Short of cash for the holidays, yet you want to take the family on a Christmas holiday that won't cost an arm and a leg. Then head for Dundas, a tiny town set in a quaint valley nestled beneath the Niagara escarpment. It's a charming example of small-town Ontario. Its tree-lined streets, heritage homes and picturesque downtown, decked out for the holidays, reflect the nostalgic quality of the past.
Part of the appeal of Dundas is its vibrant downtown with no big box stores. The main street (King) is wide and easy to walk. Shops are found in renovated Victorian buildings, each with a story to tell. Most are built of limestone or brick after a fire in 1881 destroyed the original wooden buildings. Downtown is tiny, only two blocks long along King Street where my wife Ellen and I whittled away a few hours. The street is immaculately clean with striking garbage containers placed every 10 metres apart. A few places we found interesting follows.
Terraware is a hemp shop where you can find environmentally friendly one of a kind products. Mickey McGuire's Cheese Shop offers a wide variety of cheeses from around the world. They have a knowledgeable staff that shares their enthusiasm. When you step inside the Ukrainian Store you might wish you were Ukrainian. There are
(Ukrainians spell it pirogues), traditional meats and delicious biscuits.
The arts helped shape the destiny of this community and Dundas is home to many artists who have achieved international fame. Check out the Carnegie Gallery which is one of the highlights of the Arts community. There's an amazing collection of locally hand crafted objects.
Just off King Street on Ogilvie Street is the
Dundas Valley School of Art. It's located in a former 1830's munitions factory. To see a kaleidoscope of colour step through their doors free of charge daily Monday through Friday from 9:30 until 4:00 pm. Closed on the weekends.
If you visit Dundas on Friday, November 22 you can take in the annual tree lighting ceremony at Memorial Square that begins at 7 pm.
The Dundas Concert Band
will usher in the jolly old soul himself. Chocolates and sweets will be served and it won't cost a penny.
For the entire month of December parking is free in downtown city lots. There are also events, like horse and buggy rides, happening every Saturday in December.
Nearby is the
Westfield Heritage Village
, a ten minute drive outside of town where you'll find another interesting adventure. You'll be able to time travel. This attraction operated by the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority and is one of Hamilton's best kept secrets. Volunteer interpreters depict life in the 1800's and early 1900's. It's a village consisting of 34 historical buildings relocated from various sites around southern Ontario and carefully reconstructed and painstakingly restored to their original appearance. The village sits on a 15 hectare site surrounded by an additional 131 hectares of unspoiled natural woodlands and meadows with several well marked nature trails.
When we entered through the main gate, it was like stepping back in time. One of the first things to catch our eyes was the massive 1910 TH and B black locomotive sitting at the 1896 Jerseyville train station.
A few of the many buildings we looked inside were an 1848 General Store, McRoberts Dry Goods and Dr. Beattie MD Drug Store. We were pleasantly surprised when we entered the D'Aubigny Inn built in the 1820's. This beautiful log building had two wood burning fireplaces and greeting us were two young interpreters who offered us a bit of Christmas cake. It was delicious.
During December the village is open for only three Christmas themed evenings from 5 pm until 9 pm on Saturday's, Dec. 7th, Dec. 14th and Dec. 21st followed by fireworks each evening. Open on Sunday, December 15th for, "Christmas in the Country" from noon until 4 pm.
Admission fee is adults 11.00, seniors and students $10.00, children 6-12 years $6.50 and under 5 years free.
Dundas, Wikipedia Commons
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.
Dundas is a formerly independent town and now constituent community in the city of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada. It is nicknamed the Valley Town because of its topographical location at the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment on the Western edge of Lake Ontario. The population has been stable for decades at about twenty thousand, largely because it has not annexed rural land from the protected Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
Dundas was named by John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, for his friend Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, a Scottish lawyer and politician who never visited North America. Prior to being called "Dundas" the town was called Coote's Paradise, and renamed after 1814 to Dundas. Dundas was then incorporated in 1847 as part of Wentworth County.
With the establishment of McMaster University in nearby west Hamilton in 1930, Dundas gradually became a bedroom community of the university faculty and students, with a thriving arts community.
Dundas has many waterfalls within its region. The two most common visited waterfalls are Webster's Falls (named after Joseph Webster) and Tew's Falls. Both waterfalls are accessible by the Bruce trail leading to the Dundas Peninsula.