5 Reasons To Rent A Cottage On Pelee This Summer and Fall

  1. Nature and Wildlife

With 20% of the land protected by Provincial Park status and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the forests and wetland are a sight to be seeWild-Hyacinth1n. From the Chinquapin Oak and Red Cedar Savannahs to Lake Henry and Fish Point Nature Reserve, the biodiversity of the island is astounding. Towering trees and beautiful flora can be found all over these areas, evoking a deep connection to nature.

The fauna are everywhere as well. Pelee is well known for its importance in the seasonal migration patterns for over 300 species of birds. Come volunteer with the Pelee Island Bird Observatory and help the world to understand more about the phenomenal creatures that inhabit our skies. Lucky observers will also be able to see rare and at-risk species of birds, snakes, foxes and turtles.


  1. Rural Small Town Feel

Pelee Island is not your typical tourist destination. The quaint, honest, downtown area at the West Dock hosts a delicious family restaurant, boutique shop and ice cream shack for everything you really need during a quiet getaway. Head up to the Northern Bay, Scudder, for a fun and friendly time with locals, boaters, and vacationers alike.

Like any small town, the rural areas of Pelee are just around the corner. Hop on your bike and in a few minutes you’ll find yourself seamlessly transitioning into sprawling fields and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

Don’t be fooled however, there will never be a dull moment during your stay. With weekly events held at The Winery, to the Heritage Weekend that kicks off Autumn, and the Pheasant Hunt that winds it down, there is always something to do. The Quarry, a natural amphitheatre, is the stage for many passionate and vivacious performances from poets, jazz musicians, and artists hosted by the Windsor Feminist Theatre. And every weekend live musicians travel from all over to play in our taverns.20160815_183206

  1. Beach & Sky

While enjoying the sunset or a lazy afternoon, take a dip into beautiful Lake Erie. The shallowest of the Great Lakes, the water warms quickly in the day and holds the heat through the night, making any time a good time to swim. The Bongo Club features beach access for the perfect getaway.

There is nothing like the Pelee sunset over Lake Erie. The pastel array of colour is reminiscent of a great impres sionist painting, evoking a peace and tranquility that is rarely found elsewhere. A short bike ride to the tip of Fish Point Provincial Park from Pelee On the Rocks will give you an unparalleled and sublime view, almost as if you were in center of the lake itself.

The natural beauty of the island is boundless. Isolated from the mainland, the night sky is untouched by light pollution. In the later hours of the night, the sky is peppered with millions of stars and the ethereal belt of the Milky Way is almost always visible. Watching the full moon rise over the horizon is breathtaking, and at apogee, bathes the island in its silvery light.13770371_10157137464445453_7694660560276435536_n


  1. History

Pelee Island and the Erie Archipelago are ripe with history. From aboriginal remains and artifacts, local legends,  to battles fought during the war of 1812, and an industrial boom that left a long lasting impact on North America, there are stories hidden everywhere.

Whether taking a motor tour around the north of Pelee, a biking excursion around the south, or paying a visit to the Pelee Island Heritage Center vinVillia_newspat the West Dock hamlet, you will leave the island with more than just souvenirs. Buildings still standing from the early 1800’s help set the tone of this old island. Learn about what the island once looked like, the industrialization and the events that led us to where we are now with the Explore Pelee crew and get the most out of your time here.

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  1. Food!

While there isn’t a large selection of restaurants on the island, they do boast a delicious platter of food to choose from. While enjoying a bottle of wine on the patio of the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, you can choose from a variety of frozen meats to barbecue yourself and show off your grill mastery. They also create delicious stone-oven pizzas and tapas trays for your enjoyment. The Westview Restaurant and Scudder Beach Bar & Grill are great places to visit for cold beers, good food, and a fun, musical environment. conorlee-bakery-delicatessenPastries and home made goods more your style? Check out Conorlee’s Bakery & Delicatessen, delicious pastries are made fresh every morning that pair well with the best iced coffee around. For lunch they offer mouth watering vegetable and bean salads or made-to-order wraps. When dinnertime rolls around be sure to wander in to the Anchor & Wheel, where you can choose from a wide assortment of fish and seafood, among other dishes.



The Importance of Biodiversity to People

By Brenda Boonzaijer
Plants and animals are important for many reasons; and the more variety, the better, because many organisms have uses that are still unknown to scientist. Others still have uses unknown to most people, so I hope to share those with you in this blog post. Even the plants and animals right here in North Eastern North America and Pelee Island can be used in medicine, food, tools, aesthetics, and more.

Even a weed, that most people spray Round-Up on when they find it in their driveway, is the most medically significant native plant in our area. download North American Plantain can stop the sting of insect bites if you crush it in the palm of your hand, blood sugar can be regulated if drink a tea out of it, rubbing a salve on a poison ivy rash will stop the itch and spread. I have used plantain myself as a disinfectant on cuts and applied to mosquito bites on people on my tour to stop the itch. However, I wouldn’t recommend eating plantain for fun, there are other plants for that if you are feeling adventurous.

Many tourists have been amazed by the variety of edible greens I have showed them including garlic mustard, wild grape, honey locust trees, mulberry trees, wild blackberry, selfheal, and fragrant sumac. images Not to mention all the animals; muskrats actually used to be the main food source of the first explorers to Pelee island. Walking through Pelee’s nature reserves you wouldn’t get lost, but if you did, you wouldn’t starve either!

Some of the plants can be a food and a tool. One example of this is the Sumac tree. The flowers can be made into a tasty tea (with caution, some people are allergic) but the stem can be made into a whistle, due to the incredible soft inner wood it has that can easily be poked out with a nail. Another historically useful tree is the native Blue Ash. A threatened species and listed as special concern in the Ontario Endangered Species Act, a dark dye can be extracted from the Blue Ash’s inner bark and used as an ink or dye. Like many other trees, it can also be used in construction.
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Lastly, even if we don’t know a use for the fauna or flora, it can still be very aesthetically pleasing. Examples include the impressive Great Egret, delicate Prairie Rose, and fabulous Grey Headed Coneflower.
As you can see, there are plenty of uses for the flora and fauna found in Eastern North America ranging from nutrition and health to beauty. However, there are still many unidentified species as well. On Pelee Island those species are especially in the worlds of insects and snails, and they could hold incredible secrets!


“Carolinian Lights” & Invasive Species

The undulating waves in the sky rise and fall as we take a long walk around fish point and the winery. As I walk with my roommates and our two huskies, we first spot one thick wave above the lake, later another above the dock, then an extraordinarily long one above a tree line between the vineyards. The dark shapes of the islands in the lake match the colour of the ripples in the sky, the vibrant sunset colours highlighting the irregularities. Then, a light humming fills our ears and gets a higher pitch as we get closer to the swarm. We are experiencing the 42⁰ parallel’s version of the Northern Lights. The flies on this island are incredible. Although sometimes bothersome they are an important part of the incredible and biologically rich ecosystem on the island.

Insects are an essential food source for the many species of birds that come here. More birds result in more bird droppings and with it, a great variety of seed deposits.

This is one of the reasons that there is such great biomass diversity on Pelee Island. monarch-caterpillar A large diversity of plants allows for a large diversity of animals. For example, the Monarch caterpillar eats milkweed leaves exclusively and the Giant Swallowtail caterpillar on hop tree leaves.                                                                                                                   Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) - caterpillar1

phragmites_stand_summerIn fact, our entire ecosystem is a complicated web connected to each other. A change in one element can upset many others, and it can be all too easy to change nature.One dangerous way to change an ecosystem is through the introduction of invasive species. These are living things brought over from other parts of the world (exotic species) that prosper in the newly introduced landscape resulting in a drastic reduction in suitable environment for native species and thereby decreasing biodiversity. Although some species are introduced intentionally, such as phragmites, which were brought over from Asia as an ornamental plant, that is not always the case. Zebra mussles most likely arrived in the great lakes via an international tanker to which they had stuck, and the emerald ash borer larvae hide in firewood. Since it is so easy to introduce something to a habitat it is important that you pay careful attention.


In conclusion, I would like for everyone to consider the habitat you are entering and think about what the likeliness is that you are going to be distributing a new pest. Invasive species are one of the main factors that decrease biodiversity. Why is a high level of biodiversity important? I think I will leave that for my next blog, so stayed tuned for that and more about flies!


Chinquepin Oak Alvar Savannah

19048682_10154418407081415_792735975_oHello Pelee Island! My name is Sarah Sidaway, and I completed an Undergrad honors degree at Trent University with a major in Biology. I am a divemaster and recently spent the winter in Nevis working on a dive boat. In mid May I moved to Pelee Island to start my summer working as a tour guide for Explore Pelee.

Breakfast is the greatest… for someone who thought a Timmy’s bagel and cream cheese and a double double was acceptable, you can imagine the intrigue when I first found out about Legion eggs benedict and Conorlee’s breakfast croissant! While not leading tours, my day is taken up with hiking and exploring, with many new habitats and species to explore.
How can I say no to stable flies and mosquitos?!
As my first blog post, I decided to give the readers a quick look at some ecosystems/habitats that have so far fascinated me.

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The first one I became familiar with is the Chinquapin Oak Alvar Savannah near Stone Road. Since my hobbies include birding, photography, and exploring this just seemed like an obvious choice!

Even though I drive down Stone Road almost every day, I still missed the small signs posting the start of the trail… twice. In my defence I blame the ring-necked pheasant I glimpsed on the side of the road! 19024588_10154418406871415_1025115702_o 19048654_10154418406131415_129311554_o

Chinquapin oaks and Shag Bark Hickory trees line the first half of the trail, and then it opens into the savannah with dogwood and mulberry bushes. Butterflies, warblers, and a few angry garter snakes call this trail home. The air almost vibrates with the trilling of red-winged black birds, and cicadas can be heard continuously.

Walking the trail will only take you about 40 minutes at a slow pace. This trail is perfect for anyone looking to get a short burst of nature in their daily diet. Its lush, green, and very peaceful! So whether its for a solo hike after work or with a group of friends, I would recommend this trail for any walker or hiker. Now I’ve just got to find another great rail to explore for my next post!



The Pelee Island Comparison Tour

Pelee Island is one more stop on my long list of destinations; but every place is unique and the more I see, the more I want to explore and I would like to pass that excitement along. Therefore, I will not just tell you about the landscape and culture of Pelee Island as I give you the tour but also mix in my own experiences in other countries to motivate your travel and exploration!


Aerial-Pelee-Island-2-JPEGThe first thing, before you even get off the boat at the West Dock, you will notice how flat Pelee is. It reminds me of The Netherlands, I lived there as a child and I remember that one time we biked roughly 30km to get to the tallest hill in the center of the country, and had the greatest time ever going down! So, maybe, The Netherlands is not actually that flat, but Pelee sure is; it’s highest point is only about 8 meters above sea level. A private barn is located on this hill along the West shore, so even when it snows there is still no public hill to sled down.


As we go along West Shore road you may notice some birdhouses in shoes, which brings me to my next point. One thing I cannot compare to any other place is the unique quirkiness of Pelee Island. There are the unique animals (such as Fox Squirrels, Blue Racer snakes, and Indigo Buntings), but also unique people. Where else can you find a shoe donation center in a tree, patchwork done using a deer statue, or a bicycle store that sells diapers? Pelee citizens are quirky for sure, but also very kind, and with only about 200 permanent residents you must look after each other. 



The North shore is the most populated part of the island, and as we go by, many people will wave. Just so you know, if your neighbour is angry with you maybe it is because you didn’t wave at her when she drove by. Waving is like the law here. This I would like to compare to smiling in Thailand, the happy country, where one of my first phrases I learned to say was “sanuk maak”, very happy. Smiling in Thailand is an essential part of the culture. A smile is not only a greeting; when bargaining for produce you can laugh as a way of saying that the quoted price is ridiculous, smiling is a way to apologize, and whenever you don’t have a clue about what is going on, just smile. I have yet to see if on Pelee waving is the solution to these problems, but the island is pretty relaxed, so maybe it is!


Residents and visitors alike live on island time when here, which means that everybody you can just take it easy as we head South. In Chile there is a similar thing, but to an even larger extend, it is called Chilean time. It is usually 1-2 hours later than Foreign time. When meeting with friends I would say in my group message, “Come to karaoke at 8:30pm! (7pm Chilean time)”. Thankfully we must work with the ferry schedule and therefore I work with the most punctual company on the island! 


Now, we’ve come to our last stop, our paragraph, I hope you enjoyed the tour. Pelee Island is definitely a unique place worth a visit, with a unique views and people. However if you can’t come this year, at least you read my blog post! 😉


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A Week on Pelee Island

Astri David Hayley Winery

I have officially ended my first seven days of living on Pelee Island, Ontario, and I have already gathered enough stories for several articles. However I will attempt to condense the experience into one simple piece.While I write, I am currently sitting outside enjoying the mild night that followed an incredibly hot day. The residents couldn’t be more accurate about the colloquial moniker, The Canadian Keys. The evenings here are phenomenal, the Island itself seems to exhale and relax after the near overwhelming days of bustling, wide-eyed tourists and 10+ hours of  customer service. While enjoying the refreshing breeze tonight, I can hear something large moving through the woods neighbouring my property, yet I don’t feel threatened, everything here seems to live together in a harmony of sorts.


The animal kingdom is ever-present here, whether it be the never-ending songs of the many birds inhabiting or passing through Pelee, the delicate and ornate butterflies that stop in on the island during the summer, or the unexpected foxes and snakes that dart around just barely within your field of vision. Many of these creatures are rare or endangered as well, making the sightings that much more wondrous.

The people who help run the Island also bring a rare charm to the community. Vivacious eccentrics that run knick-boutiques and animated young adults that man the winery are some of the most memorable faces you will come across while visiting here. The best of the crew, to which I may be biased, would definitely be the Explore Pelee team. Two unique young women led by a determined entrepreneur comprise the company and they live and teach with a passion that is nothing short of inspiring. I couldn’t be happier to find myself where I am now.

Even the structures here have a je ne sais quoi that characterize this bizarre paradise. After an initial quick interview I was shown to a strange old house that I was told I could stay in during the course of my time with Explore Pelee. My new co-worker and roommate, Astri, referred to it as the “Funhouse”; when we pulled into the driveway it was obvious why. A wasps’ nest hangs in the front door that you have to duck and run quickly under as to not get stung, should you survive the dive through the threshold, you are presented a large dining room that sinks in the middle. The shape of the sinking house is reminiscent of Pelee itself; topographically, the Island is shaped like a teacup, 2/3rds rest below lake-level. Furthering the carnival funhouse ambience is the left side of the stairs to the upper floor of the home that slant downwards, causing a somewhat confounding experience navigating to bed in the pitch dark.


However, my living experience, while it is perfect for me, is not like the experiences tourists can have here. There are many cottages, campgrounds, and bed & breakfasts available on Pelee Island for all budgets. Historical homes, lived in by early settlers and quarrymen have been renovated and revamped for the modern family or group of friends looking for an incomparable getaway. New homes have been built with no luxuries spared, ranging from rustic to regal. Regardless of personal taste, there truly is something for everyone here.


Field Trip to Pelee Island


After traveling the globe teaching in different countries, I returned to Canada and scooped up the first job I could, which happened to at an office. I decided to leave my cushy job to pursue my field of study in Outdoor Recreation and Education, which pays dramatically less, but I do not regret it! My passion is teaching in the outdoors and I was lucky enough to facilitate a large group of grades 4, 5 and 6 from Wheatley Public school this week.

Explore Pelee recently purchased some fun rickshaws, which I found a way to play music from. Having the pop music bumping as the students emerged from the boat was a great way to start the day. The weather was perfect, the students were excited and their parents were still smiling. The only drawback was that the mayflies just hit the island hard the previous day. As girls are trained at a young age to react to bugs, there were immediately some “Ewww”, “You have one in your hair!” and “Gross” comments emerging from the crowd. I was not about to allow these pesky visitors to ruin the students time, so I devised a game. Once I had the students’ attention I explained the game “Every time you take a mayfly off a friend you get 1 point. The student with the most points at the end of the day wins a prize!” This immediately changed the reactions from “Gross” to “I have one who wants to take it off?!”

Pelee Island Winery was kind enough to allow the students to use their facility to eat their bagged lunch with no charge to the school (Thanks!). As the students and adults finished up their lunches, they had a bit off time to play on the play set. Then, we broke the students into mixed groups. Each group was given a list for the scavenger hunt. If they spot the item they receive 1 point and if they get a picture they will receive 2 points. Each team chose a team name and instantly chose animal names such as ‘The Blue Racer’ and ‘The Black Birds’. The students and parents were fully engaged in the unique wildlife and cultural finds on the island. One of the students put up his hand and asked “Can I throw my own shoe in a tree to check that off?” I promised them they will see a shoe in the tree by the end of the day. Once we made the turn by the shoe tree 100% of the people on the bus screamed to get pictures and take out their cameras. Even the parents were excited about the scavenger finds.

After arriving at the Lighthouse we ran into researchers from Toronto University and the Department of Fisheris and Oceans. They informed us that Lake Henry is actually very healthy and has many fish, turtle and mollusc species present. The students were so excited to meet a researcher and I am sure he was an inspiration for the students to continue studying science in the future.

Once we arrived to our final destination, Coneheads Ice-cream, I had the groups tally up their points and get their proof pictures ready. We figured out the winning group! I ran to the dock to pick up the rickshaw and played the latest Taylor Swift jam. I brought the rickshaw to the ice cream place and let the winning team get a ride on the rickshaw to the boat. The students felt like royalty being pulled back listening to their favourite songs. Finally the students with the highest mayfly count won a ride around the block on the rickshaw! They had taken over 100 mayflies off their friends and I am pretty sure those were the same girls that said “EWWW” when they first arrived on Pelee!

Overall we had amazingly high engagement from all of the students, parents and teachers. We all learned lots while having a blast. If you have a class or large group, contact us to book your educational and fun eco-tour on Pelee Island!




Photo from 96.7 The Mix Facebook Page


Race Day… Game Day


Saturday, June 4th was the 2016 Pelee Island Winery Half Marathon, and this year the weather was near perfect. Overcast skies meant that the runners weren’t terribly dehydrated, and the rain held off long enough that no one was hypothermic. Yet we all remember last year, and the monsoon conditions that made running the race so difficult. Below is Anne Marie’s account of running last year’s race.

At 4am I’m awoken by the sounds of waves and wind howling on the East side of Pelee Island. I can’t sleep. Race day anxieties. I don’t normally get nervous, so when I do, I find it somewhat intriguing and also really annoying. I get up and drink water and doze back into a half-ass sleep for the next 3 hours. I’m back and forth with what I’m going to wear, do I even have long pants on the island (living between Pelee Island the mainland) and am I going to be warm enough?

The wind keeps up picking up on the East side, so I wonder if the race will even happen. Knowing Chris from Running Flat, I’m confident that unless there is some severe safety issues, it’s going to happen. In preparation for the race, I normally pack a sundress for the post-race party at the winery. One of the best parts is getting to the finish line! I joke with my roommates who are also running that I don’t think a summer dress is in store. I pack my winter down jacket, down booties and fresh pants and sweater. I know I’ll be drenched and potentially hypothermic.

Rewind a bit to this past winter and all the training runs that I’ve put into my repertoire with this race in mind. For me it’s more about the training than the actual race day. It’s a way to pass time and set a goal. I love working towards something and with the nature of my seasonal business it helps me focus throughout the winter when I’m not as busy. I love getting the runner’s high and it’s a reason to carve out some time outside to exercise and release some endorphins.

Now I’m at the start of the race. The rain is pouring down and it’s so windy we can barely hear Lindsay Norris sing the national anthem. It’s exciting, the rush, the adrenaline is pumping. I’ve found my tribe. I’m not the only crazy one, there are at least 350 other people just as nuts that are going to tackle this race as well.

Over the past couple years, I’ve had a habit of dedicating my runs to friends and family that aren’t as healthy and cannot just jump out of bed and go for a run. I naturally have a lot of energy and training is also a way to balance that energy out. Like a kid at recess, there are times if I haven’t gone for a run, my body craves and almost misses the release. I start the race being very thankful. Thankful for Erin, my new colleague who is taking care of my business for me and for my friend Michelle, who is also helping out. Without them, I wouldn’t be running. I think back to the first year of working with Chris and the team at Running Flat setting the groundwork on the island. It’s in my nature to coordinate and organize and work through the logistics, but I also didn’t want to be on the sidelines and behind the scenes. I wanted to participate. I have “Run a Marathon” on my bucket list, so why not start with a half-marathon? In my own crazy way I’ve defined success by running the half-marathon, having my staff take care of my business and sitting in the wine garden with my friends enjoying post race drinks and celebrating that accomplishment.

The Pelee Island Winery Half-Marathon is on my home turf. One of my favourite parts is that I know the island so well. I’ve been living both year-round and seasonally on Pelee Island for 13 years now. It’s so amazing to come up to a water station and know everyone at the water stations handing me water, cheering me on, knowing people at the road crossings cheering me on.

I get to the airport, only a kilometre from the start line and the rain is pelting my face. This race is going to be intense. That’s okay, I’m thankful for my health!

It’s great to be with a bunch of other people running. Also, a couple highlights running and chatting with friends that I know along the way. Parked cars giving me high fives. The mental struggles cross my mind that I could stop at any point in time at a friends house.

The wind along the East side is treacherous, there are 8 foot waves, at times I felt like I was going to be swept and pushed into the huge drainage canals.

As I finish the race, it’s so nice to be greeted by friends I know at the finish line. All I can say is Oh my God!!! I can’t believe what I just ran through that! I’m emotional, I’m exhausted, I can’t really stand. Why did I just do this? Was it worth it? Hell yah!



The Wave


The Pelee Wave
The Pelee Wave

When you land on the shores of Pelee Island you’ll soon find out that it’s an extremely friendly place, where everyone waves to each other. You may just think that is an expression or an exaggeration but you soon find out it is a way of life. It is similar to motorcycle drivers & jeep owners waving to each other as they cross path. A feeling of inclusiveness, that you are part of the club, ‘The Island Club’. The first few times I waved, I was hesitant. ‘Am I waving to early‘what if they don’t wave back’ or ‘I will just wait until they wave first, then I’ll wave’ are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind. Then I realized, everyone waves at each other. It really doesn’t matter if you are a tourist and don’t wave back because it is inspiring either way!

The simple wave really brings people on the island closer together and gives the tourists a glimpse of camaraderie that occurs. ‘The Pelee Wave’ occurs so naturally and spreads smiles so easily I wonder why it was such a hesitation to begin with? Why are we so prone to keep to ourselves and isolate from our community on the mainland?

I am not sure if the community chumminess is a direct result of the wave or a product of it but regardless it is a staple of Island life here.

Nate Binder and Ryan Essery coming back from planting 100 Cinquapin Oak trees on Pelee for the Nature Conservatory of Canada

The island happiness spreads throughout the community and I noticed a large difference with the dynamics of new women relationships. On mainland when women meet they are usually standoffish or begin a relationship with a competitive mindset. On Pelee Island, I have noticed that everyone is happy to get along with everyone from the moment you meet them. Someone you meet today will see you tomorrow and immediately be a great friend.  This has only been a challenge in trying to remember the names of 500 people or so I met in the last week.

The wave happiness has spread to me and I am happy to call Pelee Island my home for the season. Hope to see you on Pelee Island soon, and know I’ll be welcoming you with the famous ‘Pelee Wave’.