Prince Edward County

I have many fond childhood memories of this part of eastern Ontario. While it seems all the kids in my Toronto neighbourhood went “up north” to cottage country, our family would head east on the 401 toward Belleville.

There is an unusual part of Ontario most people zip past while travelling Highway 401. Prince Edward County, also know as Quinte Isle, is accessed off the Wooler Road (or from Trenton and Belleville). This rather crinkly-shaped part of Ontario sticks out into Lake Ontario and is a former peninsula. I say former because between 1882-1889 an 8 km (5 mi.) canal was cut to bypass having to sail around Prince Edward County to reach the Bay of Quinte. (This area of Lake Ontario has a fair few ship wrecks to its name.) There are now two swing bridges (Brighton Road Swing Bridge and Carrying Place Swing Bridge) that allow cars into Prince Edward County and at the same time give boats easy access the Bay of Quinte.

Prince Edward County is full of United Empire Loyalist heritage (They even renamed Highway 33 to the Loyalist Parkway.) and you find very quaint town names such as Bloomfield, Consecon, Ameliasburg, Lake on the Mountain (a bit of an exaggeration calling it a mountain however) and Cherry Valley.

Picton is the main town and I recommend that you pick up picnic supplies there and on a sunny day head to Sandbanks Provincial Park, where you will find some of the best natural sand beaches with the appropriate sand dunes and cottonwood trees.

I remember my Great Aunt and my mother dragging me as a child to flea markets and antique shops. A little research showed me that Bloomfield is still in the antique business as evidenced by a new (to me) shop called Dead People’s Stuff Antiques located on Main Street.

For those wanting to enjoy nature, I have fond memories of my father chasing birds with his binoculars. (It was fun and frightening watching him try to identify birds with his binoculars while driving.) It turns out that something I knew all along has been clearly established.

The bird watching is so good that each May Prince Edward County has a Birding Festival to welcome returning warblers, flycatchers vireos, hawks and more. Prince Edward County’s own web site claims that the county has the “highest concentration and abundance of migratory birds anywhere on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario.”

Do you have a Prince Edward County experience to share? Please do!

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