This summer, my brother-in-law visited from England. During his last stay we took him tent camping at Lake Superior, so this time we thought we’d give him the “luxury camping” experience: a cottage. Planning our cottage trip brought back memories of my first ever holiday in Canada.
It was September 2002 and my first visit here. My husband had stayed at Killbear Park several years before and liked the idea of returning to this area, so we decided to search for accommodation close to the park. Back then, not so many tourist businesses had their own web sites, but we were lucky enough to find information on a place called Wawanaisa Resort. A small, family-run cottage resort on Georgian Bay, just outside Parry Sound, it sounded perfect for the sort the vacation we were planning.
The weather for those two weeks was just beautiful – warm, sunny days in the low 20s. Canadians thought we were crazy to swim in those temperatures, but for us, more used to grey, damp British weather, this was perfect.
It was also perfect weather for getting on the water as well as in it. One of the highlights of the trip was taking a motor boat out to Franklin Island –I still have the map of the route, all shriveled up from water damage. The idea of using sun block somehow completely passed us by that day, so we finished our little expedition in triumphant mood, but bright red and very sore.
We also took in some of Parry Sound’s more well known tourist attractions. I enjoyed the leisurely tour of Georgian Bay on Parry Sound’s “big boat” – the Island Queen. I was amazed to see so many tiny trees clinging precariously to the rocks and even more amazed to see that some people had built little cottages on them. The Parry Sound Museum offered an interesting insight into just how difficult life was for the early pioneers, sold on a promise of fertile farmland, only to encounter a very different, harsh landscape.
In fact, we made many trips into Parry Sound. We were so badly organised (this always seems to be a theme of our camping/cottage trips) and had to head there almost every day for yet more provisions. We became regular lunchtime customers at the Bay Street Café, right on the waterfront–a beautiful spot.
Meal of the holiday was stopping off for fish and chips along the road to Killbear Park and getting a surprise veggie special thrown into the deal. The store owner apologised for not having any veggie options–he didn’t get much call for them he said–but he did manage to produce some spring rolls direct from his home freezer. So I hope I didn’t steal his supper that night! We picniced on the rocks at Killbear and watched the indescribably beautiful sunset.
We certainly put plenty of kilometres on our hired mini-van during that trip. Instead of the planned visit to Algonquin Park, we changed course at the suggestion of Peter, the resort’s owner, and headed north to Killarney Park: definitely good advice. This also led us to explore Sudbury and North Bay–quite the North-Eastern Ontario tour.
We also made many trips into Parry Sound. We were so badly organized (this always seems to be a theme of our camping/cottage trips) and had to head there almost every day for yet more provisions. We became regular lunchtime customers at the Bay Street Café, right on the waterfront–a beautiful spot.
I completely fell in love with Canada and the whole cottage experience during my visit and cried when we had to go back to England. Twelve years later, now a Canadian citizen, I was lucky enough to re-visit the same resort this summer. Did the magic still exist? Wait for part 2 to find out!