By Felix Shuster
True to our belief, that ‘exciting places can be often (surprisingly) found in our own environment, not in exotic destinations’, we had explored attractions of Elgin & Oxford Counties to the South-West of Toronto. This was intended for week-end Getaway for 2 or 3 days. City of Woodstock and towns of Ingersoll, Tillsonburg, St. Thomas and Port Stanley present veritable treasury of historic sites, exciting museum collections and unique attractions of greatest interest.
One Day Ontario Tours – Beautiful Ontario – www.felixtours.com
One might wonder for reasons that this perfect outing, painstakingly researched and prepared, had been initially ignored or overlooked by the people we were offered it to.
Now, I come to the word ‘Almost’ in the title of this article. It was pity to forfeit all the effort of establishing and cultivating friendly contacts with businesses in Elgin & Oxford counties, so we placed an advertizing for a similar tour in the Russian Language newspaper for August 2013. So, with 16 people in a 29-pax bus this tour was an absolute success, if not overwhelming financially, but otherwise.
At the end of the trip all tourists expressed their amazement at every aspect of the 3-day program: be it exceptionally warm treatment in the Elmhurst Inn & Spa in Ingersoll, superb collections of Woodstock Historic Museum, amazing experience at Clovermead Adventure farms, outstanding décor and personal stories in historic House-Museums of ‘Annandale’ in Tillsonburg and ‘Eldon House’ in London, memorable Elgin Railway Museum in St.Thomas and funny stories told by volunteer keepers of a small ‘Stork Dance Club and Hall of Fame’ exhibit in Port Stanley.
The truly surprising for all on the tour were:
- Giant (20 ft long) intricate woodcarving “The Pathway of Giants” done by famous wood carver late Wilson Johnston in the Ingersoll Community Museum.
- Stunning collections of Gay-Lea Dairy Museum in Aylmer.
The latter one deserves a few words: located in a large building on two floors, where presented thousands items, related to dairy production and distribution – all gathered by members of one family of Dutch immigrants to Canada (Andy and Lotty van Kasteren) between 1930 and 1983. The size and range of exhibits is astounding. Gay-Lea (Cooperative of Dairy Farmers) had bought it and turned into unique museum.
It was very enjoyable tour for us, and park-like setting around museum is perfect bonus.
By the way, Elgin County was recipient of many Ontario Awards for development of Tourism attractions and culture. We suggest you to find the time to explore it for yourself.