Niagara on the Lake- Ontario, Canada
Niagara On The Lake, Ontario-Canada
We were visiting Niagara On the Lake, in Ontario. This charming village sits along the Niagara River, just as it meets Lake Ontario. Most of the homes here are of brick. They are styled in the Georgian mode. The shops and hotels are bedecked with floral arrangements and picture perfect.
A considerable wine industry had taken root in the area during the last twenty years. Several large, and many smaller boutique wineries, now draw in day visitors by the thousands. The several theaters, that make up the Shaw Festival, also draw in theater goers by the busload.
We had been somewhat apprehensive on arrival, because of the rude comments our President Trump had made about Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau. We needn’t have worried. Every Canadian we encountered and dealt with was unfailingly pleasant and cheerful. They really do make you feel at home and appreciated. I have long been a fan of both Canada and Canadians. I was pleased to see that even knuckle headed comments don’t upset our gracious and treasured friends to the North.
It was early afternoon and the main street was awash with visitors. Many were disgorged from the large buses parked nearby. Others were day trippers. We were staying at a small B & B on Dorchester St, near the golf course on the North end of town. It was both homey and comfortable.
We had wanted to play the nine holes of the historic NOTL Golf Course since forever. Constructed in 1875, It is reputedly the oldest golf course in North America. Its length sits on the foundations of an even older Forth Missisaugua. The day was hot, with high humidity. Rain clouds were threatening. Still, we had a tee time and were determined to play. We arrived an hour early. Luckily, the starter gave us a wink and sent us out. We were walking, trailing pull carts behind us. For a course that had been in continual use for the last 142 years, it played well. The bent grass greens are immaculate. Several of the holes border the deep blue of Lake Ontario and the fast-moving Niagara River. Just across the fairway, we espied some pretty fancy homes strung along the course. To say that this town is affluent is a mild understatement. We had fun making some shots and laughing when we missed others. It was a walk on some very beautiful grounds on a sunny day.
The heat and humidity were taking their toll. We stopped by the GC club house and enjoyed some decent shrimp wraps and French fries, laden with vinegar. It brought back memories of my youth Then, we had crowded Sherkston quarry and Thunder Bay beaches, enjoying the sun. We always had Canadian bacon sandwiches and French fries, laden with vinegar and salt. The skies were threatening, so we settled into the very comfortable home of Barbara Woronowicz at 351 Dorchester Rd. We had our book to read and a bottle of Cabernet. The rains came and drenched the area with a good watering. I also caught a treasured nap. Afterwards, we read our books, enjoyed a glass of cabernet and fell asleep to the soft gurgling on an outside fountain in the rear yard.
The next morning, we enjoyed a breakfast that would have fed the Chinese army. Barbara’s daughter Tammy had laid out a feast. Over breakfast, we had a delightful conversation with a German couple from Cologne, Germany. They were traveling for thirty days in Canada and enjoying their visit. The man’s English was better than my German.
After breakfast, we set out to the nearby GC at Heritage Farms. It was an old cow pasture with 11 holes. But we enjoyed the practice. A few slowsters enabled us to replay several holes and the 11 became 20. Still, we finished in 90 minutes and had fun playing. Then we decided to visit the new outlet mall that sits along the Queen Elizabeth Expressway. It is impressive in size and scope. It has all of the name stores, without the traffic of Toronto. We browsed a few and then enjoyed some of Tim Horton’s magic elixir, before setting out to return to NOTL.
An afternoon nap made the day pleasant. Later, a glass of cabernet sent us off to dinner at the Irish Pub in town. It was pleasant and looked and felt authentic. We tried and enjoyed some fish and chips, washed down with Smithwick's ale. The waitress told us that there was Irish Music on tap, later in the evening. We said we would come back later. We walked the main drag. It was crowded even after seven P.M. Several new restaurants had been established here in the last few years. All appeared to be chock full. We always enjoy people watching in these situations. The stories on tap here are fascinating. For some reason we heard quite a number of people speaking French. Perhaps the tour buses were here from Montreal and Quebec City.
At 7:30 P.M., we bellied up to the bar in the Irish Pub and ordered another pint of Smithwicks. The small group playing may have been Irish, but their music was country western to the max. The natives in Eire are big fans of American country western. The patrons clapped loudly enjoying the renditions. I couldn’t really get used to hearing “Black Velvet Band” and “Galway Bay” sung with the twang and upbeat rhythm of CW. To each their own, I guess. The day was waning and we were tiring. We packed it in and drove back to our berth on Dorchester St. I had a final glass of Cabernet as I browsed a 1300-page epic on “Europe.” It was fascinating. Sleep soon claimed us and we drifted off to the gurgle of our fountain.
It was our third day in NOTL. We started out with another sumptuous feast at Breakfast. Barbara’s daughter Tammy rolled out the culinary red carpet for us. We were joined by Bill and Nancy from Markham, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. It was another wide ranging and enjoyable conversation. It is these breakfast conversation, and the homey atmosphere, that makes B & B’s so inviting. After only two days, we felt like one of the Woronowicz family.
We made our goodbyes, thanking Tammy for the gracious hospitality and set off for our third golf course in three days, The St. David’s course, off York Road, in Queenston. It was sunny and seventy degrees out. The good Lord doesn’t make days any better than this. The course was crowded, but we teed off in twenty minutes. We were riding a cart this time. Many of the golf holes here run up and down the Niagara escarpment. We remembered struggling a bit, the last time we had walked the course here. We had fun whacking the ball around. We groaned a few times at bad shots, but nothing could spoil a gorgeous day like this.
A young trio of boys played ahead of us. They could hit the ball a mile. They also carried their bags. I wondered if we had ever been that young? In only two hours, we were done. The ride back across the border was pleasant and brief. There were no lines on the Lewiston/Queenston bridge and even the border guards were pleasant.
We sailed on into Amherst, washed the car of all the dust and then stopped at Panera Breads for a sandwich and coffee. Finally, we returned to our castle, unloaded the car and sat down to watch the debacle of the U.S. open at Shinnicock GC, on Long island. Most of the name players were getting blown off the course. It had been a nice getaway to a beautiful destination. We have returned there often and will again many times, God willing.
Joseph Xavier Martin