Kingsville , Ontario

Kingsville is blessed with views galore, from vineyards to apple orchards to wetlands. But the star attraction is Lake Erie, along whose shoreline you'll find beautiful parks and sandy beaches, including this one at the end of Queen Street near the Lakeside Pavilion.

Wineries, fine dining, Victorian charm vault Kingsville to top of visitors' list of must-see Lake Erie waterfront communities

Fast Facts
THE NEW TOWN OF Kingsville was born on Jan. 1, 1999 from the amalgamation of the former townships of Gosfield North, Gosfield South and the original town of Kingsville. The town includes the village of Cottam and the hamlet of Ruthven.

KINGSVILLE SHARES FERRY service with neighbouring Leamington, with departures from Kingsville in late summer and fall. Destinations include Pelee Island on the Canadian side of Lake Erie and Sandusky on the U.S. side. The Ohio resort community is popular for its amusement park.

THERE ARE FOUR award-winning wineries in Kingsville, including the fruit-based Black Bear Farms. The others are Pelee Island Winery, Mastronardi Estate Winery and Aleksander Estate Winery.

PELEE ISLAND WINERY WAS named to the Best of the Road list announced for the 2011 version of Rand McNally’s famous road atlas. The winery is included in a suggested Around Lake Erie tour that takes motorists from Akron, Ohio, to the Windsor region. Each year, the atlas makers research five trips that take motorists off the beaten path to explore lesser known, but unique, regions of the continent that display special character.
Kingsville, located on the north shore of Lake Erie, is one of the prettiest towns in Essex County and loves to boast that it is home to the “southernmost downtown” in Canada.

Point Pelee National Park, located in neighbouring Leamington to Kingsville’s west, is actually the most southern point in mainland Canada. But since there is no downtown in the park, and Leamington has an uptown, away from the lake, Kingsville can stand behind its claim.

While Kingsville shares with Leamington the sunny, warm climate that has earned them the title “Greenhouse Capital of Canada,” the similarities between the two end there.

First, unlike Leamington, which is flat as a Saskatchewan prairie, there are a few hills and ravines in Kingsville, especially near the lakeshore. By boat, you can check out the waterfront homes on the ridge high above the shoreline, protected from the winds by a forest of trees. And the semi-private Kingsville Golf & Country Club boasts a “rolling landscape” that “defies the flatlands of Essex County.”

Award-winning wineries

Primarily an agricultural community, Kingsville is popular with both young families and retirees, attracted by the small-town friendly atmosphere, quiet leafy streets and elegant Victorian homes.

With a population of about 21,000, Kingsville is where county residents go when out for a Sunday drive: there are several wineries to visit — Pelee Island Winery is located on Main Street just outside the core — fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers to pick up at the many roadside stands and beautiful parks and beaches to relax in.

Known for its sophistication, Kingsville is carving a name for itself as the dining capital of Essex County. You’ll find everything from steak to sushi to gourmet burgers and fresh fish, with a Mediterranean flavour served up in the former train station, designed in 1888, and one of many designated heritage buildings in Kingsville. You’ll also find two popular tea houses nestled amid the Victorian-themed shops downtown, including one in a building dating from 1883.

Town to develop new waterfront park

While Kingsville’s downtown plays an important role in the town’s tourism strategy — council plans to spend $1.9 million on improvements there and hopes to woo a major hotel — attracting people to the waterfront is also at the top of the agenda.

The town’s finest waterfront park is Lakeside Park, located on the shore of Lake Erie at the end of Queen Street. The park’s main feature is a turn-of-the-century pavilion located on a hill above the lake. The pavilion, surrounded by walking trails, flower gardens and bridges over streams, is a popular spot for weddings and family picnics.

Kingsville will soon have another lakefront park, with 700 feet of views over Lake Erie, under a plan to expropriate a property on nearby Park Street. The 3.8-acre property would provide access to another beach and link more residents to the waterfront. As one councillor put it: “We’re looking for it for biking and walking trails with a good vista.”

This area is already blessed with views galore, from tomato fields to apple orchards to wetlands. If you have the time, you can enjoy spectacular views of wetlands, forests and wildlife while canoeing along Cedar Creek from the Cedar Creek Conservation Area. A leisurely one-hour canoe ride will take you to Cedar Beach, the popular sandy swimming spot on Lake Erie at the mouth of the creek.

Home of famous conservationist, Jack Miner

The Cedar Creek basin is described as the most extensive, and most beautiful, natural area in the region. Contributing to the beauty of this area are the Carolinian woodlands, rolling landscapes, creeks, tributaries and abundant wildlife. It’s also great for bird-watching, which is serious business around here.
One of the major bird-related events in Kingsville is the annual Migration Festival celebrating waterfowl migration, heritage and conservation. The festival honours Jack Miner, whose conservation work with the Canada goose and other birds is internationally acclaimed. The Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, the first of its kind in North America, can be visited in Kingsville today.

The American-born Miner, who moved to Canada with his family in 1878 in what was then Gosfield South Township, is credited with helping to get Point Pelee designated as a national park in 1918. Today, birders from around the world come to Point Pelee National Park for the annual spring bird migration.

No tour out in the county is complete without a trip to Kingsville’s hamlet of Ruthven, where the Apple Festival is held each year. The village is also home to Colasanti’s Tropical Garden, which rivals Point Pelee National Park as the most visited place in Essex County — about 450,000 people drop by each year.

Heritage downtown worth a stroll

Famous for its local and exotic plants, Colasanti’s is a family destination, with petting farm, mini golf, arcade, kiddie rides, gift shop and candy store onsite. But by far the most popular attraction here is the buffet hall, where home-style meals are served to hungry crowds from morning to night.

If you’re worried about your waistline, the Chrysler Canada Greenway, a 50-kilometre bicycle trail on a former railway corridor travels through Kingsville to Colasanti’s.

The Kingsville portion of the trail between Lansdowne Road and Main Street downtown has been designated Veterans Memorial Trail in honour of Canadian Veterans. The trail at this location passes the Royal Canadian Legion and the Kingsville Historical Park, just west of the old train station. The museum is the place to go for a history lesson on Kingsville’s United Empire Loyalist ties, as well as for information on the contributions of its soldiers, from the Fenian Raids to the war in Afghanistan.

For a different kind of history, the Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village on the Arner Townline, the border between Kingsville and the Town of Essex, is worth the visit. There’s everything from vintage and hot rod cars and trucks to horse- drawn wagons and motorcycles. Outside, the Heritage Village features more than a dozen buildings of local significance, including one-room schoolhouse and a general store.

Greenhouse-related industries fuel economy

If you’re still in the mood for history, drop by the John R. Park Homestead between Kingsville and Colchester. Buildings in the conservation area will take you as far back as the 1850s.  Take a scenic walk along the lakeshore boardwalk before checking out the gardens, which are planted with heirloom crops, flowers and vegetables.

Today, much of Kingsville’s agricultural production is under glass or plastic. Of the more than 1,100 acres of greenhouses in Essex County, most of them are in Kingsville and Leamington. It’s this lucrative, high-tech agricultural industry  that is helping to keep Kingsville’s young people from leaving town for jobs elsewhere. Kingsville-based Mastronardi Produce, whose Sunset label produces gourmet tomatoes under brands such as Campari and Splendido, was recently named to the prestigious list of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies.

Kingsville, as part of its economic development strategy, has set out to attract industry related to greenhouse production, such as alternative energy.

Agriculture Technology Incorporated, a greenhouse waste recycler, that just spent $700,000 upgrading its Kingsville operation, is exactly the type of industry the town is looking for. Established in 1998, the company recycles vines, plastic and growing materials from area greenhouses, turning the waste into reusable products such as compost. It has plans to spend another $14 million on another expansion at its 40-acre site.

Developments built with nature in mind

The recycling operation is a perfect ambassador for Kingsville, which is fashioning itself as an eco-friendly place to live and work, all within a 30-minute drive of the Windsor-Detroit border.

Developers are playing up Kingsville’s natural environment in their designs, with creeks, forests, greenspace and the lake playing starring roles.

On the resale market, recent listings for waterfront property in Kingsville included an older four-bedroom cottage on Lake Erie priced at $173,500, and a three-bedroom lakefront home on the same street for $299,000. On the upper end of the budget, a newer four-bedroom executive home, complete with 180 feet of lakefront and a private boat ramp, was listed at $1.1 million.