. It makes for an awesome lunch spot for the paddler and hiker.
Charleston Lake has a reputation for being one of the prettiest lakes in Ontario, with over 100 islands, 100 miles of diverse shoreline adorned with beautiful granite and sandstone rock, hidden coves, large and small bays, and rocky cliffs. It has lots of deep water and shallows. You get the idea. It’s especially interesting for paddlers, boaters, and fishermen.
To top it off, the lake also has one of Ontario’s nicest provincial parks, Charleston Lake Provincial Park, with exceptional natural and man-made amenities for camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, and many other ways you can enjoy your time away from work.
Charleston Lake is a good-sized lake at about 14 kilometres long (9 miles) and 6 kilometres wide (4 miles) at the widest part. As a paddler, I like it because it’s not too big, and it’s not too small. It’s just right for paddling, camping, hiking, fishing, and exploring.
On a bright summer morning under fair blue skies, our group of kayakers launched from the Charleston village public boat launch with free parking off Water Street at the north end of the lake, and paddled south past Indian Head Rock, winding our way around a string of large and small islands.
You can also launch from the south end of the lake from the village of Outlet, or from Charleston Lake Provincial Park’s boat or canoe launches if you are visiting the park.
After a brisk 8 kilometre paddle from the Charleston boat launch to Huckleberry Hollow, we parked our kayaks on the shady shore, changed our paddle shoes for hiking boots, grabbed our lunches, and picked up the well-marked Blue Mountain trail head.
It felt good to stretch out the legs on the trail with forty-five minutes of moderate hiking to reach Blue Mountain’s 194-meter-high scenic vista. If you move fast on the trail, the bugs can’t keep up, otherwise, remember to bring and apply the bug juice in spring and summer.
It’s called Blue Mountain, but it seemed more yellow to me when we found ourselves surrounded by an explosion of wildflowers. The panoramic view at the top is a pretty sweet reward for a few hours of paddling and hiking, and makes for an awesome lunch spot.
After enjoying a relaxed lunch sitting on the smooth granite rock, basking in the warm sunshine and gentle breezes, it was back to our labour of love: A 45-minute hike back down the trail to the kayaks, and an 8 kilometre paddle back to the Charleston village boat launch at the north end of the lake.
In total, we clocked 16 kilometres (10 miles) of paddling and 1 ½ hours of hiking. What a satisfying day on the water and on the mountain!
It’s best to plan this paddle and hike on a fair weather day with light to moderate winds. Be on the lookout for motorboats on the lake. Charleston Lake is popular with boaters as well as paddlers.
A map is necessary
Without a good map, a kayak compass, and some navigation skills, it would be easy to get lost on Charleston Lake. There are over 100 islands and 100 miles of shoreline. A GPS helps.
I purchased a colour, topographical map of Charleston Lake Provincial Park at World of Maps in Ottawa, Ontario. You can also buy them at the park for a small fee. I find the map an excellent resource for kayaking the lake and hiking in the park. The water depths are shown in different shades of blue.
We had maps, a compass, a GPS, and paddlers who were familiar with the lake, as well as good navigators on this paddle, so finding our way was fairly easy.
Enjoy your visit to Charleston Lake. It’s a great place to paddle and explore!
Peggy Varner, Publisher of the Baffinpaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.ca
For more information
- Charleston Lake Provincial Park, Ontario Parks
- Charleston Lake paddle routes, Explore the Arch
- If you don’t own a kayak of your own, or prefer a guided trip, 1000 Islands Kayaking in Gananoque, Ontario offers guided day trips on Charleston Lake in the fall. Contact them for more information or to find out about other trips and kayaking courses in the 1000 Islands region throughout the summer and fall.
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Someone said, “I really like Charleston Lake . . .”
As kayakers, we seem to be driven by a quest to explore and search for a less-traveled wild cove that we can have to ourselves for a lunch break and indulge in a refreshing swim on a hot summer’s day. It’s part of the allure of kayaking. So that’s what we did at Charleston Lake.
It’s beautiful! And fascinating with over 100 islands and 100 miles of diverse shoreline adorned with majestic granite and sandstone rock. There’s an abundance of fauna and flora to admire, curious hidden coves, large and small bays, and rocky cliffs.
Charleston Lake is located in southeastern Ontario, just 30 kilometres north east of Gananoque and the 1000 Islands. It’s a good-sized lake at 9 miles long and 4 miles wide at the widest part.
Charleston Lake Provincial Park hugs the south, east, and western shores of the lake. It has a well-earned reputation for being one of Ontario’s nicest provincial parks for camping, fishing, hiking, paddling, and swimming. If you’re looking for a sandy beach on the lake, this is where you’ll find several.
As our group of kayakers were all coming from Ottawa, Ontario for a day paddle in the heat of summer, we launched from the public boat launch on the north end of the lake in Charleston village off Water Street.
We headed south from the launch, weaving our way around a myriad of islands, interesting granite rock and sandstone formations that always make you wonder what’s around the next bend.
Charleston Lake Provincial Park’s sandy beaches at the south end of the lake are easy to find if you are camping in the park, but you’ll need good navigation skills, a map, and a compass to find them by kayak from the north end of the lake. A GPS helps too.
After a fast start out on the open water of Charleston Lake, and a few twists and turns around islands, we managed to find our own getting away from it all spot on an island.
The clear water in Charleston Lake is inviting for a swim on a hot summer day. The lake, with its depths and shallows, islands, connected bays, coves, reefs and shoals, also makes it very popular with anglers fishing for bass, pike, and lake trout.
- Public boat launch and free parking at the north end of the lake in Charleston village off Water street.
- Public boat launch and free parking at the south end of Charleston Lake in the village of Outlet.
- My favourite place to launch with kayaks is from inside Charleston Lake Provincial Park itself on the south end of the lake from one of the park’s boat or canoe launches if you are camping in the park.
Charleston Lake Provincial Park is one of the nicest paddle-friendly parks and campgrounds I’ve visited.
Ontario parks are very well maintained. Charleston Lake Provincial Park offers all the amenities for RVs and car camping:
- electric sites
- flush toilets
- park store
- picnic areas
- sandy beaches
- boat and canoe launches
- kayak and canoe rentals
Location: Charleston Lake is located in southeastern Ontario, 45 minutes from the Thousand Islands International Bridge, 20 minutes north east of Gananoque, one hour north east of Kingston, one and a half hours south from Ottawa, 3 hours north east from Toronto, and 2 ½ hours south west from Montreal.
Campgrounds: Charleston Lake Provincial Park is large. There are 238 campsites in three campgrounds (Meadowlands, Bayside and Shady Ridge), 86 have electricity. For backcountry camping, there are 10 remote campsites on the lake that you can only get to by canoe, kayak, or hiking trail.
The two sandy beaches in the park are within a short walk of the Bayside and Shady Ridge campgrounds.
There are 7 beautiful trails in the park with lookouts. Depending on which trail you choose, you’ll pass over boardwalks, cross through wetlands and forest trail with views of Charleston Lake and the granite rock of the Canadian Shield along the way.
Motor boats aren’t allowed in some areas near the park, making it excellent for paddling, but watch out for motor boat traffic in areas of the lake where motor boats are not restricted.
You’ll need a map to find your way around this lake.
For kayaking, hiking, and camping, I purchased the Charleston Lake Provincial Park topographical map so I could find the interesting network of trails, beaches, islands, and campsites. Contact the park to purchase a map, or World of Maps in Ottawa, Ontario.
Now that I’ve visited, I can join the crowd and say, “I really like Charleston Lake!” I’ll be back with more kayaks.
Other paddling options: When I’m camping at Charleston Lake Provincial Park with my kayak, I also enjoy putting the boat up on the car and heading south for an exciting day paddle in the nearby 1000 Islands on the St. Lawrence River off Gananoque.
There are so many great paddling and hiking choices in this region.
Peggy Varner, Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.ca
For more information
If you don’t own a kayak of your own, or prefer a guided trip, 1000 Islands Kayaking in Gananoque, Ontario offers guided day trips on Charleston Lake in the fall. Contact them for more information, or to find out about other kayaking trips and kayaking courses in the beautiful 1000 Islands region throughout the summer and fall.
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Standing on the beach in July at Sandbanks Provincial Park looking at the crashing waves of Great Lake Ontario took me aback. Could this really be Canada? Suddenly, I felt like I was on a beach somewhere in California, U.S.A. where I’m originally from, looking at the awesome ocean.
This is what I wanted. Sandbanks is no ordinary stretch of sand. Lake Ontario is no ordinary lake. This is what a vacation is supposed to be . . . extraordinary.
For years, people have been telling me to go see Sandbanks. So one summer, I eagerly joined a group of sea kayakers from Ottawa, Ontario who were basecamping at Sandbanks in July for a few days to paddle, hike, relax, party, and tour some of the surrounding area.
I crawled out of my tent at daybreak on my first day there while the rest of the campground was still asleep and headed out with my camera. I wanted to see what Sandbanks was all about. Why was it so special?
It’s all about the sand and wide open spaces, sandcastles, sand dunes, clean campsites with lots of space, and miles of sandy beaches.
Dogs are allowed on some beaches, but check with park officials beforehand for regulations pertaining to dogs in the park.
On quiet summer days, you can enjoy a relaxing paddle on the Outlet River and East Lake. These are more protected areas for paddling. Watch out for motor boats along the way.
West Lake and Lake Ontario are more challenging to paddle especially when the wind is up. You have to really watch the weather reports on the big waterways and stay off the open water when the wind is strong or plan to paddle in more protected bays and rivers.
Thing is, it’s so nice to hang around the park, it’s almost a shame to take off with a fleet of 17 foot long sea kayaks to explore other cool spots nearby like the Black River, Waupoos Island, Half Moon Bay and the Little Bluff Conservation Area. But, we did! As kayakers, we are always on the move looking to discover something new each day.
Basecamp at Sandbanks was so nice! Our paddle crew always planned to come back “home” early to enjoy the beaches and sunsets.
After a good day’s paddle, I sat back to enjoy the fruits of my labour of love. A glass of white wine.
There’s a lot more to see and do in the Sandbanks area than you’ll likely have time for in a week, so you can always look forward to another visit. It’s a pleasant drive to get to Sandbanks Provincial Park as you pass by other great waterways in beautiful Prince Edward County. It’s all part of the charm and allure of visiting Sandbanks.
The park is located on the shores of Lake Ontario on Quinte Isle, west of nearby Picton, and is surrounded by other quaint villages for you to explore, shop, and dine.
For more information, contact the park to inquire about best times to visit for optimal beach and water quality, and to reserve a campsite: Sandbanks, Ontario Parks
Don’t forget the bug stuff and sunscreen in summer.
From our basecamp at Sandbanks our group enjoyed awesome paddling and hiking in other nearby locations.
- Kayaking the Black River: A lazy day paddle with white swans, lily pads, and ice cream
- Kayaking and hiking to the magic of Half Moon Bay’s Little Bluff Conservation Area
- Kayaking around Waupoos Island on Great Lake Ontario: Sunflowers and a sheep story
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.ca