Although Ajax is a relatively new community, a section of town known as Pickering Village, just down the road from the Stonebury Gates site, actually dates back to 1807 when a Quaker man named Timothy Rogers purchased 800 acres and invited a number of other Quaker families to settle there. When the Regional Municipality of Durham was created in 1974, the Village of Pickering was included in the Town of Ajax so the community “rebranded” itself as Pickering Village to differentiate itself from the Town of Pickering next door.
The focal point of the village is The Courtyard, a Tudor-style complex that was actually built in the late 1980s but contributes to the village’s ineffable period charm.
Inside the courtyard are pubs, cafes and restaurants, among them Sauter’s Inn restaurant, specializing in hearty Hungarian cuisine.
Gordon House dating from 1881 and the 1867 home of the village’s original doctor, features metal spired cupolas and decorative brickwork.
For the sixth year in a row this past June, Old Kingston Road, in the heart of the village, came alive with its now annual JAM Festival, a street party where local musicians “rock it out” while revelers feast on all manner of delectable fare and soak in the village’s unique ambience.
Many of the village’s historic structures have stories to tell. Case in point: the Casa Verde restaurant is housed in a house, circa 1890, whose original incarnation was a “birthing house,” and it later served as a hideout for rumrunners during Prohibition.
THE LAKE AND AJAX’S WATERFRONT PARKS
The extraordinary lakeside vistas can be enjoyed either on foot or on the bike trails that crisscross Duffins Creek Waterfront Park, Ajax Waterfront Park and Lynde Shores Waterfront Park.
Ajax’s greatest physical asset is Lake Ontario, one of the world’s largest freshwater bodies of water. Along the whole length and breadth of the Ajax shoreline are an interconnected series of parks that ensure every resident of the town has easy access to this incomparable community asset.
Rotary Park, with its massive pedestrian bridge over Duffins Creek, anchors the west side of the park, and Lakeside bookends the east side. In the middle, at the foot of Harwood Avenue, is Veterans Point Garden, which commemorates HMS Ajax and Defence Industries Limited, the company responsible for Ajax’s existence.
The town’s extraordinary lakeside vistas can be enjoyed either on foot or on the bike trails that crisscross Duffins Creek Waterfront Park, Ajax Waterfront Park and Lynde Shores Waterfront Park. But the nature trails along the lakeshore are only part of the community’s scenic green bounty.
Ajax is blessed with over 100km of trails including extensive walking and hiking paths in the Greenwood Conservation Area. Cold clear-running Duffins Creek runs through Greenwood, and so do the fish that call it home. The opening of the trout season each spring is manna from heaven for anglers from far and wide.
One of the more unique aspects of Ajax’s waterfront is just outside the town in Pickering. On the lakeshore at Frenchman’s Bay is the atmospheric Nautical Village, an urban oasis whose numerous cafes and restaurants invite visitors to kick back, relax and soak up its unique maritime charm. On Thursday nights over the summer months, its Millennium Square hosts numerous live music events, so enjoy.