Small town summer tours in southern Ontario
Having fun at the Oxford Garden Party. (Handout)
Make it a summer of discovery by stepping back in time, stopping to smell the roses, attending a garden party and checking out the whatchamacallits.
Buggy rides, butter tarts
Hitch up to discover the Horse and Buggy Trail, called a “unique tour of tidy Mennonite farmsteads, old villages and historic country stores.”
This is in the Township of Southgate in the southeast corner of Grey County, formed by amalgamated communities including Dundalk and Holstein, near Mount Forest.
“It is a visit to where we all came from over a century ago when the villages were just a comfortable buggy ride away and where farm products were traded for mercantile store goods and comestibles,” said Linda Reader project coordinator.
This 70-kilometre trail offers visitors a “chance to be immersed in another culture for a day,” said publicist Janine Fawcett.
The farm-gate tour welcomes visitors into the one-of-a-kind rural culture of a Mennonite community.
Quilts, solid-wood furniture, home-made bread, fresh local meat, delicious baking and fruit pies are found year-round.
An easy-to-follow map makes the self-guided tour a pleasant drive or for cycling.
Sightseeing bus trips include a back roads fall colour tour on Sept. 14 while buggy rides can be arranged with two Mennonite farm families.
An educational excursion visits a family farm home and vegetable garden, buggy factory, old mill and general store for penny candy followed by a horse-and-buggy ride.
Chef Gary Gingras of Cedars Cottage Resort on Lake Eugenia offers a fall overnight package with cooking classes with the bounty from the trail – from maple syrup to ducks and tunnel tomatoes. horseandbuggytrail.com
Step back in time
Explore Amish country on bus tours offered by the Perth County Visitors Association and Cherrey Bus Lines.
Tours on July 26 and Sept. 19 start at the Perth County Welcome Centre and Artisan Market in Shakespeare (also with a pickup at the Stratford Festival Marketplace).
It includes a visit to the Ebersol Buggy Shop, Anna Mae’s Bakery Restaurant for lunch, Millbank Family Furniture and Conestoga Bird Feed.
An Aug. 23 tour includes the Quilt’s Galore shop with more than 100 Amish quilts on view and a harness maker. Tours cost $48 plus tax, including lunch. visitperth.ca.
How does your garden grow?
Enjoy a “rare opportunity to see over fences and hedges at gardens that are lovingly tended” across Huron and Perth counties.
The self-guided tour includes more than 20 private gardens this month and next, said gardener Rhea Hamilton Seeger.
Gardens of Huron Perth include the Purple Rooster with an eclectic mix of sun and shade, old and new shrubs and perennials, and Riverbend Gardens and Nursery with nearly 1,000 varieties of hostas.
Karen Redmond in Auburn uses ornamental grasses to create a double garden while Brentwood on the Beach B&B has a waterfall and stream that leads guests to the garden sculptures of Frank Moore. For a brochure and map: gardensofhuronperth.com
Isn’t that a party?
Ladies in floppy hats and summer dresses harken back to simpler times when garden parties were the rage.
Oxford County was home to the famous Zenda Garden Party years ago and offers a current version on July 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
That’s when the Oxford Garden Party “celebrates local chefs and farmers” at the Elm Hurst Inn in Ingersoll, said Tourism Oxford publicist Cathy Bingham.
There will be a five-course dinner created by some of Oxford’s top chefs.
Tickets are $75 plus tax. oxfordfresh.com.
Rodney Frost Himself is an exhibition of mechanical toys, whirligigs, kinetic contraptions and whatchamacallits.
The show is on through Sept. 15 at the Leacock Museum National Historic Site in Orillia.
“On the surface, Rodney Frost’s imagination appears to have gotten the best of him – and as a consequence we are the beneficiaries,” said Darcy Hoover, Orillia’s marketing manager.
“Despite having been tagged ‘an emerging artist’ by the Canada Council, the Orillia resident has doggedly pursued his muse through what can only be described as a lifetime of modest accomplishments and monumental setbacks,” said museum curator Fred Addis.
About 30 of Frost’s “whirligigs, mechanical toys, kinetic contraptions and, for lack of a better word, whatchamacallits, are featured.” leacockmuseum.com.