Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Go east to Northumberland County and see the Big Apple

Our fun day trip east of Toronto started with a visit to see giant robots in Port Hope then we continued east to Colborne where we visited the Big Apple and then swung down to the shores of Lake Ontario and followed it back towards Toronto.

You can't miss the Big Apple as it sits along the edge of Highway 401 at exit 497 because it is quite large; 40 feet tall, bright red with a happy face and during the times of Covid-19 Mr. Applehead wears a mask for everyone's protection. On the day we visited Big Apple they had cooked almost 7.2 million combined apple pies and apple bread loaves. The place is part pie factory, part restaurant and part amusement park. 
On the return trip via the Waterfront Trail we enjoyed the remaining fall colours and looked for great stops along the way. We found a jewel in the town of Cobourg, which reminded me a lot of Kingston with an added bonus of an amazing beach and park. Their old town hall is impressive, the old railway station is a Farmers Market on Saturdays, the old jail will soon be a condo and there are plenty of porta-potties for travelers. It was great wandering the waterfront and into the lovely downtown (picture at top). Five movies were filmed in Cobourg including Adam Sandler's Pixels as well as a number of television series and commercials.
The large beach has a number of lifeguard stations and is ringed by a boardwalk 
The lighthouses indicate the entrance to Cobourg harbour

See more of Cobourg after the jump.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Return to the home of big robots in Port Hope

A day trip one hour east of Toronto brings you to Port Hope where Primitive Designs is located. The retail import store is open six days a week from March till Christmas Day. The last time we were there it was in February and the store was closed so we could only see a few robots from outside the entrance gate. This time we checked when it was open and called in a reservation to explore the extensive grounds, tents and buildings and it was worth the trip to Northumberland County in south east Ontario along the shores of Lake Ontario.

Originally it was an adventure tour and we weren't sure what to expect. Seeing the big transformer and dinosaur in the front yard really peaked our interest, so we have been waiting to return to the store and luckily the day we picked was a gorgeous fall weekend. They have plenty of parking on site and check your reservation at the entrance. You have to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer and off you go checking out their vast inventory of stuff - items from around the world and their amazing fabricated art works made from recycled auto parts. The impressive robots include a three headed dragon, a rhino, crocodile, terminator, transformer and many others. The rhino is on a wagon and they roll it out into town on the odd occasion.

From their website, "We are happy to welcome you to Primitive Designs we are located 2 minutes north of the 401 in Port Hope’s beautiful countryside for the last twenty years. Ron Rhonda and Maximus have traveled the globe hand-selecting exotic and unusual antiques and crafts from around the world. We are a family run business importing from Morocco, Bali, Thailand, Mexico, India, Vietnam, Nepal, Sumatra& Timor. In our 8000 square foot gallery, you will find a market type atmosphere filled with treasures both for your home and garden. Take your time and enjoy, there is no need to rush. Feel free to ask questions, we are proud of the people we work with and are happy to tell their story. Many of whom we have been doing business with for over 40 years. We pride ourselves in giving you products that are free from child labor and bought at a fair market value by family-run business."


They are located on Highway 28, just minutes north of Highway 401 and open from 9-5 Tuesdays to Sunday, closed on Mondays (except for Holiday Mondays). Check out the Primitive Designs website to confirm hours and to make reservations.

See more photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Terra Cotta Conservation Area in the fall

This GTA park is located in the northeast corner of Halton Hills, right off of Winston Churchill Boulevard and just a kiss away from Caledon. The famous Bruce Trail cuts through this park with many other trails winding around the Terra Cotta Conservation Area. Part of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority parks, Google maps says this park is leafy and known for winter sports. When I visited the fall leaves were mostly yellow with the forest floor covered in a layer of fallen leaves.
The mixed forest contains a lot of maple trees, in fact you can see the trees are tapped using the flexible plastic hoses and buy some maple syrup in the visitor centre on weekends (closed now due to Covid-19).
Maple tree say collection using blue plastic tubing

Trail map

From the park's website, "Terra Cotta is a trail lover’s paradise. A variety of trails take visitors past the forests, fields, lakes and ponds of the Niagara Escarpment surroundings and let you experience natural settings, so close to urban and rural developments. The trails at Terra Cotta accommodate all levels of trail users, from beginner to expert with a variety of terrains and distances. Please note in the winter months Terra Cotta Lane and McGregor Spring Pond trail are designated for cross-country skiing only. Great loop trails for hiking and snowshoeing include the wetland trail and the AF Coventry trail." I love their trail map (you can find some maps in the field as well) as it identifies the routes along with names, colour schemes and the intersections, or stations are numbered. Along the trail you can find the markers showing the information so that you can find your way throughout the park.
Trail markers
The stairs to the Bruce Trail as it exits Terra Cotta

Rogers Creek, which feeds into the Credit River, features the Terra Cotta waterfall just northwest of the park, adjacent to the Bruce Trail (to the west) down a relatively steep valley trail. The 3m plunge falls is a low flow waterfall, but if you wait for spring flow it will probably be a little wet and hard to get down to the edge of the creek. You can find it by traveling about 5 minutes north of the park (from Point 15 at the ladder crossing, above) and at an intersection of another trail head down the valley bank towards the sound of flowing water.
Terra Cotta waterfall

See more of the Conservation Area after the jump.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Port Dalhousie abandoned canal locks

In the long history of the Welland Canal the route has shifted several times leaving abandoned locks and mechanical features which you can see in Port Dalhousie - once the terminal point for the canal as it connected to Lake Ontario. The 3rd canal, lock 2 is pictured at top. Port Dalhousie was the terminal point of the Welland Canal from 1829 with the 1st canal, continuing with the second (1846) and third canals (from 1887 till the new and current canal was opened in 1932). I like to go through Port Dalhousie as I head into the Niagara Region and it's wineries and easy route to Niagara Falls staying off the QEW highway as much as possible.

Rankin Condo

Development and rehabilitation is afoot along the old canal route in the town that has been incorporated into the town of St. Catherines. Several condos are planned for the downtown area including the Rankin Condo and the upcoming Harbour Club along the banks of Twelve Mile Creek. The old lock 1 of the second Welland Canal route has been incorporated into an outdoor stage and parkette besides the Rankin Condo.
Harbour Club in the old Dominion Rubber Company building
Canal 2, lock 1 new stage and parkette

We parked along Lake Ontario at Lakeside Park, home of the famous nickel-a-ride carousel, and walked to Rennie Park which has paths and a long pedestrian bridge that connects to Royal Henley Park across the Martindale Pond.
Pedestrian bridge to Royal Henley Park
Old tie down points for ships along lock 2 remain in the park
Canal 3, lock 2 ends in Royal Henley Park
Canal 3, lock 2 looking into Royal Henley Park

As you walk the paths you can see features of the old canals in the water, some where only birds now perch, until you come close to Royal Henley where you can see lock 2 from the 3rd canal route. The lock has been incorporated into the Royal Henley Park where the balance of locks and canal walls have been buried and developed from the park to where it would intercept the current canal adjacent to lock 3 (home of the St. Catherines Museum and Welland Canal Centre). You can follow the canals on this Google Maps geographic guide.

See more of Port Dalhousie's water features after the jump.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

3-Story Sculpture 'Dreaming' at Richmond-Adelaide Centre

Oxford Properties placed Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's $2 million, 2.5 tonnes sculpture 'Dreaming' at the centre in early October 2020. Located in the Toronto Financial District on the north side of Adelaide Street between York and Bay Streets, nestled into the square at the southwest corner of the Richmond-Adelaide Centre.

The sculpture is a white marble and resin stone portrait of a young girl in contemplation by Jaume Plensa, an award winning artist who has public art installations around the world. Oxford Properties purchased the sculpture as part of a $650 million revitalization of several of their properties at this location.

“We are invested in Toronto’s urban landscape and in creating a magnetic destination that inspires people,” said Eric Plesman, Oxford Properties’ Executive Vice President for North America. “The Dreaming installation is a landmark sculpture that will attract visitors from the immediate community and broader audiences to a public plaza that will support the vitality of downtown Toronto and our ongoing evolution as a world class city.

“This is a crucial time to bring inspiring outdoor spaces that encourage connection between urban development, art and the community. After months of staying at home, Dreaming will be there to welcome back workers, residents and visitors as we start to bring back vitality to the downtown core. She gives a message of hope, courage and quiet contemplation at a time of great upheaval in all of our lives.”

“The installation of this large-scale sculpture at the Richmond-Adelaide Centre’s new Terrace couldn’t have come at a better time for residents seeking socially distant ways to enjoy Toronto’s outdoor, public art,” said Mayor John Tory. “I want to thank Oxford Properties for embracing its commitment to public art with the selection of Dreaming which will catch the eye of every passerby at this newly restored commercial plaza. The restoration and redevelopment of the surrounding office buildings represent a multi-year revitalization initiative by Oxford that will greatly improve our city’s Financial District.”

Monday, October 12, 2020

Acton's Frog Pond and the return of Fall

Autumn's colours are out in the Halton Hills area and we wandered down the trail that leads to Frog Pond in Acton to see the foiliage and we were not disappointed.




Taking the trail that runs from Frederick Street South, passes along the Beardmore property and leads to the Waste Treatment facility

Ontario Place Winter Light Exhibition 2021?

Will the free Winter Light Exhibition take place on the West Island in the new year? Covid seems to have taken out a lot of events, especially as the second wave has started ramping up those with the coronavirus, but hopefully social distance events can still occur. One of the lighting exhibits remains suspended waiting for the next light show ('Thought' by Collective: oneandoneandone x Reila pictured at top).
The pods at Ontario Place

The exhibition usually takes place from February to March, running daily from 4pm to 11pm. So far the listed events for Ontario Place only go into October of 2020 so we will have to wait for further word on the upcoming schedule.

In the meantime what is up with the remaining tower base from a water slide from a park that closed in 2011? This is the first time that I actually went up to the structure and it occupies an imposing space on the island, it cost $750,000 to build. You can't climb the structure as gates block progress up the tower. The slides were removed in 2016 and only the steel tower from the attraction. Ontario Place opened in 1971, closed in 2012 and only reopened for events in July of 2020. I think we will have to hear of the redevelopment plans to see what will happen with the remnants from the old theme park.

You can still use the long, enclosed walkway between the Cinesphere and the west entrance

See more of Ontario Place in Fall after the jump.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Fall at the Forks of the Credit

Caledon is the king of Fall in the GTA, where thousands make the trek through roads choked with traffic fighting to see fall colours before the leaves become crispy and brown. Some of the destinations that are most valued in the tree rich area include the Cheltenham Badlands, the Bruce Trail and the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. The rail line at the north end of the park is shown in the picture at top.


The Elora Cataract Rail Trail enters the park in the north off of Mississauga Road near Cataract Road. When you get in the park, crossing two pedestrian bridges, you cannot bike further because the Dominion Trail is blocked and you would have to climb a long set of winding stairs up the steep hill. You can still walk the trails and enjoy the park without having to endure the crowded roads while looking for a parking space.

The bridge over the railway from the Elora Cataract Trail into the park

From the park's website, "Forks of the Credit Provincial Park has implemented measures to address overcrowding and promote physical distancing. Park operating hours are 8am-7pm Monday to Thursday - no further entry permitted after 5pm and 8am-8pm Friday to Sunday-no further entry will be permitted after 4pm (Friday to Sunday - Park gates may be closed at any time of day if park capacity is reached) Visitors should plan accordingly and make alternate arrangements in the event that the park gates are closed."

The Credit River passes under the pedestrian bridge
The Credit River downstream of the bridge. This section of the trail is closed

From the park's website, "The Forks of the Credit Provincial Park Mill site viewing platform is temporarily closed. Ontario Parks is currently reviewing options for the replacement of the platform.
To view the falls, travel along the Meadow Trail until it intersects with the Bruce Trail. Follow Bruce Trail west until it intersects the Dominion Trail. Go north until it ends at the closure. Be advised you will be required to return the same way."




The provincial park is tucked between Cataract and Brimstone, an astonishingly set of grim names for a pair of small settlements. Remember that parking is in short supply and towing is always a favoured action of the local constabulary and their restrictive bylaws. 

To bypass the problems with parking I have taken the Elora Cataract Trailway which runs 47 km between Elora and Cataract on the old Credit Valley Railway right of way which was acquired from the CPR in 1993. There are many spots for parking in between the terminal points and you can ride right into the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park from the trail. I had previously rode from Belwood Lake to the park and back with a distance of 58km but it didn't leave much time to explore the park before I was riding back in the dark, soaking wet due to the rain. This time I chose to park in Erin and make the approximately 10km one way journey to allow more time for adventure.

The park is full of trails that lead along the Credit and through the Forks of the Credit, some cutting up from the river to the top of the valley. The beauty of the river valley is incredible, fall colours as of October 10, 2020 are at 80% with a leaf fall of 20%. There is not too much time left to take in the splendor of Fall in this park.

You can check on twitter for the latest parking updates and it doesn't take long to fill the parking lot. "Forks of the Credit Provincial Park @ForksCreditPP October 10,2020 - 9:45am Forks of the Credit is at 100% capacity - no further entry will be permitted. travel safely!"

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs

Pride

Redball

Beaches

Graffiti

Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square

Transportation