Eastern Ontario encompasses the countryside east of Toronto as far as the Québec border. Not too far past the suburban sprawl of Oshawa, the GTA's easternmost extent, the fertile pastures of Prince Edward County support a rich farming tradition. Travelers journeying between Montréal and Toronto along Hwy 401, the nation's busiest corridor, should allow a few days to enjoy this scenic, historic and culinary realm.
For a dose of colonial history, eastern Ontario is tops. Stately Kingston was the first capital of modern-day Canada: the picturesque city offers a wealth of museums and attractions. Continuing east, the smaller towns of Gananoque, Brockville and Prescott have a genteel Victorian vibe with their abundance of stately inns and estates. Tiny Merrickville, a former Loyalist stronghold, has changed little since the American Revolution. These horse-and-buggy townships straddle the stunning Thousand Islands region, a foggy archipelago of lonely isles along the deep St Lawrence Seaway.
Eastern Ontario's natural beauty extends far into the province's sparsely populated interior, which overflows with scenic parks, preserves and private cottage retreats. Internationally acclaimed Algonquin Provincial Park is the area's flagship domain, offering unparalleled hiking, canoeing and wildlife-spotting through twisting sapphire lakes and towering jack pines. Similar topography extends to the Kawarthas and Land O' Lakes, once inhabited by ancient Aboriginal tribes.
Surprisingly, there is still no major highway running directly between Toronto and Ottawa. The speediest option is to take Hwy 401 from Toronto to Prescott, then scoot up north on Hwy 416 to the capital. The rural, two-lane Hwy 7 is a pleasant but slower alternative.