By the Engel & Völkers Team
Prince Edward Country is growing from a secluded municipality into a getaway for foodies, techies, artists and adventurers. 'The County’, as locals refer to it, has a rich history in Canada, boasting a number of periods of influence and prosperity. Now, the region has quietly transformed into an under-the-radar arts, tech and foodie enclave. Most notably, it’s a wine country destination, however it also boasts local eateries, innovative tech startups, vintage shops, and one-of-a-kind antiques. Located 2.5 hours east of Toronto, Prince Edward County (PEC) captivates with its ‘grown up summer camp’ vibe and grand Victorian mansions, many of which transformed into modernized country homes. The slow, organic genesis of PEC, has lured a savvy group of creative entrepreneurs from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Most of these newcomers consist of designers, artists, filmmakers, chefs, bakers and musicians. PEC is now highly regarded as a chic hideout for city escapees who want to experience its wineries, farmers markets, boutique hotels and restaurants.
Here’s the lowdown on what to do in The County:
HOW TO GET AROUND
Getting around PEC is extremely easy with its smooth landscape and uncongested roads. As a famous cycling destination, bikes are the go-to method for transportation. Travelling distances are short between attractions, making it extremely efficient for locals to go to multiple spots in a day.
WHERE TO STAY
Owned by Jeff Stober, who also owns the artsy Drake Hotel on Queen St. West, the Devonshire Inn is a revamped heritage home with a modern twist. It celebrates local artists with its cultural programming and highlights the traditional historic vibes of PEC with its architecture. Each picturesque hotel room has its own unique style with vintage décor and original artworks.
Credit: Drake Devonshrie
This revamped motel combines 1960s & contemporary style with its modernist architecture, pastel pinks, neon lights and ‘rosé all day’ mantra. Filled with palm trees, succulents and detox yoga classes, this place is the dream stay for anyone looking for a Zen-like vacation. Extremely Instagram-worthy, it’s also in a quiet, secluded area off the coast of Picton Bay, making it the perfect getaway location. With only 16 rooms, it features a hip aesthetic like no other.
Credit: Lauren Miller
WHERE TO HANG
Can’t forget about the beaches! Sandbanks Provincial Park is the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation. It has three natural sand beaches and multiple walking trails. Car camping, swimming, fishing and hiking are amongst the many things you can do at this large provincial park. It is also an excellent spot for sunset viewing!
For the artsy folks, Prince Edward County has an enormous art community filled with countless galleries, exhibits and studios. PEC’s art scene stands out for its unique mix of modern galleries and rustic barn studios. If you want to take a relaxing walk after a long day at the winery, head over to any of the studios within Arts Trail to indulge in works from a diverse group of designers. If learning about art is more your thing, there are also plenty of in-studio workshops for you to join, including glass art and pottery classes.
Credit: Oeno Gallery
WHERE TO DRINK
You cannot miss the local wineries. As the fastest growing wine region in Ontario, Norman Hardie winery is one of the most well-known amongst the bunch. This winery boasts an old world approach, where modern techniques are used as little as possible in the cellar. They do not believe in quick fixes or shortcuts, and aim to produce wine as natural as possible. They also serve pizza straight from a wood fired oven to complement its wine tastings!
Credit: Norman Hardie Winery
This farmhouse brewery produces innovative, craft beer that embodies the farmland in PEC. County Road Beer Company tries to use as many local ingredients as possible within their food and beverages. Dining at this brewery is a true farm-to-table experience as the menu changes weekly depending on what ingredients are in season. If beer is not your cup of tea, Hinterland Wine Company is located right next door, serving up premium sparkling wine.
WHERE TO EAT
Many restaurants in PEC pride themselves on using local fresh ingredients to create old world flavours. A must-visit spot is Sand and Pearl, a raw bar and fish fry stop located minutes from Sandbanks Provincial Park. We recommend taking a seat in their back patio and watch their oyster shuckers in action.
Inspired by the local foods of PEC, this cheese company produce cheeses made of local goat and buffalo milk. This company merges old traditions with modern techniques, all while incorporating the local terroir of PEC’s farmland. It is also the first in Canada to receive a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for their ethical and environmental facility. With cheese making becoming a rare practice, Fifth Town Artisan strives to maintain this tradition through educating others and sustaining their position as a leader in cheese making within PEC.
Credit: Fifth Artisan Cheese
Open every Saturday starting the long weekend from May to October, this farmer’s market cannot be missed. Situated along the shore of Lake Ontario, this market celebrates PEC’s locally produced foods with a wide array of vendors and live music! In addition to foods, the market also sells jewelry, cosmetics, artwork and clothing.
WHERE TO SHOP
There are numerous one-of-a-kind shops in PEC that focuses on selling handmade crafts, vintage goods and antiques. Frugal & Company and Dead People’s Stuff are notable spots for thrifters and collectors who are looking to buying rare antiques and vintage furniture. While, Kokito is a boutique shop that focuses on selling new and antique homeware, art and accessories. Most of their goods are handcrafted or designed in Canada.
PEC is making a name for itself as THE hip place to live and work. Its picturesque scenery and blend of new and old aesthetics proves great potential for any migrants looking to move to a fresh, new place!
P.S. If you’re into full fields of lavender, head on over to PEC during late June to July to see them in full bloom!