Returning to Collingwood for a second year, I thought there would be nothing to write about. I’d already extolled the virtues of its walkability, scenic waterfront, Remembrance Day celebrations and free events, based on our stay last year from August through the end of November, but this year we arrived at the end of April and got to experience spring turning into summer in this beautiful community.
Winters are long, cold and snowy here (hence our avoidance of them). Although on the calendar it was officially spring when we arrived, the ice had only just left Nottawasaga Bay, and the water levels in all of Georgian Bay were at 50 year record highs. The resident swans, geese and ducks have all returned, but there are very few cormorants, since their perching rocks are all under water. The wetlands where the snapping turtles nest are also much deeper than usual, presenting problems for them. The egrets and herons have had to move much closer to shore to find “standing room”, and the swan’s nests have been in constant danger of flooding. The wait for warm weather and lower water levels dragged through all of May and June and, while hot temperatures have now arrived (we just completed a full week where the Humidex made it feel like 40C/104F ! ), the waters have not receded. The gorgeous sandy shoreline of nearby Wasaga Beach, the longest freshwater beach IN THE WORLD, is still under water.
But…… we have discovered that, despite the high water, being in Collingwood as summer arrives is absolutely glorious. Within steps of our front door is access to the Georgian Trail, the Harbour Trail, the Boardwalk, the Collingwood Arboretum, Millennium Park, and Sunset Beach. We can walk for miles under a canopy of trees, bounded on one side by a profusion of wildflowers (all these pictures were taken on just one 10 minute stroll) and on the other side by the bay, full of water birds and sailboats.
Making summer even better are all the music festivals, most of which include a large number of free events. The first Tuesday of every month finds the Bienn Gorm pipe and drum band in dress rehearsal at the Shipyards outdoor amphitheater. During Wednesday noon hours all summer local restaurants sponsor Local Live Lunch: 90 minutes of live music in one of the towns outdoor squares, with a fixed price lunch. Wednesday evenings are Jazz and Blues at the Station, a free event from 6-8 p.m. featuring everything from Cuban salsa bands to big band inspired ensembles. From July 18 to August 11 is the Collingwood Music Series featuring classical and world music, during which we enjoyed a terrific performance by Quartetto Gelato. July 18-21 was the Peak to Shore music festival, with pop, rock and country acts playing at venues all around town. That event also ran in Blue Mountain, just a 15 minute drive away, but why drive when the amphitheater is right across the road and we got to hear Danielle Bourjeaurd, followed by Whiskey River, while watching the sun set over the bay? Next weekend is the 25th annual Elvis Festival. Of course, there are also lots of ticketed concerts, like Louise Pitre who we enjoyed hearing last month….. and the Shakespearean plays presented outdoors as Bard on the Bay never fail to include at least one mandolin number!
We have a full calendar of music through the rest of July and into August, until we leave mid month Scotland (and more bagpipes at the Edinburgh Tattoo!).
Ted and I really are enjoying our second time here. I’ll share in a separate blog my community volunteer experiences this summer. In the meantime, thanks for continuing to explore with us!