6/28/17 – 7/1/17: Our next stop on the agenda was Bayfield. Bad storms and high winds were predicted (again) for the next few days, and Canada Day was the forthcoming Saturday. This year marked 150 years since Canada united all of the provinces into a single confederation, so this year was a special celebration for Canada. We called Bayfiled for a transient slip, but because of the upcoming holiday, none were available. We called Grand Bend, a little further south, but they were also booked solid. We found dockage in Goderich, 30 miles north of Bayfield, and decided to stop there for a few days before proceeding to Sarnia.
The trip from Kincardine was uneventful, and we arrived in Goderich without any surprises along the way. As you approach Goderich, the first thing you see is the teal buildings from the Sifto salt mines. There’s a huge commercial harbour in Goderich, dedicated to moving salt from the mine to the various processing facilities. Large lakers are moored in the harbor, and trains arrive and depart throughout the day. The marina is right next to this harbor, so it isn’t very scenic. On the other side of the marina is a trailer park, which was very well maintained and beautifully landscaped.
The town is on top of a ridge of land (big surprise), and there were stairs across the road from the marina leading to it. There was only one restaurant within walking distance (two if you count the one at the golf course down the road), and everything else was in town. There were 171 stairs (yes, we counted) leading to the top of the hill, which also meant 171 coming back down! From there it was another 5 blocks to town. We did the walk several times (who needs a stairmaster – just buy a boat and go cruising)!
The downtown area has one of the most interesting layouts we’ve ever seen. In the center is an octagon of one-way streets with the courthouse in the center (the name of the octagon street is, oddly enough, “Courthouse Square”). Radiating outward from each corner of the octagon are 8 streets. Four of those streets point directly north, south, east, and west, and are called (what else) North Street, South Street, East Street, and West Street. The four streets at the angles were called (what else but) Colborne Street, Hamilton Street, Kingston Street, and Montreal Street. The opposite ends of all eight of those streets formed another square, with the angled streets forming the corners of the square. There were also 8 more streets within the square, that branched off north-south or east-west from the angled streets, halfway between the octagon and the square. The entire downtown area was within the square on one of those 16 streets (20 if you count the 4 streets forming the square).
Downtown Goderich had almost everything you could ask for. Several banks, insurance agencies, accounting firms and attorney’s offices were there, as were many gift shops, restaurants, coffee shops, the laundromat, and the movie theater. We found a place called West Street Willie’s Eatery, which had quite a variety of menu items. We ate there twice, it was that good. Kate had a Thai Stir-Fry and an Okey Dokey Smokey Patty Melt, and Pat had the Jerk Marinated Chicken and Grilled Rainbow Trout. Yummy!
One of the reasons we wanted to get to Bayfield was that they had a Yanmar parts shop and we needed some fuel filters (our diesel engine is a Yanmar, and distribution in Canada is quite limited – Bayfield is one of the few places we could find with a Yanmar shop). So, we called a taxi, and did the 30 mile round trip to Bayfield (a $60 taxi ride made for some expensive fuel filters)! We also did laundry (too far to walk so another $20 taxi ride), and a resupply at Walmart (out of town so yet another $40 taxi ride). Taxis are really expensive in Canada!
If it weren’t for the weather and the big Canadian holiday, we would have skipped Goderich, gone on to Bayfield for a day or two, and then on to Sarnia. But our stay here hasn’t been bad – we’ve enjoyed the town and all it has to offer. Not only is Canada celebrating 150 years but Goderich is celebrating 190 years, so double the celebration here. There are fireworks planned for Friday and a parade, picnic, sail pass and boat parade, and a dance on Saturday.
We are eager to move on to get a few miles behind us. If all goes well, we’ll make our way to Sarnia on Sunday, then on to battle Lake Erie, before tackling the Welland Canal and Lake Ontario (stopping for a few days to enjoy Niagara Falls)!