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Small Town Sunday (Jarvis & Dunnville)

Live Small Town Magazine‘s town-by-town, hidden-gem by hidden-gem, Guide to what’s new, hot, and legendary in Haldimand County. ( Spring 2018 Issue)

All the stuff you absolutely must eat, do, buy and indulge in to make the most of your time off the sofa and loving our country!


Can you believe it has already been a year since we started Live Small Town Magazine? What an incredible time it has been for all of us! Venturing out on day trips and uncovering these small town hidden gems is something we wholeheartedly have looked forward to every issue and our hope is that it might spark your inner explorer to get you out to do the same. There was no question that I wanted to go back to the place where it all started because not only did I get to meet some of the most caring of individuals, I barely scratched the surface on everything I wanted to do. This Small Town Sundays article takes me back to the Haldimand County and the first thing on the agenda is to sample some beer!

A common theme with my adventures seems to be a pit stop at the local breweries or pub. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “how do you even manage?” It is a tough life but I’m truly doing it for my readers. 🙂

And so I hopped in my van and headed out to Jarvis to visit the brand new Concession Road Brewing. Based out of an old Fire Hall turned fully functional brew-house and taproom. Owners Jeff and Shannon Bunton greeted me with a smile as I entered Haldimand County’s first craft brewery. They first showed me around the facility and educated me on the beer-making process. Jeff has been brewing small-batch home beer for years. All the while sharing it with friends and family. Literally perfecting the recipe before bringing it to market.

Needless to say, I was eager to sample his one-of-a-kind brew first hand and decided to order a flight of their four beers. Fire House Blonde Ale, Lumberjacket Brown Ale, Air Raid IPA, and the Saison Du Monde. With one sip I knew that I was sampling the work of an artisanal brew-master!

Each and every beer was fantastic but my favourite was the Fire House Blonde Ale. I can easily picture myself up at the cottage on a hot summer day throwing back a few growlers of it.

I definitely recommend that you stop in and check them out. Take some to go or have a pint and sit down in the taproom to share a laugh or play a board game with a friend.

Speaking of that, I noticed an interesting crokinole board sitting on one of their tables so I inquired about it. It certainly wasn’t something out of a big box store, and my curiosity led me to my next stop.

It was a custom-made crokinole board from Michaud Toys. I asked Jeff if they had a website, and he said, “Yes, but why don’t you go visit them down the street.” My eyes lit up like a child at Christmas and two minutes later I walked into what I can only imagine Santa’s workshop looks like. Instead of elves, you have the Michaud family, and instead of toys… oh wait… TOYS! It brought me back to my younger days where we enjoyed spending time with family. We would break out the board games and enjoy friendly competition for a few hours.

These games were nothing like I’ve seen before. The skill that went into making them is rooted in the tradition of fine woodworking and the Michaud Family (Mom, Dad, and their three sons) are continuing a legacy of four generations of fine craftsmanship.

With humble beginnings in rural Saskatchewan, they have dedicated their lives towards a process of continuous creativity. They focus on a unique line of traditional wooden board games and Memory Boxes.

Places like this are the hidden gems I love to discover. It wasn’t on my list of stops for the day but I’m so happy I stumbled upon them.

Next, I would head east to further explore one of my favourite little places — the town of Dunnville.

It was time to push onwards to search out what my Small Town Sundays features tend to revolve around, food.

My traditional method is to ask the locals for their favourite eateries and at the corner of Main and Queen I spotted an elderly gent who looked to be out for a routine stroll. His sensible plaid, flat cap with furry ear flaps and out-of-place, large steaming, kitchen mug caught my eye.

I politely approached him and asked if he could recommend a great spot to eat. Without hesitation, his right arm raised, and index finger gave the direction. “You need to turn around, walk twenty steps that way. It’s called Debb’s Cuisine On Queen and you can thank me later,” he said with a big, friendly smile. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my time in small towns, is you should always trust the locals. They have never let me down.

I walked in and was immediately taken back at how incredible the restaurant looked on the inside. The exposed brick walls were quite the surprise and I immediately knew they would be the perfect backdrop for the photos I was about to take. I was then greeted by the restaurant owner, Debb. She told me the history of how the restaurant came to be, about the fire that had ravaged the building many years ago, and her love for bringing the community together through food.

I started with the Pork Belly and Scallops appetizer. Seared golden brown with house-cured pork belly and craft beer citrus drizzle. I know, right? After reading that description, how could I say no?

I decided to get a little bit crazy and order a caesar before my meal. The Ballpark Caesar – a mix of vodka, soft pretzel, pepperoni, pickled beans, cheese-stuffed jalapeño, and to top it off, some Doritos. I wasn’t sure what to expect but when I watched Nicole (the friendliest waitress ever) walk over with what looked like a meal for two in a glass, I just laughed and dove right in. Nicole then took my order and I asked for Debb’s Trademark Triple Decker Clubhouse Griller and the soup of the day.

The clubhouse – Chicken breast, bacon, black forest ham, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, lettuce, all between grilled herbed flatbread and the soup of the day was curried tomato beef and lentil. What a meal this was. I was really blown away and felt like I was in a fancy restaurant. Both from the quality of food and the way I was treated. A restaurant that is committed to using only the freshest local ingredients. It can only be described as, comfort food with a touch of class and a lot of heart.

The man in the flat cap hat was right, Debb’s is a must stop if you are in the Haldimand area.

With a full belly, I moseyed over to The Music Room, located at 168 Queen, and was quite impressed with the selection of gear in this quaint small town shop. Probably well-stocked because Haldimand County is a hotbed for musical talent.

Kate Sharrow (one of the two amazing gals who started this great mag) tipped me off to one of those talented individuals who happened to live in the Dunnville area. A rocker who’s band once opened for Guns N’ Roses and toured the globe signed to a major record label. The Riverdog’s own Rob Lamothe. I reached out and he agreed to meet up at his home studio.

I purposely didn’t research his past musical endeavours because I didn’t want it to feel like an interview but more of a relaxed conversation. In a past life, I too played music full time, but my experience pales in comparison to what Rob has been able to accomplish in his career.

Born in San Diego, he and his band made their way to L.A., then went on to tour all over and before he could finish, I politely interrupted, “Wait, so you were in San Diego and ended up in small town Dunnville? The sun, the west coast… most people try to do the opposite” He responded quickly, “For me, it’s all about quality of life.” and I knew exactly what he meant.

Rob has a passion for making his community a better place. I asked him to elaborate and discovered that he was the President on the board of directors for the Haldimand-Norfolk REACH. An organization that focuses on children’s mental health services. He is a member of the local Bridges Stewardship Group, and The Dunnville Dental Health Team. Furthermore, alongside his wife he won the ‘Haldimand County Volunteer of the Year’ Award in 2010.

He told me that he is recognized more in the area for his work in the community as opposed to his life as a musician and that suits him fine.

He is still working as a musician, playing shows from time to time, helping up-and-coming artists, and running songwriting camps.

I would like to personally thank Rob for helping to make a difference in the lives of others. His full story respects more than a few paragraphs and it just furthers my opinion that our small towns are filled with hidden gems and you never know what kind of rock star lives right next door.

I would like to personally thank Rob for helping to make a difference in the lives of others. His full story respects more than a few paragraphs and it just furthers my opinion that our small towns are filled with hidden gems and you never know what kind of rock star lives right next door.

Well folks, this was my second trip through Haldimand County writing for Live Small Town Magazine and there is still so much more for me to discover. For those of you who are adventurous day-trippers, I highly suggest that you put this location on your “all year” drive to do list. Spend the day here and I assure that you’ll be coming back for years.

If you enjoyed this piece and wish to see live videos while I’m adventuring into these small towns, then follow me on Instagram at @jayperry for behind the scenes look at what is going on. But more importantly, where should I head to next?

Thank you for reading. If you have a place that you think I should check out, please feel free to send me a message. Follow me on Instagram at @smalltownsundays to view stories and additional photos that you might not see in the magazine.

Read the full Live Small Town issue.