By Madeline Kallio
Prince Edward County has been endowed with an abundance of natural elements that under normal conditions draw visitors from around the world. Sandbanks Provincial Park lies just south-west of Picton. It has the world’s largest bay mouth barrier dune formation, three expansive sandy beaches, walking trails and is a bird migration hotspot in spring and fall. Picton Harbour, a sheltered mooring place, surrounded by architectural and natural beauty, has been a favourite spot for boaters for two centuries with fishing year-round. The perfect soil for growing the grapes give the wineries that abound in the region, an international reputation for excellence. The picturesque towns and villages that host a plethora of interesting business establishments, provide support for the natural beauty of the region.
The flourishing community of Hallowell Bridge was well-established around 1800, on the northwest side of what is now Picton Bay and later was known as Hallowell Village. The area around the bay became known as “Delhi” because of the large number of Native Mohawks who worked on the boats. William Macaulay inherited 500 acres of land beside Hallowell Bridge and, around 1816, set-up a settlement on the other side of the bay, which he named “Picton” after General Sir Thomas Picton who served as the Second in Command to the Duke of Wellington and was killed at the Battle of Waterloo.
Although a public meeting to consider the amalgamation of the two villages was held in 1834 and “Port William” was chosen as a compromise, through Macaulay’s influence, Hallowell and Picton were united and incorporated as Picton in 1837.
Several stately buildings that Macaulay built are still in evidence as a monument to the great churchman and developer. Macaulay’s own house and St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church are now part of the Macaulay Heritage Park (613 476-2148 ext. 2524). The Crystal Palace in the Fair Grounds on Main Street was built in 1851 as a scaled-down version of Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace in London, England.
The Regent Theatre (613 476-8416), 224 Main Street, is a fine example of a restored Edwardian opera house. Opened in 1918 by George Cook to rival the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, the theatre offers live events, shows via satellite, movies, and more.
Picton is truly the vacationer’s town. The abundance of places to stay, including bed-and breakfast establishments, makes it the centre core of an incredible number of interesting places to visit, in
the town and in the surrounding area. Built in 1906, Sleepy Hollowell Bed and Breakfast (613 476- 3462), 9 Upper Lake Street, is known for its warm hospitality, and hearty, home-made country breakfasts and has a swimming pool. Gourmet breakfasts and a swimming pool are also features of the Traditions Guest House Bed and Breakfast (613 476-7586), 8 Centre Street. Guests can expect a hearty breakfast and a swim in the pool at Harrington House Bed and Breakfast (613 712-0069),69 Union Street, which was built in 1875 by Harrington, a steamship captain. An elegant 1900 Colonial Revival home, Brown’s Manor Bed and Breakfast (613 476-0248),2 Johnson Street, the original home of James Brown, offers a full breakfast. Built in 1857, the Welsh House (613 476- 5305), 23 Ferguson Street, offers accommodations in an historic town cottage. Bee’s Knees Bed and Breakfast and Art Studio (705 7176284), 15 Cumberland Street, is a house filled with creative art which serves a light breakfast. Edgewater Bed & Breakfast (613 476 4256), 25 Hill Street, offers sumptuous breakfasts to tantalize your taste buds, complimentary coffee and tea, and happy hour treats each afternoon. Bay’s End Bed and Breakfast (647 504 0942), 12698 Loyalist Parkway, serves a full breakfast and has a private entrance, sitting room, refrigerator and patio/garden for guests. Cindy’s Bed and Breakfast (613 471-1115), 29 Argyle Crescent, serves a full country breakfast and has an inground pool. This article cannot possibly list all of the fabulous
and welcoming bed and breakfast establishments in Picton, but many more can be found at BBCanada.com/ontario/southeasternontario/picton.
In addition to the plethora of excellent bed-and breakfast accommodations in and around Picton, the area is also home to a number of exquisite inns. Close to the site of an inn established in the 1790s, the Picton Harbour Inn (613 4762186),33 Bridge Street, has guestrooms with balconies and The Lighthouse Restaurant is famous for its breakfasts and lunches and a waterfront patio. The Manse Boutique Inn and Spa (613 4761006), 10 Chapel Street, has an outdoor saltwater pool and hot tub, breakfast prepared by their in-house chef, and a dining room for guests or by reservation. French cuisine, sumptuous breakfasts and a meticulously curated wine collection, the Merrill House (866 567-5969), 343 Main Street East, an 1878 Gothic Revival mansion, is furnished with
a balance of fine antiques and modern appointments. A replica of a building from 1835 that previously occupied this site, The Queen’s Inn (888 476-8618), 145 Main Street, has coffee makers and WiFi in rooms. Built by Irish immigrants in the 1860s and surrounded by beautiful gardens, The Waring House (613 476-7492), 395 Sandy Hook Road, houses art and artefacts collected from
around Prince Edward County. At the inn, there are two popular restaurants, The Barley Room, a gastropub and Amelia’s Garden Restaurant, which offers seasonal and regional cuisine. The
Isaiah Tubbs Resort and Conference Centre (613 393-2090), 1642 County Road 12, offers a sandy beach and dining at two restaurants, the Restaurant on the Knoll and the Sandbar Lounge.
A few of the businesses in Picton are listed here to whet your appetite to discover the many more! The Rosehaven Yarn Shop (613 476-9092) is a funky yarn store. Recycled designer clothing for the whole family with amazing bargains can be found at City Revival (613 476-7445), 275 Main Street. World and artisan cheeses, chocolates, gourmet foods, and Cooke’s famous coffees are items found at Cooke’s Fine Foods and Coffee (613 476- 2888), 280 Main Street. Books and Company (613 471-3037),289 Main Street, stocks new, used, out – of print and rare books, and more. At 173 Main Street, a furniture showroom when it was built in 1890,the Gilbert and Lighthall Marketplace (613 476- 3131) is filled with functional, beautiful items for the home. Bonkers Picton (613 476 1533), 182 Main Street, is a store that sells fun and interesting products. J. H. Porte (613 4765975), 255 Main Street, carries a variety of gifts, as does Kelly’s (613 476 6137) 197 Main Street. Enjoy a tasting while you browse the exotic oils and vinegars at the Kingston Olive Oil Company (613 546 5483), 185 Main Street. Nickle’s (613 8132193),237 Main Street, specializes in seasonal decor and gifts with a touch of Christmas all year. Nourish The Soul (613 645 1100),172 Main Street, is the “one-stop shop for all magical, mystical, metaphysical needs.” Rose Cottage Studio & Gifts (613 476 6577), 1 Agnes Street, is filled with original, one-of-a-kind artwork.
There is no end of choice of eating places in Picton, from fine dining to take-out restaurants. Hartley’s Tavern (613 476-8888), 19 Elizabeth Street, is a wine-and-craft beer tavern which serves
an inspired menu of local produce. The Blumen Garden Bistro (613 476-6841), 647 Highway 49, has a modern, homestyle menu which features old world favourites. Baked goods, light lunches, specialty coffees and teas are available at Miss Lily’s Café (613 476-9289),289 Main Street. The Bean Counter Café and Bakery (613 476-1718),172 Main Street, offers a variety of coffees and teas, fresh baked goods, gelato and light fare. The Acoustic Grill (613 476-2887),172 Main Street, has a warm pub atmosphere with live music and freshly prepared foods, including gourmet burgers and sandwiches. Southern Italian Soul Food is the order of the day at 7Numbers (613 476 4777), 161 Main Street. The 555 Brewing Company (613 476-5556),124 Main Street, offers beer and wood-fired pizza. Angry Birds Rotisserie Chicken (613 476- 0011) 376 Main Street, serves a plethora of chicken dishes and more. Blue Sail Seafood Company (613 645-2583), 266 Main Street, is a seafood market and restaurant. Butter Dream Cakes (613 471-1000),116 Main Street is a quaint cake shop and tea room which serves high tea. The County Canteen (613 476- 6663), 279 Main Street, serves local craft beers, wine, cider and a fresh-produce menu. The Crepe Escape (613 4765943), 206 Main Street, specializes in crepes of all kinds and more. Family fare is the order of the
day at Gus’s Family Restaurant (613 4766900),166 Main Street. Greek and Canadian dishes are served at the Island Family Restaurant (613 4766986), 70 Main Street. The Marans Dine Bar (613 9201195), 222 Main Street, is a small restaurant with an inventive menu. There are many other interesting restaurants and take-out places for the visitor to discover and would be pleased to provide them with tummies full of delicious foods.
This area is full of art galleries, artists and musicians who offer exciting creative works.2gallery (613 920-2000), 256 Main Street West, features Canadian fine art from a wide-ranging roster of
talented contemporary artists. The walking trails at Small Pond Art Gallery (613 471-1322), 337 Clarke Road, feature an ever evolving display of outdoor art installations.
Art, music, food and entertainment highlight events in Picton. Mid-April is the time for the The County Reads Authors’ Festival. Countylicious, celebrates maple, new wine and fixed-price dining at exquisite restaurants in the county during the month of April. The County Antique Show and Sale (613 966-3937) is held twice annually, in May and September, at the Crystal Palace and showcases a wide range of antiques and collectibles. The beginning of June brings the County Terroir, a celebration of newly released wines. Held annually from mid-June to the first week of July, Art in the County (artinthecounty.com) showcases original works by County artists and artisans. Arts Trail is a year-round discovery tour of artists and artisans who can be contacted individually
from the map on the website at artstrail.ca at any time. In mid-August, the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival takes over the Regent Theatre and other venues in Prince Edward County. On the third weekend of September, artists throughout the County are ready for visitors at the Prince Edward County Artists Studio Tour. For three days in September, the acoustically superb Church of St. Mary Magdalene hosts the P.E.C. Music Festival (613 393-3798),which brings together acclaimed performers from around the world and features the works of a living composer. Also for three days in September, the Picton Fair (613 476-6154) provides agricultural exhibits, a midway, entertainment and something for everyone at the Picton Fairgrounds. Held annually in November at the Picton Fairgrounds, 375 Main Street, The Maker’s Hand is a show and sale of Eastern Ontario’s finest artists and artisans. The year finishes with the Festival of Trees (613 476-4696) and the Santa Claus Parade.
The Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce (613 476-2421),206 Main Street, and the Picton BIA (613 476-7901), 280 Main Street, can provide you with enough information that you will
want to go and stay for a great visit!
This article cannot possibly list all of the businesses, attractions or accommodations that take place in such a vibrant community. There is certainly something here for everyone! Because of COVID-19, it is possible that some businesses may be operating with reduced hours or services. So, call ahead.