Hello Fodors friends!
In the past, I've enjoyed taking day or overnight excursions to places within a few hours of downtown Montreal. It's been a number of years since I'd done one of these "exploring" sort of trips, checking out somewhere new that is, but I had enjoyed these exploratory missions to towns such as Magog, Sherbrooke, Trois Rivieres and Drummondville in Quebec, Ottawa and Kingston in Ontario, even Plattsburgh in New York state in years past. A few VIA Rail trains daily pass between Montreal and Brockville, Ontario on the Montreal to Toronto route, so Brockville *had* piqued my curiosity but I never seemed to hear people talk about it, so I never quite could bring myself to bite the bullet and go. Finally, I had a day free and was going a bit stir crazy, so just purchased a return ticket on a whim.
I'm so glad I went! From the train station, one can walk to the Saint Lawrence riverfront and the commercial activity on King Street. Although the bus service was not running on the Sunday I went, this was not an issue, as sights of interest are within walking distance The views of the Saint Lawrence River and the USA on the opposite shore are beautiful, and the town has some elegant architecture from the 1800s that remind one of the heights of grandeur that the Thousand Islands region experienced when this area was replete with elegant hotels and getaway cottages by vacationing New Yorkers who would arrive by overnight trains around the turn of the century (19th to 20th, that is). The town struck me as having sort of a New Englandy feel, almost seemed Maritimey (vaguely Englandy even) even though it's more inland with the pubs and fish 'n chips places, while certainly retaining the smaller town Ontario friendliness. Eating at the pubs for both lunch and supper, I felt a sense of social cohesion that reminded me a bit of the popular BBC staple soap opera Coronation Street or Cheers. Even I was made to feel at home & welcome.
I was disappointed that the Brockville Museum on the city's history was closed (even though it appeared on the website as if it were open?) and that I missed the only 1,000 Islands boat tour of the day that focuses on the "Brockville 30", the thirty islands closest to the town. However, I managed to enjoy myself just fine. Walking through the picturesque waterfront parks and along King Street to appreciate City Hall and some of the Gilded Age homes such as Fulford Place, seeing the otters at the Aquatarium where I also learned about the history of the town, and interacting with folks at the King Street pubs and cafes made for a terrifically pleasant day.
Happy travels! Daniel
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