Only a few minutes from Highway 7 sits the small waterfront community of Sharbot Lake, Ontario, one of those cute-as-a-button small towns that are a pleasant surprise for visitors, and a well-loved home for residents. This is the place to go to fall in love with both lakeside and small town living, all year long.
Bustling in the summer with cottagers and visitors from Sharbot Lake and Silver Lake Provincial Parks, this small town has plenty to offer in the fall and winter too. Just off Hwy 38, an hour and a half drive from Ottawa, you will find this lovely little village encompassed by the deep, clear waters of Sharbot Lake. Here, beauty surrounds you in every direction.
A historic railway town that once shared two rail lines, Sharbot Lake residents are proud of their rail heritage, and many reminders of the railway still exist today, particularly at Railway Heritage Park and Railway Heritage Walk located right on the edge of town. I took the Railway Heritage Walk after a light snow had fallen and it was so tranquil – blissful solitude with snow twinkling off the water was just what I needed to decompress.
Walking further up the beautiful Thompson’s Cut Trail was like wandering through a picture out of a Charles Dickens story. Old lamp lights guide the railway and trail, high rock faces loom on one side, while the lake beckons on the other. This trail takes you right into town and by the local beach. There is something special about crisp clear water in the winter. Magnificent!
When the snow gets deeper, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are popular on the Eastern Ontario trails which follow the old train route. You could literally go for miles and miles. Hungry from all my hiking, I headed to check out the local eateries:
This renovated century-old church café has a quiet peaceful charm even though it’s a busy spot.
The stunning (and I am certain original) stained glass windows will have you staring (even though we know it’s rude to stare.) I was quite enchanted by the windows. Seasonal specialties like eggnog lattes, candy apple fog and caramel apple cider will have you coming back for more. I chose the Cardinal Breakfast (egg, peameal bacon, cheese). Probably the best English muffin combo I have eaten. No wonder it’s a popular spot!
Right by the beach and medical centre is casual dining but also offers meals to go. They have homemade sauce and dough for their pizzas, their specialty. It has a down home feel with natural wood décor and is bright with lots of windows to see the lake.
The owner kindly showed me around to see its historic charm and shared the history of the Inn. Rooms are lovely with an exceptional view of the lake, literally right outside the door. Lunch and dinner are available and sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. I plan on going back to the featured ‘Event Nights’ for dinner and entertainment from great artists (Big Red Sea and Jimmy Rankin, to name a few) for a fun getaway evening. Great Christmas gift idea too.
Local- ethical- humble is their motto. This local business of hand-crafted cured meats makes everything fresh here in Sharbot Lake. There are a variety of meats with amazing flavours: Bacons, sausages, duck. Their products are widely distributed to food purveyors in Ontario. I bet my breakfast sandwich with peameal bacon came from here as it was delicious!
Don’t forget to visit The Treasure Trunk just down the road from here. I picked up a few cute items from this non-profit thrift shop. Bargains galore.
For a down home country Christmas, Sharbot Lake is well known for their Festival of the Trees each December. This Sharbot Lake fundraiser at the Community Hall features raffles, entertainment, refreshments, beautiful Christmas trees and local works of art.
Speaking of local artisans, do stop by the Pharmasave in the centre of town where many local products are sold from My Wee Glass Shop, Lone Pine Creations, and WestBeau Cottage’s 100 per cent pure Canadian beeswax candles. Early Pines Decoys are just around the corner. I bought a beautiful stained-glass chickadee that makes me smile every time I see it in my window.
• Check operating hours for Seed to Sausage, as they can change seasonally. They also have an Ottawa location on Gladstone Ave. in downtown Ottawa.
• Don’t have your own snowmobile (or ‘sled’ as we call them here in the valley)? No worries! Outdoor Adventures has you covered