Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Almost 35 years ago while riding a school bus from Nashville, Ontario to Woodbridge High School, I remember the day when the signs went up on Highway 7 proclaiming that we were entering "Getaway Country". At the time, I really couldn't comprehend what it meant to be entering a place that implied that you wanted to get away from it. How could this be something to celebrate? I'm guessing that in the mind of an Ontario tourism bureaucrat, this moniker was given to the area to the north and east of the GTA - Durham, York, Peterborough, the Kawarthas, Northumberland, Bancroft, basically a grouping of what seemed to a Torontonian as a great unknown. More specifically it wasn't Niagara, it wasn't Muskoka, it wasn't Ottawa, it wasn't Collingwood and it wasn't attraction rich southwestern Ontario. Having lived in the heart of Getaway Country now for the past 20 years of my life, I think I am only now beginning to fully appreciate just how wonderful it is to live within an undiscovered, unspoiled jewel. This past weekend a gang of us made the journey deep into Prince Edward County to savour the beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park. (There are 3 - Sandbanks, my favourite, The Outlet, pictured above, and The Dunes.) As I made my way out to the sand bar through the gentle waves of crystal clear Lake Ontario water, I reflected on why this area has such appeal. The conclusion I came to is that on top of incredibly beautiful and diverse natural landscapes, this area is made even more desirable by virtue of it's proximity. We're close enough to Toronto that we can go there if we have to, and yet we're that much closer to Montreal and Ottawa than we were when we lived in Nashville. These cities have become real favourites of mine, so rich in history and culture. We are also just a short drive to Prince Edward County as it comes into it's own with wineries, fine dining, the towns of Bloomfield and Picton, and the best beaches in the country. Cobourg, and Port Hope are growing into wonderful lakefront communities, retaining the streetscapes of days gone by. There's Warkworth, Hastings and Campbellford straddling the Trent Severn waterway, and The Kawartha Lakes region; Peterborough and Lakefield are unmatched in their natural beauty, as yet unspoiled by over development. So take your time to discover this part of the world in Getaway Country; it will grow on you.