I'm a small-town junky, enchanted with yesterday's world, but my lady, Ellen, shares my passion. Therefore, we decided to visit
Dunnville. It's a picturesque small town community of 12,000 located along the Grand River on Highway #3 - a 45 minute lazy drive from Niagara.
Dunnville is a plucky, working-class place with lots of character, and history.
Start your visit by touring the small Old Town Area where there's free parking and plenty of interesting businesses to pop into and whittle away a while. Most shops are located in historic buildings dating back to the mid-eighteen hundreds. Histories of the places are printed on signs that hang in front windows. The information was gathered in 2010 as part of the town's 150th Sesquicentennial celebrations.
Time Capsule at 168 Queen Street is one store not to miss. From the front it looks like any second-hand store, but don't be fooled, step inside. It's filled with beautiful, odd, weird and downright ugly things. Store owner, Jason Clark said, "It's stuff that your parents threw away when you moved out." He was right. There were toys that I played with in the 1950's and advertising signs and vintage musical instruments I remember from my teenage years. There's a large selection of 20th Century Modern Furniture that feature that retro look you'll either love or hate. It's best to call ahead 905-701-0482 to make sure they're open before you arrive.
Dunnville has a burgeoning music scene. Nearby Flyer's Bakery and Café is one of the hot spots for live music. Acoustic folk, blues and good old rock and roll music is served up in a former mid-century hardware store that's also filled with art. I can't forget the delicious, reasonably-priced food. On Saturday evening, March 10th a popular local Music Night begins at 6:30.
Bohemian Friday's Café, located in a renovated Laundromat on Queen Street is another quirky hangout for those who like Fair Trade Coffee, baked goods and light meals. This café (locals call it Boho's) provides a venue for live entertainment, stand-up comedy, family game nights and psychedelic evenings. It's open 3:30 pm to 9pm daily; closed Sunday.
We needed a burst of energy so we grabbed a mid-afternoon lunch at
Knowles Restaurant on Queen Street. This eatery is reminiscent of the 1950's.There's still the same nine stools and half a dozen booths that patrons have sat on since 1958. The walls are decorated with genuine 1950's-60's antiques, photographs and local memorabilia and a blackboard that lists daily specials. One of the regulars, Rick Mulcaster sitting on one of the stools said, "I love it, the old style atmosphere, the food, and the people. This is the real deal." The restaurant is open seven days a week, cash only.
When you drag yourself away from the Old Town, take a ride to the west end of town and say hello to "Muddy." At the edge of Highway# 3 you'll see the 15 metre long
"Muddy the Mudcat." Mudcat fish are common in the nearby Grand River so the town has adopted the fish as its mascot. Each year there's even a Mudcat Festival. This year's festival takes place between June 6th and 10th.
In this area check out the lovely 1905
Lalor Estate Inn Bed and Breakfast at 241 Broad Street (Highway 3). This Edwardian home with a gorgeous wrap-around porch was the original home of Francis Lalor, Member of Parliament. Today, hosts Glen and Judy Brough continue to renovate what locals refer to as "The Gem of Dunnville."
When this close, take time to visit the Village of Port Maitland. At the end of town take the bridge over the Grand River and make a left turn on Port Maitland Road (just before the ESSO station).It's about a five-minute drive down the road. The highlight of this quaint hamlet is
Powell's Shipyard. It feels like Canada's East Coast. You'll find a pier that juts out into Lake Erie and the mouth of the Grand River. At the end of the pier is a picture-perfect white
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.