Iconic Canadian Waterways Paired with Delicious Eats | Ontario Culinary
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Iconic Canadian Waterways Paired with Delicious Eats

When it comes to iconic Canadian waterways in Ontario, we can’t help but think about Niagara Falls and The Trent-Severn Waterway.

But what if we told you the tastes that go along with these experiences are equally iconic and oh-so-delicious? Keep reading to see what we mean.

Don’t feel like reading the whole thing right now? No worries, skip ahead.

Taste of the Trent-Severn Waterway

The Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site celebrates 386km of waterway that connects Georgian Bay to Lake Ontario in a historic feat of human brilliance created by a lock system put in place in 1922.

With 80% of the waterway running through Kawarthas Northumberland, visitors can now head to the region for iconic tastes of place that celebrate the connection this area has to the TSW.

Plan a day, a weekend or even your next vacation to enjoy a taste of the Trent-Severn Waterway. How would we tackle our trip? We’ve got a few ideas.

Peterborough + The Kawarthas

Set out on a two-day excursion in Peterborough and the Kawarthas, starting your trip in Peterborough. Head to Silver Bean Café to start your day with a much-needed cup of joe.

Otonabean espresso on the dock with bag of beans

Their Ontonabean Espresso is a cheeky homage to the Otonabee River, part of the TSW and a beloved spot for Trent University students to go for a dip post-spring exams. Made with Peterborough’s Rapids End Coffee, it’s total bliss.

With coffee in hand, discover some of the fun shops and restaurants along George Street (we recommend popping into Flavour for some cool Peterborough-themed gear) or head down to the water and stroll along the river.

Next, it’s time to choose your lunch spot based on what you’re feeling: healthy or hearty. Those looking for a light and refreshing option should check out Fresh Dreams and order up the Spring Salad dressed with wild forest berries, celebrating the connection between forest and water.

Do you want more of a scratch-the-itch fix? Head to the El(P) on George Street for their sesame-crusted Lock 21 Tuna Tataki or Angry Bird Burger with spicy sriracha.

overhead shot of the angry bird at the el

If you’re not ready to head out of town quite yet, hop over to Charlotte Street and grab a locally-made pint or flight of craft beer at the Feast On® certified Publican House! Ready to go? It’s time to head towards Lakefield.

Two foodie stops in Lakefield should be calling your name by now. You just need to choose: chocolate or cheese? Just kidding. We’d never make you pick! Let’s do both.

The Chocolate Rabbit in Lakefield invites you to indulge in (you guessed it) delicious chocolate and fudge made by the Webster family. Stock up on goodness and don’t miss out on their TSW offer- the Lock 26 Trail Mix Canoe- a nod to the epic paddling opportunities on the waterway and Lock 26, where Lakefield resides.

Lock 26 Trail Mix Canoe on the counter at The Chocolate Rabbit in Lakeside

Just a 1-minute walk away down Queen Street, you’ll find the Cheesy Fromage. Drop into this cheese shop and wine bar for a really gouda time. Order up a charcuterie board and glass of vino to sip and savour.

Cheesy Fromage also offers up a number of TSW-themed eats like their Kawartha Caviar Cheese Curd Trial Mix, Quesadilla and Mac n’ Cheese alongside Otonabee Dingo Spices & Jams (a wonderfully delicious souvenir).

Kawartha Caviar Quesidilla

Once you’ve finished up your shopping, head to Jack’s Family Restaurant for an early dinner (please note they close at 7:30pm) and indulge in their famous Fish n’ Shrimp Boat and a Liftlock Lemonade- a tasty blue treat topped with a candy fish best enjoyed out on the patio as spring temps start to turn balmy. Looking for something open a little later? Check out The Loon down by the marina with views of the water.

Finally, wind down for the day at the Burleigh Falls Inn. This cozy stay is perfect for embracing all the natural, quiet wonders of the area.

In the morning, don’t miss out on their signature brunch plate which includes a house-made basil flatbread raft topped with Inn-grown microgreens and chives, Leahy Stock Farm pulled bacon and spinach floating on top of two ooey-gooey poached Ontario eggs and topped with house-made hollandaise. Drooling yet?

close up of the river raft at Burleigh Falls Inn

Kawartha Lakes

Those looking to explore Kawartha Lakes won’t be disappointed! We recommend stopping for lunch at The Locker at the Falls in Fenelon Falls. Enjoy their fish tacos topped with local hot sauce as you look out on the water and enjoy the view!

up close of fish tacos at The Locker

When you’re done, amble over to The Little Pie Shack– an iconic attraction for visitors every year. With a list of pies as long as the TSW itself, we recommend checking out the Lock 34 Lemon Meringue Pie for a punchy little slice of paradise.

Pink exterior of the pie shack with the owner sitting in an adirondack chair out front holding a pie.

From here, drive around Cameron Lake up to The Lokal Food Truck by Neski’s in Rosedale! This food truck is well known for its tasty cinna-bites with frosting dip. Please note, the food truck is seasonal and will open in May.  When you’re finished, check out the Rosedale Lock for a nice hike and a little toe dipping. The canal connects Cameron Lake to Balsam Lake and offers some beautiful vistas.

Don’t feel like driving quite so far? No worries! Instead, head over to Lotus Indian Bistro and check out their Goan down the Trent Severn Pickerel Curry!  Lake-fresh pickerel is cooked Goan style in a coconut curry creating a sweet and savoury blend sure to have you salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

overhead shot of the Goan Down the Trent River dish at Lotus Bistro

Northumberland County

Northumberland County boasts gorgeous views (sensing a theme here?) alongside can’t-miss tastes offering some truly unique flavours. It’ll tickle your tastebuds in ways you didn’t know they could be tickled.

Start your visit outside of Northumberland County at Elmhirst’s Resort and use this as your home base for 2 or 3 days! This place isn’t just Feast On® certified; it practically gives a standing ovation to the region’s unique terroir and food producers. Dishes like Duck and Mushroom Wontons using ducks from Elmhirst’s Resort’s farm and house-made gnocchi find a home here on the menu. Be sure to also try the Marybelle’s Wild Rice Pudding- the oldest resort recipe and a time capsule of deliciousness!

exterior photo of Elmhirst's Resort from the water

But hey, there’s more to life than just eating (apparently). Splash around in the pool, brave an early season dip in Rice Lake (shallow waters make for warmer swims), trek through nature or lounge dockside sipping on a Rice Lake Hard Cider, contemplating life’s complexities…or just figuring out your next snack.

When you’re ready to explore a bit more, head out for a day trip from Keene up to Hastings. Make McGillicafey’s your first stop with a hearty lunch in Hastings, one of the TSW’s Trail Towns. Sip on the Trail Town IPA or Lock 18 Lager as you indulge in the TSW Hub Burger- yum!

shot of the patio at McGillcaffeys

Craving more craft beer? Hop over to Focal Brewing Co.  Those with a sweet tooth will love the Dooher’s Pastry Stout- an homage to Dooher’s Bakery, famous for its donuts and butter tarts whereas traditionalists can indulge in the Field Crest Blonde Ale or Scenic Route Pilsner for clean and crisp finishes.

shot of flight and three pints at Focal Brewing sitting on a barrel, green barn in background

Continue to Wildflower Bakery for a truly unique taste of the Trent Severn Waterway. Located in the village of Havelock, this stop specializes in European pastries and handcrafted organic bread.

Try their Red Fife and Kawartha Honey Sourdough Bread. Celebrating Red Fife- a Canadian heritage wheat that was first grown in Ontonabee Township in Peterborough County back in 1842 by David Fife. This is what terroir’s all about. They’ve also added locally sourced wildflower honey to the dough for a delicious snack best-enjoyed lakeside!

We know you’ll have a great time on the water, on the peer and everywhere in between.

Niagara Parks

In a list of iconic Canadian attractions, visiting Niagara Falls always ranks up there and for good reason! If you haven’t been since you were a wee gaffer, it’s time to make the trek back because a lot has changed including your dining options. Now home to nine different attractions and 8 Feast On® certified restaurants, there are so many reasons to visit. Here are just a few of our favourite ways to spend the day in Niagara Parks!

Niagara Parks Power Station + The Tunnel and Table Rock House

Imagine, if you will, stepping into the grandeur of Canada’s power-packed past, where turbines once turned water into watts. The Niagara Parks Power Station is the newest attraction to Niagara Parks and offers up interactive exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of Canada’s first power station located on the Canadian side of the falls.

niagara parks power station, couple holding hands walking through

Marvel at the giant turbine, see how water is fed into the plant and when you’re finished, take a glass elevator 180 feet below ground where the real magic begins. From here, walk along 2200 foot-long tunnel, learning about the history of this impressive power station along the way. It’s wild to think this tunnel was crafted before many modern tools and excavators were available, created with just lanterns, pickaxes, shovels and yes, a little dynamite.

The real treat awaits at the end of the tunnel though where you’ll step out onto the observation deck for stunning views of the Horseshoe Falls. Talk about a show stopper.

Whew, after all that excitement we say you deserve a treat! Table Rock House is a Feast On® certified restaurant and also happens to be the closest you can dine to the Horseshoe Falls! If all that wasn’t enough, the food itself is an attraction all its own.

table rock food overlooking the falls

Local bounty meets international flavours here under the direction of Chef Matt Krupa. Having traveled across the globe training his culinary skill and even studying at a 3-star Michelin Restaurant in Europe, Chef Matt has brought all of that inspiration home with him. So what can you expect?

The menu is a love letter to Ontario, featuring dishes that are as local as they come. Start your meal with The Falls Salad featuring Niagara butter blend lettuce, spiced granola, dried cherries, Gunn’s Hill brie from Oxford County, toasted walnuts, edible flowers and  Niagara cherry vinaigrette. Follow it up with the bold flavours of their mains like braised lamb shank, pork melting pot or the sumac cauliflower bowl.

group of four eating by the window at Table Rock House

Of course, it wouldn’t be Niagara without talking about the Ontario wine and beer available! 54 Niagara-based wines can be found on the menu ranging from Dolomite Reisling from Cave Springs, Pompous Red from Megalomaniac, Malivoire’s Lady Bug Rosé and a great selection of ice wines as well. Can’t decide? We recommend ordering up a flight!

In addition to the great selection of wine, craft beer lovers will also love the menu.  Bench Brewing Company, Brimstone Brewery and even Niagara College Teaching Brewery have pints available. Sip and savour stouts, pilners, blonds and more to your heart’s content!

So, there you have it—a visit to Niagara Parks Power Station, The Tunnel, and Table Rock House Restaurant is more than just a trip. It’s an electrifying journey through the heart of Canadian heritage, powered by the very falls that have captivated hearts and appetites alike.

The Butterfly Conservatory + Queen Victoria Place Restaurant

Stepping into the Butterfly Conservatory is like crashing the most exclusive, winged masquerade ball. You’re practically the only one without wings (awkward), and every butterfly seems to flutter by with an air of, “Look at me, aren’t I fabulous?” It’s the kind of place where if you stand still long enough, you might just get mistaken for a particularly large flower or a very quiet tree stump. Okay, we kid. In reality, the Butterfly Conservatory is nature at its finest.

Couple in butterfly conservatory, woman with butterfly on finger

This is one of North America’s largest glass-enclosed butterfly conservatories and boasts over 2000 butterflies spreading their wings in all their colourful glory. Explore 180m of pathways through out the building, bundled in tightly with tropical vegetation as you take it all in. Before you go, don’t forget to stop by the emergence window for your chance to see a butterfly emerging from its pupa!

If you’re able to peel yourself away from that colourful display, head over to Queen Victoria Place Restaurant that is sure to charm your pants off (actually, keep them on please). Built inside a historic building that was erected in 1904 and was historically used as the park commissioner’s home, Queen Victoria Place was crafted with boulders sourced right from the river beds of the Horseshoe Falls.

patio at queen victoria place

Dine with a panoramic view of the falls (how iconic!) as you feast on local fare designed and prepared by Chef Matt Hemmingsen. His menu celebrates Niagara, a region which he was born and raised in. So, it will come as no surprise (but it should come with delight) to find dishes Berkshire Pork Chop with Gretzky whiskey apple butter, Char-Grilled Caesar topped with Niagara Specialties proscuitto and Sweet Corn Creme Brulee (when in season of course) all on the menu.

Tuck in with child like abandonment (ok maybe use your utensils still, you’re an adult after all) and enjoy!

Journey Behind the Falls + Queenston Heights Restaurant

*Note: this trip idea only works on a Sunday when Queenston Heights Restaurant is open

Get your Sunday off to a roaring start! Journey Behind the Falls is basically a backstage pass to the world’s most epic water show. Become part of the drizzly action by donning a fashionable (read: bright yellow) poncho that screams, “I came, I saw, I got a little soaked.” It’s a humbling reminder that Mother Nature does not care about your hairdo, and that’s a very good thing! Step behind the falls and watch them come down with wild force. You won’t forget it any time soon.

couple snaps a photo at journey behind the falls

Dry off in the spring sunshine as you take in the natural wonder of Niagara Falls from the viewing platform outside. We encourage you to close your eyes and listen. You’ll be amazed at all the languages you hear as people from all over the world are drawn to this natural wonder. It’s really quite amazing.

When you’re ready, it’s time for a great brunch. Who can argue with that? Not us!  Head to Queenston Heights Restaurant, located on the beautiful Queenston Heights Parklands. Folks have been picnicking on these grounds since the late 1800s and in spring, the lush lawn and blooming flowers make it all the more special.

overhead shot of brunch at Queenston Heights

Indulge in the dishes of Chef Bill Greenan and his team in all their seasonal delight. While the menu changes often with the seasons, past dishes have included everything from Belgian waffles topped with seasonal berries and Great Lakes fish grilled to perfection as well as eggs benny (a brunch must-have if you ask us) and antipasto platters paired up with some grate Canadian cheese.

Not ready to be finished? Why not sprinkle on one of the other trip ideas from this section onto your afternoon?

Iconic Classics + Fresh Flavours

No matter which you choose, we hope your culinary tour de force is met with flavours as mindblowing as the waters they sit on!