We enjoyed Toronto. It's Canada's main city and it shows -- great architecture, great neighborhoods, great business and commerce. We remember talking to young people from other parts of Canada whose only option to get a good job after college was go to Toronto. Slovak Cathedral (Byzantine rite)
The Canadian election is over, and to us it looks like a difficult period ahead, with no clear majority for any party in parliament, so lots of compromises and not much agreement. Probably a left of center alliance will govern with the Liberals and the NDP, with the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois forming the opposition. Chances are the next election will be called sooner rather than later.
One day, while exploring Hamilton -- a manufacturing city about 30 miles from Toronto -- we turned a corner and spotted a gang of teenagers waving CAR WASH signs. So we had loving and careful attention from the wards of Living Rock Ministry, a shelter for teenagers. The truck was sparkling clean and we had done a good deed, too!
Driving back along the Lake Shore Boulevard, we were impressed by the number and size of the estates, each with its manicured garden. While much Inglis Falls of the lake front is privately held, there are several large parks for public access. Small villages -- all part of greater Toronto -- provide shoppers with boutiques and galleries. It's a very pleasant change from the nearby freeway.
Leaving Toronto, we traveled north for more than an hour through suburbs and exurbs, passing one new housing development after another. Cathedraltown is a development that has sprung up around the Slovak Catholic Cathedral (Byzantine rite), so we had another lesson that greater Toronto has an amazing mix of nationalities.
By the time we reached Owen Sound we felt that we had finally shed the last ties to Toronto. Apple orchards lined the highways, cattle and horses and sheep were in abundance. Truck farms and the occasional hay field lay on all sides, tucked into valleys where the roads rose at impressive angles. The region is located near the northern end of the Niagara Escarpment, and dozens of waterfalls tumble down over the cliffs. The air is clear Grey Roots exhibit and the forests are gloriously green.
We weren't sure what to expect from Canada Day -- July 1, a celebration of Canada's heritage. LIke its analagous holidays in the U.S., Canada Day provides a vacation day for many, with most stores and all government offices closed. But tourism continues!
We started Canada Day slapping at mosquitos as we walked to Jones Falls, crossing the 500-mile-long Bruce Trail, which follows the ridge of the Niagara Escarpment to its end. The stairstep falls made a pretty picture, but we hastened back to the truck to search for the insect repellent (it was there.) Then we drove to the Grey Roots museum, opened last year and already filled with substantive exhibits. It's named for Grey County and for local and family history, as the museum is colocated with the county archives. Being a government office, the archives were closed for the holiday, but the museum was open. According to the computer terminal, there were a couple of families of Pendletons in Grey County last century. The museum has Owen Sound stories of local pioneers and farmers, along with a special exhibit about the underground railroad, a topic we find featured at lots of northern museums this year.
The big finish to Canada Day in Owen Sound was the fireworks display held in the harbor. The lawn of our motel was the best place in town for viewing, and it seemed much of the town had come, with lawn chairs and blankets and sparklers. Small family groups assembled on the grass and on the park benches which line the walking path to town. Even at ten p.m., the sky was not fully dark. The waters near the marina filled with pleasure boats from which occasional rockets flared. The fireworks themselves were lovely -- bursts of many colors, ground-based fountains, sizzling and blazing flowers of light. It was a curiously silent time. Every now and then a small child would cry Ooohh!, or a few people would clap for a specially colorful sight. Finally, when it was clear that all of the fireworks had been shot off, people began to pick up their gear and move off, chatting amiably together. Oh, Canada!