With our rental renovation pending for September 1st, we had a little over a week for an official “vacation”. While we so appreciate and enjoy driveway surfing with family and friends, after over a month of social time we were craving some alone time. We also recognized that this was our only chance to go “camping” all year, at least until we head south for the winter. We really enjoyed our stay at Kring Point State Park on the St Lawrence River in NY state last summer. Since Nellie was already an hour east of Toronto, continuing east seemed a logical choice. Using my guide to Ontario Conservation Areas, I found Charlottenburgh Park on the St Lawrence River, just east of Cornwall. A quick call confirmed they would have space for us with no reservation required. At almost 400kms, it was a good day’s haul but the 401 made the trip quick and easy.
We rolled in Tuesday afternoon and found multiple options for camping. Interestingly, with our solar panels, we generally want sites that others don’t: no services and lots of sunshine. Not only are sites without electricity cheaper, they are usually located in quieter and/or more scenic sections of the campground. This time we opted for a site close to the beach: the open spaciousness of the sites in that area did not appeal to others and we basically had the entire area to ourselves. Sweet!
Charlottenburgh is reminiscent of New Lowell Conservation Area where we were seasonal campers for 4 summers: this time we were the transient interlopers! We enjoyed swimming at the lovely sandy beach multiple times, lounging in our hammock with a water view, tossing the frisbee. We enjoyed hiking along the water, observing an osprey clutch gaining confidence in flight from their platform nest.
We even rode our bicycles 4 kms down the main road to visit the Cooper Marsh, checking out the visitor centre, boardwalk trails and enjoying a picnic lunch. Interestingly, the marsh had been drained for 5 years in an attempt to kill off the purple loosestrife, an invasive plant species common in Ontario. The turtles had canals to retreat to while the surrounding marsh areas provided respite for the ducks. The plan was to start refilling the marsh next year, a process that would take 3 years to complete. Hopefully it will work out!
Being on vacation, and being a bit low on groceries, we treated ourselves to dinner out: the first restaurant, Dimitris, had a waterfront patio table for us with boat-in access and good food. The next night we went to a local pub North Glengarry Restaurant in Lancaster which had free wifi and even better food! We rode two up on the CB500X the second evening, enjoying a gorgeous sunset on the way home.
Friday we decided to move to the Parks of the St Lawrence: a collection of campgrounds located on a chain of islands connected by a long causeway just west of Cornwall. I had seen pictures of this beautiful area and had always wanted to visit. Calling ahead confirmed we would again be able to find something on the Long Sault Parkway (pronounced “Long Soo Parkway”), even arriving on a Friday. As luck would have it, when I arrived they had one waterfront site left: done! When I got to the site, I was happy: a huge grassy area much bigger than we need adjacent to a day use area and with direct water access for swimming, dogs allowed! Yippee! The area was deserted when we arrived: we figured other campers would fill in for the weekend, and sure enough they did. But with the sites so spacious, there was plenty of room for everyone and we were happy to see other campers enjoying their weekend too.
Driving through Cornwall, we had a couple errands: buy groceries and register the motorcycle at Service Ontario. I found my preferred grocery chain, FreshCo was on the way so I routed there while James headed over to make the government happy. I particularly enjoy buying groceries while towing for the ease of being able to unload the groceries directly into the kitchen in the parking lot.
We stayed almost a week enjoying the area. Interesting history: in the 18 1950s, Ontario Power negotiated a deal to dam the river to generate power and help create a deep water seaway on the St Lawrence. The project involved relocating over 5600 residents from 7 riverfront towns into 2 new communities, Ingleside in the west and Long Sault in the east. Some houses were moved to the new towns, some destoyed and new ones built, and some relocated to what became Upper Canada Heritage Village. We enjoyed a day visit to the village as well as a visit to the “Lost Villages” museum which tells the story of the relocation in detail. After the flooding in July 1958, a series of islands remained from the hills on the land: these were connected by road to create the Long Sault Causeway and park system that exists today.
With a fridge full of food, we enjoyed dinners at home for the week. On Saturday evening, we decided to escape the busy weekend campground by going to the movies in nearby Cornwall, seeing Suicide Squad. We went swimming multiple times a day and also showered at the nearby comfort station.
Upper Canada Village
Of course we couldn’t miss out on the area’s premiere attraction! Upper Canada Village is a working pioneer village capturing life in the area around the late 1800s. We especially enjoyed seeing the working sawmill, textile mill and flour mill, all driven by the same water flow with a back up steam engine for winter and when water levels were too low. Reminds me of how we rely on renewable solar for our energy needs but also have a back up generator for rainy days! The textile mill in particular housed incredible machines that the guide credited for starting the industrial revolution. Cool!
We took advantage of free rides around town by horse buggy and a large raft literally pulled by one horse power – a horse on land attached to the raft by a super long rope. With little piglets running around, a mare with her first year foal and children dressed in period costumes, the place really had the feel of a real working village.
On our last day at the Parks of the St Lawrence, we wanted a down day to catch up on blogging. We set up at a local Pub for the afternoon where I am finishing up this entry! Next up we head back to the GTA (Toronto area) to renovate a newly vacant apartment. It is a large apartment that needs a lot of work and we are planning to take 2 months to do it all. Since we will be focused on working, our next post will probably be later in October.