Entertainment / Restaurants / Rideau Valley / Shops / Westport

We fell into Rideau wonderland

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Portland : a view of Len’s Cove Marina on Big Rideau Lake PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

We could write endlessly about Rideau Valley; but, pictures are worth a thousands poems.

On the West edge of The Wedge is this jewel that spreads out with endless vistas and quaint corners. We ventured into key hot-spots; but, many treasures await us still. You could spend a summer experiencing the Rideau, suspending European landmarks and piazzas in our collective memories. The region blooms with the rich patine of history blended with pleasing aesthetics and creative expression. There is no doubt the French influence reaches this far; many locals and visitors hail from Franco-Ontario and Quebec, especially by waterways.

First Stop : Portland

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Tiny beach in Portland, Ontario PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

This writer quipped with a resident in the local grocery. “What’s the population of Portland? Is it more than ten?” He guffawed, “Yes, it’s more than ten!”

This tiny little town named Portland was a delightful surprise. Len’s Cove Cottages and Marina is the big kahuna here, bringing in many boaters and feet to local businesses. More importantly, you can see and access the lake easily–boating, swimming and fishing. It feels like a camp; you could stroll the streets in a bathing suit and flip-flops and no one would blink.

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View of Big Rideau Lake from the road, also a boat launch in Portland PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

Second Stop : Newboro

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Kilborn’s, a ‘destination’ shop in Newboro, Ontario PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

Newboro is dwarfed by Portland; but, a bottleneck of parked cars on the main road marks this town’s tourist draw. Kilborn’s is a magnet, a shop that sells everything from couches, through clogs to candy. Procurement is clearly high-brow, appealing to discerning tastes with the price tag to match; but, there is something for all wallets.

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Gigantic loon by road’s edge in Newboro PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

As you enter the town, an enormous sculpture of a resting loon sits behind a fence, for no rhyme or reason. So this writer gives this forlorn creature its just due here–and competition for Canada’s largest loonie in Campbellford.

Moments away, travelers will find the famous towns of Westport, Chaffey’s Lock and Elgin.

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Charming suspended walk-way built for easy access to Kilborn’s, Newboro PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

Third Stop : Westport

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View of Upper Rideau Lake inches from The Cove Inn PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

The life of Westport buzzes on water’s edge–just follow the water. There you will find short, walkable roads dotted with beach shops, cafes, bakeries, artists’ venues, interrupted only by views of Upper Rideau Lake.

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The Grist Mill Art Gallery, Westport PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

While this writer shot the photo on the left, John Wilberforce introduced himself as he retrieved items from his decked out motorcycle. He reports he is a photographer and a videographer hailing from Kemptville; but,  he is in town to perform at The Cove Inn with his band. He is very much his namesake.

The memory of the affable Wilberforce is now joined to the delightful Snider family. At The Wedge people are intrinsic to natural beauty–it’s not just about water, hills and trees. This family runs Vanilla Bean’s Cafe & Creamery, a local respite swelling with customers into the evening hours.

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Snider family’s Vanilla Bean’s Cafe & Creamery in Westport

Three of the four family children were running the cafe at the time of our visit. These familial baristas lacked no aplomb or skill. Daniel whipped up a delicious lemonade smoothie and Natalie raced to serve Kawartha ice cream, unflapped by the line-up.

Digging deeper, we discover Natalie’s pen works on the wall, Daniel is skilled at beat-box (a music genre) and Amanda is a jewelry creator. We toyed with the idea of Shakespeare rap; Westport is no stranger to Thespians. Their mother, Miriam, was home with the rest of  the family and their dog Rideau. (This pet name is common in the region, testament to the love of it.)

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Natalie and Daniel Snider serve at the family’s Vanilla Bean’s Cafe & Creamery in Westport PHOTO BY thewedge.LIVE

We end this story with the Rideau Valley’s people in the persons of Natalie and Daniel. It’s a ‘sweet close’ to the  day’s journey.