It’s a Saturday morning and today… we set off for Dunnville and surrounding area. My last stop today will be the site of my old family cottage. My mom would be proud, I’m really drawing out the *getting there* part of the trip, taking every back road and stopping at as many of the sights as I can.
This morning I’ve got my coffee ready to go as we won’t be stopping until we see Muddy the Mudcat. I mean, have you actually been to Dunnville without a stop to say hi to Muddy? I think not. Muddy’s also pretty much impossible to miss at 50 feet long and 27 feet high and located right at the entrance to the town in Centennial Park .
Having said “hi” to Muddy, it’s time for breakfast. Growing up, we always stopped at Knowles Diner and I still like to when I can. Knowles has been located on Queen Street in downtown Dunnville since 1952 and it’s full of nostalgia. I order my breakfast, sausage and eggs, to go. This way I can share a couple of my sausages with Otis more easily and not leave him in the car too long. Before I join him though and while I’m waiting for my breakfast, I need my ever-important coffee and the Minga just down the street, is just the place to get it. My breakfast is a mix and match – the best kind!
Walking along Queen Street I take in all the lovely shops and restaurants the downtown has to offer. There’s Debb’s Cuisine on Queen which is perfect for a night out, or an afternoon. I love their stuffed olives and their burgers are the best! Then there’s Flyers Café, another great breakfast or coffee spot and Dee Ann’s, a staple on Queen Street for many years, with their ladies and men’s fashions and home décor items too.
The Minga Café on Queen Street, “is an inclusive, welcoming space where people of all ages can come together to enjoy healthy, locally sourced, organic, handcrafted food and fair-trade, organic coffee. The Minga hosts many programs, including all D.R.E.A.M. meetings and events.” The DREAM program is a volunteer-based organization helping local youth feel empowered so they can reach their academic potential and discover their passions. I feel inspired just coming here. I also love that they sell a variety of locally made goods, including candles by Haldimand Wax Works. The Carrot Cake candle smells good enough to eat.
Hot coffee in hand and a gluten free Minga bar in my bag to snack on later, Otis and I are off to visit the Dunnville Farmers Market on Main Street. Open Saturdays and Tuesdays from 7am till noon (March-December), the farmers market is a delight any time of year but especially during the holidays and on cold days – a visit will have you feeling warm and toasty in no time. There are sights and smells, local crafts and baked goods. I’m here to pick up some chili sauce and maple syrup from Richardson’s Farm and some cider from the Bains Road Cider Company. I highly recommend their Wild Pear Cider and Apple Jack – it really does taste like fresh pressed cider with whiskey in it! Both Richardson’s and Bains Road are open at their physical locations, check their websites or Facebook pages for up-to-date information on hours and options, including curbside pickup.
There are several conservation areas and provincial parks in this area, including, Byng Island Conservation Area and Trail, Rock Point Provincial Park and Taquanyah Conservation Area. I love them all and each one offers something unique and beautiful from fossils and sand dunes at Rock Point to the forests and wetlands at Taquanyah. Today though, my heart is set on visiting the places I used to go adventuring as a child. I used to spend what felt like hours here, and at the beach just outside the family cottage, with my sister looking for as many tiny shells as we could find with holes in them. That way we could string them into necklaces, anklets or bracelets. Ahh, good memories.
From this spot, it’s just a short drive to the old cottage. It’s still standing but barely. The main attraction for me these days is a giant willow tree that stands right at the lake and the assortment of beautiful pinecones I find closer to the road. I always take a couple with me to craft into Christmas decorations. This year, I’ll write wishes for the new year and place them between the spaces of the pinecone before dipping the whole thing in wax and setting it alight in the fire on Christmas day. My wishes set free, not just for myself but for all of us.
Happy and safe travels!
Haldimand County gratefully acknowledges the support of FedDev Ontario for tourism businesses in Southwest Ontario.
Travel only when it is safe to do so. Follow recommendations of your regional Department of Public Health as well as your destination’s Department of Public Health.