Just when you think your days enjoying time away from home on vacation are over – they’re not.

Some will miss those long hazy, hot days of summer touring Europe, the Caribbean and the US, but what about those colourful, cool days of fall? What about those long weekends and weekdays right into November before the blast of winter arrives? And staying closer to home, perhaps, in our beautiful Canada, with the rich colours of fall that our country is so well know for? I have just the ticket for some great getaways, long or short.

Gananoque’s 1000 Islands offers more than enough to delight the spur of the moment short stay or week long vacationer who wants to grab a bit more time away from home before the cold and dreary winter sets in. It promises a fall vacay full of colour, fun and relaxation.

Consider a day of roaming the streets in a picturesque town with lovely architecture and shops, ending with a cruise that includes dining and dancing, or theatre.

The 1000 Island Playhouse is perched at water’s edge, with two decks to relax on prior to a play or during intermission. It has just finished a very successful run of Little Shop of Horrors in the Springer Theatre. On now at the Firehall Theatre is The Clockmaker, a romantic mystery by Stephen Massicotte. October 10 to 27th, its Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador’s production of Tempting Providence, the true story of nurse Myra Bennet. There’s a trick to good, commercial summer theatre and that is producing shows that are light, fun and enjoyable, directed to the masses – it rarely fails. Artistic Director Greg Wanless has excelled in his choices and the results have been overwhelming through the years.

If theatre isn’t your passion, there’s always the Gananoque Boat Line. It has featured some wonderful ‘special’ cruises during the summer and it continues into the fall with a dinner and dance cruise tribute to Motown on September 15. Time to get your mojo on and dance to the likes of Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin. The dinner includes roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, veggies, salad and dessert with a non-alcoholic beverage for $70 a person or $130 for a couple. A gander around the shops in the afternoon and dinner and dance on a boat seems to me to be a most active day and romantic evening.

And talking about romance, a picnic is just the thing. A picnic prepared by Wendy’s Mobile Market can provide it all. A picnic packed into large wicker baskets, stuffed with all sorts of local goodies, sandwiches, pita rolls, veggies, all sorts of sweets to tickle your fancy. All local produce. Believe me, the tastes are divine. You’ll also find a table cloth, cutlery, plates and glasses tucked in. And if you just happen to have your family canine with you, they even provide dog treats! And to top it off, they deliver it to you.

The best way to really discover the gems in any town is getting to know its people, and Gananoque offers that quaint village feel, with friendly, always helpful residents ready to point out their favourite spots they think shouldn’t be missed. Like the Socialist Pig, an eclectic coffee house, BBQ restaurant and clothing store; all under one roof. In the coffee house, the tables and chairs are made up of old suitcases. The counter is held up by masses of colourful books of all sorts and sizes. The entire place exudes charm and you will leave with a contented belly and a smile on your face.

Where to stay whilst there? For me it was the beautiful Gananoque Inn and Spa. Built in the 1860s as a carriage factory, this historic inn is steps from the Gananoque Boat Cruises and the 1000 Islands Playhouse. Some rooms feature a fireplace and windows facing out onto the water. There is no elevator, but there are only two floors and plenty of staff to help you if needed. You have two choices for dinner – the main dining room, The Watermark Restaurant features an outdoor patio and recipes that promote fresh, local ingredients. For the more relaxed, Muskie Jake’s Tap and Grill, features casual fare and casual dress.

All this and only two and half hours away from Montreal.

Another option, one that would truly accent the colours of the season, is a boat ride along the Rideau Canal…in a houseboat! What a unique way to travel. Imagine discovering a different village every day, then at night, being lulled to sleep by the sound of water lapping up against the boat.

The real adventurous spirits can also rent a canoe and paddle the river stopping at various, pre-booked B&Bs along the way. Either way, depending on what route you take, you’ll end up in lovely little villages like Merrickville, a growing artists’ colony, and Delta with its Old Stone Mill and agricultural fair. Conceived in the wake of the War of 1812, the canal has 45 locks at 27 lock stations, and consists of a chain of beautiful lakes running 202 km from Lake Ontario in Kingston to the Ottawa River in Ottawa. That means plenty of boating opportunities. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Whether you chose to rent a cottage in the area or stay on a houseboat, you will find plenty of choice golf courses sprinkled through the landscape. Along the route you’ll also find high end resorts such as The Poplars Resort in Newboro, about a mile away from The Rideau Lakes Golf Course, where you can fish in the early hours and hit the golf course in the afternoon.

For those who would relish a few days basking in wine country, visiting the wineries, Prince Edward County is a must see. Midway between Montreal and Toronto this area is giving the wines of the Niagara region a run for its money. About a four hour drive, you’ll find some excellent wineries, The Waupoos Estates (Pinot Noires), Closson Chase Vineyard (Chardonnays) and The Hinterland Winery Co. (Sparkling Wines).

The Waupoos Estates also has shoreline docking available, making Waupoos a great stop for a glass of wine or dinner at The Gazebo Restaurant. Some, like The Huff Estates, offer accommodation as well. And a grand match for the wine tasting would be the fresh cheeses from the area. Follow the Arts Trail and you can visit the wineries, art studios and the local food producers, all in one day! What a super idea to spend the day biking from one to another! Prince Edward County is totally bike friendly, and the distances between points are very short, with wineries and small villages in abundance for plenty of rest, drink and eat stops.

Since we are delving into food, here’s another great idea. Why not take a cooking class? From the Farm Cooking School offers hands-on cooking classes in a heritage farmhouse setting. Owner Cynthia Peters, a personal chef and food writer, conducts classes that highlight the art of seasonal country cooking from around the world. September 8 focuses on Italian Delights – Gnocchi and Risotto, October 13, Mushroom Madness and October 27, Breakfast Breads and Sausage Making, November 10, Holiday Appetizers and Wine Workshop, all at $85 per person.

Theatre, cruises, village shops and wineries and so much more to discover on the Great Waterway. Ontario has much to offer for a short or extended vacation. Whether it’s by bike, by boat or simply staying put in one spot, you will find plenty of adventure, relaxation, and an array of culinary events to suit every palate. And what better time to visit than now, when the area is resplendent in the glorious harvest colours of fall.

Travel Planner
Tourism: www.thegreatwaterway.com
The Rideau Heritage Route:www.rideauheritageroute.ca
Prince Edward County:
The Gananoque Boat Line: www.ganboatline.com
The Gananoque Inn:www.gananoqueinn.com
The Poplars Resort: www.poplarsresort.com
Picnics: www.wendysmobilemarket.com/mobile-market.htm
Bike Rentals PEC: www.bloomfieldbicycle.ca
Cooking Classes: www.fromthefarm.ca
Rideau Lakes Golf Course:www.communityexplore.com/rideaulakesontario/golf-and-country-clubs
Wineries: www.thecountywines.com/wineriess3.php