Fancy Free offers dozens of options if you want to get out and explore. This part of Eastern Ontario is full of history and scenic beauty. It has been recognized by UNESCO as being world-class in two ways: as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Using the island as your home base, it’s easy to get to the many places of interest within easy paddling, walking, or driving distance of Fancy Free. The ideas on this page are a good overview. More detailed suggestions for local day trips from Fancy Free Island are in this issue of the Fancy Free newsletter.
Tour the Rideau Canal System
Fancy Free Island is located in the heart of the Rideau Canal system, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Rideau Canal system’s ingenious sets of locks, finely carved by Scottish stone masons in the 1830’s, are still in good working order today under the guardianship of Parks Canada. They are open for public use from May to Thanksgiving. Watching the locks being manually opened and closed by Parks Canada attendants using the original mechanisms from the 19th century fascinates young and old alike.
- the famous locks of the historic Rideau Canal Scenic Waterway,
- the Whispering Dam at Jones Falls
- the historic village of Merrickville, with the oldest working forge in Ontario and a blockhouse-style fort tower dating from the 1830’s.
- Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve
Visit country antique shops
Eastern Ontario is United Empire Loyalist country and antiques are everywhere, at very reasonable prices.
Visit local towns and villages
In Gananoque, the gateway to the Thousand Islands, you can take a river cruise on the St. Lawrence, catch a play at the Thousand Island Playhouse, and learn about the history of this spectacular area in the Thousand Islands Museum.
Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is a spectacular gateway to the nation. It’s well worth a day visit and is only 1.5 hours drive from Fancy Free. Sights to see include:
- The Byward Market,
- The Parliament Buildings,
- The Canadian Museum of History,
- The National Gallery of Art, and
- The Canadian Musrum of History Children’s Museum and Imax Theatre