LOCAL ROAD TRIPS
Your Guide to Travelling Locally
The pandemic has altered the way we see the world, but the upside is a unique opportunity to discover hidden gems close to home. Supporting local and regional businesses has never been more essential. Safety protocols may be different as spring and summer go on, so check local health units' websites before you go. ENJOY THIS GUIDE TO ALL THAT LOCAL TRAVEL HAS TO OFFER.
WANDER THE WEST COAST - HURON COUNTY
East Street Cider started with an interest in wine, an education in business and food sciences, and a love of the Goderich area. The pieces seemed to come together in 2015-16 for David Aylward and Ellen McManus.
An industrial building her grandfather bought in the 1950s had available space and a published report touted the county’s suitability for grape-growing. The pair had dreamed of starting a winery, but cider was gaining in popularity, so they opted to establish a cidery using 100 per cent Ontario apples.
“A big part of our brand and our vision is incorporating the history of the building,” says David. “It was a great opportunity to rejuvenate the building and create a community-oriented, comfortable space.”
The Runciman Foundry, built in 1856, has a storied past as a foundry, bicycle factory, engine works, hosiery company, bottling works, road machinery, marine, and shuffleboard manufacturer. “This is a cool building we want to share with everyone. There is so much history as industries and entrepreneurial ventures. We see ourselves as part of the evolution, the next generation.”
David says they “are trying to focus on creative, refreshing, approachable ciders – good for any occasion that everybody can enjoy.” The flavours blend modern and traditional. David’s choice is Harvest Botanical, a balance of fruity and floral with a crisp dry quality. This summer they plan to add a tasting room for their products and those of other local makers.
EAST STREET CIDER
130 East Street, Goderich
ALL ABOARD EATS
Picture passengers alighting from a train and heading off to the mineral spring spa or the beach. The station became a hub for tourism, and population and commercial growth for Goderich after it was built in 1907. After a five-year renovation, it became home to the Beach Street Station restaurant.
The picturesque one-storey, red brick building sits on a foundation of local limestone, and its hip roof, tower, arched entries and stone details must have added to a sense of arrival. Inside, original floors, radiators and decorative plaster are lit by large windows – perfect to enjoy a meal and the famous Lake Huron sunsets.
BEACH STREET STATION
2 Beach Street
WALK (OR RIDE) ON THE WILD SIDE
As more people look for outdoor activities to do while socially distanced, walking and cycling have become favourite solution. Here are some suggestions as Huron County offers many scenic routes to explore.
GOOD TO GO
Traipse along the old CPR rail bed to connect with nature, local history and scenic farmlands and beach vistas. Built in 1907 as a route to the Lake Huron port, this 127-km trail now provides a path for hiking and biking from Goderich to Guelph (G2G).
Some sections allow e-bikes and horseback riding, while most are wheelchair and scooter accessible. Head out with the whole family – even the dog, if leashed. In 2020, the entire trail was cleared, leveled and stone dusted. Upgrades this summer include clearing a tunnel under the highway at Blyth and a trail guide.
THE G2G TRAIL
MARSHES AND MORE
Follow the Maitland River as it wanders from Goderich to Auburn, along a 48-km hiking trail. Choose a level – from gentle inclines to rough terrain with steep sections, rock scrambling and obstacles such as beaver dams. Blazes, which are painted vertical symbols, mark the trails.
You can join an organized hike, participate in Tuesday Trompers or aim to walk it end-to-end to earn a badge. Annual events include the Candlelight Walk, a compost and plant sale, July 1 dawn walk and Camino Maitland.
Look for the Old Red Oak, more than 200 years old, 30m high and 3m around. A lime kiln is a reminder of the area’s past as a source for building stone that can be seen in area historic buildings.
Side trips reveal more items: Colborne Riverside Park; rock formations at Falls Reserve Conservation Area; Morris Tract, a mature hardwood forest; Robertson Tract, a reforested area; the village of Benmiller; the 1885 Ball’s Bridge; and Hullet Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area.
MAITLAND TRAIL ASSOCIATION AND HULLET MARSH
LIVING THE LAKES
The paved Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a paved trail that is all about connecting to the water. It starts in Eastern Ontario and traces the shorelines of the Great Lakes up to Gros Cap.
The section from Sarnia to Tobermory (about 500 km) offers a boardwalk stroll in Goderich, panoramic views of farmland and beach promenades in Sarnia, Grand Bend, Goderich, Port Elgin and Kincardine.
Don’t miss the historic lighthouse at Goderich, one of 11 on this segment. You can see the outside of the world’s largest salt mine and the largest nuclear power plant. Family-friendly and offroads sections are offered.
GREAT LAKES WATERFRONT TRAIL
SIT AND SIP
A love of the land and of family permeates Cornerfield Wine Co. The farm has been in the Durand family for 40 years. In 2014, they planted five acres of vineyards. Huron County’s cooler climate and clay-loam soil left by the last glaciers produce an ideal terroir for grape growing.
The resulting wines are delicate and complex with a balance of sugar and acidity. Cornerfield’s wines include: Cab Merlot, Chardonnay, Marechal Foch, Riesling, Pale Red Rose, the Farmer & Frenchman White and Red and the Last Furrow Sparkling White.
Visitors can sit on the patio to enjoy breezes off the lake while tasting the wines. The Durands are happy to talk about their wines and what makes them special.
CORNERFIELD WINE CO.
74444 Bluewater Highway, Bayfield
SO BAD, IT'S GOOD
A family tradition inspired Jason Ingram to establish his brewery, Bad Apple Brewery, which is a family destination.
Jason’s father made his own wine and beer, so when a suitable property went on the market, Jason and his wife Sarah jumped at the opportunity to create an orchard and brewery. They modeled it on those they visited in Quebec.
Visitors can sample Bad Apple’s eight brews in the rustic Tap Room or sitting among the apple trees outdoors. Choices include Jim’s Juicy IPA, Loquacious Bohemian Lager, Irish Red Ale and Apple Blossom Honey Brown. Jason says that there is a perfect drink to match any food or mood.
Local musicians and food vendors complement the experience. “It’s a fun, family-friendly environment – a mustsee if you’re in the Huron County area.”
BAD APPLE BREWERY
73463 Bluewater Highway, Zurich
A TASTY STOP
Picture-perfect outings are the norm at Hessenland Inn, where a romantic dinner, a family exploration of the vineyard or a wedding by the waterfall are some of the options.
With five acres of vineyard and 40 of garden, there is plenty of space to frame your photos. “We offer wine tasting, accommodation as well as weddings and events,” says Kelsi Trotter, wedding and event co-ordinator. “Sunset shots are popular, and the waterfall and garden make good family photos. The waterfall is the most popular ceremony site.”
Owned and operated by the Ihrig family, Hessenland is Feast On certified, a program that recognizes businesses committed to sourcing Ontario-grown food and drink. Set in the farmland of Huron County, Hessenland draws on its neighbours to provide fresh, local produce. People return for birthdays and anniversaries.
“We are a quiet location but we can send our guests to the beach at Grand Bend or to the shops in Bayfield,” says Kelsi. “Every time you come to Hessenland is an experience. Our team is always working to make sure you have the best family experience possible.”
HESSENLAND INN 72981 Bluewater Highway, Zurich 519-236-7707 or 1-866-543-7736 www.hessenland.com
EXPLORE THE FOREST CITY - LONDON
Get a new perspective with a helicopter ride. Great Lakes Helicopter offers packages from London and Grand Bend with destinations for fine dining, hiking or coffee at Tim’s. Options range from 10 minutes to an all-day experience.
“It’s an exciting thing to do,” says Dwayne Henderson, general manager. “It gets you out. You see the area by air.” Some of the sights include the shore of Lake Huron to Bayfield; a sunset flight finishing at Dark Horse Estate Winery and Pinery Provincial Park. Two packages from London feature a three-hour flight to Cowbell Brewing Co. in Blyth or Eddington’s in Exeter.
Henderson says a helicopter package is about both the destination and getting there. “In a helicopter the visibility and experience are incredible. It ticks a lot of boxes. You’ve got the safety of a small group and the destination.”
“People think you have to leave the area. There’s a lot to see in Southwestern Ontario,” he adds.
GREAT LAKES HELICOPTER
519-650-4542 or 1-877-648-3732
JUMPING FOR JOY
Longing for adventure? Head to the Factory, Canada’s largest indoor adventure park located in the century-old Kellogg’s factory.
“It was a vision the owners had years ago to make this an entertainment district,” says Rob Shackleton, general manager at 100 Kellogg. “There is something for everyone – for date night, a family outing or something with buddies.”
The Factory is the big draw, says Shackleton. A 20,000-square foot trampoline park, warrior course, kids’ playground, arcade, virtual reality and escape rooms offer fun on every level. The park also boasts the highest indoor rope course in North America, 145-foot zipline, 75-foot freefall, glow dodgeball court, basketball nets, tumble tracks and a 7-km treadmill to challenge your body.
A soft play area for toddlers lets them join the fun and a sitting service allows parents to enjoy an adult dinner. The Clubhouse is opening with state-of-theart golf lounge and six simulators.
You’ll want to spend two to three hours at the entertainment complex. After your play, there are more options: Powerhouse Brewing Company, Paradigm Spirits Co., Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and London Children’s Museum.
100 Kellogg Lane
WALKING IN THEIR SHOES
Discover Whiskey Row, Bankers Row and a 19th-century site where someone got away with murder on a walking tour with intrepid guide Sylvia Chodas. “I just love the history of London. There are so many buildings still standing. The history of London is still at the Forks of the Thames.”
She channels that passion into guided tours encompassing four blocks of the core starting at Covent Garden Market. “When the women were at the market, their husbands disappeared into the bars,” says Chodas, explaining the Whisky Row label. It gave birth to the first Salvation Army in Canada in London.
The tour heads east, past Bankers Row and Eldon House, to see two cathedrals, the Grand Theatre and the Dominion Building. Chodas offers a highlights tour or a more in-depth one.
The latter takes in sites such as Victoria Park, the Delta Armouries and Mechanics Institute, where, just like in the movies, a real murder took place during the performance of a play. You’ll have to take the tour to find out ‘who dunnit.’ Whether you’re interested in the style of buildings or the lives of the people who occupied them, it’s a street-level view of the city’s history.
HISTORIC WALKING TOURS
by Sylvia Chodas
Katherine “Katie” McDougall Westman, Crazy Quilt Spread, 1896, silk, cotton. Collection of Museum London; Gift of Harriet Westman, 1962
Peek into Museum London’s vaults to see treasures from the museum’s permanent collection Taking the Long View. An hour-long virtual interactive tour is led by an art educator, providing new insights and perspectives. You’ll explore types of art, the language of art, watch a curator tour, share opinions and create something of your own.
Available Thursday 6-10 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for individuals or groups. Register at: http://museumlondon.ca/programs-events/ event/6957/
Two other exhibits run until June 13.
Inuusivut Nunavummi: Our Lives on the Tundra explores the first generation of artists who contributed to the commercial development of Inuit art in their respective communities across the Arctic.
Pudlo Pudlat, Landscape with Caribou (Umingmuk Kalunaniituk), 1977, stonecut and stencil print on paper, ed. 19/50 Gift of Richard and Beryl Ivey, London, Ontario, 1996
Under Cover: Quilts From the Collection explores the stories women told through quilts – about themselves, their family or broader comments on social, economic, and cultural forces that influenced materials, patterns, and methods of construction.
Step back into a time of elegance with a self-guided tour of Eldon House. Brenna Ardiel, program co-ordinator, says staff will guide you through the rooms of London’s oldest residence and answer questions about the house and the Harris family who built it in 1834 and lived there until the mid-20th century. Their heirlooms and furnishings reflect the lifestyle enjoyed by four generations. You can also take a 45-minute virtual tour with a historical interpreter.
481 Ridout Street North
SOUTHERN EXPOSURE - ELGIN COUNTY
When you need to get away from it all, there’s a little haven in Elgin County where you can stop and smell the flowers or listen to the birds. The Solitude Nature Reserve provides a natural setting to recharge. Trails meander around the property, including one accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, and there are six sites for overnight camping.
Pause in the gazebo to take in the stillness of the pond and hear songs of orioles, warblers, wrens or the croak of a northern leopard frog. Wildlife is plentiful, including white tail deer, bald eagle, blue heron, painted turtles and sand cranes. Wildflowers attract a wide selection of butterflies – swallowtails, monarchs, summer azure and painted lady. A Memorial Tree Garden features native trees.
SOLITUDE NATURE RESERVE
45388 Dexter Line
SUN AND SAND TIME
This harbour village has been an important port for moving products and people for hundreds of years. Port Stanley’s King George VI Lift Bridge, spanning Kettle Creek, is the oldest of its kind in Ontario. Newly reopened (May) after a major refurbishing, the bascule drawbridge allows boats to pass easily to the lake.
On the west side of the bridge, take a stroll along the beach or the walkway that circles the harbour, ending at the pier and lighthouse. Bring your swimsuit, paddle board or jet ski and jump in the lake. Shops, galleries and restaurants on the east side prove the truth of the village slogan – Come for the shore, stay to explore.
A walking tour – with an audio MP3 guide - highlights historic buildings, such as a 1910 bank, 1840 Thompson House, 1870 Russell House and 1822 Bostwick Warehouse. Hop on the London & Port Stanley Terminal Railway to experience one of the province’s oldest railway routes. Coal, lumber, tourists and dancers were carried to the port, beach and Stork Club.
TASTY TABLE OFFERINGS
If your interest in cooking has recently been renewed, Howe’s Farm Market and Country Store offers farm-to-table produce to lift your dishes to the next level. Established in the 1800s, it is the longest generationally run strawberry farm in Ontario. As well as the land, the family has passed their stewardship values from one generation to the next. They employ the best growing practices for each crop to maximize quality, environmentally friendly and sustainable results. They’ve won awards for the underground drip irrigation system, and other practices include integrated pest management, notill production and use of pollinators.
Of the 425 acres, one-third is dedicated to wildlife through old growth forests, ponds, fence rows and wetlands. In 2012 they opened the farm market on John Wise Lane, Aylmer, and added a second location at the former Salt Creek Market and Bakery just north of St. Thomas on Highbury Avenue in 2018. Check out the strawberries, melons, pumpkins, sweet corn, beans, fruit boxes, pickles, pumpkin blondies, pie pockets, cookies, cheesecake and fresh strawberry pie.
HOWE’S FARM MARKET AND COUNTRY STORE
11143 Highbury Avenue South, St. Thomas
HOWE FAMILY FARM MARKET
48556 John Wise Line, Aylmer
A FLAVOUR SAVER
At the west end of Elgin County, the Natterjack Brewing Company Ltd. is a craft brew-lover’s delight. Flavours such as a Belgian blonde with pistachio and cardamom, a smoked lager with peated malt and an American ale with chocolate malt are brewed.
Natterjack was founded in 2016 to honour the memory and passion of Matthew Derek Soos, who grew up in West Elgin and was a graduate of Niagara College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program.
His family continues his interest in unique ingredients and encouraging unique people through their brew flavours and a scholarship at Niagara College.
NATTERJACK BREWING COMPANY
25292 Talbot Line, West Lorne