Travel Guide to Canada
A PLACE FOR YOU IN SOUTH EASTERN ONTARIO
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.