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The picturesque village of Ridgeway, Ontario

© by George Bailey
 
Pressed for time and money and seeking a vacation without leaving Niagara? A trip to the picturesque village of Ridgeway, named from the limestone ridge which runs through it from north to south on the southern edge of Niagara - is definitely where to go.
     On a sparkling Saturday morning, I explore this village of 5,000 and discover an easy charm of the main street, Ridge Road. First on the agenda, a stop at Latte Kaffe and Eatery (parking free) where I jump-start my morning with a cup of Fair Trade coffee and a light breakfast served on the patio.
     The street displays an abundance of old brick buildings billed with names, not in crass neon, but rather, hand-carved wooden signs. No Timmies found here. Many shops can be re-located to Niagara-on-the-Lake without an issue, street and sidewalks wide and recently reconstructed, accompanied with lovely Victorian lampposts and names of side roads stamped into the concrete. I take time to explore these side roads for their hidden gems.
     Shop owners are quick to greet me and many wish me a pleasant day. Many stores espouse unusual names and feature unique items. I browse through: Gotta Be Dreaming, Work of Art, Gracious Baby ,Hidden Treasures, First Impressions and Lasting Impressions located conveniently next door.
     I step into Brodie's Drug Store to enjoy an old-time feeling and another find is the Ridgeway Farmers' Market at the south end of town. The market sits along an old railway right-of-way that's now part of the Friendship Trail. A hive of activity, the market opens Saturday mornings until the end of October.
     Not far up the road is the Boutique Movie Theatre, which opened a few years ago. Two screens feature classic and foreign movies. General admission is $6.00, but you might decide to purchase "the special" at $10.00 which includes a small pop and popcorn. Both theatres are intimate with 40 comfy extra-large reclining seats.

Concrete Names   Drug Store   Farmers Market Sign   Local Storefront    Locals

     Heading to the Ridgeway and Greater Fort Erie Museum at the north end of the town, I stop to talk with Keith and Helen Overend, renovating a 15-room mansion circa 1875. They moved from Toronto 10 years ago. Helen says, "It was a good move. Ridgeway is a quiet, friendly place, filled with people who speak to strangers; kids play on shaded front lawns and teenagers even say "hello" and move to one side of the sidewalk when you pass by."
     The museum, located in the historic 1874 Bertie Township town hall, opens daily except Saturdays at this time of the year. One of the best I've visited, it's well devised and filled with lots of interesting historical facts about the area. Admission is free, but a donation of $5.00 is suggested.

Museum    Shoppers   Storefront    Tulip Tree

     When time to eat again, I head to Ridgeways Restaurant where the locals dine, a culinary institution here for 21 years. They serve wonderful home-cooked meals and you can quickly catch up on village news.

     Ridgeway's Spirit of Christmas Weekend is set for Friday and Saturday, December 2-3, a traditional Christmas weekend with horse and buggy rides, (free for a non-perishable donation to the food bank), school choirs, ice sculptures and a Santa Claus stroll on Friday evening.
     Seemingly a prize hidden inside a box of Cracker Jacks, Ridgeway is the right place to enjoy a richer texture in life.
 
 


Photo Credits
George Bailey

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
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Main_Page
Ridgeway: www.ridgewayont.ca
Boutique Movie Theatre: www.boutiquemovies.com or 905-894-9911
Ridgeway and Greater Fort Erie Museum: www.museum.forterie.ca or 905-894-5322
Places of worship: http://www.yellowpages.ca/search/si/1/Churches...
Fiction: http://chuck.hubpages.com/hub/...

Travel Aid
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
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Maps (Mapquest) U.S. & Canada: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp
Maps (Mapquest) World: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=GB
Media Guide (local newspapers with current listings): http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/
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