A Family Trip

When my daughters were little, my husband often had to go on business trips, and we sometimes would take it as an opportunity to travel as a family.  We drove to places such as Chicago, or Indianapolis, and took planes to San Diego, or Monterrey (in Mexico).  Later, when it was not possible for them to miss school, and we got a dog, we tried to at least have a family trip once a year.   Last year, one of my daughters was working in Japan, and the other was doing an internship in France, so we thought my husband and I would be travelling to Asia and Europe for our family trips … until COVID19 hit and the whole world had to adhere to lockdowns and travel bans, and we were forced to sit still.  This year, the girls are back in Canada, although both have moved to Toronto, the older starting a new job, and the younger for her fourth year of University.  However, we managed to squeeze in a short family trip up North to Tobermory, Ontario

The photo at the top of this post shows a view of the Big Tub Lighthouse, located at the entrance of the harbour of the same name; lit for the first time in 1885, it is still functional, outfitted with an automated light to guide boaters in stormy or foggy weather; because of its proximity to Tobermory, it has become a major tourist attraction in the area. 

Other features in the harbour include two sunken shipwrecks, “The Sweepstakes” (1885, photo below), and “City of Grand Rapids” (1907):

Part of the sunken shipwreck of “The Sweepstakes” (Tobermory, Ontario, 2021)

Interesting boats are docked along the shore, such as “Cape Commodore” a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, which has the capability of self-righting in case of capsizing:

The nearby Bruce Peninsula National Park is a collection of natural gems, as described in the Government of Canada website:

“Dramatic cliffs rise from the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay. In large tracts of forest, black bears roam and rare reptiles find refuge in rocky areas and diverse wetlands. Ancient cedar trees spiral from the cliff-edge; a multitude of orchids and ferns take root in a mosaic of habitats. Welcome to the magic of Bruce Peninsula National Park.”

Horse Lake (Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, 2021)
Lake Huron from the Bruce Trail, (Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, 2021)
Panoramic view from Indian Head Cove (Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, 2021)
The Grotto (Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, 2021)

The Bruce Trail is a long hiking route of more than 890 km (550 mi) that runs mostly along the edge of the Niagara escarpment, from near the northeast extreme of the Bruce Peninsula, in Tobermory, all the way southeast to the Niagara River, in Queenston, close to Niagara Falls; it has been granted the status of UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, one of thirteen in Canada.  Little Cove Beach marks the Northern end of the trail:

Little Cove Beach, at the North end of the Bruce Trail (Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, 2021)
Amphibians are also interesting inhabitants of the park (Little Cove Beach, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, 2021)

For such a small town, Tobermory has some interesting eateries, including two with Mexican influence: “Tacomory” (food truck) and “Las Chulas” (offering a few tacos, sandwiches and wraps, as well as breakfast), both on Highway 6; I was curious, but it was supper time, and we decided to go for a substantial dinner from “Shipwreck Lee’s” (2 Bay Street), including jerk chicken  (photo below, left) and battered white fish (right), both with generous portions of fries:

Everything was delicious!  And what better way to prepare dessert than by a bonfire?  Delicious s’mores were assembled by stacking Graham crackers, thin milk chocolate and hot, roasted marshmallows (photo below, left).  The sky was clear, so in spite of the bright fire, celestial bodies were visible throughout the evening (in the photo below, right, Venus may be seen, a little after sunset):

North of Tobermory, there is an archipelago that constitutes the Fathom Five National Marine Park; one of the closest and most visited islands is Flowerpot Island, named after the limestone formations by its eastern coast:   

Flowerpot rock formation (Flowerpot Island, 2021)

There are several cruise companies with boat tours to the island, many with drop-off options to spend a few hours there.  The trails are well marked, and although there are some slopes, sections of boardwalk have been built to ease the way at steep declivities, so other than hiking shoes, there is no need for any special equipment:

There is a Cave Staircase, but for now, only ghouls may be inside, since it is currently closed due to the pandemic, as physical distancing is not possible; also closed are a short trail to the Light Station, and the Light House Museum and Store, but the outdoor setting is perfect for a picnic, while enjoying views of the Georgian Bay:

The island provides habitat to many rare Flora, including lichens, such as Elegant Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria elegans), as seen below:

Back in Downtown Tobermory, there are several stores offering candy, ice cream and other sweet treats; we settled for a “beaver tail”, a fried pastry shaped as its namesake:

In the photo below, the friendly mascot gives its approval of (clockwise from left): classic sugar and cinnamon, apple pie, and maple beaver tails:

I have mentioned the all-Canadian beaver tails in another post, in reference to a similar Mexican treat called buñuelo (click here for full story and recipe):


© All photos were taken by me and my daughters. 

25 thoughts on “A Family Trip

      1. I think that’s what Ca has going for it – so close to wilderness. I remember my mum went there on vacation and the woman she stayed with gave her the grand tour. Somewhere west of you. Al, I think.

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  1. What a wonderful trip and love the photos. That ship just under the water seems like a boating hazard for those who don’t know about it, you’d think they’d have a warning buoy over it! 550-mile hiking trail? How cool is that. I wonder if mountain bikes are allowed on it? Thank you so much for sharing your trip. Happy for you and your daughters that you can spend a vaca together in such a beautiful place.

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    1. This harbour is for small boats, and the sunken one is far enough from the surface that even the tour boat could go right on top. The other one is shallower, but close to the shore; I imagine most boaters know of these shipwrecks, they are a huge attraction.
      Have you seen “A walk in the woods” with Robert Redford? It is set along the Appalachian trail (2190+ miles!) and I thought of it while on the Bruce trail; bikes are not allowed, but seasonal xcountry skiing is. We all want to go back and explore more of it. Thank you for your kind comment, MsJadeLi!

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      1. No I haven’t seen that movie, but I have heard of the A trail. So amazing these long trails still exist without developers coming in and trying to disrupt them. Irene, you are very welcome ❤

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  2. I have never been to Canada. Growing up in New Jersey, it would have been a fairly decent trip to drive there. Instead we drove down to Florida. And now I live in Florida, so chances of getting to Canada are pretty remote. The photos are so pretty, Irene. And of course–the food!!

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    1. Thank you, Lois; I hope that once the pandemic is over, you get a chance to visit Canada. I have lived in Ontario for almost three decades, and had never been to Tobermory!

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    1. I could not believe how beautiful it was, and that in all these years living in Ontario, I had never been before. We all said we should go back soon and explore more of the Bruce Trail.

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