The Grand River Scenic Parkway, also known as Highway 54 North between Cayuga and Caledonia is a no-hassle, carefree 18-kilometre drive that takes you along a tree-lined road beside the lovely Grand River. You pass plenty of farmer's fields, see canoeists paddling the river and fishers trying to catch that big one.
Your first stop should be at Ruthven Park (open year round), a national historic site not far from the cut off at Highway 3 West onto The Grand River Scenic Parkway. Admittance is free. This beautiful park contains nature trails, farmland and a tract of Carolinian forest, a prime habitat for a variety of birds. When I and my wife, Ellen visited on a Saturday morning, volunteers at a birding station were banding migratory birds. Birder Stephanie Oldfield told us that on Saturday, Sept.28th the 4th Annual Ruthven's for the Birds Festival will take place. There will be a presentation by birding experts, a raptor show and activities for the children. Admission is by donation; however, the suggested donation for a family is $15.00.
Inside the park, we found an 1845 restored Greek revival mansion at one time owned by five generations of the Thompson family. When we entered the mansion, we were convinced that we'd entered a time warp. It included original furnishings and family possessions. General admission to the mansion is: Adults $15.00, seniors $8.00, child (6 -12 years) $3.00 and family $20.00. Check out the interesting sculptures found on the grounds and plaques explaining the species at risk found in the park. There's also a wildly colourful Butterfly Meadow to feast your eyes upon.
On Thanksgiving Day, Monday, October 14th there's a "Cars in the Park" event. It's the only day of the year when they charge an admission fee to enter the park, the same fee that you would pay to enter the mansion.
Just before Caledonia, we noted the fairgrounds on the edge of town. The sign told us the 141st Caledonia Fair takes place between Thursday, September 26th until Sunday, the 29th. Having been there before, I know this is one of the best fall fairs around. Admission is $9.00 for adults, children $3.00 and under 5 years free.
Looking for a place to eat, we found Victor's Cornerstone Restaurant, open since 1995 and a favourite with the locals. We were met by a pleasant host and served a reasonably-priced plate of schnitzel and cranberry chicken wrap by a gracious server named Abbey. Another thing that impressed us about this place was the immaculately clean unisex washroom.
Although we didn't have a chance to check this out, we've heard buzz about the Argyle Street Grill. We did speak with co-owner and Chef Wade Taylor who grew up in Niagara on the Lake. He was proud of the fact the grill was featured last April on the
Food Network show, "You Gotta Eat Here." You can see the show on
You Tube, Taylor said, "We're a sleek, family-friendly place that serves fresh local food-you gotta eat here."
The afternoon we explored the tiny downtown and the new, two-kilometre River Walk that runs parallel to the Grand River between the unique nine-span Grand River Bridge built in 1927 and the still active eleven-span Caledonia Railway Bridge built in 1911. When time for a breather, we sat on one of the benches along the trail and people watched, including "crazy" teenagers who jumped off the bridge near large signs that read, "Danger-No Swimming."
Before we left town we bee-lined it to Jones Bakery (it's been operated by the same family for over 110 years) for scrumptious calorie-free butter tarts, a mince pie and a few Empire cookies for our kids back home.
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.
Caledonia is located at the intersection of Highway 6 and Haldimand Highway 54 (within the town, these streets are called Argyle Street and Caithness Street respectively) on the Grand River. On Highway 6, the town is 10 km south of Hamilton and 10 km north of Hagersville. On Haldimand Highway 54, the town is 15 km east of Brantford, Ontario and 10 km west of Cayuga, Ontario. -Wikipedia