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September 7, 2003
Headwaters Country encompasses some of the most pristine scenery in Ontario. Four major river systems spawn in this part of the province where the Niagara escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve, and Oak Ridges Moraine meet. It is in the heart of Headwaters that the limestone escarpment swings north to the Bruce Peninsula while the gravel-laden Moraine rolls in a broad arch east toward Kingston.
The name, Headwaters Country, conjures up all manner of images of forested landscape and sparkling brooks. Add the Hills of Mulmur, scenic Mad River Valley, rich farmland, historic villages and heritage buildings to the mix and you have a wonderful day-tripper or weekend destination. It is especially pleasant to visit during the fall season when the area is blanketed in autumnal colours and arts take centre stage. Before leaving home, contact both Headwaters Country and Headwaters Arts Festival for comprehensive packages of information, maps and accommodation information. You’ll need a good map if you’re going to travel area byways. Accommodation reservations should be made well in advance during busy tourist seasons.
First stop should be at Dufferin County Museum & Archives which are located in the Hills of Mulmur, on the corner of Airport Road and Highway #89. The stunning architecture of this new facility is a replication of an Ontario barn and silo, with one exception, the facility dwarfs any nearby barn complex. The museum is known for its innovative historical exhibits, archives, rotating gallery displays, gift shop and café. Visitors love to tour artifact storage areas where they can watch work-in- progress through glass viewing windows. Outdoor flower and herb gardens are planted with specimens true to the early twentieth century. Tiny Corbetton Church, located on the museum’s grounds, is a popular place for weddings and other special events.
Autumn heralds the Annual Headwaters Arts Festival that features shows and sales that run for more than two weeks, from the end of September through Thanksgiving weekend in October. More than thirty artisan’s works are on display and for sale at Dufferin County Museum. In addition, each year a themed juried show is mounted and introduced with a gala opening night reception. Headwaters Arts Festival traditionally includes more than fifty events that include art shows, studio tours, theatrical productions, music and dance venues, literary readings, film showings, house tours and a variety of children’s events. During the Festival special weekend venues such as the Purple Hills, Hills of Erin, Caledon East and Headwaters Studio Tours are held. During the Art Festival, the museum also mounts special “in-theme” shows which draw on its extensive collection, and those of private collectors.
The most interesting aspect of the Festival is that you are invited to visit the artisans in their environment. Half the fun is driving back roads and byways to visit their studios. A full list of those participating, can be found in the official program booklet from Headwaters Arts Festival. Plan your route carefully. The hills and valleys of Headwaters country are particularly beautiful in the autumn. Abandoned barns, old farmsteads, mature forests, rolling hills and byways lined with maples are a real treat for city-weary eyes.
With map in hand, it’s difficult to get lost. And who can resist exploring crossroads communities with names like Shelburne, Rosemount, Violet Hill, Lavender, Dunedin, Glencairn and Terra Nova to the north of Orangeville; Alton, Belfountain, Terra Cotta, Limestone and Glen Williams to the south, Beeton and Alliston to the east. Just reading some of these names evokes the spirits of the area’s Scottish and Irish settlers Artisans represented include Mary Lazier whose distinctive Tornadoware, amusing warthogs and mermaids, unique hummingbird feeders and porcelain lace teaware, draw the admiration of all who see them. Mary’s studio is as much fun to get to as are her whimsical critters. From her property, one can see miles over fields and forest. Mary teaches pottery making with classes fall, winter and spring.
Jim Lorriman, woodworker and turner supreme, lives on the 2nd Concession E. Mulmur, where from the road’s heights, the view across a magnificent valley to the hills beyond is spectacular. The road seems to ribbon-on forever. Jim makes both functional and decorative pieces using his own wood or wood that customers provide. He builds his artful pieces by a concentric lamination process. Jim has worked with twenty-five different species of wood, often using wood that no one else would have thought possible - lilac and sumac being two in question. Each of Jim’s finished pieces has a written history on the bottom - a given name, the month and year created and a little bit about the wood used.
Linda Jenetti’s studio, is situated amidst mature hardwood on the heights of the rolling hills. The building’s large north-facing windows overlook valley and ponds. Linda who works in oils, acrylic and watercolour, draws inspiration from her surroundings. She is equally comfortable working with huge paintings as with smaller works. Her bold colours and lively style take on a life of their own on canvas. Linda participates in a number of shows each year. Some of her paintings are on permanent display at Shelburne Town Hall. She does commission work and gives lessons.
Sir Phred guards the drive at the studio of Chris Toogood, silver & metal-smith par excellence. Chris’s metal “potted plant” sculptures are unique and fun. Chris’s surroundings inspire his sculpture. Delicate “nodding” metal sculptures of tall grass forms mirror the inspiration that comes from area flora. Silversmithing is a passion for Chris. One-of-a-kind pieces are a welcome challenge.
Judy LaLingo’s works in acrylic are crisp, clean and full of wonderful detail. She derives inspiration from nature and the land. Judy freely admits to being a fan of, and inspired by Alex Colville. Her fascination for horses can be seen in her outstanding works which include the equine form. Judy’s paintings are full of land and sky and life. Many are accompanied by a poem, especially written by Judy for the piece. Judy’s paintings can be found in a select number of galleries, and on the Internet.
Monica O’Halloran-Schutt lives in a c1890 red brick house surrounded by pastoral countryside. In keeping with her Irish heritage, her studio is called “The Croi-gi-Lamn - Irish Gaelic for "Heart-to-Hand". Monica has worked with textiles, clay and painting all of which play a role in her current work. She loves to create unique mixtures of medium for both indoor and outdoor paintings and sculpture. Recently Monica has been experimenting with incorporating chalcopyrite - a Sudbury Ontario ore - into her mediums. Monica’s work hangs in private homes, corporate offices and a select number of retail galleries.
If you are not visiting during a planned studio tour, you should always call the artisan before dropping in for a “look around”. Many do have regular hours when visitors can drop in but, with specific artists, it’s always best to make sure someone’s at home before you make the trek to their front door.
Enjoy hiking? Don’t forget your boots. The well-marked Bruce Trail can be accessed from Hockley Road in the Valley at any time of the year. The Elora-Cataract and Transcanada Trails also cross through Headwaters Country. The area boasts full service resorts, regional and provincial parks including the Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area, Mono Cliffs Park, Monora Park, Island Lake, Glen Haffy, Albion Hills and Forks of the Credit.
One of the nicest places to stay in the Orangeville area is Hockley Highlands Inn and Conference Centre. The Inn, with its 172 rooms, has a magnificent setting in the hills of Hockley. Its well maintained grounds include a walking trail that is actually a portion of the Bruce Trail, heated pool, games room, exercise and fitness room and La Bruschetta Dining Room that is known for serving fabulous food. Golf and skiing packages are available. If traveling with children ask for a reasonably-priced executive suite which features interconnecting bedrooms and baths.
Hungry? Lunch is a pleasant experience at Mono Cliffs Inn, in the tiny crossroads community of Mono Cliffs close by Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. Diners have the choice of eating in the dining room, on the enclosed porch or on Magnolia Patio. If the weather is nice, choose the Patio. The building that houses Mono Cliffs Inn was once a private residence, made into a country store. Store windows dating from the mid-nineteenth century, still form part of the eatery’s decorative touches. The Inn’s innovative menu is a treat to read and fantastic to sample. Meals are usually accompanied by the Inn’s specialty, Australian wines. Be sure to take a look at Peter Cellars Pub which specializes in single malt whiskeys and the Wine Cellar, a small intimate dining area for eight people.
Finish a busy day in the country by dining at One99 Restaurant in downtown Orangeville. The former bank building has been transformed into a classy restaurant by the use of muted gold and red colours and a massive mirror that makes the long, narrow room seem much larger without losing its intimacy. The high ceiling of the former bank building allows for several private dining rooms on a second level. To get to these rooms, patrons go through the immaculate open kitchen. As one of the wait staff said. “Go take a look. It’s a very friendly kitchen.”
Plan to spend time over a relaxed expertly prepared, well-served meal. If you can’t make up your mind from the excellent choices on the menu, opt for “Chef’s Choice”. Let your server know what you can’t eat, sit back and savour each course as chosen by the chef. We were served beggars purses - tiny bites of savoury meat in phyllo paste, followed by a peach & goat cheese appetizer, which flavours were enhanced by a twenty-five year old balsamic vinegar. Mango sorbet with a touch of sparkling wine cleansed the palate. Our main entre was Medallions of venison served on squash rings with fresh summer vegetables. Dessert was a selection for two of chocolate pate, lemon pound cake with fresh strawberry puree, fresh fruit slices, chocolate mousse and mango sorbet. The resident pepper mill at One99 Restaurant is the largest that I’ve personally ever seen. I said “Yes” to pepper just to hear its grinding mechanism.
While we ate, people enjoying the ambience of Broadway, Orangeville’s bustling main street, strolled by outside the floor to ceiling window. Although Headwaters Country is home to a number of communities, its jeweled crown is the town of Orangeville. The town is one of those vibrant communities that comfortably embraces both the past and present. Town jewels include more than 6,000 trees throughout streets and parks, the oldest being a 200 year old red oak. Another of its jewels is impressive Victorian architecture that is evident throughout the downtown area and a number of residential streets. One fine example is the restored c1875 Opera House that was constructed to serve as a town hall and public market. Today, the building on Broadway houses the 276 seat Theatre Orangeville, whose specialty is professional Canadian productions mounted spring and autumn.
A relatively unknown gem of information is that the town was home to Canada’s prolific nineteenth century poet, Alex McLachlan. There’s still a sense of poetry to be found in the hills and valleys of Headwater’s Country. Small villages and clever artisans carry on traditions that hark back to a simpler time, a slower pace, an appreciation for quality over quantity and a solitude that can only be found in the rolling hills of Hockley and Mulmur.
IF YOU GO:
Rosemount, Ontario L0N 1R0
Orangeville, Ontario L9W 2L0
Rosemount, Ontario L0N 1R0
Orangeville, Ontario L9W 1K1
Orangeville, Ontario L9W 2Y8
Mansfield, Ontario L0N 1M0
East Mulmur Ontario L0N 1S8
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