The best camping near Cornwall, Ontario.
On the banks of the mighty St. Lawrence River, history and natural wonders meet.
In many ways, this small city has always been defined by the river that flows past its downtown. Originally settled by United Empire Loyalists—Americans loyal to the British crown after the American Revolution—European history here dates back to the 18th century, and First Nations history, much longer. Tour St. Raphael’s Ruins National Historic Site, the remainsRead more...
In many ways, this small city has always been defined by the river that flows past its downtown. Originally settled by United Empire Loyalists—Americans loyal to the British crown after the American Revolution—European history here dates back to the 18th century, and First Nations history, much longer. Tour St. Raphael’s Ruins National Historic Site, the remains of what was one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in English Canada. Then get outside—there’s an excellent riverfront park right in the heart of town, as well as a bike trail that traces the St. Lawrence, perfect for spotting big cargo ships passing by. Plus, plenty of great camping nearby.
Where to Go
Rideau River Provincial Park
Set on the Rideau River and part of the Rideau Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park offers water-based adventures. Swim at Main Beach, which has a gradual, family-friendly drop-off, or fish for bass and pickerel, or try boating or paddling upstream or down, passing through the hand-cranked locks along the 202-kilometre canal that has connected Ottawa with the St. Lawrence since 1832.
Less than 20 kilometres east of Cornwall, this conservation area sits along the St. Lawrence. Swim at the beach, or hike and bike on the four-kilometre, looped path, which connects with a larger network of trails. You could ride all the way upriver to the Thousand Islands and Toronto, or downstream to Montreal.
When to Go
Summer is the height of the tourist season—for better and worse. This is the best, hottest time to get outside, swim, and paddle. But it’s also very busy, with Canadians making the most of the warm months before the inevitable arrival of a long winter. April can be rainy, and days warm through May, with the best camping in June, July, August, and early September. In autumn, the trees change colour, with the height of the fall colours peaking around Canadian Thanksgiving in early October. If you love the snow, come for ice fishing and cross-country ski trails.
Know Before You Go
- Getting to Cornwall won’t be a problem—the city is located on Canada’s busiest transit corridor. VIA Rail trains roll through town several times a day, connecting Toronto and Montreal.
- You’re best to stock up on supplies in town before heading to the hinterlands.
- The United States is right next door, across the river, but if you plan to cross, don’t forget to pack your passport.
- Not far from the Quebec border, about 20 percent of local residents speak French as their mother tongue. Most also speak English but not all.