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 email@example.com 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.
Follow us on Instagram for updates about holiday hours.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 email@example.com
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
Kick Start Your Fall in Prince Edward County this September 🌾🍎
September is one of our favourite months in Prince Edward County: the weather’s still wonderful enough for days spent on the vineyard patios or at the beach, but there’s a lovely chill that bookends the day and reminds us of the cozier months to come. This “best of both worlds” month brings with it plenty of exciting activities for everyone, from the family looking for a perfect fall weekend to art lovers looking to discover what a summer of inspiration has produced. Read on for a round-up of must-experience events and activities to kick-start fall this September in PEC.
Labour Day Weekend
Spending the last long weekend of summer in The County? Here’s how to squeeze the most of this sweet season before getting back into the swing of things:
- Dance your way into the weekend with a Barn Dance at Karlo Estates Winery. Reserve your spot in advance here (cover goes toward your first glass of wine). Or on Saturday night, take in
- Catch a flick at The Mustang Drive-In on their final weekend of the season. They’re showing Minions: The Rise of Gru, Top Gun: Maverick, The Invitation and Fall. Get your tickets on their website.
- Catch some laughs at the We’re Funny That Way Queer Cabaret Comedy Festival at Base31. With performances by Heather Bambrick & Diane Leah, Brandon Ash-Mohammed & Alec Mapa, Karen Williams, James Tison & Martha Chaves, David Benjamin Tomlinson, and The B-Girlz, you’re guaranteed a belly-laugh or fifteen.
- Start your Saturday in the right headspace with the final Alpaca Yoga session of summer at The SHED at Chetwyn Farms.
- Have a WILD forage to table experience with Chef Chris and Hawthorne Herbals on September 2 & September 3. Be sure to contact Chef Chris in advance to be a part of this plant-based feast.
- Bring home the best of the summer’s harvest from a farmer’s market. The Wellington Farmers’ Market, the Wellington Community Market and the Picton Town Hall Farmers Market are all on this Labour Day weekend and will continue through October.
- Enjoy the final Festival Players performances of the season with Beyond The Sea.
- Enjoy the final weekend of Music in the Aviator’s Garden at Base31.
- Take in some PEC history with the final weekend of weekly historical walking tours. There are four to choose from: Graveyard & Gallows, the Base31 Site Walking Tour, the Picton Heritage Conservation District Walking Tour, the Glenwood Cemetery Walking Tour.
- Experience the magic of Canada’s only travelling theatre on wheels with The Roamin’ Roulant’s performance of The Boxcar Cowboy at Huff Estates.
- Attend a drag show at The Hayloft Dance Hall and follow it up with an epic Barn Party.
- Looking for live music? Find it with performances by Tony Forbes at Karlo Estates, Canadian rock icons Lowest of the Low at The Hayloft featuring local openers Norris & Jones, and a Sunday night barn party also at The Hayloft featuring The Lonely Hearts. Additionally, Grammy and Juno nominee Geordie Johnson from Big Sugar takes the stage in the Red Barn at The Eddie this weekend for two shows – don’t miss it!
Like many communities in rural Ontario, September in The County is a time for celebrating all things agricultural. Here’s how to partake in the festivities:
The Picton Fair is one of Ontario’s oldest agricultural fairs, presented by the Prince Edward Agricultural Society (established 1831) and held annually at the Picton Fairgrounds. At this year’s 185th annual fair, September 9 – 11, 2022, come by to enjoy classic fair faire, first class exhibits of everything from arts & crafts to livestock, midway rides and more. Some highlights include the Baby Show (Friday, September 9 at 12PM), the Arm Wrestling Competition (Saturday, September 10 at 1PM), the Dog Show (Saturday, September 10 at 12PM) and the Skate Competition (Saturday, September 10 at 3PM). All weekend long be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the County’s own Isabella Hoops and her Hula Hoop show.
Another highlight is The County Bake Off and Sale in support of the Prince Edward Memorial Hospital Foundation in which local paramedics and firefighters go head-to-head to be voted the best bakers in The County (and to raise the most money, of course!). This event takes place on Saturday, September 10 at 9AM.
There’s also a plenty of live music to be had at the fair, with performances by The Reasons on Friday night, a Bob Seger tribute band on Saturday, and a Gospel Review on Sunday morning.
For a full list of programming, be sure to check out this year’s fair book.
Ameliasburgh Fall Fair
For all the fun of an agricultural fair but with a small village vibe, be sure to check out the Ameliasburgh Fall Fair on September 24, 2022. The Ameliasburgh Fall Fair kicks off with a parade through the village and includes a full day of craft shows and bake sales, exhibits, horse & cattle shows, food vendors, and entertainment for all ages. Entry to the fair is just $5 per adult (kids under 12 are free), which includes entry to Ameliasburgh Heritage Village.
There’s no fruit more emblematic of this time of year. Typically associated with the start of the school year, the apple is one of the first sure signs of fall, and we’re thrilled to say that pick-your-own season has started at Campbell’s Orchards and will continue into early October. At Campbell’s it’s just $25 for a 10lb bag of apples, which includes admission for up to 4 people. Have a larger group? It’s just $5 for each individual member of your party. Campbell’s is open 7 days a week from 10AM – 4PM, and you can either drop by for a day of apple harvest fun or pre-book to save time.
Don’t want to pick-your-own? In addition to Campbell’s you can also get your Prince Edward County apples from Maw’s Lakeview Orchard or Creasy’s Apple Dabble Farm, both located in Waupoos. While you’re in the area be sure to sample the cider at The County Cider Company and Cape Vineyards.
Farm Stands Galore
While it’s also apple season, it’s also peak harvest season at the local farm stands. Be sure to add a stop or two (or five!) to your itinerary and bring home the best of The County. From tomatoes, peppers and corn to the first of the season’s squash harvest, you are sure to find some beautiful produce to stock your fridge and pantry.
Arts & Culture
Tour Local Studios
In its 29th year, the PEC Studio Tour features over 50 talented artists who open their studio doors to welcome you. Whether you’re in the market or just want to tour around to appreciate some great art, the Studio Tour welcomes you to join their completely free tour. Check out the map of participating studios and plan your route!
Take in an Exhibition or Fair
The County is always a great spot for art, but there are a handful of exciting exhibits happening this month that you’ll want to check out. First up is Tapering Perspectives: Scenes from Canadian by Edd Battista at 2Gallery. This exhibition runs through September 12th and explores the Canadian landscape when explored through the shape of a pennant.
Just across the street in The Royal Hotel’s Annex space you’ll find a pop-up exhibition by Oeno Gallery. Running from September 3 – 26, Neon Bouquet features new work by Heidi Conrod, Chung Im Kim, Susan Collett & StackLab.
On September 10, take a stroll through the gardens at Macaulay Heritage Park while discovering the works of local and regional handcrafting creatives. Tickets for Artisans at the Museum are $5 and include entry to the museum.
The monthly County Craft Market is back on Saturday, September 17 for their final market of the season. Taking place at the Elks Hall in Wellington, this craft market is the perfect opportunity to support local creatives.
6 Artists is an outdoor exhibition and fair taking place September 30 – October 2 featuring three painters, one woodworker, one quilter, and one woodland artist.
Experience a Memorable Performance
Comedy on the River is back for their second and final event of the summer season. Hop in a kayak or canoe and enjoy a guided paddle to a water-access-only live comedy show at a secret location on the shores of the Black River. Get your tickets now: you don’t want to miss this distinctly County experience!
Prefer your comedy on dry land? The folks who brought you Comedy on the River invite you to a special Comedy Picnic at Jackson’s Falls. Pull up your picnic blanket on September 24th and enjoy a comedy show on the lawn at this newly restored inn in Milford.
Want some beer with your comedy? Gillingham Brewing’s monthly County Comedy Series continues on September 16th with a performance by PEC local and touring Yuk Yuk headliner Jeff Elliott.
Fancy an evening of theatre? County Roads Theatre Company presents Collected Stories, a play that explores the power dynamics between teacher and student through the lens of a graduate student and aspiring writer. This show featuring County residents Joan McBride and Melissa Paulson, directed by Fred Robinson is on from September 22 through October 2 at the Mount Tabor Playhouse in Milford.
Immerse Yourself in History & Heritage
Come & see one of the County’s most important historic sites in person – the legendary A-Frame cabin of the poet Al Purdy! The Al Purdy A-Frame Association (registered charity) is hosting a one-day open house on Saturday, September 24 and you are invited to pack a lunch and enjoy it by the lake, take pictures in Al’s writing shed, and browse a collection of books and other items available for purchase (proceeds benefit the host association).
Want to learn more about indigenous history and culture? The County Museums are host to an educational session with Jamie Maracle of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on the topic of Wampum belts, traditional teaching tools that record Rotinonshon:ni history and knowledge. Register for this session by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catch some Live Music
There’s no shortage of live music in The County! Check out one of these performances to enhance your County experience:
- The Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival takes place from September 9 – 18 and features 7 performances from world-class chamber music musicians: Music of the Americas, Basta Parlare, Mozart Rearranged, Myriade Quartet, Karina Gauvin and Michael McMahon, Piano for Four Hands, and In the End it all Comes Down to Dvořák.
- Check out the final night of Music in the Park in Wellington featuring a performance by The Reasons.
- The Sandbanks Music Festival is back in person this year at Sandbanks Provincial Park. This live-music, family, and food event takes place on Saturday, September 17 from 2-8 pm featuring headliner Born Ruffians with performances by Laurence-Anne, Matt Barber, CATL, Craig Foster and Huaraches. Get your tickets here. Please note that attendees must also secure a Daily Vehicle Permit to enter the park up to 5 days in advance of the festival. That permit can be purchased here.
- Canadian indie rock and reggae royalty Bedouin Soundclash take to the Drill Hall stage at Base31 on September 17. Get your tickets here.
- Canadian songwriter and folk musician Jaeda Kelly hits the The Red Barn stage at The Eddie on September 23. Get your tickets here.
- Join Base31 on September 23 for an incredible and meaningful night in honour of Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na tyonkwehtáhkwen Mohawk Language and Culture Centre, and a celebration of Indigenous artists. Featuring headliner and JUNO award-winning husband and wife duo, Digging Roots and supported by David R. Maracle and friends, this is sure to be a memorable concert experience. Tickets are just $25 and can be purchased here.
- Looking for some jazz in The County? Join Karlo Estates for Jazz Thursdays with the Howard Rees Duo on September 29. Check out our full event listings for even more regular live music events from Karlo Estates.
- Join The Regent Theatre for an incredible night of life music and celebration of Indigenous culture with their 2nd Annual Truth and Reconciliation Concert. This year’s concert features multi-award wining artist, iskwē who will grace the Regent stage with her incredible presence and artistry, accompanied by a string quartet in what promises to be a stunning night. Get your tickets here.
This September there are several can’t-miss pairing dinners happening in The County. First up on September 9th is a Beer Pairing Dinner at Slake Brewing with Chef Shawn Adler of The Flying Chestnut Kitchen in Eugenia as well as Pow Wow Cafe in Kensington market in downtown Toronto. A member of Lac des Milles Lac First Nation,Shawn focuses on promoting contemporary Indigenous cuisine. This 5-course meal in the spectacular setting that is Slake Brewing is $100 including beer pairings and tickets can be purchased here.
On September 14 you can enjoy a Whiskey of the World Tasting Dinner at The Waring House. This three-course dinner is paired perfectly with three 1oz whiskey pours, guided by a whiskey expert.
Also at The Waring House, on September 28 you can enjoy four-course meal alongside a wine tasting of Volcanic Wines sourced by Sommelier Astrid Young. To book tickets to this PEC Wine Society Dinner and the Whiskey of the World tasting dinner call (613) 476-7492 ext 1 or email email@example.com
Finally, on September 30 head to Karlo Estates for a plant-based Fall Harvest Dinner with Chef Chris Byrne. This 5-course feast is expertly paired with Karlo Estates wines by Vintner, Sherry Karlo. Reserve your spot here.
For even more County events be sure to check out our complete event listing.
Step Back in Time with a Historical Walking Tour in Prince Edward County
Want to learn more about the history of Prince Edward County? Why not add a historical walking tour to your weekend itinerary? This summer, these four historical walking tours will take you back in time, sharing incredible stories about people and events which have shaped local and Canadian history. These tours run through August, so be sure to book soon to enrich your County experience.
Graveyard and Gallows Walking Tour
Presented by The County Museums
Departs from Macaulay Church, 23 Church Street, Picton
Fridays, 7-8:30 pm through
Explore the graveyard at the former St. Mary Magdalene’s church. Meet some of its notable residents, and spot our unusual tombstone once featured in Ripley’s Believe or Not. The tour then makes its way to the nearby Picton Courthouse. Here, while viewing the exercise yards, jail cells and gallows, your guide will tell the story of Peter Lazier’s murder in 1883, and the subsequent trial of the two suspects. The tale ends with an infamous double hanging based on what some say was dubious evidence…
Base 31 Site Tour
Presented by Base31, led by Jacqui Burley
Meet at the Main Entrance to Base31
Saturdays at 2-3:30 pm through Labour Day Weekend
Delve into the history and stories of Base31 with resident expert Jacqui Burley, the former Property Manager of the site when it was known as Loch Sloy. With 20 years of experience in managing the day-to-day business and hosting events onsite, Jacqui shares her knowledge on the history of the buildings, memorable moments, and notable people who make up the rich history of Base31.
Picton Heritage Conservation District Walking Tour
Presented by History Lives Here
Departs from Picton Branch Library, 208 Main Street.
Saturdays, 10-11:30am through Labour Day Weekend
Take a journey through the past with a 90-minute walk in the Picton Heritage Conservation District. Re-live the heady days of tall ships, raucous taverns, railway hotels, and wealth when Prince Edward County was the “Garden County of Canada.”
Glenwood Cemetery Walking Tour
Presented by History Lives Here
Departs from Glenwood Cemetery Chapel, 47 Ferguson Street
Sundays, 10-11:30 am through Labour Day Weekend
Designed as a garden cemetery, Glenwood’s 62 acres are set in rollings hills, with majestic mature forests, gardens, water features and winding walking paths. It has offered a serene resting place since 1873, and there are now over 15,000 interments. Notable burials include Wellington Boulter, the father of the Canning Industry in Canada, temperance pioneer Letitia Youmans, and 12 Commonwealth War Graves, six of whom were pilots killed during training exercises at Camp Picton.
Bloomfield Historic Walking Tour
Departs from Bloomfield United Church
Wednesday – Sunday, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm through August 21st
Discover true stories of the real people and events that shaped the village on a Bloomfield Historic Walking tour. Take a stroll with a friendly guide and hear about the houses, history, heritage – The Great Helicopter Heist – and more. Tours take place every Wednesday through Sunday at 10:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:00 pm. For the history buff the 10:30 am tour is 1.5 hours long, while the 1:30 and 3:00 tours are 45 minutes, a perfect break for your afternoon. These tours are free, and there’s no need to book in advance. Just show up with your group or just yourself, ready to absorb all you can about Bloomfield’s history.
Want to explore more Prince Edward County history?
Be sure to check out the History & Heritage section of our website.
Introducing Base31, a Destination in Progress in PEC
The rumours are true – Loch Sloy, Camp Picton, The Heights – whatever name you have known it by, is now revamped and under new management.
Join us in extending a warm welcome to Base31 – a destination in progress, on the site of a former WWII airbase at the top of the hill overlooking Picton, Ontario.
What is Base31?
Base31 is a destination in progress on the site of a former WWII airbase in Picton, ON. An evolving fusion of art, ecology, heritage, industry and innovation, Base31 invites you to peer into the past and co-create its future.
Base31 is a springboard for makers, creators, artisans, and entrepreneurs. They are weaving a thread between the incredible history of this place and a future where anything is possible. The site is an up-and-coming event venue that aims to curate collaboration with the community to offer the best of the best through their historical and iconic property.
What can I expect from Base31 in 2022?
Since PEC Community Partners purchased this site in December of 2021, the small but mighty Base31 team has been hard at work planting the Aviators Garden, preparing The Drill Hall for some major concerts this summer – including Sarah Harmer, David Wilcox, a Queer Comedy Cabaret Festival, Big Lake Arts Chamber Orchestra and SLOAN, and will be hosting the PEC Community Craft Beer Festival in October (details to come!).
You can also be inspired by Alvar, a new project by The Department of Illumination, experience Canada’s first travelling theatre on wheels, Roamin’ Theatre Roulant (be sure to stay tuned to the event listing here on VisitPEC.ca for performances in locations throughout The County this summer), and be serenaded by the sweet sounds of Bedouin Soundclash.
Simply can’t wait to check out this sweet new destination in PEC? Be sure to grab tickets to the free Community Open House this Saturday, July 9th and the grand re-opening of the historic Drill Hall happens July 22nd, featuring Sarah Harmer in concert.
How is Base31 transforming the space and landscape of this former WWII airbase?
Among the work done so far, Base31 has made two public art calls and selected artists to install works on their buildings. They have transformed the landscape through the use of berms, walking paths and sculptural public art, curated a calendar full of exciting programming, and hired 18 local county residents to join their team!
On site, there have been dozens of trees planted, the team has consulted and worked alongside All Welcome Here to start their diversity and inclusion efforts, secured 31 partnerships and community investments in Prince Edward County and have collected dozens of pieces of cardboard for an art project on site. Base31 also continues to call out to community for photos. If you know anyone with photos of family on the Base in the 1940s or 1950s please tell them to email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What about the businesses we know and love on-site at Base31?
They aren’t going anywhere! When visiting Base31 you can still peruse galleries like Melt Studio & Gallery (including their PAUSE experience), Maison Depoivre Art Gallery, and Side x Side Studio featuring potter Wendy Vervoort and guitar maker Edward Klein. You can also try your hand at an escape room with Escape Camp Picton and visit Wallis Design Build.
To check out more on Base31, check out the site in person, visit their website, and immerse yourself in their YouTube channel.
This post was written in collaboration with the Base31 team.
Header image by Johnny CY Lam, used with permission from Base31.
What to get up to this February in The County ❄🍷
After a long January, restrictions are gradually easing and The County is reopening, ready for plenty of winter fun. If you have a visit planned this month, if you live in the area and are looking for a fun weekend activity, or if you just want to experience the joys of February in The County second hand, read on.
This information is accurate as of February 1st, 2022. As always, we recommend checking in directly with operators as this information is subject to change. Visit our COVID-19 page for more information.
Reminder: as of January 4th 2022, enhanced vaccine passports with a scannable QR code are required for indoor dining and locations such as recreational facilities. Further to that, some businesses are going above and beyond to keep the community safe, so we ask that individual requirements are respected at all times.
A Vintner Winter
The vines may be resting under a comfortable blanket of snow and earth, but many wineries will be serving up pours in their tasting rooms this February. Be sure to download the PEC Wine Explorer App before you visit to plan your trip and explore Prince Edward County Wineries (and Cideries!) by region, style and more. As always, check in with wineries before visiting via the app or Instagram to confirm operations and open hours, and be sure to make a reservation where necessary. You can also start your planning right here on VisitPEC.ca by checking out the wine section of our website for inspiration.
Hit the Trail
If you’re looking to get outside while you’re here, there are plenty of ways you can do so. Fancy giving snowshoeing a try? Head to Sugarbush Vineyards where you can rent snowshoes for $20, which includes a wine tasting and hot chocolate (weekends only). Or you can participate in a guided 3km snowshoeing walk at Three Dog Winery on weekends throughout February, which includes snowshoes and a glass of wine. Also keep an eye out for foodie pop-ups at Three Dog to complete your experience.
Snowshoeing not your thing? There are plenty of other ways to get outdoors. Why not bring your cross country skis and plan a trip down the Millennium Trail? Or how about pack your best snow boots and go for a winter hike at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area or at the Sandbanks Dunes Trail (the parking lot at Dunes is now maintained in the winter). If you plan to head out in winter, though, be sure to plan your route ahead of time, make sure your phone is charged, dress warmly and ensure you head out with plenty of daylight left – it’s easy to get turned around on trails, especially after fresh snowfall.
Plan an Escape
Escape Camp Picton is reopening for the 2022 season with a special Family Day Weekend event! Join them for an escape between February 11 and 14 and enjoy an extra special post-game celebration with a hot chocolate buffet and a make-your-own puzzle kit to take home with you.
Want to escape Camp Picton from the comfort of home? They also have a handcrafted at-home puzzle box available for purchase – perfect for cozy snow day weekends or evenings spent back at your accommodations.
Hit the Ice
If you haven’t heard, Parsons Brewing Company‘s covered ice rink is open daily for the season and it’s more epic than ever! Whether you want to play some shinny or you just want to skate, this family-friendly activity makes for a perfect winter outing, especially when paired with their rink-side snacks – we’re talking emanadas, grilled cheese and roast tomato soup, served alongside their wide selection of beers and coffee (with Bailey’s!) if you’re feeling the chill. They even have hot chocolate and s’mores kits for the kids (and big kids) who want to have some fun by the fire pit after a good skate. Be sure to follow them on Instagram for daily updates on rink conditions as well as for rink rules.
Speaking of ice, if you are visiting a beach during winter be sure to stay off the shore ice as this is known to be dangerous, even in the coldest weather. Also, unless you are with a guide or familiar with ice conditions in the area, any lake ice should be considered unsafe. Stick to shore and stay safe.
If skating’s not your thing but you’re still chasing classic “apres” vibes and craft beer, there’s plenty of options for you! Gillingham Brewing has a fabulous winter patio setup (complete with Oysters!), Prince Eddy’s will be serving up pours both in and outdoors, Matron Fine Beer has a sweet sheltered back patio, and Slake comes complete with many fire pits to share the warmth alongside their gorgeous views – but don’t worry, their indoor seating is also open if you want the views without the windchill.
Go Back in Time
It’s Flashback February at The County Museums, which means we have plenty opportunities to engage with the history and heritage of Prince Edward County through talks, performances and more. The 2022 event (February 19-27) will include a combination of in-person and virtual offerings including a historic barn tour at Karlo Estates Winery (multiple in-person dates), a Photos and Follies exhibit at North Marysburgh Town Hall, an exhibit on the “social media” of early Prince Edward County, a virtual historic cooking presentation, and more. Check out the Flashback February website for more details.
Indoor dining is back, and your favourite County restaurants are ready to welcome you (at limited capacity for now). Not only are the all-season restaurants open again, but so are the restaurants that typically close in January like La Condesa, Flame + Smith and The Marans Dinebar. (note: some restaurants operate seasonally and will open again in the spring, so we still recommend confirming operations before setting your heart on a particular spot!) If you’re planning a foodie trip be sure to make a reservation where possible or plan in advance to potentially wait a for a table (though wait times in February are typically much less than in summer, reduced capacity make affect wait times). Looking for a unique Friday night dining experience? Book a Fondue Friday at The Eddie. Wanting to experience the newest of the new? be sure to book a spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner at The Royal Hotel, the reimagined historical gem of Picton Main Street.
Here for Valentine’s Day? Many spots are offering special pre-fixe menus for your romantic celebrations. So be sure to check out the restaurants on your wish list on social media to see what feasts they have dreamed up for the day of love.
Winter with Lakeside
If you’re looking for a family and pet-friendly winter outing, why not head to The Lakeside Motel in Wellington? They have a few epic weekends planned on their property. Swing by to enjoy live music, their new food truck and their cozy heated enclosure alongside their epic lake views. Check out our event listings for more information.
Visit a Gallery
February is a great time to visit a Prince Edward County art gallery. Most galleries and studios are open weekends or by appointment, so we highly recommend discovering local artists through the County Arts Council and the Arts Trail before you visit. Once you’ve built your wish list, be sure to check in directly to confirm hours of operation or book an appointment before visiting.
If you want to take your appreciation of art outdoors, be sure to check out the sculpture garden at Oeno Gallery (yes, it’s open in winter, and yes it is magical – see the video from last year below!) or take a stroll just off Picton Main Street to Benson Park to enjoy fun installations by The Department of Illumination.
Take in a Concert
We’re excited for February to bring a return to in-person performance. If you’re a fan of Jazz, Big Lake Concerts has just the think for you. Be sure to get tickets to one of two seatings of SOA and Friends at The CAPE on February 24th. SOA covers a wide stylistic terrain from jazz, consistently enveloped by the warm and soulful voice of Chrystelle Maechler. Thompson Egbo-Egbo joins her on the piano and together they will deliver a rich evening of musical sounds and stories. Rooted in jazz, SOA features a mix of originals and fresh interpretations of outside material, in French, English, and sometimes German. “SOA” means “precious” in the language of Madagascar.
Plan Your 2022 Visit
If you don’t have a February visit planned but are feeling a little bit envious after reading about all of these amazing happenings in The County this month, let the inspiration strike! Now is the perfect time to start planning your 2022 visit. Take advantage of the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit and book somewhere to stay, discover more things to do, taste and experience and start building the a picture perfect PEC itinerary. Looking for more inspiration? Be sure to check out our blog.
Plan Your Fall 2021 Visit to Prince Edward County 🍁🍂🎃🍎🍻🚲
Prince Edward County may be known for its summers, but Fall in The County has so much to offer travelers of all kinds. Whether you want to get outdoors, reap the benefits of harvest season or simply get into the spirit of the Fall season, we’ve got something for you.
As with every trip to The County, your experience will benefit from a little bit of forward planning. While the Fall is definitely quieter, after a busy summer Prince Edward County businesses change up their hours of operation, so as always we recommend calling ahead or checking social media for the most up to date information.
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.
Book Your Accommodation
While there is more availability to plan a last-minute trip in the Fall, we still recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment. Explore some of The County’s rental accommodations or if you prefer to camp when it’s quieter (and free of mosquitos!) Sandbanks Provincial Park is open for camping through to the end of October. Whatever you decide, book now so you have the perfect home base for your Fall adventure. Want to visit Sandbanks for a Fall walk? Day-use Vehicle Permit pre-booking continues until the end of the season, so be sure to book up to five days in advance of your planned visit here.
Experience Arts and Culture
Craving a little culture? The County has it in droves. Take a tour of the Arts Trail, a self-guided driving tour and signature experience of professional year-round artist studios and galleries. If you love a peek behind the scenes the annual PEC Studio Tour is on from September 24 – 26 this year, which will take you into the studios of more than 40 artists in the region. Also, Ontario Culture Days Creatives in Residence Alchemy – a Hillier-based artists’ residency – will be taking guests on guided tours of their Table Settings installations and community initiative. Check out the event listing on the Culture Days website for more information and to register for this free event.
Fall is also a great time to immerse yourself in the storied history of The County and there’s no better way to do that than at our museums and historically significant sites. Step back in time with a visit to Macaulay Heritage Park, take in the pioneer village at Ameliasburgh Heritage Village, or go for an autumnal stroll through the beautiful Glenwood Cemetery – your options are endless!
Savour Fall Flavours
Fall is harvest time, and there’s no better time to sample locally grown flavours at Prince Edward County’s local restaurants and farm stands. Be sure to plan a visit to a farm or two before heading home to take home a County bounty to enjoy, store or preserve. Want a farm-to-table dining experience where the distanced travelled is–quite literally–nil? Book a harvest supper at a local farm, like this harvest tasting experience at Quinta Do Conde or the Harvest Dinner Under the Stars at Vicki’s Veggies.
It’s the thick of harvest season at local wineries, but you can still visit their tasting rooms and bottle shops. Be sure to book your wine tours in advance to avoid disappointment. While you will have to wait a while to sample this year’s grape harvest, expect to see some breweries like featuring beers using this summer’s local hop harvest. Not that into hops? Cozy up with a dark beer in front of a fire pit at one of the region’s many breweries. Parsons Brewing Company is even bringing their own take on Oktoberfest to The County on October 2nd, with specialty brews available for the occasion. If the taste of Fall you crave is more apple-forward, go on a self-guided cider tour or hit up Campbell’s Orchards for some pick-your-own fun.
Hit the Trail
While cycling is an activity enjoyed all year round in The County, the Fall offers the perfect conditions for experienced and recreational cyclists alike. With the roads being quieter than they are at the height of summer and the temperatures cooler, it’s the perfect time to hop on your bike and explore.
The Millennium Trail is one of the best ways to get across The County by bike. Connecting Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Hiller and Consecon, this 46 km, mostly flat trail can get you pretty much anywhere you want to go with just some minor diversions on County roads. Check out this helpful Google Map complete with trailhead and intersection information, and a blog with all of the insider details to help you plan your journey.
Take in the Views
Want to take in the Fall colours on your trip? Be sure to add Slake Brewing to your itinerary. With their hilltop location, sprawling outdoor space and many fire pits – not to mention their great beer – it’s one of the best places in The County to take in the view.
Another great way to take in The County’s Fall colours is to go for a drive (or a cycle!) down some quieter County roads. The “back forty” of many rural and agricultural areas are forested with maple trees and the roads are lined in Staghorn Sumac, whose leaves turns a brilliant red in early Fall, giving you stunning autumnal colours throughout the season that are a feast for the eyes when on a scenic drive. We’ve mapped out a few popular scenic routes here.
Prepare for the Chill
As we all know, Fall is sweater weather. But when preparing for a tour around The County we recommend that you bring more than just a sweater. While indoor dining will be possible with your Proof of Vaccination, many establishments will be keeping their patios open throughout the Fall for those who prefer to dine outside to enjoy the weather and to maximize capacity for diners and visitors to craft beverage establishments. Come prepared with extra layers and maybe even a blanket or two so you can stay comfortable outside as the weather gets cooler.
So what are you waiting for? Book your Fall trip today and discover the joys and gems of Fall in The County.
See something missing? Have ideas for our blog writers? Contact us at email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
10 Places to Get a Taste of County History 🛶 🥫
The County’s five local museums are the keepers of 225+ years of history, artifacts, heritage gardens, park lands, orchards and outdoor exhibits, but there are plenty of places to explore and experience the influence of Indigenous, British, French, Dutch, German and many others who have at some time called The County home.
Macaulay Heritage Park comprises the house, gardens and church established by Rev. William Macaulay, an Anglican minister whose generous inheritance helped build the town of Picton. Inside the house you’ll find evidence of a comfortable life, albeit one lived in the 1800s: a winter and summer kitchen, three generous bedrooms, a sitting room, a parlour and more.
In winter, Macaulay hosts Ice Box PEC, an immersive art exhibition. It’s also host to many events featured in Flashback February, a week-long celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Prince Edward County.
Throughout the summer, Macaulay Heritage Park comes alive with special events, exhibits, day camps and programs meant to connect the community with its past. This is also the starting point of the popular Graveyard & Gallows tour, a guided, summertime walk highlighting the grisly double-hanging of the Lazier murder suspects.
Mariners’ Museum is a budding pirate’s paradise. This kid-friendly gem is filled with marine treasures, from model ships to maps of shipwrecks to details of rum runners’ routes, it also has a fort with a cannon, a swing set and a yard full of ship/boat-related paraphernalia awaiting exploration.
Water has always figured prominently in County life, once providing transportation routes into the interior. Trace the history of steam ships, schooners, speed boats, dugout canoes and fisherman’s skiffs at this South Bay museum.
The County was once known as the Garden County of Canada, owing to its plethora of fruit and vegetable canning factories. The first opened on the corner of Spring and West Mary streets in Picton. It was soon joined by dozens more and in the 1890s and early 1900s it became common to see horses and wagons loaded down with produce, waiting to be weighed and processed. Soon, The County was producing one-third of all canned tomatoes in the country. The industry began to wane after the Second World War, when factories were bought up and closed by competing American companies. Learn more about this industry at the Wellington Heritage Museum and get a closer look at vintage canning labels. It’s possible some were influenced by members of The Group of Seven when they worked in Toronto’s commercial art houses.
By the 1890s, The County had already seen the Barley Days come and go. It was awash in canning factories, dairies and cheese factories. But at its heart, it was an agricultural community. The Village has a heritage school and church, as well as a general store, log cabin, sugar shack, honey house and blacksmith’s shop. It will also become the permanent home of The deVries Collection, consisting of more than 500 natural history specimens and one of the finest private collections of taxidermy in the province.
When upstart Americans began a rebellion against their British founders, the British not only deployed their own troops, they also made use of indentured German soldiers. The Hessians were a fearsome lot: they fought under German flags, with German commanders, and were known for using pikes as weapons. (They were famously wiped out during the Battle of Trenton, a key turning point in the American Revolution, when 1,400 Hessian fighters were killed, wounded or captured during the December 26, 1776 battle.) When the Americans at last declared victory, the British gave their hired fighters a choice: they could either receive passage home, or claim land in Canada. Rose House belonged to the descendants of one of the Hessians, who arrived in The County in one of the first waves of German immigration to Canada.
Marilyn Adams was a teacher with a keen interest in her family’s history. Today, her estate has become the Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre, a hidden gem of family histories in Ameliasburgh. The centre’s volunteers specialize in sleuthing out nameless photos and deciphering the sometimes difficult-to-read handwriting of years gone by. Resources include a reading and library room, collections of township documents, historical and genealogical documents, a names database, microfilm readers and more. It is also home to one of the world’s most prestigious military collections, the Victoria Cross Archive, which was transferred from Britain in February 2011. They also offer library-level subscriptions to Ancestry.ca at no charge.
Base31 – aka Camp Picton or No. 31 Bombing and Gunnery School – was one of 151 British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) schools established across Canada between 1940-1945. Recruits from allied forces around the globe gathered at Camp Picton for training, including flying sessions out over the lake, where they dropped ‘bombs’ filled with coloured powder in an attempt to hit white canvas targets. Today, Base31 is a business park and community arts space, with many of the base’s original barracks having been painstakingly restored. But part of the charm of the place is seeing the way some of it has been lost to the elements, with Dali-esque buildings slowly swaying their way to the ground. Occasional walking tours visit the museum, the mess hall, the parachute drying building and a few of the hangars.
For more than a century The Regent Theatre has provided entertainment to County residents as the “Monarch of Main Street.” The building was turned into a theatre in 1918 by George Cook, a Greek immigrant who ran the theatre with his wife and daughters. Over the years, it became an important stop on the vaudeville route, before becoming a venue for moving pictures.
Naval Marine Archive: The Canadian Collection holds a quarter of a million maritime and nautical documents, books, images, charts, magazines, journals and ship plans, plus their databases provide comprehensive marine and nautical research capability. The Naval Marine Archive hosts art exhibits, in addition to their archive and collection of marine books, ship models and displays.
Glenwood Cemetery is an active cemetery located on 62 acres of land in the heart of Picton, and a popular spot for pedestrians looking for a serene walking spot set in rolling hills. Designed as a garden cemetery, it has mature forests, gardens, water features and winding walking paths. Established in 1873, the cemetery is an unrecognized trove of Canadian history and the final resting place of Letitia Youmans, a leader of the Canadian temperance movement.
At the most eastern edge of The County’s south shore lies the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, home to the Point Traverse Lighthouse. The fixed red light began guiding small vessels safely to shore in 1881, in response to a plea from ship captains. The lighthouse’s lamp and reflectors were replaced by a French lens in 1909. Three years later, the Canadian government terminated the lighthouse, but reinstated its light the following year, due to demand. The light was automated in 1941 and received a heritage designation in 2015. Walking and birding tours of the area are available in the spring and fall.
Peter Lockyer grew up in The County and has devoted much of his career to documenting the area’s history. He’s also the mastermind behind History Lives Here walking tours of downtown Picton, running May to October, taking visitors along the main and side streets, regaling them with stories of tall ships, rum running, the Barley Days, temperance and canning.
Content updated January 2020
Explore Military History at Base31, the Former Camp Picton ✈️
Base31 – aka Camp Picton or No. 31 Bombing and Gunnery School, and formerly known as Loch Sloy Business Park – was one of 151 British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) schools established across Canada between 1940-1945.
By the end of the Second World War, the BCATP had produced 131,553 aircrew, according to Veterans Affairs, including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators for the Air Forces of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
In 1969 when the camp was decommissioned, it was sold to former Picton mayor H. J. McFarland, who was of Scottish descent and renamed it Loch-Sloy. It was later purchased, in 1999, by a WWII veteran who had trained at a similar site. It’s now almost 20 years into an odyssey to try to restore as much as possible and turn it into a mixed use business park. It’s the last remaining site of its kind in North America with as many original buildings still intact. In December 2021, the site was purchased by PEC Community Partners and was rebranded to become Base31.
Learn More about Base31’s Plans for the Site
The camp was built in about a year, which might seem like it was thrown up without an intention for it to remain, but there’s a surprising level of craftsmanship to the barracks, mess halls, drill halls and more.
Resident expert and former Loch-Sloy Business Park properties manager Jacqui Burley notes that although they did not stick to heritage rules during the restorations under Loch Sloy’s tenure – using metal roofs instead of asphalt shingles, for example – the colours are as close as they could get to the originals. Since it’s mostly only black and white photographs that document life at the camp, Burley had to take the shingles to be colour-matched professionally.
According to Veterans Affairs, BCATP trainees started with basic training of about eight weeks, which included at least 50 hours of flying. Aircraft commonly used at Elementary Flying Training Schools included the de Havilland Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch and Fairchild Cornell. BCATP trainees started with basic training of about eight weeks, which included at least 50 hours of flying.
They then graduated to Service Flying Training Schools for more advanced instruction, according to Veterans Affairs: “Potential fighter pilots trained on single-engine North American Harvards while pilots selected for bomber, coastal, and transport operations received training on twin-engine Avro Ansons, Cessna Cranes, or Airspeed Oxfords. Throughout its military history, Camp Picton also housed the Avro Arrow test models.
“After five weeks of theoretical training at Initial Training Schools, air observers would move to Air Observer Schools for a 12-week course on aerial photography, reconnaissance, and air navigation. This also included 60 to 70 hours of practical experience in the air. Observers learned the science of bombing during their 10-week stay at a Bombing and Gunnery School. With an additional four weeks at an Air Navigation School, recruits were then ready for posting overseas.”
A few of the buildings have been preserved for use as a museum. There are also 60 tenants in the park, and a waiting list of businesses eager for a chance to make use of a restored barrack.
The museum is largely stocked with items collected by a Picton man who was a long-distance truck driver and picked up memorabilia from across Canada during his excursions.
Burley tells us that the bombers and gunners learned their skills with practice runs, flying out over the lake and aiming at white targets floating on the water’s surface. The bombs were actually coloured powder, so they could see who hit and who didn’t.
The tour is filled with hidden gems: the commercial grade kitchen, heavily vandalized in the years after the Camp was decommissioned; the officer’s lounger, with its retro wrap-around bar. Burley also took us to the “gas chamber,” where recruits were exposed to tear gas and taught to put on their masks, a practice that was meant to help them deal with any rising panic.
Base31’s life as a business park actually harkens back to its initial economic benefits. Says Veterans Affairs: “Coming on the heels of the Great Depression, the economic benefits of the BCATP were warmly welcomed by Canadian communities. Even before the final BCATP agreement was signed, local officials began lobbying the government to build an aerodrome in their community.”
“As bases were being built, local companies expected to win contracts for labour, gravel, and lumber supplies. Residents hoped to be employed on construction crews, while merchants anticipated that construction workers would spend their pay cheques on housing, food, clothing, and recreation.”
“Construction was not the only economic benefit of the BCATP aerodromes—large numbers of students, instructors, and their families brought business to local merchants. Host communities also benefited when local companies secured contracts for supplying electricity, water, natural gas, coal, and food to the base. Once in operation, the airport needed to fill many civilian positions, from clerical posts to aerodromes and aircraft maintenance.”
There were no women trainees, per se. But Burley tells us they did have women who moved airplanes. Otherwise, the only time women were on the camp was when they were invited for dances. Even their “madame,” who planned events and helped manage civilian staff, lived off the actual camp, in a little bump of the land skirted by a barbed wire fence.
From Veterans Affairs: “Some airmen paid the supreme sacrifice – losing their lives in training accidents, other mishaps or due to illness without even leaving Canadian soil. Of the 856 BCATP participants who either died or were seriously injured while at training schools, 469 were RCAF, 291 RAF, 65 RAAF, and 31 RNZF. Sadly, some Royal Canadian Air Force–Women’s Division members also lost their lives while serving at BCATP bases during the war. Although the bodies of the fallen Canadians were usually returned to their hometowns, Commonwealth recruits who died were buried in cemeteries of nearby communities. Usually one town was chosen as the official burial site, and these graves can still be found today.”
There are certain parts of the Camp that are losing the battle to the elements, producing a bit of a Salvador Dali effect.
They’re fighting not just the elements, but vandalism too. The airstrip is still in use, although not nearly long enough for commercial services. There is a pilot school and a couple private planes that make use of the site.
The barracks home to galleries such as Melt Studio & Gallery, home of the PAUSE experience, and Maison Depoivre, as well as Side x Side Studio featuring potter Wendy Vervoort and guitar maker Edward Klein. You can also step back in time and solve WWII-themed puzzles with your favourite team of spies at Escape Camp Picton.
Book a spot on this unique historical walking tour and discover a Canadian military treasure worth preserving!
Post updated by Visit The County staff, July 2022.
Trace Your Roots at the Marilyn Adams Genealogy Research Centre 🌳👨👨👧👦
The call came from Missouri. A man with the last name Wilson told volunteers at the Marilyn Adams Genealogy Research Centre that he and his brother were likely the last of their family. They were looking into their ancestry and wanted to know if there was a chance that they might still have some relations in The County.
The sleuths at the Seventh Town Historical Society got to work.
A name like Wilson is common. It’s also familiar to anyone driving the roads in The County – Wilson Road bisects the municipality, a route connecting Bloomfield to Hillier. Even visitors know it for its wineries, art studios and soon-to-be brewery and garden centre.
It turned out that the gentleman had plenty of extended family in The County – and a long and fascinating family history that centred around a grist mill on Lake on the Mountain.
He hopped into his van with his dog and drove all the way to the centre where a volunteer offered to drive him around The County – not something they do routinely! The man went from feeling alone in the world to feeling anchored in family.
“I think we overwhelmed him,” laughs Society president Diana Godbout. She pulls a thick file from her desk at the Marilyn Adams Genealogy Society building in Ameliasburgh. “This is what we know about his mother’s side – we just haven’t told him yet!”
The Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre is a hidden gem in The County, often better known outside the municipality. It is a treasure-trove of resources for anyone looking to dig into the history of the area, research their family tree, better understand The County, investigate the history of neighbouring jurisdictions or search out the stories behind long-hidden documents, fading photography or other family relics.
“It’s addictive,” says volunteer Janet Comeau, explaining why volunteers help visitors track down answers to ancestry questions. “It’s like going down a rabbit hole.”
It can be an emotional endeavour – in the time I spent at the centre, volunteers tracked down my grandfather’s birth registration, sending me an image of my great-grandfather’s spidery writing, documenting his first son’s name, in a ledger dated October 1909, nearly five months after he was born.
It might be the only time I’ve seen my great-grandfather’s handwriting.
The centre is named after Marilyn Adams, an only child born and raised in Rednersville, who spent most of her teaching career in Oshawa. She was an avid researcher, fascinated in exploring her own family’s history. She retired in 1989 but a year later, a doctor told her she had only a few months to live. She made the profound decision to leave her home and belongings to the Seventh Town Historical Society, which in turn established a centre for genealogy.
Today volunteers who carry on her legacy have helped hundreds of people trace their ancestry. They’ve also worked tirelessly to preserve countless irreplaceable documents, from tomes on the German Hessian settlers, to early road maps, to land registry cards gifted by the King to Loyalists chased from the United States.
Visitors to the centre can use the facility’s subscription to ancestry.ca, a massive savings for anyone encountering paywalls as they sift back through the branches of their family tree. They can also make use of volunteers who specialize in linking names to faces in photographs, using clues from style of dress to watermarks from the photographer to help puzzle out who is who.
They’ve also used photographs to fill in gaps in family histories – one photo featuring three sons prompted researchers to discover evidence of a dysentery outbreak, one that killed the boys in the picture and many of their relatives.
“And that’s just from looking at a photograph,” Godbout says.
Visitors do not have to have County heritage in order to find value in the building’s resources – in fact, they get requests from all over the world for help untangling ancestral mysteries.
Godbout recounts unraveling the history behind an unusual grave marker at a nearby cemetery as one of her best finds. The bronze bust of a woman in a plunging neckline prompted several phone calls and emails from curious visitors – who was this woman and what had happened to deserve such a striking tribute?
Godbout traced the story back to a man in Belleville, who had carved the sculpture in tribute to a long-time friend. After his wife died, the friends became partners, only for the woman to be lost too soon.
The Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre is open to the public Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer months and Tuesdays during the winter months. Visit their website for more information on hours, available support and resources.