Eastern Ontario’s Popsilos | Ontario Culinary
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Explore Popsilos – Eastern Ontario’s gigantic art installations – this summer

As we look to ease back into exploring after months at home, a road trip is a safe way to get back out there. And we’ve got the perfect road trip destination!

Between Ottawa River and St. Lawrence River, approximately 55km east of the City of Ottawa, lies the county of Prescott-Russell. With Over 2,000 square kilometers of expansive farmland and picturesque countryside, it’s got plenty of scenic routes to explore. Prescott-Russell also offers many natural and cultural attractions, but there’s one particular tourist experience that’s unique to the area. Punctuating the rural skyline are 18-19 meter farm silos with giant murals painted on them. Called Popsilos, these spectacular works of art are dotted through the Prescott-Russell countryside.

Popsilo mural titled “Farm Boy” by artists Emmanuel Jarus and Zek One, situated at Ouimet Farms in Vankleek Hill | Photo Credit: Popsilos.com

Founded by Jennifer Larocque, who’s originally from Casselman – a county of Prescott-Russell, the Popsilos project combines art and agrifood tourism in a circuit that leads to the Popsilo murals and nearby local attractions such as farms, producers and artisans, where visitors can experience local produce and products. The idea came to her during a trip to Scotland where she was inspired by the graffitied walls of Kelburn Castle. Working together with regional partners and a team of street artists from across the province, Jennifer brought her idea to life in 2017. The art started in May and was officially inaugurated on June 28.

From Embrun to Vankleek Hill, there are seven Popsilos, each one depicting local farmland, the surrounding landscape and themes of Canada’s 150th celebrations. The murals were intended to celebrate Canada’s 150th and bring rural and urban communities together. Since then, they’ve become a gateway to exploring rural Ontario.

Artist OMEN working on his mural titled ‘Kruk’ which means raven in Polish, in Vankleek Hill Vineyard. A mural can take up to four weeks to complete and requires the artist to take many trips up and down to view its progress from the ground. | Photo Credit: Popsilos.com

The circuit opens during the season which begins in July and ends in October, during which you can visit the silos on the farmers’ properties. If you travel off-season, you can still drive through the country roads and view the artwork from roadside vantage points. From cheesemakers to breweries to vineyards, there’s also a number of local artisans and producers identified on the Popsilos map that you can visit.

Here are some of our favourite stops along the route:

St-Albert Cheese Co-operative
Founded in 1894, St-Albert Cheese Co-operative is one of the oldest cheese factories and co-operatives in Canada, and a popular gourmet attraction in Eastern Ontario. It’s the perfect place to stop for a little cheese tasting/shopping and a self-guided tour of their production plant. There’s also an on-site visitor center and museum, boutique and restaurant serving delicious cheese-forward dishes, including 15 gourmet poutines with the freshest, squeakiest cheese curds in Eastern Ontario!

St-Albert’s signature cheddar cheese -The 1894. | Photo Credit: St-Albert Cheese Co-operative

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company
Everything at Beau’s starts with a real love for craft beer. Family-run and employee owned, Beau’s Brewing Co. has been brewing interesting, tasty beers like their Lug Tread Lagered Ale using the best ingredients & local spring water, since 2006. You can visit Beau’s Taproom for snacks and a pint of their outstanding brews.

Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market
Nestled in a pedestrian and cycle-friendly tree-lined cove, Vankleek Hill farmers’ market is a must-visit spot for those looking to sample the best agri-food and craft in the province. There are many vendors selling everything from fresh produce, to locally raised meats, to fresh baked goods, local honey, maple syrup and more.

Vankleek Hill Vineyard
A family operated craft winery, Vankleek Hill Vineyard grows Frontenac (red) and Frontenac Gris (white) grapes on their 55 acre property, and houses 30,000 bees to help the ecosystem and of course for the delicious honey. It’s also home to a stunning Popsilo mural. Standing at 30 meters, it’s the tallest painted silo in the circuit.

You can walk through six acres of colder climate vines in Vankleek Hill Vineyard | Picture Credit: Vankleek Hill Vineyard

Étienne Brûlé Brewery
Étienne Brûlé is a brewpub in the heart of Embrun offering beer and locally-sourced food. You can visit the on-site brewery and enjoy a flight of their regular and explorer series beers alongside a delicious lunch made with fresh local ingredients.

Cannamore Orchard
This family-operated orchard has been serving the Ottawa area & SDG Counties since 1982.  They offer pick-your-own and pre-picked strawberries, apples and pumpkins, as well as various local products such as honey, maple syrup, apple cider, apple butter, and their famous homemade fudge.

Ouimet Farms Adventure
Home to the ‘Farm Boy’ Popsilo mural, this working farm in Vankleek Hill offers a snack shack and loads of fun farm activities for kids and grownups, including a colossal 7-acre corn maze.

Popsilo mural titled ‘Life of Bees’ by artist Roadsworth, located at The Farmhouse in Casselman | Photo Credit: POPSILOS.com

Road tripping during a pandemic can be challenging. Here are some useful tips from Popsilos.com (the official website of the Popsilos project) to help you plan a seamless, stress-free tour of the circuit.

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors must respect physical distancing rules published by the Public Health Agency of Canada (2 metres or 6 feet). It is recommended to have an alcohol-based sanitizing gel with which to disinfect hands before leaving your vehicle and at the end of your visit. Farms that have commercial businesses in addition to a silo have established COVID-19 guidelines that must be respected should visitors take part in any of that business’ activities.
  • Make sure the farmers’ properties are open to the public at the time you plan to visit. Every site has its own hours of operations. If not, you can view the silo from the roadside.
  • Respect the signs or barriers set-up by the farmers on their properties where entrance is prohibited. Buildings, equipment, tools or any other objects are off limit. You are responsible for your own safety and security on site.
  • Be respectful of the environment.
  • Wear comfortable shoes suitable to farm grounds.
  • You may or may not be greeted on site. All depends on the farmers’ workday! If they’re free, they’ll love to chat.
  • If you plan on visiting certain local artisans or producers identified on the Popsilos map, check in on the websites provided to ensure they are open to visitors at the time you plan to visit.

Popsilos Map and related information can be found on popsilos.ca.

Every Ontario road trip deserves the prefect Ontario playlist! We’ve curated these Spotify playlists with the help of Matt Morgan of Siegel Entertainment Ltd., featuring amazing local artists for all those wanderers who love local beats.