We checked out of the Kingston hotel on Friday morning and went to Picton. It's a small town on a peninsula that drops down into Lake Ontario. I knew about it because one of my library coworkers grew up there and made frequent trips back. (She'd leave here at 3 a.m. to get there mid-afternoon. It's quite a haul. Now they've retired to Colorado.) Picton is just the right distance from Ottawa / Kingston / Toronto to be a popular weekend destination. We learned more about early 19th-century Canada at the historical museum housed in the old Anglican church and its vicarage.
Lunch was at the Waupoos Estate Winery with a wine tasting and a delicious meal in their beautiful restaurant looking down to Lake Ontario. [Waupoos means Little Rabbit. If you read William Kent Krueger's mysteries you'll recognize Wauboo as the name of daughter Jenny's adopted son.] Grapevines and wineries have replaced acres of apple orchards.
On to Toronto! It's the largest city in Canada and the economic center. (We were last there in 2003.)
Saturday morning began with Toronto history in a presentation by a local historian. The rest of the group went on a walking tour. That was more than my husband could manage. Instead we got tickets for the hop-on-hop-off bus . (We could have taken the subway but then we wouldn't have seen very much.) We arrived at the Royal Ontario Museum in time for a free Collection Highlights tour. We followed that with time in the First Nations and Early Canada galleries, then had lunch in the museum cafeteria.
The rotunda is Venetian mosaic. Each tile is backed with gold foil and set at a different angle so it sparkles. The wording in the center medallion is from Job: "That all men may know His work." The rotunda was the main entrance until the 2007 opening of the modernist Crystal building. (I didn't get a photograph of that. It's quite controversial.)
The bus ticket included a 1-hour ferry ride around the Toronto harbour islands. Heavy rains early in the summer flooded the islands. The residents (who by statute must live there year-round, no summer/weekend houses) had to evacuate to the mainland. It was great to be on the water on that hot, hot Saturday afternoon.
The group dinner was just up the street from the ferry dock. Instead of seating all of us at one or two long tables we were at tables of four. Our Magpie friend Lynne joined us. It was so nice to see her in person again. Great food and great conversation.
Sunday: from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We had a walking tour during which our knowledge of the significance of the War of 1812 was refreshed. In the afternoon we saw "Androcles and the Lion," one of the performances in this year's Shaw Festival A Road Scholar bonus: a post-performance chat with two of the actors.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming town that with many restored homes. The main street has beautiful plantings -- more so now at the end of the season when the annuals are at their peak.
Our next stop: two nights in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was like Las Vegas of the north with a lot more water. We learned that 20 million people visit the Falls annually -- 12m on the Canadian Side, 8m on the U.S. side. That traffic is pretty much crammed into the April-October season (peak is June to August). There are three waterfalls: American and Bridal Veil on the U.S. side of Goat Island and Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. Collectively they are called Niagara Falls.
First dinner: the Keg Steakhouse at Fallsview.
What a background!
What a background!
LED lighting under the rim of the falls changes color.
Monday: a Niagara Park ranger provided history of tourism and hydropower at the Falls, then led us on a bus tour along the parkway. We took the Hornblower boat ride. (When Hornblower obtained the rights on the Canadian side a few years ago the Maid of the Mist moved to the U.S. side. The first Maid of the Mist sailed in 1834.)
After lunch: Steve rested at the hotel and I went back to explore. (Our hotel on Fallsview Blvd. was just up the hill from Niagara Parkway that runs along the river/falls.) There's a beautiful public garden. Nikola Tesla's alternating current won out over Thomas Edison's direct current.
Our final dinner was at the Skylon, a 520-foot tower overlooking the falls. We ate at one of the restaurants. (The view was better than the food.)
On Tuesday the coach bus took us across the border to the Buffalo airport. We bid goodbye to our fellow Road Scholars. They flew back home. We rented a car in order to tour Buffalo, a city neither of us had been to. We were able to check into our motel early (a room was ready at 11 a.m.!) We went to the Albright Knox art museum (and entered just before Mrs. Knox walked in; brief chat with her about Yale). The museum guards were the nicest we have ever encountered--knowledgeable about the collections. The 1905 St. Gaudens building and the 1962 wing will be augmented by a $180m addition in the works. Then around the corner (well, a drive over the expressway) to the Buffalo History Museum housed in a 1901 building, the only permanent structure from the 1901 exposition. They have a new building coming, too.
On Wednesday we went to the Martin House. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for industrialist Darwin Martin and built between 1904-1906. Mrs. Martin disliked it and the family lived in another house for many years. The house was abandoned (compare to Boldt Castle) and sold for $1 in lieu of back taxes to the nonprofit group that is still working on the restoration. The horizontal planes of the Prairie Style are a sharp contrast to the three-story late-19th century houses in the residential neighborhood. The Tree of Life window design is widely reproduced. Note the view from the pergola: one way to the entry and the other way to the Nike at the end of the conservatory.
Rotary sponsors the acousti-guide. :)
Carolyn is a librarian friend who lives in Buffalo. She picked us up at our motel and took us to a suburban outlet of Anchor Bar, the restaurant that invented Buffalo wings. We had a side order of those along with weck. That's kimmelweck--a soft roll topped with coarse salt and caraway--piled high with thinly-sliced roast beef. Delicious!
Thursday: home! Our flight left on time and we walked in our front door at noon. It's good to be home, but, boy, did we have a great trip!