Like A Local
For those looking for a unique experience while visiting the Rideau, you will love this blog post. We connected with some locals to share the hidden parts of the area front and center!
There’s the Rideau that tourist see, then there’s the Rideau locals love! Meet the locals at the end of the blog and follow us on Instagram at @southeast.ontario for an upcoming takeover on our channel!
Food And Drink
Experience this heritage orchard and enjoy the fruits of their labour! The Farm Store at Waddell Apples between Seeley’s Bay and Kingston is now open daily with fresh-picked apples. In addition, customers can shop online with in-store pickup for fresh apples, preserves, cider, ready-to-bake pies and crisps, local honey and maple products. Pick-your-own apples will start in the second week of September!
Scheuermann Vineyard & Winery in Westport offers handcrafted wines in one of Ontario’s most northern Vinifera vineyards. Guests enjoy a selection of elegant wines, while taking in gorgeous views of sunsets over sand Lake, the vineyard and Westport Sculpture Garden. Scheuermann Vineyard and Winery is currently open for wine bottle sales, wine/beer by the glass and wood-fired pizza, with wood grill meals offered on the weekend evenings by reservation.
“The fabulous setting overlooking Sand Lake. Francois serves the most wonderful wood-fired pizza and surf and turf. A lovely family-owned business,” Elaine Bill, The Black Dog Inn.
Recommended By: Hillary Geneau
This vineyard is local to North Grenville and features 5 acres of grapes planted which are grown organically with no uses of pesticides and harmful chemicals. Currently, Green Gables offers eight types of wine, ranging from a full aged oak to sweet white wine – one is even names Cabin Fever, which we may all be suffering from by now. The neatest part? Green Gables offers free wine tasting with the purchase of one bottle and free vineyard and winery tour again with the purchase of a bottle. Visit the winery and enjoy the vineyard!
Wendy’s Country Market is a local food hub, open year-round offering organic and locally-grown seasonal produce from more than 70 farmers and artisans. Visit a historic schoolhouse near Lyndhurst built in the late 1800s, now lovingly resurrected as an old-fashioned country market filled with food from a 100-mile radius. Wendy’s is open for online ordering or safe, no-contact pickup. Locavores stop here!
Seeley’s Bay is a little sweeter with Ridgway Confections on the main street! Ridgway specializes in fine hand-crafted Belgian chocolates, making each creation with only fresh and sustainably grown ingredients. Maple bacon chocolates anyone? Ridgway is accepting online orders now with delivery, or a curbside service.
“Local, tasty chocolate made by local Chocolatier Derek Ouellet . Derek is the Willy Wonka of the area and his chocolates,” Tanya Hammond, Tourism Champion
Arts And Culture
Creativity is flowing along the Rideau and the artist-centric galleries are worth a drive. Check out Westport’s Dancing Moon Gallery and Tea Room which showcases Canadian art and local artists. Of course, there are numerous galleries in Merrickville, such as internationally-renowned Angelina Wrona’s Anarchy Gallery and Monsky Creations with ceramic, pottery and fused glass. Stop in Gray Art Glass, too, to witness the gallery and studio. Typically live demonstrations are also available here, but are currently on hold. Pop up galleries and studio tours are fun ways to connect with talented local artists! Galleries are limiting the number of people in at one time, and masks are mandatory – check individually for other restrictions.
On the banks of Charleston Lake near Lansdowne, Wiltse Creek Studio harbours a little artisan shop with an ever-changing collection of eclectic goods. The unique artisan pieces are created one at a time with pride and there’s always something wonderful around every corner to catch your eye and steal your heart. Look here for the popular socially-distanced painting classes on the porch – great fun for both adults and children too!
“Artist Dawne Fiegen makes many of the items herself and she will even teach you how to paint if you have time to take one of her fun paint classes, ” Tanya Hammond, Tourism Champion
If you’re looking for a memorable shopping experience look no further than retail therapy along the Rideau Canal. The historic waterway is the stunning backdrop to shops that cater to every whim – think antiques, beautiful artist studios, clever high-end culinary stores, one-of-a-kind home décor, book nooks and even a remarkable shop where it’s perpetually Christmas.
Trendy boutiques in places like Westport mix effortlessly with historic artsy downtowns like Merrickville to make the Rideau host to authentic shops – all with a trademark welcoming vibe.
Take a drive to this truly unique gift shop in Lyndhurst! The Green Gecko selection of value priced goods hand-picked from around the world and down the road. Every item has been personally chosen with ethical buying practices. The shop is currently open, but shopping by private appointment is also available, as is curbside pickup and local delivery. Be sure to stop by the plaid house down the street for a photo.
“The Green Gecko that has everything from jewellery to items sourced globally as Terri is best known for her trips abroad when she goes on her shopping excursions looking for unique gift items to bring back to our quaint village,”Tanya Hammond, Tourism Champion
No crowds, wildlife galore, calm waters and peaceful paddles await along the Rideau Canal! Autumn is the perfect time to explore this paddler’s paradise. More than 30 launch ramps and most lock stations provide paddling access to the canal. Autumn is a unique time to explore wildlife, as the Rideau Canal serves as a corridor for migrating birds and animals – and the fall colours are ablaze! Kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards can be rented at numerous points along the Rideau Canal.
Boating along the Rideau wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Westport. The Westport Harbour is a beautiful gateway to memorable boutique shopping and dining in downtown Westport. It’s also a coveted stop for those boating with luxury holiday boats, Le Boat. Be the captain of your own boat with no prior experience required while cruising the historic Rideau Canal. Keep in mind that some restrictions that are in place which require that boating groups need to be from one household, or a maximum of 10 people. In addition, the usual Le Boat base in Seeley’s Bay is not open this season.
“Overall, the village is quaint and friendly and good food and vibes are everywhere, “Elaine Bill, The Black Dog Inn
Upper Rideau Lake is one of the biggest along the Rideau Canal and is a favourite for boating and paddling. Discover lush shorelines, rugged beauty and diverse wildlife here too! The scenic town of Westport is at one end and Newboro’s renowned fishing to the south. Couple that with the ancient Narrows Lock at the east end and the massive cliffs of Foley Mountain dominating the north shore – the lake is known as one of the most stunning spots in the region.
High atop a granite ridge overlooking the historic Upper Rideau waterway and Village of Westport is Foley Mountain. Foley Mountain is famous for its dynamic, hands-on, education programs for school children and youth groups. A quick and easy walk takes visitors to the scenic lookout, Spy Rock, which showcases Westport fanning out below. Don’t forget your camera! The well-maintained hiking trails are also a fabulous way to explore outdoors – fun for the whole family. The interpretive centre is currently closed and the conservation area reminds people that garbage is take in/take out.
The Rideau Trail is a 387-km network of hiking trails between Kingston and Ottawa located near the Rideau Canal and its tributary waters. As the longest trail in eastern Ontario, it follows the canal as closely as possible, following hiking trails, footpaths and even backroads. The Rideau Trail is open and the Association is asking that hikers currently limit numbers and abide by physical distancing rules.
Forest bathing is a thing – and you can do it at Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville! Wander on 22 km of forest trails, in the arboretum and parks of Ferguson Forest Centre while maintaining social distancing. The centre is celebrating 20 years of managing over 1,000 acres, and welcoming 35,000 visitors annually. Four-legged friends are also welcome here – there’s even a dog park.
The massive, beautiful natural space at Limerick Forest serves as Leeds Grenville’s community forest. At more than 780-hectares, Limerick Forest is best known for its educational aspects, welcoming students to learn beneath the trees, but also by its multi-use recreational trails. Recreational activities in Limerick Forest include motorized activities such as the use of dirt bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles. Non-motorized pursuits include mountain biking, cross country skiing, geocaching, horseback riding, bird watching and hiking. Social distancing and groups of less than five people are required while enjoying the forest.
Grab your paddle and make a splash on Kemptville Creek to wind your way through North Grenville in the Rideau region. North Grenville is made for waterway adventure! Bring along your canoe, kayak, or fishing boat and enjoy the scenic Kemptville Creek. Once known as the South Branch of the Rideau River, Kemptville Creek offers a picturesque way to view the countryside while getting in some outdoor activity and water fun. The creek is navigable for smaller watercraft from the Rideau River to Kemptville and further for paddlers. Be aware that there may be portaging involved.
Anglers, visitors and locals alike come to fish along the historic Lyndhurst Bridge – and enjoy telling tall tales about the one that got away. The bridge is said to be the oldest surviving bridge in Ontario, being built in the late 1850s. Be aware that the bridge is only one lane so you’re sharing space with traffic. Grab some fishing gear across the street at Wings Live Bait and experience fishing dockside. Beside the bridge is Furnace Falls Park on Lyndhurst Creek with picnic areas, a gazebo and benches, a dock and boat launch, a paddling launch dock and a small waterfront trail which connects to Jonas Street Park and playground. Visitors often fish off the docks close to the bridge. Reel in history here!
“The beautiful three arch stone bridge is the ideal place to take some memorable pictures and you can also cast a fishing line and catch a fish right from the dock. This is also a great spot to sit and have a picnic or launch a canoe or kayak, ” Tanya Hammond, Tourism Champion
A sandy beach ideal for swimming, you can walk out so far on the lake bottom at Kendrick’s Park before it drops off it feels like you’re in the middle of the bay. With a playground, a volleyball court, canteen and washrooms on site, Kendrick’s Park near Lyndhurst is the perfect place to spend the day relaxing and hitting the refresh button. The park has re-opened and the township is reminding visitors to respect distancing guidelines.
Sightseeing And Tours
Saunders Country Critter Zoo and Sanctuary is on about 20 acres in North Grenville. Known as a small zoo with a very big heart, Saunders Country Critters provides memorable experiences with exotic and domestic animals. In addition to feathered friends, there are also cats, foxes, dogs, goats, lemurs, kangaroos, porcupines, rabbits housed here. Take the whole family and make memories! Note that it is open only on weekends in September.
“I love it because the animals are adorable. The season pass for a family is extremely reasonable. The animals are all well cared for, with many being rescues,” Hillary Geneau, Tourism Champion
Visit the friendly donkeys at Berry Homestead Farm near Lyndhurst for an unforgettable, caring farm experience! Brush them and learn about the donkeys – they even enjoy selfies and will pose for the pictures. Seriously! A soothing activity during times of stress, Berry Homestead Farm is open for visits, mediation with the donkeys and workshops. The farm is asking visitors to bring no more than 5 people per visit or workshop – and to please follow distancing and masking protocols.
” Annick and Jean Sebastien, the owners of Berry Homestead Farm are more than happy to teach you anything you want to know about raising donkeys. The farm is also well known for their handmade donkey milk soap and their elderberry tea and preserves, ” Tanya Hammond, Tourism Champion
Meet The Locals
Hillary Geneau, Tourism Champion
Hillary works in North Grenville but hails from Brockville and loves being a local tourist in the region. She enjoys getting out on the water, exploring new trails with her dog, and endeavouring to find the best ice cream in South Eastern Ontario.
Upcoming Instagram Stories Takeover
On Wednesday, September 16th, join Hilary for a day of kayaking, good eats, and a visit to Saunders Country Critters.
Tanya Hammond, Tourism Champion
As a freelance writer, Tanya writes for a couple of local newspapers on the joys of living in the Rideau. Most of her writing shines a light on locally owned businesses.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey and shared with us their local favourites!