It's a bright sunny 18 C degree day and we've decided to take a visit to one of our favourite spots, Fergus Ontario for an overnight stay. We arrived mid-morning and parked our car on St. Andrew Street, the vibrant historic main street, where parking is free.
We started to wander. It didn't take us long to realize we had arrived on Tartan Day. The place was buzzing with everything Scottish. This one-day festival is in honour of Scottish founder Adam Fergusson who helped established this town in the early 1830's.Throughout the day we ran into the
Scottish Pipe Band and Highland
dancers who kept everyone entertained. We spotted entire families wearing kilts in honour of their Scottish heritage.
If you like history, you'll love looking at the solid stone houses scattered throughout this walkable town. Be sure to pick up one of the town's free self-guided walking tour maps.
One building, the pride of the community, is the Fergus General Store built of limestone by Scottish masons in the 1830's. Here's where the present catches up with the past. In this renovated building you'll find a general store with a wide variety of merchandise from the past and present. Check out the original tin ceiling and the wood floors.
At Sophie's Southern Café, inside the store, we enjoyed a light lunch. I chatted with a couple beside us - Bill and Valerie Tibbles who had recently moved here from Toronto. When I asked why, Bill said, "To get out of Dodge! Fergus is a friendly place filled with lots of creative people, festivals and things to do. We love it here."
After lunch we stepped inside other places along the street. The Scottish Shop is filled with custom kilts, tartan ties and everything Scottish. At the west end of the street have your camera ready to photograph their magnificent historic Fergus Post Office.
Before we left the street, we walked south onto one of the bridges that passes over the Grand River. Today the river was flowing furiously due to the spring runoff. We spotted a few brave kayakers navigating the waterway. We returned in the evening to see this river lit up with coloured lights.
By mid afternoon it was time to check into the Van Galis Café and Inn at the east end of St. Andrews Street. Seven years ago, business partners Janette Feniak and Reina Todd, with the help of their families, renovated this former 1870's heritage home into what's become one of Fergus's most popular restaurants. We were lucky to have reserved one of the two suites above the café. The Wellington Suite had an original slipper (claw foot) bathtub.
When Ellen and I travel, we ask locals where they like to go for dinner. The Brew House, an 1851 renovated tannery, was top of the list. It was a great choice. We took a window seat overlooking the Grand River flowing outside the restaurant. Owners Katherine and Jim greeted us at the door and treated us like family.
Be sure to bring your camera
Grand River Wilson's Dam - Winter
Fergus Ontario Canada
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.