Posts filed under ‘travel in Canada’



Early November in southwestern Ontario, we had a real first snow. It coated trees and covered roofs, nearly buried the gardens and gave drivers a reason to haul out their snow brushes. It was cold too.



like how the snow mounds on the picnic table top and benches, like a marshmallow top



Ceramic birdhouse made by my friend Valda. It may not be the most comfortable place for birds, but it’s a pretty decoration.



Time to put the watering cans away. We had to turn them upside down and drain them first.



snow on the trellises, and fence, a neat pattern

Weather in Canada, at least where we are. It comes and it stays.

Today I’ll share a poem that I wrote years ago, published by Tower Poetry Society.


Frozen Beauty

maples wave skeleton arms, patterning a cold blue sky

exposing abandoned nests and fragile papery globes

work of birds and bees


silvery icicles and white patches weigh down

evergreen branches, they sag

like an old woman with a heavy load


paw prints parallel booted feet

imprinting, crunching the cold white blanket

over frozen soil and city concrete


gardens, a silhouette of frozen stalks, dried seedpods

waiting… at rest until spring

like hibernating bears


©Carolyn Wilker


Published by Tower Poetry Winter Edition 2004-2005 Vol. 53 No. 2


December 12, 2018 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

Another breakfast with our hosts


Though I knew we were going home and had a good time, I looked forward to that last breakfast at Between the Maples. Gord and Maggie had such interesting experiences in their lives that it was good to chat with them. They asked about us too. And our breakfast was delicious. I could have sat longer to talk, yet we had a few places we wanted to see before we left Owen Sound.


Maggie and Gord, an unbeatable team

While we said our thank yous, Maggie handed me a small envelope. Gord helped us carry our things to the car and we were on our way.  I had to check what was in the envelope. It was a little note handwritten by Maggie, wishing us a happy anniversary and wishing us well. That was sweet. And she’d bought a copy of Harry’s Trees for their small grandson.



Tom Thomson art on display at this time

First to the Museum, but it wasn’t open yet. No problem, we went to the library next door to discover that part of it was the original Carnegie Library. I was intrigued also by the decor by the stairs, what looked like a shelf of books was actually placecards for donors who contributed to updating the children’s library.



Such an appropriate way to recognize donors

The children’s area showed great thought and appreciation for children’s literature and for those who spend time in this place. Certainly inviting.


The library had received permission for an artist to create a stained glass piece on art by Marie-Louise Gay, a Canadian artist and book author. Love her stories about Stella and Sam. This was perfect for the children’s area


We looked around a little more in that area before heading downstairs. Whoever had designed the changes had young children in mind too.



I had permission of the parents to take this photo. This is just one example of a kid-friendly library.

I spoke to a librarian sharing my delight in their space and how it was so inviting for children and their parents.

IMG_20180928_1109214 (2)

The original Carnegie library kept as it was. I could have spent more time here.




Needs no further explanation


We headed over to the art museum next door. I didn’t take photos of the art for obvious reasons, but we did take time to look through the selection of Thomson’s art and pieces by other artists inspired by Thomson and the Group of Seven.

By this time we had some rain and wind. We’d decided to go to Harrison Park, just to see it, before we headed home.



A family bought this land and dedicated it for a park


One of the children’s play areas


A well kept park near the end of season

We left this pretty park in drizzly and windy weather and began our drive homeward. We’d stop in Varney for lunch at Pebbles Restaurant and go on home from there.

It was good to get away for a few days and we certainly enjoyed our stay.

If you have the chance to go to Owen Sound for a holiday, check in with Between the Maples B & B and enjoy some time with Gord and Maggie.


October 19, 2018 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

Blue Mountains


We finally made it to Blue Mountain, but there’d be no skiing.  It’s too early and I’ve never learned to ski down a mountain. The barn hill with kid skis that we shared, when I was ten or eleven, was the closest I’d get to the real thing.

We headed for Blue Mountain and after our stop at Meaford with the Scarecrow Invasion, we stopped in Thornbury for lunch and then it wasn’t far.



The lake right by the old station

We found the place we were looking for, the Craigleith Heritage Depot, a former train station, now a historical site full of interesting things.



The platform where people would have boarded the train or gotten off

One part of the station was the landing area where people would have gotten on and off the train. It had artifacts significant to the era or travel, a conductor’s well worn jacket and cap, a train crossing sign and much more. I took fewer photos here.



Might remember these signs?



One of Trier’s picture books

This building is part The Blue Mountains Public library, part archives and part historic train depot and more history of the area. One other thing intrigued me there and that was a poster “Add an Animal” in recognition of Walter Trier.

Trier, an animation artist, once courted by Disney, was a forerunner  of Canadian picture books for children. Andrea Wilson, archivist at the Depot, told me he’d turned down Disney because he wanted his own name on his work. If he were to work for Disney, his art would have the company’s name on it. Therefore he went on to publish his work independently.

Wilson shared a wealth of information on Trier and pulled several of his picture books for me to look at. When she asked about my interest in picture books, I told her I’d published a picture book too. She was interested in seeing it and when I got a copy from the car ( always carry books with you), she decided to purchase a copy for the library. She also asked me to draw an animal for the poster. I declined the opportunity to draw an animal, but I was delighted in her interest in my book.



story of a sinking boat


Andrea and the young woman at the front desk also showed me a picture book by an artist and writer from Clarksburg, not too far down the road. We’d be going that way though I didn’t know if we could look her up that day. That coming weekend was a Fall Open Studio, where this artist and many more would be participating. We’d be heading home the next day and still had several places we wanted to take in before leaving the area.

Our intention was to check out someone’s new home in Clarksburg. We felt it unlikely that we’d see them today as they were still in the process of moving last furniture from Waterloo.

We drove down the highway and  took the road into Clarksburg. It’s not that large a place but with no more information other than the address Betty gave us, we were at a loss. And so, I asked. The woman I talked with had lived in Clarksburg all her life and didn’t know the street, which I found a bit surprising. But she did think of someone in town who might know. As stores were still open, she directed me to the hardware store and a gentleman who’d been running it for many years. He was able to help us, showed me a small map of the area and gave me a few directions.

Andrea, at the museum, knew Clarksburg and said people often called it ‘Artsburg.’ Which it was. I didn’t count the shops on my trek to the hardware store and back to the car, but I saw several shops that were galleries or names of artists.

We found the  Smith’s new home, alright, and who should be sitting on the front porch with a cup of coffee in hand but Ron. Betty came out when she heard us arrive. She’d sent a text, but we’d been off driving and seeing things and I hadn’t checked my phone. As it worked out, they’d just finished unloading the van and were sitting down to relax. We had a tour, then I had a quick tea with Betty and we were on our way. Next to Thornbury, at their recommendation, to see the fish ladder.




The fish ladder. Fish have to jump out of the water to the next level. We saw them swimming around and jumping and evidence of some that didn’t make it.

After this stop, we made our trip back to Owen Sound, first to go back to the B & B and then out for dinner, wrapping up our interesting and eventful day. We’d have one more breakfast at the B & B before packing up and heading out. I looked forward to our next visit with our genial hosts.


October 16, 2018 at 11:50 am 2 comments

Blue Mountain, we’re on our way …



Our plan, day two of our getaway, was to head for Blue Mountain and a particular historical site. We started early enough with breakfast with our B & B hosts, Gord and Maggie, with a good, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast. The table was set in a lovely fashion with not a thing lacking. We had omelette, croissants, bacon, home-made grape jelly and more, but we also had company at breakfast.

A couple from Holland were spending their vacation biking around Ontario. Industrious people they are, both in the psychology field back in their home, they are used to biking and only occasionally use the car they share with their family. They’d already seen much of Ontario and were heading to Blue Mountain later that day. Wednesday, they’d travelled 80 miles by bike to stay at Between the Maples for a night. We had wonderful conversations with them about their work and travel.

Maggie and Gord saw them off and we continued our conversation. There was no reason to rush as we had a full day before us. We learned that our hostess was also of Dutch origin and her husband was a geologist by profession. Now retired, they were running this B & B. Gord had been busy taking apart the front windows and painting outdoors before the weather got too cold for such work.

With much thanks for a tasty breakfast, we set off for the day. We’d head out the highway in the direction of Blue Mountain. It would be good to be in the area again. The only time I’d been there were two Toastmasters district conferences in late fall and there’d been no time to tour.

The leaves on the trees were beginning to turn colour, with just a hint of colour thus far. We saw farms and fruit stands for this is an apple growing region.

On our way, following the side of the lake, I noticed a beautiful waterfront in the community of Meaford, so we decided to stop there awhile. What caught our eyes next as we parked were the strange fellows up on the lamp posts. A man walking his dog asked if we were there for the scarecrow festival that weekend. We weren’t but it sure looked interesting. He told us about the Hoedown that would take place on Friday night. We’d be heading home before that, but we agreed that it sounded like fun. It does appear that they have a lot of fun here.


I thought, later, how they reminded me of a  field in Cape Breton on a trip where they had a field with scarecrows, but that lot was for sale and it’s unlikely the scarecrows are still there. These were fun and they seemed to climb every lamp pole in the park.


Scarecrows in so many places


My husband, ready with his camera too


Signs of what’s to come on the weekend and later on  the museum wall. Maybe next year we can come for the hoedown or the parade.


At the side of the museum



Even indoors there was a scarecrow, but he had no pumpkin head. Probably rules about that.



A crazy quilt like the one Grandma H. used to make.


Former Speaker’s Chair used in parliament


From the archives, local history, and a little information about the chairs

There was so much in that museum that we could have spent much longer. We’d soon need some lunch and so we headed outdoors to take a few more pictures and be on our way.



People must have a lot of fun assembling these guys


Boats in the water and boats waiting

The people of Meaford take such pride in their area. The gardens were nicely kept and the waterfront was beautiful and the water so clear.




Nicki, keeping the gardens pretty

I spoke with a young woman named Nicki, who was pulling weeds in the flower beds, and remarked on the beauty of the park. She, too, asked if we were staying for the festival. I said we’d be heading home the next day. She said, “Maybe next year.”

By now it was well past lunch time. We’d head in the Thornbury direction and look for food and stopped one more time on the other end of the Meaford to  get a photo of more scarecrows.



In case you’re wondering, we did actually make it to Blue Mountain that day. I’ll save that for the next post. Watch for it.




October 5, 2018 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment

Off to Owen Sound

My husband and I took a little get away to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. We chose to go north to Owen Sound and stay in a Bed and Breakfast there and booked it ahead.

We had a clear day for the drive, some cloud cover but a lot of sun too. Listening to Stuart McLean from Vinyl Cafe series helped pass the driving time too and then different scenery and new places along the way. I looked forward to the time away from household responsibilities to see different places. We were not disappointed.



Between the Maples B & B


We’d reserved for two nights at Between the Maples Bed and Breakfast on Second Street in Owen Sound. Having arrived close to the noon hour and too  early to check in, we thought we’d first locate the B & B. Having seen the house on the internet site, we knew we were in the right place.

We headed back to the downtown to look for a bite to eat. A helpful staff member at CAA Travel in Owen Sound had mentioned that the Artist’s Co-op had a lunch bar, so  after finding parking, we went in search of it.

I gathered steps on my Fitbit that day and it was nearly 1 pm by the time we sat and waited for our lunch to be served. Len enjoyed his soup and I had a tasty salad. We looked at the art in the co-op briefly since our metered parking would soon run out. We’d come back.



Birgit’s Cafe



Artist’s Co-op

We wanted to spend more time looking around so we fed the meter with quarters and headed back, first stopping at the music store we’d seen on the way. On our previous time passing the store, we’d met the owner and chatted with him. This time we entered Music & More and looked around.

“Back for a ukulele?” his wife asked.

I wanted to see what they had and so entered a long conversation with owner and musician David Fromager about the newer ukes that they sell to schools and people wanting them for their children or grandchildren. I already had one but I had my eye on those coloured ukes I’d seen at Arts Abound in St. Jacobs more than a year ago.  When we left the store, I had a uke tucked under my arm and some picks for playing.



 my new uke

As we still had time, we headed for the artist’s co-op again in the McKay building and looked around at the artist’s offerings—paintings, art cards, mugs, pottery, things made of wood, and textile arts too.

Then it was time to go and check in at our B & B. With the address now in our GPS, we drove  there and knocked on the door.

It’s a lovely two-storey home across from Kelso Park. Gord and Maggie greeted us, gave us a small tour of their place and showed us our room. We talked about breakfast options, especially with regard to my husband’s special needs. There was time before finding supper to relax awhile and get settled in.



That evening we went to East Side Mario’s out on the other side of the city and enjoyed a tasty pasta dish. The sun went down outdoors as we ate. The dinner was filling and with no room for dessert, we paid our bill and left. Thinking we’d like some snacks along for the next day, we went to a grocery store nearby and purchased a few things before returning to the B & B.

With the new uke in hand,  I looked up a chord chart on the internet to refresh my memory, and tried out my new instrument a bit before bed time. I thought of my grandchildren who already enjoy music and how I might teach them to play, if they wished to learn.

Thus ended the  first day of our little holiday.




September 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm 2 comments

Special Olympics Summer Games 2018

Special Olympics Summer Games were hosted at St. Xavier University in the community of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, this summer, from July 31st to August 4th.  Athletes across Canada have been training for this event for some time now.


Antigonish has played host to many Special Olympics Nova Scotia Summer Games, providing incredible support for athletes, families and friends alike. St. Francis Xavier University was chosen as the host for the athlete’s village and several sports, due to the tremendous quality games experience that can be offered to Special Olympics athletes.


photo shared by permission



photo shared by permission

Sandra McNeil wrote on Facebook, August 2nd: My beautiful sister, Jennifer McIntosh, won bronze in her 200m race 💕🥉
We are so proud of you Jennifer!


I have particular interest in the events because of one young woman who participates. I’ve known Jenn since she was a six- or seven-year-old and I see the growth and confidence she has gained by being a part of the sports. At this year’s Summer Games, she earned two medals—one bronze and one silver in the 200 metre race (bronze) and 400 metre (silver) races. Her team from Lunenburg-Queens athletics did well overall with everything from bronze to gold.

Of particular mention are the corporate sponsors who help the organization fund such games, at the regional and national  levels. The athletes trained hard in their home communities under the direction of volunteer coaches and mission staff, which include members of the athletes’ families. Individuals qualify first at regional games and then go on to the next level, as happens in other sports.

Team Nova Scotia was cheered on by their news station, CKBW

The 2018 Canada Special Olympics Summer Games wrapped up in Antigonish over the weekend and the results were impressive.

Team Nova Scotia walked away with a total of 135 medals following the four day competition.


Search by province and sport. Photo by Sandra MacNeil.


Dr Frank Hayden, founder of Special Olympics, deserves much credit for this organization. His actions have changed the lives of millions. While doing a research degree in science, he noted that students at the Beverly School in Toronto could benefit by having a program of fitness and exercise, just like any other child. He was encouraged to go to the United States to work with the Kennedy family to begin an event there. Following those few years away, he returned to Canada to found the Special Olympics.

“I worked my butt off, along the way, but the success has been built on the fact that we have been able to find people like this,” Hayden said, gesturing at the activity around him.

His involvement in what would become Special Olympics began with his research into the fitness level of children with intellectual disabilities.

Hayden was present at the nationals in Nova Scotia along with his wife, to cheer on the athletes. And they, in turn, were glad to see him.

frank_hayden_04_largePhoto from Cape Breton Post


If you wish to learn more about Special Olympics, go here. They welcome your support, in whatever way you can offer. Cheer them on too, when you have opportunity to see their events.



photo by of the SouthShore Breaker



Triumphant! photo shared by permission


Photo credits noted, several by newspaper and radio and others by Sandra MacNeil,  sister of an athlete and a volunteer coach for one of the sports.

September 6, 2018 at 3:47 pm Leave a comment

Petroglyphs National Park


On one of our vacation days in the Kawarthas,  we stopped at the Petroglyphs Park, had our picnic first and then went into the education centre to learn more about it. While our daughter and son-in-law went to take the picnic stuff back to the van, the girls found a small caterpillar. They named it and pretended that it was their pet. When their parents returned they held the stick by the tree where they found it and let the caterpillar off the stick.

We were ready to tour the centre.





art and signs within that give visitors a feel for aboriginal themes and beliefs


Beautiful art combined with words



I appreciated this one, being a storyteller myself

We walked on down the path to the Petroglyph display. I was not prepared for what I saw, a large building surrounding the rocks, a place where we dared not take photos, so I kept my cell phone tucked away. Large windows let in natural light and the building is there to protect the art from eroding further.

Our granddaughters were invited to make rubbings with crayons of various shapes of the art in the teaching rocks and take them home.

According to the park website, this is the:

Largest known concentration of Indigenous rock carvings (petroglyphs) in Canada, depicting turtles, snakes, birds, humans and more; this sacred site is known as “The Teaching Rocks”

After our tour of the learning rocks we left that area of the park and stopped at a different place where we took a short hiking trail.



a photo of the Shaw family in this gorgeous scene


McGinnis Lake where we took photos was a certain kind of lake with layers of oxygen concentration. I didn’t have time to read the whole sign so I took this picture instead, to read later.


another snapshot on our way out


And on down the path returning to the van

This park was well worth the time and one could spend quite a bit longer in the centre viewing the displays, asking questions of the guides along with seeing the video shown in the theatre. Outdoors there were more places and paths to explore. We’d covered about as much as we could with the children who needed to move around more. That said, I believe they enjoyed certain parts of the adventure that day as well, even if we’d had a bit of a ride to find a place.

August 20, 2018 at 12:56 pm 2 comments

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