Ontario visit: the in between stuff!

I have been fortunate to spend quality time with my daughter and grandson over the last few weeks as well as finding activities I can do on my own when they are working or having their own fun. Visiting family for extended stays is all about balance.

What did I find to do in Kingston when I have already seen and done so much during past visits? A surprising lot! As always, Music In the Park (Confederation Park – not Centennial Park as I constantly call it! The latter is in Victoria) is always a great place to sit back and relax, have s picnic, enjoy some great music and, when it comes, a cooling breeze off Lake Ontario. During the summer Thursdays are a perfect time for the afternoon hour of music then an hour of Downtown Country before heading to the far side of City Hall for a an outdoor movie at Springer Market Square! On the evening I was in the area I saw Mama Mia: Here We Go Again after some pretty mean country picking earlier.

The United Steelpickers
I went prepared! Book for when I had to wait for the movie; lots of water, a hat, dinner in snack form, my fan – I did use it – even a snazzy seat built into a backpack that my grandson loaned to me!

Of course I sang! Very quietly. Cute movie, not what I expected.

There was finally a day when my daughter did not have to work 12 hours followed by sleeping. We had an impromptu afternoon – 3:00pm movie? Of course! Lion King was great!

I managed to snag my grandson for another Monday outing! We took advantage of the two National Parks for one price from our outing the previous week, choosing to visit the much closer Fort Henry. The original Fort was built and garrisoned during the war of 1812 but saw no military action. (Must have been pretty boring times stuck in readiness every day)

Despite having been on a tour a couple of years ago I learned more about the military and civil daily life for the inhabitants from an engaging guide. In addition to that there were some changes made since my last visit. Although I like fresh baked cookies and bread I was unsure about grilled cheese sandwiches being served at the Bonnycastle Bakery that is now within the Lower Fort – although they were far less expensive than the Battery Bistro where we eventually had lunch. However, the chocolate chip cookie I did buy, and shared with my grandson and pandas, was quite yummy. My issue is that sandwiches, like the cookies, are not authentic fare. Not that anything at the bistro, in the Upper Fort, serves anything authentic either. Their outdoor patio has a million dollar view of Lake Ontario. If given a choice another time I would go for the bakery.

A visit to Fort Henry where my friends were very near in trouble for wanting to eat the cookies before they cooled down.
I am quite sure cookies were not part of the daily rations back in the day. However, still the same ovens!
Those poor drummers were practising under the severe sun and in high humidity – I hope they are paid well to entertain we tourists!

Precision stepping and measured piping.

It might be expected that I was becoming quite worn out with so much to do! Fortunately I did have days I could just relax, go for a walk – most days it was too hot so I went to Cataraqui Mall, open late Monday through Friday, to get in my much needed steps. A visit to Picton, one of many small towns in Ontario’s wine country, to the local, exceptionally well attended and large, arts & crafts fair did nearly do me in despite having my hat, sunscreen, plenty of water from the refill station, and a few delicious choices to snack on. My daughter and I shared a giant pretzel, a variety of spreads (most of which I could not eat) before deciding we would not get dinner at the nifty, mobile fire truck pizza.

Firewood in a fire tuck!

We rocked out to Moist at Stringer Market downtown.

Attended a backyard bridal shower the following day.

Then a barbecue, complete with roasting marshmallows, the next evening!

I will be heading to Kitchener soon to spend three days before heading home on the train. The decision to return to Kitchener makes the most sense financially as well as a way to visit my family there again. I will avoid the expense of staying in Toronto overnight if I had left from Kingston by taking GO Transit from Kitchener very early the morning.

Expenses: after my trip to Ottawa I slipped in keeping careful track of everything – no real reason beyond laziness. However, despite yet another expensive day with my grandson, despite not having to pay an entry fee, I do seem to still be on track. (Speaking of which, my train trip to Kitchener was booked on Discount Tuesday by my daughter who will take my e-vouchers in payment = $60.00)

Bonnycastle Bakery: $1.60 cookie; Battery Bistro: $32.00 lunch for two

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: 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)

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)