How the tiny village of Wellington plans to welcome the royals
It will be a tasty tour, with planned stops at Wellington's wineries and market
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, otherwise known as Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, are visiting Wellington, Ont., on Friday as part of their three-day royal tour of Canada.
Wellington is a small picturesque village in Prince Edward County, about two hours by car from downtown Toronto.
It's one of three stops the royals are set to make as they partake in Canada 150 festivities. The trip also included stops in Nunavut, the military base in Trenton, Ont., and Ottawa for Canada Day.
Here's a few fun facts about Wellington:
- Population: 1,860 (as of the 2011 census).
- Intersections with street lights: One.
- Number of previous visits from the Prince and Duchess of Cornwall: Zero.
With such a packed schedule, you may be wondering how Wellington made its way onto the itinerary.
First, the royals want to learn more about the farm-to-table movement in the region, and how promoting local agriculture can increase tourism and the economy in a community. Second, the area has royal roots, according to Mayor Robert Quaiff.
"We have some ties here with the British monarchy. The name Prince Edward County, obviously," he said. "Prince Charles and the Duchess are passionate about royal communities and the people who live and work in them."
Below are a few of the people who will greet Charles and Camilla as they explore the wine and food that make the little village so interesting.
One stop on the royal tour will be to the Norman Hardie Winery, known mostly for their chardonnay and pinot noir.
"Prince Edward County has a really difficult climate to grow grapes," said Claude Arsenault, chief of marketing and sales at the winery. "We have all chosen to establish our wineries here because we really believe in it."
With more than 40 wineries now calling the county home, they seem to have figured it out.
"Fifteen years ago there wasn't as much going on here, it was one of the poorest counties in Ontario, and right now, it's booming. Tourism is through the roof. We almost have a labour shortage going on," said Arsenault.
The success of Wellington's wineries encouraged more hotels and restaurants to plant roots in the area.
The camaraderie in the village will likely be evident when the prince and duchess visit the spot, as neighbouring wineries and food vendors have been invited to bring along their own products to sample. In true rural style, they're keeping the visit as authentic as possible.
"Definitely there will be some different set-ups going on, but we also want to be true to who we are and I think that's what they'll appreciate the most," Arsenault said.
Louise McFaul is an ambassador for the Wellington farmer's market, which she started six years ago. Since then, she's watched it grow from 14 to 54 vendors.
"At its heart, what the Wellington farmer's market has that differentiates itself from other community markets is the eclectic nature and the embrace of community," she said.
"We have students in high school who are learning to be entrepreneurs, we have seniors who are using the market to help make ends meet and enhance their social lives ... so for them to come and meet us, they get to reach a lot of the groups they support in one location in an amazing community."
McFaul added that it's rewarding to see her work attracting visitors from all over the province, the country, and now the world.
"The different parties that were helping us create the event came down firsthand to see what it's like, they had come with ideas about needing additional things and needing to enhance it, and then they got here and realized they didn't need to add anything," she said.
"The life and the colour, the beauty of the area, the vendors ... just add this life to the space."
Adnan Mustafa and Suhaila El Husein
Inside the market, there's at least one couple eagerly awaiting their chance to feed the royal couple.
Adnan Mustafa and Suhaila El Husein are co-owners of Papa Ghanoush & Momma Hummus. They're also one of two Syrian refugee families living in Prince Edward County.
"I love people here in Wellington ... I'm happy here," Mustafa said.
The duo came to Canada after being privately sponsored by local group PEC Syria. To sustain themselves, they decided to use their passion for food to start their own business.
According to McFaul, their booth has become one of the most popular stalls, with the community fully embracing their talents.
When someone first told the pair that Charles and Camilla planned to visit the small village, they thought it was a joke. But now, all joking aside, Mustafa has one goal for the big day.
"Maybe ... when Prince Charles taste my hummus, maybe he'll say, 'I love you Adnan.'"