Thank you for your interest in visiting Prince-Edward-County.com. This site presents The County from a local perspective, honouring our deep history, and interesting and passionate people. Throughout the site you’ll find local tips, “favourite hangouts”, and local stories — sometimes wacky, irreverent, or humorous. Spend some time with us, get to know some locals … Do you have local stories or tips to share? Get in touch …. Or share your adventures and County pics on our Photo Tour page, just add #peconca to your Instagram photos.
More Tips & Tales ...
The County is the second largest area of Loyalist architecture, second to Williamsburg. Tour the Loyalist Parkway/ highway #33, which runs from Trenton to Kingston. The United Empire Loyalists, many of whom helped found America from the early 17th century, remained loyal to King George III after the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War. Many left the United States to build the new nation of Canada. Video courtesy of History Lives Here
Lake Monsters – Fact or Fiction ??
Story reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”. Stories of lake monsters are legion in Prince Edward County. Old Indian legends and tales told by early explorers and settlers of the area tell of strange creatures swimming in Lake Ontario, and reports of monsters have continued ever since. The Prince Edward Gazette reported in 1842 that a monster had been spotted off the shore of Athol Township: A few days ago, when two boys named McConnell were playing on the shore near Gull Pond, they discovered from behind a thicket, a huge monster which they described about the thickness of a man’s body, a head proportionately large and very glossy; the eyes were about the size of a horse’s and very bright. They ran home and told their father what they had seen. Having no gun, the man sent for John Church who had a rifle. The boys conducted them to the spot and there they saw the monster blinking in the sun, his head about four feet out of the water. They judged him to be from 30-40 feet long, dark brown in colour and a broad ring about […]
Folklore. Fact or fiction??? You decide
Stories reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”. Lost in the Woods When the first settlers arrived in the County, it was heavily forested with white pine and oak. Big Island, in particular, was said to be heavily wooded with beautiful timber. Trees, however, were an enemy to the early settlers. They had to be cut and the stumps removed before fields could be made suitable for crops, and densely wooded areas posed a hazard for the traveler, as the paths to neighbours’ farms were poorly marked and the way indicated only by blazes. Many stories are told of children lost in these woods, never to be seen again. Children were often sent on errands through the woods, or to take food to the men working in the forest. They were always admonished to stay on the path; the trees were so thick that any sense of direction was soon lost and children could wander in circles for days without finding the path again. Many stories are told of wild animals curling up with children, saving them from freezing at night and some children managed to survive on wild berries […]
Story reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”. Hops were at one time an important industry in the County and it was customary for buyers to travel from farm to farm, paying the hop-growers in cash. One such buyer was Peter Lazier from Belleville, who arrived at the farm of a Mr. and Mrs. Jones towards the end of an autumn afternoon. County hospitality dictated that he be invited to stay the night and continue with his rounds the next day. Lazier and Mr. Jones had retired, and Mrs. Jones was just finishing her household tasks when a knock was heard at the door. Two men, armed with shotguns and with handkerchiefs tied over their faces, demanded that Mrs. Jones hand over the hop money. Mrs. Jones yelled for help and ran through the kitchen, slamming the door behind her. One of the men fired, the bullet hitting the door panel and glancing off into the wall. Mr. Jones, hearing the commotion, grabbed an old shotgun and ran out to confront the robbers. At the same time, Lazier emerged from his room, sized up the situation and rushed the two […]
Triple tragedy on the lake
Fact or fiction??? You decide … Stories reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”. On August 31, 1868, two brothers from Port Ontario, New York, a man named Howard from Bath, and Henry Selleck, a Point Traverse farmer set off in a sloop fish carrier across the lake to pick up, a threshing machine. The machine was lashed to the deck and the men waited for fair weather to set off, but within sight of Main Duck Island, a thunderstorm struck and the top-heavy sloop filled with water and sank. Howard’s body eventually washed up on shore in front of his home in Bath. The two Port Ontario men were picked up by a passing ship and claimed they weren’t too clear on what happened to the other men. No one would ever have known what happened if one of the survivors hadn’t got drunk one night and told the story in a local barroom. Howard had washed overboard, but Henry Selleck and the other two men had clung to the hatch cover in desperation. Realizing that the hatch would support only two of them, they had grabbed a passing […]
The Garden County of Canada
In the early 1880s, a new industry quickly took root in Prince Edward County, the canning of fruits and vegetables. Within a decade, canned produce from this tiny Ontario place was shipped all over the world earning the area its title as The Garden County of Canada. But by the 1970s, increasing competition from other regions in Canada, imported produce, and new regulations forced local canners to close their plants. The canning era was over. Video courtesy of History Lives Here Also see: The Canning Industry video is available at Books & Company in Picton County Canners book by Douglas Crawford, available at County Magazine Canning Industry Exhibit at Wellington Heritage Museum Farm markets in The County
The disappearance of the schooner Picton
Fact or fiction??? You decide … Story reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”. One of the strangest stories of shipwrecks in the vortex is the tale of the schooner “Picton”, which, along with two other ships, the “Acadia” and the “Annie Minnes”, was carrying coal back to Canada. The three ships were lying in harbour in Charlotte, across the lake in New York. There had been a storm the night before, but the day dawned fair. Captain Jack Sidley of the Picton was known as a skilled and daring skipper and the Picton had the reputation of running “like a scalded cat”. Sidley had his young son, Vessey, on board with him and he was anxious to get home, so the Picton headed out of the harbour first with the Acadia about ten minutes behind her and the Annie Minnes a half an hour behind that. An hour out into the lake eye witnesses among the crew members of the Acadia and Annie Minnes reported being surprised when they saw the topsails of the Picton coming off. They thought that Sidley had decided to reef, but all of a […]
History of the fishing industry
Prior to the twentieth century, Prince Edward County`s industry was driven by farming, fishing, ship building and shipping. In the mid 1800’s, the rich harvest from the surrounding waters developed into a commercial fishery that supported generations of County families. Sports fishermen made annual trips to local resorts to haul in trophy catches. Fishing became a big business. Video courtesy of History Lives Here historyliveshere.ca But commercial fishing has always been a dangerous trade. Sudden storms, rough waters and dense fogs drove many ships onto the rocky shoals that extend deeply from County shores into the lake. The waters off Prince Edward County are a graveyard to more than 50 shipwrecks, many of them shipping vessels that simply ran out of good luck. In the early 1900s, there were hundreds of commercial license holders. Today (2010) there are only 77, and only a few still set their nets in County waters, maintaining the tradition of another age when the commercial fishing industry was a significant contributor to the local economy. Also see: Mariners Park Museum Local Shipwrecks – The Graveyard of Lake Ontario Fishing Tournaments Fishing Resorts & Charters Boating & Fishing Glenora Fisheries Station Be sure to visit Mariners Park Museum – […]
Fact or fiction??? You decide … Stories reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”. Main Duck Island, twelve miles from the shore of Prince Edward, was a convenient staging point for rumrunners smuggling liquor into the United States during Prohibition. In the early years, possession of alcoholic beverages for personal use was still legal in Ontario, and although the island was occasionally raided, there was little federal agents could do to prevent stockpiling of whiskey, which was subsequently taken to the American shore at a convenient time. However, a bizarre situation developed when the Ontario Government bowed to pressure from Temperance organizers and prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol in the province. Manufacture of liquor for export purposes was still legal. Boatload after boatload of export whiskey left the Ontario distilleries, only to be smuggled back into the province and boot-legged to local consumers. This was far safer than slipping past American law enforcement officers, and fortunes were made in the County from the rum-running business. Many small operators sold a few cases of whiskey here and there to eke out the family income, and an unbelievable number of […]
Tips for Driving in The County
Rules of the Road for County Driving Strap on your goggles, put on your helmet, break the bulbs out of your turn signals … Here you drive by our rules! Summer is the season when County roads are packed with extra traffic and drivers should watch for all of the local driving peculiarities. Number One on the protest list: Does anyone know what a signal light is? It’s that thing on the left of your steering wheel, opposite the gear shift. It’s that thing that tells other drivers what the heck you’re doing. Hardly anyone in the County uses this device, a habit dating to the early days of the automobile, when everyone recognized the driver, and already knew where he was going. As a longtime driver here, I have learned some handy tips to detect what the driver in front of you is doing. Rule #1: If the driver swerves to the left, across the yellow line, he is turning right, so don’t be fooled by the illusion that he is actually going to continue going left. He’s just making sure, as every good driver should, that he approaches his driveway at a perfect 90 degrees, without cutting the […]
The Barley Days
By the mid – 1800s, the pine and hemlock forests of Prince Edward County had been cleared for farmland. The big crop was barley shipped across Lake Ontario to Oswego, New York for the American brewing industry. It was so lucrative, some farmers paid off their farm mortgages in a single season. But it was also dangerous. Hundreds of sailors died when winter gales drove their ships onto the area’s notorious shoals. History Lives Here video on the Barley Days at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u9R-wJZL5Q&feature=youtu.be
Funny how things work out
Nearly fifty years ago, when I played trombone in a terrific music program at London Central Secondary School, we brass blowers were looking for role models. There were none better than the fabulous “horn” bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Tower of Power and of course, the Canadian group Lighthouse. There WAS a future for us horn players! How we looked up to those musicians.
Fate was on our side
In 1975 I married Bill VanVlack. Little did we know that three generations earlier, our ancestors were involved in an incident on Lake Ontario that changed our family’s destiny. I grew up in Prince Edward County, an “island” on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The lake is part of my essence, I’m never fully at home unless I’m near the water. I first met Bill in the summer of 1972, on Lake Ontario. I was fishing near my parent’s cottage, and Bill was cruising around in a speed boat. We were married three years later ~ it’s now been 42 years, and we have 2 grown children and 7 grandchildren. Here’s how our ancestors met on that eventful day in 1882 … Capt. William VanVlack, my husband’s great grandfather, was the captain of the schooner Eliza Quinlan. On December 4, 1882 an early winter storm was quickly closing in over Lake Ontario. The crew of the Eliza Quinlan was enroute from Oswego to Napanee with a heavy load of coal. It was to be the last load of the season, before winter set in. The day had not started out well. The Oswego harbour had frozen over the night […]
Sir John A. Macdonald stories – fact or fiction ??
Story reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”. John A. Macdonald, first prime minister of Canada, lived for three years at Glenora, where his father operated a grist mill. Later the family moved to Kingston, but in 1833, Macdonald returned to the Picton area to take over a law practice for his ailing cousin, winning his first case at Picton Court House. During this case, tempers flared and to the scandal of the judge, the argument escalated until Macdonald and the opposing counsel went at each other with their fists. The court crier was called to break up the fight. He circled around the combatants calling loudly “Order in the Court, Order in the Court”, but being a staunch friend of Macdonald’s leaned over to him and whispered loudly “Hit him again, John, hit him again!” Macdonald once found himself in Picton Court in the role of defendant, after being charged with having put a dead horse in the pulpit at the Methodist Church. The horse was seated in the chair with its front hooves resting on the reading desk. The elderly sexton, returning from a meeting, was lighting candles […]
A Tale of Two Winters
Have you ever noticed that snowfall scenes in the movies are dreamy and romantic? Fluffy snowflakes fall gently onto a perfect winter setting, and everyone is excited that it’s snowing. You can be sure that County residents have a more realistic view of snow. We know that those beautiful white flakes will pile up to create mountains of snow that clog our driveways and roads. Shoveling snow and scraping icy windshields in the freezing cold isn’t my idea of a romantic setting. Many of us long-timers have endured some of the worst snowstorms on record. This story is a recollection of two of the worst snowstorms that locals are still talking about. 1947: the year the snow never ended In December 1947, a huge, historic storm dumped record levels of snow on the northeastern United States and southern Ontario. I wasn’t born yet, but the older generation can’t forget this winter. My father-in-law could recall when feed was air-dropped for the livestock because the roads were impassable. The snow was so deep, you could apparently touch overhead telephone lines (not that it was advisable to do so). People dug tunnels to their outhouses. The County was cut off from the […]
Writing The County
Unlike many artists who now live and work in Prince Edward County, I didn’t move here to start a new life. I was already here. My family has lived here for generations. I live next door to my great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s original land grant. (So we’re not exactly rolling stones.)
Explore Discover and Learn at Baxter Arts Centre
Baxter Arts Centre and Studio School is CHOCK-A-BLOCK with exciting programs! Want to learn something new? Enjoy enhancing your abilities? Have a fun time now spring is here? Read on! Spring is always a busy and active time for Baxter Arts Centre and Baxter Studio School and this year it is even busier! Baxter Arts Centre is situated at 3 Stanley St. in Bloomfield, and having recently completed all its renovations, the Centre is a buzz with activities! A community art space and place Baxter Arts Centre was purchased from the County at a fire sale price in 2011. Since that date a band of dedicated volunteers have worked to upgrade the building to what it is today. They have stripped walls, replaced floors, toilets and sinks, built bathrooms, laid tiles, rehung ceilings, added yards of insulation, cleaned, painted and just kept on going. Fondly called The Trolls, and ably directed by the head of Baxter Arts Centre, Larry Spencer, the building has become a bright lively and inviting space, a special place for making art as well as ensuring it is accessible by artists, arts organizations and the County community from toddlers to seniors. It is a community art space […]
Over the past few years, Prince Edward County has become a hotspot for photographers with its high caliber art competitions and galleries along with 4 active camera clubs within a 20 km radius. The interest stems from The County’s scenic natural beauty, picturesque remnants of its agricultural and maritime history, and the ongoing influx of creative people mixing with the traditional County folk. Since 2012, our group, County Outings, has been making twice-weekly excursions along the back roads, hiking woodland and shoreline trails, visiting farms and shooting up the towns in the County and Quinte region. We call it “Photography & Fitness” and you could easily add “Food” to that moniker as we always end up at an interesting ma and pa coffee shop or one of the 50 local wineries, breweries or cider houses. Nature appeals to every photographer’s eye and, depending on the time of year and the time of day, you can record thousands of unique images. In May, Prince Edward Point is THE place to be for migrating birds, relatively undiscovered yet unrivaled by anywhere like Point Pelee National Park. This peninsula is truly Land’s End, where the rocky shore meets the Great Lake with an […]
How To Get Settled In The County
In the Old Days, when you moved to the County, you knew exactly what kind of neighbour you were going to get: a friendly, overly-helpful one, who wants to help you get settled, and get properly introduced to the community. In those days, neighbours were expected to rifle through your mailbox to determine your character, plus how much you pay for your mortgage, hydro and property taxes. This is so they can be more helpful to you in the future, when you actually meet. Also, while you’re preoccupied reading Reader’s Digest in the Can, they will enter your house and search for other ways to help, like checking the expiry date on the items in your fridge, doing mental calculations on the value of the clothing in your closet, and jotting down recommendations for better cleaning products. This has always been the polite, non-intrusive way for your neighbours to ‘get to know you’. Also, in the Old Days, you would have been on a telephone ‘party line’, which would allow neighbours to learn everything about you, from the comfort and privacy of their own homes, just by listening in on all your calls. Unfortunately, times have changed, and the silly […]
Top 10 Awesomely Quirky Things
From there to here from here to there, funny things are everywhere!.. Dr. Seuss Looking for unusual attractions and local traditions? You’ll find a few of those in The County. Well, actually you may prefer to avoid some of these anomalies like the Marysburgh Vortex. Headstone of Wm. Pierce, Died Feb 31, 1860 This grave marker is located in the churchyard of the old St Mary Magdalene church in Picton. A story in a 1936 edition of the old Toronto Telegram identified an absent-minded stone cutter as the culprit, and not someone using a new and improved calendar. The tombstone was also featured in an episode of Ripley’s Believe it or Not in the ’60s. Our Birds have a City Yes, there are so many birds in The County that they have a city! Bird House City has over 100 birdhouses, most of them reproductions of historic buildings and other recognizable structures. See details at /item/bird-house-city/ } Over 100 ships have disappeared in The Marysburgh Vortex You’ve heard of the Bermuda Triangle? Well, we have our very own ship-devouring triangle right here in the eastern end of Lake Ontario, known as the Marysburgh Vortex. When steamboats and schooners […]
Outdoor County Wedding? 10 Tips!
Beautiful, bountiful Prince Edward County! It’s ideal for a wedding and any other event away from the city – especially if you love nature and want an outdoor wedding. Your outdoor wedding, anniversary party or other celebration in The County can be elegant or rustic, formal or casual, traditional or funky. You’ll find cool County venues, outstanding local County food, County musicians and artists, and other County event vendors ready to serve you. For weddings, there are even County officiants – you know, those people you can’t get married without but who take up little to no space in bride magazines! I am one of those. Ninety-eight percent of the ceremonies I create and officiate are for weddings held outside – in fields, gardens, woods, vineyards, barns, on a dock or on a beach. Have I ever learned about the birds and the bees! Since 95% of the couples I serve come from outside of The County to enjoy its natural elements, and most of their guests are city folk, I’d better share what I’ve learned. The Essential Bees – 10 Tips for the Outdoor County Wedding or Event It’s all about the Bees! Bees are essential to the […]
How to speak ‘County’
How to Speak “County” Did you know that County residents have their own version of the English language? Being an island, the County has been somewhat isolated, and over time the locals developed their own jargon. Below is a list of County expressions ~ if we’ve missed any, be sure to add your “County-isms” in the comments. Upstreet Picton only has one main street, and no matter which way you approach from, it’s always uphill. Rather than saying “downtown” County residents go “upstreet” to go shopping. For example “I took my ma upstreet to buy a newspaper.” Horn Trip To party in a car; driving around back roads of Prince Edward County drinking beverages; refers to a particular route in the county. For example “What’d you do Saturday night?” “The Hayloft was full so we went Horn Tripping” Mailbox Baseball When the Hayloft is closed or full of tourists, or if you’re flat broke and can’t afford beverages for horn-tripping, recreation takes on a different attitude. The annual unofficial tournament of mailbox baseball was the scourge of rural residents in the 60’s and 70’s, but popularity waned when the province imposed its seatbelt legislation, making the physical act of swinging […]
34 Reasons to LOVE The County
We asked our readers “What do you love about the County?” The feedback that we received was heart-warming and thoughtful. Thank you to everyone who responded. Here is what you told us … It’s that peaceful, calming feeling when you finally arrive at one of the 401 exits guiding you to Prince Edward County. It’s the slowing down of your heartbeat and putting life’s stresses behind you as you await a welcoming place. An island where even simple things like a friendly wave from a stranger walking along a country road seems so symbolic of life in this aquatic-framed oasis. And it’s that sense of feeling part of something – whether it’s strolling along one of the shopping districts, savouring the bountiful wines, or revelling in the visual and tactile creations of local artists. For visitors, it’s a place that merits repeated visits. For residents, it’s a paradise we call, home. (Click on the images below for comments and enlarged photo views.) Margaret Haylock :: For those born in the County, it becomes as much a part of them as the colour of their eyes. It is a way of life, a place rich in history and breathtaking scenery. It’s a county […]
Picton had two beautiful castles
Not so long ago Picton had two castles, both overlooking Picton Harbour. They were significant architectural and historical landmarks in Prince Edward County. They’re both gone now, an irreplaceable part of Picton’s identity. Castle Villeneuve Castle Villeneuve (previously called Castle Inn), was a magnificent building on Bridge Street overlooking Picton Bay. The castle’s restaurant was popular for family get-togethers and special occasions. An explosion in 1986 resulted in its demolition. Here is a comment from a previous owner: The Castle was a very unique and beautiful place to grow up in. My family are the ones who owned it during that unfortunate event. The magnificent ballroom with the ornate plaster work, grand fireplace with huge oil painting that hung over it. I remember the bustle of the weekends with the packed restaurant, the Kidds playing live music in the bar area. The view from the bar deck overlooking the bay was gorgeous. My favourite room was the one on the third that resembled a ship’s cabin–so neat. We never used that area or the bath with the clawfoot tub, just off the stairs. I can never forget my time living there. The stories that went with the old place or the […]