Sunday, October 14, 2012

Prince Edward County: By Chadsey's Cairns

During our July Prince Edward County trip, my sisters and I visited By Chadsey's Cairns. This was our last stop together on that weekend's winery tour before we headed into town for dinner at East & Main Bistro (a restaurant we very much enjoyed; thanks to my pal Ryan for the recommendation). 

I loved the setting of this winery, an old farm property originally owned by Ira Chadsey himself (inherited from his father, circa mid-1800s), that now serves as a winery and guesthouse run by owners Richard Johnston and Vida Zalnieriunas. 

Complete with food, outdoor art and even an historical Chadsey family cemetery, this winery definitely had character. Before we even stepped into the tasting room our eyes led us into a giant barn that appeared to be an event space. We later learned that musicians play in this space and it also seems to be a great spot for a rousing game of ping pong. 

Once inside the tasting room, we enjoyed some wines and learned a lot more about Chadsey and "cairns", a word I had not heard of before that day. A "cairn", you see, is a stone marker, and with the cemetary nearby and the legend of Chadsey's stone fence, there were many a cairn to be seen and heard of on this property. Slowly the name of this winery started to make sense. Things really became clear when Richard shared with us the story of Ira Chadsey and his fabled demise; legend says it was suicide:
Local legend has it that seven years after [his wife] Roxey’s death, at the age of 77, Ira built a large bonfire in his maple syrup shack, located down the laneway by the cairns, and shot himself so that his body would be flung into the flames.  The fire is said to have been so intense that nothing was found but the metal barrel of his gun.
A tragic, poetic character, Chadsey was, as he alleged to have declared that he would return after his death reincarnated as a white horse, and he was building the stone markers so he could find his way home.


My sisters and I enjoyed the charm and quirky feeling to this winery, and the wine wasn't too shabby either, especially the Muscat. We enjoyed some great summer wines such as their Chenin Blanc and Rose as well. Perfect patio wines. 

I would definitely go back for more wine, some music and maybe even to stay the night. Don't judge this one by its modern sign out front. By Chadsey's Cairns will take you back to a pure and simple country feeling, and leave you with a sense of history and legend. 

*Note: Although I found the legend and lore of the Chadsey story to be interesting, by no means would I ever speak about suicide by romanticizing the idea. If you are in pain and contemplating suicide, please call your local Distress Centre for help.*