Exploring L&A County’s island gem


Admittedly, though Amherst Island falls under the coverage area of the Napanee Beaver, it’s rare this reporter actually makes it out that far.

With a population of about 450, there’s not a ton of breaking news that happens out on the rock-probably one of the main attractions to people that reside there. Getting there takes a bit of precise planning too as you’re somewhat at the mercy of the ferry. On weekends where there are multiple events to cover in the region, it can be hard to dedicate a couple of hours to being on the island.

Recently everything fell into place so that this writer could make a proper trip to the island and share some of the stories from that unique corner of Lennox and Addington County that somehow manages to be both a connected part of the region while simultaneously a very distinct entity on its own.

Loyalist’s Family Fishing Day was the catalyst that got the trip started. The notion of a young angler proudly showing off their big catch always makes for a photogenic moment. A one time avid fisher in his youth, this writer has a soft spot for the hobby. Unfortunately the fish weren’t biting that day-but as they old cliché goes, a bad day at the lake beats a good day at the office any day. There was certainly no shortage of smiles and laughter despite the lack of perch or sunfish. Taking a break from casting a line, families could stop into the Neilson Store Museum and Cultural Centre to learn a bit of the fascinating history behind Amherst Island. Settling an island is never easy and it takes a special breed of people to want to make a go of it. Though it’s gotten a lot easier over the decades and centuries, that spirit lives on in the people who continue to call Amherst Island their home despite the inconveniences.

Wanting to make good use of the time on the island, interviews were arrange to chat with the people behind The Back Kitchen volunteer initiative as well as Topsy Farms’ popular foster lamb program.

Both ventures are very different yet in a way are the perfect compliment to one another. Topsy Farms is a great draw for shoppers looking for a fun family trip to a working farm while shopping for a one-of-a-kind item, while The Back Kitchen is the perfect place to stop for a bit to eat.

One of the benefits of the pandemic was that it did force many residents to consider exploring their own backyard. As Prince Edward County’s Sandbanks got ‘discovered’ by the rest of the province, so too did Amherst Island’s Back Beach-though not nearly to the same degree. Parking and over crowding is never an issue on the island.

And so with summer quickly approaching and the inevitable ‘what to do with the kids?’ questions start to arise, there’s always the option of an island getaway in our own backyard.

-Adam Prudhomme

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