From above, the Bay of Quinte looks like a “Z,” but from the ground it seems more like an “X” marks the spot. Encompassing communities like Quinte West, Belleville and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, its treasures include some of the best walleye fishing on the continent; Belleville’s Waterfront Festival, named one of the top fests in Ontario; and enough fresh cheese, chocolate, produce and craft beer to keep you happy for a lifetime. Here’s the lowdown on the loot, including details on 12 of the best ways to scoop it up.
An 85-kilometre-long waterway, 30 nearby conservation areas, and a network of year-round trails that gets you right up close to the Bay of Quinte’s communities — what more motivation do you need to get out there? How about migratory walleye often weighing more than 10 pounds, not to mention the bass, salmon, trout, perch, pike and pickerel you’ll find here, too (consider a charter)? Would Black Bear Ridge Golf Course, named one of the best in the country by Golf Digest, help? How about Bleasdell Boulder, one of the largest glacial rocks in Norther America?
3 Best Outdoors Experiences
Walleye World Fishing Derby: Annual derby during first weekend of May that attracts thousands of anglers to Quinte West. In 2015, there were $200,000 in cash and prizes.
Battawa Ski Hill: Nine runs open in the winter (day and night) for skiers and snowboarders; 25 kilometres of hiking and biking trails in the summer; and a Dino Dig park with a 40-foot replica T-Rex.
Food and Drink
Farm-fresh food and booze are in the Bay of Quinte’s DNA. In the 1940s there were over 100 cheese factories in the area, and in the latter half of the 1800s the barley grown here and shipped to breweries all over Canada was regarded as some of the best in the country. Fast forward to today and those roots are clear at places like Maple Dale Cheese, whose medium cheddar was the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Champion in 2013, and Gateway Brewing Company, whose brews are handcrafted with no preservatives or additives. Taste even more of the Bay of Quinte’s rich agricultural roots at farmers’ market in Quinte West and Belleville, or by indulging in farm-to-fork fare at restaurants throughout the region.
Arts and Culture
Playing host to classic rock icons, to cutting-edge comedians, to burgeoning stage actors since 1938, Belleville’s Empire Theatre is the cornerstone of the Bay of Quinte’s arts scene. For even more intimacy, head to Trenton’s James Alexander Theatre, a 75-seater that resembles a nineteenth century music hall. Art buffs should check out the John M. Parrott Gallery in the Belleville Public Library or Tyendinaga’s Native Renaissance 2. Those looking for a slice of Native history would be wise to visit Carrying Place National Historic Site, where Sir John Johnson and the Cheifs of Mississauga negotiated a treaty in 1787, or the Mohawk Landing Site near Deseronto, where the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte’s ancestors first arrived in 1784.
3 Best Arts and Culture Experiences
Rockfest: A three-day, outdoor rock music fest beside Belleville’s most popular theatre — The Empire. Recent acts have included Hedley, Blue Rodeo, Big Sugar and Tom Cochrane.
Arts Route Tour: A year-round, self-guided tour that connects you to 20 painters, potters, jewelry makers, photographers, performing artists and other creative people across Hastings County.
Tyendinaga Pow Wow: An annual celebration of Mohawk culture that includes a Grand Entry, traditional Iroquois song and dance, food, and handmade arts and crafts.
Festivals and Events
You might get the best overview of the Bay of Quinte’s outdoor, culinary or cultural offerings at one of the hundreds of festivals and events that happen across the region every year. The music fest scene is exploding here, in particular, and includes Empire Rockfest, Trenton Big Band Festival. Fishing enthusiasts flock to a number of derbies along the Bay of Quinte throughout the year (stay tuned to fishingbayofquinte.com).
3 Best Festivals and Events
Savour: An evening fall showcase of the Bay of Quinte’s harvest where you’ll taste everything from local beer and wine to farm-fresh squash and apples to grass-fed, organic beef.
Quinte Exhibition: The cow and horse fairs are the cornerstones, but the midway is always spectacular, and the demolition derby and heavy truck and tractor pulls should get you out of your seat. Live music, food vendors and beer garden, too, of course.
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