We have had a beautiful and fantastic winter season in South Eastern Ontario. But, at this point, I think winter is being clingy, and quite frankly, I need some space. I think we all could.
For our latest adventure, we decided to put the urban sprawl in our rearview, and journey into the wilds of Frontenac County! We wanted to hike some trails and spend the day exploring rural Ontario.
Essential Supplies At The Glenburnie Grocery
Before embarking on our trip, we stopped at a gem situated North of Kingston to pick up some provisions. The Glenburnie Grocery is a personal favourite spot of mine for shopping locally produced food. If you haven’t heard of it, and want to buy local – I highly recommend visiting this grocery.
We picked up a pair of Mrs. Garrett’s raspberry flakeys and a package of the store’s own cherry fruit pastries. As we paid for our supplies, I felt better knowing that if we got lost in the wilderness, we could survive on pastries until help arrived.
First Sighting: Loughborough Lake Boat Launch
After leaving the Glenburnie Grocery, we travelled another 11 kilometres North on Perth Road for a stop at the Loughborough Lake boat launch. Heidi spotted a pair of Mute Swans swimming together upon the open water within the small marshy bay. What a magnificent first sign of spring! Watching the birds as they swam along the water’s edge was an inspiring experience.
Gould Lake Conservation Area
Encompassing 20 kilometres of beautiful trails and rugged terrain is the picturesque Gould Lake Conservation Area. This beautiful place has plenty of trails that are prime for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. However, they are not groomed so visitors should be ready to break their own path as they explore the area. I highly recommend bringing proper footwear if you intend to traverse the trails at Gould Lake during winter.
The sun was still relatively low in the sky when we arrived and much of the bay was still frozen over. The snow was relatively deep in many areas so we only scouted a few of the trails. The Limestone District Board of Education conducts their outdoor education programs at Gould Lake – using the barn adjacent to the beach as its base of operations.
The barn itself is a vast and impressive building. I loved the bare sheet metal exterior and enormity of it. The dim mid-morning light cast eerie shadows on the barn, giving it an edgy feel as it stood ominously.
Scenic Views At Sydenham Point
After checking out Gould Lake, we made our way to the historic village of Sydenham to snap some photos of the Sydenham Point Park. Looking out from the Western bank of Sydenham Lake, this charming park area offers some breathtaking scenery.
The day was getting sunnier as we made our way out to the point. It was a most welcome sight after several weeks of overcast weather and persistent snowfalls. The light at the end of that snowy tunnel was visible once more!
After taking several photos of Sydenham Lake, we grew fairly cold as the wind still had the echoes of winter whistling upon it. Our lunch destination: The Point Restaurant was only a short distance away.
A Lovely Lunch Break In Sydenham Ontario
The Point is a classic feeling restaurant with a bright interior and welcoming atmosphere. There is a selection of interesting historical photographs of Sydenham on display.
The lunch menu consists of many staple favourites, with a fresh approach to casual dining. Heidi chose the Clubhouse Sandwich, which came stacked with tender turkey breast, bacon, and the traditional lettuce, tomato and mayo. What set it apart from a regular clubhouse was the thick turkey and locally smoked bacon. I had the Brisket Sandwich, which consisted of succulent slow-n-low roasted beef slathered in bourbon BBQ sauce, and crispy onion straws on a fresh bakery bun. The meat was melt in your mouth tender, and the sauce had a blissful marriage of tangy, sweet and smoky flavours.
The Point is undoubtedly a hidden gem for travellers and a favourite dining venue for locals. The combined quality of the food, and effort to support local food suppliers easily place this diner on my must-visit list.
A Nostalgia Overload At Trousdale’s General Store
After lunch, we made our way to Sydenham’s storied source of nostalgia: Trousdale’s General Store. This slice of history is Canada’s oldest operating general store, first established in 1836! Stepping through the front door is like a trip through time as you are instantly met with a sight typically reserved for old movies, or history books.
In addition to a massive variety of snacks, clothing, vintage-style toys, locally crafted furniture are several artifacts of local history. In the store, you’ll find an old Model T Ford and the original horse-drawn wagon that was used to deliver baked goods during the store’s days as a bakery.
Trousdale’s is a living example of the social pillars upon which similar communities were built before the turn of the century. The General Store was once the hub where everyone would go to purchase supplies, medicines, and order other items essential to daily life. After all, there was no such thing as Amazon.com back in those days.
I could have easily spent the entire day getting lost in this fascinating and historic store, but we had to keep moving. It was time to continue on our adventure in Frontenac.
Signs of Life At Frontenac Provincial Park
Spanning an impressive 5,355 hectares (53.55 kilometres) of pristine forested land and twenty-two immaculate lakes is the famous Frontenac Provincial Park. This captivating space sits on the Southernmost edge of The Canadian Shield offering campers, hikers, and visitors alike a brilliant area to explore, spot birds and wildlife.
The park is open year-round, with a variety of activities ranging from fishing, wildlife viewing, interior camping, canoeing, swimming, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter camping and of course hiking.
Heidi and I decided to take the Arab Lake Gorge Trail – a 1.5-kilometre loop that would offer an easy 30-minute hike. A large part of the trail was on a boardwalk that led us along a genuinely breathtaking route through the gorge itself.
As we walked along the boardwalk, the air was filled with the unmistakable sound of moving water and singing birds. All through the bottom of the gorge, a previously frozen stream was in the midst of thawing, which was beautiful to behold. Everywhere we looked, the once thick snow and ice was melting and gradually feeding the babbling stream beneath the warmth of the afternoon sun.
There’s nothing like a scenic hike, or walk through the forest to help clear your head and find a fresh perspective. No matter how hectic or crazy life can seem, you can visit a place like Frontenac Provincial Park, and watch life continue to unfold in its simplest and most primal forms. The wind keeps blowing, the earth keeps spinning – and the birds keep singing.
One Last Pit-Stop At The Limestone Organic Creamery
After exploring but a fragment of the things to do and see in Frontenac County we were getting fairly tired. As the afternoon sun dipped lower in the sky we got back into the car and started to make our way home.
Luckily, the Limestone Organic Creamery was on the way, so we stopped in to stock up on a few munchables before calling it a day. This was my first visit to the store and I was blown away by the amazing selection of local food from all over the region. There was cheese from Wilton, Prince Edward County and The Bay of Quinte as well as freezers full of meats, ready-bake meals and more!
There was also an ample variety of irresistible baked goods, and craft sodas from Muskoka Ontario among the shimmering glass bottles of milk, and the best chocolate milk you’ll ever taste. In the end, we chose a pair of raspberry scones and cane sugar sodas, as well as a few other goodies for the freezer at home.
Discover Endless Possibilities #inFrontenac!
This brings us to the end of our latest adventure! From quaint, historic towns and villages, agricultural communities and vast natural habitats to explore there is an infinite amount of experiences to enjoy in Frontenac County! Rural Ontario offers a bounty of potential for travellers and is always much closer than you think. I hope that this story inspires you to plan a trip of your own!
Photography: Heidi Csernak