Off the Beaten Path
By Madeline Kallio
The backroads to Kingston deliver a relaxing ride and so many charming stops along the way
West of Kingston and south of Highway 40l, between Adolphus Reach on the south and Hay Bay on the north is an exquisite parcel of land that enjoys the beauty of rolling countryside and vast expanses of water. The Loyalist Parkway (Highway 33), the oldest public road in Ontario, shoulders the water and connects the sparse settlements from Carrying Place to Amherstview. The ferry at Glenora bridges the water for the continuation of the Loyalist Parkway through the Isle of Quinte on the west. This article will focus on the area from Glenora to Bath.
About 250 United Empire Loyalists, fleeing the new Continental Congress of the United States and led by Peter Van Alstine dispersed throughout the Bay of Quinte area in 1784 and formed a number of settlements.
Glenora was originally called Stone Mills to describe the industry on the point. Loyalist Peter Van Alstine received a grant of land in 1796 and built a flour and carding mill along the edge of a cliff. The settlement was renamed Adolphustown Ferry in 1879 and then Glenora in 1893 by a daughter of mill owner James C. Wilson because the area overlooks Glen Island. A natural curiosity with a constant flow of clean, fresh water with no apparent source, Lake on the Mountain is 60 metres above Lake Ontario. The Lake on the Mountain Resort (613 4761321), 264 County Road 7, offers fine dining at The Inn and casual dining at the Miller House and accommodation with spectacular views.
Peter Van Alstine settled at Adolphustown which he named after Prince Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Tipperary and Baron of Culloden, the seventh son of George III. The 72-acre United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park (613 373-2196), 54 Adolphustown Park Road, dominates the village of Adolphustown. The Bay of Quinte Branch of the United Empire Loyalist Association owns and operates the park which has a museum, a family research room and a memorial cemetery that contains graves as old as 1784. Re-enactments of the 1784 Landing are held from time to time at the original landing site when flat-bottomed bateaux with rowers and passengers in period clothing land at Adolphustown and draw lots, followed by a weekend-long encampment in historic style. The park is open seasonally. A plaque beside the Loyalist Memorial Church of St. Alban the Martyr commemorates the first Anglican congregation in 1784 and the first church built in 1822.
North on County Road 8 is the historic Hay Bay Church on the south shore of Hay Bay, the oldest Methodist Church building in Canada and the second oldest church in Ontario. The Quakers of
Adolphustown Burying Ground on the south shore of Hay Bay is a testament to the Quaker settlement of 1784. Close by is a cairn marking the family home of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. Blakewood Lodge (613 3739340), 1267 South Shore Road, is on the south shore of Hay Bay, has cabins, swimming and fishing. Fishing is a big attraction in this area with many fishing derbies and Hay Bay is called the “walleye capital of the world.”
Old farms and small towns whose names reflect nthe loyalist settlers dot the 20 or so kilometres from Adolphustown to Bath. Along the Loyalist Parkway, stately homes hug the waterfront and wildflowers decorate the roadsides. Spring Meadow Orchards (613 373-9313), 10143 Loyalist Parkway, has five apple varieties and sells preserves, produce and pumpkins. A plaque along the road honours Hazelton Spencer, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from 1792-6 who later commanded the garrison at Kingston.
Conway was possibly named for a pioneer. The settlement has, for the most part, disappeared and now marks the crossroads of Highway 33 and County Road 1.
Just before you come to Sandhurst on Highway 33, you must stop at Wynn Farms (613 8810303), a pick-your-own apple and flower field with a pumpkin patch and a themed corn maze. Sandhurst was originally called Fredericksburgh after one of King George III’s sons and is immortalized by a plaque commemorating Lieutenant-Colonel James Rogers, a prominent Loyalist, at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, and one honouring Reverend Robert James McDowell, the only Presbyterian missionary in central Upper Canada in 1798, at the McDowell Memorial Cemetery. The hamlet consists of several residential streets.
A massive power plant, the Lennox Generating Station rises imposingly along the highway. A plaque opposite tells how the Royal George escaped from a fleet of seven American ships in the first significant naval action of the War of 1812.
Along this stretch, the Honey House and Sugar Shack offer a sweet respite to the traveller at Hogan’s Honey and Maple Products (613 352-7442), 6605 Loyalist Parkway. Open all year round, they also sell beeswax, hand creams, candles and more.
Finkle’s Shore Park, just before you come to Bath, is an historic site as well as a lovely park between the Parkway and Adolphus Reach. It offers washrooms, a picnic shelter, picnic tables, benches, launch ramps, canteen and trails. Finkle’s Tavern was the first “watering hole” between Kingston and Toronto when it was opened in 1786 by Henry Finkle and his wife who also founded the first brewery. The tavern also served as a courthouse. It was also here that the first steamship to navigate Lake Ontario, the Frontenac, was built and launched in 1816. FryWay 33, Finkle Shores Park, 697 Highway 33, is a food truck that serves an eclectic selection of food items. It is open seasonally.
In 1777 land was granted to the Loyal Rangers, commanded by Colonel Edward Jessup, and, in 1784, the settlement of 400 became Ernesttown named after the fifth son of King George III. Discharged soldiers from Jessup’s Rangers and the King’s Royal Yorkers were the first settlers. In 1818, the community was renamed Bath in honour of the famous English health resort. A Captain in the King’s Bateaux Service, Jeptha Hawley, opened his home in 1785 for the first Anglican services west of Kingston. Today, the Hawley House is a private residence. The Fairfields came to
Bath in 1793 and built the Fairfield-Gutzeit House in 1796 which is now a museum filled with antique furniture and period memorabilia. Many other homes built in the first half of the 19th Century still stand in Bath or have historical plaques erected as testaments to the village’s rich heritage. Of particular note is the site of the Bath Academy, Lennox and Addington’s earliest public
school, built in 1811 and used as a barracks in 1812. The current structure, built in 1910, is a private residence. The gothic-style Layer Cake Church was built in 1859 by village carpenter, Abraham
Harris. Its name derived partly from the elaborate exterior and also because it housed Presbyterians on the lower level and Anglicans upstairs. Street signs in an Old English font add to the atmosphere, as do the glimpses of water through the trees as you drive through town. The Canada Day Celebrations provide games, vendors, entertainment in the park, a parade and fireworks. For boaters, the Loyalist Cove Marina (613 352- 3478), 100 Bayshore Drive, offers full marina services, a safe children’s playground, a clubhouse where boaters can socialize, and washrooms. At Village Pizza (613 352-7481), 426 Main Street, subs, pizza, salads and more are the take-out orders of the day. The Loyalist Golf and Country Club (613 352-5152), 1 Loyalist Boulevard, is open to the public for golf and its clubhouse offers casual and formal dining. J & P Family Restaurant (613 3523481), 352 Main Street, serves “delicious, healthy and affordable fresh food.” The Lodge Coffee House (613-352-8787), 376 Main Street, offers an impressive menu of exciting hot and cold drinks, delectable desserts, sandwiches and gift items.
The history, sights and activities in this area need to be seen to be appreciated. This article cannot possibly describe all the unique treasures the explorer will find. A little bit of everything awaits
you along this piece of God’s country. Come and celebrate some of the history, which is part of all Canadians. For further information contact The United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park (613 373-2196); Heritage, Culture and Tourism Division, Loyalist Township (613 386-7351), 322 Amherst Drive, Amherstview, and the Town of Greater Napanee (613 3543351), 124 John St, Napanee. Because of COVID restrictions, call ahead as some establishments may have adjusted hours or special requirements.