Thursday, 28 August 2014

Let's be Earnest

As many of you know- I am a huge fan of Twitter. One of my favourite things about this social media platform is that it makes it incredibly easy to connect with local people, business and keep informed on what's going on. Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Riverstone Gananoque and through a Twitter contest, I won tickets to their event at the 1000 Islands Playhouse. What luck!

I had heard rave reviews of "The Importance of Being Earnest" and stoked when I had won two tickets to the closing night show on Saturday evening. Riverstone Gananoque was one of the show's sponsors that evening and was hosting a pre-show cocktail hour. This was a great chance to meet with their Gananoque office team, discuss the plans for the new condos and enjoy an overall great evening. On display were photos of the site plan and various models to showcase this visually stunning development. Nick and I poured over designs and were very excited about this project.

If you're not familiar with the project, I encourage you to check out Riverstone Gananoque's website and also familiarize yourself with The Ivy Club, located in Ivy Lea of the 1000 Islands Parkway and also Gananoque's newest dining experience- Riva (which I've recently blogged about). Both these businesses are a great example of what owner, Joe Pal's completed vision looks like.The team that is bringing you Riverstone has now paired up with  Brennan Custom Homes to continue it's top quality finished product.

I've been to the 1000 Islands Playhouse three times now and each time exceeds my expectations. With a packed house, Creative Director Ashlie Corcoran let us know that "The Importance of being Earnest" has been the highest selling performance over the past five years! Now, after seeing it for myself, I can completely understand why. The characters came alive and took you on an adventure of hilarity and relationship turmoil. Every detail was perfect- including the set changes which were met with much laughter from the entire audience. Earnest was easily the best show I have seen at the playhouse yet and both Nick and I are thrilled to have had the opportunity to go.

Once the entertainment wrapped up, we headed to Riva for a quick drink with one of our good friends, MP Gord Brown. Gord has always been a champion for the town and was happy to hear of our great evening out. The atmosphere at Riva was once again welcoming and the perfect spot to share laughs and stories. If you are headed to the theatre, I recommend it for dinner prior, drinks after- or even both!

I have to say- I am extremely excited for Riverstone to break ground and become part of the Town of Gananoque. Not only will this be a magnificent place to call home - waking up every morning on the famous St.Lawrence River, but it will also increase tourism in the area, help grow the economy and truly showcase what a stunning place Gananoque truly is!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Liana’s Ransom Held Us Captive!

If you are looking for a unique experience on the mighty St. Lawrence River- you have found it with a tour on the Tall Ship “Liana’s Ransom”. Set sail with Captain Tilly and 7 of his crew members for an unforgettable pirate adventure.

Today, I had the pleasure to board the tall ship for their first tour of the day. I was a bit worried with the weather- looking cloudy and as though the sky may open up at any moment- but it held off and the 90 minute tour was incredible. I boarded Liana’s Ransom, an 85 foot, steel hulled schooner and eagerly awaited to set sail from Blockhouse Island on our excursion. Along the way I met up with friends Deidre and her wonderful husband Warren, who were celebrating their anniversary with the tour.

   Many of the people on board were visiting from our Nation’s Capital -Ottawa and area. One lady I spoke with had always wanted to board a Tall Ship and try one of these adventures, she stated it was on her bucket list and was thrilled that this had come to the city of Brockville. Throughout the tour, the captain and crew kept us entertained by telling us the history of the ship, pirate stories and even performing tricks, such as swinging out over the water on the rope! 

I went with my Aunt, Mary Lynn – who is a cruise specialist and travel consultant. I figured she was the best one to check this out with, as she has been aboard many ships and boats. I think she was even more excited than I was- as she volunteered to help hoist the sails, load and fire the cannons and dress up like a pirate! It was way too much fun and I’m really happy that we were able to check it out together.

If you are in Brockville or area, the Liana’s Ransom Adventure is worth the trip. The crew is hilarious and make the voyage an absolute experience-get your tickets today!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Great Waterfront Trail has gotten me hooked!

Our area has seen a huge increase in cycling tourism over the past few years. As someone who has never cycled much farther than my neighbourhood, I always admired from afar when I saw large groups come to town. I hadn't given much thought to the sport until recently, when a friend mentioned a cycle tour she was doing for the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure.

Kaitlynn Dodge had reached out and let me know about the upcoming cycle tour she was doing. Riding from Brighton, On. to Cornwall, Ontario- a total of 331 KM over a five day period, this ride was going to be a tough adventure but unbeatable when it came to the scenery and experience. There were around 150 registered riders who are taking part of this adventure, which is in it's 7th year. Each year has highlighted a different leg of the trail, with this year being no different. This year is a shorter ride to help accommodate families and less experienced riders- like myself! When the daily leg of the tour was complete, riders would settle at camp (or in hotels for those who wish) and explore the communities. It is a great way to get to know this beautiful area we call home!

When Kaitlynn mentioned the tour and asked if I would ride with them for some of the journey, my heart stopped! I am not physically fit or active on a daily basis. That, and I am also an anxiety sufferer. When you combine all those things, it was terrifying to even think about even taking a leisurely ride. For some reason though, I agreed to join the ride from Gananoque, On to my hometown of Brockville, On - a ride of 47 KM. I suppose it was my competitive nature that made me jump at the challenge, but I am sure happy that I did. Kaitlynn is blogging about her trip at  - which will give you more insight into a beginners guide to cycling. 

I started training right away, going to Gananoque and riding as far as I could on the trail. The first evening I rode 5.2 KM and couldn't breath when I was finished. My legs felt wobbly, I was sweaty and had no idea what I had just committed too. The next evening I rode again and made it past 7 KM. I was less tired and more eager to get to the next night and beat my personal best. I found that I started looking forward to my nightly rides and to see how far I could ride. 

To date my personal best is 18 KM (which is from Gananoque to the United States Bridge) and I am extremely proud of myself. I am not ready to do the ride tomorrow- as I feel I wouldn't be able to complete it but I am going to continue training on the Great Waterfront Trail until I am able to complete the 47 KM ride. I have learned so much about cycling during this time - the difference between a mountain bike and speed bike, the importance of a helmet, proper stretching and hydration, etc and am looking forward to learning much more! 

What impressed me the most about the Great Waterfront Trail was how serene of a ride it really was. There were parts that were tough for me, but all in all - I found it was a great place to start cycling and highly encourage anyone who is interested in the sport to check it out. Cycle Tourism is gaining popularity and I now know first hand why!  

If you are interested in donating to the Waterfront Regeneration Trust or want to learn more about the Great Waterway Trail Adventure, please check out their website:

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Newest Destination Hotspot: Gananoque

I have had the pleasure to travel throughout Eastern Ontario, New York State and Quebec over the last few years with my family and for my blog. I have documented some of my favourite restaurants, festivals, hot spots and overall spectacular places to visit- but this past weekend I found my newest favourite and guess what? It’s in our own backyard- Gananoque, On.

Nick and I have driven as far as 8 hours in search of the best food, accommodations and attractions for our date nights. As he travels a lot for work and I’m busy blogging, supporting community events, being a mom and running a business- we truly do covet our date nights. As busy as we are, those who we trust to leave our children with are equally as in-demand. Time is not frequently available, so we make the most of it when we do get it.  That’s why, when my fabulous Aunt offered to take our girls for a night at their farm- we jumped at the chance to book at the newly renovated Comfort Inn and Suites in Gananoque.

I've been eyeing this hotel for months now, seeing it undergo an amazing transformation- I couldn't wait to check it out. We booked a Jacuzzi suite (why not!?) and jetted off for the evening. Upon check-in we were greeted by very friendly staff. The ladies let us know the amenities of the hotel and also informed us of some wonderful near-by attractions, restaurants and other town favourites. We checked into our room and had a short rest before heading to dinner. The room was spacious, immaculately clean and very romantic. We had a fireplace, Jacuzzi tub and wonderful big windows with lots of natural light. Best of all- the King-sized bed! It was so comfortable and full of pillows. I could have stayed in bed all night, but we had dinner reservations at another local hot spot- Riva. Also worth mentioning is their fabulous INDOOR POOL. We didn't get a chance to take a dip, but the pool was always well-attended and looked great. Next time!

Riva, also newly renovated- was a stunning restaurant next door to the Comfort Inn and Suites. This stone building has undergone extensive renovations in the past few years and the completed project is worth the visit alone. Nick and I started with the antipasto platter and spirits. It was complete with local cured meats, cheese and Italian favourites such as olives and spiced green beans.

Next we moved onto the main course, I ordered “brasato di manzo” which is Tuscan-style braised beef short rib, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. Writing about this dish simply does not do it justice. If taste could only leap off the page, you would understand how flavorful and tender this dish was. It fell apart as I made my way through and each bite was a taste of heaven. It was THAT good. Nick ordered the ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach in a fresh, local tomato cream sauce. He is a huge fan of fresh pasta and said this was the best he has ever had.

Although comfortably full, we had to try dessert (I mean, who wouldn’t?). I ordered the flour-less chocolate cake with walnuts and Nick wanted to try the tiramisu. Both, like the proceeding courses, did not disappoint. It seemed that every detail was important to Riva. From the exceptional service (Thanks Emma!) to the delicious food, laid back and trendy atmosphere - we were very well taken care of and will definitely be back.  

After dinner we had plans to meet with Leeds Grenville MP, Gananoque Businessman and good friend, Gord Brown. Gord had arranged a tasting at the newest attraction, The Gananoque Brewing Company. As he has mentioned great things about the Brewery in the past, we were really looking forward to checking this out. I had never been to a Brewery before so I had no idea what to expect. I have read countless blogs on Brew Pubs and the entire culture that seems to be popping up around them but this was different.

The Gananoque Brewery is not a restaurant or pub. In fact, they don't ever want to be. When talking with Bruce Davis, the owner – he mentioned how the area has a tremendous amount of wonderful eateries that carry his beer and he would never want to compete with them. To Bruce, it is all about supporting local. Even the ingredients in most of his beers are local.  The hops, Wheat and rhubarb (Yep- they have a rhubarb beer!) are all sourced from local farms. Although you can’t eat at the Brewery, you can certainly sample their different brews and soon will be able to see production first-hand. You can find their Beer in the LCBO, GananoqueInn and Spa, Stonewater Gastro Pub, The Socialist Pig and quite a few other great local places. There is also a very cool festival (Gananoque Brewing Company Festival) happening August 22nd to September 21st.  You can tour the farms involved, the brewery, check out the markets, the historic mills and enjoy entertainment and local cuisine. It is a “Must-see” on my list of attractions.

After the busy evening, we decided to head back to the hotel, enjoy the room and rest up. The next morning we had planned to check out the Socialist Pig, which in my humble opinion- has the BEST coffee around. We ordered a delish breakfast to share (spiced sausage, fresh eggs, and sautéed potatoes with onions, bacon and ham). It was plentiful, so we were very happy to share and we enjoyed that famous French-pressed coffee. It was the perfect end to our stay in beautiful Gananoque.

I was very impressed with the whole stay. Gananoque has a renowned theatre, popular boat cruises, helicopter tours, great beaches and parks and the Harbour District that we stayed in was the icing on the cake. If you pick one spot to travel to this year- make it Gananoque, Ontario- The Gem of the 1000 Islands!