According to a Queer Grrrl: A Day Trip to “Valley Town” aka Dundas Ontario
I was dying to get out of the city and just see something new. A road trip to Dundas, Ontario, on a very hot Sunday afternoon was easily organized; just the perfect distance for a one day excursion. Accross the QEW and into “Valley Town,” so nicknamed as it is on the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment on the Western edge of Lake Ontario. This natural valley offers many parks, historical buildings, and community festivals. They all come together in a certain harmony. This is a community of artists, cyclists, and friendly folk.
This feature is to give you a bit of background about Dundas, Ontario. I had some questions and I wanted to find out the answers so I could share them with all of you.
Tiffany, a fellow Pink Mafia girl, offered up her van and away we went. The QEW was typically slow getting there and super fast going back. As we came off the highway, it was apparant to me that we seemed to be higher up than we were in Toronto. We kept climbing hills. Until, at last, the view in the picture below presented itself to us. We parked the van and just stood for awhile. This is the top peak in Dundas. Below, you can see Lake Ontario and Hamilton in the distance. This breathtaking view was the first of many discoveries.
First, let me bring you up to speed on the history of Dundas Ontario. In 1814, it was named for the 1st Viscount Melville, a Scottish lawyer and politician, Henry Dundas. His friend John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, changed the name from Coote’s Paradise. This was a good move, as the name Dundas became synonmous with Highway 5, which runs east into our fair city. Early settlers and traders could easily travel this route, from west to east and back again.
After the van was parked we walked through the small town, along King Street. It wasn’t that busy for a Sunday, so it was very easy to stop and take a few pictures along the way.
We walked into Freewheel Cycle. I had found out that “it is considered to be in the top 10 bike shops in Canada.” As we strolled into the shop we ran into Eric Harvey, a local resident of Dundas Ontario. He offered to give us a personal tour of Dundas. He was going on a coffee run, and we were more than welcome to come along. I wanted to find out if it was true, that people do indeed cycle from Toronto to Dundas, and if Dundas Street West could be the way to get there.
How to get there by Bike
How does one travel from Toronto to Dundas on bike? Can someone take Dundas Street right from Toronto? Do the “cloverdales” in Mississauga make it difficult?
Any newer sprawl should be avoided while riding if at all possible. Mississauga comes to mind as a place that’s a little more than hairy on a bicycle and for the very reason that you mentioned: the cloverleaf community model central to suburbia is not conducive to safe cycling. It’s an optimally efficient way of moving people around by car, but it does not lend itself well to low speed vehicles such as bicycles.
The best and most common way would be along the Waterfront Trail that runs along Lake Ontario. It’s a nice ride, and is generally temperate even on hot days having the lake so close. It runs parallel to Lakeshore and in fact there will be times that you have to ride along the road. However, that’ll be the safest, most direct route to Dundas.
Is there anything else you believe someone would like to know about Dundas?
My favourite part about Dundas is that you can be so close and so far from people. You get a chance to really interact with nature on a regular basis with the Bruce Trail , Dundas Valley, our various waterfalls, the Peak, etc. However, in the same community, I can walk down the street and know dozens of people. Being part of this community is a warm feeling that I really wouldn’t give up. I’ve lived in many different places, but this remains home because of my ability to interact with nature, have such aforementioned social interactions and still remain somewhat close to a city.
As we started on the journey of getting our caffeine fix, I asked Eric about the place we were going. Domestique Café Cyclo Sportiff serves up piping and aromatic coffee, tea, and iced varieties of both in this cafe devoted to cycling. Cyclists from everywhere left behind their racing credentials and hung them over a beam from the celing. “I love the cafe,” said Eric, “It’s a great mixture of regulars and people riding in from all over Southern Ontario. It’s something of a cycling destination which is really cool for the future of the community.”
This was my favourite view at the Cafe: The Zen Garden. Smoking was permitted on the back patio, but I took a cup with water as to preserve the natural aspect of the outside environment. On one of the fences, a large chalk board welcomed anyone to scribble or draw anything they would like to.
9 King St. W
Dundas, ON Canada
1. A large selection of bikes in stock – over 150 on display on the sales floor alone- covering road, mountain, performance hybrid, townie, comfort hybrid, bmx and youth.
2. A full-service repair shop with skilled staff that services thousands of bikes every year. We’re one of the few shops that does suspension overhauls in-house.
3. Knowledgeable staff! Amongst our staff are experienced racers, hard-core trail and road riders, and even the national team pro mechanic.
4. Lifetime free basic bike adjustments to any bike purchased here. After-sales support is a valuable part of bike ownership.
5. Fun activities like group rides on the road and trail and educational workshops that give bike owners a greater understanding of how their bikes work.
6. Comprehensive bike fittings and test rides for every bike we sell.
7. A passion for all things bike-related. We love bikes. We sell what we ride and we know the products we sell.
The Bangkok Spoon Deluxe
57 King Street West
The most widely recommended place to have a great meal was the The Bangkok Spoon Deluxe. The Asian inspired decor really did create a relaxing ambiance. A stone relief waterfall of an Asian woman praying was very calming to watch. The inside of the restaurant held comfortable seating. It gave of the feeling of being able to sit down and really enjoy your food without having to rush. We chose to sit on the patio. Generous shade from large umbrella’s blocked the hot summer sun.
We ordered a few simple things, just to get the taste of the place. A zesty Thai Lemon-Lime Shrimp, wonderful fluffy white rice and Lamb Pad Ped. All that and a pot of Jasmine tea and the total cost of the meal was under $30. The food was very colourful with lots of flavour. The lamb dish was my favourite. It’s not often that I get to experience another culture’s take on lamb. I highly recommend this dish.
Dundas’s Art Scene
The Carnegie Gallery
10 King Street West
The former Canada Screw Works building from the 1860s is now home to the Dundas Valley School of Art. Since 1998 it has been a full-time diploma program with McMaster University. The 1910 Carnegie library building houses The Carnegie Gallery. This gallery also hosts art exhibitions, book readings, concerts and a gift shop. Many local artists have their work available for purchase. Here are some of the great stuff that we saw there:
The window provides a nice back drop to the art on the shelf don’t you think?
I was tempted by the handmade jewelry. As you can see: personal handmade works of art.
30 South Street West
Phone: (289) 238-9278
Gary Fincham & Sara Burnet-Smith are your hosts at Osler House. A bed and breakfast with “affordable luxury.” The historical ambiance of Osler House, replete with antiques and personal treasures, entices the senses and coaxes guests to relax. An elegant dining room greets you for Epicurean meals. In the summer time, you can enjoy a “cheerful sun porch.” Here is the link for information on rates, policies and the complete history of Osler House.
This was the childhood home of Sir William Osler, the world-famous physician who is considered by some to be the “Father of Modern Medicine.” In the early Victorian era, a refined level of hospitality was practiced in aristocratic homes. Warm, personal, and welcoming, Osler house blends 21st century convenience with traditional hospitality. This is an exquisite Georgian-style house with WIFI and quiet places to enjoy your handheld device in peace.
The Canadian History of Osler house is reflected in the Billiards Room, Drawing Room, Garden Room, Front Porch and Screened Room. Osler House and the surrounding grounds is also a Special Events Venue. They host bridal and anniversary celebrations, business meetings, gourmet evenings and tea parties. Intimate receptions are more than welcome as well. A truly historic Victorian home so close to Toronto, set up to host any kind of event, is a gem to find. Lake Ontario is so close by and Niagara is only an hour away. Gift Certificates and special getaway theme packages are available with advanced planning assistance.
There are two long running festivals that bring people into town from all over: Dundas International Buskerfest and the Cactus festival. Both of these events are geared towards families and children.
The first week of June, Downtown Dundas BIA presented the Dundas International Buskerfest. It was three days of “organized pandemonium, uncontrollable laughter, and non-stop chaos.” Some of the “world’s best street performers” wowed terrific audiences who participated in many of the acts. This was the festival’s 15th year. CLICK HERE to check out the website and this list of performers from the 2012 edition of Buskerfest.
This festival, now in it’s 37th year, boasts a warm welcome to “well over 100,000 visitors.” It will be “three fun-packed days” of music, events, and amazing products from local and international vendors. It is considered to be one of the best family and arts festivals of the summer, holding on to a spot in the top 10 of Festivals in Canada. This year it runs from August 17th – 19th 2012.
Getting on the GO gives you another option of a way to get to Dundas Ontario. Not all of us are super cyclists, after all. The above link gives you the schedules on how to get there. This GO transit mobile app is very easy to use, with clear maps and an excellent view of the route. I also found a mobile app for Downtown Dundas.
I believe everyone needs to visit this naturally beautiful town. The people are friendly, the cyclists are passionate, and the coffee is quite devine. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
The lead picture for this post (Dundas at Sunset) was taken by Eric Harvey. Here are his words about the picture: “I’ve included one picture because it’s the best picture I’ve ever taken and it’s also a pretty great embodiment of Dundas. I took it right after some rain had cleared and we had a beautiful sunset.“
words by shona
follow me on Twitter or @Shona__Fraser