This isn't much like a tour, except for the driving and waiting around and hit-and-miss meal quality and strange beds….other than that it's kind of like going for a long drive (everyday) to a friends cottage. These five shows are in the heart and on the edges of Ontario's Cottage Country, the place where Torontonians run away to in the summer, to escape the heat and road closures. Actually, Summer is the best time to be in Toronto, but its not so crappy up here either, among the lakes and rocks and wind swept pines.
Day 1 was in Huntsville about two hours straight north of Toronto. This town is pretty much Cottage Country Central, all cottage roads radiate from here. It's a beautiful part of the province and a highly sought out area for cottage goers….hundreds of pristine lakes dug out of the Canadian Shield, a postcard view everywhere you look. It was a nice little theater and a good size crowd tonight…a little sedate on both sides of the stage but we all settled in as the set progressed.
Day 2 we were in Midland which is a blue collar town on the shores of the Georgian Bay. The Georgian Bay is one of those bodies of water that is too overwhelmingly spectacular for our limited minds and imaginations to properly process. It's a body of water that can lull you with its beauty and then turn around and kill you with its fury. It was a small crowd at the Midland Community Center tonight, but it was well fueled and ready for a good night out. We had an excellent show.
On Day 3 we traveled further along the shore of the Georgian Bay to the beautiful little town of Meaford Ontario. We've actually played this venue before and we had a sold out theater tonight. A good day and a good show in front of an appreciative crowd.
After the Meaford show we headed to our hotel, back down the same road that we had traveled earlier that day to cut off a bit of the next days drive. We drove through some intense thunder storms and a great lightning show. The next morning we headed north to Mattawa which lies about 5 hours north of Toronto on top of Algonquin Park. It's a small town that served a large purpose in the building of this part of the country. It's here where the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers meet and its on these waters that the early explorers traveled to access the interior of the country (a route established long ago by the original locals). It also has a special significance to the Timmins family. It was to Mattawa that our great, great grandfather traveled with his family, in the middle of the 1800's, to establish a homestead, the first “white” settlers in this area. He quickly set up shop beside the Hudson Bay fort and built a hotel, restaurant and bar and probably other establishments that went hand in hand with hotels and bars in frontier towns. It's no wonder that I feel such a kinship with the saloon owner Al Swearengen in the TV show Deadwood. We were taken around the town by Laurier Therien, a local historian and genealogist, and shown the spots where our family took root in this country…very, very, very cool. We are very appreciative to Laurier for taking the time to show us around. The concert was part of a weekend long outdoor festival, set on a beautiful point overlooking the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers. A spectacular location for a show.
I've been fishing wherever and whenever possible for the last few days, but with no luck. I headed out after the show in Mattawa and set up on the river bank while the sun went down. On my first or second cast, while I was arranging myself on the bank and not really paying attention, I got one of the largest strikes that I have ever felt. Before I could react the fish was gone and so was my lure, it was probably one of those massive pikes that are relatively common in those rivers….after that there wasn't even a nibble.
The last show in this mini-run through the province was in Peterborough, which is a big smalltown, ninety minutes north-east of Toronto. Peterborough lies well outside of Cottage Country, but sits at the edge of the Kawarthas which is another beautiful part of the province to which people form Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa escape from their “real” lives. This was another outdoor show, a free concert-series that runs throughout the summer. The day was filled with intermittent and nasty rain showers, but it cleared up in time for the concert and didn't seem to keep too many people away. It was a good show, as far as these types of shows are concerned.
This weekend we fly west for a one-off festival appearance just outside of Calgary in Canmore, Alberta and then we are back for a couple of more one-offs in Ontario which will finish up the summer (hard to believe that it's half over).
Stay tuned…keep safe…go out and enjoy some live music.
Tags: ontario 2014
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Michael, During the summer of 1990, I took a job at the Zum Rhien Restaurant at Ontario Place as a bartender during the month of July. I had previously quit my job at Pier 4 Restaurant due to concerns about unpaid overtime and labour code violations. Life was not looking promising. At the booth where summer temporary employees get their picture taken, I met a really nice ECI grad who was waitressing at the same restaurant. I would drive her home at the end of our shift — and she also introduced me to Cowboy Junkies. That summer, CJ had just been named Rolling Stone Magazine's Most Promising Band and we were mesmerized by the performance at the Forum. Misguided Angel continues to be one of my favourite songs. It was so cool to see CJ perform live at Voyageur Days. It was serendipity — I return to this area regularly to revisit my days as a camper on the Mattawa River. So cool that you and your siblings got to retrace your family tree! CJ is still one of my favourite bands of all time. I am trying to track down a CD of Trinity Sessions! I found an LP in Perth, now I just have to find a turntable! Best, Ken