As I prepared to embark on my third summer travelling around Ontario’s Highlands, a friend inquired, “how have you not seen it all yet?” I responded with laughter. The answer to that is simple.
Aside from the 24,000 square kilometres of natural landscape to cover, this area is continuously evolving, growing, and unfolding before our eyes.
Successful businesses are expanding and offering more, entrepreneurs are escaping the city to follow their passions and open bakeries, galleries, boutiques and outfitters. Not to mention, upon returning to my favourite places, I am greeted with such a genuine welcome that these experiences never get old. Two years later, and I can honestly say that I still have one of the coolest jobs ever.
This is exactly what Maynooth represents to me; a community of growth and intrigue. Only a mere two years since my last visit, and yet it seems like a whole new town. Being the avid explorer I am, I was quick to hit up the information centre to grab a guide and see what has changed since my last visit. While flipping through I kept seeing this loud and proud stamp of approval ‘Certified Wander Friendly’. “Well that’s new,” I thought, and I was instantly intrigued.
I started my wandering at the west end of the main street browsing the incredible works of Black Spruce Art Works. Thanks to my impeccable timing, I happened across Laura while she was working on one of her incredible pieces, and was able to sit back and watch in awe as she brought life to her painting with each stroke.
After a wander through the Maynooth General Store, another gallery with the name Brush With The North lured me in. I mean how could I not go meet the person who came up with such a genius name?! Linda and her business did not disappoint. I was pleasantly surprised that she stocks supplies for amateur artists looking to dabble as well. If you’re looking to tap into your artistic side this summer, a plein air art kit would be the ideal place to start.Try grabbing one and asking a local where the closest scenic spot would be to set up-locals always know the best secrets! If I’m being honest, there are great options around almost any corner though. After all, there’s a reason The Group of Seven found such inspiration here in Ontario’s Highlands.
Back to the street I returned and continued onwards. I tried out a hottub at Highlands Hot Tubs, devoured a delicious and extremely healthy snack at Sun Run Cafe, almost got lost in the piles of antiques lining the walls of Foxfire Gallery, Gifts & Antiques, before stocking up on homemade preserves and oils at Hillsview Farm & Studio.
Within two hours, I had travelled up one side of the main street and down the other, meeting friendly locals, chatting with passionately proud business owners, purchasing a few antique finds and feeling invigorated by the charismatic spirit of the town. There truly is a unique, artistic vein running through the downtown core. After experiencing this amazing community again for myself,
I can confidently say that Maynooth is indeed wander friendly.