On Monday we packed up the car for an overnight car trip, the first day trip that involved staying in a hotel in the last eighteen months. Click here for the overview.
This was what we ended up doing. Monday's weather was unbearably hot even for John and I so it also influenced some of our choices. Tuesday was a rainy day but it didn't really impact us.
We skipped a few places like Delhi, where I would have liked to visit the Tobacco Museum but due to Covid restrictions you had to order timed entry tickets online and I couldn't guarantee a time. It is also only open on a Monday and Tuesday.
I would also have liked to at least see the Annadale House in Tillsonburg. It is a national historic sight. John can easily skip visiting these homes. Again you need to pre-book your tour, they are open Monday to Friday.
We skipped the Frisky Beaver winery, due to a detour that led us in circles in Simcoe. We also didn't bother with the winery in St. Thomas.
In St. Thomas we didn't manage to see all the sights we had planned, partly timing and partly the heat.
CASO Station was remarkably large for a town the size of St Thomas (the community didn’t become a city until 1881). However, the building needed to be big enough to accommodate both the town’s passenger station (ground floor) and the corporate headquarters of CSR (upper floor).
The building’s grandeur was impressive. The 1882 publication Picturesque Canada reported that the station was “one of the finest in the Dominion, and reminds one of the large structures in Chicago and New York.”
Touted as Canada's largest railway mural, at an impressive 30ft. tall and 50ft. wide, this mural depicts the aspirations of many children who grew up surround by steam engines and the railway industry in St. Thomas.
With the development of the railway in Elgin County came the opportunity for the farming community to get their goods to the national and international markets. The railway helped to make Canada a connected agricultural force.
The Canada Southern Railway was a big part of St. Thomas' rail history from 1872 to 1881. The C.S.R.'s legacy to the community is its historic Talbot Street station, which was created in 1872 as a shortcut through Canada from Chicago to New York.
Painted on a former rail underpass, this mural beautifully combines colour and the symbolism of good luck and positive energy.
But the developer wanted it to survive and offered it free to the City of St. Thomas. St. Thomas said No Thanks, thinking about future maintenance costs.
However, an organization of local volunteers called On Track stepped forward in 2013 and purchased the unique bridge for $116,000 and started a campaign to convert the trestle to Canada’s first elevated park — similar to the High Line Linear Park in New York City.
“Because it’s a windy environment up there, the artist came up with the idea of using that wind to make the sculpture move,” explained Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas. “So, a big, overgrown weather vane was the answer. You go to old-fashioned gardens and they put in weather vanes or sun dials and he came up with a weather vane for this garden and I think it’s a cool idea.”
It was time to move on to our hotel in Ingersoll about 30 km away.
We stayed at the Elm Hurst Inn and Spa.
James Harris erected the James Harris Cheese Factory on the grounds of what is now Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in 1865.One year later, the factory was the birthplace of the 7,300 pound cheese, co-manufactured by local producers to put Ingersoll on the map. The famous ‘Mammoth Cheese’ travelled to exhibitions in Toronto, Sarasota, New York, Paris France and London, England.
The Elm Hurst mansion was built in 1872 as the personal residence of James Harris and family. A fine example of the Gothic Revival style, it remained a stately family home for more than a century.
The last Harris heir sold the property in the mid 1970s, and the house was transformed into a popular dining establishment that opened in 1979. An addition was added to the rear of the original structure five years later, with the 49-room Elm Hurst Inn & Spa being built in 1988.
We will do this trip again with time in Port Dover and along the shore with an overnight perhaps in St. Thomas.