By MAGGIE M, Wedgee-in-Chief, Editor, theWedge.LIVE 💙 TO SHARE click icons at story’s end. TO SUBSCRIBE go to upper-right column. TO COMMENT click upper-right of story.
The first day of September, I traveled alongside Cornwall’s Waterfront Trail—employing unorthodox means. The city is ostensibly, eastern Ontario’s “land’s end.” It uniquely features a whopping 18 km of uninterrupted, paved trail on the edge of our scenic St. Lawrence Seaway.
I was steadfast in capturing this idyllic stretch of Ontario’s 3,000 km Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. I could not scale all of it on foot or on a bicycle with a camera and tripod. Enter, fisherman Joe.
Joe Arthur, a Member of the Cornwall Lunker Club, took yours truly and my kind helper on a journey that delivered gasps, surprises and rattling to the marrow.
The man knew every nook of this waterfront. From his boat we were able to see the entire Waterfront Trail trimming the shore of Cornwall.
We were on a small craft, so we bobbed and heaved with every wake. I summoned the gymnast in me to stabilize my equipment, vanity be darned.
It was 9:00 am and cool when we started-out. When you speed on open waters at this time of day and year, the climate on the St. Lawrence turns bone-chilling. My leather jacket barely held off the cold, perhaps hypothermia. My teeth stopped gnashing an hour after disembarking.
Off we went to the West end of the city, right up to the edge of the great power dam, R.H. Saunders Generating Station. I remind the reader this is the gargantuan dam, an engineering feat that flooded the St. Lawrence in 1958 and changed this land’s geography irrevocably.
We approached very closely. I mused on whether we should unfurl a friendly white flag–or something with a smiley-face. Visitors cannot get this close and anchor for security reasons; but, the St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre open during warm seasons is close-by, offering a great southern view of the dam.
The reverse side of the dam plunges down, a view you can get from water’s edge in Guindon Park and Trillium Drive; however, the best view I discovered is from Mille Roches Island, Long Sault, just beyond the west end of Cornwall.
Watching cargo ships is a great pastime, but navigating alongside them is a unique experience. The John J. Carrick measured about 425 feet in length–we were like minnows in comparison. The horn was blowing after it crossed the dam’s locks eastbound, as we trolled alongside to capture images in its wake.
“Are they saying ‘Hi’ ?” I quipped. “Nope. Somebody is coming too close,” Arthur replied.
Arthur identified the best walleye fishing on the west side of the Visitor Centre. He also pointed out the submerged Cornwall Canal’s cranking wheel just a few feet below our boat visibly stirring the water.
All the above are ‘must see’ sites along the trail–walking, jogging and cycling; yet, wonders do not cease.
We migrated to the international bridge, linking Canada to U.S. The trail passes right under the bridge. This spot must be experienced on foot as you will soon learn.
“Can you turn this dial? My fingers won’t work,” I implored my friend who was very obliging. My digits were numb and no longer useful (fingerless gloves are in my future.)
The explorer in me enjoys challenging the elements.
The sun soon rose in the sky and we began to feel blood flow to our members. Its rays kissed the buildings and trees beautifully. We crossed the centre of the city toward the east end, passing the fast-burgeoning, trendy Cotton Mill District–where we later thawed with a scrumptious bowl of soup and a cappuccino at Stomping Grounds.
Arthur sped us up to the east boundary to gaze at the world renown executive conference centre, NAV Centre. This sprawling 70 acres estate offers 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 560 guest rooms.
“It’s a very busy place,” a local resident commented.
Arthur eventually released us–fishing pun intended–to our point of origin at Lamoureux Park. It is also the starting point for many frequent visitors on the trail including this writer.
THE TRAIL ON FOOT
I ventured on the Waterfront Trail over several days by foot. There were many surprises.
I was astonished at the thoughtful design and investment by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. It is beautiful and replete with creature comforts.
A paved narrow road with two lanes runs its entire length. This may be unprecedented in Ontario.
The international bridge is a highlight on the west end. This spot is ideal to sit and cool off–or take in the view on its observation deck built within the former bridge’s monumental pile.
It seems locals come out after dinner in droves to experience the waterfront and its trail. I queried bystanders and they confirmed, this time of day is the locals’ favorite time on the trail.
The parking lot was full with family and friends gazing from their cars, from its many benches and a gazebo. The trail suddenly came to life with walkers, joggers and cyclists.
Visitors’s elation was palpable.
I met a man from Fort Erie who works in Cornwall and loves to travel the trail daily with his ‘pittski’ (cross between pittbull and husky), Tyson. His dog pulls his tricycle effortlessly along the pavement.
“It’s beautiful,” he said when I asked him about the trail. “There’s nothing like it anywhere.”
At one point, I stood on a fresh, new dock bobbing up and down with each incoming wake to capture the epicentre of the city’s traiI, Lamoureux Park. I almost joined an otter doing the backstroke–a prequel to my boat expedition.
There’s a bench nearby on the shore, precious real estate for a soul-soothing rest in this oasis with fish, ducks, otters and a grand view.
Less than 100-feet away a large blue heron is nesting atop a tree–it’s a conversation starter.
“He’s really big!,” one shared. “You’ve got to go and get a picture of him. Are you coming for the salmon run?,” I was peppered by an ebullient visitor. Apparently, the salmon run up the river in the first weeks of October and crowds show up to watch.
“Did you see the waterfall on the right of the path?,” another asked.
It’s nice to save some wonders for a next trip. Clearly, ‘Cornwallites’ love this place.
This park named after a man smitten with love, “Lamoureux ,” is one of the hotspots along this trail. Etymological searches always lead to the relevance of a family name–even though it is named after a 1960s politician.
This beautiful, expansive park could certainly stem romance. It drops down toward the water, leading you to the trail, sinuous and manicured with many shaded edges and benches to canoodle by water’s edge–or swoon with ducks.
I tripped on a young family well-stocked with duck feed. There are several small coves populated with them. The children squealed with excitement–it is cathartic to suddenly command attention from 30+ ducks.
As you progress eastward along the trail you find yourself atop a berm looking down into the marina. It is a beautiful sight at sunset.
This is where I met a famous forager. He is legendary in Cornwall–everyone seems to know him.
Mark Currier, owns and operates Farm and Forest Food Experience. This foodie is renown for foraging terroirs for mushrooms and greens adding rich flavors and nutrients to his brioche sandwiches and burgers among other fare. This is one of the trail’s delightful highlights.
Behind this foodie-on-wheels you can settle-in at Pointe Maligne and gaze at the seaway while chomping on Currier’s snack-du-jour. This may be be the highest elevation on the trail. It is also historically significant–something happened here.
This location is pure bliss.
Eventually, I arrived at the absolute east end to discover the NAV Centre, “up front and personal.” The grounds are beautiful, pastoral, and frankly, unusual for a state-of-the-art conference centre. It was beyond my visual expectations, as was the whole nine yards, the Waterfront Trail in Cornwall.