We’re on our way to discover Ontario, off the beaten path. We pack up the family and drive the Loyalist Parkway as it hugs the coastline with spectacular views and winds along to South Eastern Ontario. Photo ops and picnic stops beckon.
(1) We begin in Brockville, home of Canada’s first railway tunnel. The soundtrack of a train barreling toward us underneath the city centre spooks us into running as fast as we can to steer clear. Frolicking through the kaleidoscope of colour projections that paint the half kilometer Brockville Railway Tunnel we learn this is where goods were once loaded from port and hauled off to Ottawa. Brockville is also home to Canada’s first underwater sculpture park. Yes. Including human sculptures!
(2) The panorama of Gananoque can be experienced by kayak, sailboat, ferry or helicopter. 1,864 islands dot the St. Lawrence River, and boats leisurely meander between them all. Aboard our 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours we are whisked up into the sky with a steady panoramic bird’s eye view. We cross over the U.S. border and back, and learn about the history and geography in style.
(3) Canada’s first capital, Kingston, is chock full of tours and we want to experience it all, from indulging in the eclectic gastronomy of Kingston Food Tours, to riding the red trolleys of Kingston Trolley Tours. We hear the stories of 300 years of iconic history. Art walks reveal beautiful finds, while haunted walks unfold a ghostly past. Perhaps the most disarmingly fun family activity, especially on a rainy day, is to put our heads together and figure out Improbable Escapes from Neverland: Heist on the High Seas to The Cure for the Common Zombie. There are even outdoor escape rooms. Ahoy Rentals rents bikes, kayaks, SUPS, canoes and sailboats. From our Topper Topaz Uno sailboat, we view the cityscape while cutting through waves and hiking out over the edge. We bask in the sun glistening off the cool water that laps our toes as they freely dangle over the side. Fort Henry sits on high and offers the best views of the city. Within this historic limestone citadel, we learn about life in the 1800s, how to salute, march and fire a rifle!
(4) Since 1822 the lock station at Chaffey’s Lock has mesmerized visitors and families as boats pass through from one end to the other. Wendy’s Country Market has prepared our gourmet picnic basket of local, organic vegetables, charcuterie, sandwiches and blueberry lemonade. We sit on the grass and enjoy our lunch in the quiet breeze. Slipping into kayaks from Rideau Tours, we paddle up the Rideau Canal, relax and let the wind drift us all the way back.
(5) There is no truer taste of nature than at Wendy’s Country Market. We feed chickens and rabbits, and forage vegetables for dinner, filling our baskets with a rainbow of chard, kale, yellow zucchini, patty pans and cucamelons. Across the field, our dinner and cozy stay awaits at the Furnace Falls B&B retreat. We deliver our vegetables to kitchen and, like magic, they are served to us on a beautiful platter, along with charcuterie, freshly baked goodies, and a crisp, succulent grilled organic chicken that reminds us what “good” is. We make a list of everything we eat, so that we can purchase more at their market in the morning! A delicious diner, slow cooked, and slowly enjoyed while gazing out at the wide-open space as it melds with the sunset.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Publisher of DINE and Destinations magazine.