A tropical wonderland of exotic birds and gardens, domestic and miniature animals, flowers and plants. Situated on 35 acres, 3.5 acres which is indoors in Ruthven, Ontario, Canada, between Leamington and Kingsville.
Colasanti's started in 1941, producing vegetables and greenhouse crops. We also had a small fruit stand. In 1955 our greenhouses began growing lemon and orange trees.
In 1972 cactus and tropical plants were added to their production. Today, Colasanti's is a tropical wonderland of just about every kind of plant, both indoor and seasonal outdoor. We also carry a large variety of garden supplies including plant food and soil.
Presently, they have a large collection of animals. Along with a petting zoo for children, you can find big cats, lemurs, alligators as well as various reptiles and tropical birds just to name a few. Children can enjoy a number of activities such as hayride and maze game, animal talks, seed planting, pony rides, craft making, pumpkin painting, golf, and much more.
Point Pelee National Park extends from the mainland of Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada. It consists of a peninsula of land, mainly of marsh and woodland habitats, that tapers to a sharp point as it extends into Lake Erie. Middle Island, also part of Point Pelee National Park, was acquired in 2000 and is located just north of the Canada–United States border in Lake Erie. Point Pelee is the southernmost point of mainland Canada.
Point Pelee was made a national park in 1918 at the urging of birders and hunters. Commercial fishing continued in the park until 1969. Point Pelee was the only Canadian national park to allow hunting until duck hunting was ended in 1989. This site was named "Pointe-Pelée" or "bare point" by French explorers because the eastern side was rocky and had no trees.
Jack Miner established his bird sanctuary in 1904. The hunter-turned-naturalist decided it was time to stop the killing and take action for wildlife. He brought home seven Canada geese to live in his pond with the hopes that others would soon join them. At first, it was a huge failure, but then in 1908 a wonderful thing happened: eleven wild Canada geese touched down. From then on, the Jack Miner Sanctuary served as a rest stop and refuge for millions of migrating waterfowl.
In 1943, Jack Miner was awarded The Order of the British Empire (OBE) for the greatest achievement in conservation in the British Empire by King George VI. As a result, he is considered to be the father of the conservation movement in North America.
Today one can visit Jack Miner's home (still in the family) and his birds. There is bird seed available for feeding the birds, a small museum outlining the history and goals of the Sanctuary, and the opportunity to wander around the property and visit his grave.
As a rule, no money is exchanged on the property, but donations are welcome by mail (donation envelopes available in the museum).
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-5pm
Pelee Island Winery was established in 1979 and is the biggest winery in the region (Essex County). The main headquarters of Pelee Island Winery are in Kingsville, the town neighbouring Leamington. Most of the grapes are grown on Pelee Island, but are then brought over to be processed on the mainland. The mainland tour highlights the wine-making process from crushing the grapes to bottling, whereas the island tour focuses on the grape varieties and growing process. The tour is followed by a sampling of a few different wines. You can keep your glass :)
Tours: 12pm, 2pm, 4pm daily. There is also a gift shop and opportunity to buy wine.
Leamington has a pretty harbour lined with cottages and a couple restaurants. The harbourfront walkway is a nice place to go for a walk, enjoy the scenery, watch the boats and waterbirds, fishing, boating, etc. There are benches available to rest your feet. Parking is free at the adjacent lot. There are also public washrooms available. Special events are sometimes held in the park such as art and craft sales. Check out the town's website: http://www.leamington.ca/general/home.asp
In the peak summer season, the Pelee Island ferry departs from Leamington Harbour: http://www.ontarioferries.com/jii/english/index.html
A recent addition to the Southwestern Ontario wine route, Aleksander Estate Winery is a family-run winery with the intention of keeping it small. Their wines are locally grown on 5 acres of vineyards. Their selection of wines include the classics, as well as a Chambourcin red wine, and they specialise in fruit wines. Complimentary wine tasting is available during retail hours (forgot what they are..sorry!)
It seems Essex County is becoming the new Niagara. Since 2005, a number of new wineries have established themselves in the region. We only had the opportunity to visit two new ones, but here's a list of all the wineries in the region to date (2006):
1. D'Angelo Estate Winery
2. Sanson Estate Winery
3. Erie Shore Vineyard
4. Colio Estate Wines Inc.
5. Pelee Island Winery & Pavillion
6. Viewpointe Estate Winery
7. Mastronardi Estate Winery
8. Aleksander Estate Winery
9. Smith & Wilson Estate Wines
10.Colchester Ridge Estate Winery
12.Wagner Estate Winery-Maidstone
13.Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A new addition to the growing Southwestern Ontario wine region, Mastronardi Estate Winery sits on 100 acres of vineyards previously owned by Colio Estate Wines Inc. The winery is owned by a young, presumably Italian couple. We had our wine tasting with the wife, and she was very informative about the wines and the wine making process. Complimentary wine tasting is available during retail hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-6pm; Sat: 11am-5pm; Sun: 11am-4pm.