Archive for Durham Region

Preserving Tradition

It’s that time of year when driving around the Durham Region is nothing but a delight to to the senses. The smells, the sounds and especially the colours are overwhelmingly gorgeous. Mother Nature was totally on board for driving and exploring this particular Thanksgiving long weekend. The temperature was warm and the skies were sunny (most of the time). It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in the Durham Region, a leisurely drive on a beautiful fall day is sure to lead you to discover something you didn’t even know was there.

This weekend we discovered a little bit of history at Tyrone Mills, a traditional water-powered mill. Built in 1846 by James McFeeters and John Gray, it is one of Canada’s oldest water-powered grist mills.

For the past 38 years, the mill has been owned and operated by Robert (Bob) Shafer and his family. Bob is very hands-on at the mill. As he talks about it, you can hear in his voice how important it is that they preserve the traditions while maintaining a neighbourly atmosphere in an intimate setting. He explains, too, how the mill has managed to survive.

“In 1846 this was a flour mill, shipping flour as far as Great Britain and the US. As things changed in the late 1800s, the small country mill couldn’t afford new machinery to keep up with the times, so it became a feed mill. In the 1950s the saw mill was added. Since then, it has been an apple cider producer, a bakery, a historic landmark and a vital part of the community”.

Bob has tried to preserve as much as possible of the mill’s interior and as a result, when you step inside you are transported back in time. You will find the apple press, millstones and a woodworking shop.  You are Immediately enveloped with the smell of apple cider and fresh home made donuts.

If you’re lucky you can catch Bob baking bread in the outdoor wood-fired clay oven.  The oven itself is made of clay from the property and straw from a local farm.

Robert (Bob) Shafer Making Bread In The Wood Burning Clay Oven

A scenic walk along the dam will help you burn off some of calories from those delicious donuts.

The lumber yard can supply board and batten, tongue and groove flooring, V joint paneling, clap board and cedar for decks and fencing. They specialize in unique or unusual lumber—the kind of thing you won’t find at Home Depot. There is also a blacksmith shop to explore.

The wood shop is a wood worker’s paradise.

 

Bob was looking forward to a tradition he started when we spoke.  On the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend they host a dinner for family, staff, and friends. They even cook some of it on the wood stove. This was their 31st celebration dinner.

The Tyrone Mills is open year round, seven days a week with few exceptions. You will be sure to fall in love with this little bit of Canadian history and culture that has been so carefully preserved for you to enjoy.

Absolutely!

Traveling across the country to visit your Grandpa is quite an adventure for a seven-year-old. Of course our seven-year-old, Keianna, happens to have adventure in her blood—her Grandpa, Chris, drag races cars. Keianna knew that she and her mom, Toni-Marie, had a pretty exciting visit to look forward to. Well, Grandpa and Judy did not disappoint.

Toni-Marie, Chris and Keianna

Judy had done her homework and when she saw pictures of Keianna on facebook dressed in equestrian gear, high atop a horse, she knew exactly where to take her: Absolute Equestrian Centre, located right in Bowmanville.

Absolute Equestrian Centre has 100 acres, with two indoor arenas and three sand rings. It’s a very high end facility offering full indoor board, pasture boarding, and lessons in several disciplines of riding. There have been riding camps throughout the summer and they also host shows, clinics, pony clubs, birthday parties and fairs.

Keianna was thrilled, but then realized she didn’t have any riding gear with her. No worries. Absolute Equestrian had everything she needed. Never one to miss out on an adventure, even Mincom Jo was outfitted and given a quick riding lesson.

Keianna made it pretty clear she knew what she was doing and bonded with her ride immediately.

Mincom Jo may not ride much but she does have a way with the horses.

It wasn’t long before Keianna was showing Mincom Jo the ropes.

It was a wonderful day for everyone, creating memories to cherish.  Absolute Equestrian is the place to go for your riding needs, whether it’s your first time or if you’re well experienced.

The hardest part is always saying, “Good Bye”. To the horses… and to Keianna and her Mom. Absolutely!

 

All Aboard!

These are busy times. The world just seems to be going faster and faster. Maybe not faster than a speeding bullet, but while we all try to get through our lives as Superman/Superwoman, one of the hardest feats to accomplish is being able to spend time with family. What’s more powerful than a locomotive? Spending time with family on a locomotive!

We may not be able to leap tall buildings at a single bound but we can certainly share the “Adventures of Mincom Jo and her Dad” on the York-Durham Heritage Railway.

The York-Durham Heritage Railway train is a heritage coach diesel locomotive from the 1950s that travels between Uxbridge and Stouffville through the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine. The current Stouffville-Uxbridge line was built in the 1860’s by William Gooderham, a well-known distiller from Toronto.

There is always on-board entertainment, a snack bar, souvenir stand and a wealth of knowledge about the heritage of Canadian railways of South Central Ontario available. During various times of year there are also specially themed adventures like “A Day Out With Thomas“, the “Teddy Bear Train“, “Halloween Train” and “Santa Train“, to name a few. Jo and her Dad, Yosh, opted for “Boxcars and Beer – The Cheese Train” to spend some time together.

Yosh and Jo

Boxcars and Beer – The Cheese Train, is a unique “taste of Ontario” experience, featuring artisan cheeses from across Ontario paired with handcrafted beer from The Second Wedge Brewing Company of Uxbridge. Fromager Cecilia Smith and brewery owner Joanne Richter hosted the trip and guided our duo through five amazing beer and cheese pairings. It was quite an enjoyable education. To make things even sweeter, Desbarres Chocola provided a tasting square featuring organic beans from the Dominican Republic which produce a quality cacao with deep chocolate and red fruit notes.

Upon reaching historic downtown Uxbridge, our delighted duo, Jo and Yosh, were able to deboard the train and make a beeline to The Passionate Cook’s Essentials where they stocked up on some of the cheese and chocolate they had tasted on the train. There was also an option to visit the brewery or the Uxbridge Farmers’ Market. Jo was really pleased with the day…

“I really enjoyed being able to walk around Uxbridge and being able to support the local cheese, chocolate and beer makers was a big plus. Finding out that Uxbridge is considered the “Walking Trail Capital” of Canada was cool. I also met some friends that happened to be on the Family car with their son. They had musicians and balloon artists to entertain the kids and said it was wonderful. Luckily the rain stopped and we had lovely weather when we got to Uxbridge”

Yosh was so impressed with the beer samples he went back to Uxbridge the following Friday to visit the brewery…

“I was able to do some more sampling and bought some great beer. I liked that it’s all local businesses, and they make delicious beer. It’s really a great idea to have the sampling on the train.”

From what we can see, there are enough options for everyone to get on board with a ride on the York-Durham Heritage Railway and have themselves a super day!

 

Seeing Red

Canada has officially marked the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation. “What does that mean?” you might ask. Well, it means we are officially 150 years old and it’s time to party!  There was, of course, no lack of celebrating in the Durham Region. Everywhere you looked you could see red!

Mincom Jo chose to spend the afternoon at the festivities in Port Perry. Historic downtown Port Perry is one of Jo’s favourite parts of the Durham Region. She loves the quaint  shopping area with its unique boutiques, and can spend countless hours just watching the sparkling waters of Lake Scugog from Palmer Park or the Marina.

Downtown Port Perry

 

Mincom Jo celebrating with her Aunt Pat

There was music and dancing

and all kinds of treats, from Maple Leaf Cookies to Poutine.

Red shirts, red dresses, red hats, red jackets, red bags and even red pants were part of the dress code. Guitars and picnic tables wouldn’t be left out.

Canada is now officially 150 years old and although the partying may have started on July 1st you can count on there being celebrations well into the fall for everyone to enjoy. And what kind of celebration would it be without fireworks? Jo watch the fireworks closer to home in Pickering. Oh, yes, there were fireworks.

Jane’s Walk

We can think of no better way to experience the Durham Region than to “walk it”.  There are a lot of folks who agree with us.  People who participate in the annual Jane’s Walk Festival are like-minded.  Every year, on the first weekend in May, tens of thousands of people all over the world take part.
“Jane’s Walk is a movement of free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs. The walks get people to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities and connect with neighbours.”
Jane Jacobs was considered a citizen activist and urbanist, and she was best known for her writings about cities. Her first book, (The Death and Life of Great American Cities), offered a new vision of diverse cities made for and by the people who live in them. If nothing else, you should check out this “quick primer” on some of Jacobs’ key ideas, Ten Big Ideas.
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Jane Jacobs
Jane’s Walk was founded in 2007 with seven walks in Toronto that first year. As of last year, over 1,000 Jane’s Walks took place in 212 cities around the world, including 36 countries on six continents. This will be the first year that the entire Durham Region is participating.

You can walk or cycle through one of six area municipalities and enjoy a range of fascinating walks telling the stories of our region, its history, its characters and its challenges. Here is a list of the opportunities available:

  • Camp 30/Jury Lands Walk (former WWII POW Camp) – This tour explores Camp 30, a National Historic Site and former WWII POW camp for high-ranking German officers.
  • Werden’s Walk – A guided tour through the historic Werden’s Plan neighbourhood.
  • Walking in the Steps of the Bomb Girls: Ajax and the DIL Munitions Plant – Find out about the World War II history and connection to the birth of the Ajax community, while learning stories about the Bomb Girls.
  • Camp-X Walking Tour – It all happened right here. Spies and soldiers trained in top-secret skills, not to mention inspiration for Ian Fleming and his 007 legacy.
  • Oshawa’s Cycling “Walk” – Find out about the history and be introduced to Oshawa’s cycling network.
  • Discovering Oshawa’s historic downtown – Explore Oshawa’s historic Four Corners.
No registration is needed and it’s free! For a complete list with details please visit Jane’s Walk Festival – Durham Region.
Join the fun this weekend, May 5th to 7th, and walk Durham Region with us!