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: The 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.
Merrickville’s Mrs. McGarrigle’s is well-known across Canada for its award-winning mustards and gourmet food items. Mrs. McGarrigle’s features more than 3,000 sq. Feet of retail, manufacturing space, and a cooking school that works with local chefs in the area.
Head over to Seeley’s Bay for a sweet treat at Ridgway Confections. Choose from gourmet chocolate bars, brittles, barks and boxed chocolate collections.
After your excursion in Seeleys’ Bay, hop over to Westport for more boutique shopping! Appreciate the beauty of variety and pretty things at The Pinecone; the culinary decadence of Rosie Yumksi’s Fine Foods; and shop for ‘all things good’ at Jake By The Lake.
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.
Getcyo’ Art On
The North Grenville Municipal Centre features local artists’ works, and the North Grenville Artist Guild does too at different venues. Geraldine’s Gallery reflects elegant inspiration in a collection of art in countless styles and media. Look here for local, national, and international artists.
Down the road in Merrickville, art is hot through the colder months! The Grotto Artworks sees 13 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 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.
READ ALSO: Winter Getaway: Foley Mountain in Westport
The Ultimate Canadian Tradition
Walk on water to earn your next trophy catch! Try your hand at ice-fishing along the Rideau to reel in the big one with a local guide. The huts are warm, and the fishing tales along the Rideau are year-round. The bright red Liar’s Bench at The Opinicon is there for a reason.
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 skate and movie events throughout the winter!
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.
Where To Stay
If the creativity and passion along the Rideau are too much for one day, there are cozy places to spend the night! Rally your friends and make it a girl’s weekend, invite your S.O. for a relaxed mini-vacay or book yourself some quiet time – you deserve it!
The Opinicon at Chaffey’s Lock has several annual events throughout the winter, featuring stays with specialized meals planned and wine pairings.
In Kemptville, there’s the Rob Thompson Hotel, featuring deluxe, luxury suites that are perfect for indulging yourself.
Furnace Falls Farm is an old farmhouse that was beautifully restored from the inside out. All the charms of old wood panelling, floors, artwork and even the furniture give the impression one hopes to experience when looking to spend a night in a rural B&B.
Edited & Updated By Lindsay Medeiros