Begin in Kingston.
Go to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in the middle of beautiful Queens University campus. [Outside, marvel at those fresh faces and wonder what the lucky buggers will aspire to.] Inside marvel at the opening installations by Fastwurms and then continue marvelling as you enter the Ruth Soloway collection—
—which itself is worth the trip. If you pick as your favourite, Jean Paul Lemieux’s Beautiful People, you won’t be alone. Prepare to zip through the sombre colours and dead pheasants of the Old Masters room, then be slowed down by the intricacy of lace, the Rembrandts, et al. Be grateful for the brains behind the short histories and various other details posted beside each painting, which increase enjoyment levels immensely. There is a room of African treasures, another of letters written in code and yet another of French street scenes.
Take a walk. Preferably by the water.
Have lunch at Dianne’s Fish Bar. Order the seafood poutine.
Also the ‘Jar of Yummy Stuff’: brown butter apple rice pudding and cinnamon whip cream.
Avoid the 401 at all costs. Get on the scenic #33 and make your way toward the Glenora Ferry, a free service for cars, bikes, and pedestrians that runs every half hour off season [and every 15 minutes during the season]. Enjoy watching the fishing boats launch or just stretch your legs—the scenery’s delightful and the waiting time goes all too fast. The trip itself is five minutes, landing you, as if by magic, in Prince Edward County.
Make mental notes to come back and visit a thousand and one places you pass but don’t have time to visit today.
Stop to take a photograph of a toilet on someone’s driveway and discover the owner of the driveway also taking photos. She tells you that the thing appeared overnight with a note explaining how “You’ve Just Been Tanked” is part of a fund-raising campaign. Laugh merrily but know you will be thankful for every day you wake up and find there is not a toilet on your driveway. Ask for directions to Milford and realize you are on the right road.
Stop at the County Farm Centre where you can get anything you like: appetizers, socks, winches, neon orange road crew uniforms, helmets, strawberries, steaks, slippers, train sets, bird seed, clothes lines, sweaters, boots, apples, cheese, a garden hose, note paper, sunglasses, eyeglasses, frozen shrimp, hammers…
Also catnip. Get some.
Stop at the general store. Buy some chips.
Stop at the library. Play in the sandbox.
Be sad that a shop full of curious things isn’t open.
Arrive at Jackson’s Falls Country Inn and be welcomed by Lee and Paul and a dog named Shelby. Have a glass of wine, beer or cider in the front room. Or by the fireplace. Or on the porch. Or in colourful chairs overlooking fields and forest. Listen for the sound of the falls…
Drive a few minutes down the road to the Milford Bistro for dinner… or, on a fine evening, walk. When the Chef asks if, instead of ordering from the menu, you’d like him to just bring you food… say yes, yes, YES!! He will bring you wondrous things in exactly the right amounts at precisely the correct moments, including a dollop of chocolate ice cream, cherries and slices of roasted marshmallow between courses. You will wonder how it’s possible to enjoy marshmallow. You will be amazed and delighted.
When you return to the Inn, look up. You’ll see a sky that doesn’t exist where you live.
Sleep well in the absolute silence of your perfect room.
Awake to fresh tea and yogurt with pomegranate and walnuts; a mushroom omelette; toast and jam at a sunny table in what was once a one-room schoolhouse.
Talk to Lee about start of The County’s food, wine and arts culture. She grew up there. She’s one of the original food, wine and arts movers, shakers and founders. She is also Mohawk and enthusiastically shares plans for putting up a few tepees on a separate piece of property for those that might like that experience [although she adds that longhouses are traditionally Mohawk, not tepees, but they’re tougher logistically]. More enthusiasm as she explains the various themes, group events and dinners she loves to cater. Notice the art in every room. Notice the energy, the calm that presides even when the place is bustling with diners.
Take many photos around the Inn and know you will come back because where else do things line up this way…
On the way home, stop at Long Dog Winery; stock up on some excellent chardonnay and pinot noir.
Stop also at Keint-He Winery where you will kick yourself for not purchasing a book on Frances Anne Hopkins, a wonderful 19th century painter of Canadian history who more or less got overlooked in favour of all the boy painters of that era. Hard to believe, I know. Order a copy from your bookseller on your return home and send Thomas Schultze and Penumbra Press a note of thanks for publishing something so clever.
Have lunch at a little place on the water just outside Wellington whose name you now forget. Watch the swans and geese and otters while you eat a chicken Caesar.
Rue the flaw in humans that allows only one lunch per day as you pass some good-looking eateries. East and Main, and The Tall Poppy to name but two.
Head home before the sun gets too low and blinds you.
But first, one last thing en route… because you need gas, and also because you feel like doing something corny—stop by The Big Apple for the first time in your life. Ask about the bunny paraphernalia everywhere and find out the place used to be over-run with wild rabbits. Buy a pie for the neighbour that’s scooping kitty litter while you’re away.
And one for yourself.
Prince Edward Island