The name doesn’t lie, but it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. This is indeed a land of lakes—5,000 of them between Bath, Napanee, Tamworth and beyond—but more to the point: it’s a land of the wild, a wild that has to be reckoned with at every turn.
It was for the Loyalists who landed here in the late 1700s and toiled with clearing and settling it. And it is now, as anyone will tell you who’s canoed through Frontenac Provincial Park, embarked on a geocaching adventure or even toured a vineyard.
Here’s hoping we’ll continue coming face-to-face with the Land O’Lakes’ wildness for millennia more, but in the meantime, here a few of the best ways to see, hear, taste and touch it right now.
The numbers are big when it comes to options for getting up close to nature here: 5,000 lakes to swim, boat and fish; 600 trails to cycle, hike and snowmobile; 356 to bird species to spot, identify and marvel at.
But don’t let the numbers overwhelm you. Get the best natural overview at Frontenac Provincial Park, Puzzle Lake Provincial Park, Camden Lake Provincial Wildlife Area, Menzel Centennial Nature Reserve or eight conservation areas.
For a more focussed outdoors experience, cyclists should start at countytrails.com for details about 12 looping routes along country roads, anglers at lennox-addington.ca for every fishing hole, and snowmobilers at laridgerunners.ca for the lowdown on the new K&P Trail extension.
Dark Sky Viewing Area: The most southerly point in Ontario where the night sky is so pristine. Site includes concrete pad for cameras, telescopes, lawn chairs. Open dusk til dawn.
Geocaching: This area is a mecca for high-tech treasure hunters. Fifteen hundred geocaches are hidden here and one of Canada’s three “MEGA” geocaching events happens here every year.
Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves: A 3.2 km trail that crosses a gorge, passes through a rain forest and descends into the Devil’s Horsestable Cave, which gets you inside rock formations created in the glacial period.
Food And Drink
With all of that wilderness comes fertile soil prime for growing apples, grapes, strawberries, raspberries and more. It’s a place where meats, cheeses, honey, eggs and maple syrup are as fresh as the air around here.
And if you want to taste that freshness, all you need to do is stop at a roadside blueberry stand along County Road 41; hit up a farmers market in Bath, Napanee, Stella or Yarker; or sit down at one of the cafes, home-style restaurants or fine dining eateries that dot the landscape and are proud to serve the local bounty.
This area is also becoming a place for oenophiles and craft beer and cider fans, so if that’s you, don’t miss Bergeron Estate Winery & Cider House, Thirty Three Vines or MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Company.
Wine Down Fridays at Bergeron Estate: Sangria, live music, homemade pizza—what more do you need on a Friday evening in the summertime?
MacKinnon Brothers Brewery tour and tasting: See how the bros brew their creations with hops, wheat and barley grown on their bicentennial farm, and then sit down to taste the freshness.
Arts And Culture
Many of the artists, artisans and crafters who work here get their inspiration from the wildness of the Land O’Lakes, so a good place to reflect on and contrast your own natural experience of this landscape is at one or more of the studios and galleries found in the area.
If music and theatre are more your cultural style, stay tuned to Lennox & Addington’s event calendar for music listings or head to the Lennox Community Theatre in Selby.
Land O’Lakes is also a museum-lover’s dream. You’ll get the best historical and contemporary overview of this area at the Lennox & Addington County Museum and Archives in Napanee, but for a more specific view of how people settled and lived here, visit the United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park and Allan Macpherson House.
Tuesday Night at the Museum: Weekly talks and seminars at the Lennox & Addington Museum on everything from pinhole photography to Sir John A. Macdonald’s ties to Napanee.
Waterside Summer Series: Classical music concerts throughout July and August on tranquil Amherst Island at St. Paul’s, a limestone church that’s been standing since 1883.
Demo Days at Allan Macpherson House: Interactive demos in heritage, culinary and domestic arts ranging from artisanal cheese making to stain glass construction.
Festivals And Events
It might be a land of wide open spaces, but when the people who live here want to come together, they know how put on a festival or event that’ll draw locals from every corner and visitors from afar. Music, food, history, art: it’s all covered and then some. Stay tuned to Lennox & Addington’s event calendar to stay up to date on the festivals and events happening every month.
Bath Canada Day: One of the best Canada Day celebrations in The Great Waterway and likely the most historically oriented. Parade, historical reenactments, music, food, fireworks and way more.
Napanee Riverfront Festival: Three June days of multicultural music and dance shows, beach volleyball, antique and classic boats, canoe and kayak races, a kids’ zone, wagon rides, a pancake breakfast, craft vendors, and an outdoor movie in the park.
MEGA Geocaching Event: One of three biggest geocaching events in the country. Multiple geocache tours, missions and challenges; food; music; geocache vendors. August.