Commemorate D-Day’s 80th anniversary in South Eastern Ontario

As we approach the 80th anniversary of one of the most significant events in modern history, it’s crucial to reflect on Canada’s pivotal role in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

D-Day, (Decision Day or Days of Days), was a momentous turning point in the Second World War. It not only marked the beginning of the end of Nazi occupation in Europe but also showcased the unwavering bravery and sacrifice of Canadian soldiers who fought on the beaches of Normandy.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a proud Canadian, or simply seeking to honour the past, a meaningful visit to any of these places across South Eastern Ontario would be worth checking out.

1.Fort Wellington National Historic Site (Prescott): Fort Wellington, located in Prescott, was a strategic military outpost during the 19th century, guarding the St. Lawrence River against potential American invasion. Today, the site is a National Historic Site of Canada, offering guided tours and exhibits that highlight its military history. This site is located at 370 Vankoughnet St., Prescott.

2. Brockville Royal Canadian Legion Branch 96 cenotaph: On June 6 at 11 a.m. the community is gathering at the Branch Cenotaph at 180 Park St., Brockville for a parade, commemoration service, and wreath laying. Refreshments will follow and the branch will host an open house and displays. 

3.Royal Military College of Canada Museum (Kingston): Located on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, this museum showcases the history of the college and Canada’s military heritage. It features exhibits on various aspects of military life, including uniforms, equipment, and historical artifacts. The museum’s address is 4 Passchendale Dr., Kingston.

4.Fort Henry National Historic Site (Kingston): While not solely a military museum, Fort Henry in Kingston offers guided tours and exhibits that highlight its role as a 19th-century military fortress. Visitors can explore the fort’s ramparts, barracks, and military displays, including demonstrations of 19th-century military tactics and drills. This historical site is located at 1 Fort Henry Dr., Kingston.

5. Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston Military Communications and Electronics Museum: This museum, located on the grounds of CFB Kingston, focuses on the history of military communications and electronics in Canada. It showcases a collection of artifacts, equipment, and displays related to military communications technology. It’s located at 95 Craftsman Blvd., Kingston.

6. National Air Force Museum of Canada (Trenton): While primarily focused on the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), this museum in Trenton, offers insights into Canada’s military aviation history. Visitors can explore a wide range of aircraft and exhibits, including those related to Canada’s involvement in conflicts such as the Second World War. The museum is located at 220 RCAF Road, 8 Wing/CFB Trenton.

7.Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment Military Museum (Belleville): This museum, located in Belleville, preserves the history and heritage of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, a Canadian Army reserve infantry regiment. It features exhibits on the regiment’s involvement in various military campaigns, including D-Day. The museum is located at 187 Pinnacle St., Belleville.

8.Royal Canadian Legions can also serve as places where visitors can learn about military history and pay tribute to veterans. While not traditional museums, many Royal Canadian Legion branches have memorabilia, displays, and events related to military history, including D-Day. Here are a few ways you might engage with them:

  1. Memorabilia Displays: Some legions have displays of military artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia, including items related to D-Day and other significant battles.
  2. Veterans’ Stories: Many legions have members who are veterans themselves or have family members who served in the military. They often have firsthand stories and experiences to share about their service, which can provide valuable insights into Canada’s military history.
  3. Remembrance Events: Royal Canadian Legions play a central role in organizing and hosting Remembrance Day ceremonies and other events to honor veterans. These events often include ceremonies, parades, and wreath-laying ceremonies to commemorate those who served, including those who fought on D-Day.
  4. Community Engagement: Legions are active in their communities and often host educational events, guest speakers, and fundraisers related to military history and veterans’ causes. These events can provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about Canada’s military heritage.

D-DAY REVISITED

Canada played a crucial part in the D-Day invasion, with thousands of Canadian troops landing on Juno Beach, one of the five designated landing zones. Despite facing formidable German defenses, the Canadian forces, alongside their Allied counterparts, demonstrated remarkable courage and determination, securing a crucial foothold in the liberation of Europe.

Canada’s significant ground contribution to the D-Day landings was spearheaded by the 3rd Division and the 2nd Armoured Brigade. Reflecting the nation’s diversity, these forces included infantry battalions from Ontario, Quebec, the western provinces, and the Maritimes, alongside a varied mix of artillery, engineers, signals, and service units. The armoured brigade’s three regiments symbolized Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec.

Operating under the command of the British Second Army, Canadian troops faced daunting challenges as they stormed Juno Beach. Despite facing rough waters, beach obstacles, wire, mines, and enemy gunfire, they pressed forward with determination. Supported by an intimidating array of weapons, including artillery, rocket-firing landing craft, and naval guns, they secured a beachhead by nightfall. Though falling short of planned objectives, this foothold proved resilient against enemy counter-attacks.

In the ensuing days, Canadian forces fortified and expanded their position, establishing a foothold by June 11, which paved the way for the arrival of new formations, and marked a pivotal phase in the Allied advance.

Today, Juno Beach is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers. Visitors to this historic site can explore the Juno Beach Centre — Canada’s memorial to the Second World War — in Normandy, France. Serving as both a museum and a cultural hub, it honours the memory of the 45,000 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war, including 5,500 who fell during the Battle of Normandy and 381 on D-Day. 

Inaugurated in 2003 through the efforts of veterans and volunteers, the centre was born from a collective vision to establish a lasting tribute to all Canadians who served in the Second World War. Its core mission is to safeguard this heritage for future generations by imparting knowledge and fostering remembrance.

The brave soldiers who died on the beaches and in the fierce battles to secure the position are buried in the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, located near the village of Reviers. Amidst pines and maples, the cemetery is a solemn tribute, with 2,049 headstones marking the fallen of the 3rd Division and the graves of 15 airmen.

The community of Reviers holds a special bond with the cemetery. Adorned with elegant hedges at the entrance, the cemetery exudes a sense of reverence and respect. Flanking registry buildings offer platforms giving visitors a panoramic view, allowing them to contemplate the area’s significance and admire the meticulous planning and design that went into creating this resting place.

Guided tours, informative exhibits, and opportunities to meet veterans provide a deeper understanding of the significance of this historic event.

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, let us remember the courage, sacrifice, and resilience of the Canadian soldiers who fought for freedom and democracy. Their legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of Canadians and serves as a reminder of the enduring power of hope, unity, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Cover image credit Juno Beach @wimvanteinde on Unsplash.

 

 

 

 

41 Events to Put Joy in your June

June is a magical month – the start of summer, lots of fun in the sun, everything’s open for the season and your summer vacation is just days away. There’s so much to see and do in South Eastern Ontario! Here’s a round-up of 41 great June events to start your summer in style.

Bay of Quinte

  1. Bay of Quinte Art Festival
    Immerse yourself in a world of creativity and community on June 1, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Centennial Park in Trenton for a day bursting with artistic wonders. Dive into a vibrant showcase of talent with 37+ artist vendors displaying their captivating creations, Indulge your taste buds with delicious offerings, live music, face painting, balloon twisting, and be inspired. Come explore, interact, and be amazed!
  2. The Sound of Music at The Pinnacle Playhouse
    The Belleville Theatre Guild is bringing the Sound of Music to life from June 6 to 21, 2024 at the Pinnacle Playhouse stage. The beloved tale is a glorious treat for the entire family and a joyous masterpiece! Get your tickets now.
  3. Quinte West Summer Pop Ups
    Now in its third year, Quinte West Summer Pop Ups overlooking the Trent River features eight wooden cabins and five food truck stations, to entice visitors with everything from ice cream to street Thai food to fashions. Mini Pop-Ups are also on site, featuring, totes, bows and much more. Look for the Pop Ups  in Centennial Park!
  4. Homestead Adventure Park
    High ropes, mini golf, remote control boats, Beavertails, farmer’s market – wow! This adventure park is newly opened and uniquely themed to transport visitors on an exciting journey through Quinte West’s interesting histories in Trenton. The 18-hole mini golf course is surrounded by 16 high-rope challenges providing scenic views, challenging obstacles, and hours of fun for the whole family.

Prince Edward County

  1. Burlesque at the Barn
    See the best shimmy shakers and burlesque artists from across the country! Come for a simmering, scintillating night of burlesque on June 1, 2024 at The Hayloft Dancehall in Cherry Valley. The Hayloft has been a county institution for about five decades! This rustic 170-year-old barn is a summertime hotspot. Look for more events throughout June, as well, from drag shows to live music and barn parties.
  2. Trail Jam
    Ride the entire trail (or half) with a large group of cyclists of all skill levels! This ride goes end-to-end from the start of the Millennium Trail in Carrying Place all the way to Picton. Taking place Sunday, June 16, 2024 it promises the greatest bike ride in PEC! Everything culminates at Prince Eddy’s Brewing Company for a post-ride celebration meal, games, drinks, prizes, live music and more.
  3. Art in the County
    Be inspired at Art in the County, a signature event of the summer season in Prince Edward County. The show attracts thousands of visitors and showcases the highest quality works of art by Prince Edward County artists and artisans. The 31st annual Art in the Couny Juried Exhibition and Sale will be held from June 21 to July 7, 2024 at the upper level of the Armoury building in downtown Picton.
  4. PEC Country Music Festival
    The Pretty Excellent Country Music Festival at Base31 is known as an exciting two-day live music event that will get your boots stomping and make you kick up your heels! From June 28 to June 29, 2024 see headliners The Reklaws and High Valley. Grab your cowboy hat and get ready to party.

 

Featured Event

The PEC Folk & Irish Festival at The Waring House, June 6 – June 9 is a celebration of Canadian folk and Irish music and the contributions of the Irish in Canada. Enjoy live musical performances, performance instruction, musical workshops, artisanal workshops, and opportunities to purchase and enjoy traditional art forms. Various dining opportunities, including a full Irish breakfast, Irish High Tea, an Irish whiskey-tasting dinner, an evening of Irish humour, and children’s activities in a day of family fun. Highlighting the history of the Waring family who arrived as Quakers seeking religious freedom.

Lennox & Addington

  1. Stoney Steps Art Fest
    Stoney Steps Artfest, Saturday June 15, is a beloved, juried outdoor show featuring a wide range of fine arts and crafts created by more than 55 skilled Canadian makers. Find the show along the beautiful banks of the Napanee River in Newburgh. Celebrate art by spending the day shopping for beautiful handmade goods and fine art from some of the best artisans in the region, watch live educational demonstrations, enjoy delicious lunch fare and homemade pie.
  2. Doors Open Loyalist Township
    Spend the day discovering some local history first-hand and celebrate the community’s heritage on June 15 from 10 a.m. 4 p.m. Doors Open Ontario is a province-wide celebration that provides a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy interesting places and spaces in communities across Ontario – all free of charge.
  3. Napanee Heritage 5K and Kids 1-miler
    Family fun and run! The Napanee Heritage 5K and Kids 1-miler is a well-organized event that starts and ends at Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives, located at 97 Thomas Street East in Napanee. Race profits are donated directly back into the Napanee community in support of physical or mental health initiatives.
  4. Lavender Queen Opening Day
    Lavender Queen is reopening June 22, 2024 to welcome back lavender lovers for the season! Join in the beautiful fun treats and photos in the lavender – and even shop the lavender inspired products under our new tent. Be sure to ask about the Afternoon Tea, Fresh lavender wreath making workshops and Lavender Distillation workshops!

Frontenac County

  1. The Frontenac Farmers Market
    Every Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m at Centennial Park in Harrowsmith visit farmers, producers, creators and more – all of your favourite vendors! This year there will also be music and special events each week, as well as educational workshops. From honey to blooms and from mushrooms to wine it’s all found at the Frontenac Farmers Market!
  2. Wolfe Island Hotel
    So much live music, so little time! Hotel Wolfe Island is firing up the music scene with everything from jazz to country to folk and beyond this June. Multiple events every week featuring performers like Fred Eaglesmith, Brownman Electryc Trio, Clear Breeze and Jenny Lap and Co.
  3. MT Adventures Rock the Lock Trail Run
    This 20 km run on the Cataraqui Trail between Chaffey’s Lock and Perth Road Village is an adventure onto itself! Taking place June 8, 2024 the race fee includes a post run meal and souvenir. This daring experience travels through beautifully peaceful countryside!

Kingston

  1. Artfest Kingston
    Where do more than 200 artists meet each year? At Artfest Kingston in City Park! Artists and artisans from across Ontario and Quebec are in Kingston from June 29 to July 1, 2024. Walk the shady paths throughout the park. Enjoy outstanding pottery, glass, wood, jewellery, gourmet food, live music, art workshops and live outdoor theatre, poetry and more!
  2. Spring Reverb
    This four-day festival promotes, develops and showcases the Kingston music scene! Running until June 2, 2024 it sees live music and concerts, panels and special guest talks across the city.
  3. S.S. Keewatin
    An Edwardian-era (think Titanic-era) steamship is now open for tours! It is permanently dry docked at the Great Lakes Museum. This unique and rare experience opens daily for two tours – one featuring the passenger experience and the other exploring below deck in the Engine Room. Register today to be some of the first people aboard!
  4. Movies in the Square
    Thursday nights throughout the summer, starting June 27, 2024, Springer Market Square is transformed into an outdoor movie theatre! Grab a blanket or lawn chair, friends or family and hunker down to enjoy movies on the big screen while munching on popcorn or cotton candy! Find out what’s playing and plan to attend.
  5. YGK Craft Beer Festival
    Unofficial kick off to summer! The YGK Craft Beer Festival invites you to sip on the finest local craft beers and beverages, indulge your taste buds with drool worthy food and snacks, enjoy all-day live music, games and shop the artisan market on June 8, 2024 from noon to 8 p.m. Taking place at Fort Henry, the location is part of the experience, with amazing water views and city views all day adding to the experience.
  6. Skeleton Park Arts Festival
    Did you know this year marks the 19th anniversary of the Skeleton Park Arts Festival? It’s true! SPAF is a non-profit annual summer solstice celebration, taking place June 22 and 23, 2024. This free, family-oriented event will be held in McBurney Park and the surrounding neighbourhood. This year’s festival includes a diverse range of artists including Kobo Town, Status Non Status, Justin Rutledge and the Undertow Brass Band. But wait – there’s more! This year SPAF is partnering with the Fat Goose Craft Fair – which runs on the same weekend at Skeleton Park.

An SEO Shout Out to these attractions opening for the season:
Military Communications and Electronics Museum: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Special programming will be in place this summer.
Bellevue House: Bellevue House is a place for conversation. Visitors Experience, Engage, Reflect at this site. This is a journey of learning. A collection of viewpoints that allow you to engage and reflect in conversation around this complex story. Operating Thursday through Monday each week.
Kingston Pen Tours: Tours daily! Go behind the walls of Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum security prison.
Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises: Sightseeing and dining cruises along Kingston’s historic waterfront and 1000 Islands.
Fort Henry: Open daily.
Ahoy Rentals: Kayak Lake Ontario open daily.
Kingston Trolley Tours: offering city tours daily in a unique red trolley!
Original Haunted Walks of Kingston: operating Wednesday to Saturday, featuring Ghosts of Queen’s, Ghosts of Fort Henry and many more spine-tingling options.

Featured Business

W.C. Creatives – JUNE 28 – JULY 2, 2024: The Ancestral Echoes Art Exhibit is an identifiably unique branded indigenous art experience that immerses the art lover into the indigenous art culture, through social messages such as climate change and truth and reconciliation. The exhibit will be featured alongside Artfest in Kingston but will provide space for Indigenous vendors, performances, and teachings.

1000 Islands Gananoque

  1. Textile Festival at Lansdowne Community Centre Enjoy the vision and feel of hand crafted art! On June 1, 2024, see spinners, weavers, rug makers, quilters, needle crafters and more showcase their skills. Feel the softness of the rovings and the colourful hand dyed wool. Finished products, wool, kits, and accessories are waiting to tempt you at the Lansdowne Community Hall.
  1. Holistic Fair at the Recreation Centre
    Come early to reserve your spot for readings! On Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lou Jeffries Gananoque Recreation Centre find what you’re looking for with numerous readers, mediums, psychics, intuitives and healing practitioners offering 20 minutes for $50. Everyone is welcome and admission is free! Also look for crystal suppliers and artisans with treasures.
  2. Gananoque Lions Club Cruise In Car Show
    Motorheads unite on June 15, 2024! See cars, trucks, motorcycles and more alongside drivers prizes, DJ music, vendors and the Gananoque Lions Club will be hosting a barbecue and serving burgers, hot dogs, fries and drink from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with complimentary cake! Proceeds in memory of Brielle Bellemore-Blouin and SickKids Foundation.
  3. 1000 Islands Family Ribfest
    Come and enjoy a great day or stay for the weekend to browse, shop, relax, taste the delicious ribs from June 28 to July 1!

1000 Islands Rideau Canal Waterway

  1. Red Brick School at Elgin
    This historic schoolhouse is like a step back in time! Active from 1887 to 1964, it has many character defining elements that express the heritage of the red brick gem. The Elgin & Area Heritage Society has an intriguing new exhibit opening this June, showcasing the brilliance of local historical photographer, Clifford Pennock – in large format colour! The exhibit opens on June 29 and runs only on weekends until Sept. 1, featuring an extraordinary collection of photos by Clifford Pennock, an early 20th century photographic pioneer. The society invites people to rediscover how Clifford Pennock viewed this era through his masterful photographic lens and what he saw after he pressed the shutter. To bring this to life, his work has been digitally remastered, in full colour, for a 21st century audience. Look for more than 100 of his best photos, providing a new lens on South Crosby. A truly unique learning atmosphere! Keep an eye on the Facebook page for open dates and events.
  1. Father’s Day Breakfast and Car Show
    Take Dad out for a spin to the Father’s Day Car Show! Start with a breakfast heaping with eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausages and beverages, and stay for a car show! Get your motors running on June 16 at the Drummond Building in Spencerville. Get your best Dad jokes ready and burn out!
  2. Summer Concerts at the Kemptville Street Piano

It’s Kemptville Street Piano Summer Concert Series time again! Taking place rain or shine on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Grenville Public Library, the concerts are all ages, free to attend, dog friendly, and start June 1, continuing weekly until August 31. The lineup this year has something for everyone, including R&B piano great Jeff Rogers, blues guitar queen Jesse Greene, internationally renowned cello monster Raphael Weinroth-Browne and his ensemble Musk Ox, art-folk bilingue trio Moonfruits, heart-breaker chanteuse Tara Holloway, and beloved local acts and events such as our monthly Street Piano Jam (hosted by Bradley Smith). New for 2024 are added workshops, song-writer circles, and happenings made possible by Ontario Presents’ Slow Touring Project, with support from the Canada Council for the Arts! Get in tune with the happenings and come on out!

An SEO shout-out goes to Follow 44 Day Trip Adventures! The Follow 44 route takes you along County Road 44 from Rideau River Provincial Park, through Kemptville, past several country attractions, and into Spencerville. At only 27 kilometres long, you could drive it in half an hour—but that’s no fun! Take time to discover your own favourites along the way from vineyards to paddling and an animal sanctuary to a historic mill.

  1. Red Canoe Fest Seeley’s Bay will be buzzing on June 1 when the Red Canoefest takes over the waterfront! The day starts with breakfast and a free kid’s fishing derby, and continues with a paddling silent poker run, barbecue and more.
  2. Surya Yoga Festival The Kemptville Campus is the venue for this restorative outdoor festival that runs from sunrise to sunset. A ticket for June 22, 2024 grants you full access to more than 10 yoga classes led by authentic, holistic teachers. The festival includes a yogi market, delicious local food and more!
  3. Rideau Lakes Studio Tour
    Discover the art of creative minds at work in Rideau Lakes on Canada Day weekend! Enjoy incredible original art, sculptures, pottery, weaving, beading, and more. The Rideau Lakes Studio Tour celebrates over 25 years, and promises a spectacular showcase of the region’s finest artists. Taking place on Canada Day weekend, June 29 and 30, 2024, the event will feature more than 20 artists opening their studios to the public, allowing visitors to see how these talented creators work their magic.
  4. 1000 Islands Celtic Roots Festival If you love Celtic kitchen party music then you’ll be in your element June 14 and 15, 2024 at Happy Green Aces Campground! An awesome line up kicks off on  June 14th with Turpin’s Trail followed by The Mudmen and finishing off the night with The Fiddleheads! Starting June 15 is Spencer Scharf followed by The Celtic Kitchen Party and ending this awesome weekend of Celtic delights are The Steel City Rovers!
  5. Spencerville Father Daughter Ball Be enchanted at the Father Daughter Ball! This magical evening on June 1, 2024is all about making memories with your little girl – cherish the moments! With lots of activities complementing the dancing, like face painting, making matching bracelets, upping your nail game at the polish station or striking a pose in the photo booth it all adds up to fun.

Brockville

  1. Downtown Brockville Shop the Streets
    Dust off your boots for a night of dancing at the June 27, 2024 Country Western Street Dance! We hear the Ottawa Senators will be making a special guest appearance!
  2. Fairies in the Park
    Calling all fairies, wizards, mermaids and friends! The annual Fairies in the Park event is set to sprinkle magic on June 15 at St. Lawrence Park in Brockville! Meet Tinkerbell, get your face painted, bounce around and take part in kids activities! Admission is free, but donations for Girls Inc. accepted.
  3. 1000 Islands Regatta
    The 15th annual Brockville Hydroplane Festival is right around the corner it’s set to be a splash of fun! Great fun for all ages witnessing Hydroplane Racing, live music and a kid zones with vendors. The 1000 Islands Regatta is taking place from June 28 to 30, 2024. See Canadian icons perform as 54.40 will be playing on Friday night, while on Saturday, June 29 Big Wreck takes the stage!
  4. Rockin’ River Revue Party Cruises
    Cast off with Captain Andy and crew on June 1 and 7, 2024 aboard the Sea Fox II to rock the boat with hometown bands! This is known as the islands’ only regularly scheduled public party cruise. Hope aboard and let loose!

SDG Counties

 38. 1784: The 240th Anniversary of New Johnstown and the Royal Townships It’s not often you can revisit history or see how your ancestors lived and coped, but June 7 to 9, 2024 will provide that unique experience while celebrating the 240th anniversary of Cornwall and the SDG Counties. This year it will be 240 years since John Johnson’s loyalist refugees from the American Revolution brought their boats ashore in a wilderness area that was to be their new homes. Today these names are more familiar to us as Cornwall and the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. A special event is being planned for June 7 to 9, 2024 seeing Lamoureux Park transformed to what life was like when these new settlers arrived. See a tented village replicating New Johnstown as it was in 1784! Visit the encampment to learn how these early settlers survived their arrival and flourished. For music lovers, concerts will be held on Friday and Saturday evenings presenting French, Celtic and Akwesasne entertainers. The Cornwall Community Museum will be open for tours and will introduce its new exhibit on “1784”. In addition, the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada will be hosting its national conference in Cornwall. This celebration of our past is presented by the SDG Historical Society and is a free event open to all.

Cornwall

  1. Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Centre This is one of Cornwall’s most popular indoor attractions – and it’s back open for the summer season! Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the centre showcases the rich history of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project and the communities and people affected. The facility is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until August 30 and admission is free! The Visitor Centre is part of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) which operates the R.H. Saunders Generating Station. Did you know that with a 1,045-megawatt capacity, it is the second largest hydroelectric station in Ontario? That’s electrifying!

Prescott Russell

  1. Bike Night at Hawkesbury Ride into the weekend! Bike Night at Hawkesbury is back on June 7 from 5 p.m.to 9 p.m. with Judy Ann and her band, Hell on Heels, performing live! Look for food vendors on site. Meet up at Maximum Powersports in Hawkesbury!
  1. Music in the Vines at Vankleek Hill Vineyard
    Live music at a winery every Friday and Sunday! No reservations needed  – first come first serve on the patio. Kids are welcome but pets must be leashed.  Serving artisanal pizza, charcuterie and other surprises. Musicians throughout June include Better Half, Larry Cool, Normand Fullum and Shawna Caspi.

Event Feature

Les Vergers Villeneuve and Blueberry Farm will be hosting local Feast dinners, 2 per month in June, July and August. These multiple-course meals are prepared by professional Chefs using local products only. Les Vergers Villeneuve and Blueberry Farm will also host its first local producers’ market on June 22, 2024. Expect local products from the region, such as fruit, veggies, different meats, honey, maple syrup, and more delicious offerings.

The dog days of summer are upon us and we’re aching to get out and do all the things! South Eastern Ontario has enough happening to fill your calendar three times over.  So, get your summer go-bag packed, plan to revel in the heat and dive into summer like you’re on permanent vacay.

Now & Then: The nine lives of the GTR 1008 and the Aultsville Train Station

If you are travelling along County Road 2 between Upper Canada Village and the Crysler Marina, you will notice the GTR 1008 locomotive, pulling its baggage and coach cars. It is as though they were leaving the Aultsville train station. 

Located in the Crysler Farm Battlefield Park, the pieces are a representation of the golden age of the railway in Ontario. It is also a testimony to the perseverance of a group of volunteers who just wouldn’t let it go. Over the years, the fate of the Grand Trunk Railway number 1008 could have gone in many directions and it has indeed gone through many lives already. 

The GTR 1008 is a steam locomotive built in 1910 by the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston. The locomotive was nearly lost in 1953 when it derailed and flipped over on the streets of Hamilton. The engine had a cracked firebox and a badly damage cab. It was saved and returned to service. In 1957, at the creation of Upper Canada Village and Crysler Farm Battlefield Park, CNR donated the Ontario-St. Lawrence Development Commission (now St. Lawrence Parks Commission). They had restored it to its original condition and number GTR 1008. The coach passenger car came the same year. The refrigerated baggage car was moved in 1965, it had transported fruit in the Niagara region. 

The timing of the creation of Upper Canada Village and Park corresponded with the flooding and loss of six villages and three hamlets to the St. Lawrence Seaway and Hydroelectric Projects. Saved from destruction, the Aultsville train station was lifted from its foundation, placed on a railway flat-car and rolled to its present location. That section of rails is the only remaining portion of the original GTR/CNR line. The restored station, built in 1889, contains a ticket office and a fully functional telegraph operator’s bay. The separate waiting rooms for men and women travellers are still visible  today. In summer, it serves as the British Home Child Museum. 

Over its long life, the locomotive and wooden cars have periodically fallen prey to the elements. The St. Lawrence Parks Commission had funding for maintenance only and found it difficult to keep up with the needed repairs. Some work was done in 1980. Water infiltration was a problem. The cars were damaged and rotting. Eventually, they were closed to the public. In 2000, the SLPC did not wish to have the financial burden anymore. A local group was formed to keep the train at its location. The Save The Train campaign raised money, and volunteers and local businesses provided labour and materials. An agreement with the Parks Commission was made. GTR 1008 lived again.

In 2018, history likes to repeat itself and the pieces have weathered again. Facing the need for repairs, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, citing a lack of funds, decided to divest itself of the train. Again, concerned local citizens would have no such thing and Save the Train 2.0 was started by many of the same people who had done the work previously. An agreement was signed and now Friends of the GTR 1008, an incorporated group, has full stewardship of the assets. Work started in 2020. It is ongoing, and it is typical to see a hive of activity on weekends. GTR 1008 just received another life!

Our ‘Now & Then’ series, unveils the rich tapestry of South Eastern Ontario’s historical landmarks and buildings, all waiting to be discovered on your travels. Delve into the intriguing stories behind these iconic structures and the vibrant communities they call home.

Written by Ginette-Guy Mayer; her interest as a writer revolves around history, genealogy and women’s stories within those contexts. Now retired, she lives in Cornwall, Ontario, where she volunteers with various heritage, history and genealogical groups. She is the author of the biography Unforgotten Mary Mack, the Elizabeth Grant Mysteries, set in 1930s Cornwall and the DS Henry Stafford Mysteries series, set in 1980s Winchester/Chesterville.   

Summer Loving: Plan the Perfect Summer Getaway in South Eastern Ontario

Summer is finally just around the corner! Have a blast in South Eastern Ontario, with everything from swimming to stunning scenery, paddling to patios and to helicopter rides to adventures in the treetops. Now is the time to plan your summer getaway to South Eastern Ontario! Splash into summer and make your perfect itinerary with these unforgettable options.

Beaches

Grab your towel and get ready to beach! Whether it’s cooling off in the clear water, playing volleyball, building sandcastles or simply reading a book, feeling the sand between your toes is good for the soul. White sand and rolling gentle waves await: read more about Beaches in South Eastern Ontario!

On the Water

The pristine waters of South Eastern Ontario are calling – achieve an authentic experience by getting on the water! From water sports to boating, the water is what ties communities in South Eastern Ontario together. Read more about how to make the most of the lakes and rivers in SEO or discover a water-lovers itinerary!

Cottaging and glamping

Enjoy a camping trip that ranges from the ordinary to the extraordinary in South Eastern Ontario!  No matter where you stay, SEO is full of spectacular spots for a family getaway or a much-needed escape with your besties, with wilderness around every corner. Take a peek at the glamping and cottaging experiences!

Patios

Cold drinks, good company, relaxing outside and enjoying fabulous food – you must be thinking of hitting up a patio in South Eastern Ontario! From streetside to private and from pub fare to elevated food, patios in SEO usually overlook the water and are always the best place to nosh in the sunshine.

Cruises

This summer, hop aboard a cruise line that weaves through the beautiful waterways of South Eastern Ontario! Read more about both daytrip and overnight cruising available, as you can discover historic castles, waterfront villages, lush wildlife and even locks along the Rideau Canal. 

Family Friendly Farms

Start making memories with family-friendly farms in South Eastern Ontario! Get up close to furry friends and learn about farm life. Whether it’s feeding lambs or brushing donkeys, picking apples or helping with the grape harvest at a local winery, South Eastern Ontario has some incredible agricultural experiences waiting for you. Read more to plan a visit!

Grow Your Green Thumb

Spring and summer are full of promise here – get expert advice coupled with unique plants, perennial trees and shrubs to turn your garden into the talk of the town. Just don’t get too excited and wet your plants! Find out more about community spaces to admire public gardens or where to grow your green thumb in South Eastern Ontario.

Paddles Up!

No matter where you start paddling in South Eastern Ontario, you’ll be sure to finish with unforgettable moments of discovering new perspectives and places on the water! Whether in a kayak, canoe or Stand Up Paddleboard, the fabled rivers and lakes in the region are perfect for paddling to experience nature up close and personal. Find out 10 ways to experience this paddler’s dream.

Hiking

Forest and fields are yours to explore in South Eastern Ontario! Lace-up and get walking this summer while spending time surrounded by stunning natural scenery. With trails featuring cliffs, boardwalks, footbridges, high look-outs, lush forests and wildflower fields, it’s a hiker’s paradise. Here’s another list of 11 thrilling places to hike, and guess what? They’re all on-leash dog friendly! So be sure to take Fido along.

Looking for authentic summer experiences? South Eastern Ontario is the place for epic date nights, summer adventures and classic summer experiences. You can’t beat the season of heat here – so slap on some sunscreen and hit the road to SEO for something new!

Unveiling the Gananoque Inn & Spa: A Timeless Haven of Hospitality

Welcome to the enchanting world of the Gananoque Inn & Spa, where history and hospitality intertwine to create an unforgettable experience in the heart of the 1000 Islands.

There is a new generation of caretakers for the inn. Mukesh and Ashwina Patel purchased the Gananoque Inn & Spa in June 2017 and look forward to continuing the tradition of a historic inn while adding some well-deserved upgrades to this property. The purchase of the Gananoque Inn was influenced by various factors, including its historic charm, picturesque location, the potential for hospitality business, and personal passion for the area.

Founded in the 1870s by George and Charles Taylor as the Gananoque Carriage Works, this charming inn has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years. What was once a hub of craftsmanship for wooden carriages is now a cherished retreat for those seeking respite and relaxation.

Step into the lobby and see the fireplace as it casts an embracing glow that beckons you to unwind and enjoy the timeless elegance. In the summer, the grounds come alive with a riot of colors as flowers bloom in meticulously tended gardens, flower boxes, and hanging baskets.

What’s the best room in the inn? The Patels say that’s Room 108. “It holds a special place in our hearts as it sits right on the edge of the dock, offering an unparalleled view of the enchanting 1000 Islands and the majestic St. Lawrence River,” they reveal. “The picturesque scenery from this room is truly breathtaking, immersing guests in the natural beauty of the surroundings. The gentle lapping of the waves against the shore creates a soothing soundtrack, enhancing the overall experience of tranquillity and relaxation.”

It’s no wonder Room 108 is cherished by many for its stunning vistas and serene ambiance.

The Patels have embraced the legacy of the past while ushering in a new era of modern comforts and amenities. With their passion for hospitality and commitment to excellence, they are dedicated to ensuring that every guest feels truly special, whether here for a weekend getaway or a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

In addition to its luxurious accommodations, the Gananoque Inn offers a range of amenities designed to enhance the guest experience. Indulge in a sumptuous meal at Watermark Restaurant, or a hearty bite at Musky Jake’s Tap and Grill, where locally sourced ingredients and innovative culinary techniques come together to create unforgettable dining experiences.

Relax and unwind in the comfortable confines of the lounge, where crackling fires and handcrafted cocktails set the stage for intimate conversations and cherished memories.

The Gananoque Inn provides a unique environment for weddings, business, or family gatherings. There are 52 unique rooms, and staff can provide excellent planning, food, and service for up to 80 people. Throughout its storied history, the Gananoque Inn has remained true to its founding principles of hospitality, excellence, and community. From the warm welcome extended to every guest to the meticulous attention to detail that defines each aspect of the guest experience, the inn continues to uphold its legacy as a cherished destination for those seeking solace, serenity, and sophistication.

As you explore the enchanting Town of Gananoque and the scenic beauty of the 1000 Islands, let the Gananoque Inn serve as your home away from home, a sanctuary where time stands still and every moment is infused with grace and elegance. Whether you’re seeking a romantic retreat, a family getaway, or a solo adventure, allow yourself to be transported to a world of timeless enchantment.

Visitors to the Gananoque Inn shouldn’t miss exploring the beautiful 1000 Islands region, taking a scenic boat tour, or enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, or simply relaxing by the river and dining in at Muskie Jake’s Tap & Grill or the Watermark Fine Dining restaurant.

The inn is located at 550 Stone St. S., Gananoque. Visit the Gananoque Inn and Spa for more information. For reservations, call toll-free 1-888-565-3101, 613-382-2165, or email info@gananoqueinn.com.

The information provided here is current at the time of publication and is subject to change. Please check website links for availability and spa and restaurant opening times.

Bellevue House offers new experiences to engage and reflect on Canada’s history

Silenced voices of the complex legacy of the country’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald is now heard throughout Bellevue House, a National Historic Site, and is referred to as “Unpacking Macdonald.”

Within the tapestry of Canadian history, intertwining threads connect the narratives of extraordinary individuals with the landscapes they called home.

One such place is a National Historic Site administered by Parks Canada, Bellevue House, located among the charming streets of Kingston overlooking Lake Ontario, where the past whispers secrets of bygone days. This was the home of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1815, Macdonald served as Canada’s first and second longest-serving prime minister, holding office for 19 years. He was instrumental in uniting the British North American colonies, laying the groundwork for Canada’s Constitution with the British North America Act. He oversaw the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and expanded Canada’s territory by adding Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island to the Confederation. He spent only 13 months at Bellevue House.

Macdonald’s history has been a linear one. Now, more voices are heard in this new journey through the past that include Indigenous, Chinese and Black voices.

“The story that we’re sharing is taking a more inclusive approach,” notes Tamara van Dyk, Site and Visitor Experience Manager. “For Bellevue House, it was a step forward to include the various perspectives and voices.”

Elizabeth Pilon is the Bellevue House Renewal Lead and Product Development for Eastern and Central Ontario, Parks Canada. She said the renewal project started in 2015 with the Visitors’ Centre, and over the past six years, has focused on the historic house restoration, with work totalling $2.1 million.

“In 2018, we took on a restoration project to restore some significant assets of the historic house, and as well, we took the opportunity to continue the renewal of the visitor experience that we’d started in the Visitor Centre … to continue that approach,” Pilon explains. “The more inclusive, truthful approach on our history with the many voices approach as other voices have contributed to the story.”

They looked to the Community Advisory Committee to provide input on the untold or unheard stories from minority or racialized groups and communities that could be included.

“Creative displays become touch points for the visitor,” says van Dyk. “The staff will then expand on the narrative. But it’s a way to meet the visitors where they’re at in their learning of Canada.”

The visitor experience is streamlined, designed to hit a number of targets. There is a 15- to 20-minute dialogic tour as an introduction to the site and how the staff at Bellevue House is shifting the way they’re sharing the site’s history.

“It’s an engaging program designed to ask the visitor the question, and it’s more visitor-led,” van Dyk explains. Each visitor will have their own unique experience.

“We ask that the visitor has an open heart, and an open mind,” van Dyk says. “We want to provide them with experiences that will align with their needs.”

Bellevue House offers many options to enjoy the site. There are self-directed experiences, like Xplorers for kids and families, or immersive guided tours, like the conversation-style program of Unpacking Macdonald and Keeping up Appearances where visitors are given a package which encourages them to take part in challenges like baking sourdough bread. Group and school tour options are also available. “We want to offer people a place to have serious conversations but also a place for the lighter side of exploring the historic site,” she says.

Indigenous employees and volunteers help with the medicine garden, a new piece to enhance the self-guided tour. It’s Haudenosaunee driven and also reflects the Anishinaabe ways. 

“The site has the heritage kitchen garden, and this year, with the guidance of an Indigenous employee and volunteers, we are adding a medicine garden,” van Dyk says.

Start your journey in the Visitor Centre. On the front of the building, find an incredible work of Indigenous art, Creator’s Drum, crafted by Chris Mitchell in 2023, to represent peace, coming together and new beginnings.

You will have an opportunity to choose your experience once inside.

“This is where they start and where they can end,” van Dyk says. “This is where we share the programs. We provide an overview and ask what they’d like to learn, take part in, and if there is anything special happening on the site this is where that information is shared.”

You will be able to see The Many Voices of Confederation exhibit at this early stage of the tour. You will have the chance to read through Macdonald’s timeline, and if you choose, you may opt to see the history that has not been spoken about so often, by following an interactive ribbon of information.

“This is the introduction to the way we’re sharing history now,” van Dyk explains. As you step across the threshold of Bellevue House, you will be transported back in time to an era of elegance and intrigue. The air is filled with the scent of wood polish and aged leather, while the walls echo with memories of generations past.

For years, Bellevue House has stood as a silent sentinel to the passage of time, its weathered façade bearing witness to the ebb and flow of history. But now, a new chapter is set to unfold as Parks Canada unveils this innovative interpretive experience that promises to breathe new life into this historic gem.

You will find a dynamic journey through Bellevue House’s past, guided by cutting-edge technology, immersive storytelling, and tactile experiences.

From the elegant parlors where Macdonald once held court to the sun-dappled gardens that provided respite, every corner of Bellevue House comes alive with the sights, sounds, and sensations of the past.

Through interactive exhibits and engaging narratives, you will discover the untold stories of the people who shaped the nation before Bellevue House and beyond. From the servants who toiled behind the scenes to the Indigenous peoples whose lives were impacted by Macdonald’s policies, each voice adds depth and richness to the montage of history.

But the new interpretive experience at Bellevue House is more than just a journey into the past. It is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling, a reflection of the diverse voices that make up the mosaic of the Canadian identity.

As you linger, reflect on the lessons of the past and the challenges of the present. For in the stories of those who came before, we find echoes of our own struggles and triumphs — reminders of the resilience and strength that define us as a nation.

As Bellevue House opens its doors to a new generation of visitors, it does so not as a relic of the past, but as a living testament to the enduring power of history. Through its new interpretive experience, Bellevue House invites us to embark on a journey of discovery, to uncover the stories that shape our shared heritage, and to find inspiration in the echoes of the past.

There are lots of little gems throughout this tour and be sure to check out the kids’ interactive options from the Visitor Centre while browsing the merch store for that memorable piece of history that commemorates your experience at Bellevue House.

WORTH NOTING

  • The home was first built for a wealthy tea merchant Charles Hales. The building was also known as the Tea Caddy Castle, and it sat on 9.5 acres of land.
  • Bellevue House is constructed as an ornate Italianate villa. Check out the balconies, tall windows, the finial, round arches and stucco on the exterior. The building is made from the famous limestone of the area, but finished in stucco to give it the Italianate look.
  • First opened as a national historic site by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II for the centennial of Confederation in 1967.
  • Located at 35 Centre St, Kingston. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., between Victoria Day long weekend and Canada Day, the site is open Thursday to Monday. From Canada Day to Labour Day, it is open seven days per week. From Labour Day through to Thanksgiving in October, it is open Thursday to Monday.

Please visit Bellevue House for admission fees.

Welcoming 2SLGBTQI+ accommodations in Rideau Lakes and Westport

Embracing diversity and inclusivity, these accommodations offer a warm welcome to travellers of all identities. From charming bed and breakfasts to chic urban retreats, each establishment on this list is committed to providing a safe and affirming space for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (or Questioning), Intersex, and other diverse guests. Here are some standout accommodations, ensuring your stay is not only comfortable but also deeply enriching and welcoming in Rideau Lakes and Westport.

Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs): Charming B&Bs dot the countryside, offering cozy retreats and personalized hospitality amidst scenic landscapes.

  1. NEWBORO HOUSE: Nicki Doria and Mark Boulanger have owned this 1800s home with Second Empire architecture, since 2017. The home features a spiral staircase, rubble-stone foundation, wide baseboards and hardwood flooring. Few structural changes have been made to the original building which offers three bedrooms, and all the conveniences of home. For more information, visit the website, or email newborohouse31@gmail.com or call 613-272-9161.
  2. WATER WOOD EXPERIENCE: Nancy Sendell will curate an unforgettable experience in nature and community by allowing guests to learn about the landscape and letting creativity out for a stroll. Get in touch with your senses as you can experience one of three special accommodation packages at Water Wood Experiences. You can “Get Lost in Nature”, “Spoil Yourself”, or “Explore Your Talents” during your stay. Visit the website, call 647-526-5049, or email nancy@waterwoodexperience.ca for more info. It’s located at 44 Concession St., Westport.
  3. HARLEM STONEGATE BED AND BREAKFAST: This charming 1830s two-story stone farmhouse is an out-of-the-way gem. It provides a relaxing country home to unwind and rejuvenate or check out the natural beauty of the area. New this year is the glamping experience. Not only can you have a beautiful guest room in the home, but you can also take in some fun and luxurious glamping in the maple forest and catch some of the wildlife that live in the wetlands nearby. Visit the website, email info@harlemstonegate.com, or call (613) 272-9110 for more information. The Harlem Stonegate BB is located at 2341 Harlem Rd, Elgin.
  4. INDIAN LAKE BED AND BREAKFAST: David and Lloyd have fulfilled their dream of creating a magical lakeside escape, culminating in this extraordinary Bed & Breakfast experience. Nestled on the renowned Rideau Lakes system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, their attention to detail and creative passion promises an unparalleled getaway. Immerse yourself in nature’s embrace while luxuriating in the exceptional hospitality of your hosts—a truly unique experience awaits. Email indianlakebnb@gmail.com to book the all-inclusive culinary retreat weekend. Visit the website for more information.

Boutique: Stylish boutiques provide a blend of luxury and inclusivity for discerning travellers.

  1. THE VICTORIAN LUXURY SUITES: This beautiful place offers a luxurious experience in its suites, seamlessly fusing classic charm with modern city flair. Each room welcomes guests with stylish contemporary decor and all the comforts of modern living. It’s a distinctive blend of urban sophistication and country hospitality. Call (613) 273-6273, email stephanie@thevictoriansuites.com or visit the website. The Victorian is located in Westport at 16 Church St., Westport.
  1. THE SHELDON MANOR: Seeking a royal retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Look no further than The Sheldon Manor, the premier vacation rental in eastern Ontario. With a perfect blend of sophistication and excitement, The Sheldon Manor offers an ideal escape for both families and group getaways. The Sheldon Manor, built in 1865, is a luxury vacation rental located in a heritage home on the shores of Big Rideau. You’ll also love their private cocktail classes (fees apply). Visit the website, email directly from the site for more information. The manor is located at 3901 Sheldon Rd. in Portland.

Inn: This quaint inn extends a warm welcome to all guests, fostering a sense of community and belonging.

  1. THE COVE INN: This revered fixture in Westport was erected in 1876 by the Fredenburgh family, owners of the local sash and door mill. By the late 1920s, it underwent a transformation into the Lexena Hotel under the management of Alex and Lena Brown. In 1932, the Roberts family expanded the establishment, introducing the beverage room (now the Bar/Lounge), establishing The Tweedsmuir Hotel as a must-visit spot on the Rideau. Though ownership shifted over the years, the late Dick Ready’s commitment remains noteworthy. In 1988, the Cowans and the Carvers initiated extensive renovations, reverting the inn to its original splendour.  Today, the Inn is a beloved spot for locals and visitors, offering great food, cozy rooms, and top live entertainment. The Cove hosts various music series and events like Wings ‘n Tunes, Blues at The Cove, Jazz Night with Spencer Evans Trio, and more. Nestled by Upper Rideau Lake and Westport Pond, it boasts 12 guest suites, a 200-seat restaurant, and a 100-seat waterside patio. The Cove Inn is located at 2 Bedford St. Westport. Call 613-273-3636 or email thecoveinnwestport@gmail.com.

Resort: Locally owned resort offers modern amenities and easy access to the UNESCO heritage site of the Rideau Canal.

  1. HOTEL KENNEY RIDEAU: Jeff and Core are lovingly restoring this old grand dame on the Rideau Canal in Jones Falls with lots of history and charm. Accommodations can be booked directly on the website. Dining, docking, snack bar (Kenney Jr.), NutFree Gourmet Bakeshop on offer. The Hotel Kenney Rideau is an 1870s classic Canadiana waterside resort rich in history located on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal’s Lock 42. The address is 59 Kenneys Road in Elgin. Call 613-359-5500 or email info@hotelkenneyrideau.com and visit the website.

Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway or a solo adventure, these 2SLGBTQI+ friendly accommodations ensure that South Eastern Ontario is not just a destination, but a welcoming home away from home.

24 Things for 2-4 May long weekend in South Eastern Ontario

Heads up: long weekend approaching! May 2-4 weekend, also known as the Victoria Day long weekend, is the unofficial kick-off of summer activities in South Eastern Ontario. Whether you’re in the mood to relax or you’re getting together with friends, here is a list of 24 things to do this weekend.

Outdoor Activities

  1. Play a round (or two) of golf: From lush greens at Hammond Golf to luxury fairways like Black Bear Ridge we have a golf course for you. Book your tee time now to avoid disappointment!

READ ALSO: Tee Time in South Eastern Ontario

  1. Go camping: From car camping to backcountry and everything in between, we have the perfect campsite. Mainstays like Charleston Lake Provincial Park are always popular for trails and wildlife viewing, as are sites further east like the Parks of the St. Lawrence campsites, including gorgeous waterfront sites. Hardy campers will appreciate the peaceful backcountry at rugged Frontenac Provincial Park.

READ ALSO: 16 Luxurious Cottaging and Glamping Ideas in South Eastern Ontario

  1. Go star gazing: It’s hard to believe that just a short drive north of the 401 is a place so serene that the skies are very much like they were 100 years ago. The L&A Dark Sky Viewing Area is a must-see for night sky photographers and lawn chair astronomers.
  1. Build sandcastles at the beach: If you’re more of a day tripper, grab your kiddos, a sand bucket and shovel and head to Sandbanks Provincial Park. It is the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation with three expansive sandy beaches that some say are among the best in Canada (and we tend to agree with those people).

READ ALSO: 20 Beaches to Spend the Day at in South Eastern Ontario

  1. Paddle the Rideau Canal: Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal offers an unforgettable canoeing or kayaking experience. The locks are opening this weekend! Bring your own boat or rent one from local outfitters like Frontenac Outfitters , Trailhead Kingston, or rental places throughout the Rideau Lakes, like Rideau Tours.

READ ALSO: 10 Ways to Paddle in South Eastern Ontario

  1. Go fishing: For some species, like Northern Pike and walleye, the fishing season opens the third Saturday in May, which means you can head to the water in search of that famous Bay of Quinte gold. Many deem the opening day of the walleye fishing season is the unofficial beginning of the open-water fishing season in Ontario. Remember to follow all fishing regulations according to your zone, including having a valid Outdoors Card and fishing licence.

Sightseeing & Tours

  1. Cruise the 1000 Islands: Cruising the St. Lawrence River is a classic experience in South Eastern Ontario. With a variety of boats to choose from, like the Wildcat high-speed catamaran to the elegant Island Queen, there’s no better way to experience the river. Find cruises in Gananoque, Kingston, Rockport and Brockville as a memorable way to kick off summer!

READ ALSO: 8 Unforgettable Cruising Experiences in South Eastern Ontario

  1. Take a ghost walk…if you dare: Haunted Walks of Kingston is an award-winning and bone-chilling walk through the city’s historic streets. Your guide tells ghost stories during your stroll and we’ve heard of ghost sightings too!
  1. Have a family day at the Aquatarium: The Aquatarium in Brockville offers a full range of interactive exhibits and activities for kids and adults in a comfortable, and accessible environment! Check out the live otters playfully swimming, Justin Beaver’s antics and feeding times, ships to explore, the planetarium, fish to marvel at and even a touch tank with starfish and crabs. Learn about the incredible biodiversity in our region.
  1. Visit a museum: No matter your interests, there is a museum in South Eastern Ontario that will capture your imagination. Learn about the region’s penitentiary history in Kingston or step back into the 1860s at Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg.

READ ALSO: Travel Through Time At These 17 Historic Sites In South Eastern Ontario

  1. Go skydiving: Kick off summer by crossing off a bucket list item! Skydive Gananoque is your go-to when visiting South Eastern Ontario.
  2. Trek high through the trees: Take in big views through the towering white pines at TreeTop Trekking in the idyllic 1000 Islands! Whether ziplining across a lake, navigating wooden bridges or tightropes on a discovery course, or playing in the treewalk village, or even on a night trek, this adventure park is a great way to start the season making memories!
  1. Take a helicopter tour: Seeing the 1000 Islands from the air is breathtaking. Soar above the St. Lawrence River, castles, lush islands and brilliant blue water with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours. A true gem of an experience!

Entertainment, Culture & Heritage

  1. Experience military life: Come visit Fort Henry in Kingston, an award-winning UNESCO Heritage Site! Get an immersive glimpse of life at the Fort in the 1800s with the pomp of the Garrison parade, the boom of firing cannons and a muster drill.
  2. Go to an art gallery: While strolling in the heart of downtown Kingston, check out eclectic Martello Alley. Get inspired on the Art and Culture Tour in Bay of Quinte or the elegant Cline House Gallery in Cornwall.
  3. Indulge in retail therapy: Each town and city in South Eastern Ontario have its own unique collection of shops. Downtown Kingston has boasts upscale retailers and niche boutiques. In The County, expect to find stores full of perfectly curated vintage goods and candy shops. Westport and Newboro have lovely stores with everything from luxe kitchen wares and designer furniture. Have a peek at our 11 destinations to discover your next trip to the shops.
  1. Catch a concert or live theatre: The place to be this long weekend is the region’s pubs, breweries and coffee shops, where local talent takes to the mic! From Kingston’s Grand Theatre to the Brockville Arts Centre and the Aultsville Theatre in Cornwall, live performance is never far, but far from ordinary.
  2. Try an escape room: Test your problem-solving skills at Kingston’s Improbable Escapes, Cornwalls Rush Hour Escape, or Prince Edward County’s Escape Room at Macaulay Heritage Park a collection of escape rooms where you are pitted against the clock to get out of a locked room.

Food & Drink

  1. Go on a wine tour: Prince Edward County’s terroir is recognized throughout the world as being unique and the hospitality of The County’s winemakers will make you feel right at home. Self-guided wine tours or chauffeured options are available. Look here for all the details to experience wine in The County.
  2. Turn those wheels: Rolling hills, iconic landmarks, beautiful countryside, charming villages. Cyclists in South Eastern Ontario witness all this, plus wildlife and friendly locals. Choose from 10 cycling itineraries in destinations across the region. From waterfront paths to urban loops to gripping town and country routes – South Eastern Ontario is a cycling gem!
  3. Pack a picnic of local food: Go to a farmers’ market and pack a picnic lunch of local food, such as bread, cheeses, honey, fruit and vegetables. Kingston’s Springer Market Square is home to the province’s oldest open-air market and Belleville, Prescott, Cornwall, Gananoque , Prescott Russell, and Brockville and more all have markets that are a short walking distance from parks that you can sit down and enjoy the sunshine in.
  1. Tour a craft brewery: Almost each town and city in the region boasts a craft brewery. Check out Rurban Brewing in Cornwall, Mackinnon Brothers in Lennox & Addington, Westport Brewing Company in the Rideau region, 1000 Islands Brewing in Brockville just to name a few. All of these places offer flights and a bottle shop to take home your new favourite brew. Check in with our destinations to find more of what’s brewing in SEO.
  2. Dine out with endless options everywhere: Kingston has more restaurants per capita than anywhere in Canada. The County is a culinary gem. Eateries in SDG Counties focus on delicious local flavours.  Gananoque is known for its eclectic cafes and Belleville and Trenton are home to Italian restaurants boasting fresh pasta made daily. We’re serious about food here, with chefs often sourcing local ingredients paired with local food, ciders and wines from Vankleek Hill to Tamworth.
  3. Go for ice cream In Bloomfield, grab a cone at Slickers, The County’s most popular ice cream shop, featuring fresh homemade flavours. Sundaes and soft-serve are a favourite at Brockville’s Cowan’s Dairy Bar. Kingston’s Reid’s Dairy Company is famous for their cheap shakes and yummy treat-filled hard ice cream. Kemptville’s Dairy Barn is set to make your weekend sweeter with sundaes, smoothies, hurricanes, milkshakes, and soft serve. The Opinicon Ice Cream Shop in Chaffey’s Lock serves up scoops made on the spot with unique flavours like Golden Squirrel!

No matter what you’re doing this weekend, it’s sure to be a treat to kick off the season in South Eastern Ontario. What’s your favourite spot to go in SEO?

Family, Community, Wine at Vankleek Hill Vineyard

Coming into the entrance of the Vankleek Hill Vineyard, visitors are greeted with a massive artistically-painted raven adorning the silo, welcoming all and taking guests under its wing. Part of the Popsilo Route in Prescott Russell, it’s perfectly poised to watch over the vineyard  – but also as a beacon to the community connection that unfolds daily at Vankleek Hill Vineyard.

When Teresa Bressan and Scott Lambert took over the fifty-five-acre property on Dandy Road in 2019, they knew they wanted to live more sustainably and had fallen in love with Eastern Ontario. But what they didn’t know was how the strong connections they were about to forge would help transform the vineyard into a true family space.

“It was like a breath of fresh air coming here,” Bressan said, noting they saw the potential in the property and have worked hard through blood, sweat and tears to get it to where it is now. But the community has been along for the ride and has responded tremendously every step of the way, she said. Bressan notes it’s family, community and wine that gathers people together at the vineyard.

“We basically extended an invitation to our table,” she said. “It is amazing to think where we started to where we are now. This is a direction Covid took for us in the best way possible.” Although she admits that’s a sentiment that isn’t always the case, Bressan pointed out that they worked hard respecting the guidelines and rules during Covid, and were able to still open their outdoor space up to community members. They responded.

Now it’s nothing for Bressan to blink and see the 130-seat patio full in the summer, witnessing families holding reunions there, friends gathering to celebrate and catch-up, couples on date nights – or repeat guests who everyone knows by name that refer to it as “their winery”. “It’s a really special thing to see everyone enjoying the wine while enjoying each other’s company,” she said.

Their winery has become an extension of people’s backyard, where connections are forged and customers become like family. “We’re truly more than a vineyard,” she said. “It’s like a family here. There’s a laid-back, humble vibe. Nothing is pretentious. We’re living the dream; welcoming in the community to come share it with us.”

The Wines

Teresa comes from an Italian background, and she remembers making wine with her Dad and Grandfather as a youngster. Now, Scott is the winemaker, and they grow five acres of cold-climate grapes: Frontenac (red) and Frontenac Gris (white). Some grapes for their wines are sourced from the Niagara region.

Their Frontenac Gris series continuously sells out. In fact, they have waiting lists for it. While Vankleek Hill Vineyard is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Lambert said their Frontenac Gris Estate, which was made in a Ripasso style, recently sold out in weeks. Fumé Blanc and Cabernet Franc also prove popular in summer, Bressan said.

A newly released project is the Frontenac Gris Rosé, a playful cold-climate Rose/Orange. It’s fermented on pinot noir skins, which lends strawberry and herbal notes with a touch of sweetness—and it’s already a hit.

“We release projects not wines,” Bressan said. Each project has been assigned a number since they started producing and they’re looking forward to releasing #41 shortly. “The variety of wine will repeat itself, but the project itself is different,” she said of their small batches. “Our mindset is that the end result is always something slightly different: same characteristics and baseline, but subtle differences because of Mother Nature’s play in the grapes. It’s beautiful that they all have uniqueness to them.”

Guests can purchase by the glass, bottle or tasting flight– with no reservations needed at the beautiful patio and outdoor tasting bar at Vankleek Hill Vineyard. The outdoor areas are a blend of shade and open spaces to lounge, while overlooking the estate vines.

However, to elevate the experience and try out their wines while gaining insider knowledge, Vankleek Hill Vineyard and Tasting Cellar offers a friendly guided tasting of five personally-selected wines. In this hour-long seated tasting experience, the wines chosen are the best representation of the sustainable growing and production methods.

Those methods extend beyond the vines, as well. Aside from the wine, Vankleek Hill Vineyard has 22 bee hives on the property and they produce their own honey. In addition, the clothing sold in the boutique is 90 per cent Ontario or Quebec produced with the shirts even screen-printed right in Vankleek Hill.

Summer lovin

Get into the summer groove and experience the Music in the Vines series, featuring live music four months a year, twice a week at the vineyard. Vankleek Hill Vineyard also has some new offerings on the horizon for the coming year, including unique accommodations in a Mongolian Yurt, and an expansion on food offerings including charcuterie boards and artisanal pizzas on the patio. Keep an eye on their socials for more!

“Come as you are. Bring kids, your pets, all generations,” Bressan said. “People start the weekend and end the weekend here, feeling totally connected, and we’re so fortunate to be a part of that.”

The winery is open on weekends until June, then it opens from Thursdays to Sundays until Labour Day. For more information, find Vankleek Hill Vineyard online at www.vankleekhillvineyard.com or on Facebook @VankleekHillVineyard and Instagram @vignoblevankleekhill. Better yet, stop by and say hi at 3725 Dandy Road (County Road 12) in Vankleek Hill.