Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Muskoka)

 During the past 14+ years Judi and I have visited over 300 Ontario community festivals and events. The majority have been planned and managed by dedicated community volunteers. As a salute to these wonderful communities and their hard-working residents, I will be writing a series of blogs entitled “Great Ontario Communities”. These blogs describe the communities we have visited and will tell you about some of the interesting things we have experienced and the people we have met. The seventeenth article is about Muskoka, land of lakes and recreation.

MUSKOKA - One of my all-time favourite places to visit is Muskoka. That's probably because this is where I spent most of my childhood summers. My first memory of Muskoka is of Lake of Bays and Baysville. For years my parents had been going to a lodge for our summer vacations, but that changed when I was about 10 years old. My mother and father decided to purchase a cottage rather than rent rooms at a lodge. The cottage search started in Haliburton, but was quickly curtailed when my mother saw a bear lumbering up a dirt road near where my parents were considering their new cottage. This took their search to Muskoka!  I don’t think, at the time, that my mother considered the fact that there were probably the same number of bears in Muskoka as there were in Haliburton! That being said, we all loved Muskoka, Lake of Bays and Baysville. After a fairly short search, they found a wonderful cottage on a small bay on the Lake of Bays. The cottage was on the west end of the lake and was located between Baysville and Huntsville. Those were halcyon years and set me for a life long love of the area. Even though we no longer have a cottage (sigh) there, I still gravitate back to the area! 

Muskoka cover a very large area with many beautiful lakes to discover and unique villages to visit.  There are four larger lakes and they include Lake Rosseau, Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph and Lake of Bays. The major towns in the area include Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Rosseau, Huntsville and Bayside.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Country Heritage Park)

 During the past 14+ years, Judi and I have visited over 300 Ontario community festivals and events. The majority have been planned and managed by dedicated community volunteers. As a salute to these wonderful communities and their hard-working residents, I will be writing a series of blogs entitled “Great Ontario Communities”. These blogs describe the communities we have visited and will tell you about some of the interesting things we have experienced and the people we have met. The sixteenth article is about Country Heritage Park. I am including this "Heritage Park" and others (Pioneer Villages) like it because I feel that they represent what communities and community life was and is all about.

COUNTRY HERITAGE PARK - You wouldn’t know it but hidden in the shadows of the Niagara Escarpment in Milton lies one of the best interactive heritage parks we’ve visited.  The park is called the “County Heritage Park” and if you look closely and quickly you can catch a glimpse of it from Hwy. #401, just west of Milton.  Don’t blink or you'll missed it. However, if you are looking for a really fun adventure with the whole family, the Country Heritage Park is the place to go.  The park depicts agriculture and rural life over the last 150 years.  The park is located on 80 acres and has 30 exhibit buildings and 20,000 artifacts.  Make sure, when you do go, that you take a good pair of walking shoes. Also, go early so you don’t miss anything.  Over the year the park has a number of special events, each highlighting different aspects of the park.

In addition to the historic buildings, the Country Heritage Park boasts a number of outstanding collections.  These include tractors, carriages, steam engines, cars, milking equipment and much more.  This is a special place, especially for those of us who enjoy experiencing and studying Canada's and Ontario's past!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Kleinburg)

During the past few years Judi and I have visited almost 150 Ontario community festivals and events. The majority have been planned and managed by dedicated community volunteers. As a salute to these wonderful communities and their hard working residents, I will be writing a series of blogs entitled “Great Ontario Communities”. These blogs describe the communities we have visited and will tell you about some of the interesting things we have experienced and the people we have met. The fifteenth article is about Kleinburg which is located just north of Toronto.

KLEINBURG - Kleinburg is a beautiful village located just north of Toronto.  It’s probably best known for the home of the “Group of Seven”, McMichael Art Gallery.  The “Group of Seven” artists are one, of the best known and prestigious art groups Canada has ever known.  Original works of art include pieces by Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson, A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, and J.E.H. MacDonald.  Over the years Judi and I have enjoyed our visits.  I think the most memorable visit to Kleinburg was to its “Binder Twine Festival”.  The Binder Twine Festival (held the first Saturday after “Labour Day”) celebrates the fall harvest and was originally started by a local merchant (Charlie Shaw) to encourage farmers to the village and his store.  The festival was lost for a number of years but was brought back in 1967 when a committee of residents revived the concept as part of Canada's Centennial celebrations. The festival has grown ever since.  The town itself was founded in 1848 by John Kline a German/Canadian settler and is the home of several famous people including Pierre Berton over 50 years ago (although he died in 2004), former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.   Other interesting tidbits of information about Kleinburg include that it is home of Toronto International Film Studio, the popular television show “The Forest Rangers” was filmed in Kleinburg in 1963-1965, the movie “The Sentinel” was filmed in 2006 at the McMichael Art Gallery.  With the quaint shops, historic architecture, fine dinning, and beautiful lush settlings, Kleinburg is a wonderful place to visit!