Manjul Pande Parvez
The town of Goderich, known nation-wide as the Prettiest Little Town in Canada, has been named by Chatelaine magazine as ‘One of the ten best places to live in Canada’ and identified as one of the ‘20 great places to live’ by 50 Plus magazine. Having come across this information through a friend, we decided it to be our next destination. So come Sunday we were packed for a day out, the weather promising to be friendly and sunny. The roads as always were cleared of any snow and we embarked on a drive of about 250 km. It was an early start and the sun was out so there was a cheerfulness all around and we began our journey eagerly.
The drive through the town was uneventful but once we reached Kitchener the landscape changed dramatically. There was lighter traffic and fewer high-rise buildings so you could see a long way into the almost a hemisphere of the horizon. Although there was a little snow on the ground that looked so bright and shimmery in the bright sunlight that at times it was blinding. We had begun to feel the need to stop on the way for washrooms and some hot coffee and then we spotted a sign for ONroute plaza. All these ONroute facilities are open 24/7 with drive-thru or takeout food options with several rows of clean washrooms and a drinking water supply available at either end of the building. There is also a food court with all the well-known chains of fast food outlets available. So, we parked our car there and went in for a little break - enjoyed nice hot and strong coffee from the iconic Tim Hortons and a vegetarian cheese pizza from a well-known pizza chain. Having satiated ourselves, we got in the car again and rode off on the main road.
Along the way, we came across the signage for Stratford and we were so tempted to go there and spend some time in that beautiful town with Avon River running through it but thought the better of it considering the distance we had to travel back. So, we drove on to our destination. By this time, it was almost noon but the sun was hiding behind a thin layer of clouds so it was not so glaring. No matter how blinding, how hot or glaring the sun is, it is always welcomed by the Canadians - not only are they starved for it but it is also so cold during the long freezing winters.
After about an hour we reached the signage that announced ‘Goderich, Canada’s prettiest town’! And indeed, the prettiness began with the entry. Goderich sat atop the scenic bluffs overlooking the beautiful Lake Huron. The roadsides were filled with flowering plants in myriad hues the houses were neat and orderly and the streets were neatly tree-lined (though the trees were bare since it was just the end of winter) and, it being a Sunday, there was nobody around. So, we took some time to admire the architecture along West Street, including the Town Hall, a Romanesque-style limestone building. As it was getting to be late afternoon, we decided to hit the beach first. So, from there we went straight to Main Beach which was a port for cargo-laden ships coming into Goderich. Beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Huron shimmered in the bright sunlight, nice and warm too.
Goderich is home to Canada's largest salt mine, and the salt content of the water has been credited for this strand's blue hue. We watched, entranced, a ship very slowly making its way into the narrow water inlet to dock. The main beach was perfect for families with a washroom, parking, ice cream/food all close by. Also, a play area for children. A little bit of sand but a lot of rocks, Goderich beach is also famous for its spectacular sunset but we didn’t wait for it. We still had to cover The Square which though not far from the beach was supposed to be the heart of downtown, so once again we piled up in the car and drove there. The Square’s distinctive design featured eight streets stretched out from a central octagon. The focal point was the County of Huron Court House, an Art Deco-style building and a pleasant park. The highlight of the Courthouse was that one could just step in and witness justice at work. The courtrooms are open to the public. Unfortunately, it being a Sunday we missed this opportunity.
The area was full of architectural points of interest and heritage buildings! Lots of shops and restaurants to explore- great architecture, Victorian, with many good eating establishments and boutique shoppers. It was really so wonderful to walk around the square taking in the wonderful sights. We took a takeaway lunch from one of the several restaurants there walked across the road to the park and made ourselves comfortable on the picnic tables there. It was rather late in the afternoon and the sun was mild and so very pleasant on the skin and we were totally famished. The lunch was so delicious and the ambiance so pleasant that it turned out to be one of our most pleasant experiences ever!
From there we went to a nearby cafe for some coffee and then drove around the town soaking in the breathtaking views of nature and many heritage sites including the iconic Bedford Hotel. The sun was already very low on the horizon and we had a long drive back home so we bade adieu to this charming little town ever so reluctantly and drove back. Goderich easily earns the title of one of the prettiest towns in Ontario. With its scenic backdrop of Lake Huron and so many interesting things to do, it does make for the perfect small-town getaway in Ontario.