Ontario Visit: Fleeting Glimpses – Via Rail Days 2 – 3i

For some reason it is taking much longer to write about my train ride than the actual trip took! However, the time has given my the opportunity to reflect on some of my notes, my very few photos and my hope to do it again!

After warming up from my chilly night in the dome car with an excellent cup of coffee – my own of course – and breakfast I spent a good part of my day staring out the window, reading my book and dividing my window time between my seat, the dome car and the gathering area where people chat, play games, eat and listen to the entertainment. Summer train travel is great for the entertainment side. Usually a small audience yet so appreciative. I am always happy when the powers that be have not allowed economy class to enjoy live music and a break from the eventual monotony or train travel.

I thought I had his name – nope! However, he is from Victoria so maybe I will see his picture somewhere he will be playing when not on-board.

By the time we reached Sioux Lookout time was approaching a standstill. We were not exactly behind, just going through Northern Ontario…..and going, and going. Getting outside was becoming a palpable need for all onboard.

We have some great names for places in Canada!

My seat mate left sometime before Sioux Lookout, I would have the two seats to myself for the remainder of my trip. Small mercies! Soon enough we were in Winnipeg where I was joined one woman to explore the Forks, an area I am now quite familiar with after a few trips to -even staying at – Winnipeg in recent years. The Forks is a great place to stock up, I bought a giant chickpea roti and a vegetarian Somosa (I seemed to have been eating these lovely bundles a lot) to supplement my packed meals. There was so much I expected they would last a couple of days.

I met up with two writers I had talked with while in line in Toronto who were travelling in the sleepers after their attempt to visit me and a fellow passenger onboard had been thwarted. Thinking on our feet one handed me her only business card to take a photo of for me to look up.

Although I have no idea what the book is about beyond her marriage the title intrigues me.

Once the train left Winnipeg, with a new crew, there was a sense of truly going west. Many passengers left the train yet it still seemed quite full, enough that I was a little worried I might lose my double seat.

Hedging my chances: It comes in handy when travelling with the backpacker essentials!

As I wound my way through the muskeg, rocks and mosquito laden land – firmly seated in the AC dome car – I was once again struck by how fortunate I am to be travel in our vast land even though on a cinched tight budget.

Shades of straw with goldenrod hues peeking through green fields and manmade blue ponds turning to mud – it was not yet drought conditions. Saskatchewan fields live up to the oft used patchwork quilt. Arrow straight, stitched side roads to forever. Lovely field of sunflowers appeared outside my window seat – a perfect, silent in memory of the death of my father nine years ago, born in Saskatchewan. Sadly I missed the Perseus Meteor Shower.

Stopped long enough in Saskatoon to walk to front of train!

Vanscoy, SK. Inevitable bales of hay.
Perdue, SK. A lot of flat fields, blue sky with fluffy clouds on this trip!

Then suddenly, we were in Alberta. Red hills, undulating, rolling, held in stasis until we pass. It was a strange sensation. We crossed over what was once (still?) the longest train trestle in Canada.

Dotted with cattle.

Wainwright Via Rail Station. A little worse for wear.

Many of us were train weary by the time we finally made it to Edmonton. I was in dire need of a shower. Upon discovering we had only three hours at a relatively new side station with the closest places 3 kilometres away walking in the oncoming mosquito infested dusk. (A few of us considered taking one of the taxis buzzing around much like the mosquitoes) settled to wash my hair in one of the Ladies Room sinks. I discovered I was not the only one!

Hurray, I was still at two seats when we pulled out about 45 minutes late, way past my bedtime in any province. The doldrums of day 3 were dissipating. We were headed to Jasper with visions of mountains to greet us in the morning.

Jasper! Mountains, fresh air, pine trees, rivers,, small town feel with so much to see and do. One passenger said he was equipped to camp for two days in the mountains before hopping back on the train. Winter vs. summer – the mountains appear tame with no sign of the bone chilling snow and ice. Do not be fooled. There are bears in them hills. The fellow said he had camped in Africa where the lions roam. (I have not heard anything about a missing hiker in the area so he must have survived) My closest encounter, soup and a small loaf of day old bread at The Other Bear Claw, now a favourite stop when in Jasper. It was time to sit back to enjoy the views.

Moroccan soup chock full with vegetables and chickpeas. Bread filled with cheese, basil & tomato

Back on the rails, expectations from nature – best quotes far. Upon seeing Thunder Falls on the far side of Moose Lake one passenger quietly exclaimed to her seat mate, “That’s it? We came all this way to see a trickle?” Much later Pyramid Falls silenced them. Except they wanted the train to stop!

Thunder Falls
Pyramid Falls

We passed a tiny place called Blue River, except it’s green – ribbon of molten moss. Passengers come and go – moving vignettes into the lives of travellers. Boredom was interspersed with the glories of canyons and mountains and eavesdropping. A call for a nurse or a doctor also meant we stopped along the way. Some sort of medical emergency. A nurse practitioner from economy class stepped up and it seems a doctor from the sleeper cars was also available. One of the crew members had her radio with her that crackled the ‘patient’ was conscious. It seemed they would be sent to a hospital in Kamloops.

I finally had to order a meal. Not always easy with dietary needs! The chef went out of her way to determine if there was anything I should not eat in some of the choices before suggesting a chef’s salad with an extra egg in place of the ham. Lots of fresh vegetables, and great garlic bread.

We arrived in Kamloops as the sun was setting before I was lulled to sleep with dreams of home.

Expenses: The Other Bear Claw – lunch $9.00; onboard dinner – $11.00 (I had reluctantly thrown out the other half of my roti bought in Winnipeg. It was delicious, just too much potato and chickpeas that seemed to upset my stomach. Just as well I did not have a seat mate!

Ontario Visit: Upper Canada Village

Before and after my two days in Ottawa I managed to fit in some quality time with my grandson, go to a couple of movies, listen to live music, and get more quality time with my grandson! All during the continuing heat wave. I did so much that I have to break things down to smaller bites.

The drive from Battersea (outside of Kingston) to Upper Canada Village takes roughly 1 1/2 hours which means any visiting should seriously consider putting in a full day while there. It takes about the same amount of time if driving from Ottawa. Fortunately there are many activities and lots to see to keep anyone from feeling bored. With relatively flat and easy roads, and no gas vehicles, this a great place for all ages to discover how people lived in the 1860s. Although many of the buildings do have narrow doorways and upper floors I suggest that should not dissuade anyone from visiting.

https://www.uppercanadavillage.com/things-to-do/.

Although the majority of the buildings are not original to the site they all date from around the 1860’s, and were moved in 1957 from various locations during the St. Lawrence Seaway development project, prior to the founding of the village in 1961. Considering my love for old architecture I did not drag my grandson along on any extra excursions: river barge pulled by horses, wagon ride, miniature train, dressing up although I was tempted! We did watch a funny performance that included a 7 1/2 hour Italian opera performed in five minutes. The lead up to that was a small riot of hilarity. A pleasant surprise to discover the performers rally could sing!

Much as I wanted to let them my pandas were not allowed on the plot of the locomotive.

Whimsical painted glass in Chrysler Hall, probably the grandest home. The artist must have had free rein while also indulging his patron’s passions – dogs and horses.

I most certainly did not trust those shifty eyes! This was outside the Physician’s House, where my grandson caught the roving eye of the guide and vice versa! I laughed at that, told his mother later and asked if he was going to tell his girlfriend.

A ‘private’ yard where wool would be cleaned outdoors in boiling water. Look at all that fleece!
Although I do not knit, or crochet, nor have I made anything out of wool textiles for decades, I was rather fascinated with the ‘modern’ workings of the textile mill.
Would all the fly away bits be up for grabs?

The birds love all the bits of wool that escape.

In addition to the wool being processed there was a flour mill that provides whole-wheat & white flours for the bakery that we also visited. White loaves are baked and sold in the mornings & whole-wheat in the afternoons at the souvenir shop. I bought a hefty loaf of whole-wheat – one slice is enough for a meal! Reasonably priced too when compared to large bakeries in the city.

A fun 30+ minutes of an old fashioned family show. They even had the ever ready ‘cure all’ tonic many travelling shows would push to spectators.
A summer kitchen, my main focus was on the beehive oven to the right where all the baking was done.

Well weathered outer log of a log house. I was astounded that anything so delicate with age could be moved fairly intact!

The cheese factory was done for the day. I believe the product is available in much smaller packaging. No samples.

‘The Queen’ quite the collection piece! This fire engine is housed in one of the only purpose built structures to protect it from the elements.

While many of the activities are included in the entry fee it is best to check. The miniature train was cheaper if paid when purchasing the entrance ticket than at the tiny station. Very popular with children. I was aware this not going to be shoestring budget friendly day. When I discovered the entry fee included a visit on some future date before Labour Day to Fort Henry in Kingston I felt I had hit the jackpot!

The only negative was choosing to eat at the Harvest Barn rather than waiting for ‘afternoon tea’ at Willard’s Hotel. My grandson was satisfied with his panini, everything assembled and cooked while he waited; whereas my grilled chicken sandwich was a dry piece of chicken breast, heated up then slapped onto a dry, white hamburger bun with a piece of lettuce. I did find some mustard and managed to eat the chicken and half the bun. Not cheap either! There are enough places to choose from or take a picnic to sit on one of the many lawns. As always when visiting Ontario in the summer take along lots of water, or at least an empty vessel, hat, sunscreen and bug spray if planning to be up in the evening.

Expenses: coffee & house made potato chips $5.10 (I was trying to entice my grandson to eat something); lunch $21.36; Upper Canada Village entry $42.00 (I am still not old enough for the senior rate and my grandson did not have his military family discount card); loaf of bread $5.95

Ontario Visit: Ottawa (2019)

I was extremely fortunate to be treated to two wonderful days and nights in Ottawa by my daughter, and in a way my SIL. He worked, we played. I had only been to our capital city in the dead of winter – twice! If possible visit after all the ice has melted even if it means in the heat of summer. Choosing to only walk while there we barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do – much of which is free!

We ate out a lot! How could we resist The Cupcake Lounge with two trips through Byward Market? No photos so no guilt! I actually enjoyed the market more when I was there one winter. Go figure. Great restraint, half a cupcake after dinner, then half a one for breakfast. A boat cruise took us across to Hull, and gave a water view as we cruised past 24 Sussex Drive, a few embassies, the Rideau Falls, and so much more.

We took a tour of West Block, the only way to visit is to book a tour online. Well worth it, free, despite the very heavy security. Wherever we were water, sunscreen, a hat and places with AC were a necessity. We also put in a lot of stairs and walking. I would do it all again.

Expenses: what can I say here? I paid for so little. Two days in Ottawa for two people, staying within a stone’s throw of Parliament, could easily run into $600 – $1000. We had free accommodation, walked everywhere, took in free activities or my daughter paid. I hope I can return the generosity if she ever makes it back to the west coast.

It was difficult to fit in a shot of the name, me & the pandas! You know, proof & posterity.

Bytown Museum. Ottawa’s oldest stone building.

A great museum with a permanent collection plus temporary exhibits makes this a must see for visitors and locals, all for the incredible sum of $2.00 each. Can’t find a coffee for that!

Kinki Kitchen Lounge. Somehow we managed to share our light lunch!

Patty Boland’s – a bit on the seedy side with surprisingly good food! (I had the chicken tacos) Atop the bar is the best place to belt out a song and grab a quick drink.

The cynic in me turned around to get a shot of Cartier with his back turned to all. At least he is standing on the same side of the fence as all we commoners!

The Library of Parliament has also had to be rehoused – quite close to where we stayed. Sadly only accessible to Parliamentary staff.
I did not find out if the Peace Tower will also undergo renovations. The bell still tolls on the hour, and it seemed the half and quarter hour although we did not pay that much attention to the time. (Clock Tower with the Canadian flag)
Peace man! A little time to play before dealing with the ropes.
Rather like a cork popping up! Look through the for front boat to see the man in red to show how much the canal rose!

All lit up just before the stunning, and dare I say, made me proud to be Canadian.

Northern Lights is showing every night until September 8, 2019. A sound and light show depicting the history of Canada in a breathtaking show. Times depend on the month. We stood right at the ropes on the edge of the grass at the back, a great way to prevent anyone from standing immediately in front of us. Or take a picnic supper and sit on the grass. Did I mention it’s also free?

The temporary Commons was built in the courtyard of the West Block.

Sorry for the poor quality; I want d to show the steel posts that are holding up the temporary Commons roof. The seats for the MPs were moved from Centre Block except for the Speaker’s seat. (Not in photo)
Many Canadians have family who served during war and peacekeeping; many still do and many serve. Let us never forget the commitment.
Let’s never forget that women were also there. Just as they are now.
We were walking along the Promenade where we came upon an elderly woman who had just fallen and most likely dislocated her elbow. My daughter, always a nurse, stayed with her (family was also there) until the paramedics arrived. I thought this display was apt.
The locks from below.

Ontario Visit: from Drag Race to Lakeside

The last two weeks were a mix of big city crazy to sublime quiet. The only factor that did not change was the heat and humidity. Thank goodness for AC in the house and the truck! Even when there thunderstorms it was still hot and humid with the added drenching.

My daughters treated me to a show of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 Roadshow. I am unsure if that is the actual title although it makes sense if it is. My eldest drove us to Toronto, we met up with my other daughter, had lunch at the New York Cafe, (I had the single serving of French Toast – what a great idea to offer that choice) across from the Danforth Music Hall where we would see the show, and had enough time to wander around Danforth a bit. The show was great, all the audience gave a big round of applause for the Canadian favourite, Brooklyn Hytes – I do wish I could have shown him dancing en pointe!

Very unassuming theatre. Pretty sure it is not where the stars perform. The queue started early – no seats on the main floor.
Unfortunately it was so dark that none of our photos did justice to the performers. If anyone has a chance to see a show do so! Even if in a grungy theatre.

We saw my younger daughter off at the GO Station before heading back to Kingston. Halfway there we stopped for dinner in Point Hope, a lovely little town with some great old buildings. Dinner was at Turtle Jack’s because we loved the name. I never did discover why it is called that. Then a very quick walk to admire some of the architecture. I am crossing my fingers for a return trip. especially if there is a chance of getting some better photos!

Bank of Upper Canada erected in 1857. Now the Carlyle Bistro and possibly a boutique hotel. If I had seen this earlier we might have eaten there instead.

Port Hope Town Hall
The following day was a time to hide from the exhausting heat, read and literally watch the flowers pop out much like popcorn does. The morning had started with perhaps five fully opened heads to then be a burst of colour by the end of the day.
A summer school group headed out on Gould Lake.
A restful view at the lake after the hectic city – once all the canoes had passed by. Also where I discovered I really did need the bug spray I had bought!

More adventures to come it’s a trip to Ottawa, and probably Niagara Falls as well as more forays into Kingston if I can avoid the heat!

Expenses: (oops, forgot to put in the ones for when I was in Smiths Falls) Museum $5.00; lunch $11.25 (just me so quite extravagant); insect spray + sundries $12.22 (although my daughter bought more I think I will need my own); Starbucks account $20.00 (this was over a few days to cover what my daughter in Victoria had used – points & money); bottled water $4.00 (gasp, gasp); lunch in Toronto for two $19.00; groceries $7.30

Although it appears I have wantonly spent my limited funds this was over a period of roughly three weeks. I am still well within budget. Just as well considering I have some upcoming travel expenses.

Ontario Visit: Smiths Falls

That name is not a typographical error. It seems the town went through a number of spellings before officially taking on Smiths Falls. Although once the bustling home of Hershey’s kisses, Victor Record (they pressed the iconic first Beatles album), a ploughshares & munitions factory, and a Railway link to the rest of Canada, and the Rideau Canal, the town centre has lost much of its lustre over the years yet continues to attract boaters and tourists for its locks and beaches.

Sad to say the Hershey’s factory shut down in 2009. It sat empty for ten years before being resurrected as a marijuana plant that may also soon be offering edibles. Pot kisses anyone?

I walked along the lovely parkway that skirts the canals where there were some pretty snazzy looking boats. None of the locks were operating when I visited. I checked out the 4 storey Rideau Canal Museum, considering its size the exhibits are somewhat misleading. Then, thinking I might also have time stop at the beach I walked under the beating sun to the Heritage House Museum.

I cannot effectively encapsulate the delightful private tour I was given by the exceedingly knowledgeable Justin, a young university student who provided information through wit, fact and passion. I spent two hours listening, discovering, perusing, learning and even teaching, that I could have easily expanded to a longer visit. My donation of $5.00 was certainly well worth it!

To round off my day, after my daughter picked me up we went to Creekside Pub for dinner where there was live music. I was a little pink, tired, and happy. A sign of a great day!

Trinity United Church.

Being unfamiliar with Sunday services I did not enter any churches. This one certainly caught my eye.

My attempt to show the force of the water – the walkway is cordoned off with with a screen covered in ivy; ropes; cement blocks and signs.

Travel in much earlier days along the canal meant being ready for all occasions!

The bridge across is fixed, still rather scary.

The narrow gates terrify me. The hook is used to help push boats going astray and, I assume, for fishing out hapless fishermen.

View from the Rideau Canal Museum lookout. No fee to visit this Parks Canada Museum.

When I asked if one section opened it seemed unknown – look at what we discovered! This is a carpenter’s toolbox. I expect my guide might have known about it but it was fun to think otherwise.
The lid. The curators do not know who the initials are for. However, it is a piece from the same period of house.
Cast iron stove crafted in Smiths Falls. Note the train engine on the front.

How often can a visitor ask to see the bottom of an antique piece? I still have not figured out what it says. A teapot given to new staff by the 2nd family to own the home. There were a number of artifacts visitors are encouraged to inspect more closely – in the hands, or under the watchful eye, of the guide of course!

To round off the day, Creekside Pub, Sunday music on the patio with Jordy Jackson (he has an album Can’t Cruise Without Country)