Introducing Eastern Ontario
If Chicago is the 'Windy City,' and New York is the 'Big Apple,' then eastern Ontario should be called the 'Windy Apple.' This arrowhead-shaped region, between Toronto and Ottawa, has an extensive network of bountiful farmlands and windswept colonial towns. Cool misty gusts roll over the southern seaboard, and further inland the sweeping expanses of dappled branches offer juicy autumn fruits. Travelers journeying between Montréal and Toronto along Hwy 401, the nation's busiest corridor, should allow for an extra couple of days to explore this scenic and historical realm.
For a dose of colonial history, eastern Ontario is tops. Stately Kingston was once the capital of Canada, and today the picturesque city offers myriad museums annotating the nation's military history. Further east, several smaller towns, like Gananoque, Brockville and Prescott, have fostered a genteel Victorian vibe with an abundance of stately inns and estates. Even tiny Merrickville, a former Loyalist stronghold, has barely changed since the American Revolution. These horse-and-buggy townships straddle the stunning Thousand Islands region, a foggy archipelago of lonely isles peppered along the deep St Lawrence Seaway.
Eastern Ontario's natural beauty extends far beyond the misty islets of the Thousand Islands. The region's sparsely populated interior overflows with scenic parks and preserves. The internationally acclaimed Algonquin Provincial Park is the area's flagship domain, offering unparalleled hiking and canoeing through twisting sapphire lakes and towering jack pines. A similar topography extends further south 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, and use Hwy 416 to complete the L-shaped journey. The rural, two-lane Hwy 7 is a pleasant but slower alternative.