Summer is a really beautiful time in Ontario and a perfect time to explore the verdant countryside surrounding Toronto. Since we were just having visitors from Europe I decided to show my out-of-town guests a little bit of Ontario’s country charm, so we planned an overnight getaway for July 30 and 31, 2008. Just after lunch on day 1 we started driving east of Toronto to the charming country town of Port Hope, just about 100 km east of the city.
Port Hope, a beautiful Victorian town
Port Hope is a pretty little town of about 16,000, located at the mouth of the Ganaraska River, a favourite destination of salmon fishermen in the fall. I had visited Port Hope about seven or eight years ago, and since then Port Hope has been spruced up considerably. Many new restaurants and boutiques have been opened, and Port Hope has become a favourite getaway destination for people from all over Ontario.
Victorian-era streetscape in Port Hope
From here we continued on to Cobourg, another attractive country town no more than 15 minutes east of Port Hope. With about 18,000 residents, Cobourg – Ontario’s Feel Good Town – is the largest town in Northumberland County. Cobourg features many Victorian era buildings, and the most stunning architectural highlight is Victoria Hall, a classical building dating back to the 1850s that now houses the municipal offices as well as a concert hall and art gallery.
Victoria Hall in Cobourg
The main street features many cute shops and boutiques. From here we walked towards the waterfront and stopped at the King George Inn, a historic hotel that used to be the Cobourg Jail until about 10 years ago. In the basement you can still see various prison cells in their original state. Last but not least we strolled to the waterfront where we enjoyed the beautiful marina and had a look at the wide sandy beach of Victoria Park.
A great sandy beach in Cobourg’s Victoria Park
Through the rolling hills of Eastern Ontario we made our way to Peterborough where we stopped briefly at the waterfront to admire the preparations for a free concert that was to be held in the evening in the waterfront park. As it was getting late we decided to locate our bed and breakfast, the Shining Waters B&B, just outside the country village of Lakefield.
The Shining Waters Bed and Breakfast
Hostess Susan Castle showed us around her 1860s fieldstone farm house that features four beautifully decorated bedrooms. In the evening, following Susan’s recommendation, we had a delicious dinner at Cassis Restaurant in downtown Lakefield where we enjoyed a variety of French delicacies.
A scrumptious dinner at Cassis Restaurant
In the morning we finally had some time to sit down with our hostess to find out more about the Shining Waters Bed and Breakfast. Susan and her husband David are originally from the United States, and Susan worked as a teacher in different locations while her husband has had a successful career in operational management. Several years ago he was transferred to Birmingham on a special assignment. Susan thoroughly enjoyed her time in England and developed a passion for antique shopping.
Susan Castle, our hostess at the Shining Waters B&B
David’s great-grand parents were originally from England and moved to Peterborough. The family has long had a small cabin near the Warsaw Caves, just outside of Peterborough. After his corporate assignment was completed, David retired and the couple was considering to relocate to the South-Eastern US coast, somewhere between Charleston and Florida. One fall they travelled to Ontario to close the cottage, and that’s when they saw an advertisement for a Victorian-era farmhouse that had been converted into a bed and breakfast and was now for sale. They had a look at the property and fell in love with it instantly.
My cozy bedroom