A trip to Shaw

What’s summer in Ontario without a trip to see a play at the Stratford Festival or the Shaw Festival (or Drayton, or…). This year, with Pygmalion on the bill, we chose Shaw in beautiful and historic Niagara-on-the-Lake. Touristy, boutiquey, yes, but great theatre. The Shaw Festival is the only theatre in the world that specializes in Shaw’s work and the work of his contemporaries.

Before I start on a rant about how pretentious the area has become with all the wineries “in town”, I’ll get right to the ice cream. We enjoyed a picnic lunch in Simcoe Park, home of Upper Canada’s first legislature, then wandered down the street looking for ice cream. Old Towne Goodies is right on the north side of Queen St., the main drag, a block down from the Prince of Wales Hotel. Great selection of London Dairy (not Londonderry) ice cream with decent waffle cones, if you prefer. Then we beetles off to Shaw for the show.

Great performance, updated to be contemporary with iPads, large screens – very multimedia, but in a way that did not detract from the performances. We felt the “low class” accents weren’t terribly accurate, except by Alfred Doolittle (Eliza’s father) – they were missing the “f” and “v” sounds in place of “th”s in words like three and weather (yes, many Brits really do mispronounce their ths).

On our way out of town, we decided to head up the Niagara Parkway to Hwy 405. This is a much smoother, straightforward and less “pokey” way of getting into and out of Niagara-on-the-Lake than going on 89 and 55 through Virgil. We’ll remember that for next time. I thought The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures sounded interesting enough to see without knowing anything about it!

Beautiful Westport

IMG_5412Driving home today from the cottage, we decided to take the old Perth Road rather than Hwy 15 down to the 401. The Perth Road has an extra bit of charm to it. Being geographers, we enjoy the leap-frogging of limestone-then-granite-then-limestone-then-granite-then-(finally)-limestone of the Fontenac Arch. But then there are the stone cottages built around the time the Rideau Canal was put through almost 200 years ago. There are even some log cabins that look near-original.

The rollings hills of granite and white pines through the Frontenac Arch area, some lovely farms and dozens of lakes and you have a combination seems to work its charm on us. Then, there’s Westport, a lovely village below Foley Mountain at the head of Upper Rideau Lake. A perfect place to stop for ice cream.

IMG_5411The Vanilla Bean Café & Creamery has Kawartha Dairy ice cream is right on the main drag and has over a dozen flavours. Its café side offers espressos, cappuccinos and cinnamon. You can eat in at the café tables or outside on the sunny patio. A lovely spot!

Paris in the Summer

On our way home from Canada’s “Deep South” (the north shore of Lake Erie – see GeoPhotographica for details of great nature spots), we passed through Paris just at the right time for ice cream or a bakery. Coasting downhill to where the Nith River converges with the Grand, we scanned Grand River Street for either. “There’s a bakery”, I shout out just before Laurie exclaims, “Ice cream – and it’s Kawartha Dairy” (her favourite).

Well, what to do – ice cream or bakery? Easy – I went to the Paris Bakery and Laurie entered the wonderful envelope of aromas at Chocolate Sensations to get her ice cream.

I must admit, the Paris Bakery was a bit disappointing in that it had no where to sit down, had mostly desserts and had only coffee (I could have used a cuppa tea at 4 o’clock in the afternoon). However, I surprised myself by ordering a Blueberry-Nut Bread Pudding which was in a large muffin case. I despise even the thought of bread pudding. While I love leftovers, I just don’t think of a dessert as leftover bread and eggs – that’s french toast! Well wasn’t I surprised by this – it was delicious.

Laurie had a scoop of Key lime on top of Moose Tracks. The Key lime was much more limey than the Key lime pie ice cream from London Dairy at Broderick’s Ice Cream Parlour in Port Stanley earlier in the week. Anyway, we both walked away satisfied and strolled down to the Nith-Grand confluence. Being geo-geeks, we had to see it. It was rather underwhelming with a green Nith joining a very shallow Grand. The Nith valley is beautifully forested at the that point and with the careful removal of unsightly wires (via Lightroom), it would make for a beautiful autumn photograph. However, the river itself needs a good flushing!

Soon we were on our way home having enjoyed downtown Paris in the summer.

Broderick’s Ice Cream Parlour, Port Stanley

People who live in London and St. Thomas know of Broderick’s, I’m sure! What a delightful ice cream parlour!

We were on our way from Windsor, where we had been walking the paths of the Ojibway Prairie Nature Reserve, enjoying the various butterflies and wildflower species, to Port Rowan to visit Canada’s best example of old growth Carolinian forest at Backus Woods. After driving through torrential rain along the 401, we headed south on Road 20 through Sheddon and Fingal down to Port Stanley. By then, the rain had caught up with us and it was about 4pm, so were thinking ice cream when we drove by Broderick’s. After a quick “round the block” we were back on the main drag, found parking, and made it to Broderick’s just before the heavy rain hit. What timing!

Their board was full of choices – anything one could want. Surprisingly, Laurie and I each had Key Lime Pie and Coconut Cream – and we ordered without the other knowing (scary, actually)! We sat at lovely marble-topped café tables inside while the rain came down outside. After 20 minutes the rain was down to a manageable rate and off we went dodging rain drops back to the car. Of course, we encountered the heavy rain again as we made our way eastwards to Port Rowan – a bonus, actually, as there is nothing like a great summer rain. Another great afternoon of exploring the country roads and small towns of Ontario.