Travel Ontario – Prince Edward County
By Cece Scott www.cecescott.com
Photography, courtesy of Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County is rich in artistic expression, pioneer museums, outdoor activities and gastronomic delights. An easy two hour drive from Toronto, this area includes the communities of Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington. Affectionately referred to as The County, there’s a definite atmosphere that distinguishes it from other destinations. This all-encompassing island offers up a host of experiences, including hiking, cycling, wine touring (and tasting), camping, boating, museums and culinary dining adventures.
Prince Edward County was founded by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1792, and was named ather the fourth son of King George III – Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent. Visitors can connect with The County’s historical roots by visiting one of several museums in the area.
The Wellington Heritage Museum is a Quaker Meeting House that dates back to 1885. The Quakers played a key role in the County’s development. Due to the temperate climate of The County, growing produce has always been a key ingredient to the area. At one time there were 75 canning factories in PEC, which is highlighted in the Douglas A. Crawford Collection.
The Rose House Museum, dating to the early 1800s, was settled by several generations of the Rose family, who were amongst the first Marysburgh settlers.
Ameliasburgh Heritage Village dates back to 1868, and showcases a museum, a log cabin, an operational blacksmith shop, a sap shanty, a dairy and beekeeping buildings, along with the Goldie Corliss 18 foot flywheel steam engine. When it’s time for a mid-afternoon break, visit a village highlight – Amelia’s Tea Room.
Reverend William Macaulay was the son of a United Empire Loyalist, who donated most of the land for the town that he personally named Picton. As part of Macaulay Heritage Park, you can visit the Macaulay House that was built in 1830, as well as the Heritage Garden and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, which is now a museum.
The Mariners Park Museum features a unique collection of treasures salvaged from the shipwrecks that the roiling waters surrounding Prince Edward County fostered.
A Birder’s Paradise
Point Petre Wildlife Conservation Area is known to birders as one of Canada’s best birding sight areas. It’s an important stopover for black ducks, wood ducks, lesser and greater scaups, blue and green-winged teals, hooded mergansers, and buffleheads. It’s also a great area for picnics, swimming and watching the sun set.
The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, (PEPtBO), is a bird migration station that bands up to 15,000 birds of more than 120 species each year. The Observatory is open to visitors during the the spring and fall.
Bird House City encompasses 100 miniature reproductions of local buildings. Take a walk on 20 kilometres of maintained trails – ideal for hiking, biking and cross country skiing.
The County is garnering a highly respected reputation for their award winning vineyards, as well as craft beers and ciders. It’s the fastest growing wine region in Ontario, with close to 40 wineries, including Hillier Creek Estates & Winery, Waupoos Estates Winery and Sandbanks Estate Winery.
To complement your wine tasting, check out Picton’s Great Canadian Cheese Festival, (TGCCF). On June 3rd and 4th, you can taste test more than 150 varieties of milk cheeses from cows, sheeps, goats and water buffalos, in addition to artisan food products.
For a gastronomic treat, plan to attend one of Jamie Kennedy’s Saturday evening Dinner Series, which run from May 20th to October 7th, on his farm in Hillier. Kennedy, of JK Wine Bar, JK ROM, and Gilead Café + Wine Bar fame, offers up a feast of organic delights, sparkling wine and canapes in his rustic, renovated barn. Be sure to check out the cover story on Jamie Kennedy in the July/August issue of Active Life.
After an afternoon of imbibing, get some exercise on one of the many trails in The County. The 49-kilometre Millennium Trail starts in Carrying Place and winds throughout The County to Picton. Quinte Conservation Trails meander through the parks within the Quinte Conservation areas.
For a fun evening, check out the Regent Theatre, an intact Edwardian opera house that features free family movies on the last Sunday of each month.
Prince Edward County is a creative hotspot for artists of varied genres, including painters, textile artists, potters, jewelers, fashion and glass artisans. Visitors flock to the The Arts Trail, the PEC Studio Tour and the Barn Quilt Tour.