St Lawrence River/Lake Ontario

Overview

Introduction

If you've got time to drive from Ottawa to Toronto, this trip will take you past some lovely scenery and through some historic towns. It runs along the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario. If you're starting from Ottawa, take Highway 31 south to Morrisburg, on the St. Lawrence River. (You could also reach Morrisburg by taking Highway 2 southwest from Quebec or by crossing from New York at Johnstown or Cornwall.)

Morrisburg is the home of Upper Canada Village, a living-history museum. The village's core is a cluster of buildings that were moved to their present site when the St. Lawrence Seaway was under construction. Additional period structures create an authentic St. Lawrence Valley town from the mid-1800s. Costumed interpreters make cheese, bread, quilts and cabinets—the small industry occupations of the time. The village's attention to detail makes it more convincing and enjoyable than many other historical re-creations. A ride along a canal in a horse-drawn bateau (boat) provides a relaxing way to see some of the sights.

Leave Morrisburg by heading southwest along Highway 2—parallel Highway 401 may be a little faster, but it's much more crowded and not nearly as scenic. Half an hour down the coast is Prescott, the only deepwater port between Montreal and Toronto. Fort Wellington National Historic Park in Prescott is a restored military post that was active as far back as the War of 1812.

Continue southwest along the St. Lawrence River to Mallorytown, headquarters for the St. Lawrence Islands National Park, which is the beginning of the compact archipelago known as the Thousand Islands. An unusual mix of commercial seaway and thousands of charming little islands, the area has scores of parks and major resort complexes. If you can, sign on with one of the many charter fishing boats.

When you're back on the mainland, continue on Highway 2 to Gananoque, where you can pick up cruise tours of the Thousand Islands (be sure to get one that stops at Boldt Castle on heart-shaped Heart Island). About 20 mi/32 km farther west, you'll reach Kingston.

As you head west from Kingston, be sure to take a break at one of the provincial parks along the lake: Sandbanks, North Beach or Presqu'ile. When you're rested, head for Toronto.

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