With its historic streetscapes, beautiful landscapes, and first-rate culinary delights, the quaint and picturesque town in Ontario, Canada is truly captivating, writes Manjul Pande Pervez
It had been snowing for the past several days but there was a promise of the weather opening up at the weekend, so we decided to venture out and try a new town this time we zeroed in on Orangeville known for its wide open spaces, old striking architecture that tells a 150-year-old story and natural attractions.
Come Sunday, we packed up for a day’s visit to Orangeville and made an early start so that we would not be rushed for time. The day had promises of bright sun but the forecast had warned about some snowfall in the day. A distance of about 100 kilometres was covered in about as many minutes through the city. We took the highway to save time and towards the end, we drove through some beautiful countryside. Pretty houses with their rooftops and front lawns covered in pristine white snow - they seemed as if they were totally untouched - pure and innocent!
Vast stretches of snow-covered land could be seen with white fluffy snow which seemed tempting enough to plough through on foot. We did stop for a while to admire the stretch and to get our snow boots a dip in that gorgeous snow! Time was of utmost importance, so we did not continue to indulge in that glorious feeling of crunching snow beneath our boots. We hopped back into the car and continued on our way till we came to the signage that said Orangeville and about 300 metres further we came to a picturesque scene: A sculpture of a soldier near a parking spot and a historical-looking building with a small dome.
We parked right there - seemed like the beginning of the town’s Main Street. Right across the road was that impressive building with big windows and an arched doorway and a cute turret! Learnt that it was the Town Hall! And when we looked across the building we saw the statue of Orange Lawrence, the founder of the Town of Orangeville, which stood proudly in the median across. The 7.5-foot sculpture stood on a base and towered above street level to welcome visitors perhaps. We walked a little distance on the sidewalk but kept turning our heads back as we couldn’t have enough of the scenic background - the clock tower was quite fascinating right in the middle of the road! The marble timepiece weighed 900 kg, we learned later. In a way, we were a little confused - whether to look forward or backward as both sides were equally fascinating. And then decided to look ahead and quickened our pace. We walked down the street admiring wares in the stores and the lovely architecture.
Orangeville’s genuine small-town charm was on full display – smiling people, lively stores, heritage buildings, and lovely landscapes! Store owners greeted us in a friendly manner and food shops lured us in with their handcrafted selections. Along the way were cozy cafés, friendly pubs, and exceptional restaurants! Buildings adorned with intricate details and decorative brickwork enticed one to gaze upwards and linger a bit longer. A little further down the road, we spotted another historical building - its lower portion was all red but the top two stories were in black with an intriguing turret so we walked towards it and found that currently the ground floor housed the office of National Traffic Services but was Fire Hall earlier.
As we were walking further, we spotted the Public Library - a red building with white Grecian columns – which looked very impressive. Further down the road, we came across a big old church - The Westminster United Church was a traditional red brick church building but old, big, and very impressive. We learned later that it was built in 1879. By this time, we were really tired and hungry and decided to march back to the car. So, we retraced our steps to the parking lot having our fill of downtown Orangeville. From there we drove to a friend’s place who was not there but had a beautiful small house surrounded by a lot of undulating snow-covered grounds. One of the slopes led to a semi-frozen little river on the grounds with a cute little wooden bridge on it and some bare trees on its banks.
It all looked a like fairyland. By now we were absolutely ravenous. So, without much ado, we drove to this lovely local |eatery with the unlikely name of Hockley General Store! It was a big establishment with great coffee, bakery, country kitchen & grocery store. Home of the Hockley Hero LCBO & Beer Store too! There were very cozy rooms to sit in and eat with the old-style heating system in which there was this big brazier type of thing in which logs of wood were burnt. There were large picture windows and you could look out directly on the road and outside - it was absolutely beautiful. We had wonderful cappuccino coffee, a roast panini, and of course a veggie lasagne and peanut butter cookies! Having this meal made us feel so sated - everything seemed so divine that we didn’t want to budge from there but 5 pm was their closing time so we had to get up most reluctantly and make our way back home.
There was still something left to see yet. On the way back we spotted an elongated desolate-looking building on the side of the road and our daughter informed us that it was the motel in the popular Canadian TV Series “Schitt’s Creek”! That was something very interesting as we all had been glued to that serial. Orangeville had still more to offer. There are many parks where there are many amenities available such as skate parks, splash pads, sports fields, and trails in these parks. The excessive trail system of the town would be a sheer joy to hikers. We would have loved to have given it a try - “the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak”! We had had a full day and were really tired so on the way back nobody wanted to do anything more, we just sat back through the drive, reminiscing the wonderful scenes that we had just seen.