Barry’s Bay is a small community, only about 1000 people live there full time. Located in the heart of Madawaska Valley, it’s a prime home base for paddlers and campers. It’s also home to the last remaining wooden water tower in Ontario.
I have a particular fondness for this little town because, growing up, it was home to my Polish scout camp. In fact, the area is a bustling hub of Eastern European culture. It’s the heart of an area referred to as ‘Kaszuby’. One of the most celebrate residents? Chief test pilot of the Avro Arrow Janusz Burakowski! When he retired, he moved to Barry’s Bay to build Kartuzy Lodge, a small tourist lodge and resort which he and his family operated for over 40 years.
Here’s what our perfect weekend in this tiny, but mighty Ontario town looks like:
- Paddling enthusiasts should book themselves a trip with the Madawaska Kanu Centre before ever leaving their home. They offer a Canadian Signature Experience down the Madawaska River. Post-paddle, relax at the riverside resort – yoga, a wood-fired sauna, campfire gatherings and warm showers await and savour local Feast On-certified meals throughout your stay!
- If you’re looking for an authentic pierogie, head up the road to Wilno, the first Polish settlement in Canada. Locals know the Wilno Tavern has been churning out perfect perogies and bang on schnitzel for over 100 years. You read that right — over 100 years.
- Further down the winding road, you’ll find the Franciscan Chapel — an outdoor chapel on the lake. whether you are religious or not, this outdoor chapel is worth a visit. As a kid, I remember being in awe of the huge wooden structure… a filling my hands with wild blueberries from around its base. Many people do this trip by bicycle, as the views are pretty epic.
- On your way back, note that there is a picnic and swimming area at the beach on Wadsworth Lake too!
- No summer roadtrip is complete without a chip truck stop and a double scoop. CharlieDs has you covered with locally made ice cream from Slicker’s in Prince Edward County and 16 varieties of poutine! Be warned though: they’re only open in the summer months.