A Travellerspoint blog

Discover Ontario: Bruce Peninsula

sunny 25 °C

Background Info: The Bruce Peninsula is situated between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. It is part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve and is an important habitat for many animals and reptiles, including black bear, massasauga rattlesnake, and barred owl.

The Trip: If you are driving from Toronto, the shortest and most scenic route to take is Hwy 11 north (Hurontario St.) which brings you right to the southern-most point of the peninsula. The Bruce Peninsula encompasses several towns so the time it takes to get there depends on your destination. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hrs to get to Sauble Beach and Wiarton, about 3 hrs to get to Lion's Head and 3.5 to 4 hrs to get to Tobermory (located at the northern tip of the peninsula).

Thoughts About the Place: I absolutely love coming to the Bruce Peninsula, so much that my boyfriend and I have made this trip into a yearly vacation. We love coming here to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. We usually like to stay in/ or very close to Tobermory, located at the northern end of the Bruce Peninsula. Although a small tourist town, Tobermory offers its guests galleries, tourist shops and several local restaurants. Not be missed are The Fish and Chips Place for fresh, local fish and the Crow's Nest for an evening dinner and live music. If you're in the mood for something sweet, check out the Sweet Shop which offers ice cream and chocolates (a coffee/tea shop is nearby), although the Peninsula Supply (across from Foodland at the marina) also offers good ice cream. If you're staying in town for a couple of days you could take a day (or more) to visit Manitoulin Island (accessible by passenger/car ferry MS Chi-Cheemaun). The Island is quite big and offers many attractions so if you are planning to stay just for the day make sure you take the early ferry as it takes about 2 hrs to get there. Another island you can visit is Flowerpot Island which offers walking trails and beaches. On the way, you can take a glass-bottom boat which will allow you to see one of the shipwrecks not far from shore. If, on the other hand, you are planning to stay on mainland, there are quite a few things to explore not far from Tobermory. The most important thing to see is the Bruce Peninsula National Park. From the main parking lot, a 40 min. light hike will lead you to beautiful views of Georgian Bay and the famous Grotto (you can also swim here although the water is usually cold). If you want a beach day, you can also check out Singing Sands Beach on Lake Huron (entrance from Dorca's Bay Rd. off of Hwy 6). Just a note that the water is very shallow, so you will need to walk quite a bit until you reach deeper waters. Stay here until the evening when you might experience the tides that frequently come into shore, and see the beautiful sunsets. There is also a small beach closer to Tobermory on Dunk's Bay Rd. on the Georgian Bay side. There is also a historic light house to be seen: take Dyers Bay Rd. E and take the gravel road (very scenic) once you reach Cabot Dock Lane (at this juncture you can make a pit-stop and take some photos at the boat lunch (you can also jump in the water from the pier). Once you reach the light house, make sure to go inside to see how the lightkeeper used to live and go all the way up top for a view of the area. You can also walk the small trail to the Bay where many ships come to dock when the Georgian bay waters are rough.

On your way back home, you could also stop in some of the following towns:

a. Sauble Beach: Sauble Beach is a popular beach resort town and is usually quiter and offers and a more mature crowd than Wasaga Beach. Although much farther than Wasaga, many Torontonians prefer to drive up to Sauble Beach, even if for the day. There are quite a few shops here and a supermarket if you are planning to stay for a few days. The beach is clean, sandy, and over 11 km long.

b. Wiarton: From Sauble, go north on Hwy 6 and soon enough you will reach the small town of Wiarton. There is a little park here were you can relax and have a picnic. The most important thing to do here is to visit Wiarton Willie, the cute little groundhog that is a celebrity not only February, but all year round for those who come to visit him. If are continuing to travel north along the peninsula and you love Tim Hortons, make sure to buy something here as this is the only location.

c. Lion's Head: Even smaller and quieter than Wiarton is Lion's Head. There is not much to do here except to see the marina and rocky beach. If you drive a bit north to Hopes Bay, you will find a nice campground and cabin rental resort which provides access to a sandy beach and beach volleyball. If you are in the mood for a hike, close by (to the north of Hopes Bay) you can see visit some caves at Greig's Caves found on Scenic Caves Rd. off of Hwy 9.

Posted by cris2travel 19:53 Archived in Canada Tagged tobermory Comments (0)

Trips Around Canada: Charlottetown, PEI

sunny 26 °C

Background Info: Charlottetown is a city of over 32,000 people located on the south shore of Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown is the capital city of Prince Edward Island and is best known as the Birthplace of Canada. It was here that the Fathers of Confederation first met in 1864 to discuss the possible union of all British North America into one country. As a result of the Charlottetown Conference, the birth of a nation took place when Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario united to form the Dominion of Canada. PEI did not join this union until 1873 when it needed the nation's financial assistance in order to build a railroad.

The Trip: If you are planning to fly out to Charlottetown it takes 2 hours on a direct flight. There are also many flights (esp. with Air Canada) that connect through Montreal and Halifax, which means getting to PEI will of course take a bit longer. If you planning on driving from Toronto, be prepared for a 20 hour drive (considering stopping along the way for breaks).

Thoughts About the Place: I was in Charlottetown for a couple of days for a conference. On arrival, I was told at the information center that the only way of getting into town is either by taxi or by rent-a-car. My first thoughts about the place? A very quiet, small town. Coming from the hustle and bustle of Toronto, the light, minimal traffic had an almost soothing effect. The warm and sunny weather was a bonus. Even so, I was told that this was a bit unusual as the whole summer it was mostly raining. During my stay there it was also quite windy, which is a common phenomenon from what I understand. The small downtown core of Charlottetown is simple, yet picturesque. The little gift shops, small restaurants and cafes, and the few tourist attractions provide the 'little town' feeling in a provincial capital city. In terms of the stores, not to be missed are the Anne of Green Gables Store and Anne of Green Gables Chocolates (two separate stores) on Queen St.. The shops within the downtown Confederation Mall are also a common attraction. Any visitor must try the ice cream from COW's Ice Cream shops. They have been voted "Canada's best ice cream" in a Reader's Digest opinion poll, and in 2008 was listed as number 1 in the "World's Top Ten Places for Ice Cream" by Tauck World Discovery that they have the best ice cream. Another interesting store to check out is the PEI Dirt Shirt store at the Peake's Quay - they have T-Shirts made with real red soil from PEI (one of the interesting things about PEI is that the soil has a brick red colour). Finally, I must say that Charlottetown offers a cozy feeling not only to its visitors, but also its residents. Many people from busy cities such as Toronto choose to move to PEI which offers a more relaxed lifestyle and arguably a better place to raise children. I would suggest to any future visitor to take the time to visit the whole island of PEI, not just Charlottetown as this city can comfortably be seen in one day. You could take tourist buses to other parts of the island, such as Green Gables, the town setting of the famous Anne of Green Gables novels. You could also rent a car if you are staying for a few days (gas is cheap compared to many parts of Canada - when I was there gas was 1.18 while in Toronto it was 1.35 per litre). Renting a car will not only allow you to see the whole of PEI (it takes about 0.5 hrs to get from north to south and 3 hrs from east to west), but also to cross over into New Brunswick via the Confederation Bridge (although the toll to get across can cost around $50 - this is only paid once if you plan to return to PEI).

Posted by cris2travel 19:30 Archived in Canada Tagged charlottetown Comments (0)

Day-trips Around Toronto: Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach: Civic Holiday Long-weekend 2011

sunny 30 °C

Background Info: It is a popular tourist destination situated on Nottawasaga Bay at the southern end of Georgian Bay. Wasaga Beach entered history's headlines in 1934 when the first overseas flight from mainland Canada, across the Atlantic to England and in a plane called the "Trail of the Caribou", used Wasaga's long flat sandy beach as a take off strip. On November 30, 2007, a major fire destroyed between 50 to 70% of the main street pedestrian mall, including 17 businesses and 5 apartments. Plans to rebuild the beach front included a modern style with shopping, an indoor/outdoor theme park and monorail service. Controversy also arose over whether or not the fire was deliberately set in order to allow unobstructed progression with the planned development or whether it was simply an accident. A report issued on February 13, 2009 suggests that the fire was deliberately set by two young men (one from Barrie, 21 years of age, and the other from Midhurst, 18 years of age) suggesting that although the fire was deliberate it was not related to the planned development (Wikipedia).

The Trip: It takes about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs to drive to Wasaga Beach from Toronto. Take Hwy 400 north towards Barrie. Once you reach Barrie, take Hwy 26 towards Wasaga Beach.

Thoughts about the Place: Once you are past your teenage years and early 20s, this place seems to be a bit over-rated. Strolling down the main strip of Wasaga where the shops and patio bars are located, you will see and definitely hear many cars drive by with the music blasting to attract attention. Nonetheless, if you go a bit further from the main strip or even to other beaches in Wasaga, you can find a much calmer place to enjoy the sun. Picnic tables are available close to the beach for the day users wanting to have a picnic and make a bbq. Another good thing about Wasaga is that the beach is so wide that there is ample space for all sun-tanners and the tents or sun umbrellas they might bring with them (even on long weekends). The water is very shallow for about 10-20 metres and is sandy which makes the water look dirty; this appearance however comes from the sand that is mixed with water because of the waves. In most areas there is little, if any algae that you can find.

Posted by cris2travel 19:10 Archived in Canada Tagged wasaga Comments (0)

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