Canadian Geographic


The celebrity chef and Masterchef Canada judge reminisces about escaping to rural living in Caledon, Ont.

- —As told to Aaron Kylie

Celebrity chef Michael Bonacini reminisces about escaping to rural living in Caledon, Ont.

I have a country home in the bucolic hills of Caledon, Ont., about 60 kilometres northwest of Toronto. I really connect with the beauty here and what it has to offer, like the quirky and wonderful people I’ve made friends with. It really is a great part of the world. I love coming up, as do my wife and son. Going there is really about getting back into the countrysid­e, where things move at a slightly slower pace and the air seems fresher, the trees greener, the wildlife more plentiful. I’ve never been the kind of guy to sit for too long on the back deck with a beer or a book. I always have a job going. And here it’s the kind of jobs I can’t do in the city. Cutting the grass, planting trees, building a stone wall, tidying up the barn. Just these outdoor jobs that I love to do. Splitting firewood, stacking firewood and making a fire when it starts to get chilly … there is nothing more satisfying and gratifying. They’re all sort of rituals that I don’t find chores. I actually look forward to them. I also have wonderful neighbours. A neighbour farmer friend taught me how to plow. I have a local beekeeper who comes to see me. I hike with a group of guys weekly. I feel very much a part of this community and I feel welcome here. The group of friends we hang out with in Caledon have a favourite little cidery down the road and a coffee shop in the village, a bakery we stop at when we’re on our cycling tours, a friendly neighbourh­ood pub. It’s unique little destinatio­ns like these that make it extra special. I never tire of coming here.

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