Pack up the car and hit the open road, direction east, until buildings are replaced with farmland and the rolling hills and forested plains come into view. Don’t stop until you’ve hit the historic streets of Cumberland, a short 20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa.
Note: The suggestions below are based on information available on the publishing date. Please confirm details with direct sources and stay informed on the current COVID-19 situation in Ottawa.
A mandatory morning visit to The Black Walnut Bakery is the first stop on your list for all your coffee and pastry needs. The small, artisan bakery in Cumberland village is brought to you by a husband and wife baking team that passionately make everything they serve from scratch, including almond croissants, butter tarts, scones and ice cream
Summer means strawberry season and at Proulx Maple & Berry Farm, it’s pick-your-own! This family-owned farm is now in its fourth generation and has called Cumberland home since 1920. In the last century, the Farm has evolved to operating a full schedule of family-fun activities from February to October. For your next visit to the Proulx Farm, stop at the store for fresh produce or become a berry picking pro with these quick tips: the best time to pick berries is when the temperature isn’t too hot – ideally in the morning or evening – and look for the bright red, plump berries as they’re the ripest.
Set back off the main road is a series or authentic reproduced buildings interspersed on a 100-acre field. There you’ll find an old hire hall, a white church, a picture-perfect schoolhouse, a classic print shop, and you’ll ask yourself if you’ve travelled back in time. But you’ll just have arrived at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum! Although Cumberland is quaint and charming enough, the museum will give you that small-town feel you only see in Hallmark movies (and rightfully so, since a few made-for-TV movies were filmed there!).
Bordering the museum are the Wilsondale Trails, a multi-use network of pathways. The trails are built on former farmland that was transitioned into picturesque meadows and forest, complete with newly added boardwalks and bridges. Meticulously maintained by volunteers of the Cumberland Community Association and the museum, the trails range in easy to intermediate and dogs are permitted on leash.
For one of the more popular trails in the city, visit Mer Bleue Bog in the National Capital Greenbelt. The bog is over 7,000 years old and is the second-largest bog in southern Ontario, with over 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of trails. The two most frequented are a scenic 1.2-kilometre (0.74 mile) stroll across an accessible boardwalk or a comfortable six-kilometre (3.7 mile) hike through a wooded area leading to a sandy escarpment lookout. Expect a surprising change in landscape once you reach the bog itself as the areas flora and fauna become more typical of northern boreal climates within an unlikely urban setting.
For a taste of something local, head to the beautiful Domaine Perrault Winery in Navan. A perfect afternoon in rural Ottawa can be described as sitting on their open patio overlooking the vineyard, while sipping their locally made wines. What originally started with 1 acre of vines planted by a local dairy farmer has rapidly expanded into the vineyard of the Perrault’s family dreams, with wines named after their daughters and granddaughters. Choose from an impressive list of whites, reds and one rosé just in time for summer.
If you’re looking to bring that little bit of local home with you, there’s Vignoble Clos du Vully. Having officially opened their doors only in 2016, it’s one of the newer faces in Ottawa’s winery scene but you’d never know it from level of care they’ve put into their cold climate vines and detail found in every bottle. If you’re looking for something easy drinking, try the Cuvée Caroline. Or maybe something with a crisp honey and pear aroma, the Frontenac Blanc. For the rosé drinkers, there’s even a dry Cuvée Marie-Louise.
For creepy-crawly afternoon activity that's sure to catch the attention of any kid (and some adults, too), there’s Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo. It’s the largest zoo and animal rescue of its kind in Eastern Ontario and specialized in exotic animals and popular reptiles such as pythons, alligators, tarantulas and even sloths. The zoo has over 150 animals in its collection so you’re sure to be surprised at what you see on your next visit.
Cap off a day well spent in Cumberland with a meal that will please even the pickiest of eaters, River Pizza. A family-owned business that takes pride in their pie, their dough and sauces are made fresh in-house daily and their produce is bought from local vendors. Call ahead for a pizza night take out.