In part two he took the drive from Montreal to quaint Prince Edward County.
Leaving Montreal downtown, we set off on a fairly lengthy drive (by British standards at least) to Prince Edward County.
It’s worth getting off the main freeway and taking the more scenic route by Lake Ontario and the world famous 1000 Islands. It’s a sight to behold when you see a home (or a mansion in some cases) on a tiny island in the middle of Lake Ontario. Imagine living there in the bleak mid-winter! We found ourselves genuinely curious about what life would be like on one of them. One house, nothing else and, I imagine, just a boat to get back to the mainland for supplies. Perhaps a holiday home for a week?
En route, and perhaps one of my favourite walks of the trip, we took a slight detour to Frontenac Provincial Park. An area of outstanding beauty, its lakes, forests and hiking trails are worth a visit. Some people even choose to hike into the woods here and camp a few nights. We visited off season so it felt like we had the whole park to ourselves but we did bump into one 83-year-old expat who warned us to watch out for the bears!
Safe to say we kept our wits about us as we walked the 3km Doe Lake Circuit which takes about an hour. For those more pushed for time there is the 30-minute Arab Lake Trail or if you’re feeling adventurous then there are many more extensive trails too. It’s also a great area in the summer to grab a kayak or a bike and gently get that heart rate up.
The drive to Prince Edward County takes about an hour, but we opted for the slightly longer route and took the Glenora car ferry which is on Lake Ontario. It only takes 15 minutes or so to cross but is an added experience.
Perhaps one of my favourite stops on the trip was Prince Edward County. Akin to the Hamptons of New York, though not quite as fancy just yet, the island is a haven for those wanting to escape. Sleepy, yet with plenty of things to do (I mean drink!) the area has lots of vineyards and small villages and towns. We stayed at the beautiful Angeline’s - a gay-owned boutique B&B in Bloomfield. We were upgraded to the Master Suite in the main house which dates to the 1800s.
Dinner at the Agrarian Bistro in the town and our friendly waiter gave us plenty of top tips for the next day of wine tasting. A well-deserved lie in saw us start mid-morning with the short drive to the Lake on the Mountain which, as you’d imagine, is a lake on a mountain coupled with beautiful views of Lake Ontario. A short drive took us to our first watering hole in Waupoos where we tried local cider. The beauty of the vineyards here is that you simply wander into any of them and they offer you tastings (about $1 or $2 each) and then if you decide to buy anything they usually knock off the tasting fees.
Perhaps my favourite part of the visit to Prince Edward was our stop at Sandbanks Provincial Park. With its vast sand dunes you can take extensive walks in the park and in season there are watersports on offer too. I’d recommend visiting early morning if you can or off season as we did so you have some peace and quiet. I can imagine the summer gets quite busy.
I’d recommend having lunch at the Drake Devonshire in Wellington if you can. Prince Charles and Camilla visited recently and the views from the restaurant over Lake Ontario are very peaceful.
Then the afternoon was set aside for one of my favourite past times. Wine tasting. There are so many vineyards in the area that it’s hard to see the wood from the trees sometimes so we took the foolproof method of asking the locals for recommendations - and they were right. Make sure you check out Norm Hardie, Hinterland if you like sparkling wine and then Huff Estates. Whilst Canada may not be renowned on the international wine stage, there is something for all palates in the region. We also discovered that the vineyards have no incentive to expand or export due to what seems slightly backward laws regarding the sale of alcohol in the country.
Dinner choices can be somewhat limited in the area and so we followed the locals - their recommendations were the Acoustic Grill and the County Canteen in Picton.
Prince Edward can equally be reached by driving from Toronto. If you're looking for rural Canada then this is a great stop on any tailor-made itinerary.
This Canada Fly Drive 8 day journey through the urban centres and rural splendour of Ontario and Quebec celebrates Canada’s English and French heritage. Travel from cosmopolitan Toronto and the natural wonder of Niagara Falls to the neo-gothic Parliament Buildings of Ottawa that promise both to impress and delight.
Then, travel east and cross into Quebec as the scenic highway continues along the St. Lawrence River to the walled centre of Quebec City. Turning inland to the Saguenay region, the rolling hills and dense forests of the Mauricie / Bois-Francs region promise to enchant en route to Trois Rivières and francophone metropolis of Montreal - the second-largest French-speaking city in the world. Returning to Ontario, visit historic Kingston and its tranquil 1000 Islands from the deck of a comfortable cruise ship before arriving back in Toronto.