Ellen and I headed out on a mid-week morning to this lovely community located on the shores of Lake Ontario. I spoke earlier with Sharlene
Plewman, Executive Director of the Downtown Oakville BIA, who offered to give us a tour of the downtown. One of the first things she told us was, "Even though we have a population of 182,000 we still consider ourselves a town that feels like a village." As the day went on we found she was right. Merchants when we entered their shops greeted us with a friendly smile and a warm hello.
We concentrated our visit to the historic Main Street-Lakeshore Road between Navy Street and Trafalgar Road. It's an area steeped in history and culture. There's an array of architecturally preserved buildings dating back to the 1830's.They've now been re-born as boutique shops, art galleries, gourmet food purveyors, bakeries, flower shops, wellness centres, and of course restaurants.
is a high end furniture shop located inside a building that once was a TD bank. The bank vault is still here but it's now filled with gorgeous towels from Turkey and hand-blown Turkish glass. You can see a historical 1860 Northern European antique canoe made out of one piece of wood. It's yours for $5,265.
Burrows have been around for many years. It's is a men clothier shop that provides distinctive clothing to those with discriminating taste.
The Black Forest Pastry Shop has been in business for 29 years. The husband and wife team of John and Marzena Ziemba were hard at work making some of the best pastry we've ever eaten. We took home a bag of butter tarts and a Black Forest cake. If you've just started your New Year's Eve diet don't dare not go into this place.
"A Taste of Oakville" - We didn't realize it when we visited that it was the first day of this annual event. 26 restaurants are offering special prices for lunch and dinner from their menus until February 11th.
We sampled one of these lunches at the
Piazza Bistro. It was a great choice. For $25.00 each we had our choice of three starters, four main courses and two deserts. The spicy charred pineapple and Butternut Squash Soup, Kale and Quinoa salad with Grilled salmon followed by Bourbon Raison Bread Pudding was a hit with us.
After the meal we needed to walk. We left the main street and headed to the nearby Oakville Museum. In this neighbourhood that locals call Olde Oakville, are 30 to 40 homes dating back to the 1850's. Many have plaques at their front door indicating who first occupied these home and their occupations.
The museum is found in a historic home that was once occupied by Colonel William Chisholm and his family. Chisholm, an enterprising merchant and shipbuilder was the founder of Oakville.
With February being Black History Month we enjoyed the permanent exhibition, Underground Railroad: Next Stop Freedom. This display tells the story of slave's heroic flight from slavery in the United States. One interesting artifact is a copy of a "Certificate of Freedom" issued to former slave, 23 year old Branson Johnson, who had been given his freedom by a Maryland court. There's a 30-minute movie available on request.
The museum is closed Mondays but open Tuesday through Sunday 1 until 4:30 p.m. Admission is by donation.
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.
Originally called Gravelly Bay, after the shallow, bedrock-floored bay upon which it sits, the modern City of Port Colborne traces its roots back to the United Empire Loyalist settlements that grew up in the area following the American Revolution. -