By Felix Shuster
One bright autumn day while exploring the rural roads in Ontario with the accompaniment of bird songs and the rustle of leaves under a mild October, we came across to an amazing mystery place.
Only 10 minutes north of HWY 401, about one hour east of Toronto, amidst hills and a small corpse of trees there is a real remnant of America’s Wild West hidden in central Ontario.
First, we noticed an old farmer’s barn, which we stopped to photograph, and then we saw a sign nailed to the tree announcing: ‘Welcome to Docville’
In the next moment, we started feeling that we have travelled back in time more than 120 years and across the continent.
Guests of this historic place were met in a Victorian style village hotel. On the veranda, several antique rocking chairs covered by woven throws invited tired travelers for a comfortable rest. It seemed like just a few minutes ago people had sat here smoking their pipes and chatting about their day.
The floor of the veranda gradually became a wooden sidewalk, along which row of small stores offering all things used by American pioneers: horse implements, hunting gear and ammunition, tools for mining and farming. Some stores even had bear traps for sale. Among the stores stood an antique shop, a post office and telegraph, a tiny jail and the sheriff’s office and of course The Saloon.
We walked the grass-covered trails around the buildings of this ghost-town, reminding ourselves that this was just another attraction, while thinking: “What if someone is creeping behind us?” as if to confirm our suspicions a man in worn jeans, leather jacket over a flannel shirt, cowboy boots and hat came out of the Saloon. For luck of small details – a straw casually sticking from the corner of his mouth, he looked like Clint Eastwood from the old western flicks. Alas, he introduced himself as Docville Pete and offered to guide us in this mysterious place.
From his story we found out that the hotel and attached barn were built in the middle of the 19th century, but the rest of the buildings were added later on – moved from other places in Ontario. All of them are more than 100 years old.
Today’s, the owner of Docville is Steve ‘Doc’ Holliday – a distant relative of the famous Wild West gangster ‘Doc’Holliday. After this old farm house was restored, Steve decided to continue on with the project and add to it a post office, a saloon, a horse barn and a general store. Later on, there was added a stagecoach station, and a blacksmith shop, so, the tired travelers could have their horses shoed or hunting gear repaired, while they just sat and talk about news of the day. There even was a bathhouse exactly across the bar. Probably after a long journey, travelers could wash the dust from their bodies and then refresh their throat with a mug of beer or ale. On the occasion, we also sat in the bar, imagining ourselves pioneers of these lands, played some cards, although we were not offered any drinks.
But, if to forget about all fantasies, it is worth to mention that Ontario’s Docville – is a typical model of a Wild West town: movies and commercials are made here; even weddings are taking place for people who like exotic.
With a sense of light sadness we said goodbye to Pete and Steve and their attraction. In today’s world of fast cars and madly rush lifestyle it was very pleasant for at least a short time to get in touch with a faraway past, when steamers were chugging on rivers and lakes, and on dusty roads stagecoaches ran in the yet little-established American West.
By Felix Shuster
Felix Tours-Happy Voyages; www.felixtours.com