“Niagara-on-the-Lake is arguably the prettiest town in Ontario,” says actress Moya O’Connell about her adopted home town. The Shaw Festival star grew up on a farm outside Nelson, B.C., and now splits her time between Vancouver and Niagara on the Lake.
“It’s got the gardens, the manor houses, Lake Ontario, the lush vineyards and wineries, great restaurants, horse-drawn carriages, but its jewel in the crown is the theatre,” O’Connell adds. Now in her seventh season at The Shaw, O’Connell’s performances in The Philadelphia Story (at the Festival Theatre until Oct. 25) and The Philanderer (runs until Oct. 12) have earned good reviews.
Naturally, O’Connell hopes the area’s vineyard visitors stick around: “Come for the wine but stay for the shows,” she laughs. Here she tells Deirdre Kelly where she likes to spend her time in town.
The Charles Inn
“If you fancy feeling like Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby for a night or two, book into this luxurious manor on the main street in Niagara. It has the perfect mix of throwback glamour and charm. It’s pretty heavenly to sit on the patio or garden at dusk and sip a glass of champagne.” 209 Queen St., niagarasfinest.com
Treadwell Wine Bar
“This is a great place to go postshow for actors and patrons alike. There is a beautifully selected wine list with a small but delicious snacking menu and it’s open late, or late enough!” 114 Queen St., treadwellcuisine.com
Old Niagara Bookshop
“It’s a wonderful little independent book peddler on Regent Street. It’s carefully curated and I can’t seem to walk in without walking out with something special. It has a wonderful children’s selection.” 223 Regent St., 905-468-2602
Ravine Winery and Restaurant
“Have a glass of bubbly and dinner overlooking the vineyards. It really is heavenly. The entire vineyard is certified organic … so is the kitchen garden that supplies the restaurant. If something can’t be grown on-site, it comes from a nearby farm. There’s also a cannery that preserves fruits and veggies from the garden throughout the season. I love to buy a few jars of jam and sauces to crack open in the depth of winter. It reminds me of summer in Niagara.” 1366 York Road, Saint Davids, ravinevineyard.com
Il Gelato Di Carlotta
“The main street in Niagara on the Lake is filled with ice cream shops. This one is absolutely ridiculous because it’s better than any gelato I ever had in Italy. It’s made from all natural ingredients. This family-run business is taking gelato to a whole new level of artistry. Just take my word for it and try the pistachio.” 59 Queen St., gelatodicarlotta.com
This interview has been edited and condensed.