Last summer was our first in Canada and not unsurprisingly, a big part of it was spent getting settled into our new lives. This summer, however, we made it a point to do the Canadian thing of ‘getting away’ every now and then.
We also changed the direction we usually drive in.
So picture this, when we drive west towards Toronto, we can drive for hours and see increasingly taller buildings, more people and more concrete. But when we drive east of where we live, it only takes five minutes to find yourself in the middle of extensive fields and beautiful greenery. That is because we live pretty much on the outskirts of what is known as the Greater Toronto Area.
This summer, we explored a series of small towns including Port Hope, Cobourg, Hastings and Campbellford. Each of them outdid the other in how quaint and cute it got. With a population of a couple of thousand people, these little towns represent a whole different side of Canada from what one typically sees in and around Toronto.
Campbellford is famed for its Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge. When we left home in the morning, we decided to shun the highway and take some inner roads to get there. What a brilliant decision that was. We were treated to breathtaking views of rolling hills, picture-perfect windmills and endless green fields. We passed apple orchards, lavender farms and corn fields. We rolled to a stop in a tiny Downtown on ‘Front Street’, a street that can be found in nearly every small town of Ontario.
After walking through a sleepy town that was just waking up to a Sunday morning, we were mildly disappointed to know that their very famous bakery was closed on Sundays. We found ourselves in good old ‘Tim Hortons’ for a quick coffee and snack. From there we headed straight to the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge.
Hovering over the River Trent at the entrance of Ferris Provincial Park, this bridge offers very picturesque views. Of course, the facts that this 300-foot long bridge is see-through to the river below and sways gently beneath your feet as you walk, makes it more exciting. On the other side, trails lead you deeper into the forest. We chose a relatively simpler path along the river and after walking for over 20 minutes, found ourselves at the level of the river.
It was utterly relaxing to just sit there with our feet in the cold waters and watch some of the braver folk dip in for a swim. The trek back was a tiny bit tedious because we had made the mistake of coming with our toddler’s stroller, which had to pretty much be carried all the way back uphill. Fortunately, our nearly 3 year old walked all the way back up to the bridge, meaning we were only lifting the stroller and not the kid with it.
On returning to the town, we explored the ‘Cheese factory’ and the ‘Chocolate factory’, which were really only stores you can buy local cheese and chocolates from. But we certainly did walk away with some yummy ice-cream at the cheese factory and some good gifts from the chocolate factory.
We wound up our day in nature by shunning a meal inside a restaurant and instead, purchasing supplies for a spontaneous picnic from the local grocery store. We settled ourselves on the shores of Trent River and enjoyed a simple meal of cheese sandwiches, fresh fruits and chocolate milk.
It was an utterly beautiful day and I know I could go back into the rolling hills of Northumberland County at the drop of a hat. All I would need is a warm day and good company.
If you are looking for other great places to visit in Ontario, read about our beautiful fall drive to Haliburton.
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.