I’m a big fan of small towns. There are more 'characters,' people eager to help, and they seem comfortable in themselves. They are take it or leave it folks. If you don't like what you see, well that's your loss. They practice old fashion good manners. They even wait at crosswalks until the light changes. Small towns are places where you can chill. Dunnville is just such a place.
You'll never go hungry as long as you have a few dollars in your pocket in Dunnville. With a population of 12,000, there's plenty of restaurants, all near or in the compact downtown area - Tim Horton's, Hyatt's Restaurant (Chinese), Chestnut Lane, Flyers Café and Bakery, The Minga, A & W, Dairy Queen, The Village Restaurant, Little Caesars, Johnny- Famous, Knowles Diner, God Fathers Pizza and Lollies. All have regulars with their favourite seats, but still welcome visitors. If you're so inclined, you'll soon be joining them in conservation.
With the air crisp, we needed to kick off our morning with a hearty breakfast. From past visits I knew the Dunnville Deli at 322 Broad Street East would fill the bill. Joe Rauscher has been owner/cook/and chief bottle washer for the past 40 years. He's one of those guys who seems to have a permanent smile and if you want to know anything about Dunnville he's the go-to guy. Over eggs and coffee you can learn lots of things.
If you haven't been here you'll soon learn that Dunnville is a plucky, working-class place, and has tons of history. Many buildings date back to the mid-eighteen hundreds. You can read the history of some of them on signs found on windows outside the buildings. The information was gathered in 2010 as part of the town's 150th Sesquicentennial celebrations.
Much of the morning we spent walking the small downtown where parking is free. We enjoyed a late lunch at Flyers Bakery and Café. This place has a down-home atmosphere. Fresh sandwiches are served on homemade bread. You can even request the sandwiches be served on gluten-free rice bread. Flyers are located in a, building that was over a hundred years ago a hardware store. Throughout the year flyers features live entertainment.
After lunch we spent part of our afternoon driving around town looking at lovingly restored homes. One quintessential charmer is the Lalor Estate Inn Bed and Breakfast at 241 Broad Street. The Edwardian home with a gorgeous wrap-around porch was built in 1905.
At the west end of town we discovered a 15 metre long,
'Muddy the Mudcat.' Mudcat fish are common in the nearby Grand River so the town adopted the fish as its mascot. There's an annual festival and the 41st Dunnville Mudcat Festival takes place June 11th to 14th this year. A few of the things featured are a parade, strongman completion, midway, fireworks and live entertainment.
To grab a burst of afternoon energy before heading home, we went back downtown to Knowles Restaurant. (We seem to have done a lot of eating on this trip.) It was here long before Timmies and is reminiscent of the 1950's. They still have the same nine stools and half a dozen booth that patrons have sat on since 1958.This restaurant is the real deal. It's open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., cash only.
If you arrive on a Tuesday or Saturday morning between 7 a.m. and noon you can head to the
Farmers Market located behind the beer store.
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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.