Westport Day Trip

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Ottawa Valley day trip by Rona Fraser, Summer 2014

I put a call out on Facebook, asking readers to suggest their favourite places to relax, and after an inspired note from theHumm’s own Steve Scanlon, I decided I’d better head out to Westport. Here’s Steve’s plug for his hometown:
“We in Westport boast 3, (count ‘em… 3) ice cream shops (one even serving a homemade soft ice cream); a wonderful music venue with wonderful food and an outside patio (The Cove); a great teahouse/bakery that includes a bookstore; 2 galleries; The Rox Rock Shop; not to mention all the lovely shops to visit — all within walking distance — and an 800-acre park and a picturesque marina… with boats in it...”

The harbour in Westport, Ontario
One view of Westport's harbour

The descent into Westport (Hwy. 10 from Perth) has got to be one of the most awe-inspiring entrances around. And in winter, possibly the most fear-inducing! After many kilometres of standard Eastern Ontario natural beauty, you suddenly find yourself at the top of a mountain (Foley Mountain, to be precise), gazing down the road at Westport, nestled between Upper Rideau Lake, Westport Pond, and Westport Sand Lake.

I arrived on a bustling, sunny, hot Saturday morning, and am happy to report that I was still able to find several convenient parking spots. You could simply park once and wander, but I had my mother with me, and she is not one for a lot of walking. Westport has a nice assortment of shops, and I still feel I need to return to visit all of the ones I missed! Though actually, I will let you in on a little secret: the REAL reason I need to return to Westport… Well, first things first.

Upon arriving in town, The Cove is your first right (on Bedford Street, also home to many shops). As half of Westport’s events seem to take place at The Cove, that is where we fortified ourselves with lunch. They have several gluten-free options, and you can sit in the cooler indoor dining room or enjoy the fresh air and view outside. It soon gets busy on a Saturday at lunchtime, so get there early! If you prefer to picnic, instead take the next left (Spring Street), where you will find Westport Harbour. Lounge on the grass, sit in the large gazebo, or wander by the water and boats. The gazebo is also a handy (shaded) place to leave your old mom gazing at the view while you wander off to see what you can see.

Vanilla Bean's of Westport
Stop for a delicious bite at Vanilla Bean's

Maybe you will see pizza! The Rustic Oven is conveniently located nearby, and word on the street is their slices are delicious.Just at the top of the hill you walked down to get to the harbour, is the home of my new favourite Westport treat. The Vanilla Bean’s Café and Creamery serves Equator fair trade organic coffee and espresso, Kawartha Dairy ice cream, Waffles of Westport, and other delectable morsels. Sounds pretty good, right? So I was gazing over the ice cream flavours, and up at their menu… and then I saw it. “Frozen Hot Chocolate: A single scoop of ice cream over hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream.” Oh my. I chose a scoop of chocolate (why not?!) and also chose not to ask about the glutenfreeness of the chocolate syrup. That drink was pretty darned perfect. Once you experience the cozy hug-in-a-cup warmth of the hot chocolate, with the smooth coolness of the ice cream, and the decadence of whipped cream with chocolate drizzle… you too will feel all is right with the world. Prefer a stronger octane? “Espresso Float: A single scoop of ice cream over a shot of Espresso and coffee, topped with whipped cream.” Yes. Go now.

Rosie Yumski's of Westport, Ontario
Outside Rosie Yumski's

Across Spring Street is Rosie Yumski’s Fine Foods. If you are with a friend who loves kitchen gadgets or preserves… do NOT bring them there. Because they will want to look at (and buy) EVERYTHING. Trust me on this. And yes, my “friend” was me. Time to regroup — this was not to be a shopping trip. That being said, there was one other place I knew I needed to stop: the Baker’s Teahouse (Church Street, near Spring). No, I was not eating again…though I did pick up a butter tart for my dad. I had to drop in to meet Humm columnist Steve Scanlon, who runs Stillwater Books and Treasures within the teahouse, and thank him for suggesting I lollygag in Westport!

The view from Fetch's bench over Westport
The view from Fetch's bench

Driving up (and I mean UP) Hwy 10 out of Westport, keep your eye out for the Foley Mountain Conservation Area entrance on your right. After entering, park at the second parking area, then take the short walk to the Spy Rock Lookout. What a view! If it wasn’t for the one deerfly doing laps around my head, and my mom waiting by the car, I would have liked to sit on the rocky lookout all afternoon, or perhaps contemplate the view while seated on the bench dedicated to Gary “Fetch” Murphy. Fetch, also known as Mr. Westport, passed away in 2000. He was a great community volunteer, Santa, barber and friend, and Dale Lyons said “He was the type of person that, if you ever went in to talk to him, you left feeling a little happier.” Well Fetch, after sitting on that bench, I felt a little bit happier myself. Thanks for sharing your town with me.

So that was Westport! Time to go home… or so we thought. There was a nice breeze and good tunes, so I decided to take the scenic route, through Balderson. Have you ever been to Balderson?

It is well worth a visit. It is a great place for a girls’ day out: shop for clothes and furniture and food, and select from several dining  options. My last visit had been a girls’ bathing-suit-shopping trip. As you might imagine, I had been dreading it, as bathing suit shopping generally involves an unsettling series of uncomfortable suits and unflattering sights in the mirror… but at Ema Lee Fashions I had to actually whittle down from four or five suits to one favourite…Which was impossible, so I bought two. This visit I stayed away from the swimwear, but you should see their selection of dresses! I am ready for my next summer night out! But not tonight. Lollygagging can be exhausting!

Westport Day Trip Photo Gallery

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