It’s a long story…
500 million years ago in the Palaeozoic era, the region we inhabit was flooded with water. Countless living creatures fossilized into limestone, which now underlies most of Prince Edward County. Like the rest of the Great Lakes, Picton Bay was created about 11,700 years ago by glacial scouring and meltwater, as giant ice sheets retreated northwards.
The first human inhabitants, First Nations fished, hunted and farmed close to the shores of the densely forested land. The Bay of Quinte is celebrated as the birthplace of Tekanawita the Peacemaker, who in the 12th century united five feuding nations into the Iroquois Confederacy.
From the early 1600s, French and British explorers, missionaries and fur traders came through, but pursued only furs and converts, not settlement. In 1784, the British resettled loyal soldiers and families from the Thirteen Colonies here. Preferred destinations: two sheltered harbours the newcomers named Prinyer’s Cove and Picton Bay.
Development spread rapidly from the Bay. Land was cleared, forests cut, farms planted, roads, mills, wharves, and villages built, two of them on the Bay – Hallowell on the escarpment, then Picton on the harbour. In 1837 they amalgamated.