It was a blue sky, top down day all day today. Parry Sound is not very far away from Barrie; only about an hour or so, but this area – The Muskoka Lakes – is where John’s Grandad spent some of his childhood. John has fond memories of his Grandad’s stories so he wanted to see some of the places his Grandad talked about: specifically Port Carling and Bracebridge.
This is a real tourist area and has been a get-away place since it was settled almost 200 years ago. The lakes, big, small and in-between all connect to one another and there are thousands of islands in the lakes. Pleasure boats and sea-dos and fishermen abound all summer long. You could putt around on these lakes for weeks, I think.
Port Carling was the first town on the half-loop we were making between Parry Sound and Barrie. I loved Port Carling. It had a quaint downtown area, gorgeous flower boxes, baskets, and beds all around town, a very nice museum, two pleasure boat locks right down town, and the most fabulous photo-montage mural on the side of a building. We happily spent two hours wandering around the waterways and through the museum. Long enough to justify a “Bear Claw” ice cream cone for John (chocolate ice cream, caramel and chocolate coated cashews) and a “Death By Chocolate” ice cream cone for me (chocolate ice cream, chocolate chunks and chocolate swirl). Yum yum.The two story log cabin at the museum and some gorgeous canoes that were inside. This was also a pleasure boat-building area and they had a display of some of the beautiful wood boats that were made here.
This centennial mural is made with 9028 images of residents and the history in Port Carling from 1860-1960. There are 905 ‘original’ photographs that run the length of the wall to a height of 9′ that are then repeated throughout the rest of the mural to make the R.M.S. Sagamo steamship, the swing bridge and the freight shed circa 1922.
The drive between Port Carling and Bracebridge was nice. It is a lovely area here with waterways and lakes everywhere. The mixed forest has become more of a deciduous forest and there are open farmland areas so there was more variety from the trees lining the road that we have been driving through lately.
We had to stop at Milford Bay as it was another place John’s Grandad spoke of. Bracebridge was also a nice town. It had a very long walking trail alongside the river that was part of a hydro spillway so there were two sets of waterfalls basically downtown. According to one of my books there are 20 waterfalls in close vicinity to Bracebridge. I was tempted to go visit “Santa’s Village” which is a 20 acre tribute to the jolly man in red, but I was good and resisted.
After we left Bracebridge we had to drive down Highway 400 which is the freeeway that goes straight to Toronto. By the time we reached Orillia traffic in the six lanes was getting much heavier. I was happy to get off it to drive into Orillia; to Couchiching Park to see the Champlain Monument. It is reputed to be one of the finest bronzes on the continent. The huge waterfront park was SO BUSY we couldn’t find a place to park, no matter how many turns through the lots we made. The Champlain Monument is located in the middle of a grassy circle, so I hopped out of the truck at a stop sign and John drove around the loop twice until I had taken some quick photos and got back in.
We arrived at Barrie at 4 o’clock. John found an ad for the Cottage Canoe restaurant in the hotel guest directory. It wasn’t too far from our hotel so we decided to give it a try. The special was a three course meal for $20 per person with a choice between two items for each course. We had the Summer Salad for a starter: watermelon, cucumber, feta cheese and chopped mint. The main course was pork medallions with berry compote, rosemary roasted potatoes and braised carrots. Dessert was a strawberry sundae made with pureed strawberries, ice cream, whip cream and a huge whole strawberry. Our server had also designed a summer cocktail made of pureed watermelon, strawberries, vodka and a bit of club soda. Tasty tasty!
All in all I consider this to be have been a very good day. And I wish a very Happy 5th Anniversary to our daughter Trish and her husband Ben. Congratulations you two.