It’s hot in Ontario. But then again it’s hot everywhere nearby. New York? Hot. Quebec? Not precisely chilly. You get the picture.
Going for a drive in the countryside might seem like a strange thing to do on a hot day. Curiously I’m starting to get accustomed to record breaking heat, and no longer cower in air conditioned spaces. Instead we enjoyed a day more or less at the mercy of the elements.
After a somewhat slow drive up the 400 to Barrie, and the exit for Elmvale (where the traffic improved substantially once we got through the heavy traffic after the exit), we came to Lafontaine Ontario, a charming little town with a decidedly francophone presence. Everywhere you turn, you hear not just accents, but conversations 100% in French.
The village of Lafontaine are celebrating their heritage this weekend, possibly because today is Bastille Day, in something called “Festival du Loup”, including live musical performances, history displayed in the parish hall to explore their heritage, and more.
We stopped for lunch at Wendy B’s, a terrific gourmet shop where you can sit & enjoy their wares. I had a cheesy meatloaf –stuffed with blue cheese—and gazpacho, wonderful on such a hot day.
Across the street from Wendy B’s is a gallery displaying works by Patrick DeCoste. He has a wonderful way with history and images suggesting history, seeming very apt to accompany the Festival.
After poking around on the beach for a bit (including a perfectly preserved crayfish skeleton) we were off to the main bit of French heritage in the area, namely the shrine to the 17th century Jesuit Martyrs in Midland, a site visited by John Paul II back in 1984. The grounds are extraordinarily beautiful.
A perfect counterpoint can be found in the Indian village alongside the shrine, preserving evidence of this early North American settlement, and the interaction between the native Wendat population & the Jesuit missionaries. One lasting legacy is the Christmas carol Canadian children sing, written in 1643 by Jean de Brébeuf.
And then we came home to Toronto.
By the way, the Festival du Loup continues Sunday in Lafontaine. The program can be seen here .