Migrating tundra swans land in Huron County

27 Mar
These tundra swans let down their landing gear over a farmer's field near Seaforth today. Photos courtesy of Exeter photographer Bonnie Sitter.

These tundra swans let down their landing gear over a farmer’s field near Seaforth today. Photos courtesy of Exeter photographer Bonnie Sitter.

SEAFORTH – It’s spring, and while most of us are looking forward to warmer days, the majestic white tundra swans are making their way back from Chesapeake Bay, Maryland to the Arctic Circle for summer vacation.

Along their arduous route, they can be spotted at annual staging areas in farmers’ fields and open waters, which provide them with food and rest.

For a full description of their migration, visit The Friends of the Pinery Park’s website.

tundraswans

The Little Inn undergoes big makeover

25 Mar
The Willow Room formal dining room’s moniker is a nod to the stately willow tree residing near the inn’s front entrance.  The Inn’s new owners, along with Chef Michael Potters, have many plans for the future of the property including pairing with Huron Adventures Inc. to create specific activities and programs for guests and corporate enterprises.

The Willow Room formal dining room’s moniker is a nod to the stately willow tree residing near the inn’s front entrance. The Inn’s new owners, along with Chef Michael Potters, have many plans for the future of the property including pairing with Huron Adventures Inc. to create specific activities and programs for guests and corporate enterprises.

melody

By Diva Melody Hodgson

BAYFIELD – Bayfield, in all of its summertime quaintness, brings about the dreamer in me.  I fell in

1.Reception desk with custom pigeon holes for room keys, one of the many gorgeous throwbacks to original inn utilitarian decor.

Reception desk with custom pigeon holes for room keys, one of the many gorgeous throwbacks to the original inn utilitarian decor.

love with the little town upon first sight back in 2006.  It is my go-to for a Sunday drive, lunch on a Friday or a night out with the gals.  I am not alone in my infatuation with Bayfield. The main street is packed with shoppers, foodies and visitors year-round.

Joanne and Mike Oliver, originally from Toronto, were two such visitors.  A short detour to Bayfield while visiting their son in Blyth two years ago resulted in an instant love affair with the lakeside town.  Fortunately for us, Mike and Joanne were able to transform their moment of serendipity into a permanent residence and place of business; a casual lunch conversation eventually resulted in the couple becoming the new owners of the Little Inn last October.

Joanne and Mike, paired with much-sought after local interior designer Cynthia Weber and

Function meets design heaven in the revamped bar area, home to the Four In Hand taproom.  Master Sommelier John Szabo has realized a menu filled with wine, spirits and cocktails to compliment both menus.  I am thirsty just thinking about it.

Function meets design heaven in the revamped bar area, home to the Four In Hand taproom. Master Sommelier John Szabo has realized a menu filled with wine, spirits and cocktails to compliment both menus. I am thirsty just thinking about it.

renowned locavore chef Michael Potters, have painstakingly renovated the Inn in an effort to create a true culinary destination within Bayfield.  Throughout the entire renovation process, the team have been respectful of the inn’s deep-rooted historical ties to the community.  Original flooring has been refinished and restored, traditional inn features have been reimagined, and local Mennonite craftsmen have been hired to recreate a multitude of items from stair-railing spindles to matching the original baseboard in the taproom.  Chef Potters has embraced the richness of local Huron County producers and created two menus of pure deliciousness I can hardly wait to experience.  Their unwavering dedication to the vision of the project is obvious.  The entire time I was with Joanne, I felt that their goal was not to take the soul out of the Little Inn, but rather to give it a little boost.  From all accounts, they have succeeded beautifully.

1.Locally crafted custom period spindles to replace the 1980s wrought iron spindles; another of the many well thought out design aspects of the renovation.

1. Locally crafted custom period spindles to replace the 1980s wrought iron spindles; another of the many well thought out design aspects of the renovation.

I must admit, I have never ventured into the Little Inn prior to last week.  I always felt it was a little too fancy for my sometimes-brushed-hair and ripped jeans, and as a result I’ve always been more of a low-key pub girl.  After meeting with Joanne and touring the property, however, I feel like I may have to make a little room in my heart for the new kids on the block.

The Little Inn of Bayfield

Where:  26 Main Street, Bayfield

When:  Soft opening March 27th, grand opening April

Willow Room (Fine Dining), daily

Breakfast:  8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Lunch:  11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Dinner:  5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

The Four In Hand Taproom (Casual Dining), daily
11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Contact:  1-800-565-1832, inquiries@littleinn.com

Website:  www.littleinn.com

Twitter:  @thelittleinn

Chef Michael Potters has designed a kitchen most chefs can only dream of.  With plans for small group cooking classes, local food foraging programs and a viewing area from the yet-to-be completed patio it has all the makings of a locavore’s heaven.

Chef Michael Potters has designed a kitchen most chefs can only dream of. With plans for small group cooking classes, local food foraging programs and a viewing area from the yet-to-be completed patio it has all the makings of a locavore’s heaven.

It’s all about the maple syrup

24 Mar
A horse-drawn sleigh carries its passengers along the main street of Saltford.

A horse-drawn sleigh carries its passengers along the main street of Saltford.

danica

By Diva Danica Rush

What is it about maple syrup that brings people together?

Is it the wonderful sugary finish that completes a lazy brunch? The warm amber glow that signals spring is on the way? Whatever the reason, there is something about maple that unites Canadians to rural counties.

My friend Lauren, her two kids and I recently spend the afternoon at Samuels in Saltford. This lovely

maplesyrupsamuels9restaurant partnered with local producers Robinson Maple Products to host “Maple Magic Fest”, a two-day celebration of everything maple. Everything MAPLE!! Since neither Lauren, her kids nor I can resist anything maple, we had to check it out.

Everything, I mean everything, was maple.

maplesyrupsamuels11
Maple Cheese Cake. Maple Crème Brulée. Maple Walnut Truffle. Maple Mousse. Maple Cream Fudge. Maple Tarts. White Forest Maple Cake. Maple Macaroons, Maple Walnut Peanut Butter Cookies.

Maple! Maple! Maple!

maplesyrupsamuels10Our eyes cruised over the treat selections as we sat down to enjoy the homemade chili and hot chocolate that was served as a main dish. As the cheese melted into my chili, my mind focused on the task at hand. Which desert would I get? ! What can I bribe the kids with to make them share their maple treats with me? I tried in vain to calculate how much maple a reasonable adult could put in her mouth before strangers would look at her funny.

maplesyrupsamuels2We made our selections: A well-executed plan of divide and conquer. Iris narrowed in right away on the maple mousse. A wise choice. Emmett took his time, pacing up and down in front of the display till he finally picked out a Maple Macaroon for him and his mom to share. My heart stopped. NO! That was what I was going to pick! I panicked. If I pick the same treat as Emmett then my game plan of sneaking a bite of the kid’s treats would be thrown out the window. I could feel my personal feast of everything maple slipping out of my grasp. Fortunately, there were other wonderful treats to choice from. I quickly regained my composure, took a deep breath and brought a Maple Crème Brulée to our table.

You know a dessert is good when the only sound coming from the table is… mmm… mmm… mmm. Heads are bend over their own treats, no bites are shared and no crumb is shown mercy. I only had the Maple Crème Brulée, and it completely satisfied my maple lovin’ soul.

Filled with sugary bliss and chili good times, we gathered with other locals on a horse carriage that took us around Saltford. Signs of spring were upon us and it was good to simply be outside with others. Maple does that to people; it brings us outdoors at the end of winter, it warms our bodies and makes us feel young at heart. On the way home I asked Emmett what his favourite thing about maple is. He said, “It’s maple-y… and it’s from Ontario.”

Yep, sounds about right to me.

For more local maple events check out:

Robinson’s Maple Products Sugar Shack

Where: 85351 Harper Line just north of the Belgrave Road and east of the Dungannon Road.

maplerobinsonWhat: A tour of a sugar shack to see how maple syrup is made. Product for sale.

When: As long as the sap is running. If steam is coming out the stack, maple syrup is in the works.

How: Call 519-529-7857 to book your tour or come by chance.

St. James Church Pancake Brunch and Sugar Bush Tour

What: St. James Anglican Church in Middleton hosts its annual fund-raising sugar bush tour and breakfast.

When: Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Horse-drawn hay rides leave from Pine Lake Campground Recreational Hall, 77794 Orchard Line and travel to Rick Schilbe Farm for a tour of the sugar bush and shanty. The Bayfield River Valley Trail Association will also lead groups of walkers through the Schilbe maple bush to visit the shanty for the tour. Walkers will depart at 10 a.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. This is an easy ¾ km walk along an old bush road.

Cost: The cost for the brunch is $10, adults; $5, children 12 to 6 years; and youngsters aged five and under are free. Proceeds from the event will go to world outreach.

48th Annual Belmore Maple Syrup Festival 

What: A community festival for all ages with crafts, dancing, music to celebrate maple syrup.

When: Thursday, April 9 to Saturday, April 11, with pancake breakfasts served daily.

Where: Belmore Community Centre,91122 Belmore Line R.R.#1 Wroxeter.

Cost: Admission to the community centre is free. Meal prices: $10 adults, $5 children ages 6 to 11, free for children under 5.

Blyth Creek Maple Farm Tours

What: Sugar bush tours, tree identification, hot chocolate, pancakes and maple syrup

When: Tours by appointment.

Where: 42232 Moncrieff Rd, Blyth

Contact: Phone Val at 519-357-7558


 

Extend the season by picking up some pure maple syrup and try this recipe at home. Remember to store your syrup in the fridge once you’ve opened the package.

MAPLE CHEESE CAKE

For crust

  • Twenty-four 5- by 2 1/2-inch graham crackers
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pure local maple syrup (preferably Grade B)

For filling

  • Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Accompaniment: pure maple syrup if desired for drizzling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Make crust:
In a food processor finely grind graham crackers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups). Melt butter. In a large bowl stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and maple syrup and press evenly into bottom and up side of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap bottom and side of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to avoid leakage.

Make filling:
In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a food processor beat cream cheese on low speed, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until smooth. Add syrup and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cream and beat until just combined.

Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 1 hour (cake will not be set in centre but will set as it chills). Cool cake in pan on a rack. Chill cake, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 4 days.

Remove side of pan. Serve cheesecake in wedges, drizzled with maple syrup.

 

Abra-KID-abra a magical way to end March Break

23 Mar

magicwithkids

By Diva Caroline Thuss

Looking for entertainment that is good for both kids and adults alike? Abra-KID-abra pulls an excellent magic show out of a hat that left both my daughter and me in stiches. As soon as we entered the Blyth Memorial Community Hall the comical mood was set with the music playing as we waited for the show to start. The theatre was full of kids of all ages, parents and grandparents who were all eager for the show to start. Once Peter Mennie took the stage you knew that it would be a performance that would leave adults and kids in awe of his magic and in stitches from all the comedy that he effortlessly dishes out.

Diva Caroline Thuss and her daughter were in stitches during the show.

Diva Caroline Thuss and her daughter were in stitches during the show.

His magic and illusions allowed a multitude of kids to become part of the show as his “assistants” and he played off of their reactions, which if you have kids you know they can say some pretty funny things. Many of the kids around us wanted to get on stage and he made sure he involved as many as he could. My daughter often whispered to me “Mom, he is soooo funny!” and “WOW…how did he do that?” I have to admit that I also wondered the same thing.

After the show, they had kid-friendly magic wands for sale at a very reasonable price of $3, which included a booklet of magic tricks to do at home. I bought five of them to give to my other children and my nephew and niece the next time I see them.

It was a pirate-themed week over at Queen's Bakery, with treasure chest treats - Rice Krispies squares with chocolate gold coins

It was a pirate-themed week over at Queen’s Bakery, with treasure chest treats – Rice Krispies squares with chocolate gold coins

After the show, we headed across the street to the Queen’s Bakery to enjoy a coffee. They were having a pirate-themed week, which added to more fun. My daughter enjoyed a treasure chest (Rice Krispies squares with chocolate gold coins) and a Davey Jones root beer while I enjoyed a wonderful blueberry scone and a latté. What a great way to end a fun afternoon outing in Blyth!

To find out more about attractions in Huron County, visit online.

 


 

WHERE WAS THIS?

Blyth Memorial Community Hall is a 444-seat theatre owned by the Municipality of North Huron. It is home to the Blyth Centre for the Arts, which includes the Blyth Festival, a professional summer theatre that produces new Canadian plays. Check its 2015 season here.

423 Queen St., Blyth. Phone: 519-523-9300 Toll free: 1-877-862-5984

Queen’s Bakery is a coffee shop and bakery located in a former apothecary on the main street of Blyth. Lunch served.

430 Queen St., Blyth. Phone: 226-523-9720

Kruger Brothers: Like being at a kitchen party

13 Mar
The Kruger Brothers concert at The Livery in Goderich was presented by the Celtic Roots Festival.

The Kruger Brothers concert at The Livery was presented by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival.

By Diva Claire Carter

GODERICH – I am always amazed by the quality of entertainment in Huron County.  I had the pleasure of attending a Kruger Brothers concert at the Livery in Goderich on Wednesday night.  This event was presented by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, a group that has a history of bringing fantastic talent to the area every August.

I brought my dad along, as we have a tradition of attending the Celtic Festival together.  This was the third time we’d heard the Kruger Brothers preform. The group, born in Europe and now based in North Carolina, has a very loyal following.  The group’s sound is described as bluegrass-acoustic-roots.  Their sounds make me feel like I’m at a kitchen party on the east coast or in Ireland.

Jens Kruger was recently awarded with the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo, and it is easy

The Livery, Goderich.

The Livery, Goderich.

to understand why.  The show featured both instrumental songs (many from Appalachan Concerto) and vocals.  There was a good mix of original and cover music.   It seemed the group really knew the audience, as I heard many times at intermission and after the show that they’d played someone’s favourite song.  The song I liked the best was Carolina in the Fall.  The band interacted with the audience after the show, autographing CDs and talking about their love of Huron County.

The Kruger Brothers won’t be attending the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival this year.  The band flies to Switzerland next week, and will be performing and delivering workshops throughout Europe and the United States for the next few months.  The festival attracts different performers each year from around the world.  The lineup for this year has just been released, and it is fantastic!  The full lineup can be found here.

I’m most excited to see the Great Lakes Swimmers and Dave Gunning.  As usual, there is a great balance of North American and European musicians.  There are four different stages, and a fantastic food area.  I’m really looking forward to discovering new music while enjoying a delicious ice cream cone in Lions Harbour Park.  After things wind down on stage, I’d suggest heading to the Park House, where the live entertainment continues.

Tickets can be purchased for the full three days of the festival ($70 for adults, $65 for seniors), or for single days ($25-$35 for adults, $20-$30 for seniors).  Concerts begin at 11 a.m., and end at midnight on Friday and Saturday, and at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information on the 2015 Celtic Roots Festival, visit online, or call (519) 524-8221.

Ten Great Things to do in Huron County this March Break

13 Mar

 

File Photo.

File Photo.

  1. Families can spend every day of the week at Huron County Museum, where there’s always something going on. There’s the Drop-In Family Games Room, with oldies like Atari, Nintendo, crokinole and vintage crafts. Or Movie Madness, complete with popcorn. Follow the clues on a self-guided quest for answers then enter a draw for an iPad Mini or dinner & movie night for the whole family. And, finally, there’s a History Hall App Launch Party preceded by a showing of vintage footage from Huron County main streets.
  2. Get outdoors for Maple Magic Sugar Shack at Samuels Hotel on Saturday, March 13. Come out for horse drawn sleigh rides, Robinson Maple Products maple tours, activities, heated patio, hot alcohol and non-alcohol drinks all day, and a maple-themed dessert extravaganza.
  3. The Municipality of North Huron has a week of day camps, with bowling, tropical games, candy sports, skating and swimming. As well, there are daily swimming and skating times.
  4. Catch the Peter Mennie’s Abra Kid Abra Magic Show at the Blyth Festival on Saturday, March 21 at 1 p.m. You and your kids will get a big laugh. Then afterwards, head across the road to Queen’s Bakery for a hot chocolate and a treat.
  5. Spend a few hours on the lanes at Little Bowl in Goderich. They’ve got specials on two games and shoes package and two hours all you can bowl package.
  6. Strap on the skates for free ice time at the Central Huron Community Complex, courtesy of the local Optimist Club. There are time slots for figure skating, shinny and public skating.
  7. Travel through ancient Egypt, the Wild West, the Medieval Times, and even back to the future during March Break activities for the whole family at the YMCA in Central Huron.
  8. Bingo, martial arts, shinny, a walk on the McNaughton-Morrison Trail, and plenty of other activities are on the slate of events during March Break in the Municipality of South Huron.
  9. The warm weather makes it a great time for an outdoor hike. The Watershed Outdoor Club hosts a Signs of Spring and Hiking Smart on Thursday. This event is part of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority’s programming.
  10. For the 66th year running, Goderich arenas will be the battlegrounds for some of the best Pee Wee hockey around, with the Goderich Lions’ Young Canada Week. Watch boys and girls team compete through the week.

 

Time to explore the trail systems in Huron County

11 Mar
This stunning canopy of trees can be found on the Mara Street Walkway, which is part of the Heritage Trail in Bayfield. Photo courtesy of Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Outside Projects.

This stunning canopy of trees can be found on the Mara Street Walkway, which is part of the Heritage Trail in Bayfield. Photo courtesy of Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Outside Projects.

HURON COUNTY – Now that the days are getting longer and a warm breeze has blown into Huron County, the conditions are perfect to get out to cross-country ski, snowshoe or hike the many trail systems across our woodlands, riverbanks and countryside.

Here are a couple of top picks to get you started. Explore more of the county’s natural areas and trails here.

1. Picks ( and pics) from Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Owners, Outside Projects of Bayfield

The Sawmill Trail, Bayfield.

The Sawmill Trail, Bayfield.

We often enjoy snowshoeing the many trails in and around Bayfield. All are easily accessible and within a light to moderate difficulty level. They’re easy for anyone to get out and enjoy the winter even if you are simply hiking or have on a pair of snowshoes. Maps and information about these trails can be found on the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association website.

The Mavis / Taylor Trail, Varna.

The Mavis / Taylor Trail, Varna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Picks (and pic) from Phil Beard, General Manager / Secretary Treasurer, Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

I like to go on the Wingham Community Trail extension, which goes out to the new elementary school in Wingham, aptly named the Maitland River

Wingham Community Trail extension.

Wingham Community Trail extension.

Elementary School. Behind the school is a farmfield that is proposed for the Wingham Creek Subdivision.

There is an easement around the field for an extension to the Wingham Community Trail. A lot of people cross country ski on this property. It connects with the parkland owned by North Huron that extends along the Maitland River.

WinghamTrailExtension

 

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