We were so much looking forward to a four-day vacation between Sudbury and Sault St. Marie late last month. We knew the sites 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 out of control wildfires and of smoke at unpredictable places. So we decided it was prudent to stay away from the Parry Sound and Sudbury regions.
We settled on Owen Sound and parts of rural Grey County instead. We satisfied our Amish longings by driving through the Swartzentruber settlement near Williamsford on our way north. But all was quiet – too early for the harvest scenes we’ve found 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 site.
Then we turned our sights to new discoveries. We enjoyed the view of the sound from our hotel windows. 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.
We visited once again the gravesite of Tom Thomson in the village of Leith, noting the paint brushes people had placed by his stone along with the flowers.
We saw on the map a site called Sheffield Park, a black history and cultural museum just outside the village of Clarksburg, south of Collingwood. 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 restaurant owner 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 at Clarksburg, giving a home to the many artifacts collected by “Uncle Howie” as well as 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, which we had never heard of before.
We also had in mind looking up as many as possible of the 8 waterfalls in Grey County. But after only being able to see only a glimpse of Eugenia Falls, and never finding the upper trail to Hogg’s Falls, we gave up for the day. It’s just as well, as we drove back to Owen Sound in a heavy downpour. We easily found Inglis Falls in a picturesque setting just outside Owen Sound the next morning.
So our vacation of “second best” choices wasn’t bad at all. In fact, we enjoyed the unexpected treasures of Grey County….
Questions for Reflection:
- When have you needed to settle for “second best” when vacation plans went awry?
- What unexpected treasures did you find?
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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 my A Nourished Spirit blog with a new subheading – “celebrating simple pleasures amidst earth’s lamentation.” So stay tuned.