A carefree slow calming drive at this time of the year along the scenic Grand River Parkway (Highway 54) from Cayuga to Brantford is simply spectacular. Watching the world come back to life as reflected in the nearby Grand River is exhilarating.
After making your way from Niagara to
Cayuga, take Highway 54 North, also called The Grand River Scenic Parkway, towards Brantford. Follow the blue signs with the red canoe on them. One of your first stops should be to visit Ruthven Park, a national historic site, in Cayuga. This beautiful park contains nature trails, farmlands and a tract of Carolinian forest. Admittance to the park is free.
The focal point of the park is the 1845 Greek revival mansion owned by five generations of the Thompson family until 1993. In 1994, it was transferred to the non-profit Lower Grand River Trust. Today, the building contains original furnishings and family possessions. One-hour guided tours are offered until 4pm, Wednesday to Sundays (including holidays). Adults $10.00, seniors and students $8.00 and a family rate of $20.00. The park opens for the season on Saturday May 21st.
If you're looking for a place for a nice lunch or dinner, travel the long winding driveway (careful, you don't miss it) next door to the historic circa 1830 Gingerbread House Restaurant and Country Inn. It's a relaxing place to stay overnight. Check out the Upper Lydia Thompson Suite. There's a balcony overlooking a Carolinian forest. The only thing that will wake you in the morning is the mooing of the cows in the field on the other side of the Grand River. Don't worry, I've stayed there, and they are nice, quiet moos. The rate is $129.00 which includes a full breakfast.
Next stop should be to park your car in
Caledonia and take a walk of their downtown. I suggest you visit Jones Bakery (it's been operated by the same family for 107 years) for a scrumptious calorie-free butter tart, mince pie or Empire cookie. I was only kidding about the calories. Take a picture of the only nine-span bridge in Canada that crosses the Grand River through the town. Be careful-the main drag is old Highway 6, and the traffic can be treacherous at times.
Seven kilometres west of Caledonia is the Grand River Boat Tour attraction. This fun attraction, which offers a three hour 20 kilometres narrated tour of the Grand River aboard flat bottomed boats, opens for the season on Tuesday, May 24th. Reservations are required for the luncheon cruise.
This scenic parkway to Brantford meanders through picturesque farm country and passes through the Six Nations of the Grand River territories. Here you will find genuine native arts and works.
When you've made it to Brantford and want to stay overnight try, My Guest Bed and Breakfast. Linda Guest (that's her real name) and her husband Doug have filled their elegant Victorian home with antiques. The deluxe breakfast, had me taking out my belt a notch, is served in a beautiful dining room. The front wraparound verandah is a place to sip your favourite Chardonnay. Overnight accommodations plus two breakfasts run about $100.00.
If you're looking for dinner, stop by Devlin's Country Bistro in Mount Pleasant. It's a stop to kick back and you don't have to get dressed up.
Before you head home spend the morning exploring the Bell Homestead, a national historic site, where Alexander Graham Bell conceived the idea of the telephone. The homestead is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm. The cost is in the $3.25 range.
Nearby is one of the oldest (1785) native Protestant churches in Ontario. Her majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks is where
Joseph Brant of the
Six Nations and his son, John are entombed in the church cemetery.
Usually I suggest an alternate route back home, but not this time. The ride back along Highway 54 South to Cayuga connecting to Highway 3 seemed even better.
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.
If you go