Get Out of Town
My favourite place to escape the city for a quick getaway is the Drake Devonshire in Prince Edward County. My husband and I were there in the winter and had a blast. At night, we had an excellent meal and a rowdy drunken game of Ping-Pong. In the morning, I took a yoga class. The inn is perched on a lovely spot up against the lake, but the vibe is decidedly urban (the room service menu even offers sex toys).
The restaurant at the Drake Devonshire is one of several out-of-town spots our critic, Mark Pupo, recommends in this issue’s feature on destination dining (“Flavour Country,” page 63). In what surely must be the best assignment Toronto Life has given a writer this year, Mark travelled hundreds of kilometres to find places that are so satisfying they’re worth the drive.
He picked spots in St. Catharines, Dundas, Jordan Station, Cambridge— places that make fun day trips on their own. I know this from experience. In the spring, my family and I took a magical walk through Ball’s Falls, a conservation area near St. Catharines on land settled by Jacob Ball, a Loyalist who built mills on the waterfalls of Twenty Mile Creek. Besides providing my 12-year-old son with lots of giggles (“Ball’s Falls!”), the area had giant rocks for the kids to climb and dramatic falls views. Next time I’ll leave the kids at home, follow Mark’s advice and eat at Pearl Morissette, which he calls “the most extraordinary new restaurant in the province, and perhaps the country.”
The proximity to magnificent nature is one of the best things about living in Toronto. My husband and I are committed day trippers. He’s an avid birder, which means early morning road trips to chase down a northern hawk-owl or a prothonotary warbler. And lately he’s taken up the sport of butterfly catching (much to the embarrassment of our tween). He’ll capture one in his net, identify it with his Ontario butterfly book, show off his catch to passersby and let it go.
We recently dragged our kids to the Limehouse Conservation Area on the Bruce Trail (just north of Milton), which still has lime kilns from the mid-19th
century. The kids loved the deep fissures in the escarpment rock known as the Hole in the Wall and crawled deep into them, sometimes using rather precarious-looking old wooden ladders. They were in heaven.
For day trippers who would rather plan their outings around art, our culture section this month (page 93) is devoted to theatre, galleries and concerts outside the city: a music festival in Elora, an exhibit of female artists in Kitchener-Waterloo, plus our recommendations for what to see at Stratford and Shaw.
And sometimes, the best day trips are just across town. As a lifelong Torontonian, I’m embarrassed to say that last summer I paid my first visit to Bluffer’s Park Beach at the southern tip of Brimley Road in Scarborough, and it was a total revelation. It’s a legitimate bring-your-towel, stayfor-the-day beach that feels a million miles from the city. We flew a kite, ate watermelon and lazily read books on the sand. New this summer, the TTC will run buses every 15 minutes from Kennedy station on weekends and holidays, making the beach more accessible.
In this issue, we spotlight a unique community of Torontonians who are well aware of the beauty of this stretch of the Scarborough lakeshore. They live right on the water’s edge, in so-called float homes (page 75): regular-looking houses that are built on concrete barges at Bluffer’s Park Marina. They’re a tightly knit bunch—quite literally. Their homes are 36 inches apart and tied together.