Category Archives: Georgian Bay

Summer Reflections 1: A Watery Affair

Our photo album tells the love-story of a summer’s kayaking . We paddled (and I swam) in three of the Great Lakes (if you count Georgian Bay as the extension of Lake Huron), as well as exploring rivers and marshes. Always, here, good weather lures us outside; now, in the warmer months, I hunger to get out on the water.

The Beaver River - getting underway The Beaver River The Beaver River - I did it! The Beaver River The Beaver River The Beaver River

The Beaver River - Bald Eagle The Beaver RiverOur longest paddle to date took us 12 km down the Beaver River, skirting submerged hazards and occasionally cutting back the dead-fall; all around us was the rich summer-green of early July woodland, wild and timeless. As we journeyed, a relay of kingfishers called their warning of our passage. The sighting of a bald-eagle nest was a truly special gift.

For more photos, see our Gallery (Beaver River and Nicolston Dam)!

Gull Lake, Gravenhurst Gull Lake, GravenhurstA gentle exploration of Gull Lake (Gravenhurst) warmed us up for slightly more challenging expeditions on Manitoulin Island, the biggest freshwater island in the world. On Maintoulin, we circuited Manitouwaning Bay (which opens onto Georgian Bay) from Two O’Clock to Manitouwaning and back across open water. And we paddled up the Kagawong River into Lake Kagawong, fighting the wind back down the lake, then floating lazily with the river’s gentle flow to our start point above Kagawong’s Bridal Falls – time disappears out on the water as the peace, the light and the reflections seep into the soul.

The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin (and Paul!) The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin (and Paul!) Playful Paul in Manitowaning Bay Playful Paul in Manitowaning Bay
Paddling the Kagawong River Paddling the Kagawong River
Paddling the Kagawong River Paddling the Kagawong River Lunch on Lake Kagawong Lunch on Lake Kagawong On the Kagawong River On the Kagawong River

For more photos, see our Gallery (Summer Trip 2013)!

At Canada’s southernmost tip, the marshes at Point Pelee were almost eerie in their quietness (or possibly Erie – sorry, bad pun!) and the light was especially awesome; but it was the paddle from our B&B, with a short portage across a sand bar, into Wheatley Provincial Park that delivered more herons than we have ever seen and a white wonder of egrets.

Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee
Swallowtail at Point Pelee Swallowtail at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee
Heron Heron Sandpiper at Point Pelee Sandpiper at Point Pelee Heron Heron
Egrets everywhere! Egrets everywhere!
Cormorant and kayak Cormorant and kayak Kayak capers! Kayak capers! Kayak homecoming Kayak homecoming

For more photos, see our Gallery (Essex County – Ontario)!

Nearer to home, from our local beach, a sunset paddle along the shores of Lake Ontario below the Hunt Club amazed us again that we can live in a city yet, with very little effort, feel so far away from it all! And the return view of the down-town lit red and gold still takes my breath away.

Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach

 

Avalon Clearview B&B

Although it looks out over Devil’s Glen, Avalon Clearview is not presumptuous in its allusion to the isle of the blessed. This is a magical place in an enchanted setting!

Arriving at the back of the house, there is not much to see and it is easy to overshoot. But looking out across the Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve, my spirit soared.  Later, I wandered the grounds and woods beyond with a child’s delight, utterly present.

Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay - In the woods Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay

It isn’t hard to see how this glorious environment nourishes Steve’s work – once again, our host is a stained glass artist! Huge panelled internal doors re-dress the summer trees through which we stroll in their autumn raiment. Vibrant colours and natural forms spill throughout this lovely and very comfortable home.

Avalon Clearview, Georgian BayKnowing we would arrive late afternoon, we had taken up the option of a home-cooked dinner. Elaine is an enthusiastic and excellent cook and were honoured to share our meal with both our hosts – once again, we immediately felt as if we were visiting friends and took great pleasure in their company. Breakfasts lived up to our by now high expectations, with particularly amazing fruit starters including Watermelon Benedict, (a base of home-made granola, watermelon, kiwi fruit & berries topped off with lemon yoghurt).

(You can see more photos in our Sightseeing Gallery!)

Blue Mountain

I must first admit to a prejudice; I never think that I am going to like purpose built resorts.

Blue Mountain Ski Resort proved a pleasant surprise – I began to ‘get’ how and why places like this work and what they have to offer.  My sense was that there will be times when I want the personal touches of an idyllic B&B but others when a well-designed playground for all ages will be very appealing and a lot of fun!

Blue Mountain Blue Mountain Blue Mountain Blue Mountain

An Englishman working in the ski shop told us that Blue Mountain is actually the third busiest ski resort in Canada, though it is not one you are likely to find in UK brochures.  It was developed by the same company as the much better known Whistler in BC.

During the summer, the ski slopes give way to mountain biking and hiking trails, though there are many other activities on offer. These range from an Aqua Park to spa treatments and free yoga classes, from Hummer Adventures to fishing.  Most weekends there is live music in the square and the shops, restaurants and bars have been attractively designed and laid out.

From Osler Bluff . . .

Green and cool, but stippled by the hot sun; boulders, moss and delicate foliage form a Zen garden with no human assistance, as the birch bark breaks the green with shafts of silver.

Osler Bluff, Georgian Bay Osler Bluff, Georgian Bay Osler Bluff, Georgian Bay Osler Bluff, Georgian Bay

A window opens into the blueness high above, where eagles (or, more probably, the much less glamorous sounding turkey vultures) ride the thermals with such grace. Below, the casually thrown patchwork of the Pretty River valley; a colony of dark motorcyclist ants passes by.

Georgian Bay – Creemore

Georgian Bay forms an almost separate lake at the east of Lake Huron and is a relaxing 2 hour drive or so from Toronto. As such, it is an obvious year-round weekend playground and is often referred to as ‘cottage country’.

Creemore, Georgian Bay - the roads go on for ever . . .The city gives way to rolling countryside, cut through by almost straight roads in a gridded roller-coaster.  On a hot summer’s day, it is hard to realise that many of these ‘hills’ become ski slopes in winter.  Stranger still to a Brit used to the world grinding to a halt when it snows, there are plenty of people who commute daily from the area, even in winter.  As someone pointed out to us, it makes a huge difference not having to brake constantly for bends! I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this challenge just yet.

Creemore, Georgian Bay Creemore, Georgian Bay Creemore, Georgian Bay

An invitation to an exhibition opening at the Mad and Noisy Gallery (Silicamorphous   GLASS VARIATIONS – inspirational!) took us to Creemore, considered one of the prettiest small towns in Ontario.  Sitting between the Mad River and the Noisy River, Creemore lived up to its reputation and we spent a relaxing afternoon just mooching, before eating a mountain of meat in a very well established Hungarian restaurant – yummy cabbage rolls as a starter and Apple Strudel to die for! (The Sovereign Restaurant is the building you see at the foreground of the first picture above.)