Towns along the St. Lawrence River

Southern Ontario is dotted with dozens of tiny towns and river communities along the St. Lawrence River. Some are more interesting than others. Below is a quick rundown of the towns we visited on our brief vacation.

Rivermede in Cardinal, ON

Cardinal - This was our launching point for our stay in Canada as we stayed at Rivermede. The town is quite tiny - maybe a couple hundred people so there really isn't anything for a tourist to do. For those interested in diving, there are a couple of submerged ships located offshore - the Wee Hawk and the Conestoga.

Prescott - About 15 minutes west of Cardinal, just past the turnoff for the international bridge, is Prescott, a town of about 5,200. The town is referred to as "the fort town" as it is the site of Fort Wellington National Historic Site. Also nearby is the Battle of the Windmill National Historice Site. The town has a tiny downtown area but does include a nice restaurant - the Grenville Arms Bistro at 513 King Street. The food there is actually quite good. Right next door is the incredibly charming Ships Anchor Inn, housed in a 175 year old stone house.

Merrickville - Just up 416 and off of 43 (or straight up the road from Maitland) is the charming town of Merrickville, Ontario. Located on the banks of the historic Rideau Canal, the town has several great little restaurants, a few charming B&Bs and plenty of shops. Dubbed by many as the most beautiful village in Ontario, it's an easy day trip from the St. Lawrence river or Ottawa. We had lunch on an outdoor patio at the Yellow Canoe Cafe - a casual little cafe across the street from the canal. Walk around town to enjoy the architecture, the Rideau canal and the Blockhouse Museum.

Downtown Brockville

Brockville - Located another 15 minutes west of Prescott is Brockville, a particularly beautiful town on the St. Lawrence. Driving into town, we were amazed by the array of gorgeous houses... just one after the other. The main square is about as pretty as you can get with plenty of charm and European character as it was founded by Loyalist refugees displaced during the American Revolution. There are several great restaurants and shops in town and some great photo opps. Oh yes, and you can take boat tours from Brockville to the Thousands Islands although you might want to take a tour from Alexandria Bay instead (on the NY side).

Morrisburg - Admittedly, there's not much to see in Morrisburg itself. Though you'll find plenty of nice houses and pretty churches by the river, you'll soon realize that the town has no downtown. It turns out that both Morrisburg and Iroquois (just up the river) were moved back from the river when it was widened. Each lost their respective downtowns. Morrisburg is really lacking in restaurants unless you count the restaurants located at the McIntosh Country Inn. For the most part, Morrisburg is known for Upper Canada Village and Prehistoric World.

Of course, probably the most worthwhile town to visit along the St. Lawrence is the historic city of Kingston. We didn't get a chance to make it there but heard it was very much worthwhile. Further downstream is Cornwall, just a short drive from Quebec. Again, if you're going to visit the Thousand Islands, common wisdom is to catch a boat from Alexandria Bay rather than from the Canadian side as you'll be able to see Millionaire's Row, Boldt Castle and Singer Castle.

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