Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tobermory Weekend

Tobermory, Ontario marks the north-western starting point of the Bruce Trail.  It is arguably the most beautiful and unique portion of the over 750km trail that follows the Niagara Escarpment to Queenston (near Niagara Falls).  The hiking in Bruce Peninsula National Park is rugged and varies from dense forest to rocky beaches to cliff climbing, and of course, the views are spectacular. 
 Singing Sands beach was a 5 minute drive away and was named after the sound that the always prevalent winds made while blowing across the sand.  In mid June, the water was still very cold but shallow for a long way out.  Only Rich was brave (or foolish?) enough to wade in.

 The quaint little village of Tobermory is a harbour town on Georgian Bay that is full of boats, artsy shops and restaurants.  The Mermaid's Secret sold colourful clothes and accessories while Circle Arts displayed beautiful stained glass and pottery.  And imagine my surprise to find a new flavour of Hagan Daaz ice cream - my favourite flavour of Peanut Butter and Chocolate, at the Foodland grocery store in this tiny village.  At this point, it had not yet shown up in Toronto! 
One of the specialties in the restaurants was local fresh white fish and chips.  The best offering we found was at the "Fish and Chip Place" which offered large chunks of tasty fish that were lightly breaded and not greasy.  Unlike the other places that loaded you down with french fries, this place sold the fish pieces alone in 2, 6 or 20.  We were all ready to go back for more the next day but were disappointed to find out it was only open on the weekend this early in the season.
 A World War I war memorial in the middle of town honoured dead soldiers from Tobermory.  We were taken aback by the large number of "Hopkins" that we found on the memorial.  We counted at least 10 and thought sadly that this town might have lost an entire clan to this war.

 Enroute to Tobermory, we stopped in the town of Wiarton, best known (only known?) for the famous groundhog who predicts the length of our winter - Wiarton Willie.  Images of Willie dominated the streets and down Wiarton Way, there was a statue in tribute to all the actual groundhogs that have played this role over the years.  In a cage by the library, after much waiting and coaxing, we actually saw the current version of the albino creature. 

On the way home, we stopped by Bruce's Caves Conservation Area where we found some impressively large cave formations that were cut into the escarpment face by post-glacier waves thousands of years ago.

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