As the month of November arrives, we collectively look to and commemorate the memory of those whose combined courage, service and sacrifice secured the freedom and way of life that we enjoy today. [Read more…]
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.
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.
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! We had a blast and I hope you follow in our footsteps and plan your own trip to South Eastern Ontario 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!
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.
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.
(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!
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.
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 Lavernes Eatery (formally known as The Socialist Pig) since moving to the region, so I was excited to have lunch there on Day 20! Lavernes Eatery 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!
Keep an eye on @greatwaterway!
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.
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.
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!
*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!
We started our day on 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!
The following day was fairly relaxed and slower paced. 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.
As the frosty grip of winter continues to take hold of Southeastern Ontario, we find ourselves in a particularly darker and less colourful time of year. The days become shorter, the nights even longer, and we understandably long for the coming spring and summer’s warm embrace.
My last article presented an epic list of outdoor activities and events taking place throughout The Great Waterway this winter. However, not all of you are the outdoorsy type, and that’s totally fine. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Might I suggest a trip to an art gallery, or four? Art galleries offer a series of visual voyages and epic escapes that are sure to transport you from the monochrome and the mundane, and into a multiverse comprised of vivid colour and life.
Prince Edward County
Sybil Frank Gallery
Sybil Frank Gallery is a relatively new addition to Prince Edward County’s vast selection of art galleries and artist studios.
Curator, Craig Alexander has gathered an inspiring collection consisting of multiple styles and mediums.
Here you’ll find vivid metal, and glass sculptures as well as bold abstract pieces. The ever changing collection is also complemented by and gorgeous florals, stunning landscapes, and interesting still life examples.
For updates, images, and more information visit the Sybil Frank Facebook Page.
Arts on Main Gallery
Situated in historic Picton, Arts on Main is a fantastic gallery that is run by a collective of talented artists.
Prepare to be amazed by a collection of sweet eye candy consisting of mixed media, graphic art, sculpture, quilts, weaving, silks, and so much more.
While browsing the Arts on Main Gallery, it’s easy to forget the snowy, slushy noise outside and be captivated by the stunning work on display.
Mad Dog Gallery
For 27 years, Mad Dog Gallery has been offering visitors an extraordinary collection of contemporary and fine art, created by some of the County’s most talented artists.
Located on the northeast side of East Lake in a spacious renovated barn, the property is surrounded by 25 acres of gardens and walking paths complimented by outdoor sculptures.
Mad Dog Gallery is a short drive from Picton and definitely worth adding to your list of galleries to check out.
For additional information visit Mad Dog’s website.
Bay of Quinte
Gallery 121 is a unique non-profit cooperative gallery that was founded in 1991. Located mere steps away from Downtown Belleville’s shopping and dining, this eclectic gallery is a must see.
The main exhibit changes every six weeks, which means that with each visit, you’ll be treated to something new and exciting.
The styles range from realism to abstract work spanning a broad spectrum of media, including oil, acrylic, watercolour, crayon, graphite, pastel, fibre, clay, and more.
For contact info, hours of operation, and details on upcoming exhibits visit Gallery 121’s website.
Land O Lakes
Zynergy Gallery & Shop
Zenergy Gallery & Shop presents visitors with a spacious retail venue containing a diverse collection of items ranging from jewelry to visual art, pottery, and stained glass creations to name but a few.
The owners are committed to providing beautiful Canadian made work but also Fair Trade exotics from around the world.
Best of all, Zenergy features a “Kidz Korner” where the little ones can colour or play games while you experience the gallery in relative peace.
Clarke Art and Projects
Clarke Art & Projects is a joint venture between artists Ann Clark and Ben Darrah that was officially launched in 2014.
The gallery itself is a historic building dating back over 150 years. Today, the gallery houses a creative hub for the entire community.
Visitors to the website, are encouraged to check out the current exhibition, past exhibitions, and upcoming events pages. Clark Art & Projects also hold several classes and workshops throughout the year for aspiring artists and visitors alike.
Stone Mills Township
The Piggery Gallery
The aptly named Piggery Gallery is a marvelous artisan gallery nestled along Lennox & Addington County Road 27 on Wartman road.
The gallery was once upon a time an actual piggery but has been entirely renovated since.
The Piggery is home to a stunning collection of handcrafted and painted furniture, rugs, quilts, pottery and other items to at pizzazz to the home.
The gallery is open Tuesdays, and Friday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. making it an ideal weekend road trip.
Quinn’s of Tweed Fine Art
Quinn’s of Tweed Fine Art
combines some of Canada’s greatest artists and creators with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
The gallery space encompasses an immaculate 6000 square foot historic building. The building’s 12 ft. high walls allow art to be displayed in the classical French Salon style.
A visit to Quinns is an experience in itself shared between building itself, and the captivating selection of fine artwork on display.
Overlooking Kingston’s historic Springer Market Square is Studio 22, a commercial fine art gallery and design studio representing several Canadian artists.
Many of the artists on display are from the Kingston and surrounding area, as well as other creators from Newfoundland and British Columbia.
There are several mediums and styles to observe at Studio 22, many of which utilize innovative techniques and unique materials.
For gallery hours and more information check out the Studio 22 website.
Tett Center for Creativity and Learning
The Tett Centre is essentially Kingston’s creative citadel. Within this lovingly renovated limestone building you will find a broad range of creative activity as well a pair of stunning galleries: Modern Fuel and Creativity Studios.
Side note: make sure you pop by the Juniper Cafe and enjoy a hot beverage or a delectable snack while exploring this fantastic cultural centre.
For 40 years Modern Fuel has represented a catalyst for creativity in Kingston. Upon completion of the Tett Centre, this non-profit, artist-run centre moved in and has called it home since.
There is an ever-changing series of exhibitions to enjoy at Modern Fuel that covers several interdisciplinary methods and fascinating styles. Modern Fuel is open Tuesday – Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00.
On the Tett’s second floor you’ll find Creativity Studios. It’s a cool studio that’s split into eight spaces which house eleven artists, who are at various stages of their careers.
Feel free to drop by and meet the artists. When I popped in, I definitely walked in on their lunch break – but they were very cool about it.
Ceativity Studios presents the public with an excellent opportunity to speak with the artists and learn more about the people behind the art and the amazing creations they’re working on.
Among the Kingston’s more unique galleries is Martello Alley which branches off from Wellington Street in downtown Kingston.
As soon as you step into the alley, you begin a fun and engaging journey through the collective works of several local artists.
If you happen to visit when David Dossett is there, you’re in for a treat. He is very engaging and greets visitors with a warm and inviting manner.
It’s almost as though David as a sixth sense and knows when visitors arrive before they’ve realized it themselves. Everything you see on your way into, and throughout Martello Alley has a cool story behind it – which is told best by David. You have to experience it for yourself.
Martello Alley is open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more info check out their website.
Agnes Etherington Art Centre – Queen’s University
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University is home to over 16,000 works of art from Canada and around the world.
The impressive collection of Canadian art includes many examples of 20th-century painting and also showcases some truly arresting displays of Indigenous art and Inuit art.
For art history buffs there is an excellent collection of nearly 200 historical European pieces to peruse, including works by Rembrandt.
Throughout the year you can catch some amazing exhibitions at the Agnes – so stay tuned to their website for news and updates!
Heather Haynes Gallery
Heather Haynes Gallery originally opened in Kingston in 2012, but later moved to its new home in Gananoque in 2016.
When I last checked, there was also a display of image art by Kingston photographer Suzy Lamont, and of course the exquisite and thought-provoking art by Heather herself.
Brockville Arts Center
The displays rotate on a monthly basis and were established with the purpose of enhancing public awareness and interest in visual art.
It also goes without saying that this is the perfect place to experience some epic performances only steps away from Brockville’s beautiful downtown area.
From Here to Infinity
A stroll through downtown Brockville will also lead you to From Here to Infinity, a remarkable gallery situated in a historic building dating back to the 1840’s.
The gallery operates an archive of historic photographic prints and negatives, in addition to an amazing collection of rare and antique books.
From Here to Infinity is a fresh fusion between a curios shop and gallery, and is certainly worth a visit.
Galop Gallery is best described as a small art gallery with immense purpose. Based in the quaint riverside community of Cardinal Ontario, this little building plays a big role in the surrounding arts community.
Galop is more than just a gallery and is also a meeting space, workshop, studio, and craft market. They offer classes for kids and adults, and also hold events.
For full details and a few examples of what you’ll find visit Galop Gallery’s website.
Housed in what was once the historic Spencerville Hotel, ArtScene is a cooperative gallery created by 12 local artists.
This successful gallery contains a fabulous assortment of art including photography, glass works, pottery, painting, and fabric.
The hours and schedule for ArtScene are variable – so check out their website for full details.
Rideau Heritage Route
Gray Art Glass
Since ancient times, humans have been perfecting the craft of glassblowing. This millennia-old art form is kept alive at Gray Art Glass in Merrickville.
Between the amazing gallery and studio and live demonstrations, Gray Art Glass is an inspiring and amazing spectacle to behold. For hours and details visit their website.
The Grotto Artworks
The Grotto Artworks was founded 12 years ago, when 13 Merrickville artists combined their creative talents and resources to open a year-round venue for showcasing their works.
Today, the gallery offers a broad range of fine local crafts such as: pewter, pottery, jewelry, wood turnings, woven silk scarves, carvings, glass, and textile art.
Also on display are oils, collages, acrylics, watercolours and mixed-media creations including letterpressed prints.
For gallery hours, contact info and more visit the Grotto’s website.
Cornwall & the Counties
Priests Mill Glassworks
Priests Mill Glassworks is on a mission “to build a Centre of Glass Excellence & Learning while providing a collaborative environment for artists of all mediums.”
One visit to their location in Alexandria Ontario is sure to please, as they are making good on their objective.
In addition to browsing several examples of varying levels of beauty, you can also take lessons!
The Glass Blowing Place
I’m not going to lie; glassblowing is so hot right now. Especially in Alexandria Ontario.
The Glassblowing Place sports an extensive gallery, a learning space for the visual arts, and stunningly repurposed antiques.
Also worth checking out is the Chillax Café & Creative Lounge, free demonstrations, educational courses, and “Master workshops.”
Vivid Visual Escapes in Southeastern Ontario
I feel that one of the biggest contributors to the elusive Winter Blues is the fact that our surroundings transition from the lively and vibrant colour spectrum of summer and autumn, to a drab grayscale backdrop that quickly becomes an eyesore as we traverse the urban grind.
Luckily, Southeastern Ontario is a region teeming with creativity and an abundance of opportunities to appreciate and enjoy the work of our local artisans. Not only that but in many cases, you’ll get to meet the artists and learn more about the people behind the work.
Who knows, after exploring some of these amazing galleries you may find yourself inspired to explore a new creative outlet of your own. Maybe you’ll find a stunning piece of artwork to bring home. Perhaps you’ll create a masterpiece of your own to be showcased.
Either way, I hope that this blog helps brighten things up and gives you a few ideas for your next weekend excursion. Thanks for reading!
Discover Southeastern Ontario’s Artistic Side!
I am always amazed by the sheer number of remarkable places here in The Great Waterway that are often hidden in plain sight. While touring the staple routes and attractions, it’s easier than you think for some truly captivating locations to slip right by.
While some readers may be familiar with a few of these, there are some that even I hadn’t heard of and – it’s inspired me to want to find them all. For now, here are over a dozen great places to check out during your travels!
Minutes away from Upper Canada Village is a primordial playground that owns a piece of my childhood. Prehistoric World has been captivating the imaginations of kids for thirty-five years now. Technically, they’ve been doing this since before Jurassic Park was even a thing.
This attraction offers a lovely walking trail through the surrounding forest where adventurers will come face to face with life-sized dinosaur statues. The statues are all designed by the owner and fashioned from wire frames with moulded cement bodies. It’s eerie how they loom among the trees and ferns which blanket the ground as you traverse the stone path.
This is a great place to take the family. Immediately upon entering the park, you’re greeted by the coolest sandbox ever – where kids (and adult bloggers) can dig around for fossils. Also in the central area is a series of picnic tables where you can relax and enjoy lunch in the company of giants. Be sure to have cash handy though, because the gift shop and admission counter do not have debit.
Doran Bay Model Ship Museum
Having opened in September of 2011, the Doran Bay Model Museum is a rather new gem along the waterfront route. Arranged within the beautifully restored 1880’s house is a marvellous collection of model ships.
This private collection is the largest I have ever seen in one place and also has a vast collection of hand painted military figurines featuring soldiers throughout the ages. Kids and adults alike will find this to be a fun and educational detour as they explore the 1000 Islands region.
Cardinal / Prescott
Battle of the Windmill Historic Site
Close to Prescott’s famed Heritage site: Fort Wellington – there is another site of significant historical value: The Windmill. In November of 1838, a group of nearly two hundred insurgents consisting of Canadians and Americans attempted to invade Prescott.
The invaders were confident that the locals would support their goal of ending British tyranny, only: they were wrong. It wasn’t long before a particularly bloody skirmish broke out between local militia and British soldiers – resulting in the eventual surrender of the would-be invaders.
The windmill, in which the attackers were holed up in and fought from over the course several days still stands. The windmill also withstood a lengthy bombardment from Navy gunboats which lasted over two hours.
Today, visitors can go inside, explore the windmill and learn more about this pivotal event in our nation’s history.
The Brock Trail
The Brock trail stretches out over six kilometres and is a prime cycling route for the family. The trail is also part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere and presents plenty of opportunities to observe several bird species, and explore several historical points of interest along the path.
The trail works its way north from Brockville’s waterfront and through the downtown area as it hugs Buell’s Creek. The terrain is mostly flat and ranks as an ‘easy’ trail – so it won’t be intimidating for kids or people who want a long but non-strenuous walk.
Brockville Railway Tunnel
While exploring the Brock Trail – make sure you check out Canada’s first railway tunnel! Constructed between 1854 and 1860 the tunnel completed a crucial link for the fledgeling Brockville & Ottawa Railway Co.
The addition of the tunnel had a profound effect on the town’s overall development. It’s proximity to the downtown area and waterfront makes this a really cool historical stop while exploring Brockville.
Old Stone Mill National Historic Site
North of Gananoque along County Road 42 lies Delta Ontario, a town famed for its annual agricultural fair – and a restored and fully functional stone mill. Originally built in 1810 this marvel of construction and engineering still works today!
During the summer months, the mill grinds heritage wheat flour using the original millstones that are over two hundred years old. Visitors can take tours and learn about the advent of Canada’s industrial transition. While a bit of a detour – this is most certainly worth the trip!
South of Jones Falls along Highway 15 is a visually stunning loop trail named Rock Dunder. Once the property of Scouts Canada the area was purchased in 2005 by Rideau Waterways Land Trust and has been available for hiking since.
There are three trails of varying skill level, but each is sure to offer some fantastic views, opportunities to observe local wildlife and take photos.
Sculpture Park (Confederation Park)
Mere steps away from Downtown Gananoque is a great little destination of the artistic variety. Located within the town’s Confederation Park is a collection of amazing sculptures.
After a scenic cruise or perhaps after dinner, this park is a great place to spend time and unwind. Share a romantic walk among striking artwork and picturesque fountained ponds as swans swim around like something out of a fairytale.
Land O’ Lakes
Canada’s Oldest General Store
Trousdale’s General Store in Sydenham makes for a nice detour while exploring the emerald and blue wonders of the Land O’ Lakes region. The store first opened in 1836 and has been owned by a member of the Trousdale family ever since!
This old-fashioned epic store has everything you would expect. The creaky floors, and the layout and décor of a lost period. The shelves are packed with interesting items ranging from old style toys and games to socks, soaps, and snacks.
Land O’ Lakes Rescue Petting Farm
The team at this dedicated animal rescue are happy to welcome visitors to their petting farm for tours. Here you’ll meet and interact an assortment of adorable creatures including ducks, rabbits, pot belly pigs, Llamas and more!
This remarkable rescue farm also depends greatly on the generosity of donors, and the funds gathered by their entry fees. A trip here will not only promise a lasting memory for your kids, but also continued hope for the animals under the care of the staff and volunteers.
Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area
Along the Loyalist Parkway between Amherstview and Bath, you will find Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area. This emerald parcel of land is an ideal destination for hikers, anglers and in the winter; cross-country ski and snowshoe enthusiasts.
There are two entry points; one located off Taylor Kidd Boulevard – and the other is off Bath Road. It’s important to note that this is a conservation area so stick to the marked trail to avoid poison ivy and the occasional patch of wild parsnip.
Prince Edward County
Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park
Referred to by the Mohawk Nation as the “Altar of the Gods” – the Lake on the Mountain presents an awe-inspiring if not enigmatic example of nature’s artistic design. While there are geological explanations for the lake’s formation – it remains a sacred and surreal place of spiritual significance and respect.
The park offers picturesque views of Lake Ontario to the south, as well as picnic areas and a lookout point. Motorized boats are forbidden on the lake. However, guests can bring a canoe should they wish to explore the lake.
Wellington Rotary Beach
While Sandbanks Provincial Park is likely the County’s best-known and popular summer destination, Wellington Rotary Beach offers a great alternative that is also fully accessible.
Wellington features a boardwalk which extends the length of the entire beach, and a parking area offers ramp access making this particular beach an ideal alternative for visitors with mobility challenges.
Photography enthusiasts will also enjoy the opportunity to take some amazing panoramas here as well, in addition to great swimming and relaxation on this charming beach only steps away from Wellington’s shopping & dining area.
Honey Pie Hives & Herbals
This quaint apiary was recommended by chance while visiting the County for this very article. (Thanks @TheCounty!) It also goes without saying, that if you’re allergic to bee-stings, you might want to pass on this one. If you aren’t, and have no fear of bees – the delicious mead(s) are more than worth your time.
Honey Pie’s parking area is flanked by a metropolis of bee hives arranged like little skyscrapers. It’s a surreal experience to stand among thousands of honeybees as they come and go about their various routines.
Inside the house is a lovely shop reminiscent of a bygone era with a certain Victorian atmosphere. Here you can taste their lineup of delicious meads – and browse their selection of herbal teas, herbs, lotions, and of course pure, unpasteurized honey. For more info – check out their website.
Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area
At the Southernmost tip of Prince Edward County is a secluded and fantastic wildlife reserve that is teeming with life. During migratory season this place offers a bounty of birdwatching opportunities, and also is host to a magnificent shoreline.
The sprawling pebble beach which embraces water’s edge is a fun place to have a picnic, search for fossils and explore. The water is so shallow and clear that it’s at times hard to remember that you are not somewhere in the Caribbean.
Little Bluff Conservation Area
East of Point Petre you will find Little Bluff; a great little conservation park which offers amazing views from an 18-metre high bluff made entirely of limestone. Also within Little Bluff is some great cycling, fishing, picnic areas and swimming. The waters are prime for a dip, but be aware that there are no lifeguards so be safe!
This list serves as but a small sampling of the near infinite list of things to do, taste and experience within The Great Waterway. To help you get started on planning your stay, our Destinations Page offers several convenient search filters to help plot your course.
Do you know of any hidden gems or favourite spots you would like to share with our community? Tell us all about it in an email, social media or hit up the comments below!
The sky is flawlessly blue and the June sun shines high overhead, but I feel chilled in the limestone passage way of the 138 year old Kingston Penitentiary. Part of it I know is a logical chill – the rock walls keep out most of the heat. But the other part is an emotional reaction to going behind the walls of the historic jail. I’m holding my breath, but I’m not sure if it’s because I’m nervous or excited, and chances are it’s a bit of both.
Guided tours of Kingston Penitentiary is the result of a partnership between the Correctional Services of Canada, the City of Kingston and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, which operates and sells tour tickets. In 2013, all of the 18,000 tour tickets available sold out, making this one of the most sought after travel activities this summer. Many dates this summer have already sold out, but last minute tickets are sometimes available, and visitors buying a Kingston K-Pass will unlock tickets to sold out tour dates and received preferred pricing on tickets.
Our tour starts in the VC – Visitor’s Centre for short – where we’re given bracelets so we don’t get lost or left behind (it’s a fast-paced 90 minute walking tour covering more than kilometer of the prison’s labyrinth of ranges).
Knowledgeable guides share many of Kingston Pen’s most notorious facts and figures: The institution opened in 1835 and was built mostly by inmates; there have been three riots over the years; in the Metal Shop, inmates made everything from padlocks for the public to wrought iron for the parliamentary library; escapee Norman “Red” Ryan scaled the wall in the recreation yard at its lowest point.
What sets this tour apart from any other tour is that your guides aren’t just guides, but former guards and skilled storytellers at that. Corrections officers, most having spent at least 30 years working at the Pen, add colour to the stories. For me, this vibrancy is unexpected and adds a decidedly human touch to a tour that could lapse into recitation of those notorious facts and figures.
“Don’t get me wrong. It was a hard job, you know? It’s a prison after all. But we had some good times in here, we had some laughs with the guys,” recalls a guard who leads us through the G Range, the block of 32 cells that are open to the public. When referring to Kingston Pen, he uses feminine pronouns, giving me the feeling that guards and inmates here developed a relationship with the jail.
And though there are cells on the G range that are set up to look as those they would have when the prison was open, it’s tiny details that connect you with what life was like here.
A tattered net hanging from a basketball hoop on the yard.
A message to Kingston Pen written in black marker.
Faded footprints in the Shop Dome where inmates had to stand before being allowed in or out of the shops.
Shreds of sheets tied and still hanging from the bars of Cell 13.
A multi-coloured clown painted on the crumbling wall of the VC.
And that’s what everyone should take away from Kingston Pen Tours, is that it’s not just one story of the Pen, which follows a neat timeline from it’s construction to its closure. More accurately it’s a collection of stories, and yes mysteries, that you should try to unravel yourself.
One guard explains the tours best.
“You can go on Wikipidia or Google and read about the Pen. Go ahead. But this is your jail too, and the limestone will get into your bones as your walk through here. Ask questions, lots of questions, because that’s the only way you’ll really get to know her the way we know her.”
It’s safe to say that The Aquatarium is one of Brockville‘s most eagerly anticipated attractions. An ambitious $25 million dream five years in the making, the 27,000 square foot interactive learning centre is dedicated to showcasing the waterways and wildlife of the St. Lawrence and 1000 Islands. Excited by the prospect of peeking inside a warship, seeing river otters up close and trying out the ropes course, I recently visited The Aquatarium with my 6-year old daughter and 9-year-old son. While each of the exhibits garnered comments like “this is so cool!” from my children, we consider these seven to be must-sees at The Great Waterway’s newest family-friendly attraction.
Ropes Course and AquaDrop
If you’ve ever imagined climbing the rigging of a tall ship, the Ropes Course is your chance! My agile and fearless son loved the course, which features rolling barrels, narrow planks and a mast. Instructors fit you with harnesses and a helmet and give you a short lesson on how the carabiners work, plus follow along behind you to ensure your safety. When you’re finished, take the gentle slide or the much more exciting AquaDrop – the 40 foot harnessed and controlled drop to the ground. Age restrictions are enforced for safety reasons (no, your mature and tall 7 year old should not do the ropes course).
Power of Water
Two hands-on exhibits make a splash here (literally). At one, the St. Lawrence River is re-imagined as a kid-friendly water table, complete with the Thousand Islands Bridge, the Lost Villages and functioning lock systems – and children can float foam ships down the seaway. At the second, kids learn the complexities of generating hydro electricity as they try to harness the power of water with miniature dams (go head-to-head with another family to see who can generate the most power from their dams). Plastic aprons are available, but your kids will love getting wet here.
Salt Water Touch Tank
Sea stars, spider crabs, star fish, anemones and more are housed in the salt water touch tank near the Creation exhibit. While these creatures are not native to the region, it’s a rare and fascinating opportunity to see them up close. Knowledgeable Aquatarium ambassadors help small hands gently pick up tank residents – but mind your fingers with the crabs!
Singer Castle Library
Singer Castle is one of the River’s most recognizable landmarks and its mysterious library is recreated here (can you find the secret passage?). It’s a quiet escape from the busier exhibits, with colouring and activity sheets, iPads and quiet toys when you need downtime, making it a great spot for kids who are easily overstimulated.
A replica of the British warship that was shipwrecked on October 31, 1780, this version of the HMS Ontario is full of nooks to hide in, rope ladders to climb and the interactive Captain’s Table. Kids (and adults) will be amazed at the touch-activated artifacts that cue up videos about the region’s watery legends. Nearby is a sensory bin of kinetic sand that will keep wee hands busy while bigger kids explore.
The St. Lawrence’s most playful residents, river otters, are the stars of the show here. You are most likely to see the three otters during the 1:30 pm feeding, so you may wish to plan your visit accordingly. During our visit, one shyly poked her head out of the water and swam towards my kids during a break in the crowds.
As avid fishermen, we all loved this exhibit because it was a chance to see our most common catches up close. Three tanks representing the region’s lake, river and shore habitats house bass, perch, pumpkinseed and sturgeon. The crawl tunnels underneath Aquaria let kids (and curious short adults like myself) poke their heads up into tanks for a unique look.
Know before you go
Location: 6 Broad Street, Brockville.
Driving time: From Ottawa 1 hour, 15 minutes / From Kingston 59 minutes / From Oshawa 2 hours, 45 minutes.
Hours of operation: 10 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week
Best time to visit: We visited in the late afternoon on a weekday and the crowds had fallen off by 2:30 pm. Expect The Aquatarium to be busier during fish and otter feeding times.
Admission: Adults $19.95 / Senior (65+) $14.99 / Youth (13-17) $14.99 / Child (4-12) $9.99 / Child (3 & under) FREE / Groups (15+) $12.99
Ropes Course: admission fee + $7.00 (minimum age 8 years old, kids 8-12 years old must be accompanied by an adult)
Aqua Drop: admission fee + $5.00 (minimum age 8 years old, kids can do this one solo)
Save on admission fees: An annual Family Pass is $149.97, a worthwhile investment if you plan on visiting more than twice per year, a family of 5 or kids age 13-17. Brockville residents can checkout an Aquatarium pass at their public library with a valid City of Brockville library card.
Speed up the Ropes Course process: download the waiver forms here and fill them out before you arrive to minimize wait times.
Parking: There are several pay-per-hour parking spots within a short walk of the Aquatarium which accept credit cards or coins. Two-hour complimentary parking spaces throughout downtown Brockville are available, but you will spend more than two hours here and the parking bylaws are enforced (you will be ticketed if you exceed the time limit). Park in the facility’s heated underground garage (great for families with little ones) for $2 per hour.
Family-friendly factor: Elevators and family bathrooms are roomy for strollers and visitors requiring wheelchairs. Washrooms are all equipped with change tables. Exhibits for the most part are child-sized, and when they aren’t stools and benches help kids get the most from their experience. Staff go out of their way to make sure that you are having fun and learning.
What to (and not to) bring: Snacks are not permitted inside The Aquatarium, so make sure your children are well fed before starting your adventure! Your kids WILL get wet – a change of clothes and small towel will come in handy for the hands-on water exhibits. If you plan on doing the ropes course, bring a pair of running shoes (flip flops are not permitted).