We couldn’t think of anything more enjoyable than spending a weekend exploring a new area! With many quaint villages, you can’t resist being charmed by this unique piece of Canadian history. No matter where your wandering takes you this winter, it’s all about the thrill of discovering hidden gems!
DID YOU KNOW: Rideau holds the trophy for the oldest canal still operated in all of North America?
The oldest settlement along the canal is Burritt’s Rapids, which is now a haven for nature-lovers and heritage enthusiasts. The small hamlet with roots dating back to the 1790s, once bustled with the construction of the Rideau Canal. Mostly located on an island – discover the Tip to Tip trail, which runs the length of the island along the Rideau River and allows visitors to see the historic Burritt’s Rapids locks station.
Bundle up and explore villages in North Grenville through the Walking Tours of North Grenville. Get up close to local history and learn about architecturally significant buildings, culture, and interesting tidbits about each community!
Be sure to pop over to the Old Stone Mill National Historic Site, for tours of this authentic working grist mill.
Rideau Canal In The Bag
When the winter blues kick in, don’t run and hide – cure them with a little retail therapy! The Rideau Canal is a mecca of artisan creations, eclectic boutiques, studios, and shopping nooks. With so many places to visit, here is just some to look forward to. Check out our Google map below for more!
Berry Good Farms grows Haskap (also known as Honey Berries) and Romeo and Juliet dwarf cherries. There’s also the craft shack! Everything is handcrafted and utilizes some of the local Berry Good Farms greenery.
Head over to Seeley’s Bay for a sweet treat at Ridgway Confections. Choose from gourmet chocolate bars, brittles, barks and boxed chocolate collections.
Just five short minutes from Westport, Kilborn’s in Newboro provides a unique shopping adventure. Find everything you can imagine with a local touch from fashion to shoes to art. Experience the local culture in their stunning displays as you explore the three buildings.
In operation since 1885, the heritage wood-burning oven is now on its third generation of Grahame family bakers. Step in from the cold into the toasty warm bakery for some decadent treats. Grahame’s still uses the original recipes to make breads, butter tarts, apple fritters and cookies. They make everything the old way, because at Grahame’s Bakery the old ways have never changed. Please note – cash only.
Can you say craft beer advent calendar?! Yes, it’s true at the Westport Brewing Company brewery and taproom on the water. Local live music is paired with a new small batch experimental beer release each week, starting at the end of November until Christmas. Experience great views of the brewing process as well as the Upper Rideau harbour and indulge in daily small kitchen food offerings of homemade soup or chili, as well as savoury and salty snacks like their soft pretzels.
Get yo’ Art On
Down the road in Merrickville, art is hot through the colder months! The Grotto Artworks sees 35 Merrickville artists pool their diverse talent in a legendary showcase. Located in a 1860s stone building, The Grotto offers beautiful local crafts including pewter, pottery, jewellery, wood turnings, carvings, glass, letterpress prints and more! Down the street, Anarchy Gallery is bursting with incredible styles and original apparel while featuring Angelina Wrona’s internationally acclaimed paintings.
Experience one of North America’s leading glass art institutions. Family-owned and run, Gray’s Art Glass is in the business of creating and selling awe-inspiring glass art. Watch demonstrations and learn about the innovation and talent that goes into glass art. You can even order your very own piece at this glass-blowing gallery.
Most of the artists are open year-round, by chance or appointment, to give art lovers a peek into their creative world. We’ve listed more Gallery’s below in our Google Map!
Explore Along The Trails
Winter in Kemptville is a busy time with several trails usable for winter when they’re used by the local snowmobile clubs. Look for two new paths soon to be launched, Discovery and Sugar Bush Trails.
The Heritage River Trail is a popular walking path that runs along the waterfront for one of the longest riverside walking paths in all of Eastern Ontario. This paved path takes walkers along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, and is complete with information boards about the historic industry in the town. In winter, time slows down in Prescott and the river is peaceful – making for a crisp, memorable time spent outdoors.
The Cataraqui Trail is known as Eastern Ontario’s path to history and nature. Situated on a former C.N. rail line, the trail’s most scenic sections are known to be starting at Chaffey’s Lock and running west. The trail even crosses an old train bridge high above the water with exceptional views. The peacefulness of the water below, the snow, and fresh air make for a beautiful spot for cross country skiing.
Whether your passion lies in motorized sports or exploring on foot, you can be sure to enjoy a day spend at Limerick Forest. This trail network offers 30 kilometres of snowmobile trails, as well as non-motorized trails for biking, cross country skiing and bird watching!
Blaze your trail and explore with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at Foley Mountain in Westport. Both are exciting ways to see the countryside and have a workout at the same time! Foley Mountain is known for its hands-on educational programs, as well as the scenic lookout from Spy Rock. Snowshoeing connects participants with the natural environment and is a low impact way to get a good workout! Discover a trail network with varying levels that suit everyone, high atop a granite ridge overlooking the historic Upper Rideau Lake and village of Westport.
Snow truth: winter is what you make it! It’s invigorating to embrace the white stuff at Kemptville Winter Trail, with about 5.5 km of groomed free-use trails. Whether with snowshoes, cross country skis, fat bikes, or boots, the open areas of the Ferguson’s Forest Centre Arboretum and the tree nursery roads, in addition to a section that goes right into the forest itself, is a beautiful winter experience.
Step into those skis and hit the trails to experience active fun for the whole family! See water views and serene forest while cross country skiing at Foley Mountain, including 10 km of groomed trails. At Newboro Memorial Park, the non-motorized trails are perfect for all levels, while trail at Shillington Park is an easy 600 m loop through the wooded area.
Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, biking and when the conditions agree, even hiking through the forest on one of the North Grenville Trails is a great way to get out for some fresh air and vitamin D during the winter months. There’s something magical about walking through the woods, snow softly swirling around you that lightens your heart and make you appreciate winter.
The Ultimate Canadian Tradition
Stay outside and lace-up! Revel in winter by gliding across the outdoor rink in Bishops Mills. The Bishops Mills Community Association maintains the outdoor rink in the park. Or, if the weather turns nasty, sharpen those skates and head over to the North Grenville Municipal Centre to take part in public skating and family skates throughout the week and on weekends. Look here for skating and movie events throughout the winter!
Lace up and glide into winter while skating outdoors in Kemptville. Whether it’s for a game of pick up or for a sublime afternoon skate to enjoy the crisp winter air, the rinks here are lovingly maintained – some even have rink houses to warm up in. You’ll find there three outdoor rinks here accessible to the public during the winter as weather allows: at Curry Park, at Bishop’s Mills Park, and at eQuinelle subdivision. Watch in February for another special outdoor rink on the South Branch River (Kemptville Creek). This community is all about the skating!
Skating outside in winter is a quintessential Canadian experience! Prescott has two outdoor rinks that operate throughout the winter, typically open late for fun evening skating: one at Sarah Spencer Park and the other at the Sandra S. Lawn Harbour and Marina. Grab some friends or family and glide through winter!
A quintessential Canadian winter experience: skating on a lake! Experience safe, outdoor skating along the Rideau Canal at Portland. There is a maintained oval on Big Rideau Lake that is created for the Skate the Lake speedskating event each January – but available for all to enjoy free. Take part in any of the races or have fun watching! Races range from 5 km to 50 km and there’s a special kids 5 km. The oval is left open after the event as well, so the public can skate anytime. Lace up, bundle up and glide along this beautiful lake for a memorable outdoor experience this winter!
When the snow flies, North Grenville gets the snowmobiles revved up! There are an abundance of trails in the region, accessible with an interactive map here through the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. The Kemptville Snowmobile Klub keeps the municipality’s trails groomed and ready to ride. The Limerick Forest mapped trail network has about 180 km of trails ranging in size. Follow here to keep up to date on trail conditions there. Winter is going to be epic – start planning now!
Snowmobiling is almost a preferred mode of transport in Kemptville during winter. Discover an amazing network of trails on your sled – whether you’re out for a weekend long excursion, a day trip or just a couple hours with the kids, you won’t need to travel the same trail twice in North Grenville! There are designated snowmobile trails all over North Grenville complete with beautiful views of the Rideau and immersive forest experiences. Look here for interactive trail maps. Don’t miss Stinson’s gas by the Southbranch River and lunch at the Kemptville Family Restaurant. Look to The Kemptville Snowmobile Klub for great info before you head out and be sure to check out Limerick Forest for trail conditions and info, too!
A Latte Cafés
Get cozy with intimate cafes along the Rideau that give you all the feels.
Grahame’s Bakery in Kemptville has been operating since 1885 and is home to a heritage wood-burning oven! This is the real deal: we’re talking donuts, fresh loaves of bread, cookies, pies and custom-made cakes. Dive into cozy cafes where bevies and art mix fluidly. Geronimo Café features local artists and yummy treats that will warm your heart and your hands.
Hot chocolate and specialty coffees are on tap at Brewed Awakenings featuring a full lunch, brekkie menu, and treats like cinnamon buns, scones and more! Get ready for your mouth to water walking into the Crusty Baker in Kemptville. This artisan bakery specializes in rustic, European-inspired loaves of bread and sweets.
In Merrickville, Nana B’s puts its spin on traditional; offering handmade products using the very best ingredients. Nana B’s makes artisan bread, handcrafted daily in the European style, plus a variety of other specialty slices of bread, rolls, and buns. The sweets menu is ever-changing and includes cookies, doughnuts, tarts, and cheesecakes. The bakery itself has an open concept, encouraging visitors to chat.
Next, sip leisurely on a brew at the Bastard Coffee House! Curl up in comfy chairs by the big, historic front window and while away the morning with a friend hang or watch the snow drift down while reading with a treat and cuppa. Watch for new board game nights here, too!
If you want to experience something unique and classy, make your way to the sweet town of Oxford Mills to enjoy a high tea at the Brigadoon the dearly departed Queen would approve of. Enter a historic 1800s stone building and choose from a beautiful selection of china to enjoy a special afternoon tea with warm tea and handheld treats.
Stay a While
Need a couples getaway to reconnect and recharge? An intimate stay awaits at Kemptville Suites – exposed brick and stone walls give way to bespoke furnishings and distinct style with refined character. With soaker tubs, fireplaces, and plush amenities, let the suite create the perfect setting romance.
Revel in a culinary farm- to-fork experience in a beautiful 1830s stone farmhouse surrounded by nature! With three guestrooms in a separate wing, each room at Harlem Stonegate B&B is furnished in a modern farmhouse chic style with luxurious amenities. Add to that an elevated guest culinary experience showcasing local flavours and it becomes a truly memorable stay. Guests enjoy a variety of complimentary breakfasts, lunch or multi-course dinner menus, as well as High Tea service made with natural, local ingredients.
Light up the holidays with your family! The free Christmas Light Walking Trail at Serenity Bay Resort runs the month of December, sees visitors enjoy displays, light trails and more during the lead up to the holidays. It also gives visitors the opportunity to donate to the local food bank and is a memorable Christmas activity for both young and old. Last year, more than 1,000 people walked the trail. Book a cottage at the resort for even more fun – and enjoy a hot tub overlooking the quiet lake!
It’s like walking into an old-fashioned Christmas card with the streetlamps aglow and snow glittering along the historic streets. Merrickville is the perfect place to find your holiday spirit – and cross a few items off your Christmas shopping list within the town’s unique shops and artisan studios.
Celebrating their 75th anniversary! Known for offering cut-your-own Christmas trees available until Christmas eve. Look here for horsedrawn wagon rides, which are always a favourite with young and old. We hear the holiday swags are also gorgeous at JohnstonBrothers!
Get Close to Nature
Just because it’s getting colder outside, doesn’t mean that our feathered friends have gone away! The Christmas Bird Count in North Grenville is an annual event, along with others carried out on a single day and reported to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, which has become a holiday favourite tradition among birders. Bring the binoculars to the trails at Ferguson’s Forest, where birds flock during the winter months – and birders see a wonderful sample of Ontario’s winter birds!
Think treasure hunting is just for the warmer weather? Think again! Explore with friends or family and get into the outdoors with purpose: on a real-world hunt to find hidden caches in interesting places using online clues and GPS coordinates. In North Grenville alone there are more than 300 caches to be found in parks, urban areas and forests. Get out there!