Shelter Valley Campground offers plenty to do

2 Jul Our tiny little cabin was cozy and sweet!

by Diva Christine Harris,

I packed up my husband and my little dog Maggie and we went to spend some time at Shelter Valley Campground this past weekend.  We were greeted by Linda Lucier, who is one of the new owners with her husband Shawn.  She was very helpful getting us situated in the cute little cabin we were to stay in.  This cabin is the only one on the campsite, which made us feel a bit special when some of the other campers took notice and asked if they could take a peek inside.

Our tiny little cabin was cozy and sweet!

Our tiny little cabin was cozy and sweet!

Shelter Valley Campground is located on highway #8 between Clinton and Goderich.  Once you turn off the road you drive down a pathway to the campground in the valley right next to the Maitland River.  There are plenty of amenities and things to do at the campground.  They have a store full of everything you might have forgotten to pack or have ran out of, and if you happen to feel electronically deprived you can even sign up for wifi.  There is lots of playground equipment for the kids, a pool, and shuffleboard and horseshoe pits for the adults. They even have foosball, ping-pong and darts set up in hall.  The weekend that we were at the campground, there was a movie playing, a bass fishing derby, kids crafts, kids bike parade, ice cream social, wagon ride, and a 50/50 draw.


Activity Board keeps everyone "in the loop"

Activity Board keeps everyone “in the loop”

We really enjoyed staying in the cabin.  It has two bunks (double on bottom, single on top), a mini fridge, fold out table, chairs, BBQ with propane, hydro, picnic table and a fire pit. There is also a cute little porch to sit on out front to catch some shade during the day.  The cabin is also situated between both river access points and just a short walk to the store and washroom facilities.  All around the cabin are trailer sites and we were pleasantly surprised by how many friendly people stay here.  Almost everyone said hello as they passed by, and someone was even nice enough to let us know that our interior lights had stayed on in our vehicle.

Overall we really enjoyed our stay at Shelter Valley Campground.  Great scenery, great people, and plenty to do!  For more information check out their website: or call Linda or Shawn at 519-524-4141.

Camping requires a roaring fire to sit around, doesn't it?

Camping requires a roaring fire to sit around, doesn’t it?

Double size on the bottom, single on the top bunk

Double size on the bottom, single on the top bunk

The camps sits beside the beautiful Maitland River

The camps sits beside the beautiful Maitland River

The little porch on our cabin

The little porch on our cabin

The store was well stocked with camping essentials

The store was well stocked with camping essentials

Loving I HATE TODD and the Fermented Oranges at the Livery

29 Jun
Headliners I HATE TODD. Pictured are Nelson Sobral on guitar, Troy Larabie on percussion, Kev Carney on bass and local musician Capucine Onn on violin.

Headliners I HATE TODD. Pictured are Nelson Sobral on guitar, Troy Larabie on percussion, Kev Carney on bass and local musician Capucine Onn on violin.

By Diva Calista Powell
Since I have moved back to the county in March, I have been absolutely amazed at the talent that this area has to offer. I have always been a local music fan and enjoy checking out new artists so I was pretty excited to see I HATE TODD perform live at the Livery with special guests the Fermented Oranges.

The fellas from Fermented Oranges (whom I have had the pleasure of working with before with Blyth 14/19’s HuronSound Festival) rocked the house with their original songs and never cease to amaze the crowds they play for. Their punchy rock/funk riffs were striking, and that carefree beachy vibe was captured especially as they jammed out barefoot and in board shorts. It’s never a let down to see these guys play.

Cappy Onn’s violin school kicking off their set.

Cappy Onn’s violin school kicking off their set.

Next up was the headliner, I HATE TODD, the indie-alternative rock band out of Toronto. It intrigues me to see how a variety of instruments and musical styles can collaborate to make a unique sound-and they nailed it. Capucine Onn, local violin virtuoso had her Suzuki violin school start their performance with a beautiful symphonic rock piece and it was great to see kids of all ages showcase their talent. Then the party started as eccentric frontman Todd Preston came out with the rest of the band members to play their popular hit, “Zombie Love”. Their performance was theatrical and captivating to say the least, and their genuine good-time attitude was contagious. After watching their set, I came to the obvious conclusion that there are very few things cooler than a zombie-loving, violin-shredding, pop-rock band. It’s basically a scientific fact.

Thank you Cappy for setting up this unforgettable show!

To check out I HATE TODD’s tunes and lineup check out their website at For Fermented Oranges

The guys of Fermented Oranges. Aaron Voskamp on lead guitar, Dylan Bellinger on drums, Adam Wendler on lead vocals/guitar and Dean Reynolds on bass.

The guys of Fermented Oranges. Aaron Voskamp on lead guitar, Dylan Bellinger on drums, Adam Wendler on lead vocals/guitar and Dean Reynolds on bass.

Look, No Hans! – Huron Country Playhouse II

28 Jun

by Diva Christine Harris

This was my first visit to the Huron County Playhouse II.  I was quite pleased with the seating, being a short person I sometimes have difficulty seeing over people’s heads.  There was a gentle slope to the floor and the stage was just high enough to see everything, but not strain the neck.  There really isn’t a bad seat in the house.  The set was well decorated, and presence of many rooms off of it gave it much more depth and allowed the play to expand. The actors worked very well together especially with some of the coordination they had to perform with timing and props.  Overall everything came together very nicely and it was easy to get lost in the story.

Synopsis: Peter Fisher is posing as the head of a British car company located in Berlin.  There he is to await the arrival of a top industrial spy from East of Hans with a special package.  His plans of a quiet birthday go out the window as he tries to keep his cover by juggling a wife whose plane is delayed, his mistress, a singing telegram girl and a senior inspector.  Join this six crew cast in the cozy Playhouse II and find out how Peter gets himself out of this predicament.

Susan JohnstonCollins, Kevin Kruchkywich,Jacob James and Steffi D iDomenicantonio

Susan JohnstonCollins, Kevin Kruchkywich,Jacob James and Steffi D iDomenicantonio

Huron Country Playhouse & Playhouse II
Grand Bend, ON  N0M 1T0

Local Box Office: 519-238-6000 | Administration: 519-238-8387 | Fax: 519-238-6587
Open June 2 to August 31, 2014.  Please call: 1-855-drayton (372-9866)

Kevin Kruchkywich, Kaitlyn Riordan, and Jacob James

Kevin Kruchkywich, Kaitlyn Riordan, and Jacob James

Production photos from

Namaste, Ladies!

27 Jun
Jennifer Reaburn

Jenn starting off the session.

by Diva Calista Powell This past month Bayfield hosted their annual Girl’s Getaway Weekend and I was lucky enough to participate in a yoga session with a beautiful backdrop of Lake Huron. Hosted by Kirsten Harrett, owner of Deer Park Lodge, the ladies and I headed on down to the beach and the weather could not have been better. We were taught by Jennifer Reaburn, yogi extraordinaire and she lead us through some relaxing sun salutations and a guided meditation. Although this was the only event I was able to participate in during this weekend, from what I heard the cocktail party was a blast and everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves. What a great way to kick back and have some much needed girl time. I don’t know about the rest of you out there but I will most definitely keep my eyes peeled for next year’s Bayfield Getaway!

To check out the beautiful accommodations that Deer Park Lodge has to offer visit their website at:
Hands to heart

Hands to heart centre and ‘omm’ everybody!

Girl’s Getaway

Hanging out with the ladies who participated in the Girl’s Getaway Weekend.

Bayfield Girls Getaway


Huron Adventures

26 Jun Huron Adventures Crew2

By Diva Melody Hodgson

Living in Huron County, the love and pride felt by the residents is evident in even the simplest of conversations.  Pride in their land, homes, the bounty of all the area has to offer; love of their relationships, workplaces and the general feeling of community partnership and support.  Many of us are fortunate to share at least one, if not all of these sentiments.  Rarely, however, do we get to combine them all and create a work environment that embodies everything we love.  Welcome to Huron Adventures Inc.  (On Twitter)

The brainchild of Genny Smith, Huron Adventures Inc. packages the best of what Huron County has to offer and curates a tailored experience for each of their clients.  Genny, along with Heather Boa (Communications), Craig Sinclair (Graphic Design), and Angela Smith (Photography), have taken their shared love of Huron County and created a company that takes the guessing out of experiencing.  Whether you are looking for a genuine adventure (hiking, crossfit and wakeboarding – oh my!), a culinary experience, or a theatrical creation, Huron Adventures Inc. has all the passion and partnerships to let you in on the many adventures we have hidden within our beloved county.

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to be able to join Genny and her crew on their inaugural adventure with Steven Sparling and the Canadian Propane Association corporate retreat attendees.  If you’re anything like me, I often feel intimidated by the limitless options we have within the area and end up doing much of the “same old” every weekend since I can’t make a decision.  Luckily for everyone, Huron Adventures Inc. had the whole day planned out, leaving any decision making out of the equation.

I met the group at the Queens Bakery in Blyth after their chartered bus pick-up at the Benmiller Inn & Spa.  Located in a beautifully renovated heritage building on main street in Blyth, the espresso bar features local artisanal products (coffee, cheese, maple syrup, etc) and fresh baked goods in a super relaxing and chill environment.  From here we were to grab a beverage of choice (hello Royal Canadian coffee!), where I looked like an opportunistic coffee mooch by joining the group’s coffee order prior to an introduction.  After some laughs, we were on our way to experience a historic tour of Blyth hosted by one of the town’s most avid ambassadors – Rick Elliott.

Queens Bakery in Blyth

Queens Bakery in Blyth

Rick’s historic tour wound it’s way past the Blyth Memorial Hall (we were unable to enter the hall due to theatre rehearsals; the festival opens Wednesday, June 25th), and led us towards the soon-to-be repurposed Blyth Public School.  As a defining component of Blyth’s Campaign 14/19, the old public school will be re-established as a School of Art and Design within the next five years.  After a humourous education regarding the longstanding familial rivalry between rutabagas (thank you autocorrect) and turnips, we toured past Howson Mills where the smell of durum wheat at the flour mill made us think longingly of all of the delightful goodies we left behind at the Queens Bakery.

The final leg of Rick’s walking tour brought us to the Blyth Greenway Trail.  Situated on old CPR rail lines, the walking trail features fitness stations nestled alongside the Blyth Brook and is one of town’s hidden gems.  It was here, in this peaceful and relaxing environment, that we met our next adventure…Jen Fleming of The Tank Crossfit in Goderich.  All smiles and full of contagious energy, she presented us with this lovely whiteboard:

Nothin’ to it...right?

Nothin’ to it…right?

“Surely she can’t be serious”, I said to myself.  A few seasons of office work had fooled me into thinking my semi-daily walks were enough to keep me “fit”.  I was sorely mistaken, but since this was a day of adventure and trying new experiences we all dove right in.  There is something to be said about how great it feels to remember muscles long forgotten, but I will be forever grateful to the kind soul who decided all buses should have a handrail to climb and descend stairs with.  The program Jen created for us was fun and energetic, and we all spent a good portion of the exercises alternately laughing (at ourselves), and negotiating repetition counts.  It’s not every day you get to hold a propane tank over your head while your partner pounds out dreaded burpees!

Hey,’s that one-armed push-up going?

Hey, Manitoba…how’s that one-armed push-up going?

The CPA Group after the Fit Tank Goderich Crossfit experience!

The CPA Group after the Fit Tank Goderich Crossfit experience!

Once we had completed the team building crossfit extravaganza, we hopped (I use that term loosely, we did just complete a million lunges) back onto the bus and began the trek out to Bayfield for some wakeboarding and stand up paddleboarding (SUP).

As you will learn, I love food, and this lunch was one of my favourites.  Shop Bike Coffee Roasters (a locally operated establishment in Bayfield with a lovely shop bike I am extremely envious of) sponsored the lunch featuring gourmet sandwiches, gluten free pasta and sweet treats all from the Black Dog Pantry.  To top it off, they had a variety of their organic & fair trade coffee options available to try.  Ah-may-zing.


ShopBike2smA snippet of the delicious spread by Shop Bike and the Black Dog Pantry

The energy that palpated through the bus on the drive to Bayfield had diminished somewhat by the time we boarded for our return to Blyth.  Not out of any sense of disappointment, but rather a combination of exhaustion and reflection; we had already experienced more of what our county has to offer in one day than most (myself included) choose to experience in a month.

The final stop on our adventure tour found us once again in Blyth, this time at Part II Bistro under the care of chef extraordinaire Peter Gusso.  Chef Gusso and his staff had prepared the restaurant for a private sushi lesson.  Each person was to create a sushi roll for another person in the group, however they liked, at which time the recipient would do the same for the next person.


Smoked trout sushi created under the guided direction of Chef Peter Gusso.

With full bellies, a few rutabagas, and big, tired smiles it was time for the CPA crew to call it a day.  Thanking them before they boarded the bus back to Benmiller, I was at a loss of words to fully explain how much I appreciated being able to join them that day.  The passion and dedication the Huron Adventures Inc. crew have for Huron County, small towns and local businesses is inspiring.  Their business model will create sustainability within the community through their shared partnerships and dedicated goals.  Huron County has so much to offer, not only to visitors, but especially to those who reside within our boundaries.  It is sometimes easy to forget, but like Friday showed me, it is sometimes just as easy to remember as well.

If you aren’t excited about Huron Adventures Inc yet, you need to be.

Huron Adventures Crew2

L to R, Heather Boa, Angela Smith, Genny Smith and Craig Sinclair of Huron Adventures Inc.


Huron Adventures Inc.

Secret Garden to be discovered

25 Jun The Secret Garden Bed and Breakfast

SecretGarden4Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting Josef and his son at the Secret Garden Bed and Breakfast in Bayfield.  This 1860 cottage on Clan Gregor Square has been a Bed and Breakfast for many years (prior name Clair-on-the-Square).  I asked Josef where he got the name and it was inspired by the book and movie of the same name.

see these great photos at trip

Located just steps from Bayfield Town Hall, this comfortable bed and breakfast promises all the amenities of home.  There is a common room and if a party chooses to book the entire Bed and Breakfast, kitchen access is included.  For single bookings, breakfast is included.  Air conditioning promises comfort during the hot sultry days of summer.  And, each guest room has its own bathroom.

Josef shared that he has a wide variety of guests from Canada and the United States … and abroad including international travellers from South Africa, Belgium and England.

SecretGardenOutThe back yard gardens are spectacular and they attract beautiful birds and butterflies.  Josef enjoys watching the hummingbirds in particular, as there are none in Germany where he grew up.

Josef invites you to Bayfield to enjoy his warm hospitality and encourages you to experience great food at one of Bayfield’s popular restaurants – many of which have really creative chefs dedicated to serving local foods.  There’s also unique shops to pop into on main street, a Writers event and summer Festival events taking place all summer long.

The Secret Garden Bed and Breakfast
12 The SquareBayfield, Ontario N0M1G0
Phone : 1 (519) 565-2113

Follow on Facebook


SecretGarden2  SecretGarden3



A Shopping Trip to the Exeter Market

24 Jun Exeter's Farmer's Market

by Diva Christine Harris

Exeter's Farmer's MarketIt was a beautiful day outside for a Farmer’s Market and I was lucky enough to meet all the vendors and talk to them.  Here are the people and places I met on June 19th during my shopping trip to the market.

Truly-Local-(2)Truly Local

Matt McIntire from Truly Local has a food truck set up and today his specials are Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Meatball Subs. Matt believes in using only local meat, he can tell you exactly where he has gotten his meat from that he’s serving that day and when it was butchered.

Eagleson-FarmsEagleson Farms

Matt Eagleson primarily sells beef, lamb and pork from his farm near Grand Bend.  Most of their food is organic, or pretty close to it.  They also have peanut products from the Simcoe area.

The Healthy Hemp GuyThe Healthy Hemp Guy

Brent Holden sells Canadian made hemp products such as clothes, soaps, and seeds.  He also has a variety of balms, bamboo towels and coconut oil.

Bayfield-Berry-FarmBayfield Berry Farm

This vendor has a wide variety of items, ranging from produce to baked goods and canned goods.  Today the strawberries are in season as well as asparagus and rhubarb.  The pies and tarts look great!

Sandra's-Country-CraftsSandra’s Country Crafts

Sandra has a variety of crafts available for sale.  She enjoys making canvas art, handmade jewelry, and she also knits and crochets items like dishcloths.


Wally makes his very own jams, pickles and relish, all ready to take home at reasonable prices.

Good-Luck-GardensGood Luck Gardens

Joanne and Dave Foster are from Kirkton and have been in business for 24 years now.  Today tomatoes, asparagus and potatoes are for sale. They also have some beautiful planters and if you’re someone who enjoys growing their own food, they have heirloom tomato plants.  Look for Joanne on the cover of Rural Voice.

Pillitteri-Estates-WineryPillitteri Estates Winery

All the way from Niagara on the Lake this family owned and operated business joins our farmer’s market with five types of wine.  They have been in business since 1993 and have won over 700 awards.

Susan's-CraftsSusan’s Crafts

Susan has many unique crafts in her booth today.  She makes birdfeeders and what she calls dress-ups for the kids.  She also makes handmade quilts, pillows and purses from used clothing.

The-Home-FarmThe Home Farm

Kirk and Carol pick their produce the morning they come out to the market, so you know what you’re getting is fresh.  Today Carol is selling peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley, lettuce and garlic. She also makes baked goods from spelt, which you can also buy as berries to make your own goodies at home. Today she sells a variety of cookies and pies.

Sheldon-BerriesSheldon Berries

Ray Sheldon from Lakeside Ontario is displaying some beautiful strawberries today.  He tells me that they have raspberries in their greenhouses and blueberries will be ready for July.  Ray is also selling honey, apple butter and raspberry jam.

Cedarvilla-Angus-FarmsCedarVilla Angus Farms

This 7th generation family farm from the Zurich area takes great pride in their products.  Today they were selling beef roasts, pepperettes and beef jerky.  You can contact them to place larger orders as well.


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