By Lisa Boonstoppel-Pot
Alpacas and tarts were at the top of the list for a day trip into Bruce County and both those things could be found at the southernmost end of Bruce, in the small town of Lucknow.
Adria Graham was making dryer balls of alpaca wool when Jason and I drove down the laneway of DL Farms on Highway 86, east of Lucknow. Aria’s mom, Dee, soon came outside and before we knew it, we were in the field with the alpacas, watching as the giant herd of females ran toward us hoping for treats. Adria was prepared with a pail of corn and Dee was pointing out her favourite females by name. An old horse, formerly a cattle horse, wandered out for a pet and then we headed to the barn to meet the males, each one also known by name.
The remnants of farm implements lay scattered around the farm and the gates are rusty and cockeyed but it’s clear Dee and Adria pour all their energy into their alpacas. They keep meticulous breeding records and run a very neat and organized on-farm store selling alpaca wool products. Dee and Adria welcome visitors, have limitless knowledge of alpacas and will allow guests to walk one of the males for a donation toward feed costs. I know I’ll be returning to do a feature story on this mother and daughter team and learn more about raising alpacas.
From DL Farms, we headed straight west into the village of Lucknow where I Want That Bag (IWTB) consignment store is the perfect stop for those who love thrift shopping. Artfully decorated, IWTB is a great place to find a treasure on a summer day in the Bruce. It was a busy place this Saturday morning but staffers Deb Zondervan and Sharon Petteplace paused for a photo before getting back to work.
Before leaving Lucknow, you have to pop in the Armstrong Bakery for their tarts. We got two bacon butter tarts, two pecan butter tarts, and two cherry tarts for the road from servers Shelby Furness and Eva Neudorf. So good.
We kept west to hit Highway 21 and if you like old, abandoned houses, you will catch sight of one on the right. Stop on the side of the road at just the right spot and you can see right through the top window to the trees behind and ponder why such a statuesque house was left to deteriorate.
Head right on Highway 21 and you’ll pass the Pine River Cheese Company which will soon reopen to sell local cheese. Keep going and turned left into Point Clark to admire the Point Clark Lighthouse which was one of the few lighthouses to be built out of stone between 1855 and 1859. Now a national historic site, the red and white lighthouse is striking against the blue sky and it still works! Tours are available during the summer months. It’s a good place for a picnic and a splash in Lake Huron, though perhaps not in May when we went on this tour.
Those tarts were making us thirsty so we popped into Grey Matter Beer Co. located in downtown Kincardine and ordered a flight to sample from a table facing the lake. The view of the lake and the fermenting vats inside the building were spectacular while the craft beers each presented a distinctive flavour. Brewer Logan Wolfe served us and we learned that their American Lager is the brewery’s best seller. Grey Matter also offers an experimental beer program for 30 weeks starting in October where customers can sample a new batch of beer every week.
Inverhuron Provincial Park was next on the route but take care flying down the road to the park because the speed bumps will make you airborn, something Dodge Caravans were never meant to do.
Hunger drove us into Southampton where we opted to dine at the Walker House, which had been in the Walker Family from 1915 to 2013. Before that, it was one of Southampton’s first structures offering a livery and a fresh milk from cattle that were led to pasture at nearby Fairy Lake. Pigs were once kept in the back for garbage disposal and food was kept fresh with ice from the lake. These days, it’s a modern restaurant with the tin ceiling being a remnant of its former use as living quarters. We had crab cakes, fish and chips and the smokey bison burger, which came out on top as the best tasting of the three.
Rolling out of the restaurant, we had so many other places to see on this day trip plan – Saugeen Bluffs, the Bruce Trail, Paisley and the Saugeen River – but I had severely underestimated how long it would take. Since I had already booked time with Tom and Dee Ashman of Rural Rootz Nature Reserve in the South Bruce Peninsula just past Wiarton, we made a beeline for their place and I’m so glad we did.
Tom and Dee were wonderful hosts as they walked us around their home carved out of 100 acres of bush lot. In the 1970s, the couple drove by, saw it was for sale and Dee said, “that place is mine.” With no house, running water or septic system, they built it all from scratch and have created an oasis in these woods. With her creative energy and his engineer’s mind, they have designed gorgeous gardens, fanciful artwork, labyrinths, a sound garden and camping spaces, all tucked inside a stunning bush in the Niagara Escarpment. An on-site store features Dee’s artwork and crystals.
I had a good chat with Dee inside their home, with a wall of windows facing into the bush. Everything I learned cannot fit into this daytripping story so I will return this summer to write a story on their fascinating journey.
For visitors, just know this is a place to see, learn and BE. Dee and Tom encourage you to ponder, be thankful and seek the spirit. Now a protected sanctuary via a conservation easement, they offer forest therapy sessions and guests are encouraged to walk the trails to see a beaver dam or the crevice caves. Payment is by donation and they are open Mothers Day to Labour Day from 10 to 4.
Time really does fly when you’re having fun so a planned walk along the Oliphant Fen had to be abandoned and it was clear on the drive home that daytripping the Bruce should be broken into segments. I was too ambitious with my daytrip schedule.
However, on the way home we made one last stop. Bruce County is known for its beef farms and we had yet to see cattle on pasture. With the sun starting to set, we were lucky to notice a pasture on the side of the road near Alvanley. We pulled over, got out, and had a laugh watching young calves cavorting around their pasture. Spring fever! It was the perfect finish to a long but wonderful day in Bruce County. ◊