Ontario Travel Guides

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Waterway Guides

Where to: Dock, Shop, Wine,
Dine, Explore and Enjoy

Ontario Travel Gudies
Lake Ontario

Port Hope

Port Hope is nestled on the north shore of Lake Ontario where the Ganaraska River meets the lake and has been around since the first settlers landed in 1793. Today its charm and elegance still prevail. In fact, it’s been voted to have the best preserved main street in all of Ontario. Visitors “wowEat the Victorian-era flavor of architectural heritage preservation that abounds. More than 200 town properties have already been designated as being of architectural and historical significance and those appreciating history will admire the efforts many townsfolk have gone to in renovating their special commercial and residential buildings.

This friendly port of call offers boaters a sheltered municipal marina on the east bank of the river with concrete wall docking for 15 transient vessels, shore power, washrooms and showers, ice, gas and diesel service, a picnic area, plus a bait and tackle shop. The East Bank Beach is just steps away for a summer dip and has a playground area too. A little further upstream on the west side is Port Hope Yacht Club that welcomes visiting boaters. From either location it’s just a short jaunt into the heart of town to discover all Port Hope has to offer—fine and casual dining, great and unique shops plus a chance to browse a concentration of some of the finest antique shops in the province.

If in the mood for some entertainment, don’t miss the one of a kind Cameco Capital Arts Theatre offering an outstanding blend of music, film and theatre year round. This 1930s era centre is Canada’s last remaining operational atmospheric theatre giving patrons the illusion of being seated in an outdoor medieval castle garden.

Sea legs a bit rubbery? Port Hope can take care of that too with a good selection of overnight accommodations not to far from dockside. There are historic country style inns and a variety of Victorian bed and breakfast lodgings to choose from.

While on layover you can visit the Canadian Firefighters Museum near the harbor. It showcases the historical development of fire fighting equipment from 1831 to 1955. Exhibits include 10 working fire trucks dating back to 1921 plus hand and horse drawn equipment. Don’t bring the dog along as the museum includes an outstanding collection of fire hydrants from across the country. While admission is free, donations are encouraged to support the important work of this dedicated group of volunteers. The public is welcome Victoria Day through Thanksgiving.

If the crew has got some serious fishing in mind try the Ganaraska River. It is one of Ontario’s top trout and salmon hot spots with the river “fishwayEmaintained by volunteers and the Ministry of Natural Resources. Depending on the time of year don’t forget the fly rod. There are some whoppers landed here right in the heart of town. For those looking for some Lake Ontario fishing excitement, the harbor is home to a number of charter fishing operations that will be glad to accommodate the need to FISH!

For further information visit www.porthope.ca.

Cobourg

Cobourg is aptly called “the Gem of Lake Ontario.E It’s a welcoming oasis offering those arriving by boat first-class marina services in a large wellprotected harbour—all part of an active waterfront that includes a spectacular white sand beach and well-developed parkland. Visitors can enjoy a host of special events here during the summer months. Just steps from the waterside is the city’s historic downtown shopping district showcasing a great selection of dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities.

The downtown is anchored by the impressive Victoria Hall—an imposing stone building that has been the centre of this community’s political, legal and cultural life since it was opened in 1860. Throughout the year, the grand concert hall offers an always-exciting menu of concert and theatrical performances. This building also houses the Art Gallery of Northumberland and, on the third floor, if timing is right, catch the vintage film festival that celebrates the silent and early-talking film era, not surprisingly as this community was home to 1920s Hollywood film starlet and Oscar winner Marie Dressler. Her heritage home nearby is a small museum of artifacts about her life and also accommodates the town’s main Tourist Information Office where staff will be glad to answer any questions about what’s going on in and around Cobourg and Northumberland County.

Back on the waterfront, there’s an extensive campground with adjoining tree-filled park where open-air concerts at the band shell and outdoor movie nights are staged.

Looking for a little pampering? Cobourg can answer that call too as it has a reputation as a “wellness centre.E To take care of all those “creaks and groansE there are day spas offering aromatherapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic services, detox foot baths, electro-therapeutic point stimulation, hydrotherapy, body shaping, fitness training, hot stone therapy and even treatments with mud and salt from the Dead Sea—which should be of interest to any cruising group alts.E/p>

So tie up and step ashore at Cobourg Marina and experience all the “feel-good funEthe town has to offer. Be sure to call ahead for docking reservations as this is a busy full-service harbour in high season.

Prince Edward County

Recently named the “Gastronomic Capital of OntarioEby the Globe and Mail and one of the “world’s bestEtravel hot spots by the Toronto Star, Prince Edward County has graduated from its rural roots! Best known for its magical combination of boutique wineries, farm-to-fork culinary culture and sweeping beaches, Prince Edward County is nestled off the northern shore of Lake Ontario, due south of Belleville. Formerly a peninsula, the construction of the Murray Canal in 1889 effectively severed it from the mainland creating an island ringed by 800 km of picturesque shoreline. Bordered by the Bay of Quinte on the north and Lake Ontario on the south, it is occasionally called Quinte’s Isle, but is more commonly referred to simply as the County.

A popular year-round destination, the County’s population doubles in summer months with an influx of visitors and part-time residents. Days are happily lost to the leisurely exploration of its undulating landscape dotted with roadside fruit and vegetable stands, vineyards, antique shops and artist’s studios (visit www.artstrail.ca and www.tastetrail.ca to map out a self-guided tour of the local arts and culinary scenes), or trolling its waters for freshwater fish such as yellow perch, northern pike and walleye.

The County’s economic hub is Picton, which hugs the shores of Picton Bay, just a day’s cruise from both the Trent-Severn Waterway and Rideau Canal systems, as well as the Thousand Islands. From its well-protected inland harbour, the town is easily accessed by foot and offers all amenities (banks, laundromats and so on), as well as a wide range of dining options including a handful of places that offer gourmet foods to go. For first-run movies, live theatre and concerts—including the annual Prince Edward County Jazz Festival—check out the Regent Theatre, whose neon-lit marquee is a throwback to the vaudeville era (www.theregenttheatre.org).

The County’s second largest community, Wellington, is located on the south-western side of the island and has a growing selection of shops and services. Wellington Harbour, located just across the water from the County’s most famous landmark, Sandbanks Provincial Park, is easily accessed from Lake Ontario. The harbour area includes excellent fishing, a catamaran sailing school, dragon boat races, a public beach with a boardwalk and picnic areas. The Wellington Marina has 14 slips and access to laundry, food and a tackle shop, steps away. Other essentials are within walking distance, including a lovely waterside park (www.wellingtonmarina.ca).

The largest freshwater baymouth sand dune system in the world, Sandbanks contains dunes that soar as high as 25 m. Comprising over 500 campsites, numerous picnic shelters and hiking trails, its chief draw is its three sandy beaches: the busiest, Outlet Beach, is crescent-shaped and located adjacent to one of the park’s main campgrounds; popular with sailboarders and windsurfers, Sandbanks Beach stretches on for eight uninterrupted kilometres; and Dunes Beach, which is situated inland on West Lake, but can be accessed via a channel near Wellington. Less known than those at Sandbanks, but equally scenic, are the pristine pebble-strewn beaches located on the island’s easterly shores. Little Bluff Conservation Area, home to a well-sheltered natural harbour and crystal clear waters, is the perfect place to drop anchor and enjoy a lazy afternoon of picnicking, snorkelling and sunbathing. Take a short walk along its trails and discover the ruins of a grain storage bin and dock that date back to the prosperous “Barley DaysEof the 19th century when the County helped feed the North American brewing industry’s intense demand for top-quality barley. Not far from Little Bluff is Prince Edward Point, the eastern tip of the County. Extending approximately 10 km into Lake Ontario, it is a Globally Important Bird Area (IBA) that features the highest concentration of migratory birds anywhere on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario. The point affords plenty of birding opportunities and, from its northern shores, a panoramic view of Prince Edward Bay and the Hamlet of Waupoos.

Located between Smith’s Bay and Cape Vessey, orchard-dotted Waupoos is a popular destination for boaters thanks to its full-service Waupoos Marina & Cabins (www.waupoosmarina.com). Nearby attractions include the new Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company, an internationally award-winning, environmentally responsible producer of fine goat and sheep milk cheeses; the Rose House Museum, a testament to the life of the area’s first German settlers; and scores of pick-your-own operations where visitors can stock up on everything from farm-fresh apples to blueberries. Waupoos also lays claim to two of the islands first wineries, County Cider Company & Estate Winery and Waupoos Estates Winery. Today, the County is a Designated Viticultural Area (DVA), which makes it a part of a global network of legislatively approved wine regions. While some of the region’s wines are available at the LCBO, many are not, due to limited quantities. In other words, don’t forget to grab a few bottles before sailing off into the sunset.

For further information visit www.visitpec.ca.

Quinte West

Quinte West is the community at the mouth of the Trent River where it joins the Bay of Quinte, where a sign over their bridge proudly proclaims itself the Gateway to the Trent–Severn Waterway Ea fantastic cruising opportunity stretching across 386 km/240 miles of picturesque central Ontario reaching Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay at Port Severn.

Trenton is a busy stopover for boaters travelling east and west along the bay or heading inland through the TrentSevern to avoid the cruising challenges of Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. Fraser Park Marina in Trenton’s downtown core is the main marine welcoming centre. Here, transient visitors will find a full-service marina in a manicured park setting where staff is always ready to lend a hand and provide the latest boater information about the Trent-Severn and the Bay of Quinte Region. On the east bank of the river is the city’s Robert Patrick Marina, which is used mainly by seasonal boaters. All within minutes of Fraser Park Marina, visitors will find local amenities such as restaurants, hardware and marine supply stores, pharmacies, post office, laundry facilities, retail shops and LCBO and Beer Store outlets.

At Lock 6 along the Trent-Severn Waterway, one will find another great opportunity to get onshore and stretch at Frankford’s Tourist Park. With new electrical capabilities at the lock and new updated campground facilities along the canal, there are lots of reasons to stay. Kids can cool off and play at the Splash Park and beach and there are a variety of shops, services and restaurants nearby. A round of golf is only a short stroll over the bridge.

No matter what your interests are, the City of Quinte West is worth exploring. The wide range of tourist offerings, make the community a “Natural Attraction.EFrom enjoying numerous music festivals and events, some of which can be enjoyed from your vessel, to taking advantage of some spectacular trails conveniently located along the water, there is something for everyone.

Quinte West is home to 8 Wing/CFBTrenton, Canada’s air transport depot. It is also the site where our fallen soldiers are repatriated and driven along the Highway of Heroes. CFB Trenton is responsible for land and marine search and rescue operations in Ontario and parts of Quebec. Personnel from the base are available to assist boaters in distress in the surrounding waterways. Don’t forget to visit the National Air Force Museum of Canada celebrating the heritage of Canadian Military Aviation.

For further information visit www.quintewesttourism.ca.

Belleville

Belleville is situated at the mouth of the Moira River, on the Bay of Quinte, and dubs itself “the centre of it allEas it sits midway between Toronto and Montreal. Originally settled by United Empire Loyalists in 1784, the “belle villeEserves as the entrance to two important recreation areas, the long sandy beaches of Quinte’s Isle and the Highlands of Hastings, an area north of the city known for its many lakes.

The city offers transient and seasonal boaters two great municipal marina facilities. Meyers Pier is the main transient visitor centre offering full services including 24-hour security, while Victoria Park is reserved for seasonal guests. Both marinas are within walking distance of downtown shopping and restaurants. Explore the farmer’s market behind city hall.

Belleville is also known as the “sport fishing capital of OntarioEand hosts the annual Walleye Tournament in early May, which draws hundreds of participants. The Waterfront and Ethnic Festival takes place in early July and consistently draws thousands of visitors to enjoy the festivities, food and entertainment line up.

From here, boaters can take a leisurely cruise east towards the Thousand Islands or west further down Lake Ontario. Dock here for a few days and explore the region. Rent a car and discover nearby Prince Edward County’s blossoming wine district.

Other attractions in “the friendly cityEinclude historical buildings, quaint shops and the Hastings County Museum. Visitors can also find tennis, golf, go-cart and motorcycle racing in Shannonville.

The city’s downtown district is pedestrian friendly and offers visitors a wealth of interesting shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities. Enjoy live theatre presentations by the Belleville Theatre Guild at the Pinnacle Playhouse plus live music, theatre and stage productions at the Empire Theatre.

Deseronto

This welcoming community is strategically located on the shores of the Bay of Quinte in Hastings County; neighbouring Lennox&Addington and Prince Edward counties are just minutes away. Here marine- and land-based visitors have an opportunity to enjoy a host of recreational opportunities available in this town richly shaped by United Empire Loyalist, Mohawk, and early Industrial heritage. Deseronto offers world-class fishing year round. The Bay is home to a variety of fish species including Northern Pike, Walleye, Large and Smallmouth Bass and Chinook Salmon to mention just a few. Centennial Park, the town’s main waterfront centre, offers a boat launch and docking for a handful of boats in the 20 foot range—an ideal destination for recreational boaters trailering their craft. This beautiful waterfront features a children’s playground, picnic and seating areas to take in the vistas, gazebo, canteen, washroom facilities and ample parking. Mohawk Bay Park, located on Deseronto’s eastern border, offers a full-service waterfront campground with 145 sites. Accommodation providers include the Town’s Edge B&B and Bayview Motel, both of which offer ample parking for boats/trailers and are situated close tothe boat launch.

The 780 km Waterfront Trail stretching from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border also passes through Deseronto’s waterfront and active downtown. Rathbun Memorial Park was constructed to honour the Rathbun family considered community founders and industrial development leaders who led the rapid growth of town in the 1800s in the areas of lumber, rail, ship, terracotta and glass. The park features a memorial stone, water fountain, gazebo, paved walkways, seating areas along with stately trees and perennial plantings. The adjacent business district features historic buildings that are home to antique, gift, and specialty shops and service businesses, as well as restaurants to satisfy a variety of cravings. The Arts and Cultural Society is working towards restoring and reopening the historic Naylor Theatre as a performing arts centre for the community and visitors. A heritage plaque on Deseronto Road identifies the site of Camp Rathbun, World War 1 Pilot Training Centre. Deseronto played a key role in the development of the Allied air forces.

The community’s tourism and economic development office is working hard to attract new commerce to this special location that offers a host of “urban advantages in a rural settingE Check it all out. For a 19-month stretch between the spring of 1917 and 1918 the Deseronto Wing was home to a training school that churned out 4,000 Royal Flying Corps fighter pilots and helped pave the way for Canada’s increasing influence on the international stage.

For further information visit www.deseronto.ca.

Napanee

A cruise into Napanee is an exciting cruise into the history of early Canada. What better place to start than finding a welcoming tie-up spot along the extensive waterfront wall at sheltered Conservation Park located just two blocks from downtown Napanee. This marine park is really a hidden gem within the Bay of Quinte water network. It is host to a number of events during the summer months, so you’ll never have to wait long for something entertaining to happen. After all Napanee is the hometown of world famous pop singer and mega music diva, the one and only Avril Lavigne! While you won’t likely see her perform on the park stage now, this is where she did start out entertaining before being “discoveredE Avril Tour brochures are available at Visitor Information Services. While Conservation Park isn’t classed as a full-service marina, it does offer dockside power and nearby washrooms and a boat launch if you are trailer boating to experience some of the top notch fishing offered in Bay of Quinte waters. It’s also just a short walk to reach any provisioning needs, enjoy a good meal or shopping opportunities in Napanee’s charming downtown district. Be sure to drop by the Napanee and District Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Services office in the Napanee Business Centre at 47 Dundas Street East to get the low down on current happenings in this beautiful waterfront community. Be sure to walk the Springside Park Trail along the Napanee River where you’ll find granite plaques and several kiosks highlighting the river’s natural and historic heritage. See Springside Falls where people like to gather during the Spring walleye and Fall salmon spawning runs. Did you know the Napanee River features a natural phenomenon known as a “seicheE This tide-like effect is due to Lake Ontario’s waters sloshing back and forth. In Napanee, it is unique because the effect is magnified due to the length and shape of the Adolphus Reach–Long Reach–Napanee River system. Old time shipping captains used to time their approach and departure on this “tideE And yes, this community if steeped in history—much of it still standing! As far back as 1784, United Empire Loyalists displaced by the American Revolutionary War took up British offered land grants and became new colonists throughout the region. Macpherson House Museum and Park dates back to 1826 and is a well preserved example of both Georgian and Neo-Classical architecture. The local County Museum and Archives date back to 1864 when it operated as the official “goalE Pick up the self-guided tour brochure that highlights Napanee’s more than 35 historical and architecturally significant homes, public and commercial buildings. Napanee was also home to the world famous Gibbard Furniture Factory dating back to 1835 when quality home furnishings and timeless classics were shipped everywhere.

Collins Bay

Collins Bay was named after John Collins, the original surveyor of the area and is situated eight miles from downtown Kingston. Collins Bay is a completely natural harbour affording excellent weather resistance and is protected from the prevailing southwesterly winds by Amherst Island.

Take advantage of a full range of facilities at the Collins Bay Marina, which features dockage for 300 vessels, full fuel and pump-out services and lots of green space with picnic areas. Marina attendants can be paged by VHF 68. The Yacht Club, hosted by the marina, stages boat races every Thursday night and organizes potluck dinners and BBQ’s.

World class fresh-water fishing for salmon, trout, pickerel and bass and over 20 scuba diving wreck sites can be found nearby.

For nature lovers, the Lemoine Point Conservation Park located on the south east shore offers beautiful scenery and 11 km of hiking trails. Right next door is Rotary Park with playgrounds, picnic and swimming spots. By any measure, Collins Bay is a safe, attractive stop on any cruising itinerary.

For further information visit www.collinsbaymarina.com.

Kingston

Founded in 1673 as a fur trading post and strategic military stronghold, Kingston proudly displays its exciting past and equally promising future. Boaters arriving in Kingston’s outer harbour are afforded the best vantage point to view this beautiful city.

The city’s skyline is still dominated by elegant heritage limestone buildings, giving it a unique ambiance. While they’re tourist attractions today, historic forts and fortified stone shoal towers still guard this once major port, further reminders of Kingston’s military and naval importance, especially during the War of 1812.

Because of these distinctive and historic emplacements, Kingston can and does dub itself a “World Class Destination.EIn 2007, UNESCO declared these fortifications a World Heritage Site along with the entire adjoining Rideau Canal Waterway leading to Canada’s capital city of Ottawa.

First class boating facilities are featured here, including two municipal marinas and several privately owned marinas. For short term docking, Flora MacDonald Confederation Basin Marina is positioned right in Kingston’s downtown core. Just under the Causeway, Kingston Marina is located on the west shore of the inner harbour, also convenient to the downtown area.

Kingston’s key position at the eastern end of Lake Ontario affords it gateway status to the historic Rideau Canal, the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Islands regions. This also makes it a very busy port of call. Advance transient docking reservations is advised so visiting boaters don’t miss out on any of the fun waiting ashore!

Just up from the Confederation Basin docks, accommodated in the city’s historic stone railway station, is the tourist information centre, a good first stop to find out what’s happening around town.

For the explorer and history buff, Kingston has no less than 17 unique museums to wander. Here can be found the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes.

A ship building yard was established here in 1790. As well as showcasing marine history, the museum displays models and has video presentations. The Alexander Henry, a retired Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker is moored outside the museum and can be toured. The Pumphouse Steam Museum nearby is home to Victorian era pumps and steam operated equipment. There are also 20 custom built model trains complete with interiors and passengers riding 1,200 feet of track with 52 switches.

Visit Bellevue House, National Historic Site, built in 1840 and restored to that period. It has the distinction of having been occupied by Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. Kingston holds another first too, having been Canada’s first capital before Queen Victoria gave that distinction to Ottawa more than 150 years ago.

To see a real working fort, visit Fort Henry, National Historic Site, at the junction of Highways #2 and #15. You can’t miss it! Fort Henry features an exciting military and domestic reenactment of 1860’s Canadian history.

There are costumed guides, fife and drum parades, displays of 19th century infantry drills and museum rooms filled with artifacts. The spectacular Sunset Ceremonies feature military precision and musical performances with a fireworks finale.

Many new restaurants, bistros and cafés have been popping up near the waterfront and earning rave reviews, just as some of the old standbys continue to offer fine cuisine and excellent service. There’s something to please every appetite.

Check out the Old Market Square and farmer’s market behind City Hall, it’s been around since 1780. In winter, it’s transformed into Kingston’s newest outdoor people place-a public skating rink. While evening entertainment is offered in many Kingston clubs, the newly opened multi-million dollar K-Rock Centre, sports and entertainment complex, near the marina is already staging major musical concerts, so see who is playing. Further north up Princess Street, visit the completely refurbished historic Grand Theatre for a night on the town in the “Limestone City.E/p>

For further information visit www.cityofkingston.ca/marinas.