If you’re enjoying a bite to eat in Kawarthas Northumberland this fall, don’t be surprised if you encounter a giant fork.
The giant fork is part of the Taste of the Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW) culinary tourism program, which celebrates food and community by sharing flavours named after or inspired by the historic waterway that links these communities together. From Coboconk to Campbellford, over 45 cafés, restaurants, breweries, and retail businesses are participating in the Taste of the TSW program, offering upwards of 65 items including entrees, desserts, coffee, craft brews, and more.
With 80 per cent of the historic Trent-Severn Waterway located in Kawarthas Northumberland, the waterway is not only the region’s main tourist attraction, but it also provides a way for locals to explore their neighbouring communities.
“The waterway is a good way of connecting people together,” explains Brenda Wood, executive director of Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), the not-for-profit organization funded by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport that promotes regional tourism activity in the area branded as Kawarthas Northumberland.
“A lot of people come to the region for the waterway, whether it’s for boating or going to cottages or just day tripping, so we want to encourage people to come out to these areas and try some of the food and beverage items inspired by the Trent-Severn Waterway.”
Originally created in 2021 in partnership with Parks Canada to celebrate the centennial (plus one because of pandemic delays) of through navigation of the Trent-Severn Waterway, Taste of the TSW invites local businesses to either rename or create an all-new product in honour of the waterway and its importance for regional tourism.
“Some of the food and beverage providers get very creative — they have fun with it,” Wood says. “It’s nice for people like boaters — whether they’re doing long distances along the waterway or just a day trip — to come to a restaurant and try a food item that goes along with the theme of their journey or their adventure.”
VIDEO: Taste of the TSW – “Otonabean Espresso” at Peterborough’s Silver Bean Cafe
This year, culinary enthusiasts can have their photo taken beside a giant fork that’s over six feet tall and share their photo on social media with the hashtag #TasteoftheTSW, so others can enjoy the same great tastes and, of course, also find the giant fork.
“It just encourages people to have fun with it and to further promote the businesses who are really proud to be on the waterway and in the region,” Wood explains, adding that many of the Taste of the TSW dishes showcase flavours that are unique to the area.
“This is a very heavy agricultural region,” she explains. “A lot of the things you’re going to eat here are also grown in this area. A lot of the ingredients that go into some of these products, and a lot of the ingredients that local restaurants cook with, are sourced from the region.”
One such example is “Blossoms of the Trent Honey” from MoreRoses Apiaries (29 Marine Dr., Hastings). Guests can stop by the honey stand to try out their new honey created especially for Taste of the TSW.
With most of the their hives located within flying distance of the Trent-Severn Waterway, MoreRoses’ honey is made by bees collecting pollen from spring and summer flowers along the waterway, including dandelions, alfalfa, clover, trefoil, and many more. The belief is that the microclimate along the water dries the honey, giving it a delicate floral flavour.
“There are really nice pollinator gardens in the area as well,” says Wood, adding that part of the fun of the culinary tour is getting visitors to see how the waterway influences plant and wildlife in the communities. “There are wildflowers all along the Trent-Severn Waterway, and Hastings even has their community edible garden full of pollinators right by Lock 18.”
Other products on the tour tell a story, like the signature dish at Elmhirst’s Resort in Keene. “Marybelle’s Wild Rice Pudding” is the oldest recipe at the resort and pays tribute to Rice Lake’s history of being abundant with the wild rice for which it was named.
The cooked wild rice in the dish provides an earthy tone that balances the sweetness of the custard and fruity raspberry coulis.
The dish is named for Grandma Mary Belle, the talented cook and wife of Arthur Elmhirst who took over the property from his father and first turned it into a full-time operational resort, before passing it down to future generations of the Elmhirst family.
Wood notes that one of the great things about Taste of the TSW is that participants can immerse themselves in the region, not only by tasting local ingredients and flavours, but by hearing about and engaging with the stories that make each business and their dish entirely unique.
“It’s interesting hearing what visitors have to say about the Trent-Severn Waterway,” she says, adding that many will label the section that weaves its way through the Kawarthas Northumberland region as the “crown jewel” of the waterway. “Here it’s all about the nature. You’re basically stepping into a Group of Seven painting.”
VIDEO: Taste of the TSW – “Lock 32 Sundae” at Bigley’s Sweet Treats in Bobcaygeon
A full list of businesses participating in Taste of the TSW can be found in the locally developed Toureka! app, available for free for both Android and iOS devices. With each location pinned on a map and including descriptions of each of the products, participants can easily plan their own culinary adventure along the Trent-Severn Waterway.
For example, coffee fiends can map a route that takes them from the “Lock 18 Latte” at The Water Lily in Hastings to the “Otonobean Espresso” at Peterborough’s Silver Bean Café. Those looking for a stronger taste of the waterway might plan a brewery tour that takes them from Havelock to Fenelon Falls and beyond.
“The Toureka app is great for anyone looking for a themed itinerary,” says Wood, adding that Kawartha Northumberland has other featured tours listed on the app, including motorcycle and paddling routes, for participants who want to continue their exploration of the region beyond food and drink.
As well as downloading the Toureka! app to their mobile devices, participants can also browse the featured tours using digital kiosks located in some of the region’s visitors centres, such as the Peterborough & the Kawarthas Visitor Centre located in downtown Peterborough or the Bobcaygeon tourist information centre.
Woods points out that the Taste of the TSW program is open to all businesses in Kawarthas Northumberland, not just restaurants, bars, and cafés. Food-related retail businesses can also participate, such as Lakefield’s The Cheesy Fromage which has three Taste of the TSW products, including spices and jams, caviar mac n’ cheese, and caviar quesadilla.
Businesses offering a Taste of the TSW product will be listed on the program’s website and are eligible to host the giant fork as an engaging way to attract customers.
The Dockside Bistro in Campbellford — offering Taste of the TSW products including Souvlaki on the Severn, Lock 13 Mule, the TSW Mega Burger, and even a gin cocktail named after the waterway — is the very first business to host the giant fork.
While the giant fork is at The Dockside Bistro until Thursday (August 31), diners who take their photo with the fork and post it on social media, tagging the bistro and using the hashtag #TasteoftheTSW, will be entered into a draw to win a $100 gift card. On September 1, the giant fork will move to a new business participating in Taste of the TSW.
For more information about Taste of the TSW and for a full list of participating businesses, visit kawarthasnorthumberland.ca/taste-of-the-tsw/.
This branded editorial was created in partnership with Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8). If your business or organization is interested in a branded editorial, contact us.