Tag Archives: goderich

A place maybe even better than home: Colborne B & B

5 Jul

colborne1By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – Suzanne and John Anderson, the owners of Colborne Bed and Breakfast, make their job look easy.

But underneath their welcoming and easy-going style is a careful staging of every detail from the stock in their kitchen to the furnishings in the rooms to ensure that guests in their home have a memorable experience.

“We meet so many wonderful people from all over the planet,” said Suzanne, as she worked in the kitchen to prepare a lunch of baked eggs that swam in a pool of butter and cheese topped with fresh herbs, bacon from Metzger’s meat shop located 20 minutes down the road, artisan bread that was cooked in a wood oven, fresh salad greens grown in a hoop greenhouse on an organic farm, and baked apples dripping in maple syrup, yoghurt and a special granola mix made from a local baker who happens to live across the street.

colborne5colborne2colborne8colborne6“We try to serve local as best we can. Our guests deserve the best,” Suzanne said, as she dabbed the baked apples with yoghurt while a cameraman from a local film crew tracked her movements.
colborne9On the table were also croissants from neighbouring Cait’s Kitchen, chili sauce from her grandmother’s recipe, and jam from the local market (her own ran out mid-winter). To meet special dietary needs, there’s a butter replacement and a dairy-free cheddar-style shreds in one of the egg dishes.

John and Suzanne have been welcoming guests into their red brick home on Colborne Street, just off Goderich’s unique downtown Courthouse Square, since purchasing it in 2010. There are four spacious rooms, with hardwood floors, high ceilings, wide baseboards and ensuite washrooms. The decorations are warm, with clean lines and elegant simplicity.

There is also a lovely loft space that can be rented longer term and offers more privacy.

Some of the windows overlook a tranquil garden, with space for guests to escape with a book or a cup of tea. Everywhere, there’s somewhere to sit and relax, from couches in the shared living room with its rows of books and games to bistro seating in window nooks to stuffed leather or wingback chairs by fireplaces.

Their home serves as a resting place for guests who have come to town for family events, local festivals, shopping or beach experiences. Or they’ve come for one of the experiential packages, like the Spa Getaway, offered during the off-season. Colborne Bed and Breakfast has partnered with Irene Duguay Spa Services to offer a full weekend of dining and relaxing, plus a shuttle trip to the spa for a bit of pampering.

On this particular day, it was cold and pouring rain but swaddled in a blanket with a warm compress on my face, soothing instrumental music in the background, and all sorts of exotic scents mingling in the small room, I was toasty and relaxed. I even managed to forget that I was being filmed by a cameraman as Irene efficiently explained what she was doing as she applied a deep cleanse, then steaming and masking, using Eminence organic skin care products. She moved with a certain calmness, as though there were a sleeping baby in the room that shouldn’t be wakened.

“I went to a show in Toronto and I just fell in love with the product,” Irene said. Every spring, she returns to Toronto for training on new techniques using the Eminence products.

massageWhile the mask worked its magic, Irene gently and methodically massaged my hands, arms, shoulders and feet, both of us content in the silence, broken only by interview questions from me or explanations of what she was doing from her.

As I lay there, I schemed on a girls’ spa getaway at Colborne Bed and Breakfast with my favourite friends for next winter. I’m sure it will be exactly what we need to celebrate our friendship amid hectic lives.

For more information on Colborne Bed and Breakfast, visit online or give them a call toll free 800-390-4612 or 519-524-7400.



Next to Normal: A play to be talked about

10 Apr

nexttonormalBy Diva Heather Boa

Next to Normal isn’t your normal community theatre production by a long shot.

You’d be hard-pressed to have a few laughs or find familiar lyrics in this production by Goderich Little Theatre, running until April 16. Rather, the rock musical that first hit Off-Broadway in 2008, is a relevant, weighty commentary on the effects of mental illness on a family, also touching on dysfunctional relationships and drug addiction – with no real upside.

It’s the story of a mother (played by Susan Carradine-Armstrong) who struggles with bipolar disorder while trying to hold together her small family, a father (played by Matthew Hussey) who is bound by a sense of duty and forever hopeful that the next treatment will bring a cure, a subtly manipulative son (played by Jordan Henry), and an angry, forgotten daughter (Liv Hussey) who turns to pharmaceuticals for solace. It is a wonderfully sad, raw story in which possibly any of us can find a little bit of ourselves.

In Saturday night’s performance, the cast of six embraces this big script, heavy in lines and music, with an energy and believability that could rival any number of professional theatre performances.

Director Jordan Henry, who also plays the son, delivers an inspiring interpretation of the play, with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. His vision is clear and crisp, with well-defined characters that make the story easy for the audience to follow, even with a few surprises thrown in.

In particular, Carradine-Armstrong is spellbinding as the mother, equally believable manically making sandwiches on the kitchen floor as she is eloquently expressing love for her teenaged daughter. At times she is coy and playful, at other times regretful and lost. Always, she makes her character shine.

Two youths (Liv Hussey and Ben Hearn, as the daughter’s boyfriend) who hold their own on stage with veteran actors may be a testament to the strong drama classes in our local high schools.

Cara Stephenson has the challenge of playing various doctor characters that I didn’t find particularly well-written – an issue for the playwright rather than the local performers – but she has a bit of fun in her roles and has a bold singing voice that fits nicely with the rest of the cast.

The set design is intriguing, with broken, wide-set boards in the shape of a house at the back of the stage, a backdrop to the band on risers in full view of the audience. The remainder of the economy-sized stage is cluttered with furniture and props that are simply rearranged as required.

This is a play to be talked about. Mental illness is a topic we should be talking about. As the director says: “…we hope you enjoy this production as much as we have, and, more importantly, that this production will encourage you to feel, think and share.”


What: Next to Normal, a presentation of Goderich Little Theatre

Where: The Livery Theatre, 35 South St., Goderich

When: April 14-16 at 8 p.m.

How: Box Office open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Rush seats, if available, on sale 30 minutes before performance. Tickets online at www.livery.ca (may take up to three days to process). Members: $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 youth under 18, $10 children under 12. Non-members: $25 adults, $22.50 seniors, $15 youth under 18, $10 children under 12.

It’s a sure sign of Spring: Beach Street Station is open

21 Mar

beachstreetstation1By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – The main attraction at The Beach Street Station is a bit of a toss up. Is it the intriguing menu of fresh, local foods carefully crafted by Chef James Welsh or is it the spectacular, ever-changing view served up by Mother Nature?

A close third place might be simply to glimpse the inside of this former CPR station, which was moved from one location to another with painstaking precision that drew a crowd daily in the summer of 2013, with its hipped roof over the central portion and a cross-gable and lunette trackside. Original interior features include a true ceiling with three large medallions, wooden screens, interior doors, fixtures, trim and decorative plaster. Its kitchen lies beyond a glassed wall so that diners can see their meals in the works.

On August 3, 1988, the last train stopped on the bridge to blow its whistle for a final time.

mainNo matter the reason, it’s the first Saturday of a new season, and at 6:30 p.m. the main dining area at the Beach Street Station is packed, much to the satisfaction of owner Herb Marshall. He has picked out a table in the middle of the room for us, but offers to seat us elsewhere if the glorious light of the sun becomes too much. But those of us on the west side of the table bob and weave in order to block the setting sun for our dinner companions. It’s the price we gladly pay for a clear, sunny evening in late March.

IMG_0110IMG_0119IMG_0130Herb’s wife, Sherry, and his daughter, Brianna, are also on the floor this evening, serving and visiting with guests.

The menu is expanded this season, with familiar dishes such as Yellow Perch and Chips ($18), and Great Lakes Pickerel ($24), and then there’s Five Spice Duck ($24) and Chicken Milanaise ($19). Vegan and gluten-free items are indicated on the menu.

IMG_0131Our table starts with: The enormous Huron County Charcuterie ($18), a mix of local cheese, cured meat, bread, marinated vegetables and mango chutney all served on a butcher block; a Roasted Beet Salad ($9), that’s divine in its simplicity; and an old favourite, two Crab Cakes ($12), served with a fresh corn relish and cilantro oil.

IMG_0125As a main, I choose the Great Lakes Pickerel, with its perfectly pan-seared fillets resting atop a mixture of roasted red-skinned potatoes, cauliflower and asparagus. It’s colourfully finished with a cascade of fresh salsa and dots of green that I fail to identify.

The fellow beside me passes around pieces of pork back ribs, which fall off the bone as he proffers a forkful across the table. Others also choose the pickerel, something of a must-have in a restaurant on Lake Huron.

IMG_0134By 7:30 p.m., the restaurant is much quieter, and the sun is just giving its final show on the horizon. There’s now a flourless chocolate cake sprinkled with icing sugar and a crème caramel topped with a chewy cookie being shared at our table. Both are delicious, according to those who test them. And the coffee, although not local, is strong and hot.

A perfect end to the day and a promise of a long summer on the lake.


Beach Street Station

Location: Goderich’s Beachfront

Hours: Effective March 16, from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30 to 9 p.m. Subject to change as the season gets busy. It’s always best to call ahead and ensure the kitchen is open later hours.

Reservations: 519-612-2212

Website: Check online for menus, history, photos and videos.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Morris.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Morris.

Mini-vacation in Huron County – just in time for March Break

14 Mar

naftel3The following is the second in a series of winter day-tripping ideas from Diva Shari Parsons, who has a special passion for driving adventures, trail hiking and photo opportunities.

Recently, my hubby had a week’s holiday but since we couldn’t “get away” we decided to enjoy some of the local attractions.

There is the saying “a change is as good as a rest” and even one night away from home feels like a mini holiday. We decided to use some travel reward points to book a Jacuzzi King Suite at the Dreamz Inn on Hwy. 21 between Goderich and Bayfield. We had stayed there one night last winter and enjoyed the experience so we decided to do it again.

After checking in, I swam for an hour in their clean, saltwater pool while my hubby alternated between pool, dry sauna and hot tub. We ate a picnic style supper, which we had brought with us, while watching TV on their good-sized flat screen TV. We ended our evening by snacking on potato chips while sharing a romantic soak in the large Jacuzzi tub in the firelight of the electric fireplace. The King bed was comfy as were the downy soft sheets.

In the morning, my hubby skipped down to the breakfast room to grab some free breakfast munchies while I enjoyed another soak in the Jacuzzi tub. When he came back we enjoyed blueberry muffins, yogurt and tea.

The sun was shining and the temperature was mild so after checking out of the hotel, we decided to go for a hike at Naftel’s Creek Conservation Area on Hwy. 21., just south of the Dreamz Inn. The Conservation Area’s entrance is on the east side of the highway. It is not well marked so you need to be looking out for it. The parking lot has a fair amount of space. The trail is popular with people walking dogs and cross-country skiers in the winter.

naftel7The main trail is fairly flat and winds its way through evergreens, hardwoods and cedars in wetland areas so there is a nice mix of environments and eco systems. There is a pond and a couple of tinkling creeks.

The beginning of the trail runs through a conifer plantation. Recent windstorms have toppled a few of the trees and you can see how wide but shallow the root system is that anchors these tall trees. You can tell by the tracks in the snow that the uprooted tree bases make for great shelter for the forest creatures.

naftel2naftel6Boardwalks lead you through mini forests of cattails in the wetlands as well as over bubbling streams, the edges of which are marked by deer tracks coming to the creek for a drink.

There had been a snowfall the previous day so the woods were covered in a fresh blanket of puffy white. Some tree stumps sported puffy caps making them look like giant mushrooms.

naftel5In the cedar groves, the trees on either side of the trail reach up and lean towards each other over the trail forming a natural cathedral ceiling and make the hiker feel like they are walking through a woody tunnel.

naftel1A winter hike on this trail is very quiet and peaceful with only the sound of the occasional chickadee.

The weather was still sunny after our hike and we didn’t feel like ending our mini holiday by going home yet so we decided to go for a country drive. We once again headed north and did the Blyth Road to Auburn then Base Line Road route. This time we decided to explore Maitland Block, a loop that cuts off of the Base Line Road and catches a portion of the Maitland River. It ended up that we weren’t able to traverse the whole road as not all of it is maintained in the winter, but on the way down, we watched a half dozen crows heckling a large hawk and soon saw the hawk’s mate following behind. On the way back up the road, I was looking at the tree-line and spotted a bald eagle sitting in a tree snacking on something. We got to watch it for quite a while before it majestically flew away.

We pulled off the side of Base Line Road at Little Lakes Road and walked down the hill to the historic Ball’s Bridge as that end of the road is not winter maintained. Down at the bridge we noted another group of crows displaying incredible acrobatics as they were swooping and dive-bombing another hawk in a tree.

ballsbridge4The icy edges of the riverbanks were covered with the wide-toed tracks of snowshoe hares.

ballsbridge1 ballsbridge2After walking back to the car (watch for snowmobiles as this is part of their trail) we drove to Londesboro Road. And then turned onto River Line Road. On one side of the road is an old brick building surrounded by antique farm machinery – an interesting contrast of textures and colours. On the crest of the hill, there is a large home resembling a fairy-tale castle, complete with rounded tower. This home has an incredible view of rolling farmlands and woodlands to the east.

ballsbridge8River Line Road becomes Hills Road, (a good name for the location) which is dotted with Victorian farm houses. We then headed through Benmiller on our way home.

There is so much variety and beauty in Huron County that you don’t have to leave to enjoy a winter holiday.

ballsbridge7 ballsbridge6 ballsbridge5



Dreamz Inn as Your Destination:


A contemporary designer hotel with luxuriously appointed rooms, with attention to detail. Non-smoking family atmosphere, with saltwater pool, fitness centre, outdoor lounging areas & multi-purpose court. Complimentary breakfast.


79272 Hwy. 21, at the intersection of Union Road and Hwy. 21. Between Goderich and Bayfield.


Open year round.


Website – http://www.dreamzinn.ca

Email – reserve@dreamzinn.ca

Phone – 519.524.7396 or toll free 1.855.524.7396

Mini winter holiday in Huron County: Part I

28 Feb

hikinggoderich4The following is the first in a series of winter day-tripping ideas from Diva Shari Parsons, who has a special passion for driving adventures, trail hiking and photo opportunities.

What do you do when you need a “Winter Getaway” but you can’t actually “getaway”? That was the conundrum facing my hubby and me this past week. With a week’s holidays and only a beer budget, you have to get a little creative.

We decided to take advantage of some of our favourite activities in some of our favourite places right here in our own backyard of Huron County.

hikinggoderich3A sunny day with cold winds called for a road trip on country roads. We started down at the Goderich waterfront where I enjoyed looking at the fantastic ice mounds formed just offshore. The ice covering the one harbour entrance light made the building look like a frosted wedding cake. Snow and ice made for some interesting costumes for the dozens of Inuksuit (that is the plural form) still bravely standing along the ice-encrusted shoreline.

hikinggoderich2A stop at the north end of St. George’s Crescent in Goderich gives a fantastic view of the grain elevators, salt mine, and harbour, which on this particular day held three ships in an icy grasp. Puffy clouds on the horizon mimicked snow capped mountains in the distance. Turn around and you can enjoy the wonderful historical architecture of stately homes such as McDermott’s castle and the former home of lumber merchant Joseph Williams.

hikingauburn5We continued to drive north from Goderich on Hwy. 21 and turned onto Blyth Road (Cnty. Rd. 35) where we enjoyed the sight of rolling snow covered fields criss-crossed with sparkling creeks. After crossing the picturesque Maitland River in Auburn, we turned south onto the Base Line Road and pulled off at Manchester Park to take in the sights and sounds of the Maitland River on a sunny winter’s day. The sunlight made an interesting pattern of shadows on the snow from the long line of poplar trees along the lane. The snow was criss-crossed with the tracks of an adventurous field mouse.

hikingauburn6We continued south on Base Line Road, then turned west on the Londesboro Road and stopped at the former mill in Benmiller, which is now the Benmiller Inn. You can watch the Maitland River flow past the historic River Mills buildings. I took some photos of interesting architectural features frosted with snow. The blue sky, trees and historic building of Gledhill House were reflected in the water of Gledhill Pond.

hikingbenmiller8We returned home having enjoyed the bright winter sun, lovely scenery and some great photo ops.

Grab your favourite hot beverage, jump in the car and explore the beauty that surrounds us in Huron County!


Hiking the GART

11 Feb

gart4By Diva Shari Parsons

AUBURN – My hubby and I love hiking on the many lovely nature trails that Huron County has to offer. The spring-like weather recently was the perfect time to check out the section of the GART (Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail) that we are taking responsibility for this year as Trail Rangers for the Maitland Trail Association.

The GART follows the old CPR rail line from the historic CPR Station in Goderich (now the Beach Street Station restaurant) to the remnants of the former bridge over the Maitland River just west of the village of Auburn. The trail is a little over 13 km long with the vast majority of it being an easy walk over flat ground on a fairly wide and well cleared trail. For the most part, the trail base is made up of finely crushed rock with flat grassland and hard-packed soil in other sections. Large sections, especially at the beginning of the trail, are wheelchair and stroller accessible (not in Winter). The entire trail is great for riding bikes (not in Winter). Part of the GART is also used as a snowmobile trail in winter.

gart7This weekend we hiked the section between Sharpes Creek Line and Heron Line, a distance of approximately 4 km return. Depending on the season, there is a little space for parking one or two cars on either side of the road edge on Sharpes Creek Line. The trail entrance is well marked.

As we walked along we enjoyed the wind whispering through the tops of the Scots pine that line each side of the trail. The pines give way to scenes of rolling farm fields and tree studded hilltops. Towards the far end, there is a small bridge that spans a burbling stream.

gart8The trail is popular with walkers, joggers and their faithful four-legged companions. It is also a veritable highway for the local wildlife. A thin layer of snow made the perfect medium for leaving tracks of all shapes and sizes. We saw squirrel, rabbit, hare, and fox tracks along with the snake-like trail of a field mouse in the snow. We also got to enjoy the sound of chickadees “chick-chick-chicking” us and the sight of a beautiful hawk soaring in the sky. I even found an old rusty rail spike lying on a mound beside the trail giving evidence of the trail’s former glory as an active rail line.

gart5If you are looking for an easy stroll filled with peace, tranquility and pleasing scenery, give a section of the GART a try. There are eight or nine different access points for the trail so you can walk just one section at a time if you wish. My only complaint/comment about the trail is that there aren’t any benches to sit on for most of the trail.

A free hiking guide with maps for the GART and other area trails can be found at http://www.hikehuron.ca/. You can also purchase a Maitland Trail Guide from the Maitland Trail Association

Happy trails!


Cooking like a chef at Samuel’s Hotel

18 Jan

samuelsspencer6By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – They’re five basic ingredients: flour, kosher salt, eggs, olive oil and cream.

But they hold so much potential, as a dozen aproned people discovered during a Saturday morning pasta-making class led by Chef Spencer Vail at Samuel’s Hotel Inc. just north of Goderich.

In three hours, those ingredients were mixed, kneaded, rested, pulled, cut, filled, folded, pinched, and shaped into delicate pasta packages stuffed with all sorts of delicious mixtures. Chef Vail, of Cait’s Kitchen, demonstrated a few fundamental techniques, a few simple sauces, and a couple of cheats for making pasta on a weekend that would result in easy meals through the working week. The students gathered around the kitchen island to watch intently, ignoring the winter river scene out the hotel suite’s patio windows.

samuelsspencer11There was butternut squash baked and blended with cinnamon, fennel seeds, peppercorn, cloves, and star anise, which were piped onto waiting pasta to make a folded agnolotti, then fried in butter and sage.

There were braised chicken thighs, flavoured in a stock of onions, carrots, water, salt and peppercorn, which would be pulled for the filling for ravioli, then topped with a sauce of the stock reduction, along with mushrooms and kale.

There were aged cheddar, Swiss, and jalapeño goat cheese filled into pasta shaped into tortellini and topped with a mixture of simmered cherry tomatoes, chopped onions and smoked garlic, with a touch of cream added at the end.

samuelsspencer9“Any paste you like the taste of you can use as a filling,” Chef Vail said, as students pulled pasta through the pasta-making machine and cut shapes in the dough.

As one budding cook pointed out, all we needed was a good bottle of red wine – or a bad bottle of red wine.


What: Cook Like A Chef, with Chef Spencer Vail

Where: Samuel’s Hotel Inc., 34031 Saltford Rd., Goderich, ON

More details: Learn some pretty great kitchen skills and share in the meal prepared. Stay Friday or Saturday night in a cozy room with a fireplace and enjoy a hot breakfast the following morning. Classes are held Saturdays. Packages priced per couple. Additional guests taking part in the classes are $70pp.
January 16 ~ Local Ingredients, International Flavour
January 30 ~ That’s How I Roll
February 13 ~ Get in the Game
February 27 ~ To be Announced

February 6 ~ Valentines Crash Course: Beyond Making Toast and Boiling Water – Learn How not to Suck at Cooking (This class is for men only. Craft Beer is included in this class)

To register: Email kim@samuelshotel.ca, phone 1-877-524-1371 or 519-524-1371

Website: http://www.samuelshotel.ca