Toronto

How the tiny village of Wellington plans to welcome the royals

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are visiting Wellington, Ont., on Friday as part of their three-day royal tour to Canada.

It will be a tasty tour, with planned stops at Wellington's wineries and market

The view from the Wellington farmer's market. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

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.
One of the many picturesque sights just off Wellington's Main Street. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

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."

According to Mayor Robert Quaiff, there are two birthdays to celebrate when the royal couple visit the region. This year marks 150 years since Confederation, but also the 225th birthday of Prince Edward County. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

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.

Claude Arsenault

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."

Claude Arsenault stands in front of one of the many fields at Norman Hardie Winery. She said the county's emergence came after a lot of collaboration between neighbours who shared labour, equipment and techniques to improve the chances of growing grapes for wine. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

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 Winery exports internationally, including to the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and the U.K., which Arsenault said may be one reason why their Winery was chosen over others. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

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.

Norman Hardie Winery is also a big fan of the Niagara region. They grow about half of their grapes there. Still, Prince Edward County offers a more rural experience, according to Arsenault. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

"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

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.

Louise McFaul poses in front of Wellington's one-and-only set of street lights. She said she's been a fan of the Royals ever since she knew Canada had a Queen it could occasionally "borrow." (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

"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."​

The Wellington United Church from the front, where you can see one of the many Canadian flags adorning Wellington's Main Street. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

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."

Suhaila El Husein, left, Adnan Mustafa often sell out of their products at the market. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

Adnan Mustafa and Suhaila El Husein

Inside the market, there's at least one couple eagerly awaiting their chance to feed the royal couple.

The Wellington United Church gives the couple use of their kitchen free-of-charge. They whip up all kinds of fresh foods like hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh. (Courtesy of Adnan Mustafa)

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. 

Adnan Mustafa isn't shy about proclaiming his mastery of hummus. According to him, he leaves customers saying, "please give me hummus, baba ganoush. I love!" (Courtesy of Adnan Mustafa)

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.'"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taylor Simmons

Digital associate producer

Taylor Simmons is a digital associate producer for CBC Calgary. She has a masters in journalism from Western University and has worked as a multiplatform reporter in newsrooms across Canada, including in St. John's and Toronto. You can reach her at taylor.simmons@cbc.ca.

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