Manjul Pande Parvez
Coming to Canada every year for the last several years has had its advantages. We get to see closely such a variety of people from all over the world - sometimes you feel as if you are in the United Nations. Being based in Toronto too has led us to be so familiar with this wonderful city - its captivating natural beauty all around, its capacity to assimilate all kinds of worlds, be it scientific, technical, artistic, show business and performing arts, gastronomic, sports, nature, education, medicine- you name it. Toronto can boast of several world-class institutions like museums, universities, stadiums, markets, churches, temples, etc. The Great Lake provides all kinds of beach and water adventures. The point here is that we have been there and done that. So, on this particular sojourn, we thought of venturing beyond Toronto and discovering its several beautiful satellite towns.
Apparently, winters in Canada are supposed to be limiting outdoor activities since there is usually snow all around and it is numbingly freezingly cold but true to the Canadian outdoor spirit there are a host of activities that people indulge in -there is skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, hiking, skating, fishing in frozen lakes to name just a few. One other pastime that is indulged in is ‘staycation’ - meaning taking a holiday near your home so you don’t have to travel much. You'll often hear this term used by Canadians – especially in provinces like Ontario since it is a cottage country which simply means that there are popular areas where people own or rent cottages for a short period or the entire season. Roundabout Toronto is the lake region!
We decided on a staycation at a nearby (100 km from Toronto ) charming little town called Little Britain - a rural community in the region of Kawartha Lakes. It has nothing to do with Great Britain and was named after another Little Britain in Penn. US! Although a small country town, it has a lot of tourists due to a host of cottages near Lake Scugog. The cottage that we rented for the weekend was like a dream place- situated on the shores of Lake Scugog, it had all the facilities one could possibly think of. There was a treehouse for the kids to climb on, slides and swings on tree boughs, a kayak, and a canoe. A hot water tub and a barbecue were available too. And inside the cottage beside the 55” TV, there were all kinds of indoor games - cards and board games. There was a mini library too and a little pharmacy on a shelf! The view from inside the cottage was fantastic - one could look at the changing moods of the day on the lake for hours from the cosy comfort of a plush living room with big picture windows sparklingly clean - of course, the lake was totally frozen!
For a small town, Little Britain had all kinds of amenities and famous bakeries so we decided to sample some of their baked goods from ‘Buttertarts’. There was so much to choose from- many butter tart flavours, so hard to choose just one. The butter tart crust was really good/thick and the fillings were nice and gooey and full to the top! The Chelsea bun was finger-licking good! Since Little Britain is located in the Kawartha Lake area boasting 250 lakes and rivers, there were a host of places worth a visit. We made a few excursions into Algonquin Highlands and the Town of Lindsey. The drive to Algonquin Highlands was very scenic despite the snow all around. The road meandered through the high and low region with several lakes and rivers thrown in all around us - some lakes were frozen and others not. The view was mesmerising and seemed never-ending.
We happened to have a little adventure too. It was closer to sunset and had started to snow. We drove ourselves into an icy patch in the snow and got stuck - any effort to drive the car forward would result in the car sliding backward on the road which was going straight down into the lake! We were at our wit’s end - the houses around us seemed to be totally deserted as they were summer homes and there was no help to be had. We were so desperate and it was getting dark too and the weather was turning inclement. Luckily one man came around walking his dog and saw our plight. He quickly got a couple of guys with a truck and a tow rope and we were successfully pulled out. That was the Canadian spirit! They were very sweet about it too and guided us out of the ice-covered area totally. We were all so relieved to have been safely out of the mess that we thought of having a treat so on the way back we spotted Kawartha Dairy where we had humongous delicious ice cream cones. They provide edible candy spoons as a way to reduce waste. We then proceeded on our way back to the cottage.
We were so excited by our previous day’s adventure and fun that we decided to take another excursion to nearby Lindsay. The drive through this charming town was a pleasure to the eyes as the vast stretches of land were visible with a clear horizon at the end! Luckily it was a clear day and the sky was as blue as it could be. With this as the backdrop every tree, every house and every structure stood out in a sharp outline and the view was amazing. Multi-storeys were totally missing; the houses were individual so the beautiful landscape beyond could be seen. Lindsay is located on the Scugog River which connects it to Sturgeon Lake. Being part of the City of Kawartha Lakes makes it a natural attraction and a popular year-round tourism spot. We noticed the wide streets, picturesque historical architecture, and seasonal decoration in Downtown Lindsay which is known for having one of the widest downtown streets in Ontario! We found the town to be a perfect combination of modern and historical, eclectic and traditional with wonderful friendly people. It was getting to be late and we drove out of the town of Lindsay to get back to our cottage for the last evening there.
On the way back we noticed that the sun was low on the horizon which is close to sunset. So, in a spirit of adventure, we thought we will race the sun and see where it would eventually set. Fortunately, we had to go West to get back home so we just followed the sun. It was a mesmerising experience since the position of the sun in Canadian skies is very low on the horizon around this time of the year - so much so that the sun is almost on street level at the time of sunrise and sunset! So, we raced and caught the setting sun at every turn in lower and lower positions. Finally, we turned inside the driveway toward our cottage and rushed to the back towards the lake and there it was - that orange and yellow and red ball of fire ready to sink into the lake right in our backyard! We did manage to catch its last moment in the camera and felt so awed and blessed!
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