Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Merrill House in Picton, Ont., is a delightful Gothic Revival gingerbread abode that was built in 1878.

Daniel Vaughan/

I want to visit a snow-globe-pretty kind of town to kick-start my holidays, and it can’t be too far from the GTA. Any suggestions?

Yes – put Picton in your GPS.

That’s in Prince Edward County, right?

Story continues below advertisement

It is! Super charming and replete with the storybook quaintness you desire, the tiny town (home to to just under 5,000 people) boasts many establishments that are completely in sync with the sophistication of a big city.

That’s cool, but I’m really craving that cozy Whoville feel – minus the Grinch, of course.

Then you are in luck! In fact, if you just stuck to Picton’s Main Street, you’d be in holiday heaven.


Really. It’s beautiful this time of year with lots of decorations and lights, plus the Holly Jolly Holiday Market is on in the town’s Armoury. The market is a must if you’re travelling with little ones – Santa makes an appearance every Saturday and poses for pics – or even if you’re just looking for some original gift ideas. Expect to see lots of local vendors with cool merch.

Weekend Getaway: A kid-free escape to New York

Weekend Getaway: Find peace in Collingwood before the chaos of the holidays

Weekend Getaway: Try B.C. island life this rainy season

Excellent, I love shopping local. Are there any smaller independent stores I should check out as well?

Pretty much every establishment on Main Street is independently owned. If you’re a vintage fiend, you’ll be spoiled for choice: Try City Revival for clothing (take your time and look closely – Gucci items have been sourced here); and Second Time Around for overall thrifting. And – feel-good factor – they’re all great sources for sustainable gift giving. If you’re in the market for original art, Maison Depoivre and Andara Gallery showcase thoughtfully curated picks of area talent (stop by Andara just to see its showstopper Christmas tree). Bibliophiles won’t want to miss Books & Company. It has a smart edit of new releases and used books, plus it’s next door to Lily’s Café, where organic coffee is poured and homemade soups, sandwiches and treats abound. The sconces are crumbly heaven.

Story continues below advertisement

What if I want to grab a pint? Any options on Main?

The County Canteen has 26 Ontario craft beers on tap. It is super casual with a pub vibe and crowd-pleasing menu: You can’t go wrong with the crispy fish tacos or the vegan coconut Thai green curry and a beer-garita (a delicious take on the traditional margarita). There’s also 555 Brewing Co, which brews its own. The IPA pairs perfectly with an in-house wood-fired pizza.

Great. Other than holiday shopping, is there anything else that’s specifically festive?

Google the listings for the Regent Theatre, a remarkable preserved Edwardian opera house that has pride of place on Main Street. Upcoming events range from holiday movies (Last Christmas) and music (A Swingin’ Christmas) to The Nutcracker presented by the County School of Dance. Picton is extremely house proud, so make time to stroll away from Main Street and spy the many significant residences decked out in all their holiday finery. Even better, this Sunday (Dec. 8), is the County House Tour. It’s self-guided and features 10 historic homes, including an 1875-built, triple-gabled farmhouse that’s set down a lane lined with century-old maples. The trees were planted to trap snow and make it easier for sleighs to navigate the lane. It will make you want to move to the country (or the county!).

I love that everything is within a few-blocks radius.

Yes, but do venture to the outskirts of Picton and treat yourself to Birdhouse City. It’s not holiday-centric necessarily, but a quirky, must-see park with more than 100 birdhouses that are replicas of well-known county buildings. The birdwatching is actually quite good, too, and has the most soothing, stress-relieving effect.

Story continues below advertisement

Speaking of stress relief, I don’t want to lose that vibe by hitting the highway right away. Where should I stay for the night?

Check into Merrill House, a delightful Gothic Revival gingerbread abode that was built in 1878 for the first magistrate of Prince Edward County. Its impressive heritage has been given a contemporary revamp by owner and creative director Jordan Paul Martin. The effect is deeply comforting and cozy with all mod cons, including an outdoor barrel sauna, pillow scenting and a virtual-reality lounge. Open the front door and experience the most divine olfactory overload: The fresh, green sharpness of the real pine-bough garlands that drape the staircase, the aromatic woodsmoke of the lounge’s crackling fire and the sweet richness of a welcome mug of hot chocolate. Book “the Dreaming Suite.” It’s a bit of a splurge, yet has its own wood-burning fireplace (cocooning is very much encouraged here) and feels more Downton Abbey than downtown hotel.

All stays include a complimentary breakfast that starts with fresh fruit and warm pastries followed by temptations such as blueberry buttermilk pancakes or smoked-salmon-slathered English muffins. At night, Merrill House’s Burgundian fare restaurant, which features a swish glassed-in conservatory, is serious. In fact, it’s the only restaurant between Toronto and Ottawa with a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Holiday packages are available and they make this very special spot that much more enticing.

Wow – sounds like I’ll be both relaxed and raring to go for the holiday.

Exactly. So before you head back, take a slight detour and stop at Denmar Farms in Belleville, just 10 minutes north of the 401. It’s the most magical estate with more than 60,000 balsam, Fraser fir and blue spruce trees. Cut down your favourite and staff will shake it out, bundle it up and put it on your car so you can be on your – truly – merry way.

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Story continues below advertisement

Editor’s note: (Nov. 4, 2019) An earlier version of this story referred to the shop Frugal & Company, which has closed. This version has been updated.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies