Jutting into Lake Ontario, the County has a unique island flavour and has 800 km of coastline and unspoiled countryside (great for cycle tours and nature walks), with farms, dozens of roadside stands, an exotic animal sanctuary, giant sand dunes, and a growing wine industry.Prince Eward Couty can be accessed form the 401 via three major communities, from the west: Trenton (known for its armed forces base), from the north: Belleville, and from the east: Napanee . Within its confines can be found four provincial parks and the sites of nine lighthouses.
Prince Edward County History
Champlain passed through in 1615, beginning at the False Ducks Islands, and French fur traders passed through the area on their trade route up the Trent to Lake Huron. A 1757 French map named the island, “Presquille de Quintee”. Once under British rule in 1763, it was renamed Prince Edward and deemed “Indian Country” and no formal settlement by Europeans was allowed. After a treaty was signed, the area was surveyed in 1783, and then Prince Edward was settled by 500 Loyalists after the American Revolution.
In the early 1800s, the main cash crop was wheat, exported to Great Britain. The Picton Fair Grounds are managed by the Prince Edward Agricultural Society, which formed in 1831 and held its first Fair in 1836 and held horse races since 1886. During and after the US’s Civil War, the Americans were a big export market for agricultural goods. When the McKinley Tariff ended the export market, farmers switched to dairying and growing canning crops and there were as many as 30 butter and cheese manufacturing plants on the island. By 1902, about a third of all Canada’s canned fruits and vegetables came from “The Garden County”. Apples continue to be a significant crop, as well as wine, cider and maple syrup.
During WWII, the area was a training base for the British Commonwealth Air Training Program, and after the War, tourism became a major economic factor for the area.
Prince Edward County Attractions
(Latitude/Longitude: 44.0656105490966 -77.5094466312805)
Large swamp regions make this one of several major heronries on the island, with nesting sites for the majestic blue heron. There are also water & garter snake, bull frogs, as well as deer, otter, coyotes, muskrat, turkey, grouse and fox. Flora here include Silver Maple, Black and Red Ash, Jewelweed, Sensitive Fern, White Birch, alders, grasses and horsetails, and the wetland areas include Pickerelweed, cattails, grasses, spike-rush, horsetails and sedges.
Carrying Place monument
Carrying Place, at the Murray Canal bridge
On October 16, 1934, the HSMB erected a cairn to commemorate the signing of the Gunshot Treaty, on the spot where the Great Portage crosses Highway #33.
“The Historic Carrying Place – Here 23rd September, 1787, Sir John Johnson concluded the treaty with chiefs of the Mississauga Indians, by which they ceded to the Crown, lands extending westward from the Bay of Quinte to Etobicoke River and northward from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe and Rice Lake.”
District Court House and Gaol
44 Union St, Picton, ON K0K 2T0
Constructed in 1832/4 in the Greek Revival style. Hugh Macdonald was a Justice of the Peace at the time, and attended the first session in the new Court House with his son John A.. The latter Macdonald, although not yet a lawyer, successfully defended himself at the second session in the courtroom against an indictment for assault. The Goal part of the building now houses the County Archives. The two storey Greek Revival structure built between 1832 and 1834 is one of Ontario’s oldest public buildings still in use.
Lake on the Mountain
296 CR7, Picton, Ontario,
(on County Road 7 off Highway 33 near Glenora
from Highway 401, take Highway 49 south to Picton)
This lake, with no visibile water source, is nearly 62 metres (200 feet) above Lake Ontario, only a short distance away. Take in the outstanding view high above the Bay of Quinte as you enjoy a quiet picnic overlooking the lake and surrounding countryside
Little Bluff Conservation Area
3625 County Rd 13, Milford, ON K0K 2P0
From the parking lot at the end of the entrance road, a short hiking trail passes eastern red cedar and a number of deciduous trees along the edge of an 18 metre (60 foot) high limestone bluff with a picturesque view of Prince Edward Bay and a pebble beach. Waterfowl and red-winged blackbirds can be seen in the marsh nearby.
Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area
Clarke Rd, Prince Edward, ON
From the east end of Picton, follow Union Street (which becomes County Road 8) from the Tip of the Bay Motel and Marina for about a kilometre.
Features 440 acres offering 25 km of easy hiking in the lowland area, more rugged trekking on the escarpment portion, or a pleasant family walk along a series of gravelled paths along the Whattam’s Memorial Walkway. The location of famous Birdhouse City, founded in 1980 In the winter, this is an ideal spot for cross-country skiing and tobogganing.
Loyalist Parkway Association can be reached at:
289 Main Street, Bloomfield, Ontario, Canada, K0K 1G0
Opened in 1984 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Parkway runs along Highway # 33 between Kingston and Trenton to promote the preservation and enhancement of the nationally significant Heritage of the area. The parkway commemorates those American colonists loyal to the Crown who fled their homes after the American Revolution, as well as soldiers who fought in the War, and were given land grants on the north shore of Lake Ontario.
Mariners’ Park Museum
2065 County Rd 13, Milford, ON K0K 2P0
(at Mariners’ Lighthouse Park overlooking South Bay)
(At junction of County Roads 10 and 13 in the County of Prince Edward, half way between Milford and Black River)
(613) 476-2148 ext. 2525
A significant marine museum in the Province of Ontario. Its mandate is the preservation and interpretation of the significant maritime history of Prince Edward County to help visitors rediscover their rich maritime heritage of early commerce. See False Duck Lighthouse, built in 1828 and is the second lighthouse ever to be built on the Great Lakes. Open 9 am to 5 pm daily from Canada Day to Labour Day, weekends from Victoria Day to Canada Day and weekends Labour Day to Thanksgiving
Picton Town Hall
Corner of Ross & King, Picton
built in 1866 as a fire hall, with meeting rooms upstairs. Served as the Bijou Opera House for live travelling shows and movies. Used sporadically until work began in 1988 to restore it as a Town Hall.
224 Main Street / P.O. Box 500
The main building was constructed in 1922, The Regent’s stage is equal in size to that of The Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. Above the stage is a 21 metre (70 foot) fly tower. Original dressing room includes blackboards lining the walls where, in a former era, performers wrote their show’s running order. As a mid point between Toronto and Montreal, it was the setting for vaudeville acts and major plays, and continues to this day as a setting for a variety of cultural activities
Sandbanks Provincial Park
R.R.#1, Picton, Ontario K0K 2T0
Giant sand dunes and golden beaches form two of the largest freshwater baymouth sandbars in the world here, on the shores of Lake Ontario. Efforts to stabilize shifting sands disturbed by farming have revived distinctive dune plants such as bluets, butterfly weed and sand spurge. Trails feature dune stairs to protect this delicate vegetation. Sandbanks features 549 campsites in five campgrounds. There are 140 campsites with electrical service, and each campsite has a picnic table and fireplace grill. Drinking water taps are close to all sites.
Wineries of Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County, has over a dozen wineries. The growing season is as long as the Niagara Region, but the winters are colder. Vineyards are next to Lake Ontario, which has a moderating effect on the air temperatures. The earliest winery in the area was the Noxon Vineyard in Allisonville, which won a medal for its wines at the 1876 Philadelphia Expo. Cabernet Sauvignon vines have been growing here since 1980; Vidal since 1992; Pinot Noir since 1995 and Pinot Gris since 1996.