Urban Walk: Oceanside discovery

We tend to get a lot of rain leading up to Christmas, and beyond. Which is fine by me as I really do not enjoy snow and the cold. However, rain usually means no lovely Oceanside walks. Today was shaping to be the one day of the week the sun might make an appearance and I was not about to waste it!

My first stop before heading to town was for a coffee – no real (lactose free) milk for my morning cup was not going to put my in a bad mood. We have a Starbucks barely a five minute walk away. I drove, parked, went inside and ordered a flat white. A lovely drink for my roughly 30 minute drive. I collected my sister and off we went. Today she was able to go farther after a nasty fall a week ago – going for a walk with me. We decided to tackle the longer board and cement walk along the water.

We both made sure to use the treads on the boardwalk sections! The ocean crashing on the shore churned up quite a wake. However, the weather held to present us with glimpses of sunshine. And then a glint flashed off the bushes ahead of us. Someone had decorated the various bushes for all to enjoy!

All we need was a bench to sit down and enjoy
Like shiny, plump plums!
An invitation to all. I have a great school bell – will you ring in the magic on the 24th?
Kitten has lost her mittens? A kind soul tacked these to a lamp post.

Maybe ‘[she] found her mittens’. I was very tempted to claim them for me! However, that would have been a very Scrooge move, or for those who are younger than me, the Grinch, before they both grew hearts.

After a round trip walk of about six kilometres (part way back my sister informed me she had been ready to turn around much sooner) we went grocery shopping (for my sister and one of my daughters). I feel a bit like an elf.

More West Coast November: a wander through James Bay

On my last day looking after my daughter’s cat, before going home to my two, I took advantage of the foggy yet fairly decent morning to walk along the coastline pathways. So many people think the west coast of Canada is too grey in the fall and winter – I say they are not looking for the gems. Although I have not left the island, nor gone beyond Greater Victoria, I can find so much to enjoy.

Fisherman’s Wharf. The always popular, colourful mix of houseboats and fishing boats where you can find eateries, artists, kayaks to rent, music, hopeful seals seeking a handout (I believe no longer allowed) and a mix of visitors. Mirror clear.
Art installation?
I have no idea if the bits and pieces were added before this stump washed up on our shores or if someone saw its potential. I love the tide surrounding the base.

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.


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: Kitchener history and a bit of mine

Since arriving in Kitchener I have kept busy with everything there is to do here. So I am always surprised when residents of the city have absolutely no idea what is beyond their regular routine. This includes my daughter and her husband! When the topic came up, the day after we had visited Victoria Park, I learned that rather than a lack of interest it was more one of not thinking about what might be happening or where to visit. I am probably just as guilty of that when at home except I no longer have to worry about work or academic deadlines. I decided to continue with my morning search of an activity on my last Sunday. To my delight that choice also put me on the trail of a historic site close to downtown Kitchener.

There are many small galleries in the area. I found yet another gallery about a 20 minute walk from where I was staying. The Uptown Gallery at Waterloo Town Square promotes local artists, with new shows every two months, as well as inviting non-members to showcase their work. When I was visiting the works were primarily paintings of various genres, art photography, and glasswork. Sadly my iPhone photo skills were too poor to showcase any of the paintings except for one exquisite glass plate I coveted.

Just as well I have only carry on luggage and a minuscule budget. Breakage would be heartbreaking.

The artist working the space that day asked me if I had been to Schneider Haus National Historic Site in downtown Kitchener – I had not. She was kind enough to look up their hours, open till 5:00 that day. Also the only day open before I would leave. I thanked her, hopped on a bus and headed downtown. It did take a bit of a walk as the site is not in the centre of town – which explains how I had missed it. It is relatively close to Victoria Park. In addition to the house there is another gallery, currently showing Storytelling in Stone (Sophie Drouin) a mosaic artist – also the artist who had directed me to the site without saying too much about her own involvement.

Schneider Haus is Kitchener’s oldest homestead dwelling (1816) built by Joseph Schneider, a Pennsylvania-German Mennonite, for his family. I asked what the difference is between Pennsylvania-Dutch, my father’s ancestors – Loyalists rather than any faith – and Pennsylvania-German. Nothing really except those saying Dutch as their heritage came to what is now Canada in the mid to late 1800s and settled further west. That fits in with my father’s family history.

Master bedroom, there is also a trundle bed, a child’s cot and a cradle.

Although costumed interpreters/historians representing life in 1856, which was when the second generation of Schneiders occupied the homestead, were present they discussed the history, answered questions, and pointed out various interesting items in the present day. It is always easier to learn about a place rather than having staff take on a character they may not move out of.

This wheel was in the upper room of the rebuild first house (tiny) where the girls (the Schneider’s had a ‘small’ family, 4 girls 2 boys) had room to walk back and forth spinning. The interpreter said the women averaged 20 miles a day spinning.

During my walk I came across two other buildings with some historic significance. Mutual Life Head Office (now Sun Life Insurance) the original building, an ornate symbol of “Waterloo’s first life insurance company”, with the new offices attempting to tower above. Despite the high glass new structure the elaborate work of the Renaissance Revival (1912) building never fails to draw my eye. I discovered the oak and maple leaves of silver along the low garden walls. I have no idea if the represent anything beyond being pretty.

Not very comfortable to sit on!

Finally, for many people my age a sad indication of time marching by. I immediately recognized the sign outline, and the shape of blue roof – a glimpse into my past. (Eventually the roof of all these ice cream parlours were red and the only article about this particular store indicates it might have been at one time) This was a Dairy Queen, serving dipped chocolate ice cream cones for 62 years! To give that perspective I am 61. The first Canadian DQ opened in Saskatchewan in 1953. as a child we would stop at Dairy Queen (never DQ) for ice cream after the harrowing 100 miles from Prince Rupert to Terrace.

I had no idea my steps would take me back in time to thoughts of my ancestors and my childhood all the way from Ontario to Saskatchewan to northern B.C. by simply glimpsing an old store and visiting an old Haus.

Expenses: Giant ginger cookie (Sabletine Bakery) $3.63; Schneider Haus $5.65 (I believe this is the first time I have paid an entry fee unless my lunch were included since arriving in Kitchener – well worth it)

Ontario visit: Dinosaurs, fossils, graveyards, appreciation & then some

This week I slowed down just a little. It took two days to get over my epic ten km to see the tiny Waterloo Museum! Which gave me a chance to pause and consider where I am at in life and where I have been in the last two plus weeks. Other than the fact I am closer to 62 years than my current 61 I sometimes feel I have not done enough to enjoy my surroundings. Checking in makes me realize it is impossible to do everything so why not enjoy what I can do? (I wanted to title this ‘Dem Bones, Dem Bones‘ then thought that might be in bad taste).

On the day I foolishly walked ten kilometres I at least had the sense to take a break. Still wanting to refrain from spending money I decided a second cup of coffee was called for at a Starbucks I came across. The configuration of the store is such that there is not a lot of space between the door and ordering if there is a line; two women in front of me indicated they were not in line, and were actually management. One was the district manager, I asked if that included the new SB across from Kitchener City Hall. Yes. I explained that overall I was very happy with the service but did have one suggestion – which she said she would look into.

Forward to three days later, I walked to my usual SB to find out if my charger cord had been handed in after I foolishly left it behind two days earlier. Sadly no. While there I had a coffee. Soon after I had settled in to read a bit a young woman came up to me, smile on her face, a friendly hello how are you – as though she knew me – I must have looked as startled as I felt, as she quickly explained who she was. She then said that my observation of no hooks in the washrooms would be remedied next week! I was impressed. The. One of the baristas asked if I had gone through all of my stars yet. When I said no she thought that was great budgeting. Not done yet…another barista, carrying a blueberry scone, came to my table asking if I would like to enjoy a scone – it was even warm! Not a mistaken order. Perhaps I have gone there too often. I like that kind of customer service. Although I lost my cord I do not have to replace it so I am still well within my budget and did not have to use stars for the muffin I had intended to get.

It was just as well I asked my daughter to join me at the Earth & Science Museum at the University of Waterloo – I thought it was at Wilfred Laurier University. Not only does my daughter go to U of W, she also knew where the museum was. We spend a couple of hours out of the rain looking at dinosaur bones, casts of bones, fossils, rocks and stones. Lots of great information too. Too often universities are overlooked as places for the general to visit exhibits, performances or lectures that are very often free of charge. It was fun to see a class of the next generation learning about dinosaurs in one space and convocation photos being taking with one of the dinosaur displays. The only negative was my neglecting to eat my snack – fortunately there was a small cafe in the building where I had a delicious grilled cheese English muffin and a small cup of tortellini soup. In addition to my granola bar. I rarely get to the point of getting shaky and will make sure I do not again as I am usually on my own when visiting places.

This is a massive casting high on a wall.

The following day I wanted to visit one of the cemeteries in Kitchener – there are seven! Realizing my preference was more than an hour away by bus I decided to walk to the nearby, and oldest, Mount Hope Cemetery. I have always had a fascination for cemeteries, and a lot can be learned about the culture of an area by visiting them. As indicated in the information I read about this cemetery two churches were prominent in the area – Protestant and Roman Catholic. While I am far from being a linguist I believe the names engraved on headstones are primarily Germanic. Although there is a self guided tour available I am glad I forgot all about it as I may have missed some interesting gravestones. I meandered along the paths enjoying the solitude, massive maples and the shade they provided.

Hockey Mom. Such a happy memory.

These are all gravestones for Reverends of the Congregation for the Resurrection (est. 1836)

I had never seen a cross placed on a stone like this.

This gravesite made me smile. Stickers(?), spinner, chimes and the stone nestled between two trees.

The cynical me asked how does anyone know which set of stones is their father and mother? There were several like this. Before GPS.

Magic, Music & Munchies

Saturday morning was relaxed, no rush to go anywhere unless the rain started to come down. We were fortunate as all we ever encountered once we had headed out was a light mist. That kept any biting bugs at bay and made walking cool – perhaps slightly too cool. Being a weekend my daughter and SIL joined me to visit Victoria Park before heading to the King Streatery Food Truck Festival – a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Victoria Park (1896) has something for everyone, open 365 days of the week. As we enter summer – weather wise it is late this year although I like the lower temperatures – ducks, geese (many, many geese), swans, cardinals and other birds are in abundance, as well as squirrels and chipmunks. We do not get chipmunks in Victoria – they are so cute! In addition to the wildlife we saw glimpses of four weddings and two birthday parties. The park is large enough that there was not any sign of crossing paths between any of them. A massive interactive play area with a splash park next to it was very impressive.

“For me this region is a metaphor for new rhythms and beats.”

As we entered from one of the side bridges the main entrance became the piece de resistance, the old City Hall clock, with bell, tower had been moved to the park and installed to bring the eyes to a lovely fountain area that gently showcases stone luggage raised above the water. Yes, water does gurgle out of these, yet it works as a meaning of hope and welcome. Which the instalment was meant to do. As we were leaving I saw from the corner of my eye a stone guitar case. Love, love, love it! Music transcends all.

This tower was actually moved from atop the old city hall in 1973, & disassembled before being moved to its present location in 1995.

We were early for the food festival, and the musicians were only warming up. What better excuse than to head to one of local second hand bookstores? I showed great restraint despite having finished three of my four books already. My daughter also stayed at one – I am going to attempt to read it before I leave in three days – and my SIL bought seven! Guess who carried all the books. To work up an appetite we walked down then up the length of the street to check each truck out. There were many choices unless one is a vegetarian or vegan. Which my daughter is and I am well on my way to being. We finally narrowed our choices down, stopped at The Crumby Cookie Dough Company  where my daughter and I shared a Material Squirrel appetizer (that meant I had 3-4 very small bites) – so, dessert before dinner. We then headed all the way back to Perogi Pigs to have, what else, classic perogies.

Sated, we stopped to watch a magic show, very interactive and a small appreciative crowd meant that everyone, including ‘Amazing, Mike’ (local magician) were all happy, and barely noticed the light rain starting to fall. Despite the still early hour we wended our way home, avoiding unfurling umbrellas and people happily munching on Canadian delights – Beaver Tails, Poutine; Indian food, BBQ, Mexican, french fries, crepes, rolled pizza (sound strange but looked good), pulled pork sandwiches, ice cream or hanging out in the pop-up beer garden and a few more, all while listening to some pretty decent live music or playing games. Although my children are all grown I do like to see events that include families of any kind.

No idea why the name considering traditional perogies do not have pork. Perhaps in reference to adding bacon on top, or simply for how scrumptious perogies are.

“Amazing Mike”. My 30 y/o is quite taken with magic.

Although my SIL was thinking of taking the bus back I prevailed by saying I had to walk of my carb heavy dinner, besides it is barely a twenty minute walk and they had umbrellas. The rain remained light. It was time to put on my pyjamas and cozy up to my book despite the time of barely 7:00pm. Plans for the following day, maybe laundry. Definitely making black bean burgers and potato salad for dinner.

Expenses: transit $10.00; lunch $7.45; $11.00 Food Truck Festival perogies; $2.00 second book (I rarely leave a 2nd bookstore without at least one book – showing great restraint) $3.00 magician busker.