Skip To Content
Photo by Melissa Lefebvre.

Day-trip: Discover hidden gems in Cornwall

By Melissa Lefebvre on April 20, 2016

I used to think I had to travel far to find exciting things to see and do, but I’ve realized there is a lot right here in my own backyard. Road trips are fun, but so are day trips, and there are so many great day trips to do around Ottawa.

For the first edition of my day-tripping series, I thought it was fair that I start where it all started for me – my hometown of Cornwall, Ontario.

We leave Ottawa around 10am, and get to Cornwall around 11am. Our first stop is for breakfast at Harvest Garden Centre on Cornwall Center Rd, just as you get off Highway 138.  In my opinion, Harvest has the best breakfast in town. The tables and chairs are a mishmash of different styles, and the walls are covered with crafty pictures for sale. The food is simple, but well executed. It’s also easy on the wallet. I usually get the classic breakfast, which only sets me back about $6. Bellies full, it’s time to move on.

Harvest Garden Centre. Photo from their Facebook page.

Harvest Garden Centre. Photo from their Facebook page.

Next, we visit Rurban Brewing, Cornwall’s new microbrewery. It may not be easy to say if you’ve had a few, but it’s on the tongues of many Cornwallites these days. There hasn’t been a brewery in Cornwall for almost 100 years, and locals are pretty excited to have one again. In fact, the husband and wife duo running Rurban are working around the clock just to keep up with the local demand.

Rurban Brewery. Photo from their Facebook page.

Rurban Brewery. Photo from their Facebook page.

Currently, the only place outside of Cornwall that you can find Rurban’s beers is at the Cheshire Cat Pub in Carp. Otherwise, you can pick up cans at the brewery, or enjoy one of their beers on tap at many Cornwall restaurants. If you want to try before you buy, they sample all eight of their beers at the brewery. It’s the perfect excuse to make the trip down.

A day trip to Cornwall would not be complete without a drive along Country Rd #2 to Lancaster. It’s just over 20 minutes east along the St Lawrence River. My dad used to take me for Sunday drives along this beautiful stretch when I was a kid. The trip would culminate with a stop for ice cream when we got to Lancaster. But today, we’re after a different kind of dairy, so we’re driving a few minutes further to Glengarry Fine Cheese.

Their cheeses are world class – seriously, they’ve won many international awards. You can have a taste while you’re there to find which of their dozen or so cheeses is your favourite. They all seem to have enough flavour to appease a connoisseur, but are not so strong that they turn off a novice. If you want my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the Lankaaster Aged, the Celtic Blue and the Figaro.

If you call it a day here, the circuit takes about 5-6 hours to complete including the drive to and from Ottawa.

If you want to spend a little more time around Cornwall, there’s a lot more to do. If you’re a nature lover, take a stroll along the boardwalk at Cooper Marsh conservation area. This spot is especially great for bird watchers, since over 130 different species of birds call it home.

Osprey's nesting on the platform that may be seen from the western boardwalk at Cooper Marsh. Photo by Brian Morin from the Raisin Region Conservation Authority Facebook page.

Osprey’s nesting on the platform that may be seen from the western boardwalk at Cooper Marsh. Photo by Brian Morin from the Raisin Region Conservation Authority Facebook page.

And if you’re feeling peckish after your stroll, Cornwall has a surprising number of great restaurants. Try Sheep’s Head Bistro on Highway #2 between Cornwall and Lancaster, or Truffles Burger Bar in downtown Cornwall.

Time for us to head back to Ottawa. Until next time, happy day tripping!