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Read: Adventures in Grey Bruce! By: Norma Grafe...
OK, we’ve spun the wheel again, and where did we stop this time? (Drum roll……)
Woo-hoo! We’re heading for the Municipality of West Grey! Located in southwestern Ontario, almost every place in West Grey can be reached via Highway 6, which runs north-south through the municipality.
West Grey is a charming amalgamation of the past and the present. Mennonite buggies share the roads with modern cars and trucks, and it’s not unusual to see shelters with tie-ups for horses and their buggies in parking lots at local grocery stores.
Right! Let’s start in Durham with breakfast. Give Shy-Ley’s Kitchen a try! Located in the L&M plaza in Durham at 350 Garafraxa Street South, it’s right on the main drag. Let’s get an early start and pop in at 7 am, when they open.
All fueled up, let’s walk! We’ll start at the Heritage Walkway Bridge just north of Shy-Ley’s. We’re entering the Durham Conservation Area, a recreational area developed along two and a half miles of the main Saugeen River from the Heritage Walkway Bridge in town to the Second Concession of Glenelg. Walking trails thread the area and do double duty in winter for cross country skiing. Playgrounds, washrooms, two sandy beaches roped off for swimming, and McGowan’s Falls with the picnic pavilion make this a busy and happy spot. Kayakers and canoeists are often seen practicing their sport above the Falls. McGowan Falls takes the name of an early miller who used the waterpower of the Saugeen River at this site. Popular with anglers, the falls here are more gradual than some, yet scenic in their setting of cedars! McGowan Falls are portrayed in one of several murals that adorn buildings in downtown Durham!
Back where we started, with rosy cheeks from the fresh air and the hiking trails, let’s take to the cars and drive south on Highway 6 for about 5 minutes, until we get to Varney. There’s a popular swimming and picnic area here, just on the right of the road. Just past that, again on the right, we’ll stop in at Pebble’s Family Restaurant for lunch. This is a very popular place, featuring Mennonite home cooking, which you can enjoy from the menu or from their lunch and dinner buffets.
After lunch, I think we’ll take a quick trip back up the highway and look at some mills. Mills, built by pioneers to harness the water power, still exist! A particularly good example is the Rocky Mill, built of stone, a silent witness to the past. This mill, one of the most photographed in Ontario, can be seen from Hwy 6 on the west side of the Highway about 5 kilometers north of Durham. Traverston Mill is another good example of a Pioneer mill. This wooden three-storey structure, perched on the banks of the Rocky Saugeen, is now a dwelling. Find this photographer’s gem by travelling north from Rocky Mill, turn east onto County Rd. 12, and follow along until you come to Traverston Rd. Follow that back to Traverston, pass over the old iron suspension bridge and the mill rises on the right. Some examples of old original village buildings still exist, silent reminders of another, simpler time.
While we’re still looking into the past, let’s take a side trip to Neustadt, or, should I say the Heritage Village of Neustadt. It was named by Harrowsmith Magazine as one of Canada’s prettiest villages! Lets drive back to Durham, to the lights at the bottom of the hill. Turn right at the lights and take Highway 4 to County Road 3. We’ll pass Allan Park, home to one of two of Canada’s satellite tracking earth stations and then we’ll turn left on County Road 3. Keep going and turn right on County Road 9. This takes you right into Neustadt on Queen Street.
Neustadt, the birthplace of Canada’s 13th Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker, is also home to the Neustadt Springs Brewery, reputed to be the oldest operating brewery in Ontario. Find it on 456 Jacob Street and take a 6-pack home! (We’re driving, remember, so we’ll have to forego having a pint in the Tasting Room.) We can also explore the caverns underneath the brewery!
Let’s take a walk around town and see some of the historic buildings, especially some of the old churches. Bring your cameras!
Oh, you want to stay over and enjoy more of the trails in the Conservation Area? No problems. How about the Traveller’s Inn at 244 7th Avenue in Hanover?
Enjoy your overnight stay and your extended exploration of the Conservation Area tomorrow! Me, tomorrow I’m back to work!