Sometimes the best road trip adventures are those planned as an afterthought. Our family was en route to Lake Placid for a pre-thanksgiving adventure with another family. As any good road tripper knows a midway stop is a must. Not only to refuel, recharge and stretch but to also expand the adventure. We decided to stop at the midway point and explore Brockville. Our plan was a quick bite to eat and a walk at the waterfront. What should have been an hour stop turned into three hours of exceptional tourist time!
A 3-hour drive from our home in Stouffville, Brockville is one of the oldest communities in Ontario and sits quaintly on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands Region of Eastern Ontario. The beautiful limestone buildings, waterfront vantage points, and immense charm encouraged us to stay longer and to regret not having more time to explore.
We started our adventure with a walk along the harbor and onto Blockhouse Island. The harbor had several yachts that looked like tall ships which pleased our kids, I mean what kid doesn't love a boat. Jutting out onto the St. Lawrence River the island had walking/biking trails, a beautiful fenced in playground, a cafe, well-maintained restrooms and large Muskoka chairs which were an excellent backdrop for the perfect tourist photo. Every angle was a gorgeous view of the St. Lawrence or upstate New York to the south. The sunny but cold weather certainly helped illuminate the beauty all around us.
From Blockhouse Island we walked over to Canada's first railway tunnel. Renovated and repurposed as a tourist destination and part of Brockville's trail system the tunnel incorporates a fully programmable LED system. The tunnel comes to life with music and lights creating an intoxicating visual history of the tunnel and its importance to Canadian History. Mineral deposits, ground waterfalls, and original hatches and construction details are present. The kids loved the colors, the music and of course the sound of a train whistle in the background. The tunnel was interesting for us adults as well. The height and expanse of it, the historical plaques that allow you to gain a deeper appreciation and of course the lights and music were pretty cool too! Who doesn't love a good tragically hip tune?
The tunnel pops you out uphill from the waterfront, and again the views of the waterway, city hall and the harbor are stunning. We walked downhill towards the main street. There was a great selection of shops and restaurants. Feeling hungry and ready for a rest we opted for The Union Jack Pub. The reviews stated it was kid friendly with home cooked food and a local watering hole. Check, Check and Check. The interior while modest and in keeping with its name was comfortable and had plenty of space for our group of 10, strollers included. The service was excellent and best of all KIDS ATE FREE! And it was a very generous meal with a drink included. Our meals were delicious and the price point perfect. It was nice to support a local business and for that business to accommodate a large group, including 6 kids which are never an easy task and with no reservation.
With full bellies and great memories, we loaded back into our vehicles to continue on our way. Of course with a mental note to return again and stay longer.
Brockville was a delightful surprise, and her shores sure were gorgeous.
It was suggested that when we return, we should experience the Aquatarium, cruise the 1000 islands by boat, explore Hardy park and return to the harbor area for some more delicious food and hopefully see a tall ship!