We always enjoy visiting Buffalo, New York, and this trip was especially pleasant, because we had a chance to visit with old friends we met years ago on business travel. We also took time to re-visit the Historical Society. The special exhibit was about the 1901 Pan-American exhibition which took full Southern Ontario farmland advantage of the huge amount of power generated by Niagara Falls to light up all its buildings at night. It must have seemed like a trip to fairy land for the visitors. The fairy story, of course, had a sour note: President McKinley was shot while greeting the public, and soon thereafter died. But during the months of the fair, there were brightly colored buildings, and canals with gondolas, and strange people in exotic costumes from faraway lands. It was a high point for Buffalo.
Southern Ontario is filled with farms. Leaving the Niagara Falls metropolis, we found pasture and dairy cattle and beans and corn. Later, near Waterloo, there were many families with horse-drawn buggies and Mennonite clothing, long-sleeved, long-skirted dark dresses and neat bonnets. Of course tourists flock to Mennonite farms in the summer to buy handicrafts. Brantford church steeple
Our first luncheon in Canada was a dilly. We had picked the country back roads, so the hand-painted sign RESTAURANT AHEAD was welcome. Friendly Acres was truly a "Mom and Pop" operation. We guess they were about 65 years old. Pop was sitting on the porch, on a rocking chair. He told us, in a Dutch accent, that he had to cool off because he had just cut a limb off the tree in the back and it was too hot today.
Then we went in. To the left was a counter, to the right about five tables, each of a different size and shape. Three ladies were seated at one table. Mom came from behind the counter to serve them coffee. We asked her if we could sit anywhere and she said yes. The largest table was covered with sewing machines, so we took the round table in the corner, which had three chairs, but was about the right size for the two of us. Some of the sewing machines were being repaired, others were for sale. There were pictures of windmills and models of windmills and calendars which said Holland on the walls and shelves. Outside in the garden was a model windmill about eight feet tall. On the back wall and part of the side wall, next to the fireplace, were bookshelves filled with used books for sale.
A slender, suntanned young man in workclothes came in. He and the owners spoke Dutch. Then a bicyclist came in, sweaty from riding in the hot sun. The three ladies struck up a conversation with the bicyclist. He said it was a lot hotter where he just was living. Where, they asked, and he said Kuwait. Sign for Friendly Acres
It turns out that the bicyclist was a secondary school social sciences teacher; when he couldn't find a regular teaching position in Ontario, he connected with www.iss.com (or perhaps www.iss.edu, he couldn't remember) which arranges for teachers at private schools abroad. He started out in Abu Dhabi, then in Kuwait for the last three years, and next year will go to Hong Kong. He was back in Canada on summer leave, visiting his parents.
About this time the three ladies decided they had to go, and asked Pop for the bill. He said $15 or $5 each. That's Canadian money, about $1.50 to the U.S. dollar. They had had the special, which was advertised outside, bacon and eggs, $2.99. One of the ladies timorously said the special was only $2.99, but Pop reminded them that they had coffee. They paid up willingly.
We each had coffee and the cheeseburger plate, with cole slaw and french fries, and the bill came to $10.40 Canadian, the best bargain we've seen in a while.
We're not sure we could find the restaurant again, as we kept changing from one road to another, wandering through Southern Ontario. But we did take a picture of the sign.