Tag Archives: winter

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!



Don’t hibernate. Celebrate at Goderich’s Winterfest

4 Feb
Winterfest draws people of all ages to a variety of activities.

Winterfest draws people of all ages to a variety of activities.

By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – This weekend, the community of Goderich is hosting a wintery pick-you-up to help you and your family push through the winter blahs.

Winterfest has grown and evolved from its humble beginnings more than two decades ago into an event that’s anchored by some key activities with a bit of something new every year. Every visitor to town becomes an honorary Goderichite during Winterfest, whether they’re walking the lantern-lit trails and warming up with a mug of hot chocolate afterwards, sampling the chili in a cook-off of secret recipes, watching nighttime fireworks light up the sky, or taking part in any number of activities lined up for the three-day event, Feb. 6 to 8.

I can remember that first Winterfest more than two decades ago. It was a big financial gamble for a group of very keen organizers, who booked a high-energy rock and roll band to play at the Knights of Columbus Centre as the feature event. If it stormed that evening, we were bound to take a loss on the event. However, it didn’t storm enough to keep people home that night and tickets were sold out in a snap. People came dressed in ‘60s costumes and danced and danced and danced that evening. And there was enough money to keep the event going in future years and draw a loyal following.

One of my favourite events over the years is the Saturday chili cook-off, with folks wandering the downtown Square trying to juggle Styrofoam bowls, a bun and steaming beverages while bundled up against some blustery weather. Tomato sauce and ground beef slopped onto mitts and napkins blew away in the wind. It’s a wonder we ever got our ballots cast for the best chili. That challenge continued through the years, probably weighed against the festive spirit that comes with meeting friends and neighbours on busy, chilly sidewalks. This year, however, the Rotary club is trying a new location, with chili competitors lining the indoor streetscape of the Maitland Recreation Centre. Some of the braver competitors, clinging to tradition, will set up outside the centre’s front doors.

File photo.

File photo.

One of the newer events is the Saturday evening fireworks show by PyroWorld in the town’s agricultural park. The spectacular show is set to music, with the low-level fireworks reflecting on the snow, which makes for great photographs. Anyone who isn’t interested in braving the outdoors for hot chocolate at 6:30 p.m. and fireworks at 7 p.m. can catch the musical presentation on 104.9 The Beach, starting at 7 p.m.

“There are a variety of indoor and outdoor activities through the weekend,” said Wanda Keith, who is the town’s festival and special events co-ordinator.

“The variety of things happening is phenomenal. And it’s all local organizations putting these events on,” she said.

Another event that’s new this year will be the Goderich Makers Market on Saturday morning. It’s just like a visit to the farmers market, only it’s wintertime and it’s indoors, with produce, local meat, baked goods, soups, crafts and soaps. In addition, the local horticultural society will bring the promise of spring by hosting a seed swap, with seeds available to swap or purchase by donation.

For a full list of events, click here. One additional event didn’t make it to the poster, which is the free skate from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Victoria Park’s outdoor rink, as long as the weather’s cold enough to keep the ice frozen. Hot chocolate and cookies provided by Zehrs.

Cabin Fever? Get Outside!

18 Feb


Heidi Martin from Outside Projects leads us on a snowshoeing adventure!

Heidi Martin from Outside Projects leads us on a snowshoeing adventure!

by Diva Trista Russell

A long time ago I tried snowshoeing during a class trip to Quebec. It involved large hefty wooden snowshoes that made you waddle back and forth like a penguin in the snow. Thankfully, when I booked a guided snowshoeing tour during my stay at the Little Inn in Bayfield (more on my Little Inn experience in a later post!), the snowshoes were nothing like I remembered. The were much smaller and made of light weight metal…so no more waddling and tripping over my own feet!

Outside Projects offers guests at the Little Inn an opportunity to book guided snowshoeing tours ($20 per person) including snowshoe rentals ($15 per person). Heidi Martin from Outside Projects led a group of 10 of us “snowshoers” through a 2 kilometre hike on the Sawmill Trail just outside Bayfield. The entrance to this Bayfield River Valley Trail was about 2 kilometres from the Little Inn, just a short drive over the bridge on Bluewater Highway (No. 21) to Old River Road and Sawmill Road. Tyler Hessel from Outside Projects greeted the group at the trail entrance and provided an overview of what to expect and also helped those who needed some assistance (yes, that would be me) with putting on our new shoes.

Enjoying my new winter shoes!

Enjoying my new winter shoes!

The trail started with a lookout point donated by private owners where you can overlook Lake Huron. Then we proceeded with a descent down what Tyler called “Heartbreak Hill”, which I realized why it was named so when going back up the never ending hill! There is no doubt that snowshoeing is a great form of winter exercise. The trail is rated as moderate difficulty, but even with the snowshoes on, I never felt wobbly or unsure on my feet. As long as you walk sure-footed, snowshoes are very safe and an easy way to walk in the snow.

The tour lasted a little over an hour and was very peaceful as we hiked through the clearly marked trail along the Bayfield River. There were interpretive signs throughout about local plants (such as ferns) and animals (such as wild turkeys). Bridges and benches also lined the trail, and Heidi said that about 1,200 volunteer hours were involved in constructing this specific trail, which was opened in 2009. The Sawmill Trail was made available with the permission of various landowners, so it was great to see the results of a community coming together to make this trail happen. Snowshoeing was more fun than I expected, and I would definitely do this again!

Sawmill Trail leads to the Bayfield River, where you can see the remnants of the old mill dam and bridge at the river's edge.

Sawmill Trail leads to the Bayfield River, where you can see the remnants of the old mill dam and bridge at the river’s edge.


Winter Cottages in Huron

7 Mar

A Great time at the Cottage

by Diva Jenna

A typical summer experience in Huron is heading up to the cottage for a long weekend or week long vacation. Last weekend my friend rented a cottage for a winter wonderland escape. I’m sure many of you don’t think of cottaging in the winter, but many of these accommodations are available all year round!

hanging out on the beach in the winter

Many of the people coming up for the weekend were from Toronto, so we all got there around 10pm on the Friday night. We had a few leisurely drinks and snacks and played some card games. The next day we had decided on winter fun activities including hiking/snowshoeing along the beach, tobogganing and general snow play!


I had to head out to meet some other friends for dinner in Bayfield, but the rest of the vacationers went to Shannahans Quality meats in Goderich and go a huge Metzgers beef loin in which they roasted for dinner!


winttercottage-snowangelWhat a great time we had! It reminded me of being a kid again. If you are looking to rent a cottage or accommodation in winter on Ontario’s West Coast, here is a link to all of the options! http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/owc_directory/rental.php

Family Day in the Country

27 Feb


by Diva Jenna

There seems to be more and more family day activities planned each year, as the holiday becomes more prominent. Many of the events are planned for children, which I don’t have, but I sure do love taking part in adventures!

I wanted to spend the day with my family, so we decided to take a drive and walk in Goderich. What a beauty day for this! We watched lots of families and friends walking and playing in yards and public places.


When we got home, Taylor decided to try out his new dirt bike ( I know, there isn’t much dirt showing right now, but he had just picked it up on Saturday!). Dirt biking and four-wheeling are leisure hobbies in my family and town for that matter. Even our cat Aiko venture out with us sometimes!  It seems that most people in Port Albert have one or the other. It was a bit cold out, but Taylor braved the weather and rode the bike around for almost an hour!

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All in all we had a great day and we were very happy to have the Monday off to spend time together. If you are looking for cool events happening in Huron, check out this calendar and start planning your trip here – http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/events/events.php

Snowy Owls Love it on Ontario’s West Coast!

26 Feb

By: Diva Jenna Ujiye

Last week I received an e-mail with this awesome photo. Rita Christie of Staffa sent it to us. She was out driving and noticed this cute little Owl hanging out on the Ontario’s West Coast gateway sign. I thought I should share out to all of you!!!

Snowy Owl on Ontario's West Coast

There is a trail at my doorstep – Snowmobiles

13 Jan

By: Diva Jenna Ujiye

The past week I have been hearing snowmobiles driving around very close to my house, not late at night, but loud enough for me to wonder if there was something going on. A friend dropped by the other day and filled me in on why the evening motor sounds have been happening. The snowmobile trail has been re-routed to go right past the Port Albert Store, which is right at my doorstep!

Yes, Divas do like to snowmobile! My main interest was the fact that now Port Albert, Ontario will be a happening spot, not only in the summer, but in the winter too. I hear that the Port Albert Inn plans to have chili nights and the Port Albert store has fuel, pizza, snacks and more.

I just checked the OFSC trail guide and they have not yet updated the new trails, but they will soon. There are trails throughout the county, for more information visit www.ofsc.on.ca/trail-status.html