Monday, July 03, 2006

Smith Falls and Burritts Rapids

Today, we decided to head west along the Historic Hwy 2. We didn't really have a destination in mind other than to see what we could see. A picnic lunch was packed and away we went.

Our first stop was Upper Canada Village which is always an interesting place to visit. But, before we even got out of the car we both realized we wanted to see someplace new; someplace different; someplace beautiful. So back onto west Hwy 2 we went.

We traveled through several small, historic towns with many Provincial and Historical Parks to see but we didn't stop. Somewhere along the way we had decided to see Smith Falls and the Hersheys Factory. After looking at the map we decided that traveling to Brockville then north along Hwy 29 would provide the most scenic route. We were not disappointed.

Our favorite town, by far, was Prescott. It was surrounded by lush agricultural land dotted with early pioneer and early 20th century homes. The town itself was lovely, having preserved much of its earlier architecture and showcasing it with wide cobblestone sidewalks and a great view of the St Lawrence River. It was a beautiful town but all to soon we were on the other side and heading once more to Brockville.

We arrived in Brockville to find a town that was built in the early 1900's but had moved into the modern world both architecturally and philosophically. Brockville has a smaller population than Cornwall but is far larger area wise. Many industries have made their homes in Brockville and I couldn't help but feel that I was on the outskirts of either Ottawa or Toronto. We headed north on Stewart Blvd to leave Brockville behind and continue on our adventure.

Several small towns later we came into Smith Falls and after several false starts and wrong turns we finally found the Hersheys Factory. We spent an hour walking along the viewing gallery, watching as plain chocolate bars, Mr Big bars, and Reeses Peanut Butter cups made their way through the production lines. Between each viewing window there were information displays that talked about Mr. Hershey and the history and making of chocolate. It was a little disappointing after such a long drive but a trip to the "Candy Store" lifted my spirits and lightened my pocket book. We won't be buying chocolate for the rest of the year.

When we left the Hersheys plant we noticed a mile marker for Alexandria - 133 km. So on a whim we decided to head east to Alexandria instead of back into Brockville, as we had originally planned. I'm so very glad we did decide left instead of right because we would have missed Burritts Rapids Lock otherwise.

Burritts Rapids Lock -17 is along the Rideau Canal channel between Ottawa and Kingston. It is a small Federal Park that offers picnic tables, BBQ grills, open lawns, overnight tie-ups for boats, a short 4km trail, and good fishing - if the number of people with fishing poles was anything to judge by. We were fortunate that the lock was very busy, being the end of the Canada Day weekend, and managed to get the photos you see here. After watching the lock operate for several minutes we found a picnic bench and proceeded to eat our picnic lunch.

Once our lunch was done we cleaned up our mess, took one more tour of the lock and headed home. All in all it was a very interesting, and relaxing trip. A trip I plan to repeat at least once a year. Next time I will be stopping in Prescott to explore its historic downtown area.

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