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Life is a Beach in Huron County

23 Jul

by Diva Calista Powell

It is easy to take for granted the beautiful beaches that we have available to us in Huron County. I have traveled around the world and lounged on some of the most incredible seashores; From Frasier Island’s champagne pools in Australia to Elafonisi’s pink sands in Crete, Greece. As wonderful as these exotic sands are, there really is no place like home.To me, there is nothing better than the freshwater Great Lakes and watching the sun set over the West Coast horizon. Here are a few favourite beaches of mine that I recommend you visit this summer:

The Stegall sisters performing at Summer Sunset Sounds for a crowd of beach go-ers.

The Stegall sisters performing at Summer Sunset Sounds for a crowd of beach go-ers.

Beach #1: Grand Bend Beach

Whenever I have to explain to city folk where my hometown is, I usually say, “45 minutes from Grand Bend”, because everyone is familiar with this lively strip and beautiful waters. From the night life to the soft stretches of sand, Grand Bend never disappoints. After a 27-degree day of sun tanning and water frisbee, I packed up my beach bag and strolled up to the observation deck stage to see one of my favourite bands, Stegall, perform for Summer Sunset Sounds. Summer Sunsets Sounds is a series of free live concerts that happen every Sunday night at 7pm on the main beach of Grand Bend. The sensational sunset and laid back atmosphere complimented the Stegall sisters beats in the most perfect way. To see the line up for the rest of the summer visit: http://grandbendtourism.com/events/summersunsetsounds

The waters of Grand Bend shining at sunset.

The waters of Grand Bend shining at sunset.

Beach #2: Bayfield South Beach (Howard Street Beach)

The sleepy town of Bayfield is one of my favourite places to be in the summertime. This season, I made a point to stroll through Patina Studios to see the fine art and pottery by artists Joan Bailey and Tony Eyamie, stop in to see my friend Jean-Anne Hamilton at The Black Dog Pantry for a snack and then take the trek down the long wooden staircase on Howard Street Beach to soak up some rays. What I like about this beach is that it is fairly secluded and has a much quieter pace, so it is perfect way to recharge and take a mini-vacation from the hustle and bustle of work life.

The Bayfield sunset lights up the South Street Beach shoreline.

The Bayfield sunset lights up the South Street Beach shoreline.

Directions: At Brandon’s Hardware store on the square, take a right onto Howard Street and follow it all the way to the very end lot.

Beach #3: Port Blake Park

This was the first year I have ever visited Port Blake Park, and thanks to Best Host West Coast (a Huron Tourism Association training program) I now know about this Lake Huron gem. Port Blake is a serene, yet lively conservation area equipped with a picnic pavilion and BBQ areas. Over the years, this location has attracted guests from urban centres such as Kitchener and the GTA. Port Blake Park is a great place to bring the whole family for the day, and is dog friendly (as long as they are leashed). Admission is $4 per person or $10 a car load and is most definitely worth checking out this summer.

Address: 71155A Bluewater Highway 21 at Highway 83 (Dashwood Road)

For more information on beaches and to discover many more summer destinations, check out Ontario’s West Coast publications at http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/beta/news/publications-brochures/

Be a Tourist in your own Backyard

18 Jun

by Diva Claire Carter
As a recent transplant, I still feel like a tourist in the town of Goderich in many ways.  Although I’ve lived here for over a year, I still spend my weekends following the crowds; attending concerts, outdoor events and visiting the beach.  Here are some of my favourite ways to relax in Goderich:

Shop the Square, and explore the Farmer’s and Flea Markets

Farmers Market on the Square, Saturday's

Farmers Market on the Square, Saturday’s

The Square in Goderich is a beautiful shopping destination.  Shops have something for everyone, including clothing, home and kitchen items, jewelry and books.  If shopping isn’t your thing, or you’re hungry from too much of it, enjoy one of the great restaurants.  Whether you are in the mood for a snack, full meal or fast-casual, you will be delighted by all of the food choices.

The Farmer’s Market takes place each Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., starting in May and ending in October.  The Market is a fantastic place to buy locally grown items.  As a tourist, I would suggest picking up some items to be enjoyed right away, and some non-perishables to bring home.  The Flea Market takes place on Sundays during the same months, but starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m.  In addition to many delicious food items, unique vendors selling antiques, collectables and handmade items are also at the Flea Market.

As a tourist, I would pick up a snack or meal from one of the wonderful restaurants on the Square, or vendor from the Flea or Farmer’s Market, pick up a book, and have a picnic in the Square, or at one of many beautiful local parks.  Depending on what day it is, I might find a concert or festival in one of these settings.

Gates to Harbour Park

Gates to Harbour Park

Lions’ Harbour Park

Located right before the hill to the beach on West Street, Lions’ Harbour Park is also home to many great events throughout the year.  Weekly summer events include Circle City Cruize Nights (every second Wednesday from May 21-September 10) and Sunday Concerts (June 22- August 31).  Annual events include the Festival of Arts and Crafts and Celtic Roots Festival.  The stage makes this park great for watching concerts, while the covered gazebo ensures an enjoyable atmosphere, regardless of the weather.

On Gloucester Terrace, across from the Huron Historic Gaol, there is a lovely place to sit on the swings.  This area also happens to be a scenic lookout point, as it overlooks the harbour.  There is a cairn with a giant piece of salt nearby, and plaques that tell the story of salt in Goderich.  After enjoying a bite to eat, cross the road and visit the Huron Historic Gaol, which also happens to be a National Historic Site.  If you’re lucky enough to be in Goderich on a Tuesday or Thursday night between July 10 and August 28, consider visiting in the evening (7-9 p.m.) to enjoy a special tour called Behind the Bars.

Huron County Gaol hosts "Behind the Bars" all summer long … it's a great way to learn about local history.

Huron County Gaol hosts “Behind the Bars” all summer long … it’s a great way to learn about local history.

Once you are feeling well fueled, I would suggest visiting one of the great local trails.  Two of my favourites are the Maitland Woods Trail, and the Tiger Dunlop Trail.  Both trails are cyclist, walker, runner and dog friendly.  In the winter, bring cross-country skiis or snowshoes.

The Maitland Woods Trail is located at the south end of the Knights of Columbus Centre parking lot (390 Parsons Court).  The trails are beautiful all year long, and depending on what you are in the mood for, you can choose a number of different distances.

The Menesetung Bridge is a really beautiful walk, as it features some of the best views in Goderich.  Another walk that is different each season, this one takes you across the historic wooden Menesetung Bridge that spans the Maitland River.

Sunsets are spectacular at Rotary Cove

Sunsets are spectacular at Rotary Cove

After a long, action packed day, my final move would be to head to the beach and enjoy the sunset.   Lake Huron is known for beautiful sunsets, and I happen to think the view from Rotary Cove is pretty spectacular!  If you’re visiting on a Friday (early July – late August), come an hour before sunset, get an ice cream cone, and listen to the Celtic Blue Highlanders pipe the sun down.

(Photo Credit:  Pat Carter)

The view from Menesetung Bridge - great place for a hike

The view from Menesetung Bridge – great place for a hike

Winter trails ...

Winter trails …

Maitland Trail … another great place to explore flora and fauna

Maitland Trail … another great place to explore flora and fauna

 

 

 

 

 

Signs of spring in Goderich

13 Apr

by Diva Susan Pye

Signs of spring-

FirstSaltBoardDepartsApril9 2014

first salt boat leaves Goderich Harbour, April 9, 2014

LakeHuronSpring

Canadian Geese at the Beach, Goderich SpringThawGoderich

thaw at Cove Beach, Goderich theCove Goderich in Spring

Spring morning at the Beach, Goderich

A superb inn on the shores of Lake Huron

17 Jul

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By: Diva Jenna Ujiye

While Travelling around Ontario’s West Coast I see many different and unique accommodations from B&B’s, to hotels and motels, Inns, cottages and resorts. A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend a meeting at the Pine Dale Motor Inn in Grand Bend, Ontario.

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I have driven past this location many times and wondered what it was like. Well,  I was shocked at the variety of rooms and amenities that this Inn has to offer. They have done extensive updates in the past couple of years and all rooms have 4 pc. bath, individual climate control, fridge, microwave, clock-radio, hairdryer,coffee-maker and cable T.V.

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They also have a great indoor salt-water  pool and amazing gardens as well as a picnic and BBQ areas for guests to use. They are located just a short walk to restaurants, downtown Grand Bend and to Lake Huron. I didn’t get to stay overnight on this visit, but I plan to in the future.  The rates are quite affordable offering both hotel and motel rooms with prices ranging from $89 – $220 per night. For more information, visit: http://www.pinedale.on.ca

Pine Dale Motor Inn
107 Ontario Street South
Grand Bend, Ontario
Canada   N0M 1T0

519 238 2231
1-888-838-Pine (7463)

A walk in Port Albert

10 Apr

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

Port Albert Beach in March

Port Albert Beach in March

Last Sunday was a glorious sunny day and perfect for a walk around my cute little town of Port Albert, Ontario! I first went to the beach, I was totally prepared for ice jams and lots of snow, but apparently the warmer weather quickly melted that away. I won’t say that spring on the beach is my favourite time of year, as I would prefer to be playing in the sand and swimming, but this day helped me see the end to winter and beginning of beach days!

Port Albert Beach in March

Port Albert Beach in March

So happy to be in the nice weather on Port Albert Beach

So happy to be in the nice weather on Port Albert Beach

The views and vistas in Port Albert are wonderful and I love watching the famous Lake Huron Sunsets. After my beach visit, I headed up the road over the bridge and past the Port Albert Fishway to the Port Albert Store.

Port Albert General Store

Port Albert General Store

Road from the beach

Road from the beach

This little convenience store is great all year round. Not only do they get in fresh vegetable in the summer along with dairy, frozen food, chips, pop, movies and fly fishing supplies, they have great pizza!

My next stop was to check out the Port Albert Inn. They have a 6 room inn and 3 cottages (with varying room numbers).They have a great breakfast ane owners Mark is a local historian with lots of great stories! For more information about the Port Albert Inn visit: www.innattheport.com

The Port Albert Inn

The Port Albert Inn

Pub Grub by the Lake

22 Apr

The entrance to the Albion in Bayfield

By Diva Trista Russell

Back in late March (yes, I know it is April already!), I visited the Albion Hotel on Bayfield’s Main Street. Without the hum of summer tourists, I find that Bayfield is a peaceful place to visit in the spring.

This was the first time I’ve visited the Albion. I discovered it has bed & breakfast style accomodations along with a dining room and pub. The english-style pub serves traditional pub grub, along with a variety of beers. It was a Friday when I stopped in, and that’s when they have their all-you-can-eat fish and chips special for just over $10. My dining companion was keen to try the special and managed to finish off two servings of fish, while I decided to try the perogies. They were topped with bacon and sautéed onions, and served with a side garden salad. Yummy!

The pub has a cozy atmosphere as it’s filled with sports memorabilia and antiques. There’s definitely lots of old world charm at the Albion…and lots to look at!

If you check out the Albion’s website, you’ll find a haunting story about their “rent-free” guest!

And of course, I just had to stop to get a picture with the giant captain down the street:

The Captain

A Walk in the Park at St. Joe’s

25 Mar

By Diva Trista Russell

With spring season underway, and summer just around the corner…why not make a stop to walk in the park?

I visited the St. Joesph Memorial Park this weekend, and had a fun time reading the fascinating stories along the walkway. If you’re a history buff, this park is definitely worth a stop. Even if you’re not a history buff (like me), this place has some beautiful scenery.

The St. Joesph Memorial Park began with a request from St. André, known healer and founder of the famed Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal. A statue honouring St. Joseph and St. André are located in the park.

There is also a plaque honouring Narcisse Cantin, who had a dream to build a Great Lakes canal system. The canal would have started at St. Joseph and linked Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Although this canal was never built, he was remembered as the “Father of the St. Lawrence Seaway”.

Last summer, the St. Joseph and Area Historical Society produced an outdoor play about Narcisse, which was performed at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, just a few minutes north of the park. The Society even received a Governor General’s  History Award for the production!

I think this park would be the perfect spot for a picnic on the way to the beach. It’s right off the highway, and there’s a neat little picnic bench area to stop and have a bite.

The park is located at the intersection of Bluewater Highway (Hwy. #21) at Zurich-Hensall Road (County Road #84), and it’s open year-round.

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