A PLACE FOR YOU IN SOUTH EAST­ERN ON­TARIO

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY JOSEPHINE MATYAS

The area known as South East­ern On­tario has many sto­ries to tell. They begin with life on and in the water—from sandy beaches and dune-lined shores to some of the world’s best freshwater sail­ing and scuba div­ing, cruis­ing by boat or tack­ling the area’s many lakes and rivers with a small craft and pad­dle.

Along the way are his­toric towns and cities—from Corn­wall on the St. Lawrence River to Kingston at the junc­ture of that mighty river and Lake On­tario, to Belleville on the Bay of Quinte. To the north are wa­ter­ways and vil­lages on a smaller scale—in­clud­ing the Land O’ Lakes, Rideau Lakes and the UNESCO Rideau Her­itage Route. Get a taste of the rich cul­ture and life­style at out­stand­ing com­mu­nity fes­ti­vals, mu­sic and theatre or with a stop at award-win­ning winer­ies, restau­rants and shops (www.the­great­wa­ter­way.com).

BAY OF QUINTE

In the Bay of Quinte, get­ting out­doors is a way of life. Wall­eye abound for those with a pas­sion for lake fish­ing; area guides and out­fit­ters of­fer char­tered fish­ing tours or point fish­er­men to “wall­eye hot spots.”

The Bay of Quinte has earned its place on the map as an ac­tive golf des­ti­na­tion. There’s a fit for golfers of ev­ery skill level, with some of the coun­try’s finest pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties and one of On­tario’s old­est cour­ses. Some have sweep­ing vis­tas over the Bay of Quinte and Pic­ton Bay, oth­ers are tucked be­tween groves of trees, rolling hills and nat­u­ral grass­lands.

The re­gion is gain­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for its qual­ity beer and hops, and its craft brew­ery scene. The new Sig­nal Brew­ery has ren­o­vated an his­toric dis­tillery prop­erty to cre­ate Belleville’s first mi­cro­brew­ery com­plete with tast­ing room, pa­tio and event space.

The Na­tional Air Force Mu­seum of Canada honours Canada’s mil­i­tary avi­a­tion and its evo­lu­tion into to­day’s mod­ern air force. It boasts a world-class col­lec­tion of air­craft, in­clud­ing North Amer­ica’s only WWII Hal­i­fax bomber, the Han­d­ley Page Hal­i­fax (www.bay­ofquinte.ca/tourism).

PRINCE ED­WARD COUNTY

The County has been nick­named “the Gas­tro­nomic Cap­i­tal of On­tario,” and is renowned for its ar­ti­sanal cheese­mak­ers, cideries, brew­eries, dis­til­leries and mar­ket stands. Me­an­der along the self-guided Taste Trail, link­ing lo­cal ar­ti­san shops, food and drink pro­duc­ers, and farm­ers’ mar­kets. Artists of all kinds are drawn to the beauty and life­style of The County. Fol­low The County’s Art Trail to visit mod­ern gal­leries, rus­tic barn stu­dios and workshops that are the creative homes of pho­tog­ra­phers, painters, glass-blow­ers, potters and ce­ramic artists.

Prince Ed­ward County is also known as one of On­tario’s top wine des­ti­na­tions, home to more than 35 winer­ies with an in­cred­i­ble di­ver­sity of vin­tages. Lo­cal chefs in­cor­po­rate lo­cal wines and farm-fresh pro­duce into their sea­son­ally-chang­ing menus.

Sun­bathers, water ba­bies, campers, bird­ers and na­ture lovers are drawn to the ex­pan­sive beaches and tow­er­ing dunes at Sand­banks Pro­vin­cial Park (www.the­county.ca ).

LAND O’ LAKES

A short drive from Kingston is cot­tage coun­try and a pad­dling and hik­ing par­adise with nearly 600 km (372 mi.) of trails and some 5,000 lakes and rivers. It’s a land­scape of rolling hills and twisty roads, per­fect for an af­ter­noon drive or mo­tor­cy­cle out­ing.

The Land O’ Lakes is a fish­er­man’s dream come true—in sea­son, new and ex­pe­ri­enced an­glers will find there’s rarely a bad day to cast a line. The semi-wilder­ness of Fron­tenac Pro­vin­cial Park is a patch­work of Cana­dian Shield gran­ite out­crops, vast wet­lands and deep lakes. The park’s OFAH Tack­leShare pro­gram pro­vides free rod and tackle loan­ers.

Far from the city lights, the Len­nox & Ad­ding­ton County Dark Sky View­ing Area is renowned for a night sky that pro­vides stargazers clear views of plan­ets, con­stel­la­tions and the Milky Way.

Plant­ing your roots here is easy—this out­door play­ground is well ser­viced by mari­nas, lodges, cot­tage re­sorts, B&Bs and camp­grounds (www.travel­lan­dolakes.com).

RIDEAU HER­ITAGE ROUTE

The Rideau Canal is the wa­tery link con­nect­ing small vil­lages be­tween the city of Kingston and the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Ottawa. Towns along the Rideau—in­clud­ing Mer­rickville, Perth and West­port—are pop­u­lar stops for cot­tagers and day trip­pers search­ing for unique prod­ucts, at­ten­tive ser­vice and an in­ti­mate at­mos­phere. West­port of­fers the per­fect lake­front set­ting; small back streets sprin­kled with unique shops, an­tique haunts, bak­eries, restau­rants and tea rooms. Pic­turesque Mer­rickville has worn the man­tle of Canada’s most beau­ti­ful vil­lage with a down­town of bou­tiques, stu­dios and gal­leries housed in many her­itage Vic­to­rian-era prop­er­ties.

The his­toric 202-km (126-mi.) water­way draws the boat­ing crowd, from ca­noes to lux­ury house­boats. In all, there are 47 locks, most still op­er­at­ing the orig­i­nal hand cranks to open and close the water cham­bers (www.rideauher­itager­oute.ca).

KINGSTON 1000 IS­LANDS

Be­hind the thick lime­stone walls of Kingston’s Fort Henry is a liv­ing mu­seum of 1800s mil­i­tary life, high­lighted by march­ing demon­stra­tions and the world-fa­mous Sun­set Cer­e­mony re-en­act­ment.

Tour Kingston Pen­i­ten­tiary and hear the som­bre his­tory of Canada’s most no­to­ri­ous pre-Con­fed­er­a­tion era lock-up. Across the street, in the former war­den’s res­i­dence, take a self-guided tour of the “tools of the trade” at Canada’s Pen­i­ten­tiary Mu­seum.

The Agnes Ether­ing­ton Art Cen­tre is a pub­lic art gallery with a large per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary Cana­dian pieces, Inuit and Indige­nous art as well as paint­ings from the Dutch Golden Age (in­clud­ing sev­eral by Rem­brandt).

Ex­plore Kingston through your taste buds with Kingston Food Tours. Guides en­ter­tain with sto­ries about lo­cal cul­ture, his­tory and ar­chi­tec­ture as you nib­ble, sip and walk to some of down­town’s best eater­ies.

A great way to dis­cover the beauty of the Thou­sand Is­lands is aboard a scenic boat tour. Choose from a har­bour cruise along Kingston’s his­toric wa­ter­front, a sun­set din­ner cruise or longer voy­age through the heart of the Is­lands.

The K-Pass is an all-in­clu­sive ticket to Kingston’s top mu­se­ums and at­trac­tions in­clud­ing the Trol­ley Tour, 1000 Is­lands Cruises, Fort Henry and more (www. vis­itk­ingston.ca).

GANANOQUE 1000 IS­LANDS

The soul of Gananoque is a main street lined with his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural sites, in ad­di­tion to a pop­u­lar wa­ter­front that is a ma­jor gate­way to the scenic Thou­sand Is­lands.

It is pos­si­ble to ar­rive by boat to take in a play or con­cert at the in­ter­na­tion­ally­ac­claimed Thou­sand Is­lands Play­house, one of the re­gion’s most ac­tive the­atres, con­sis­tently named one of the top sum­mer theatre fes­ti­vals in the prov­ince.

Gananoque visi­tors get out on the water: kayak­ing ex­pe­di­tions just steps from down­town, throw­ing in a fish­ing line,

rent­ing a house­boat or get­ting aboard one of the pop­u­lar Is­land boat cruises. You can also ex­pe­ri­ence the quaint vil­lage of Rock­port via a scenic drive along the Thou­sand Is­lands Park­way. While in Rock­port en­joy a scenic cruise that vis­its the fa­mous Boldt Cas­tle.

Not far from down­town, hop aboard a he­li­copter for a bird’s-eye view of the Is­lands (www.1000is­land­s­tourism.com).

BROCKVILLE 1000 IS­LANDS

Down­town Brockville is home to the Aquatar­ium, a dis­cov­ery cen­tre with in­ter­ac­tive ad­ven­tures and experiences telling the story of the sea­far­ing his­tory, cul­ture and ecosys­tems of the Thou­sand Is­lands. Steps away is Canada’s old­est rail­way tun­nel, com­pleted more than two decades be­fore con­struc­tion of the Cana­dian Pa­cific Rail­way even broke ground.

Along the Thou­sand Is­lands Park­way, Sky­wood Eco Ad­ven­ture is an aerial ad­ven­ture and zip-line park, with tree­top ad­ven­tures in­clud­ing zip-lines, canopy tours and aerial games for all skill lev­els. A re­cent ad­di­tion is Tree­walk Vil­lage, a series of safely en­closed tree­houses con­nected with el­e­vated walk­ways so chil­dren can move from house to house with­out the need for har­nesses.

Brockville’s wa­ter­front is also a pop­u­lar de­par­ture point for tra­di­tional and high-speed cruises of the Thou­sand Is­lands, in­clud­ing stops at both Singer and Boldt cas­tles, din­ing cruises and spe­cial event cruises.

Scuba divers can ex­pect world-class freshwater div­ing, thanks to ex­cel­lent water clar­ity and an abun­dance of ship­wrecks. Lo­cal dive op­er­a­tors pro­vide a full menu of train­ing, sup­port ser­vices and equip­ment ren­tals (www.brockvil­le­tourism.com).

CORN­WALL AND THE COUN­TIES

En­joy­ing the out­doors is easy along the Wa­ter­front Trail, a ded­i­cated cy­cle/ recre­ational path along Corn­wall’s St. Lawrence River shore­line. Cy­clists, run­ners and walk­ers can en­joy water bot­tle re­fill sta­tions, plenty of park benches, na­ture trails and pic­nic ar­eas.

In Corn­wall, there’s a rein­vig­o­rated down­town core filled with bou­tique shops and unique eater­ies. Fes­ti­val­go­ers mark their cal­en­dars for events like the an­nual Corn­wall Ribfest and the renowned Glen­garry High­land Games—one of the world’s largest High­land Games.

Lo­cal mu­se­ums track area his­tory. The saved and re­stored her­itage build­ings that make up the Lost Vil­lages Mu­seum tell the story of small com­mu­ni­ties which ex­isted along the river, prior to in­un­da­tion, as part of the St. Lawrence Se­away con­struc­tion in the late 1950s. At his­toric Up­per Canada Vil­lage, in­ter­preters in tra­di­tional pe­riod cos­tume cre­ate a liv­ing his­tory of life in the 1860s, where visi­tors can step into a work­ing bak­ery, sawmill, black­smith, school­house and small cheese fac­tory (www.corn­wall­tourism.com).

South East­ern On­tario is shaped by water but of­fers so much more—it is an au­then­tic place. Young and old, ac­tive or re­laxed, water lovers and land­lub­bers; there’s some­thing there for all.

PRINCE ED­WARD COUNTY • RTO9

KINGSTON MILLS LOCKSTATION • RTO9

FORT HENRY NA­TIONAL HIS­TORIC SITE • RTO9

LONG SAULT PARK­WAY • RTO9

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