Destination Ontario: The Talk of the Towns
Port Hope & Cobourg
By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com
Port Hope is the gateway to Northumberland County. Located just an hour east of Toronto on Lake Ontario’s north shore, the town was voted the ‘Best Preserved Main Street in Ontario’ by TVO viewers. Founded in 1790, the town’s population is now in excess of 16,000, and it’s become a creative hub for artists, foodies and retired Torontonians.
FLOAT YOUR FANNY DOWN THE GANNY
The Ganaraska River runs through the town, and every April thousands take part in this annual festival, which commemorates the 1980 flood that destroyed Port Hope’s downtown core. Participants, in canoes, kayaks and crazy, build-your-own vessels, float down a 10-kilometre run with an over-the-rapids finish near the Barnett Street Bridge. The weekend also includes a three-day Float Your Fanny Comedy Festival, presented by Ontario Street Theatre.
It’s an incredible site to see thousands of Atlantic Salmon make their way up the Ganaraska River to spawn, each year between August and October. The man-made fish ladder is the perfect spot to watch the fish jump, flip and fly up the ladder.
STIMULATE YOUR SENSES
Horses, alpacas, and Nigerian Dwarf goats welcome visitors to the 200-acre Haute Goat Farm. Hiking trails and guided tours are available, as well as farm-made creams, cheeses, fudge and goat milk soap.
While touring the countryside, visit Laveanne Lavender Fields. Here you can experience a sensory sample of Mother Nature’s unique offerings. Visitors can practice yoga in the lavender fields, and then go for a restorative walk in the labyrinth. During the month of July (weather permitting), visitors to the Laveanne Cafe are transported to south of France with breathtaking views of the vivid, purple blooms. Lunch entrees, sides and sweets are all dusted with hints of lavender, and you’ll find lavender inspired honey, essential oils and sachets at the gift store. The Passion of Lavender is an interactive seminar that offers tips on how to maintain, harvest and process lavender plants, as well as how to use lavender in your gardens.
OUT AND ABOUT
Port Hope is becoming a popular, and well-respected, culinary destination. Held in Memorial Park, Cultivate: A Festival of Food and Drink is a three-day celebration of local food, craft beer, artisans and live music.
The Capitol Theatre is one of the oldest restored theatres in Canada. This 1930s theatre is the perfect location for the Vintage Film Festival, which showcases films made more than half of a century ago. Many of the films feature screen actress and Cobourg native, Marie Dressler, and is held this year from the 12th to the 14th of October. The Capitol also hosts live theatre, operas and concerts. Tickets to events at the Capitol Theatre are classified as a Golden ticket, which entitles the bearer to receive special privileges and discounts at participating businesses.
Cobourg is the largest town in Northumberland County, and is known as Ontario’s feel-good town. Located just east of Port Hope, this town also exudes local flavour and country charm.
The town’s white sandy beaches are a big draw for swimmers, paddle boarders and kayakers, as well as those who just love hanging out by the water. The waters are rich with salmon, with some catches weighing in at more than 30 pounds.
With easy access to the Northumberland and Ganaraska Forests, residents and visitors enjoy hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing. Treetop Trekking Ganaraska provides those of a more-spirited nature the opportunity to climb, fly across zip lines and swing high in the trees. For a new experience, try one of their night treks – headlamps provided.
Sir. John A. MacDonald once convened a trial at The Victoria Hall Courtroom. Other famous trials include that of Sir Arthur Currie (1927), vilified for leading troops into Mons, Belgium on armistice day.
Located in the ballroom of Victoria Hall, The Concert Hall is a fitting venue for musical theatre, plays and concerts. England’s Prince of Wales attended the opening gala of the art gallery in 1860, and it continues to feature local and touring artists.
The Cornell House is a Victorian home once owned by 1930’s stage star Katharine Cornell. It was here that Katherine, reportedly, hosted her friends Ethel Merman, Orson Wells and the Marx brothers. Today, chamber, folk and classical music concerts are held at the Cornell House.
The Cobourg/Port Hope area boasts spectacular golf courses, including Ash Brook, Cobourg Creek, Dalewood, Roxburgh Glen and the Port Hope Golf & Country Club.