I’ve put together this visitors’ guide to our area and beyond to make it easier to plan (and more fun to anticipate) a stay with us. There are so many great places to go and things to experience and see!
From our home on Carrying Place Road, it is just a short drive to lovely spots on the Rideau Canal like Chaffey’s Lock and Jones Falls. There are picturesque local villages such as Seeley’s Bay (our village!), Lyndhurst, Delta (there’s a beautiful old grist mill here) and more; small towns like Westport, Perth and Gananoque. The larger city of Kingston, just over 30 minutes away. Kingston is a city rich in history and culture and home to a vibrant arts, food and maker community. And, of course, we are surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty and biodiversity.
By road, travel times to key cities and points of interest slightly further afield are roughly as follows:
- Ottawa – 1 hr 45 mins to 2 hrs
- Toronto – 2.5 to 3 hrs
- Montreal – 2.5 to 3 hrs
- Quebec City – 5.5 to 6 hrs
- Prince Edward County – 1 hr 45 mins
- Algonquin Park – 3 hrs 45 mins
- Niagara Falls – 4 hrs
Getting out and about in nature – the Rideau Canal, Frontenac Arch Biosphere and 1000 Islands
The Frontenac Arch is the ancient granite bridge from the Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains. Its incredibly rich natural environment and history was recognized in 2002 when it became a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, part of a world-wide network of 610 Biosphere Reserves in 117 countries. It’s a pretty amazing area in so many ways, but especially its natural beauty. The FAB Experiences Guide will tell you more.
The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a quite extraordinary achievement. I think of canals in Europe and the UK, invariably lovely and interesting, but largely built through already tamed land. Then I realize that the Rideau was built in a rocky wilderness, through swamps filled with mosquitoes, in a country that experiences brutal winters. I am awed both by its beauty and the fact that it exists at all.
Gananoque is known as the gateway to the 1000 Islands, the hugely popular swathe of islands on the St. Lawrence river that spans the US border.
Our special places
Rock Dunder and Moreton Bay – favourite local spots to hike and paddle respectively. Rock Dunder is the highest point on the Rideau, with spectacular views. It’s a moderately demanding trail with rough ground and steep climbs. There’s also a shorter trail through the woods and along the shore of Moreton Bay, though again this is rough and steep in places.
Chaffey’s Lock – a truly lovely spot in and of itself with locks, a small museum in the lockmaster’s house, an art gallery in the old mill and more. When wandering wearies you, there’s the wonderful Opinicon, a lovingly restored historic resort, for ice-cream, a drink or light meal in the pub, or full restaurant fare. And there’s an option of a wide range of organized tours run from here by Rideau Tours, including pontoon boat trips.
Jones Falls – one of our first ‘discoveries’ in the area, another lovely set of locks involving a fairly gentle stroll though there are steps. Davis Lock, the next set of locks, is also very picturesque.
Westport’s Foley Mountain Conservation Area – the view from the Foley Mountain lookout over Westport is another one that take’s my breath away. Foley Mountain has a range of trails to suit all abilities and inclinations. Westport itself is a pretty village on the Rideau and has one of the better public beaches in the area.
For more serious hiking or kayaking, there is wonderful accessible wilderness (as well as a couple of gentler trails) at both the following:
Local towns, cities and attractions
Kingston was the original capital city of Upper Canada. The Kingston Trolley Bus Tour is a good way to get an overview (and also offers ‘hop on, hop off’ at various points). Key sites include Fort Henry (through the summer, there is a great sunset show and in winter the magical Lumina Borealis) and Bellevue House National Historic Site, for a while the residence of Sir John A MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, as well as Kingston Penitentiary. There’s a small but worthwhile art collection at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queens University, with interesting exhibitions, as well as a number of art galleries throughout the city.
The drive down the Thousand Islands Parkway from here to Brockville is particularly lovely. Perhaps you may choose to stop at Rockport and take a boat trip out into the Islands, perhaps taking in Boldt Castle – but you have to remember your passport as it is technically in the US. If you want to make a day of it, there’s also a trip that takes in Singer Castle as well!
Brockville seems to be working hard to develop its tourist potential. The Aquatarium is considered one of the best local museums, focusing on life in the 1000 Islands region. It takes an interactive approach, with exhibits featuring everything from ships to live otters and fish.
There are many glimpses of settler homes dating back to the mid C19th in the area around us, with a number of interesting self-guided driving and walking tours. If you want a deeper glimpse into life as it was in the C19th, Upper Canada Village is just over an hour and a half away (sometimes you get a free pass to this if you pay for tickets for Fort Henry!).
Of islands and castles