Make it a Magical December in PEC with these Events & Festivities 🎄
It’s the final push before the holidays and Prince Edward County is showing no signs of slowing down. With plenty of holiday markets and festivities to attend, keep reading to discover all the ways you can experience a magical December in The County.
Markets & More
Head over to Wellington for the Very Merry Market on December 3 from 9:30am – 2:30pm, inside the Wellinton United Church. Featuring many of your favourite Wellington Community Market vendors, this is the perfect opportunity to stock up on goodies for your holiday table and all of your gifting needs.
Busy Hands is back at Highline Hall in Wellington from December 10-11! Come by for handmade goods from dozens of your favourite local artisans such as Honey Pie Hives & Herbals, Vickie’s Veggies, and more, perfect for all of your holiday gifting needs!
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If you’ve ever wanted to check out Wander the Resort, the Winter Wanderland Market is the perfect opportunity! Come by Wander from 11am to 5pm on December 11th for a holiday market full of festive cheer on their stunning property along the shores of Lake Ontario. Complete with artisan vendors, gingerbread house decorating, hot chocolate, and visits from some local celebrities (aka Noble Beast Farms Alpacas), this is a perfect event for the whole family.
In addition, the Ode to Joy Art Show & Sale at Andara Gallery, the Give a Little Bit Holiday Group Show at Melt Studio & Gallery,(join them for a holiday reception on December 17 from 1-4PM) and The Art of Giving show at Arts on Main Gallery continue through December, so be sure to check those out if art is on your shopping list this holiday season.
While Countylicious is over, there are still plenty of reasons to dine out in PEC this December. First of all, several spots have added seasonal specials and updated menus to their roster, making for even more reasons to visit The County during the winter months. For instance, both Stella’s Eatery and Parsons Brewing have added a Sunday brunch service to their weekend programming, which will be available until spring. Additionally, Stella’s has launched Sparking and Seafood Wednesdays, where guests can enjoy a special seafood menu and 1/2 price sparkling wine – talk about a mid-week treat! Midtown Brewing is mixing things up with a menu refresh this month as well, so don’t miss this chance to dine at this Wellington institution.
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If you’re looking for some special dining experiences to add to your December festivities, we’ve got you covered:
- On December 3rd head to The Waring House for a plant-based feast from Chef Chris with Frost: A Plant Based Tasting Menu
- Also at The Waring House, PEC Wine Society and PEC Single Malt Society are each offering a Wassail-themed dinner this month, on the 7th and 15th respectively
- For another vegan dining option, be sure to check out the weekly “Dinner & a Show” event at Karlo Estates. This month you can expect performances from Tony Forbes, Jeremy Kelly. and Elmwood Harmony.
- Sand & Pearl will be popping up in Milford at PECish Baking Co. throughout December. Join them on December 17th, 24th, and 31st for all the usual deliciousness from PECish plus special coffee, campfire grilled oysters, chowder in bread bowls and more. Plus you can pre-order seafood platters to go for your Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
- Another spot making Sundays in the County extra special this winter is Lighthall Vineyards, who are introducing Raclette Sundays to their cheesy offerings. Come my the winery on December 11 + 18, January 15 + 29, February 12 + 20 and March 12 + 19 to try their house-made raclette for just $15 per person from 1-3PM while supplies last. Pair with their chardonnay for the ultimate tasting experience!
In addition to all of the holiday markets happening this month, there are also a plethora of festive events taking place throughout The County, and you’re invited to celebrate with us. First up, after you spend some time at the Very Merry Market on December 3rd, stick around Wellington for A Whoville Holiday in Wellington Park. Starting at 4PM this family-friendly events provides an opportunity for the kids to meet Santa, enjoy a bonfire and do some carolling while the town of Wellington lights up for the holiday season.
The County Museums have a number of festive events on this holiday season. Come visit Santa’s Village at Ameliasburgh Heritage Village on Friday December 2nd, 9th, and 16th from 12-3pm. During these special days you can tour the village and discover Santa’s sleigh, listen to stories and of course take a picture with the big man himself! Then on December 10th and 11th, head to Macaulay Heritage Park for some historical holiday cheer! Come see Macaulay House all decorated for christmas and take a tour inside this beautiful historic home while enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate or cider. You can also visit with Santa, shop the Mistletoe Magic Artisan Market, enjoy live music, readings and special holiday displays by Shatterbox Theatre.
Three Dog Winery is under new ownership as of Summer 2022, and if you haven’t stopped by yet, their Holiday Open House is the perfect time! Join them on December 10th from 11-5PM for food from The County Canteen, live music from Jon Jones, wine tastings, hot chocolate by the fire, and a selection of awesome vendors to shop from. Plus, proceeds from wine by the glass sales during the event will go to charity.
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Have an unforgettable experience at the Merrill House with their Experiential Cocktail Night on Tuesday, December 13th. Their decadent mocha martini, Champagne cocktail and gingerbread macarons will be paired with scents, music and visual stimuli, that are sure to make for an unforgettable holiday experience.
The Waring House is getting into the full festive spirit with plethora of holiday events that are sure to leave you happy, full and smiling. On December 15th and 16th, get together with friends for their Christmas Lunch Buffet, or spend Christmas Eve with some festive live music from local band The Reasons. On the big day, The Waring House is also offering a Christmas Dinner Buffet featuring turkey, all the trimmings, and so much more.
Dig out your ugly Christmas sweaters for the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at Karlo, as part of their Friday Night Wine Lounge series. Enjoy funky Christmas music and great wine related prizes. Come get your groove on, do some last minute shopping and have a blast. Reserve your spot here
Looking for something to do this New Year’s Eve? Look no further than New Year’s Eve at The Royal. Tickets are just $25 and give you a complimentary glass of champagne and access to the hottest party in The County. With a live DJ on hand, be sure to bring your dancing shoes and ring in 2023 in style. Get your tickets here.
Wind Down & Relax
The holiday season can be hectic, so be sure to take some time to relax this holiday season with these day packages from the Lakeside Motel, Wander The Resort and The Royal Hotel. These also make great gift ideas, perfect for a winter escape to The County.
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Head to The Lakeside Motel in Wellington for a spa experience featuring a Sauna, Cold Plunge, campfire drinks and charcuterie. Winter pricing is just $30 for 30 minutes or $45 for an hour. Call the Lakeside to book!
On the other side of Wellington is Wander The Resort, where you can book a Wander In Day Pass to access a variety of resort amenities including their pool circuit, hot tub, and sauna, You can also enjoy lounging by their outdoor bonfires and head into the clubhouse for food and drinks. Simply call or email to book.
If you’re looking to relax with spa services like massage, body treatments, and facials, be sure to check out The Spa at The Royal Hotel. Spa guests also receive priority dining reservations, access to The Royal’s dry sauna, and more.
Stock Up on some Holiday Baking
The holiday season is busy enough, so why not leave the baking to PEC’s finest bakeries? Keep reading to discover some of the sweetest spots to visit and order from this holiday season.
PECish Baking Co. has become a Milford institution since opening in 2021, and they have recently moved into a larger space to better serve you this holiday season and beyond. Open Fridays and Saturdays, PECish has incredible breads, delightful croissants, cruffins! and so much more. Order in advance on their website for pickup and stock-up for all of your holiday entertaining needs.
The Royal Hotel has been serving up outstanding baked goods in their restaurant and from their grab & go counter since they opened almost one year ago, and this holiday season they are offering pre-order for anyone in need of sourdough, cookies, croissants, quiches, and fruit tarts for their holiday table. Simply inquire in person at their grab & go counter or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
From bread to sausage rolls and beyond, Agrarian Market has everything you need to prepare for an epic holiday season. Check out their grocery order form on their website to secure your holiday tourtieres (both vegan and non), pastries, quiches, and even a whole assortment of prepared meals to make feeding a crowd that much easier.
The Village Bakeshoppe is a fully-inspected home bake shop in Bloomfield, and they bake up some epic treats on weekly basis that you’re definitely going to want to add to your holiday eats this season. Classic whipped shortbread and rasperry crumble shortbread are new to menu for the holidays, but it’s joined by their famous maple cinnamon “Big Bun” with maple cream cheese icing, which is what we dream about eating on Christmas morning. Follow them on Instagram for updates about weekly orders and order from their website for a delicious weekend.
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The Cookie Mama is another at-home bake shop which specializes in indulgent, skillet cookies that are absolutely to die for. Larissa’s December menu features classic flavours like chocolate chip and peanut butter, but also highlights classic holiday flavours like snickerdoodle, candy cane, gingerbread, Ferrero Rocher, Orange Chocolate and more! These cookies come in two sizes and make great gifts or stocking stuffers, and can be ordered via DM on their Instagram.
Farmhouse Eats is the bakery you know and love located just behind the farm stand at Hagerman Farms, and this year the bakery’s staying open on weekends through December 17th for your holiday baking needs! Stop by for classic baked goods, holiday favourites like fruitcake and christmas cookies, and cookie decorating kits to entertain the kiddos.
As always, come to The County and head to one of our many Main Streets to do your holiday shopping. Many businesses in Picton will be staying open until 7PM on Fridays as well, so be sure to plan to do some shopping before your dinner reservations the next time you’re in town.
Can’t make it to The County? Most retailers as well as wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries offer online shopping and delivery throughout Ontario. So stock-up ahead of the entertaining season from Prince Edward County producers you know and love.
Check out our complete event listing here.
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Get Cozy in Prince Edward County this November
November has a reputation as a quiet month, somewhat of a lull between the festive months of October and December, but here in The County it’s anything but! We love November for the extended fall vibes, just the right amount of chill in the air, and the darker nights which make it perfect for making the cozy vibes of the holiday season last a little longer. Plus, there’s lots going on to satisfy every County craving, from Countylicious to Wassail and so much more. Read on for a round-up of what to get up to this month all throughout the not-so-little, almost-island that is Prince Edward County.
Dine Local with Countylicious
Countylicious is back through November 22, and it’s the perfect opportunity to try out 15 of The County’s best eateries at great prices. With prix fixe menus to suit every taste, you won’t want to miss this culinary experience. Head to countylicious.ca to browse menus, discover exclusive accommodations offers, and to make your reservations! Want to make the most of your Countylicious experience? Try your hand at Countylicious bingo and complete a row for a perfect foodie experience in The County this November.
Book an Experience
Experience The County like never before with an immersive weekend in PEC curated by Closson Chase Vineyards and Rosehall Run Vineyards: SavourPEC. From November 11-13, enjoy vineyard accommodations at Huff Estates, learn the art of barrel blending at Closson Chase and Rosehall Run, and create a culinary herb garden with Carson Arthur. The highlight of the weekend is a multi-course winemakers’ dinner with Keith Tyers of Closson Chase and Dan Sullivan of Rosehall Run. Set in a private venue and catered by Chef Matt DeMille, concluding with an intimate performance from County-based musicians VILLAS.
Winter Solstice Workshop with Anette Larsson
As the days grow shorter, we light fires and bring out blankets in preparation for a long winter ahead. In this workshop we will create a vellum paper star that will bring some much needed light and brightness into our environment. The process to make the star is simple but time consuming, and it is most fun to do in a group of people.
This workshop will take place in the Studio Loft at Chetwyn Farms – their newly converted 1800 barn – where a small, intimate (10 only) group will work in an open, airy space with the instructor Anette Larsson. Watch alpaca in the nearby pastures from the floor to ceiling windows in the studio space, enjoy a light lunch and other refreshments. This 4 hour workshop is followed by a hands-on “Alpaca Encounter” a guided tour of the alpaca farm and the glorious fleece they produce.
The County Picnic Festive Tours
The County Picnic, whom you know from their epic, hand-curated, insta-worthy picnics throughout PEC, is offering festive tours daily throughout November. Enjoy mulled wine, seasonal, beer, holiday photos, and local markets and shopping for just $215 per person, including lunch and tasting fees. For more information contact The County Picnic today!
ANDARA Gallery’s 3rd Annual “HOLIDAY PHOTO IN THE BARN”
From Thursday-Sunday, November 12th to December 19th, singles, couples, family and friends can schedule a FREE “Holiday Photo in the Barn” photo session between 12:00 Noon to 4:00 PM at ANDARA Gallery (54 Wilson Road in the heart of Prince Edward County) in exchange for a donation to Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s “Back The Build” campaign!
The century-old barn located on site will be decked out for the holidays with a festive portrait seating area featuring a stunning 16-foot Christmas tree from Denmar Farms. Everyone is invited to book a FREE photo session – alone or with a pet, friend or family member … or with a small group of family, friends or work colleagues (max of 8 persons) for a safe, socially distanced holiday photo!
Light Up the Night
The beloved Firelight Lantern Festival is back in full force for its 10th year, November 4-5, 2022. Hosted by The Department of Illumination this festival is a community art event that celebrates finding light in the darkness through handmade lanterns, illuminated art installations, puppetry, performance art, and more. This year’s theme is The Enchanted Forest, and you certainly don’t want to miss it.
This year’s Firelight Lantern Festival kicks off with a 19+ event on Friday, November 4 featuring Kingston’s unique and experimental folkestra, The Gertrudes. You’ll also find food, drink, dancing, art installations and interactive performances at this special 10th anniversary event.
Then on Saturday, November 5 it’s time for the main event. Starting with the magical, all-ages Lantern Parade, which will proceed from Benson Park to Crystal Palace, where Bangerz Brass will take the mainstage while you take in the amazing installations, performances, and food & drink.
So don your fairy lights and get crafty, it’s almost Firelight Lantern Festival Time!
Shop Local for the Holiday Season
As a rural destination, Prince Edward County is home to countless small businesses that deserve your support. You love shopping our Main Street shops in the warmer months, so why not return to The County to do a little holiday shopping and share some of your favourite place with your loved ones this holiday season? Shops in Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington will be open through November and into December, so be sure to explore our shop listings and make a plan for a holiday shopping weekend in PEC.
Attend at a Craft Fair or Art Show
Looking for something special for a loved one this holiday season? There is no better time than November to find perfect, unique gifts for the holidays. And with more than X art shows in PEC this month, there’s no better place than Prince Edward County to do it.
The Maker’s Hand
The Maker’s Hand is back! This bustling 3-day event is one of Eastern Ontario’s most well-regarded fine craft shows. Having paused during the height of the pandemic, we are thrilled to see this show returning to Highline Hall at Lehigh Arena from November 11th-13th, 2022.
This year’s show will feature many new artisans, as well as returning favourites from across Eastern Ontario. Find uniquely beautiful and functional items perfect for gift giving, or to keep for yourself. All items are handmade in Canada. Admission is $5 for unlimited access all weekend. Children under 12 enter for free. Lehigh Arena is wheelchair accessible and parking is free. For complete details head to themakershand.com.
Holly Jolly Market at Base31
Head up the hill to Base31 November 18th-20th for the Holly Jolly Market to shop from local vendors and enjoy festive experiences like shopping for holiday florals and wreaths, meetings with Santa, and more! Be sure to stay tuned to @hollyjollypec on Instagram for more information as the market approaches!
The Local Store’s Annual 12 Days of Christmas Market & Sale
Don’t miss the largest collection of work from over 120 Prince Edward County artists, artisans and local food producers at The Local Store. On through November 6th, discover specially produced seasonal gifts, decorations and food before The Local Store closes for the season (though they are open online all year round!).
Good Things in Small Packages Art Show
Mad Dog Gallery is proud to present their 21st annual “Good Things in Small Packages” show opening on Saturday November 19th at 10am. Good Things in Small Packages show is a diverse show of miniatures and other smaller affordable works by Mad Dog Gallery artists. Come by for Acrylic work by Brian Clark and Andrew King, Colloidal by Julie Duff, Oil work by Doris Richardson, Celia Sage and Susan Straiton, Pastel by Rosemary Brown, Pottery by Bill Reddick, Textiles by Anne House and Marianne Sanders, and Watercolour by Andrew Innes. This year they are excited to announce painter Alison Fowler as their guest artist.
Show continues until January 2023. Mad Dog Gallery is open most days 10-5 and they ask that you please wear masks while accessing their space.
30th Annual “Handmade” Christmas Craft Show
Jump start your Christmas shopping with the 30th Annual “Handmade” Christmas Craft Show on November 5th at Lehigh Area, which features 2 rooms full with over 55 local vendors showcasing their Handmade unique works of art. Hungry? Stay for lunch and enjoy Barn and Country Catering’s mouth-watering menu.
“Love Art, Love Local and Love Giving” Holiday Show and Sale
Celebrating its 15th Anniversary, the Prince Edward County Arts Trail is a self-drive tour of professional, year-round artist studios and galleries, and is a signature experience for thousands of art lovers, buyers and collectors who come to the County each year. The Arts Trail’s professional artists and curators create and present unforgettable works in sculpture, paintings, glass, ceramics, silk, photography, jewellery and more.
To compliment this festive season, the PEC Arts Trail is pleased to announce the launch of their “LOVE ART, LOVE LOCAL AND LOVE GIVING” promotional campaign. From November 14th to December 23rd, 2022, residents and visitors alike are encouraged to shop online or visit member studios and galleries in person to meet the professional artists and curators and see great art in a range of media.
To plan your visit, go to their website at artstrail.ca, download the bilingual Arts Trail Guide and Map and watch for the distinctive blue Arts Trail signs out front of member studios and galleries. Prior to visiting, everyone is encouraged to check individual Arts Trail member websites for hours of operation and COVID-19 safety protocols. Masks and social distancing continue to be mandatory at all Arts Trail locations.
“From unique and welcoming artist studios to contemporary, rustic and historic galleries, this self-guided tour is always an inspirational adventure,” says Arts Trail Co-Chair, Jim Turner, curator and co-owner of 2Gallery. “The Love Art, Love Local and Love Giving holiday promotion allows Arts Trail members to showcase all they have to offer this festive season while providing visitors with the opportunity to support the arts, shop local and give the gift of art this holiday season,” he adds.
Arts Trail maps are also available at our Visitor Information locations, open year-round.
ANDARA Gallery Presents: ODE to JOY Art Show and Sale
ANDARA Gallery presents its 3rd Annual ODE to JOY Art Show and Sale of paintings and photography.
“ODE to JOY” runs from November 12th to December 23rd, 2021 at ANDARA Gallery 54 Wilson Road, Bloomfield in the heart of Prince Edward County. The Gallery is open 11 AM to 5 PM daily, year-round.
In addition to offering contemporary impressionist paintings in a range of sizes, encaustic painter, Andrew Csafordi will also offer a collection of small works that make perfect gifts for any art lover or collector this holiday season. His paintings are a fusion of layers of colourful beeswax and mixed media on wood panels combined with energy and imagination. Working back and forth across the board, he sculpts the wax with brushes and carves into the wax with various tools to create unique and beautiful works of art.
Tara Wilkinson will showcase fine art photographs in a variety of sizes and price points from her global travels.
Give a Little Bit: Holiday Group Show
The annual Holiday show at Melt Gallery is returning this year from November 18- December 23rd. This show will feature work by a number of Canadian artists and artisans, with the priority of highlighting small works that are perfect for gift giving. Join them in celebrating the festive season with a curated selection of unique, one of a kind pieces.
Decay: Group Show
In autumn, the beauty of decay reveals itself. Leaves and petals wilt and fall, green fades, and as a final goodbye trees become a fiery display of gold and red.
Also at Melt Gallery, Decay celebrates the poignant beauty found within the process of decomposition, rot, deterioration, and decline. This show reframes the loss of summer and of life and invites you to find the beauty in Decay.
Come see an exciting array of new work by over 30 Canadian artists, through November 13th. This exhibit will feature the work of encaustic artist Susan Wallis along with new and returning members of our Melt Gallery family of artists. The show will focus on the theme of Decay and how these various artists have chosen to interpret it. The show features works in glass, metal, ceramics, painting, photography and more.
BILL STEARMAN // The Quilt as Art. I will be silent no more.
The perfect exhibition as the weather begins to change. 2gallery is thrilled to announce a Solo Exhibition by Prince Edward County’s master quiltmaker Bill Stearman, on now through November 21st. Entitled The Quilt as Art \ I will be silent no more, this exhibition demonstrates why Stearman is not content simply creating beautiful fabric works that provide warmth. His pieces are political and cultural statements that challenge preconceived notions, highlight inequalities in our society, and champion voices that need to be heard.
Before discovering quilt-making, Stearman struggled with storytelling as a path for making sense of his life. “I’m just a guy who likes to make quilts … and tell stories. Like the rest of life, it seems what can be accomplished in quilt-making is limited only by my imagination.”
In Stearman’s creations, fabrics and carefully placed stitches express joy, anguish, hope, gratitude, and love. They provide glimpses into deeply personal and important stories – stories that matter. Bold statements that provoke thoughtful consideration.
“I know I have something to say – and I want to speak my truth. Even if my voice shakes. I doubt these quilts, and their stories, will remind you of your grandmother’s quilts.”
‘Curator’s Choice’ at Oeno Gallery
Oeno Gallery at Huff Estates presents Curator’s Choice—a rare, eclectic offering of significant 20th and 21st-century fine artists.
For this exhibit, Oeno Gallery has assembled an impressive list of sculptors and painters including Joe Fafard, Joseph Drapell, Harold Feist, Paul Fournier, Gershon Iskowitz, Harold Town, Graham Coughtry, Nazy Sakhavarz, Milly Ristvedt, Otto Rogers, K. M. Graham, and David Bolduc.
This special collection will be on exhibit through November 6th, 2022.
Eddie Christmas Market in the Red Barn
Head to the Eddie Hotel & Farm for their Christmas Market on from November 25-27. You won’t want to miss this festive market featuring dozens of vendors and festive activities for the whole family. Learn more here.
Annual Closson Road Christmas Crawl
Just like the old Christmas pub crawls only this crawl includes wine, cider, beer, food and artisan Chistmas Shopping on the weekend of November 25-27. Enjoy local wine, beer and cider while doing your Christmas Shopping. In addition to supporting local businesses you also have a chance to win several gift baskets filled with 100% local items.
Sunflowers for Ukraine – A Silent Art Auction Fundraiser
This hybrid (in person and online) auction features over 25 sunflower-themed artworks donated by local artists in a wide range of artistic mediums: from painting and textile arts to mixed media, ceramics, wearable art, and more. All proceeds will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross to support their humanitarian efforts in Ukraine
The artworks can be viewed in person at Macaulay Church Museum (35 Church Street, Picton) starting November 2nd, and during opening hours for the entire month of November (11-4, Wednesday-Saturday). Or you can view online here.
Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees is a long-standing community fundraising event here in PEC and it’s back and in person this year at Isaiah Tubbs Resort & Conference Centre. There will be a silent auction, live entertainment, and a bucket draw raffle, all in support of The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. Admission is free. Looking for other ways to support? Check out the Christmas Boutique at the Second Time Around Shop and you can pre-order preserves and baking from Perfectly Preserved.
The Art of Giving
Arts on Main Gallery is home to The Art of Giving show from November 18 – January 25. Swing by this gallery on Picton Main Street to explore a special showing of 12×12 artworks designed for gifting. There will also be a special opening reception on Saturday November 19 from 2-4 PM.
Catch a Performance
There is always a chance to find some live performance here in The County, even in November! In addition to regular music at venues like The County Canteen, The Acoustic Grill and The Waring House, these special events are sure to get your toes tapping.
Dinner & a Show at Karlo Estates
Tantalize your senses with a three-flight wine tasting, perfectly paired to delicious handcrafted cuisine while listening to live music in the opulent speakeasy at Karlo Estates. Their “Dinner and a Show” Tasting is your chance to sample wines led by vintner Sherry Karlo paired with a handcrafted one-plate meal. Each week will feature a rotating menu and musician. An intimate evening of wine, food, and music. Join them on November 5th for Tony Forbes, November 12th for Victor Cooper, November 19th with Brian McMillan, and November 26th with Elmwood Harmony.
THE BOWIE LIVES: A Bowie Spectacular at The Regent Theatre
The Bowie Lives performs Saturday, November 26, 2022, at 8 pm at The Regent Theatre, Picton. Michael Bell is an award-winning vocalist who channels the sound and styles of David Bowie, and with the help of an all-star band, theatre and costumes capture the imagination of fans young and old. Michael’s first theatrical production “ChangesAllBowie” toured the “A circuit” in the late ’80s. He hung up his “Ziggy” in the early ’90s and never imagined professionally performing Bowie again. After David’s untimely death on January 10, 2016, his calling returned, as did the industry interest. Contacting long-time musical director Michael Beauclerc, they began auditioning players to fill out a band capable of performing some of Rock’s most challenging material. The Bowie Lives brings all the sounds and visions to the stage, from Space Oddity to Lazarus.
Get your tickets here.
David James Allen Live at Mount Tabor Theatre
David James Allen is bringing songs from The Architect, new songs and curated collection from previous releases to the historic Mount Tabor Theatre in a solo, one man band configuration complete with drum machine, harmonicas, loops and organs. Featuring Evan Redsky and local artist KASHKA, you won’t want to miss this cozy performance on November 26 in Milford. Get your tickets here.
Toast to the Vines
Wassail is back this year from November 18 – December 4. This year you can expect a self-guided tour, but wineries throughout The County will be putting on a festive show for this annual County tradition. From pancake breakfasts paired with bubbly to musical performances and more, don’t miss this perfect opportunity to toast to the vines as they are put to rest for the winter and stock up on bottles for the upcoming holiday season. Stay tuned for more information about this year’s Wassail, including participating wineries and activities.
Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to for more November inspiration.
Capture that Fall Feeling this October in The County 🎃
Sure, October is when we can officially say that summer is behind us, but there are still tons of exciting, seasonal events and activities to enjoy as the air cools and the leaves fall in The County. From Oktoberfests and Pumpkinfest to haunted walks through corn fields and graveyards, there’s plenty to enjoy whether you’re escaping for a romantic weekend or looking for something festive to do with the whole family.
Start with Art
The first weekend of October marks the annual PEC Studio Tour. The Studio Tour features over 50 artists at 36 studio locations throughout The County, making for an epic art-filled weekend. Whether you are looking for art to display, art to wear, or art to use in your home, the Studio Tour is the perfect opportunity to discover new artists, take a peek behind the scenes, and appreciate the work in an intimate manner that is not always afforded in a typical gallery setting.
To plan your Studio Tour route and discover more Studio Tour artists, head to PECStudioTour.com or check out the map below.
For even more art in The County this month check out 2Gallery’s John Visser Exhibit – Days of Light and Shadow – on until October 18th, visit the 6 Artists exhibit and sale from Sept 30 – Oct 2, attend an art workshop at Baxter Arts Centre (this month features sessions on life drawing, weaving, nature journaling, and resin art), or attend a Mixed Media Collage workshop at The County Arts Lab.
You don’t need to attend a special event to experience art in The County either. Galleries in Prince Edward County are open throughout the fall and are a perfect way to spend these chillier and possibly rainy days.
Wholesome Fall Fun
If you’re looking for some wholesome fall activities, we’ve got you covered! The fun kicks off with The Department of Illumination’s annual Scarecrow Festival. A fundraising event for this beloved community arts organization, the Scarecrow Festival invites you to make your very own scarecrow to take home with all supplies provided for $40. With a barn full of clothes and a mountain of straw with which to craft a character, this is a perfect Thanksgiving Weekend activity for the whole family.
We told you about apple picking at Campbell’s Orchards last month, but this classic fall activity continues into October with hot apple cider on tap, caramel apples to enjoy on the weekends, as well as fun wagon rides throughout the farm. You’ll also be entertained by their corn maze, pumpkin patch, and their on-site cidery Apple Falls Cider Co.– a treat for parents too!
If it’s pumpkins you’re after, you don’t want to miss the festive pumpkin and squash displays at Honey Wagon Farms and Langridge’s Fresh Produce. These two farm stands turn Sandy Hook Road just off the Picton roundabout into a festive corridor at this time of year and are truly a sight to be seen if you are inclined to gourds, both decorative and non. While you’re in the area, complete your festive decor by picking up some potted mums at Lockyer’s Country Gardens.
Speaking of pumpkins, you don’t want to miss Pumpkinfest, the annual festival in Wellington which is back this year in full force after two years of modified festivals. The festivities begin at 10:30 with a parade through town, which is followed by music in the park, food truck, and a kids zone where activities like face-painting, a balloon artist, petting zoo, and lawn games will keep kids entertained. The highlight of Pumpkinfest is the giant pumpkin weigh-off, which starts at 12PM at Lehigh Arena. In addition, the Wellington Community Market is back for one more market this season and will be running all morning until 2PM at the Wellington United Church.
Want to take in the changing colours? There are plenty of beautiful ways to do so in The County. Go for a walk through the forested paths of Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area (being sure to check out Birdhouse City while you’re there), cycle along the Millennium Trail and take in the brilliant colours of sumac and goldenrod among other deciduous trees along the route, go for a County drive, or go for an autumn walk on one of the hiking trails at Sandbanks Provincial Park (you can still book your day-use permit in advance here).
Fall is for Foodies
Looking for a delicious getaway? Fall is the perfect time to discover the bounty of The County. In addition to dining out at The County’s many fantastic restaurants, these culinary events and special dinners are sure to satisfy:
- Start the month with Oktoberfest celebrations at Parsons Brewing where you can enjoy a celebration of County beer, Bavarian cuisine and live music from September 30 through October 1. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on their website.
- Slake Brewing opened their doors in October 2020 and they are excited to celebrate their 2nd anniversary October 1-2 with two special food pop-ups. Join them on Saturday October 1 for a pop-up from Bloomfield institution Flame + Smith and on Sunday October 2 for a pop-up from Waupoos’ Stella’s Eatery. In addition you can enjoy 3 new beers from Slake alongside guest taps from Blood Brothers (Toronto), Burdock (Toronto), Counterpart (Niagara), Dominion City (Ottawa), Sonnen Hill (Caledon) and Willibald (Ayr).
- Also at Slake, Sand & Pearl are putting on a Clam Bake and Oyster Bar pop-up that you won’t want to miss. Featuring PECish Baking Co. baguettes alongside clams, shrimp, Fogo Island crab, sausage, County potatoes, corn and herbs as well as freshly shucked oysters, this is bound to be a memorable feast. Pre-order your clam bake by emailing email@example.com.
- The Waring House has several special food events coming up, including their Thanksgiving Dinner, Thanksgiving Brunch Buffet, a PEC Single Malt Society Dinner, and a PEC Wine Society Dinner.
- On October 23 join Sand and Pearl and Flame + Smith for the first PEC Oyster Fest. The festival will feature fire cooking, an oyster bar and a fierce oyster shucking competition. Entry is $25 per person, and if you are an oyster shucking machine you are invited to register to compete for one of two cash prizes! The competition will be judged by local chefs Charlotte Langley and Jamie Kennedy.
- Waupoos Estates Winery is hosting another Wine After Dark event, this time celebrating the flavours of fall. Enjoy a beautiful evening under the stars at this waterside winery (don’t forget to bring a blanket!).
October, of course, is spooky season, and Prince Edward County is getting into the spirit! The spooky fun begins on Thanksgiving weekend with the Haunted Corn Maze at Sunflower Fields Ice Cream Shoppe, where you can expect to wander the maze in the dark while ghosts and ghouls haunt the path. If you can’t make it on October 8th, the Haunted Corn Maze is also open on October 15.
On October 14th marks the opening of the travelling Creepy Doll Museum, which takes over the Wellington Heritage Museum through October 15th. This is the perfect way to add a spooky flair to your day at Pumpkinfest!
The County Museums continues to bring the Halloween spirit with special, candlelit editions of their popular Graveyard & Gallows tour. Join them on October 14, October 21, and October 28. for a candlelit walk around the graveyard at the former St. Mary Magdalene’s church and the exercise yards, jail cells and gallows of Picton Courthouse. Book your tickets here.
Last year’s popular Terror at Macaulay haunted walk-thru is back for a sequel, ominously called The Summoning. Experience ghosts that walk through the cemetery at night, vampires that feed on unsuspecting villagers, and witches that can be heard casting strange spells in the woods. This year, you can also experience a haunted corn maze and explore inside Macaulay’s House, while avoiding ghosts and ghouls. Get your spook on with Terror at Macaulay 2: The Summoning from October 28 – 31.
Fall for Music & Theatre
Live performances continue into through October with everything from drag performances to live theatre and barn dances. Check out the details below or review our full event listing for more.
- Head to Karlo Estates for Karlo “À La Carte” with Melodi Ryan on October 1st. Also at Karlo Estates, join them for Karaoke in the Wine Lounge on October 14th, Life Drawing on October 21, Jazz Thursdays on October 27 and Bitchin’ Bingo on October 28.
- Enjoy some live comedy with the final Comedy Country performance of the year, Girls Nite Out at The Regent Theatre on October 15. Or settle in for some belly laughs and good beer at Gillingham Brewing’s County Craft Comedy Night on October 21.
- Looking for live theatre? Catch the final performances of Collected Stories at the Mount Tabor playhouse on October 1-2, or enjoy Shatterbox Theatre’s performances of Drowning Girls at Macaulay Heritage Park from October 20-23.
Reconnect with Yourself
In the fall we begin to turn inward, getting cozy and embracing the hygge of it all, and in keeping with that mindset it makes fall a great time to take care of our inner selves too. Popular outdoor yoga classes like Goat Yoga with Mikenze continue through October and you can also learn how to nourish your body with foraged plants during Hawthorn Herbals’ Herb Walk at New Moon Farm. If you’re after a full weekend escape complete with plant-based meals and sound bath meditations on a stunning property in Waupoos, register for a Embodying Self-Compassion Retreat with Jenny Tryansky and Amy Faba at Harmony PEC.
Plan Your Next PEC Getaway
You know what October is also a good time for? Planning your next getaway in PEC! Now is a great time to start putting together all of the pieces for a great November getaway. Here’s some of what you can look forward to next month:
- Countylicious is back this year from November 2-22! Join us for three weeks of prix fixe menus at great prices from local restaurants you know, love, and are dying to try! We’ll be sharing more information soon about this year’s programming, so keep your eyes on our Instagram, Facebook, Newsletter, and here on our blog for more info.
- As a part of Countylicious there will be a series of exclusive accommodations offers available thanks to our friends at StayPEC. This information will be released soon, so stay tuned!
- When you book for two nights this November at Jackson’s Falls Country Inn, you’ll receive 20% off and a complimentary bottle of County wine waiting for them on check in.
- SavourPEC is a “Wine & Culinary Adventure” taking place from November 11-13 with Closson Chase & Rosehall Run. This immersive weekend will allow you to experience The County like never before, with exclusive access to award-winning cellars, vineyard accommodations, and an exceptional private venue for a chef-prepared winemakers dinner. Learn more about this exclusive experience and purchase tickets here.
- The incredibly charming Firelight Lantern Festival is back and bigger than ever for its 10th Anniversary this November 4-5.
- The Maker’s Hand – one of Eastern Ontario’s best fine craft shows – is back at Highline Hall in Wellington November 11-13
- Have a charming holiday photo taken at Andara Gallery and visit their Ode to Joy Art Show and Sale from November 12.
How to Honour the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation in PEC 🧡
The National Day for Truth & Reconciliation is on September 30th. On this day, residents of and visitors to Prince Edward County are encouraged to honour the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.
In the lead up to this national day of recognition and action, be sure to check out these events to immerse yourself in indigenous culture & history:
David R. Maracle and Friends Present Digging Roots: A Benefit for TTO
On September 24, join Base31 for a benefit concert in honour of Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na tyonkwehtáhkwen Mohawk Language & Culture Centre. Host Musician David R. Maracle & Friends come together with headliners Digging Roots for a wonderful evening of music and reflection.
David is a community member from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, an Activist for Indigenous Rights & Culture, an international award-winning multi-instrumentalist musician/composer, and producer who wanted to bring this concert together, to bring attention to the Mohawk Language program on the Territory. He will be joined by Instrumentalist Donald Quan, with a cameo opening by Indigenous Youth Artist eaoh Argos. Don’t miss the special opening song & dance by Kanyen’kehà:ka Dancer from Six Nations of the Grand River, Mark Monture & David R. Maracle to open the show.
The main headliners of the evening are none other than the talented JUNO award-winning husband and wife duo, Digging Roots, will grace us with their style blends of folk-rock, pop, blues, and hip hop. Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish won the Canadian Aboriginal Music Award for Best Group in 2007. In 2018, Shoshona was awarded the Womex 18 Professional Excellence Award, while Raven was awarded the Cobalt Award at the 2016 Maple Blues Awards.
To purchase tickets for this meaningful evening of music head to Eventbrite. All proceeds go to the Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na Language & Culture Centre.
Wampum Belts with Jamie Maracle
On September 28, join The County Museums and Jamie Maracle at Macaulay Heritage Park for an educational session on Wampum Belts. traditional teaching tools that record Rotinonshon:ni history & knowledge. Traditions state that They have been used for over 2,000 years. Each of the dozens of belts have Their Own teachings and stories.
Come hear about the origins of the belts, how the belts are made, and the teachings that They offer. In doing so, this discussion with touch on the history of the Rotinononshon:ni as well.
Jamie Maracle has been making wampum belts for at least 25 years and has been presenting about them for almost as long. He is from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and has traveled to Six Nations of the Grand River, Akwesasne, Kanewake, Onondaga and more to learn the traditions of the Wampum belts, and other Rotinonshon:ni traditions.
Admission is free, though donations to the Kenhte:ke Seed Sanctuary and Learning Centre are welcome. Space is limited. Register by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
The Regent Theatre’s 2nd Annual Truth & Reconciliation Concert
On September 30, join The Regent Theatre for their 2nd Annual Truth & Reconciliation Concert. Featuring the mesmerizing, multiple award winning iskwē alongside 2022 JUNO Award-nominee Shawnee Kish, this concert is sure to be an incredible evening in celebration of Indigenous culture.
Want to save on your Truth & Reconciliation Concert tickets? Friends of Visit The County can get their tickets for just $25 when they use TRUTH22 at checkout on www.theregenttheatre.org
Indigenous Arts Workshops with Melanie Grey
From September 21-28 join Prince Edward County Library for a series of indigenous arts workshops with Melanie Grey. With workshops on traditional indigenous arts like porcupine quill earrings, smudge feathers, and medecine bags, each workshop will incorporate Haudenosaunee teachings about our relationship with the natural world.
Here are some other ways residents and visitors alike can take action on the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation:
🧡 seeking out stories of residential school Survivors, their families and communities
🧡 visiting the permanent exhibition dedicated to the Indigenous history of Prince Edward County at Macaulay Heritage Park
🧡 continuing to respect and acknowledge the land we live on and love to visit as the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, adjacent to the Kanien’keha:ka community of Tyendinaga
11+ Activities to Experience this Holiday Season in The County 🎅🎁
November’s here and that means it’s time to start planning your holiday experiences and shopping excursions. Luckily The County has plenty to offer to help you get ready for the holidays.
Holiday Photo in the Barn & Art Sale
Stop by ANDARA Gallery to take a festive family holiday photo in their barn and while you’re there take in their ODE to JOY Art Show & Sale. On now through December 23, 2021.
For more information and to learn how to book your seating in advance go here.
Main Street Magic
Explore the Main Streets of Picton, Wellington and Bloomfield and discover the many independent, local shops that make our Main Streets so vibrant.
Check out our shops listing and plan your gift giving adventure today.
Experience Christmas Past
Step back in time with Ol’ Tyme Christmas in the Cabin at Ameliasburg Heritage Village every Friday through December 10, and come out for one final day of merriment on December 20th. Santa will be on site for free family photos when you bring a donation to the Storehouse Food Bank.
Click here for more information.
Go on a Christmas Crawl
The annual Closson Road Christmas Crawl takes place from from November 26-28. Discover artisan gifts and enjoy local wine, beer and cider while doing your holiday shopping on one of The County’s most hopping wine country roads.
Christmas at The Eddie
Stop by The Eddie for their first Christmas Market. Here you’ll find artisan vendors, a glühwein lounge and more in their heated barn from November 26 – 28. Or from December 10-12 join Festival Players for a weekend of holiday concerts featuring The Bookends & Seventh Town.
Get details about the Christmas Market here and book tickets for Celtic Yuletide here.
Join Midtown Brewing in Wellington to check our their 5th annual Christmas Market on November 27 from 11-3. Here you’ll find 12 amazing local vendors with everything from sweets to homewares and art – and of course great beer!
For more details click here.
Busy Hands is Back
Busy Hands is back and in person! This year they’ll be set up at The Armoury on Picton Main Street on December 4 and 5. Their annual craft fair is the perfect place to pick up handmade gifts like honey, mustard, preserves and maple syrup as well as woodwork, pottery, jewelry, textiles and more.
For more details click here.
Give the Gift of Art
This holiday season you are invited to LOVE ART, LOVE LOCAL AND LOVE GIVING with the Prince Edward County Arts Trail. Plan your visit or shop online and give the gift of County art this holiday season.
For more information click here.
Christmas in Wellington
Celebrate Christmas in Wellington with a 2-day gift giving pop-up at Wellington Heritage Museum.
Learn more here.
Family Fun at Macaulay House
Celebrate the holiday season at Macaulay House with the whole family on December 11th and 12th. Enjoy a festive tour, caroling on the lawn, holiday readings for kids presented by Shatterbox Theatre, hot chocolate, apple cider and more.
Find out more here.
Give a Little Bit: Holiday Group Show
Melt Studio + Gallery will be celebrating the holiday season this year with Give a Little Bit, a group show in our Main Gallery from November 26 to December 26. Give a Little Bit will showcase the talent of local artists and artisans while offering one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays. The show will feature small works of art, perfect for gift giving, from various disciplines ranging from handcrafted tables and 3D paper-dioramas, to landscape photography and encaustic paintings. In the spirit of gift giving, Melt Studio + Gallery will be hosting a raffle for one of Susan Wallis’s encaustic paintings, with all the proceeds being donated to Kenhte:ke Seed Sanctuary and Learning Centre in Tyendinaga.
Experience Christmas at the Harbour
Come by Picton Harbour to experience a 2-day Christmas Festival along the boardwalk. Complete with lights, music, art installations, games and Santa visits, this is a magical festive event you won’t want to miss.
Learn more here.
Add Art to your Christmas List
On December 11-12, visit The Waring House for a special Christmas show featuring 12 local artists. Shop for paintings, jewelry, pottery, wire creations, wood work, painted silks, art cards, Christmas decor & more.
Learn more here.
Get in the Holiday Spirit
Head to Karlo Estates for a bit of Christmas cheer in the form of Carolling Karaoke. And if you pluck up the courage to take the mic to sing at least two carols and earn yourself a wee nip of their VanAlstine White port-style fortified wine.
Learn more about their December 10th event here and their December 17th event here.
Visit a Winter Wanderland
Bundle up in your coziest knits and mittens and head to Wander the Resort at their first-ever Winter Wanderland Market – a dreamy outdoor market featuring a curated selection of products from County artisans and Wander partners.
Learn more here.
Pop-up and Shop
Head to Main Street Picton on December 17th to celebrate the season with a series of craft pop-ups. For one day only local craft vendors and shops are joining forces to bring you the ultimate Christmas shopping experience. You’ll even have a chance to win by completing a Main Street Christmas Craft Crawl passport by visiting each vendor and collecting stamps on your passport for your chance to win a grand prize filled with items from each vendor and shop!
Learn more here.
Experience a Christmas Classic
Head to the The Regent Theatre to experience acclaimed Canadian actor RH Thompson in a solo touring rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Learn more here.
Check out our Dine Here campaign and discover 50+ County restaurants, cafes and eateries and plan a culinary adventure in the lead up to the holidays. Many spots have special offers, seasonal menus and festive experiences on the docket, so be sure not to miss out on dining in The County this season.
Learn more here.
Fall for Arts & Culture in The County 🎨🎭🖼🎙
Whether you want to add to your art collection. immerse yourself in a exhibition, witness public art, attend a performance or go behind the scenes at an artist’s studio, Fall is an incredible time to visit The County. Here’s just some of what you can experience throughout the region this season.
Please note that public health travel advisories and orders are changing frequently during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please consult our COVID-19 Essential Info page for the latest updates.
Go on a PEC Studio Tour
From September 24-26, 2021 follow the PEC Studio Tour throughout The County for a chance to go behind the scenes, meet the artists and observe their creative processes. If you’re in the market, this is a great opportunity to start or add to your collection, or if you’re just looking for inspiration, this is a fantastic activity that will take you off the beaten path.
Hit the PEC Arts Trail
The Arts Trail is a year-round, self-guided ‘choose your own adventure’ tour of artist studios and galleries, featuring sculpture, visual arts, photography and more. It’s a great chance to meet some of the artists who give The County its flare.
Related: How to Curate a County Art Collection 🎨
Experience Ontario Culture Days with Alchemy Artists Residency
Temporary public art installations will be on display from September 25 – October 24, 2021 at wineries throughout Hillier as a part of FIELD NOTES by Alchemy Artists Residency, part of Ontario Culture Days 2021 Creatives in Residence. Alchemy’s Table Settings is a powerful project bringing together artists, vintners and vineyard workers together, with the artists bringing healthy and delicious dinners to farm and vineyard workers. The exhibition features sculpture, collage, tactile objects, poetry and painted works inspired by these dinners and collaborations. Find exhibitions at Broken Stone Winery, Stanners Vineyards, Closson Chase Vineyards, Hinterland Wine Company, Casa Dea Estates Winery, Cold Creek Vineyards and Redtail Vineyards. Experience these installations in person, free of charge. Be sure to pre-register here to receive background content on the installation to enhance your self-guided tour (this will be released September 30th).
Browse a Gallery or Two (or Ten!)
The County is fill to bursting with amazing art galleries to suit every style, and many galleries are hosting special exhibitions and sales this fall, like the 7 Artists Outdoor Exhibition and Sale and Treetopia at ANDARA Gallery, which is a bright spot on any art tour in The County with its Crayola-coloured façade and knit-bombed trees.
Related: 25+ Places for Art in Prince Edward County 🖌
Discover the Barn Quilt Trail
Many visitors notice them, but few really know what they’re looking at. We’re talking about barn quilts, one of the most common (and eye-catching) forms of public art in the area. Barn quilts are eight-foot square (and smaller) painted replicas of actual fabric quilt blocks, painted on wooden or MDO boards, then mounted on a barn or other buildings. While cloth quilts are usually made up of a series of the same pattern placed together, a barn quilt is a single pattern square. Barn quilts become rural eye candy glimpsed as we roll down our rural highways, drawing attention to Ontario’s disappearing rural landscapes, timber frame barns, and the family farm. They can also be seen on homes of all kinds in The County.
While you’re more than likely to happen across a barn quilt or two during your visit, if you want to seek them out, be sure to follow the PEC Barn Quilt Trail and discover this unique part of County art and heritage.
Become the Artist
Don’t just come to The County to see art, come here to make it! The Department of Illumination – a local organization dedicated to creating magical arts experiences for everyone – is hosting their annual Scarecrow Festival this October over Thanksgiving weekend, which is a perfect opportunity to make some fall art with the kiddos. In November their Firelight Lantern Festival takes to the streets, bringing light and life to the colder and longer night that settle in at this time of year (stay tuned for details about the 2021 event).
Want to try your hand at encaustic painting? Don’t miss Pause, a special County experience which connects visitors to the healing powers of nature through a meditative forest walk, followed by a studio session at Melt Studio Gallery where encaustic artist Susan Wallis guides guests in creating an original encaustic painting using natural items collected during the walk.
Related: Plan Your Fall 2021 Visit to Prince Edward County
Let us Entertain You
Fancy art of of the auditory sort? Have a laugh with Martha Chaves at the Regent Theatre (presented by Comedy Country), take in the final Saturdays of live music at Karlo Estates (with Alison Joan Borgin Burke(Borgin), Trevor Norris, and the summer performers at their annual Thanksgiving Jam), or attend the annual Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival. Celebrate self-expression by taking in a drag show at The Hayloft or The Grist Mill, or enjoy a film or live performance at The Regent Theatre which has joyfully reopened after being closed since March 2020.
So plan to put a little art into your Prince Edward County visit this Fall. We know you’ll be inspired.
Summer at The County Museums
by Jessica Chase, Assistant Curator, County Museums
The museums are hard at work planning a summer season that promotes The County’s unique heritage – and is a ton o’ fun! Although we have been faced with a fair amount of uncertainty while working through the pandemic (no surprise there, right?), we are doing our best to generate content and develop engaging experiences for all of our patrons!
This year we will be bringing back our Graveyard and Gallows tour, starting on a virtual platform and moving to in-person when it is safe to do so. Tours will start on June 4th and run every other Friday until the end of August. Alongside an experienced guide, visitors will meet some of the ‘residents’ of the cemetery at Macaulay Heritage Park, before walking to the nearby Courthouse to learn more about an infamous murder trial and Picton’s first and only double hanging.
We have also been developing a “PEC, Past to Present” series of walking tours that will debut this summer! This series will cover villages and areas across Prince Edward County, providing stories from The County’s past, and discussing how we got to where we are today. Some of the areas that will be featured in this series include Wellington, Waupoos, Demorestville and more! This series will run twice per month, with guaranteed dates of June 12th, June 27th, July 10th, July 25th, and August 7th.
In the same ‘Past to Present’ vein, herbalist Tamara Segal will lead a walking tour focused on this area’s natural heritage at Macaulay Heritage Park on August 2nd. The tour will touch on the various plant species that can be found in our own backyards, and what they have been used for by generations of County residents.
We are also going to be bringing you more virtual content whenever possible! Every Wednesday at 1pm you can count on a live presentation on our facebook page that dives into an interesting topic related to our museums, county heritage or the community at large. These will run for the entirety of June, July and August!
Looking for something a bit more hands-on? Take-home activity kits for kids will be available all summer long! There will be at least two new kits available each month to help keep kids busy and engaged.
Although our plans for larger events remain on hold while navigating COVID-19 restrictions, rest assured we have plenty of good ideas in the works (outdoor movie night, anyone?). No matter what the situation, this will be a great summer to get in touch with the museums and to learn more about the County’s history!
Want to stay up-to-date with everything we’re up to, and catch all our virtual content? Make sure to follow us on Facebook (@museumspec) and Instagram (@thecountymuseums), or shoot us an email at email@example.com. We can’t wait to welcome you back!
History Takes Flight: A walking tour of Macaulay Heritage Park and Birdhouse City
Part cultural history lesson, part architecture primer and part outdoor fun, this walking tour offers education and entertainment that can be enjoyed outside, anytime, at no cost.
Note: The tour can be started either from Macaulay Heritage Park or from Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area/Birdhouse City. The two sites are joined by Whattam’s Memorial Walkway, a wide unpaved walking path. This tour is intended to be family-friendly but includes information about graves and the on-site cemetery. Discretion with young children advised.
Macaulay Heritage Park
Located on the southern edge of Picton, Macaulay Heritage Park consists of land and buildings built by Reverend William Macaulay, whose vision and leadership helped shape the development of Prince Edward County.
William Macaulay was the son of Robert Macaulay whose family originally came from Scotland. They moved to Ireland, where Robert was born, and then to New York in 1764. He landed in Cataraqui (Kingston) as a United Empire Loyalist around 1784, having supported the British Crown during the American Revolution. In 1791, Robert married Ann Kirby, who came from the Crown Point area in Upper New York State and had been born in Yorkshire.
Robert died in 1800 when his son William was just six years old. William inherited 400 acres of land (including this property) that his father and Thomas Markland had purchased from Lieutenant Moore Hoverton at a Sheriff’s sale in 1790 for the sum of 300 pounds.
William went to school in Cornwall and Kingston before going to Oxford to take his ministry. His teacher and mentor was the renowned Bishop John Strachan. After being ordained in 1818 Macaulay claimed this inherited land. Macaulay had it laid out as a village, naming it Picton after General Sir Thomas Picton who had been killed in the Battle of Waterloo. Street names (Portland, York and Pitt) were all heroes of the day. His land was used to build the neighbourhood’s first school, Picton’s first Roman Catholic Church and the County Courthouse. In 1837, the adjacent village of Hallowell on the north side of the Bay was amalgamated with Picton.
Old St. Mary Magdalene Church and Graveyard
Stop #1: Front of Church
Welcome to Picton’s “old” Church of St. Mary Magdalene (sometimes known as the English Church), the first Anglican church in Prince Edward County. In 1823-25, Macaulay used his own money to build it and was appointed its first rector upon completion.
This building is very likely the first one in the area that had been made of brick and it is also one of the oldest surviving institutional buildings in Prince Edward County. Over its long history, many additions and renovations have been made to the church. The portion with yellow brick walls, visible from both the interior and exterior, indicates the original structure. The limestone sections were added in the 1870’s. The notable large Black Locust trees on the property were said to have been planted in Macaulay’s time, around the 1850s.
The “new” Church of St. Mary Magdalene was constructed on Main Street in 1912, and while this old church was maintained, it was used only rarely and virtually sat vacant for the next fifty years.
In 1967, the church building was declared unsafe and was turned over to the County for use as a museum. It reopened six years later after extensive renovation and repairs. In 1974, the municipality purchased Macaulay House, and the grounds were combined with the church to form Macaulay Heritage Park.
The most recent of many renovations to this building was completed in 2011 to enhance the church’s function as a museum and to preserve heritage features. It also addressed many of the structural issues that had plagued the church’s earlier days. The building now serves as office and work space for museum staff, in addition to providing exhibition and programming space for the visiting public.
Stop #2 – Graveyard surrounding the Church
The first known burial in this cemetery predates the church, taking place in 1819. The first 20 or so burials were marked by wooden crosses, though those have now been lost to time. There are more than 300 burials in total now, with roughly half of that number still marked with gravestones.
Most of the gravestones are of mottled grey and white marble. The marble may have originated in the Renfrew, Madoc and Napanee areas. Limestone, though used here only rarely as a headstone, is the typical base into which the marble stones were slotted. The limestone is of the Black River type, from Kingston. Despite cracking, sinking, sun, acid rain, erosion, moss, vandalism, moisture, gravity, frost and faulty repairs, the remaining gravestones are in “fair” shape considering their age.
Carvers from Port Hope, Belleville, Cobourg and Kingston as well as Picton itself have work represented here. Carvers were typically illiterate, and simply copied the minister’s information as to what the stone was to say.
Stop #3 – A Most Prominent Family: Grave of Samuel Merrill (along the left side of the Church, midway)
Samuel Merrill was Picton’s first lawyer, practicing here for over 50 years beginning in the mid-1820s. As two lawyers practicing in the same region, Merrill developed a friendship with Sir John A. MacDonald. He became registrar of the Surrogate Court in Prince Edward as well as Master-in-Chancery. He and his wife, Mary Edwards Hall, had 11 children, including Edwards Merrill.
Edwards was born in 1842 and became a lawyer and later a County Court Judge and Mayor of Picton. Merrill was a progressive and freethinker – a movement that held that ideas and opinions should be based on science and reason, not authority, tradition or religion. This influential movement, which lasted from the mid-1800s to early 1900s, supported women’s voting rights, and advocated for the abolishment of slavery and reforms to the medical and justice systems. Merrill was an outspoken opponent of capital punishment and helped bring about improvements to the treatment of juvenile delinquents in Canada.
Edwards Merrill and the Lazier Murder Trial Edwards Merrill was also one of over 400 local residents who took a keen interest in the fate of two men convicted of murder in the 1880s in Prince Edward County. During a botched robbery, a farm implement salesman named Peter Lazier was murdered, and Joseph Thomset and George Lowder were sentenced to hang for the crime. During their trial the only evidence brought against them was circumstantial, and Merrill, who was Mayor of Picton at the time, signed a petition requesting that their death sentence be commuted. He also wrote to Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald on behalf of the prisoners, but the Prime Minister was unmoved and the execution went ahead as scheduled on June 10, 1884. They were the only hangings ever to take place in Prince Edward County. It has long been argued that at least one of the two was wrongfully convicted.
Stop #4 Macaulay Family Plot (to right of the church, close to the back)
Reverend Macaulay is buried here with his first wife, Ann Geddes, his second wife, Charlotte Sarah Le Vesconte, and one of his daughters, Mary Rose, who died as an infant. The family rests in one of four fenced plots in the cemetery, indicating their elevated status in the community. Macaulay’s first wife, Ann, suffered from ill health for many years, well documented in family letters. She died in 1849, and Reverend Macaulay purchased a piece of expensive Italian marble for her headstone. Its quality cannot be denied as her stone, while one of the oldest in the cemetery, has stood the test of time better than the stones made of local marble. The amount of text on her stone also alludes to how beloved she was, as the more carving required, the more expensive the finished stone would be. This is why most gravestones from the 19th century included only basic inscriptions.
Stop #5 – Tragedy on Smith’s Bay: Graves of the Pierce Children (to right of the Church, midway)
These three small stones are all marked with the same death date, suggesting a truly tragic story. On July 8, 1866, the five Pierce children, William, Patience, George, David and Robert, and friends were in a canoe on Smith’s Bay (near Waupoos) with their mother Lydia and a cousin. Legend says that one of the children lost a hat over the side, and when they reached to grab it the canoe capsized. The five Pierce children perished, though their mother Lydia survived. Their father, Samuel Pierce, was a blacksmith and his grave can be seen nearby. This moving poem, written shortly after the tragedy, can be found in the book Canvas and Steam on Quinte Waters by Willis Metcalfe.
Smith's Bay Drowning Tragedy (These verses were composed by Miss M. Shannon, on the drowning of the Pierce Children in Smith's Bay, Marysburgh Twp., July 8, 1866.) Ashes to ashes, dust to dust Is man's unchanging doom; For every living being must Lie in the silent tomb. Dear friend depart, though loved so well No human power can save; How oft the solemn tolling bell Reminds us of the grave. 'Twas in the year of sixty-six, The eighth day of July, Nine started for a pleasure trip No danger seeming nigh, Upon Smith's Bay they sailed along, Until a hat was lost, Which by their efforts to regain This sad event was caused. For suddenly the boat capsized, All overboard were cast; In vain they tried to save their lives But seven of them were lost, And sad it is the think that five Belonged to Mrs. Pierce; Who shared their danger, heard their cries, But could not give relief. Upon the drifting boat she clung For three long hours or more, Supporting Michael Harrington Until they reached the shore. Their friends and neighbours gathered round When they the tidings hear; And soon their bodies all were found And claimed by parents dear. Alas, it was a painful sight To see them brought ashore, So sadly changed, so cold and white, Where all was life before. Their parents clasped them in their arms And kissed them o'er again, And long embraced their lifeless forms - None from tears refrain. George Brown, whose age was twenty-one Lay calmly sleeping there; John Harrington, about fifteen, Freed from all earthly care, Of Pierce's family Patience Ann, The mother's joy and pride, William and Robert, David, John And George lay side by side. Who can describe the mother's woe, Her anguish and despair, She almost wished she was laid low Beside her darlings there, All earthly happiness seemed gone, Her heart of hope bereft Of all their children only one Sweet little girl is left. Then soon their bodies were prepared Within the tomb to dwell; And many friends assembled there To take a last farewell. And solemnly they were conveyed From earthly home away, And in the silent dust were laid Until the Judgement day. But in a home beyond the sky When this frail life is o'er, Friends meet again in endless joy And parting is no more. Oh! let us them be warned in time; And each for death prepare, That we gain that happy clime And meet our loved ones there.
Stop #6 – Believe It or Not: Grave of William Pierce (to right of the Church, midway)
Another Pierce grave nearby is quite noteworthy. William Pierce was the son of United Empire Loyalist Patrick Pierce who fought with the 84th Regiment and came to this area in 1784. This tombstone was featured on an episode of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” in the 1960’s for its odd and impossible death date of February 31st. The most likely reason for this mix-up is that the stonemason who carved the stone was illiterate and merely copied a typo in his instructions from the minister. However, if William actually died on the 13th, it’s possible that his family were superstitious and decided to reverse the numbers to avoid incurring any bad luck. This outdoor stone is a replica of the original, which resides just inside the entrance to the church.
Stop #7 – Grave of Philip Low
Picton was established in 1837 after the smaller villages of Picton and Hallowell Bridge amalgamated. Philip Low was the new town’s first Mayor, though that role was not created on the town’s inception. Low, a lawyer, was partnered with the Honourable Justice Christopher Salmon Patterson, who later became a judge on the Supreme Court of Canada and who also presided over the murder trial of Joseph Thomset and George Lowder. Low has two streets named in his honour nearby, and owned Picton’s impressive “Castle Villeneuve” on Bridge Street, which was demolished in 1986 after a propane explosion.
Stop #8 – The Woolworth Connection: Graves of James and Eleanor Creighton
During the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-19th century, hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants arrived in British North America in search of a better life. A number of Irish families settled in Prince Edward County, including the Creighton family in North Marysburgh. Eliza Jane Creighton (or Jennie) was born and raised in Waupoos, but left the County as a teenager to learn dressmaking in Watertown, New York. While there, she met a young stock boy named Frank Winfield Woolworth, and in 1876 they were married. With a loan from Jennie’s cousin, Miss Margaret Morrison, they were able to open their first successful 5 and 10 cent store in Lancaster, PA. Frank would go on to establish the most successful department store chain of the 20th century. Frank died in 1919 and Jennie in 1924. They are buried in the Bronx Cemetery. James and Eleanor Creighton are relatives of Jennie’s. Jennie’s cousin Miss Morrison, who Frank Woolworth called the “Mother of the Five and Ten cent Business”, was a great supporter of this church.
Graves of James and Eleanor Creighton, relatives of Jennie Creighton Woolworth | Courtesy of Macaulay Museum.
Please proceed to the lawn in front of Macaulay House.
Macaulay House and Gardens
Stop #9 – Front of Macaulay House
Macaulay House was constructed for Reverend William Macaulay and his first wife Ann Geddes. They married in 1829 in Kingston, and lived in a cottage at the corner of Church and Old Church Streets until the present house was completed in 1830.
We know from family letters that Ann was beloved by her husband and was described as sweet, generous and very pious. Ann died from pneumonia in 1849. She and Reverend Macaulay did not have any children.
Four years later, in 1853, Reverend Macaulay married a second time, to Charlotte Le Vesconte. Charlotte was born in England, but had immigrated to Canada with her family as a teenager. Her family lived in Seymour Township where her father, a former British naval officer had received a land grant of 1000 acres, although Charlotte had been living in Belleville before her marriage. One of her brothers, Henry Le Vesconte, stayed behind in Englad to serve in the Royal Navy. He became a Lieutenant on the HMS Erebus and was part of the doomed Franklin Expedition.
As the wife of a reverend, Charlotte, like Ann before her, was responsible to the church and congregation to conduct missionary work, charity work, and prayer meetings. She would also have been responsible for managing the female help, planning meals, planting, and errands within the household.
Between marriages, William received money from the estates of his mother and uncle. His new wife also had a dowry. This influx of money made possible some alterations to the house, including the summer kitchen to the rear, adding a side porch off the dining room, and adding marble mantles to the fireplaces in both the parlour and dining room.
Charlotte and William had two daughters during their marriage. One, Mary Rose, died before her second birthday. The other girl was Annie. She lived to adulthood and married James Kirkpatrick of Kingston who was a lawyer. Their two girls were named Grace and Jessie. During the First World War they were nurses, and after the war they lived in a cottage called “Picton” in East Grinstead, Sussex, England.
We do know that while Reverend Macaulay appeared to be well-liked by his staff, there were periods of time where he was unable to pay them due to his financial woes. Prior to his second marriage, Reverend Macaulay was not particularly savvy when it came to his finances. As his first wife Ann was often ill and unable to manage the ‘books’, Rev. Macaulay tended to run up debts in town – not for anything scandalous, mind you – and would depend on his brother John to pick up the tab. He also neglected to regularly collect rent from the numerous tenants living on his property, which meant he was almost always cash-strapped. However, his second wife Charlotte not only brought a large dowry with her, but also the energy to oversee his spending and collect rent from their tenants.
After Reverend Macaulay’s death in 1874, the property passed to his wife Charlotte, and following her death, it was passed to their daughter. As she lived in England, it was held in trust on her behalf before being sold in the early 1900s. The property changed hands at least five times over the next 30 years before being purchased by the Bond family in 1935. The Bonds would live here until 1973, when the County purchased the house, and 4 acres of surrounding parkland for $50,000.
Please proceed to the garden area on the left side of Macaulay House.
Stop #10 – The Kitchen Garden and Apple Orchard
There was an operational farm on this property in the mid-19th century, and this apple orchard in addition to the family’s kitchen garden, would have provided all the fruits and vegetables they needed. The farm and the gardens would have been managed by hired help.
From this vantage point, it is easy to see where the ‘new’ summer kitchen extends backward from the original structure. Cooking would have been done in this space during the hot summer months, which helped keep the main house cool. However, the farm manager’s quarters were located directly above the summer kitchen, so he would have been uncomfortably warm in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.
Lives of the Macaulay House Serving Staff The compliment of female help would have been a cook, hired girls, and seamstresses. Their routines would have centered on cooking, housekeeping, and lamp maintenance. Other duties included taking down and cleaning the stove pipe, beating carpets, emptying chamber pots, washing and ironing, food storage (homemade preserves), keeping the inside of the house clean, and serving. The compliment of male help would have been a farm manager, itinerant farmers, and tenant farmers. Seasonally, the farm work would have included planting, harvesting, animal care, candle making, and preserving salted meats and vegetables.
Stop #11 – The Carriage House
This reconstructed Carriage House rests on the site of a former outbuilding from the Macaulay farm, and was relocated to this site from Bath, Ontario in 1998. It bridges the gap between Macaulay Heritage Park and Macaulay Mountain. You’ll notice the bat box on the east side of the building, alluding to the wildlife that call the Conservation Area home.
The tour continues at Birdhouse City which is located nearby at Macaulay Conservation Area. You can access this site on foot by taking Whattam’s Walkway. You’ll find the entrance to the walkway on the far side of the Carriage House. The walkway ends at Macaulay Conservation Area. Proceed past the brown building on your left and you will find Birdhouse City on your left.
First opened in 1980, Birdhouse City has become a purposeful and whimsical miniature community that hosts over 100 birdhouses that are actually native bird nesting boxes. Most of the birdhouses replicate local buildings and speak to the unique character, culture, and history of Prince Edward County, but there are a few “international’ houses that have inserted themselves over the years.
Birdhouse City is maintained and managed by volunteers with the support of the community and in partnership with Quinte Conservation. In the fall of 2020, an extensive inventory was conducted to assess the state of the birdhouses and their posts, and assign birdhouses to volunteers. The task is ambitious as years of rain, snow, wind, and over-use have taken their toll and and birdhouse needs to be taken down to be cleaned up, rebuilt or refinished, and painted. This work is taking place in the garages, back yards, and sheds of these ‘Birdhouse City Builders’ across the County. But with the use of more durable materials, a plan to maintain the City on a regular basis, and brand new signs for the birdhouses, the future looks chirpy and bright. Follow the City and its team of dedicated volunteers on Facebook and Instagram.
Stop #12 Where It All Began: The Massassauga Park Hotel
Birdhouse City began with just one birdhouse– the Massassauga Park Hotel, built by Doug Harns, then superintendent of the conservation area. He wanted to build a bird house so large that it would go into the Guinness Book of Records (which sadly did not happen). He chose the historic Massassauga Park Hotel as his subject – a large hotel that once graced the shore of Massassauga Point, on land that is now part of Massassauga Point Conservation Area, in the northwest corner of Prince Edward County. The large, elegant hotel and adjacent dance pavilion was located beside a busy port and attracted summer vacationers from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, before being demolished in 1934.
Stop #13 The Crystal Palace
Many of The County’s most notable architectural structures are replicated in Birdhouse City, including The Crystal Palace. Built in 1890 by F. T. Wright based on a plan by Andrew Irving, the building still stands on the Picton Fairgrounds on Main Street East. Picton’s Crystal Palace was inspired by the original Crystal Palace created by Sir Joseph Paxton in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in London England. Paxton’s design of expansive glass was inspired by his work with greenhouses. Following the Great Exhibition, “Crystal Palaces” sprang up throughout the world including New York City and locally in Napanee and Kingston. Sadly many have been demolished and ours is now one of the few original Crystal Palaces remaining in the world.
Stop #14 The Merrill Inn
This birdhouse replicates The Merrill House, built in 1878 in the Gothic Revival style for Edward Merrill (see stop at the grave of Samuel Merrill). The House, which stands at 343 Main Street in Picton, is now a boutique hotel. Merrill and his wife Carolyn later commissioned a smaller version of Merrill House nearby on Hill Street, overlooking the harbour. In 1905, suffering from a terminal disease, Judge Merrill hanged himself from the balcony of this Hill Street home.
Stop #15 The Octagonal House
There are two octagonal houses in Picton. The earliest one, The Roblin House, at 16 Main Street was built in 1858 for John Roblin, then the County registrar of crown lands agent and collector of customs. This house shape and “grout construction” – where a mixture of sand, gravel and mortar is poured into forms – were from a method recommended by phrenologist Orsen Squire Fowler. Fowler promoted the octagonal shape as the perfect building form. The second house, known as Fralick House, is a brick structure on the corner of King and Elizabeth Streets.
This concludes our tour. Feel free to wander and enjoy the birdhouses, and explore Macaulay Conservation Area and its trail network.
A New Place Called Home
For those of us with wanderlust, it’s been a tricky time. We’ve been dreaming of the trips we want to take. The places we want to explore. Instead, we’re left to find ways to experience our favourite destinations from a distance – through delivery, virtual experiences or just bookmarking inspo for future visits.
For those of you jonesing for trip to the County, there’s now another way to visit from the comfort of home: through your TV screen!
“A New Place Called Home” is a just-launched television series focusing on the people behind some of The County’s most beloved enterprises. People who made a big change in their life to come to The County and start a new journey. Created and directed by County resident Chrystelle Maechler, “A New Place Called Home” tells the stories of six County entrepreneurs: what brought them here, what inspired their journey and what keeps them going in their new place called home.
You can find the six-episode series of documentary shorts on VOD on Bell Fibe, channel 1 (listed under Kingston) and on the Bell Fibe TV app.
A new project in a new home
Chrystelle Maechler creates content for film, radio and television as a screenwriter, director and voice artist. When she and her husband came to The County, they were looking for their next project, and the idea for “A New Place Called Home” came to them. It was a very personal project. Chrystelle hails from France and husband Andreas Krätschmer, who filmed and edited the project, is from Germany. They’ve moved around a lot. The notion of “home” and how people perceive it was intriguing to them. Meeting and interviewing the show’s subjects was a great way to get to know their new community.
“We moved here and after three months, the pandemic hit. There were three months of normalcy, and the rest was abnormal,” says Chrystelle. “We learned about the community through their eyes and saw how nice it can be when it’s normal. They were so adamant about how the community is so strong here, and people are so nice and willing to help.”
Selecting the interview subjects was tough. The original list was long, but when they finally landed on the subjects for the six episodes, themes started to emerge. The people profiled in this series all have different stories. Despite their different paths, they all share a love of community and a love of the land. Their stories are not just about geographic moves, but also a major life changes, restarts and a big internal journeys.
Meet the stars of the show:
Mel Cannons and Paul Tobias
Melissa Cannons and Paul Tobias are the restaurateurs behind Idle Wild, a pan-Asian kitchen that serves up take-out at their popular Wellington storefront. Residents and visitors alike are treated to contemporary takes on classic dishes. Look out for Korean japchae, Filipino adobo and lumpia, Thai curries and Japanese maki rolls.
Aaron Armstrong is the owner and farmer at Blue Wheelbarrow Farm, whose organic greens and produce have supplied The County’s best restaurants for years. Aaron is a friendly face at farmers’ markets around The County. While the farm is on sabbatical in 2021, you can keep your eyes on Blue Wheelbarrow for future agritourism experiences.
Susan and Glen Wallis
Susan and Glen Wallis are not only the hosts at AWAY in the County bed and breakfast, they are also celebrated artists. Susan’s encaustic paintings of landscapes, nests, birches and more are on display throughout The County and at her own studio gallery Melt Studio. Glen is a designer and fabricator who makes the Canadian Screen Awards in his shop at the historic Camp Picton air base.
Alison Lawtey is the owner of The Acres at High Shore bed and breakfast, a unique accommodation made of exquisitely re-designed shipping containers. Ali, a former marketing ace, has lovingly restored a heritage barn on the property. She is the steward for acres of wetlands that attract a whole world of birds, bugs, beetles and small animals.
Sleiman Al Jasem
Sleiman Al Jasem arrived in The County as a Syrian refugee, and quickly found his place in the community. When the owners of The County’s only commercial fishery were looking for a succession plan, they connected with Sleiman. He was mentored by them, then took over the business and launched The County Catch. Look for his fresh-caught fish at the Picton Foodland, in his Sophiasburgh area shop and on the menu at local restaurants.
Joaquim and Amor Conde
Joaquim and Amor Conde of Quinta do Conde moved from the big city to The County to revive a small acreage farm with organic and regenerative farming techniques. You can visit their farm store near Black River for produce alongside Amor’s Antiques, or check out their “table at the farm” harvest dinners. Everything they serve at these unique culinary events comes from their land, and the experience includes an opportunity to tour the farm with Joaquim and learn about their farming practices.
Reserve Now, Relax Later
reservation res·er·va·tion/rezərˈvāSH(ə)n/noun: an arrangement whereby something, especially a seat or room, is booked or reserved for a particular person
All indications point to a busy summer 2022 in Prince Edward County. Even though things are returning to some sense of normal, it is still essential to pre-plan your visit.
While capacity limits are back up and most COVID-19 restrictions have been removed, reservations remain a good idea wherever possible. The County is a buzzing place, and not just because of the local bees!
While we do our best to keep on top of opening hours, it continues to be best to check in with businesses themselvesCheck social media posts, or direct message, email or call to make sure that your destination is open and check whether a reservation is needed.
RELATED: Insider tips for a summer County holiday
Make a dinner reservation
Don’t wait to be hungry before you find a place to eat. If you’ve booked a place to stay this summer, start locking in your dining reservations. You can try OpenTable or calling/messaging restaurants directly with your dates. Some restos take reservations only, while others first-come first-served. Even if planning for a meal of takeout or curbside pick, call ahead – many restaurants sell out early, especially on weekends. Lack of planning may result in unnecessary hangry. (Also, see our map of picnic areas, in case dining out means literally eating outside.)
Book a Tour
Make a reservation for a Vintage Car Wine Tour! Join Sam Grosso for a bespoke wine tour in the vintage car of your dreams. The former owner of Toronto’s Cadillac Lounge has found a new calling and will take you on a 4-winery tour in a beautiful automobile from his fleet of vintage cars. Bring your fave playlist and rock the tunes in chauffeured style! For more tour options – including horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, luxury vehicles or taxis – click through to our blog on tours.
Or have County vintages come to you. Sommelier Jay Whiteley will arrive at your door with everything needed to take you on a private wine tasting adventure in the comfort of your holiday home. He’ll lead you through a 90-minute tasting of six of The County’s finest wines and share the stories behind the wines and the history of winemaking in The County.
Book Some Beach Time
If you’ve booked a stay here, you’ll need to plan your days because attractions, including Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas, are expected to continue to be hot spots throughout the summer. Book a day-use permit for Sandbanks or North Beach Provincial Parks. This can be done up to five days in advance of your trip, and guarantees entry. (On a hot, sunny weekend in July, August or September, don’t even consider heading to Sandbanks or North Beach without a permit in hand! The beach closes when full and every season, thousands of vehicles are turned away.)
Please note that for the 2022 summer season, entry to the Wellington Rotary Beach will be $10 per person, 7 days a week in July and August. Entry to Little Bluff Conservation Area comes with a $15 parking fee that can be paid at the gate or through Pay by Phone. Free entry at Wellington Rotary Beach returns September 30th and parking at Little Bluff returns to standard rates after Labour Day Weekend.
During peak summer months, beaches and outdoor spaces are especially busy and thousands of unprepared visitors are turned away every day. Do not head to the beach without a reservation (where possible) and checking these channels in advance:
- Sandbanks and North Beach – Check SandbanksPP on Twitter
- Wellington Rotary Beach – Check Prince Edward County on Twitter or Facebook
- Little Bluff and other Conservation Areas – Check Quinte Conservation for closures and other information.
RELATED: 2022 Visitor Checklist
Experience The County
Get to know The County on a deeper level by spending time with farmers, foragers and artists who are keen to share their love of land and local.
The Bloomin’ Welly Alpaca Trekk shows guests what they wouldn’t normally see on a farm tour, encouraging visitors to connect with the land and the animals and see how they work together. There’ll be plenty of time to spend with the alpacas, and guests will also be encouraged to keep a keen eye for how Noble Beast Farms works to create a welcoming environment to native flora and fauna, and give back to the land.
Bees and Blooms, offered by the Curious Goat General Store, lets guests see the world through a bee’s eyes, highlighting how the hive works together and pollinates the plants that put food on our tables. Guests will taste honey collected through the season, make their own bee balm, and plant or harvest from The People’s Garden, depending on the season. Guests have the option of adding a County-proud charcuterie-forward brunch.
Equine Soul Session invites guests to slow down at Heal with Horses, a non-profit therapeutic centre. Guests will walk back to a clearing in the woods, where they’ll be introduced to tree meditation and horse activities, including delivering a massage to the horses using special grooming gloves and special techniques. This is a powerful experience, surrounded by these huge but gentle beasts! This is about horse encounters, country food and quiet walks.
PAUSE at Melt Studio Gallery. Pause starts with the Japanese tradition of shin-rin yoku or forest bathing. You’ll be led on a meditative nature walk by a local herbalist who will help you to connect to nature, identifying local plants, and teaching you about their medicinal and healing properties. The idea is that you will feel a sense of calm and clarity that will inspire a piece of art that you create yourself. After your nature walk, you will then return to Melt studio, where you will compose a collage encaustic painting under the guidance of Susan Wallis, an experienced encaustic artist. You’ll create an original art piece using items collected during your walk.
See a Show and Take in Some Tunes
Entertainment is back in The County! There are shows galore planned for this year, from live music and comedy to the Festival Players’ chockablock season. Check out our event listing for a full round-up of reservable activities for your visit.
Go for a Float
See the sights of Picton Harbour with Captain Larry or Captain Mike at Picton Harbour Pontoon Boat Tours. There are plenty of sailing and charter options available if you’re aiming to get on the water. Check out our blog on ways to go beyond the beach.
For kayaking and canoeing, make a reservation with Cabin Fever Kayaks or PEC Kayaks and refer to our blog on where to canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard for where to get on the water.
Ride a Horse
Book a trail ride with Diamond J Ranch. Enjoy a scenic mountain ride through fields and woods overlooking Picton Bay. They cater to families and groups, and inexperienced riders are welcome. Pony rides are available for the little ones. Farm tours can also be booked at Lamb’s Quarters Farm in Picton and Campbell’s Orchards on the shores of the Bay of Quinte.
Tee up a wine tour
Hoping to set up a tasting tour of County wineries or cideries? Download the new Wine Explorer app from the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association. The app can match your personal wine preferences with bottles on offer at local wineries. It also includes detailed profiles, as well as lists of unique – and bookable! – wine activities and elevated tastings. Discover which wineries will welcome your dog.
Escape Camp Picton
If you truly want to escape, we’ve got you covered! Escape Camp Picton, located at The County’s authentic WWII era gunnery training school, is launching an outdoor escape room in 2021, plus two indoor escapes for you and your bubble. This unique escape room takes inspiration from its location – blending heritage, history and an unforgettable game experience.
Looking for more ideas? We have lots of trip planning information here.
By Sue Hierlihy (Updated April 2022)
10+ Things To Do when it Rains
Into every life, a little rain must fall. Even – gasp! – during a Prince Edward County getaway. If it’s raining in The County, here are some suggestions for where to find the silver lining in those unwelcome grey clouds.
Indoor space is at a premium due to physical distancing protocols – be sure to call ahead, check websites and socials and make a reservation wherever possible to be sure there is space! Please note that public health travel advisories and orders are changing frequently during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please consult our COVID-19 Essential Info page for the latest updates.
1. Take a trip around the horn
Most visitors stop in Hillier, Picton or Sandbanks, but many don’t make it all the way around to The County’s more isolated areas, including the South Shore, Sophiasburgh, Ameliasburgh, Waupoos and Cressy. Check out Road Trippin’ Off the Beaten Path for ideas for routes and stops.
Stop for blueberries, wine, cider and more in Waupoos, or travel out along the horn to Cressy, where you’ll find cheese, mustard and some rather grand summer homes. (And since Lake Ontario can also produce wild swings in the weather, you may find yourself leaving rain and finding sunshine.)
RELATED: Reserve Now, Relax Later
2. Step back in time
Visit one of the three The County’s Museums scheduled to open on set days for summer 2021. Macaulay Heritage Park in Picton features Macaulay House, restored to the mid 1850s; the historic former Church of St. Mary Magdalene, now a museum; the old parish cemetery; heritage gardens and the carriage house. Wellington Heritage Museum, located in the heart of the village of Wellington, was built in 1885 as a Quaker Meeting House and now features exhibits on local history. Ameliasburgh Heritage Museum has grown from one building, in 1968, to a full pioneer village. The main structure was built in 1868 as a Wesleyan Methodist Church. Over the years, several additional buildings have been added to the site, including a log cabin, display barns, an operational blacksmith shop, a sap shanty, dairy and bee-keeping buildings, and a large stone building housing the Goldie Corliss 18 foot flywheel.
RELATED: Insider Tips for a Summer County Holiday
3. Craft your own barn quilt tour
Stay warm and dry in the car while playing a little barn quilt bingo. Keep an eye out for one of more than 100 blocks adorning County barns and buildings. These eight-foot square (and smaller) painted replicas of quilt blocks are painted on wooden boards, then mounted on a barn or other building. Barn quilts draw attention to Ontario’s disappearing rural landscapes, timber frame barns, and the family farm.
4. Play a game
Escape rooms meet history at Escape Camp Picton. Visit the iconic WW2 air force training base and test your wits in an escape room game or order their Arrow’s Secret puzzle box for play-at-home fun. If jigsaw puzzles are more your jive, Books & Company and Bonkers and Green Gables have great selections, plus other games to boot.
RELATED: Summer 2021 Visitor Checklist
5. Visit an artist
Part of what gives The County its unique vibe is its rich vein of creativity. Check out the Arts Trail online, a PEC Studio Tour guide and explore galleries and artists’ studios, home to painters, potters, glassblowers, fibre artists, photographers, jewellery makers and more. Looking for a one-stop-shop on local art? On a day when its raining in The County you can easily spend the afternoon wandering around SideStreet Gallery, Melt Studio and Gallery, Mad Dog Gallery or The Local Store, which opens for the season in May, finding all sorts of County gems.
6. Taste the terroir
The County’s bedrock of calcareous limestone is what gives the soil the minerality needed to produce world-class wines. From citrusy chardonnay grapes to full-bodied malbec, winemakers here are bottling up a bit of sunshine every season. Book a tour – whether in cars, carriages or bicycles – or plan your own trip with thePrince Edward County Wine Growers Association map or their new PEC Wine Explorer App.
Or take in some of the craft breweries, cideries, the distillery, or a meadery. By your fifth stop, you won’t even notice the rain!
7. Seek retail therapy
Whether you’re a big spender or just a window shopper there are dozens of stores and shops in downtown Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington and Consecon to peruse when its raining in The County. Clothes, books, locally-made arts and food products, body-care, antiques, furniture, knitting goods and even PEC-branded swag – there’s something for everyone.
8. Pick up a book
Perhaps the rain is a sign to slow down. If so, head to Books & Company for a wander amongst the shelves of bestsellers, specialty magazines, local poetry and lore. There’s also a huge selection of kids books, toys and board games. And Pushkin, the store cat, will undoubtedly commiserate about the unfortunate weather. For specialty books, try Zest Kitchen Shop for recipes and culinary tomes, Carbon Life for out-of-the-box books on politics, justice, history and design, and KOKITO for cute books for kids.
All of The County’s six library branches (Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Milford, Consecon, and Ameliasburgh) are packed with cozy nooks, books, and often kids programming or activity spaces. Their staff are pretty amazing too for recommendations and local tips. Check their websites for opening hours and services.
9. Set yourself a fancy table
Grab some takeout from one of the County’s many restaurants and find your new favourite bottle of wine. Then set a fancy table with new napkins, plates, place mats, vases or other goodies from one of the County’s many houseware shops like Zest Kitchen Shop, The Ye11ow, KOKITO, Green Gables, Gilbert & Lighthall. Add some flowers from Coriander Girl, Floralora or Flowers by Marvin and make your dine-at-home experience extra special.
10. Embrace the rain
#CountyUp and embrace the weather with a visit to the shoreline. Consider parking on Main Street and heading for a walk at Wellington Beach, where wild winds can churn up some amazing waves, which put on a show as they crash into the iconic beacon. If you’d rather stay dry during your weather watching, grab a table on the covered patios at the Drake Devonshire, The Vic Drive-In, Parsons Brewing or Isaiah Tubbs Resort.
11. Stay warm and dry at the Drive-In
Rainy evenings gotcha down? The Mustang Drive-In has movies rain or shine and it’s a well known Sandbanks camper secret that rather than spend the night in a tent in the rain.. spend it laughing and snuggling in your car!
And remember: rain helps the garden grow, which means better farm-to-table produce at the next meal!
Updated June 2021.