One of the perks of being a Blogger is being invited to experience new things and to test the waters so to speak and share my opinions with the world at large.
June 13th, 2018, was a dull, drizzly day with a forecast for thunderstorms looming over our heads. I am sure it was not the weather that the global team of Le Boat had hoped for on the day planned for their introduction to Canada. However, it was with their signature first-class style that the globe-trotting team of Le Boat gathered and greeted us to Smiths Falls, now home-base to their North American headquarters. Housed in a historic lock masters house at 1 Jasper Avenue the team is quickly making Smiths Falls their new home on the world famous Rideau Canal.
Le Boat Global Managing Director, Cheryl Brown, passionately shared with us the journey Le Boat began three years ago to make their Canadian debut a reality. Cheryl recounted her pinch me moment as she first cruised down the Rideau Canal in August of 2015, knowing she had discovered something so naturally magnificent that it must be shared with others.
The international company has been a long time, holiday boat provider on the European waters for over forty years. The Le Boat brand is world renowned for helping make it possible for people to explore some of the great waterways of France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, England, Belgium, and now Canada.
Anticipation to board one of the custom designed cruisers that were delivered all the way from Poland was palpable. The boardwalk at the dock was something to behold with 16 brand new, gleaming white Horizon Cruise boats, lined up and ready for us.
Members of the Le Boat team showed off the beautiful interiors, impeccably designed with ample space for on-board living and sleeping including private en-suites for each cabin. The state of the art cruisers contains everything you could imagine and more. There is a boat to fit any need; from those wanting to take a romantic cruise for two or those who want the whole family to experience the scenic Rideau Canal and all it has to offer.
Fortunately, the rain held off that day long enough for me to have a chance at experiencing cruising along the Rideau on the upper deck or the fun-deck as Andrew LeDuc, the Marketing Director called it. The comfort of the boat as it glided through the waters was like no other I have experienced.
What I found most impressive was the simple ease that these boats could be maneuvered. With a simple push of a button we made a complete turn, and when entering the locks or docking, the ability to shift over was done smoothly with a convenient thrust button.
Andrew assured me that time is spent prior to departure to ensure that the boat operator is comfortable. They take the time to assist you going through the locks at the Smiths Falls base to teach proper procedures before your grand departure. I won’t lie, I was not eager to leave the comfort of the luxury boat. However, I did want to take time to meet some of the area business owners.
Our day didn’t end without the weather taking a turn for the worst with thunderstorms making their presence known. At that moment I realized that every day couldn’t be sunshine and wine, but instead some could be about rainbows and the pot of gold found in the individual villages and Rideau Canal rest stops worth exploring along the way. Sure you could choose to sit in the lap of luxury on board your cruise boat and listen to the pitter patter of rain while drifting along the Rideau or you could dock your boat and experience the warm welcome of the businesses, artists and people who make up the charming communities that surround the great waterway.
There are so many stops that can and should be explored along the Rideau Canal. For it’s the hidden gems in the quaint villages that can enhance your travel experience like no other. Take Merrickville, with its many unique artisan shops to discover for instance. One of my favourite from many years ago is Gray Art Glass, where you can see first hand, glassblowing artist, Michael Gray, creating amazing glass art in the studio. With a large retail space, Michael showcases his one of a kind pieces so that you can select a beautiful keepsake from your time on the Rideau.
When planning your trip, be sure to make arrangements for a local shuttle service to meet you at the docks in the more rural areas like Jones Falls so you can have a ride in the countryside to check out local businesses. Just minutes away, at Wendy’s Country Market, you will find a diverse mix of local foods from over seventy area producers. You will even find some gluten-free options for those requiring a special diet while on holiday. Located across the road Wendy’s affiliate business Furnace Falls Farm is host to cooking classes and tantalizing six-course meals delivered by Chef Mark Beacock and Chef Karen Marx.
Tasting the local fare, found throughout the area is part of the fun. There is a Chocolatier by the name of Derek Ouellet, owner of Ridgway Confection who is often called the Willy Wonka of Seeley’s Bay. C’est Tout Bakery run by Amy Rensby, conveniently located in Smiths Falls is the perfect place for freshly baked bread and palate-pleasing pastries. Also located in Smiths Falls is a local butcher shop called Valley Custom Cutting, where you will find triple-A steaks to grill when you are back on the boat.
Kingston is also bursting with local bistros and bars to entice. You can even take part in Kingston’s newest tour called Beers & Bites where you will spend an afternoon “tasting the best of Kingston’s world-class micro breweries.” Looking for something a little more family friendly, when docked in Kingston, check out one of the many museum’s, galleries or historic sites. The Kingston Trolley is the ideal way for visitors to get around in the town.
Of course, a boat trip down the Rideau Canal should include a visit to Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. Museums, shopping, restaurants, indoor play areas such as Funhaven are all great ways to spend those unexpected rainy days. A tour of The Royal Canadian Mint, where “some of the world’s most stunning collectible coins” are produced is sure to impress young and old alike. What better souvenir to take home than a shiny new Canadian Coin. There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
Let Le Boat be your choice of holiday travel, and you are sure to fall in love!
For more information on those businesses and organizations mentioned check out:
www.leboat.ca phone 1-800-734-5491
www.grayartglass.com phone 613-269-7979
www.wendyscountrymarket.com phone 613-928-2477
www.furnacefallsfarm.com phone 613-928-2477
www.ridgwayconfections.com phone 613-532-4468
www.cesttoutbakery.com phone 613-284-0774
www.valleycustomcutting.com phone 613-205-1111
www.kingstonfoodtours.ca phone 613-704-0006
www.kingstontrolley.ca phone 613-549-5544
www.funhaven.com phone 613-828-4386
www.mint.ca phone 1-800-267-1871