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November 8, 2014

I am an exceedingly lucky woman because I have not one but two best friends.

Yesterday (November 8th) the three of us went on a road trip to Orangeville. We met at the carpool parking lot at Highway 10 and 401 in Toronto. Once all of us figured out how to actually enter the carpark we hopped into the front seat of my silver F150 truck, put The Eagles in the CD player, and started driving north. The first community you come to is Brampton, with a historic and charming downtown dating from the 1860s. The clock tower is quite striking. Brampton is large and continues a fair piece north as you drive Highway 10.

Orangeville is first seen from the top of the Caledon Mountain. It is in the valley and the best way to enter it is to turn onto Broadway, the main street. Broadway Avenue is like taking a trip back in time. The town of 30,000 people has done an excellent job of preserving the historic buildings on Broadway. Primarily three storey buildings with retail at grade and residential above, the street is both walkable and inviting.

It was cold and rainy so we started at the indoor Orangeville Farmers Market. I suggest you go hungry. You are first greeted by simmering soups with a wonderful mix of flavours. Samples are freely given of everything. After sampling, I bought a hearty potato soup from The Soup Girl. Soup is followed by homemade pasta, freshly baked breads, ten varieties of fresh mushrooms, flaky mushroom tarts, butter tarts and cookies. Chili simmers in a pot as you round the corner to sausages, capicola and kielbasa ready to enjoy. Fresh tomatoes, huge onions, raspberries, apples, and all manner of fresh fruit and vegetables await down the long hall towards the mayor’s office. There is maple syrup and fresh Ontario lamb. Upstairs are local artisans and knitters. Everyone was friendly.

Exiting, we then walked up the street past a number of interesting stores to Rustik, a new restaurant in Orangeville. The mirror on the wall and the lights that hang down from planks attached to the ceiling are works of art. We sat by the cozy fireplace. I ordered the soup of the day, a fresh potato and leek soup with goat cheese and bread. That was followed by pork chops and Caesar salad for me and a Monte Cristo sandwich for my girlfriends. Everything was obviously fresh and the fusion of flavours was tasty. The pepper holders were planks of driftwood fashioned into huge vessels for pepper.

Ducking into a second hand bookstore called Readers Choice after lunch I bought two Frederick Forsyth novels along with The Secret Life of Og for my kids.

From there we went across town through the business and industrial area on Centennial to the only Starbucks in town. We met David Waters, an easily likeable realtor who toured us around town in his car for the next two and a half hours. Whenever I visit a new community, I am always interested to know about their real estate so I asked him to educate us about the housing and commercial market in Orangeville. Houses in Orangeville range from about $200,000 at the lower end through to $700,000 at the upper end. There are many charming historic houses on Zina and Elizabeth Streets within walking distance of Broadway, some fully renovated and others largely original. Church Street was interesting with a mix of historic houses newly renovated at one end and a scrap metal dealer at the other end. We then went across Highway 10 to the beach area where houses in subdivisions have a corn field in Caledon as their permanent neighbour. Island Lake can be accessed on that side of Highway 10. It is manmade through the coming together of four rivers that are fed from the town and which used to flood the town frequently, hence the water was diverted to create the lake. There are boardwalks across the lake and canoes and kayaks available for rent. We were struck by the abundance of schools and colourful walking trails in town. David was an excellent tour guide, giving us a good feel for the diversity of housing in town while at the same time imparting a sense of how nice it was to live in Orangeville and educating us about local history.

We then sat in the Starbucks and enjoyed a Nanaimo bar and a yogurt parfait before returning to Broadway. David had recommended a cheese shop called Fromage Gourmet Foods on Mill Street. It was a pleasurable experience as the proprietor, Christine, gave me samples of cheese to compliment the spicy copicola I had bought at the Farmer’s Market. I chose an asiago and a Spanish cheese then wished I had also purchased the smoky gouda I sampled from Thunder Bay. It was at the cheese shop that I found out there was a ladies event going on that evening in town. For $20 each, you could shop at 15 retailers between 6 and 10. Each of them was offering discounts, free food and some gifts. The $20 also entitled you to a complimentary cocktail at The Mill Creek Pub or The Barley Vine Rail Co.

I found my girlfriends at Pear Home on Broadway. They were buying four pieces of beautiful bamboo based clothing – two skirts, a sweater and a tunic. We each paid the $20 and my girlfriends obtained a 20% discount on their clothing purchases which paid back a large part of the $60 cost of tickets. From there we wandered over to Off Broadway Boutique where they bought me an early Christmas present of a spectacular cobalt blue sweater made in Chile. Fair Trade and Fair Knit goods are popular in Orangeville. At Off Broadway, we enjoyed decadent butter chocolates from The Chocolate Shop – I think I had four of them - and were given a gift bag with an infinity scarf. We returned next door to the cheese shop and had some pate mixed with cheese, then wandered to The Mill Creek Pub. The cocktails were a blue vodka cooler which we enjoyed with hot chicken wings and chicken flatbread. Everything was really messy and really tasty. The pub was packed.

From the pub we wandered to Noinkees, a term of endearment in the Africaans language, where we sampled more chocolates along with a grapefruit hand cream. After leaving then realizing we had to return to buy the cream, we ended up in the Scented Drawer where we had yet more chocolate along with our eyebrows waxed and some makeup applied. Looking quite glamourous and smelling like grapefruit, we ended our night in the Wicked Shortbread shop where my girlfriend bought six shortbread bars for her husband and we had more samples, this time of shortbread.

The Eagles accompanied us back to the carpool parking lot on a quick drive that lasted less than 40 minutes. It was a truly spectacular day.

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