Bayfield, Ontario, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron - Google Map
With a well-protected marina, during the summer, there's a hub of activity here from boaters, but when the boats are put away, things really slow down. There are neither neon lights nor urban bustle. When visiting the quaint village of Bayfield (population 833) on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, everyday soon feels like a Sunday. The village is a blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication. Autumn is one of the most thrilling times to make this trip, an ideal choice for a fall getaway. The trees along the roadway running parallel to the lake are ablaze with autumnal colours squeezed from a tube.
Main Street was designated by the Ontario government in 1982 as a Heritage Conservation District. A canopy of mature trees shades the dirt walkways along the wide street. Angled parking is free. The street is small enough that you can walk, yet cosmopolitan enough to offer a great deal of culinary, cultural and shopping choices. This is a slow carefree sort of stroll, similar to Niagara-on-the Lake's main street, minus the crowds. There are a number of standout finds along the street, and you can bet many of the beautifully restored late 1800 shops here have a story to tell.
Marten Arts Gallery is filled with a wide array of interesting Canadian and Australian works of carved wood pieces, clay sculptures, paintings and unusual one-of-kind clockworks.
When you tire of shopping, there are plenty of places to enjoy a meal. The historic Albion Hotel, built in 1856, anchors the south end of town. This Bed and Breakfast has a cozy dining room and inviting pub. Wooden tables and benches speak of nostalgia and old-world comfort.
Across the road, is a business called Outside Projects. The name doesn't tell you much, but when I investigated, I learned that you can rent bikes, and the young, amiable staff arrange seasonal hikes and historical walks. They also have a wide variety of recreational material like clothing, footwear, skateboards and bikes.
The Little Inn on the opposite end of Main Street is a charming Four-Diamond inn and restaurant that has welcomed guests since the 1830's when it first opened as a coach stop. The Inn is antique-filled with comfortable bedrooms that offer whirlpools and fireplaces. Any meal is special in one of their gracious dining rooms.
Before you retire for the evening, take a five minute walk to Pioneer Park where you can sit on a bench and watch the sunset over Lake Huron. If you wear a hat, hang onto it; the winds off the lake can be nasty. Want to linger? Take a walk along the beach and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves as they crash on the shore. Along the way, you'll spot a red and white home built like a lighthouse, nestled in a small forest of trees.
Santa arrives here at 7 pm on Friday, November 9th and a Christmas Parade for kids of all ages begins at 11 am on Saturday with free carriage rides after the parade. Check out the bazaar at the local United Church. If you're hungry, Knox Presbyterian Church is holding a barbecue on their lawn the day of the parade. Festive music will enhance your shopping experience on Main Street.
If you like things that come in small packages, Bayfield is a gem.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.