Road trip Ontario: Merrickville offers scenic shopping in the summertime
The Rideau Canal, along with being one of Ontario’s most important waterways, is much like a pen tracing a historical line between the oldest cities in Canada and our nation’s capital. And right smack in the middle is the town of Merrickville-Wolford.
Originally settled 225 years ago by a miller named Roger Stevens, the mill later expanded into a community as the Irish, Scottish and French builders of the canal settled in the town.
Today, the heritage facades of the buildings on Mill Street are home to shops and artists who have called the small hamlet home.
Mayor David Nash has lived in the Merrickville-Wolford area for some 45 years and tells Global News that the rural Ontario town may be small, but it’s got a big heart.
“If someone is sick or hurt, we all pull together to help raise funds for that person,” Nash said. “That gives you an idea of the kind of heart this community has.”
Nash also said for as long as he’s lived in the area, Merrickville has been an event town, with 27 scheduled events in 2018, including the celebration of the town’s 225th anniversary.
The town has also previously won the Communities in Bloom Most Beautiful Village award in 1998 and is a finalist to win the award again in 2018.
According to Nash, the town is especially busy on the weekends as people from all over south-eastern and eastern Ontario make their way into the town to shop or just enjoy the history.
“It’s well worth taking the trip to see,” Nash said. “There are so many heritage buildings to see. The town really is a great piece of history.”
An artist’s haven
Angelina Wrona is an artist based in Merrickville and was born there. Wrona says that even after living and working in Los Angeles for a number of years, she just couldn’t stay away from her hometown.
“Really, this is my hometown and I didn’t want to have to move anywhere,” said Wrona, jokingly. “This is why we opened up the shop here. It’s a very close community.”
Both Wrona and Mayor Nash have called Merrickville a bit of a local artist’s haven. Wrona attributes this to a group of “hippies and artisans” who set up shop in Merrickville in the 1970s due to the affordability of studio space in the town. Other artists soon joined.
“From there, it just snowballed into this cute little town,” Wrona said.
Merrickville is about an hour southwest of Ottawa and the easiest way to get there is to take Highway 416 to the Dilworth Road exit. Once on Dilworth Road, you then take the first left on to Fourth Line Road then follow that all the way right into Merrickville from the North.
It’s about an hour and twenty minutes from Kingston but a little more straightforward. The easiest way to get to Merrickville is to take Highway 401 to the Maitland Road exit. You then turn left on Maitland Road and follow Highway 15 straight into Merrickville from the South.
Points of interest
There are shops and stores in Merrickville that aren’t available anywhere else. The Yellow Canoe Cafe, Ms. McGarrigle’s fine foods shop, the Downtowne Ice Cream Shoppe, Nana B’s bakery and the Wick Witch are just a few examples of locally-owned businesses in the area.
The Merrickville Jazz fest has acts from all over Ontario who come to the small town to perform. This year’s festival takes place between Oct. 11-13.
The Merrickville Blockhouse is a designated national historic site and was first used to protect the locks and is now used as a museum, housing artifacts from the area.
Spots to eat and drink
- Mainstreet family restaurant
- The Goose and Gridiron
- The Yellow Canoe
- The Downtowne Ice Cream Shoppe
- Nana B’s Bakery
Make a night of it
There are two places to stay the night in town if you wish
- The Baldachin Inn
- The 1840 Guest House Bed and Breakfast
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.