Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle, Vacation

My Summer Vacation: The Niagara River Whirlpool, the Shaw Festival and a Farm Wedding

I had a wedding to attend in Ontario so I decided to add on a few more days with a side trip to the Niagara region. But instead of staying in tacky Niagara Falls I chose a bed and breakfast in picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The charming 1860’s Wilson-Guy House is just off the main drag, Queen Street. Although we arrived late, our host Maria took time to greet me and my husband and offer some last-minute instructions. Our room on the second floor had a king bed and a sitting area. Outside on the landing there was another sitting area and a mini-fridge to share with the neighbours across the hall.



After we settled in our room we enjoyed cold beers and some snacks in the backyard garden while listening to a chorus of crickets and cicadas.


At eight o’clock the next morning Maria left coffee and fresh scones at our door on a silver tray. After my coffee and before breakfast, I went out for a walk along Queen Street. It’s not your typical tourist strip, no fast food chains!  It was a good chance to take photos without the usual hordes of seniors (like me!) clogging up the sidewalk. I didn’t go into any of the shops although they were inviting (my friend bought a really cute hat!)


Most of the visitors in town are here to attend the Shaw Festival. The festival runs from April to October and after a short break it starts up again in November with a production of The Christmas Carol. Maria told us that things tend to slow down after Valentine’s Day before the new season begins again in April.

Breakfast was divine. After several years hosting, Maria still likes to wow her guests with fancy flourishes. The beautiful breakfast table is set with china and crystal. The fresh local peaches were especially delicious!



Next on our itinerary was meeting up with friends to tour around the falls, visit some local wineries and attend the musical Grand Hotel.

We ended up in a long line-up for expensive parking near the falls so we agreed to give up our goal of riding on the “Maid of the Mist” and we decided to drive up the Niagara Parkway six kilometres to The Whirlpool.  I first heard of The Whirlpool in an intriguing book by Canadian author Jane Urquhart. After reading the magical story she spun around the mesmerizing whirlpool I made sure I added it onto my itinerary for my next visit to the area.

There’s lots of free parking at the site and if you go around to the back of the gift shop you can have a great view (also for free)! You can buy a ticket to ride in the Aero Car high over the whirlpool.


Or, you can book a tour in the whirlpool jet. My preference is to watch the churning mass of water from a distance from the back of the gift shop, but maybe next time I’ll venture out in the jet!


After we had our fill of the whirlpool we spent the rest of the morning visiting a few local wineries. We originally planned to rent electric bikes but it was too hot!

Wine Tasting (note the cute hat!)



Relaxing outside a winery


After lunch, we headed back to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a free pop-up concert featuring members of the Shaw ensemble cast. There were many talented singers and musicians giving their time to drum up support for the worthy actors’ fund. Performers took turns passing the hat around the willing audience.

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Luckily for us our friend’s niece is a member of the ensemble cast and she gave us a backstage tour after the performance.

A dressing table backstage at the Shaw Theatre


Period glamour photos to inspire the make-up artists

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Our backstage tour, I love being on stage, even when it’s empty!


On our last day in town, we drove a couple of blocks to Lake Ontario where we took a short, but interesting, walk on the beach.


On our way we passed the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course. Established in 1875 it has the distinction of being North America’s oldest golf course!

One last stop to visit my cousin and her husband. They had graciously invited us to their new home when they found out we’d be in the neighbourhood. We had a lovely visit catching up on family news from the past 50 years or so!

I hated to leave this delightful region!


The Wedding

We completed our itinerary with a visit to our family near Sarnia to attend a wedding. When I heard it was going to be on the bride’s grandparents’ farm I wasn’t sure what to expect. At the beginning of the summer pictures appeared on Facebook showing the couple with their friends and family clearing out trees and brush to prepare an arbour for the ceremony and space for guest seating. The result was spectacular and worth all the effort to create a magical setting worthy of the occasion!


The Head Table


Maids relaxing after the ceremony and formal pictures


Back Home

We ended our trip back where we started five days ago at YVR . It’s the first look I’ve had at the newly renovated domestic gate.

The Rivers Monument is part of the Sea to Sky theme, one of eight themes featured throughout the airport. YVR currently houses the largest collection of Northwest Coast Native art in the world.



I love being away on vacation but Vancouver is pretty hard to beat! Don’t you agree?



6 thoughts on “My Summer Vacation: The Niagara River Whirlpool, the Shaw Festival and a Farm Wedding

  1. Globetrotting Grandpa says:

    Great Pictures. The Shaw Festival has some amazing shows (and Stephen Frye too!) looks like you picked a lovely B&B. I’ve been to Seattle but not Vancouver. It is definitely on the bucket list.


  2. Tim B says:

    Looks like you had a great trip! I have an old friend who lives in the nearby St David’s which I understand is rather different from the quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake. Really enjoy reading your blog, Leslie!


  3. Thanks Tim, I checked St David’s out and I can see it’s very interesting & in the same area, I’ll be sure to visit next trip to Ontario! Thank you for your interest in my blog, I really appreciate it!


  4. Vaughn W Fraser says:

    It was a wonderful trip. There was an oil well on the farm which was actually still operative until just a few months prior to the wedding. I learned that there are still many functioning oil wells in the area around Petrolia.


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