Discovering some Canadian History

At Wasaga Beach we found a spot to park at Gateway Campground, just a few blocks from the beach and at a discounted rate since it was the beginning of the week, before the first long weekend of the season. We were told that the busy season would start in a few days and the rates would jump. However, after taking a stroll along the boardwalk at the usually popular party beach, we had some doubts. The large section of retail stores and restaurants that had been wiped out by fire in 2007 has yet to be rebuilt and a store clerk told us that the former manager of two of the remaining bars had walked away, leaving employees and patrons “high and dry”. Attempts by someone else to get them up and running again in time for the upcoming long weekend were being thwarted by red tape, so the prospects looked slim. Still there was a throng of sun-lovers lounging on the beach.

Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach

We hadn’t even packed swim suits, and the biking gear we were wearing was clinging to us like a shy child to its mother. Jim insisted we buy suits, which we donned to take a dip in the campground pool after we cleaned some of the carbon out of the bike on a ride out to the country, and we picked up BBQ chicken and potato salad for dinner. It was just too hot to walk back to the beach!

The next morning Jim searched the GPS for the historical site of Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, which he was certain was at Penetanguishene, but to no avail. He settled for the All Saints Shrine in Midland as the GPS point to follow, thinking once we got there it would find us what we were looking for. But once in Midland and heading toward Penetanguishene with Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons entered into the GPS, our guide tried to return us to Midland, once even trying to direct us down a narrow dirt path to turn us around. Now occasionally the GPS does steer us in the wrong direction, but it usually eventually figures out where we want to go. But sometimes Jim just doesn’t trust it, or me or anyone else he may ask for directions.  This was one of those days. While he continued on to Penetanguishene, I dug out a travel brochure that told me Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons was indeed in Midland, but that must have been an editorial error, because when we got to Penetanguishene Jim found internet access at a Tim Horton’s and Google Maps told him where to find it there. A few minutes later we arrived at a spot called Discovery Harbour, a military historical park. This time Jim had no choice but to believe the girl at the desk when she told him that Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons was in Midland. I prided myself on my patience, and Jim decided to give up the quest and enjoy what Discovery Harbour had to offer. Discovery Harbour (1817-1856) tells the story of the original 19th century naval and military outpost built to safeguard Upper Canada after the War of 1812.  With our animated guide, Ryan, dressed in historical garb, we toured the reconstructed dockyard, sailors’ barracks, workshops, Captain’s residence and the original Officers’ Quarters, and heard the fascinating stories of life at that time. We also boarded the historic Tall Ships, H.M.S. Bee and H.S.M. Tecumseth moored at the dock. In the end we were both happy to have been diverted.

Captains Quarters

Captains Quarters (courtesy of Jim)

Our Guide, Ryan

Our Guide, Ryan (courtesy of Jim)

Tall Ship

Tall Ship (courtesy of Jim)

We left there asking the GPS to head us toward New Liskeard, and it did, right back through Midland and past both the All Saints Shrine and Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, which are directly across from each other on the highway heading north. It was too late to stop. We’ll make that a day trip on the bike another time. We were still a couple of days’ drive away from New Liskeard.


Niagara Falls to Wasaga Beach

We arrived home late Canada Day afternoon and I was overwhelmed by all the things that needed to be dealt with (lawn, weeds, pool, groceries, laundry). I knew there would be, and I would have liked to have just carried on. Full-time RVing is becoming more and more appealing to me.

We had left Genesee Country Campground in Caledonia, NY on June 23rd, suddenly into the hot, humid weather of summer. I didn’t want to disappoint my girlfriends back home who enjoy bargain shopping, and Jim and I were both in need of new sandals, so we decided this would be a good day to hit the air-conditioned Outlet Mall in Niagara Falls, NY – our last chance before crossing the border back into Canada. Two hours later we struggled to carry our purchases all the way across the parking lot to the RV! Good thing we hadn’t decided to camp first and take the bike to the mall! We spent the evening in the air-conditioned RV, parked at the AA Royal Motel & Campground and watched in amazement when this 48 ft. condo-on-wheels pulled in, two spaces away from us!

big rig RV

It was fun watching this big rig, with a jeep in tow, pulling into this small campground

In the morning we drove into the Goat Island Niagara Falls State Park for some picture taking (parking was only $5.00 for our rig and trailer) before filling up with gas and heading across the border without incident.

Canadian Niagara Falls

Canadian Niagara Falls, seen from the US side

Niagara Falls Rainbow

Niagara Falls Rainbow

US Niagara Falls

US Niagara Falls

It was another hot and sticky day. We were expected at my Uncle’s in Kitchener that afternoon, but Jim decided we should spend some time in Niagara Falls Canada. We couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere near the falls, and if we had it would have cost double that on the US side. We finally found an abandoned arena parking lot at the top of Falls Avenue hill and decided to take our chances. It was way past lunch time. We enjoyed salads on an outdoor patio while listening to the live entertainer. Then we went back down to the falls, took more pictures and got cooled off under the falls on the Maid of the Mist.

Falls from Maid of Mist

Viewing the falls from The Maid of the Mist

View from Maid of Mist

Up close and personal

Ice cream cones on the way up the hill saved us from cooking before we made it back to the RV and we were off toward Kitchener. It was seven o’clock by the time we arrived and my poor uncle was getting quite worried. Because of little or no internet connection for the rest of our trip, I had to put blogging on hold. That’s a problem that I need to sort out for next trip. We spent the night in the RV parked in Uncle Nelson’s driveway, and were away by nine the next morning, heading north to Wasaga Beach.

Thanks to Jim for the Big Rig and Maid of the Mist photos.