Experience history in the making with a visit to Cornwall and SDG Counties (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry United Counties) this season. This is where Ontario began and exploring here along the St. Lawrence River uniquely combines heritage with memorable ways to discover the region. Read on to 10 ways to write your story in Cornwall and SDG Counties this summer!
A historic walking tour in Cornwall gives visitors and residents alike a chance to walk back in time and experience the city’s rich history through a collection of 30 plaques erected at key points throughout the waterfront, Downtown, and Le Village areas. Each plaque depicts an era, event or landmark from the city’s past and features the artwork of renowned Cornwall artist, Pierre Giroux.
The Historic SDG Jail is known as one of the oldest public structures in Ontario, dating back to 1833 and active over 170 years. Delving further into its storied past, reveals that men, women, and even children were incarcerated there for more than 168 years. During that time, five inmates were executed by hanging. Having served as both a minimum and maximum security facility, the Historic SDG Jail now has opened its doors to allow the public to get a glimpse of its history. Take a guided tour of the jail as it is today and experience life behind bars to see the holding cells, visitation and common areas, exercise yards, and the gallows. Learn about its sometimes gruesome history, the escapes, its use as both an asylum and house of refuge, as well as what lies beneath the exercise yard!
Lost Villages Museum is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before: 10 heritage buildings, moved and restored to Ault Park from The Lost Villages. The buildings commemorate real places, families, businesses, and close-knit communities which were displaced in the name of progress for the St. Lawrence Seaway and International Hydro Electric project. The communities were inundated with water on July 1, 1958 when the land was purposely flooded by the government for the newly created St. Lawrence. Now, visitors can see restored interiors and exteriors of actual buildings from The Lost Villages in a park-like setting. Be sure to go into the general store to step back in time!
Make the experience complete and head over to the Lost Villages Brewery for a refreshing pint or live music.
Visit St Raphael’s Ruins National Historic Site, the remains of one of the earliest Roman Catholic churches in English-speaking Canada. It was consumed by fire in 1970, but the outer walls were spared and its impressive scale and fine masonry work continues to attract the tourists to the site.
Try And Escape In Time
Plan your escape from the hottest new entertainment attraction: Rush Hour Escapes Cornwall. To complete the mission in this challenging real-life adventure game, players have to work together to find clues, crack codes and solve puzzles to escape before time runs out. Your adventure awaits!
Experience 40 Years Of World-Class Theatre
The Upper Canada Playhouse is celebrating 40 years this summer – and setting the stage for one of the biggest lineups yet at the professional theatre in Morrisburg! The Playhouse produces an April to December season with numerous productions built and rehearsed onsite and plays to an audience of more than 40,000 patrons annually. Look for a spring concert, five shows in their summer series, a special fall show just for kids, a new fall comedy, and even a special Christmas concert for the whole family.
Uncover The Art of Glass Blowing
Have you always dreamed of learning glass blowing? This amazing spot in Alexandria is a non-profit arts organization that supports local artists. Book a class, or come experience the open studio, gallery and shop located in an historic grist mill in the heart of downtown Alexandria. Intimate classes at Priest’s Mill are available in glass blowing, stained glass and glass fusion – create your own beautiful piece and fall in love with the process.
Discover The Power Of The St. Lawrence River
Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Centre has been operating in South Eastern Ontario for more than a century, and now includes a thermal facility, as well as 10 hydroelectric generation stations. Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the season centre is open to the public from mid-May to September. This impressive 13,000-square-foot LEED building shares the stories behind OPG. Discover the fascinating history of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project and explore hydroelectric, thermal and nuclear generation, the American eel and safety around power facilities. With historical insight and countless stories to tell, the visitor centre is an educational gem – and fun for the whole family.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Get your cook on! Learn some new skills in the kitchen with the help of Essential Kitchen, the new cooking studio and wine bar in Downtown Cornwall. The eclectic space offers a variety of cooking classes and demonstrations to help budding foodies who are looking to master a new dish – or friends simply looking for a fun night out!
Rurban Brewery specializes in small-batch, unpasteurized, unfiltered beer. Rurban is celebrating 10 years in 2023, having earned a spot in the hearts of Cornwall locals and visitors one sip at a time. Visit the Rurban taproom for a refreshing pint and rotating tastes of the brilliance behind this family owned and run brewery.
Grab a slice while it’s hot! Fraser Creek Pizza Farm is a family-owned agri-business making and serving outdoor woodfire pizza with local, farm-fresh ingredients. We’re talking homemade dough with toppings from the garden – exciting pizzas like pulled pork pizza, mushroom pizza, sausage and broccoli, even pickle pizza! Discover the difference that sustainable and custom-made makes in South Glengarry – your taste buds with thank you.
SDG Counties is fast becoming a new destination for beer and wine-lovers with seven vineyards and breweries to tour and taste. Enjoy local spirits and the unique ambiance of each with an inspiring imbibing tour! Among these is the new Lost Villages Brewery which pays homage to the villages which were intentionally flooded when the St. Lawrence Seaway was built in the late 1950s. Head here and look for a beautifully renovated patio and tap room experience with a clear view of the process to your pint glass. A unique wall of windows lets visitors peek at the brewing equipment.
Looking for a place to cool off this summer with a delicious back story? The Ole Sugar Barn Ice Cream Shop in Apple Hill is located in a charming sugar camp. This family-run business taps 2,500 maple trees during the sugar season and transforms into a picture-perfect ice cream shop during the summer months. The shop serves only 100% Canadian dairy ice cream. A local favourite is the maple sundae made with syrup boiled on site. Grab the keys – we’re already in the car!
Indulge in ice cream, squeaky curd or delicious yogurt all made on site at the Upper Canada Creamery, a family-owned certified organic dairy farm. A true taste of summer: their process leaves as much of the original taste of the cow’s milk in their products as possible. Fun fact: the farm began using organic farming practices back in 1989 – long before the niche market took root. We hear the chocolate milk can’t be beat!
The outdoors are calling – answer the call and immerse yourself in nature. Being so close to the St. Lawrence River affords some stunning views from the waterfront trail that spans the city’s waterfront. Spend the day cycling or walking along the trail that runs through Lamoureux Park. Cornwall’s portion of the trail is a dedicated off-road multi-use trail that spans the waterfront through the entire city. Stop for a picnic in the park and marvel at the stunning views of the Cornwall Canal and the St. Lawrence River along the way.
Hit the open road and pedal free with routes ranging from 9 km to 73 km! SDG Counties caters to cyclists of all experience levels. Discover 19 cycling routes with fun stops along the way, showcasing everything from traditional mini putt to historic ruins, and from vineyards to berry farms. Water breaks will never be boring!
Looking for a picture perfect drive? The Long Sault Parkway delivers every time. Spanning a series of 11 islands, the parkway is stunning from start to finish. It has been compared to a necklace of green jewels; SDG Counties’ own archipelago. Pack a lunch and discover the must-see route, host to three beautiful waterfront campgrounds and two golden sand beaches. It’s also a local favourite for runners, cyclists and photographers
Get swinging at golf courses in the area, as rolling hills and tricky greens make for a challenging game coupled with unique views of the river at a dozen courses in the area.
Try your hand at this up-and-coming sport this summer at the Disc Golf Clinic. Spend the first 15 minutes learning how the game works, and then get your hands dirty with some practical work where you can learn both the backhand and front handed throw, then finish off the day with a round or two to show off your new skills!
Walking through fields of golden sunflowers… sounds dreamy right?! It’s reality in North Glengarry, at Fields of Gold. These expansive sunflower fields offer a break from the city, remarkable views and photo ops galore. This year, Fields of Gold also has a pick-your-own flower patch featuring stunning dahlias, zinnias, mixed sunflowers and more. Brighten up the final days of summer and bring some sunshine home!
Birds will be your new besties at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary while you stroll the trails! With more than 200 bird species and eight kilometres of self-guided nature trails, this is an epic way to spend a day. The boardwalks here are perfect for wildlife viewing and there’s a definite wow fact for experienced birders – and anyone who enjoys walking in nature.
Whether you are looking for a family day trip or an entire week long adventure, Family Earth is a life-changing experience for all. You and your family are guided through outdoor, hands-on experiences that help you connect with nature, learn new skills and strengthen your bonds, all while appreciating the land we share.
Is there anything more quintessentially summer than pitching a tent or staying in a cabin? Parks of the St. Lawrence makes it easy with waterfront sites waiting for you! With 10 beautiful waterfront campgrounds featuring beaches and trails, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to relax and celebrate summer. Be sure to cruise along the Long Sault Parkway to experience driving along 11 islands connected in an arc through the St. Lawrence River like a string of green jewels – with water surrounding you on both sides of the road!
With some of the nicest views of the South Nation River, as well as an access point, Cass Bridge Conservation is a small park among the trees with a playground for the kids. Grab an ice cream and sit by the water, or take some photos of a unique vantage point of the iconic Cass Bridge.
Enjoy Summer On The Water
A handful of beaches in Cornwall and SDG Counties make summer memorable! Pack up and head for the warmth of a day in the sun and surf, be sure to bring your camera too as the views are as delightful as feeling the sand between your toes. Some beaches even have adjacent playgrounds or picnic areas like Farran Park Beach in Ingleside, that is a wide arching sandbank with playgrounds on a peninsula that juts into the St. Lawrence River.
Imagine seeing enormous tankers and ships passing through a Seaway lock right in front of you! Get a unique perspective on seaway ships at the Iroquois Lock in SDG Counties. Visitors marvel at the canal and lock each summer at Iroquois Point. This amazing feat of engineering fills with about 91 million litres of water in under 10 minutes! With green spaces, parking area and incredible views, the Iroquois Lock is an impressive thing to witness.
Acknowledged as a top international shore dive location, the waters surrounding Cornwall hold mystery and intrigue. Discover an underwater world rich in plant and animal life, as well as shipwrecks and the remnants of the famous Lost Villages, which were flooded during the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project. With dive sites ready for beginner and advanced divers alike, this underwater world is silently waiting to be explored.
If you are looking to learn something new this summer then Silver Star Sailing School is a great place to start! Join them for a three-hour introduction to sailing course, or adventure for more with two full days of classes to gain your Sail Canada Certification. Please note that Silver Star Sailing will not be operating this Summer 2023.
Bond With Furry Friends
Heading into the summertime is the perfect time to meet an alpaca, or five! At Split Rock Farms they dedicate themselves to the health and wellness of their alpacas. Not only can you enjoy farm tours, hay rides, nature walks and even walk-an alpaca tour, you can support them by purchasing something handmade from their Alpaca Habit Boutique!
Pick Your Own Strawberries
Partake in the traditional summer rite of passage: picking strawberries in the field at Dentz Orchards. Dentz Orchards and Berry Farm have been family owned and operated since 1957 and its produce has become synonymous with summertime for many. Visit the farm to snag some tasty field-grown produce like snap peas, raspberries, honey, apples or even jam.