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.
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.
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.