Eastern Ontario really does not get enough credit. As it winds along beside the St. Lawrence River it reveals gems every mile you go. From deep history of Kingston to the beauty of Thousands Islands and Gananoque there is something for everyone.
Wanting to do a bit of touring in Eastern Ontario and always looking for something different I found Long Sault Parkway that crosses 11 islands. That is so cool. I have crossed islands like that in Florida but not Ontario. I had to check this out.
It had been a busy weekend. As I was exploring the area I really want to find a nice campsite, a hot shower and some peace and quiet. To my delight there were three along the Parkway. I decided on McLaren Campground as it was at the beginning on the west side and darkness was falling. I wanted to drive the Parkway in the daylight and be refreshed to take in what I knew was going to be some beauty and what turned out to be an interesting story.
McLaren Campground had many unserviced sites along the water. It also was very busy in that area. Up towards the woods there was no one around. Perfect for a night of R & R! I must say the amenities were wonderful and so was the staff. It was a very nice stay.
In the morning I had the choice of pulling out the camp stove and making coffee or driving 15 minutes to a Tim Hortons to get coffee. I chose the latter. Lol. While there I met a gentlemen and his daughter who had a Valliant on his way to New Brunswick with a radiator leak. I put it out on Facebook looking for someone to help him out. I am so hoping he found a solution.
On to the Parkway and across the causeways. The views were beautiful. I found it hard to believe I crossed 11 islands in 10.5 Kilometers.
How and why were these islands here and how were they connected? As it turns out there used to be towns along this stretch of land. Before 1954 there were no islands but several towns and villages. In 1954 with the cooperation of the Canadian and the US governments, dams were built to harness the power of the St. Lawrence rapids. In its day it was a popular tourist destination. To create these dams, three in total, towns and villages would have to be relocated, roadways and railways rerouted. The project took close to four years to complete. Relocating 7 and 1/3 villages was not an easy task. Over 525 homes were moved, and 6500 people involved in the relocation. Can you imagine being told you have to relocate but you can bring your houses with you?
In the move to create the Hydro dams 40 miles of railway track and 35 miles of Hwy 2 were relocated. Even a cemetary with over 5000 graves were moved inland.
As you drove along the Parkway over causeways there are small picnic areas as well as campgrounds dotted along on the islands. You can walk, bike or drive your way across. Which ever way you choose it is an enjoyable and relaxing ride. I am so glad I found this little gem along the rivers of the St. Lawrence in Ontario.
Just for information Upper Canada Village is just down the road. If you have never been there make it a stop on your Eastern Ontario tour. A walk through history where you can see people working and living in a time long ago. It also has a more indepth look at how Long Sault Parkway came to be.
Taking Highway 2 along the river back towards Southern Ontario I stopped at Two Creeks Forest Conservation Area for lunch. What a cute little place. A good size parking area and a walking path for an afternoon stroll. They also supplied a bathroom which is especially appreciated driving my 69 and drinking coffee. Lol My only complaint…Not one garbage can. Garbage on the ground makes me crazy. The town not supplying places for people to put their garbage makes me crazier.
My next stop on my tour was the Brockville Railway Tunnel. This is way cooler than I thought it would be. An old railway tunnel built in the 1850’s for taking cargo to the industrial areas near the waterfront. They have made it into a spectacular underground light show.
Walking into the Tunnel you have no idea of the spectacular show you are about to enter.
As you walk in, there is a sign telling you that you can only walk, no bike riding or roller blading and the floor will be wet due to the water dripping from the rocks. It says you will get dripped on and they were right. Lol. Actually felt pretty good as it was a hot day outside. You could feel the cool air as you entered the tunnel.
Lets look at the history of the tunnel before we get to the magic.
Constructed between 1854 -1860 this is the first railway tunnel in Canada. It always amazes me how they could build and create these amazing places so long ago without the equipment they have today. In the 1850’s dynamite had not been invented, they used gunpowder to blast away the rock. Starting in the middle, an Extraction shaft was built. There they could extract the rock that had been blown to pieces with the gun powder and lower construction workers and equipment needed for the project.
Ventilation shafts were also built in. In those days large steam engines were used to haul the cargo. Great bouts of steam would pour out it’s stacks as it was rolling down the tracks. These tunnels were built into the rock to let that steam flow out of the tunnel. Brockville City Hall was built directly above the tunnel in 1863. The shafts were engineered into the building construction as two stone chimneys. Today they still provide fresh air into the tunnels with ventilation fans on top.
The dripping water throughout the tunnel was not a design flaw but a design plan. By allowing natural ground water to drip through the tunnel accomplished two things. Stopped any hydrostatic pressure, a pressure that builds from the liquid that sits in the cracks of the rocks that could cause a collapse and forming beautiful mineral deposits within the rock itself.
Now for the magic. What they have done to celebrate this Canadian first is remarkable. It is an amazing walk through light, music and a refreshing walk through history. As you make your way down to 37 feet under ground, through the tunnel you are entertained with lights dancing along the walls and music and even a train whistle. I almost wanted to dance my way through, but it is slippery so I had to be careful. The refreshing coolness of the air mixed with musical dancing lights was truly a magical trip through history.
On the lake side of the tunnel history is waiting. A beautiful park with an original caboose. Ok they cannot be that old because I remember trains having a caboose. Lol. Here is also where you can hop onto a little train and take a tour of Brockville.
What an excellent find! I highly recommend a stop and a walk through the Brockville Tunnel. You will be glad you did.
I wanted to keep to Highway 2 as I went west. It is a beautiful drive with small towns dotting the riverside landscape. Coming to Kingston it was a traffic nightmare on a hot humid day in my back to basics, standard 69 Econoline. After 30 minutes of stop and go traffic my clutch leg told me I needed to stop for ice cream! Lol
I stopped at Camp Lottarock for a couple of days to visit with Andy and Becky. They are such lovely people and I really enjoy their company. I am pretty sure they are the best husband and wife team I have ever met. They compliment each other so nicely and are beautiful people to be around.
On the way back I thought I would jump on Highway 401. It was time to head for home. I stopped at the Trenton Enroute to go to the bathroom before hitting Highway 407 and the van would not start. What is going on??? It was completely dead. Not even a click. I called CAA for a boost but worried that if for some reason my alternator was not charging as it was a new battery, and alternator, and coil, I would only get a little ways down the road. I asked my friends on Facebook if they had any ideas and Jano came on and said he would be right there. I cancelled the call to CAA and my friends were on the way. Now I was completely taken off guard and did not have any tools with me. Oh very bad move on my part and that will never happen again. I am not good at being rescued and this would be the second time in a week that my friend Jano would come to my rescue. Thank you my friend! 💜 He had a new battery and put it in the 69, gave it a boost and it started right up.
He called our friends Karl and Sue and Karl told him to bring it over and he would have a look. After checking grounds and wires he found a loose power wire on the alternator. After charging my battery, we put it in and it started right up. Oh thank goodness it was something small. But was it? Stay tuned in next weeks blog because my old girl and I next trip together had a little bit of a rough start.
After 10 days on the road and as much as I love driving my 69 it was good to be home.
Join me next week as I hop back into my 69 and we take a trip to the 49th National Van Show in Old Washington Ohio.
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure.