Morning yoga classes followed by locally roasted coffee at the local cafe. A bit of work followed by afternoons at the beach. Local micro-brews and Ontario wines in the garden. Weekends kicked off with fish and chips by the marina, before lazy Saturdays and Sundays spent with friends and family who came to visit. That’s how I spent my summer in Canada.
And this year with the Canada150 celebrations underway, the vibe was fantastic. Everyone seems to be in good spirits despite the regular grey skies and rain showers that took over the blue skies. So in my latest blog post, I’m sharing some of my favourite summer destinations in Ontario, my home province.
I love this little lakeside town that served as the first capital city of Canada. Limestone buildings, an amazing local food and drink scene combined with opportunities to walk and cycle, make this one of my favourite towns in Eastern Ontario. When I lived in Ottawa I would often meet my sister here for a weekend of antiquing, fooding and just general hanging out. The music scene is alive here with one of my favourite female artists Miss Emily resides here, and The Tragically Hip famously hail from this town where they performed their last concert together as a band in August 2016.
An added bonus is the 20-minute free ferry to Wolfe Island where we spent an afternoon cycling through rolling farmland and along the lake to one of the many USA-Canada borders. We were like children on our bikes cycling care-free and rewarded ourselves with a treat from the bakery along the way! A perfect sunny Sunday afternoon.
One of my favourite places on Earth and where I’ve longed to own a house since I was a child. And now I’m gearing up to make that dream a reality. Lazy days spent picnicking on the beach with a good book and fresh lake water to cool off in are simply heavenly. Yoga in Pioneer Park three times a week with views over the lake isn’t bad either. The food scene here is interesting as well and The Pink Flamingo bakery is owned by a friendly local who makes the best cupcakes and treats in town!
The capital of Canada, I had to make a quick stop given Canada150, but sadly missed many of the events that were organized for the celebrations. The renovated Canadian galleries at the National Gallery were well worth a visit, but otherwise it was raining and the city didn’t have the same summertime vibe. Hopes of spending sunny days in the Byward Market where I used to live in my twenties were washed away by serious downpours.
Ottawa often gets a rep as the town that fun forgot. It is a government town, but the statement is not entirely true. The New York Times’ 36 Hours in Ottawa does the city justice and a must-read before visiting.
My parents’ hometown and where I spent many weeks during summer holidays at my grandparents’ house as a child, Goderich is also the prettiest town in Canada. The beach here is stunning. My sister and I spent many days here soaking up the sun, stand-up paddle boarding and picnicking here this summer. Pure heaven. My nephews told me that the food truck at the beach serves the fish and chips around.
The famous Culbert’s Bakery is located here and we had to make a stop (or two) for the famous cream puffs! And sitting in Cait’s Cafe on the Square (the town’s main street is an octagon so quite unique) provides a great spot to sit and people-watch while enjoying some yummy food and local wine and beer selections. Head to the flea market on Sundays for some cool hunting.
We all had a laugh at the Behind the Bars event at the historic gaol where actors and actresses told tales of how they ended up in jail in the early 1900s.
Just as summer in Canada is synonymous with beach days, summer in Canada wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Toronto. Friday afternoon drinks at Hemingway’s in Yorkville. Thursday evenings at the Art Gallery of Ontario where the permanent collection never fails to bore me and the temporary exhibitions are always smashing are a must. The programming here is second-to-none and I loved the thought-provoking exhibit Every. Now. Then. Reframing nationhood in honour of Canada150 .
As a lover of street art, I joined The Tour Guys for a tour of the street art scene in downtown Toronto where we discovered local artists as we wandered through Graffiti Alley. I also recommend their St. Lawrence Market tour in search of defining Canadian food.
But the ambiance here is fabulous. Over 150 cultures living together in one city where people are free to be themselves. Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market are so fun as streets are turned in to dance floors and street performers entertain audiences of all ages. Small restaurants, bars and cafes will up with people from all walks of life out enjoying the day together.