By John Morris

Prince Edward County is a confidence that boaters share with a few tourists and the locals, but it has yet to become a major tourist draw.  It’s very close to the mainland; only the Murray Canal, the Bay of Quinte and its associated waters separate it from the rest of Ontario, but it’s the largest island in Lake Ontario and comes with all the wonders that islands develop. “The County” has only been an island since 1889 when the five miles of the Murray Canal was completed; prior to that it was a peninsula, but we’ll cut some slack on that.

Today, Prince Edward County is booming with wineries, shops and charming towns but has (so far) managed to retain its rural charm. The main town in the County is Picton, a classically Ontario-esque community that completely retains its charm despite the rising tide of tourism and folks invading from the city. Adorable and historic, it has nonetheless avoided becoming Niagara-on-the-Lake so far, although getting there soon might be a good idea for those who prefer their destinations unspoiled.

Picton is roughly halfway between Belleville and Kingston down the inside protected channel the County creates, so whichever direction you’re headed in, it’s a fine overnight stop. Approaching down Long Reach, Picton Harbour is a pastoral delight that very likely doesn’t look too different from how it must have in the early 1900s when it was a centre of commerce and important port on the route west. The cement plant on the high western bank is a bit of a glaring reminder of progress, but otherwise the scene is unspoiled. Picton Harbour itself is as perfect a port as you can imagine and was very much on the schooner and steamship route back when coal ruled.

Working past Chimney Point, the entrance to the very sheltered bay, Prince Edward Yacht Club on the starboard side is an obvious place to moor for a few nights. PEYC – the acronym is boldly on the roof of the clubhouse that dates from the ‘30s (although the club dates back to the 19th century).  The bay, now used almost exclusively by pleasure boaters, is dredged regularly so there’s lots of water.  There’s also quite a bit of cruising traffic so the club can be crowded in the summer – call ahead. There is other dockage available in the bay at the Government Pier just south of PEYC, at the Prince Edward Cruising Club, the Tip of the Bay Marina (there are  also some good launch ramps here, if you are of the trailer boat persuasion) and at the Picton Harbour Inn at the head of the bay. All are much in demand during the beautiful months as boaters wind their way to and from the 1,000 Islands.

PEYC is a very active club. It once boasted a very active 6-Metre fleet and still has weeknight club and distance racing, which I am sure visitors can join in. I am particularly attracted by the Waupoos Wabbit Wace, which appears to be both a Looney Tunes delight and an annual fun club race in May.

It’s but a few steps up to the town from any of those mooring spots and what an winning place it is. Main Street looks like a main street should,  lined with shops and services, old and new. Particularly striking is the Regent Theatre, a once 1,000 seat jewel established in 1918, which has managed to escape both the wrecking ball and the Cineplex. It has a long and storied history including silent films and vaudeville and today is maintained by The Regent Theatre Foundation, a community based, not-for-profit organization that bought the then dark landmark from the founding Cook family in 1994 and restored it to its glory.

There is a fine assortment of fish and chips, bakeries, tearooms, antique and tchotchke shops that make for endless strolling. Back closer to the water, around the corner on Bridge Street past the Picton Harbour Inn is the striking Claramount Inn and Spa. Its colonial revival mansion dating from 1904 has some lavish guest rooms plus a spa where weary cruisers can enjoy some deluxe attention and the very classy Clara’s where you can switch the dining up several notches from the propane galley. There are other upscale eateries in the area too – The Waring House, a few bucks by cab, is a country inn of note that has deservedly established itself as the County’s gastro pub of record.

Back on Main Street, you can continue south for another few blocks to find the less village-y area that includes a No Frills and a pretty massive Canadian Tire that has, of course, everything. There’s a Beer Store too.  

To get all mushy for a sec, the walk back from the CT store is really what Picton is about. Sure, it has all the things you might expect in a modern Ontario community but if you’re cruising to find tranquility rather than WiFi, this really is the place. Heading back toward the harbour from those biggish boxes and signage, you can retrace the mood of two hundred years of visitors who came to Picton by boat. After all, that’s what boating is about.

This is an old town that remains small and intimate defying modernity in many ways. It was here that Sir John A Macdonald practiced law in the 1830s and buildings were built to be decorative as much as functional. There are museums, historic places and ghosts of the past all over the area.  That’s what Picton is about.

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 - An inn was reported on this site at the head of Picton Harbour as early as the 1790s.
Photo 2 - The Regent will be a century old in 2018! Today it's still a Picton landmark.
Photo 3 - Prince Edward Yacht Club provides a homey welcome to the many cruisers who drop by from everywhere
Photo 4 - Main Street in Picton carefully maintains its charm
Photo 5 - Looking from the east bank across Long Reach as it flows to Picton Harbour

Related Articles

Monday, 11 March 2013 15:06

It’s really astonishing. In Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, there are six million or so of us, crowded into bustling neighbourhoods and driving on packed roads. As Canadians we see the...

Monday, 04 November 2013 10:17

When boaters ventured into Frenchman’s Bay even a couple of decades ago, it was not without some trepidation - the entrance to the harbour was badly marked and was flanked by the remnants of...

Wednesday, 05 June 2013 14:48

Each summer, in a Canadian cruising tradition, thousands of Western Lake Ontario sailors join the annual summer migration to the Bay of Quinte and the Thousand Islands.  The route,  for most of us,...

Friday, 10 May 2013 16:07

Let’s be honest. In terms of Canadian small cities Belleville is just another one. However, as a boating destination and as a historically important sailing force, it punches well above its weight....

Friday, 28 March 2014 14:39

Buying a Boat: The MusicalSince I am in the throes of purchasing a boat and am a huge devotee of musical theatre, I recently headed to Broadway to catch the must-see opening of Buying a Boat: the...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 10:01

Wendy Loat discovered sailing via her ski club and went on to crew for her then boyfriend in the 1981 Thunderbird Worlds. When I first met Wendy, she was helping that bf – a knowledgeable instructor...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Over the years Canadian Yachting has had the pleasure of doing several boat review articles on new ...
When J/Boats set out to make their latest model, their thinking moved away from a boat that you had ...
Wellcraft launched a legacy of offshore boats from Sarasota, Florida more than 60 years ago and ...
The well-known Four Winns brand is now a part of the international boatbuilder Groupe Beneteau and ...
Boats have been in high demand for the past two years and there’s no sign of this easing. ...
When we arranged to interview the designer and manufacturer to write a profile of the X Shore Eelex ...
I am lucky to have the opportunity to helm many types of boats. I am even more lucky to sail boats ...
The weather wasn’t cooperating for our test of the new Fountaine Pajot Isla 40. Rain, storm clouds ...
Last August, we were again invited to the Neptunus Yachts facility in St. Catharines, Ontario to ...
Cruisers Yachts’ 34 GLS is the latest model in the Cruisers Yachts line that includes a dozen ...

Video Gallery

Neptunus 650F

By Andy Adams

Over the years Canadian Yachting has had the pleasure of doing several boat review articles on new Neptunus models and we are familiar with the qualities that Neptunus is famous for. They have all been exceptional yachts, but this is the one I would most want to own myself. It’s a personal choice and a matter of taste as to whether you would prefer to have a sedan express model or a flybridge but in my opinion, the flybridge layout offers some wonderful attributes.

We met with Neptunus Managing Director Jan Willem De Jong this past fall to take the new Neptunus 650F out in Lake Ontario. 

Read More

Sunset off St. John

By Mark Stevens

I was first seduced by the United States Virgin Islands during a ferry ride from St. Thomas to Tortola to begin one of our earliest British Virgin Islands charters nearly twenty years ago.

A perfect sunset off St. John with St. Thomas views for backdrop.

Clearing Pillsbury Sound, surrounded by voluptuous emerald mountains as the ferry sliced through royal blue waters, I was struck by the unspoiled ambiance of St. John, the island gliding past our starboard beam and the irresistible charm of a village called Cruz Bay visible from our quarter stern.

Read More

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Our Photo of the Week this time comes from our CY Team at FLIBS. Perhaps it’s the camera angle or ...
Yes, we are once again going to the dogs, a very popular and always welcome Photo of the Week ...
Last week Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance from Chester NS were named today Sail Canada’s Rolex ...
This week’s Photo of the Week comes from BC. The 99th Grey Creek Regatta was held at the Lakeview ...
Back in 2019 (I believe) your magazine used a pic of Sweet Love, a Ranger Tug 31, in a photo ...
a few shots of my wife Maggie practicing her silks routine on our 1982 C&C in the North Channel ...
Last issue, we took a look at boat names. Little did we know we would get what probably will be the ...
Boat names and puns go together like …. Well, like nothing else. Here’s a couple shared by our pal ...
Frequent Windsor racing contributor to Sailing in Canada Roger Renaud, caught this gorgeous ...
The Kingston Yacht Club (KYC) celebrated its 125th anniversary in the summer of 2021, in all the ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Last issue we explored NMEA 2000 networking, including the advantages of creating an on-board ...
The fungicide also acts as a biocide and prevents bacteria & fungal growth contamination from ...
Imagine a world where multiple touch-screens conveniently located will display information from ...
Last fall, a few members at my yacht club walked over and joined the exchange, which, by the way, ...
Boaters tend to be hands-on and active. Many (most?) like to launch and trailer our boats on our ...
We settled Svala into what my family and I had come to think of as the most desirable anchorage on ...
Never chartered? No problem. Here’s how to plan, execute and enjoy a vacation on a charter yacht ...
Once you’ve removed everything around and opened up all accesses to the engine and prop shaft, use ...
Most boaters are thinking about the end of the season at this time of year: prepping for haul-out, ...
Do you have abnormal engine vibration; rubber dust around engine mounts; telltale signs of possible ...

Svala at Anchor

Story and photos by Matt Bera

We settled Svala into what my family and I had come to think of as the most desirable anchorage on Lake Ontario, on a sunny summer afternoon. With an abandoned settlement, an old schoolhouse full of swallows, giant snakes and a rum-running past, Main Duck Island had it all.

That we had to sail past the Psyche Shoal, a magnetic disturbance, and into the middle of the rumoured Marysburgh Vortex made an even better sea story. It had taken us two attempts, two years, two boats and a new sort-of experimental engine to get there.

Read More

 

  

Sailing With a Captain

By Zuzana Prochazka

Never chartered? No problem. Here’s how to plan, execute and enjoy a vacation on a charter yacht where life is easy and the sunsets can’t be beat.

Decide on a crewed or bareboat charter

A crewed charter means you have a captain who manages the boat and maybe a chef or mate as well. Crewed charters ensure a safe and comfortable vacation with most everything done for you. The chefs are usually outstanding so if you’re a foodie, you’ll be in heaven and you may be able to pick up new recipes too. Larger crewed yachts may also have a mate who works with the captain and will do things like getting toys (kayaks, SUPs, snorkel gear, etc.) ready for you to use so you do very little work.

Read More

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
The world of marine electronics is just on fire in terms of development. You can almost name ...
On the water, most people store mobile devices in safe but relatively inaccessible spots. This ...
Many consider a tender a utilitarian means to an end—mere transportation. Argos Nautic's RIB ...
Internal mechanical marine tank sensors are plagued with problems that cause inaccurate readings. ...
When the weather turns ugly, how many of us contemplate just taking off, maybe forever. Long ...
Nothing is worse than going to the freezer to find that you’re out of ice. With a portable ice ...
For the skiers, wakeboarders, wakeskaters, or kneeboarders, the Kwik Tek Airhead Rope is a ...
Highly regarded by our readers as some of the best wine glasses for marine use out on the market ...
Teak accents and accessories are always a good idea. Keep your glassware safe with this appealing ...
The Hot Dog Banana Tube (aka “water weenie”) guarantees a summer full of laughter and fun.

Mercury marine V10 OutboardsOn November 15th 2022, Mercury Marine, a division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), introduced the industry’s first ever V10 outboard with the official launch of its all-new 5.7L 350 and 400hp Verado® outboard engines.
 
Consistent with the award-winning Verado brand, the new V10 engines are the quietest and smoothest in their class running 45 percent quieter than a leading competitor at cruise. In addition to NVH, the new Verado’s are not only compatible with the latest Mercury SmartCraft® technologies but will also be offered with an optional dual-mode 48V/12V alternator to seamlessly pair with Navico Group’s Fathom® e-power system, an integrated lithium-ion auxiliary power management system, providing boaters the opportunity to eliminate an onboard generator system.

Read More