#70 – Enjoying Second Best

We were so much looking forward to a four-day vacation between Sudbury and Sault St. Marie last month. Sam knew the location of three new conservative Anabaptist settlements, all of them migrations from southern Ontario.

We wanted to buy something at the end of farm lanes from the Swartzentruber Amish, the Orthodox Mennonites, and the “regular” Old Order Mennonites.  But alas, we heard reports of uncontrolled wildfires and smoke at unpredictable places.  So we decided it was prudent to stay away from the Parry Sound and Sudbury regions.

Horses on a Swartzentruber Amish farm near Williamsford, fall 2016.

We settled on Owen Sound and parts of rural Grey County instead. We satisfied our Amish longings by driving through the Swartzentruber Amish settlement near Williamsford on our way north. But all was quiet – too early for the harvest scenes we’ve enjoyed in years past.

We satisfied another longing by driving past Mennonite Corners just south of Owen Sound, the site of the former Kilsyth Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. Now a commemorative plaque marks the spot.

IMG_20180724_080753947Then as we approached Owen Sound, we turned our attention to new discoveries.  We enjoyed the view of the sound from our hotel window. We loved walking along the Harbour Trail on the east side of the sound, learning about days gone by from plaques along the way. We saw old grain elevators, reminding us of the era when large grain shipments found their way to Owen Sound via the Great Lakes, for transshipment by rail.

IMG_20180724_092649799We visited once again the grave of Tom Thomson in the village of Leith, noting the paint brushes people had placed by his stone along with photos and a walking stick.

We saw on the map a site called Sheffield Park, a black history and cultural museum just outside the village of Clarksburg, south of Thornbury. We had known of Owen Sound as a northern terminus of the Underground Railroad in the 19th century.  But we knew nothing of “Howie” Sheffield of Collingwood, a black restaurateur and hockey player of local fame who also researched Grey and Simcoe County black history.

Now two nieces own and operate the Sheffield Park Black History and Cultural Museum on an old Nazarene campground, giving a home to the many artifacts collected by “Uncle Howie” and others. We walked through the main exhibit on black history, as well as 13 other buildings such as a church, a seamstress and dress shop, a shoe shine shop, and a one room schoolhouse. We were amazed at this place!  We had never heard of it before.

“Cemetery”  at the Sheffield Park Black History Museum

We also had in mind locating as many of the eight waterfalls in Grey County as possible.  We did catch a glimpse of Eugenia Falls, but couldn’t find the upper trail to Hogg’s Falls nearby. So we gave up for the day. It’s just as well, since we drove back to Owen Sound in a heavy downpour. The next morning we easily found Inglis Falls in a picturesque setting just outside Owen Sound.

Inglis Falls

So our mini-vacation unlocked quite a few unexpected treasures of Grey County for us. Second best was just fine….

Questions for Reflection:

  1. When have you needed to settle for “second best” when vacation plans went awry?
  2. What unexpected treasures did you find?

* * * * *

Well, I’ve done it!  I’ve posted 70 blogs in gratitude to God for 70+ years of life.

And I’m not ready to stop yet.  I hope to continue the A Nourished Spirit blog with a new subtitle: “finding simple pleasures amidst earth’s lamentation.” So stay tuned for #71 next week.

Next week: Of Farm Stands and Countryside Bakeries

23 thoughts on “#70 – Enjoying Second Best

  1. I am so happy that you are going to continue your blogs. I look forward to reading them. Thank you for sharing. I hope you can write many more.


  2. I am so glad you reached your goal AND that you are not stopping your blog.
    Think of what you would have missed if you had not decided that second best is good enough! A great reminder not to let the missed opportunities in life keep us from seeing and enjoying the world of surprises in unexpected places that are available to us. I was disappointed that we won’t be able to fit in a visit to Haida Gwaii on our trip so your blog is quite timely for me.

    Muriel Bechtel
    515 Langs Dr., Unit J,
    Cambridge, ON
    N3H 5E4
    Home telephone: 519-219-3344
    Cellphone: 226-338-6915

    Every sunrise brings the promise of a new beginning.


  3. Congratulations, Sue; you did it! And now that we all anticipate your thoughtful/whimsical/always meaningful reflections on Friday mornings, I’m so glad you are continuing. I like the new subtitle as well!


  4. Beautiful! Thank you, Sue. We are going to the Collingeood area for a week in early October. I am inspired to look up some of these places, especially Tom Thompson grave. You are an inspiration to me. I’m glad to hear that I can continue to anticipate your weekly blog, past the 70 weeks that you had committed to.  I have now passed the 70 milestone too (August 7). Pauline


  5. Sounds like a great second best. Now, I did end up going North and passing through the smoke around the French River/Grundy PP area – and arrived safely in Massey. My sister Kristen and brother in law Fred are now living at Sagamok First Nation, just south of Massey along the gorgeous north shore of the North Channel. Kristen has learned to know many of the Old Older Mennonite farmers around Massey that moved there about 12 years – mostly from the Mount Forest settlement that moved there from St Jacob/Heidelberg about 30-35 years ago (with Orvie Martin driving the bus). She gets lots of her meat and vegetables from various farmers. She particularly knows a Rebecca Martin and her husband, who along with their 3 adult children who farm right near the main highway 17. Kris has been there since February – she makes connections quickly and often drives them for shopping etc. So we stopped by. I soon was making connections will all sorts of people we mutually knew from St Jacobs Mennonite and area. They knew at least 5 people from the funerals I have led. I was also part of one of our SJMC Seniors trips to Mount Forest and made those relational connections to that area and our tour guide. You know you are a pastor in St Jacobs when you can make personal connections with Old Orders in Massey – 6 hours away. Small world!


  6. Hi Sue,

    I have so appreciated reading your 70 posts. Thanks you for sharing. I look forward to reading more.


    Donna Snyder


  7. What a pleasure it has been to follow your journey through 70 posts! I’m so glad to know you’ll be continuing your writing projects. I enjoy both the posts and photographs and getting to know the geography and people of your community (past and present). Blessings for the journey!


  8. I’m so glad you plan to continue your weekly posts. A highlight of my Friday. When we went to Scotland and England with a tour—many of Bob’s family with us—there needed to be some itinerary changes, which I don’t remember the details of changes. But we visited Iona, in Scotland, I think as one of the alternatives we needed to make. Very nice to have that be a second choice.


  9. Good news, Sue. I continue to be a fan reader! (Writing from Urbana-Champaign where I’m visiting one of Bill’s nieces, Rosalee Otto, not far from an Amish community.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s