Story and Photos submitted by: Britt and Jeff
Everyone loves a good road trip, and Hastings County provides some great options whether you zig zag along back country roads or stick to a long straight highway to cover more ground, there is plenty to see and do.
We planned to head north on Highway 62 from Belleville, without doing too much research ahead of time, to see what interesting pit stops we would find along the way. The stretch of 62 through Hastings County is about 135 kilometres long and is the main artery, running virtually right down the middle from Belleville to Maynooth.
One day is not nearly enough to see everything but here are our highlights.
Before you get started, don’t forget the staples! A proper road trip does not commence until you have a full tank of gas, a Tim Hortons beverage in the cup holder, and a selfie. Don’t forget to hashtag that selfie #ComeWander and #hastingscounty.
More fuel! It’s breakfast time, and you're hungry. Hit the closest Ma and Pa style diner for some solid eats. Our choice was Heathers Place. Just north of Belleville in the Somerville Centre. This great little spot has all your breakfast classics. The fries are the bomb, and we are also a fan of the Club House Sandwich. We chose the classic Heathers Breakfast and an English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich. Delish!
A random roadside shop! This type of stop could take place anywhere along the way. Highway 62 is littered with eclectic antique shops or semi-permanent “yard sales”. This particular shop is on the corner of Hollowview Rd and Highway 62. It has some outdoor space and a little barn full of antique goods. The cool thing about this place is that it used to function as a blacksmith shop. The friendly owner told us how it’s one of the few that still has a Forge. Very cool stop!
More food! Ivanhoe Cheese Factory is a must. Load up for a picnic or if it's not too early enjoy an ice cream cone. Don't forget the free samples! We find it hard to drive by without grabbing a hot dog. Load it up with all the condiments, and yes, put cheese on it!
After all that food, a walk was needed. We followed the signs to O’Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area, just outside the cozy little town of Madoc. It's a beautiful park which includes pioneer buildings, beautiful gardens, a covered bridge, nature trails, sheltered picnic areas and a pond. The pioneer homestead is run by volunteers, and guided tours are available.
Worthy of a mention: no drive down Highway 62 is complete without a stop at the iconic Trudy’s! Sure it's just a gas station and convenience store, but it also has a LCBO and Beer Store inside. It's a good place to fuel up or grab those last minute items before hitting the cottage.
High Tea? This stop was a really neat surprise. Neither of us has ever had the pleasure of enjoying what is referred to as High Tea. But to our delight, we came across a Tea Room in Ormsby. The Old Schoolhouse Tea Room is, you guess it, an old school house converted into a tea room. We met and chatted with the owner, Ernie, who is a retired musician from Toronto. Our arrival at mid-afternoon was perfect timing! We enjoyed a pot of Blueberry Tea and Ginger Ginseng. Looking for the full experience, of course, we ordered the Afternoon Tea, a beautiful platter of mini sandwiches, fresh fruit and baked goods. We give it two pinkies up!
Either before or after your tea you have to check out the Old Hastings Mercantile and Gallery, just a 50-metre walk from the Tea Room. Lots of cool stuff there.
More shopping! We made it to Bancroft. We checked out the Old Tin Shed. A beautiful little shop that sells home decor and giftware, some made by local artists.
We decided to power through Bancroft after only this one stop. We had a plan to make it to Maynooth and wanted to save enough daylight.
If you cover this much ground on a Saturday in Hastings County chances are somewhere, some little town is going to be having an event. Every Labour Day weekend in Maynooth is the annual “Maynooth Madness”. The festival features a farmers market, a pancake breakfast, live music and a parade. We showed up shortly after most of the festivities, although there was still some live music coming from somewhere. We parked the car and let our ears guide us to the Arlington. If you can’t follow the sounds of live music, it’s still not hard to find. Right smack in the middle of small town, Maynooth is this massive purple building. Owned and operated by Ro Munich and his cool team is the famous Arlington. It’s a full bar and live music venue. Only open Friday and Saturday nights, with live music every Saturday. And Ro puts in work to find some interesting and unique talent. The coolest part is this place is also a real deal hostel, backpacker budget accommodation, super cheap but also clean and spacious. Everything you need in a stop before or after your trip into Algonquin Park. We had a pint and took a tour around the place. Locals also suggested samosas at The Samosa Factory.
We felt too guilty leaving Bancroft so soon and decided to start heading back south again to stop there for a bite. Which leads us to…
Bancroft Eatery and Brew Pub. We found a spot on the patio and enjoyed a couple of appetisers.
It was time to head home. We were tempted to make it a two-day event and grab a room at the Arlington. Maybe next time. Hastings County being home to us meant we could also stop and visit some friends along the way. On our trip home we squeezed in a visit just before sunset at Bear Ridge Campground in Coe Hill. Bear Ridge is one of many great campgrounds in Hastings County, it certainly stood out for us as one with amazing lake views, well cared for lots and of course great people.
Hastings County Road Trip success. We hope this leaves you inspired! Britt & Jeff.
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Story and photographs by Britt and Jeff
Britt and Jeff are a small town Canadian couple with entrepreneurial minds, hippie spirits and a passion for food, travel, music and people.
Our Local Wanderer Initiative is funded and supported in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport and Regional Tourism Organization 11 - Ontario's Highlands.