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Mention “Oakville” and the following images may float through your mind: large suburban homes, golf courses, traffic jams on the Queen Elizabeth Way, and shuttered oil refineries. Alongside stereotypical elements are quiet parks along blue Lake Ontario, historic homes, and other cultural amenities that we recently spent a lazy summer afternoon exploring with the aid of the new Nokia X7 smartphone.
We were approached by Nokia Canada to take part in their Xplore Challenge on July 27, which saw bloggers in different cities trade itineraries so that they could learn more about each other’s communities and document their experiences with the Nokia X7 provided by Ketchum Public Relations. While we provided WonderMoms with a tour of North Toronto that included stops at local bookstores and culinary establishments, we received an itinerary that took us back and forth along the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Oakville.
Copacabana sandwich, The Green Bean Coffee Roasting Company.
Stop one was the busy Green Bean Coffee Roasting Company (210 Lakeshore Road East) in downtown Oakville. After mulling the large selection of sandwiches on offer for lunch, we chose the Copacabana ($10), which consisted of smoked chicken, Portuguese sausage, roasted red pepper, onion, sun-dried tomato pesto, tomato, and smoked mozzarella on a pressed focaccia. For accompaniment, we chose a creamy, mellow London Fog ($3.80 small). We settled into one of the large retro-style orange chairs, relaxed with a copy of the Globe and Mail, and alternated taking photos of the interior with the eight megapixel camera built into the phone and catching up on our email.
After lunch, we headed east to Gairloch Gardens (1306 Lakeshore Road East), which proved a peaceful spot to spend a steamy afternoon. People were stretched out on park benches catching up on their summer reading, taking their infants for a lakeside stroll, or staring at a family of ducks floating by. While immortalizing the birds, we learned where not to place our fingers on the back of the phone.
The park’s name is derived from a Gaelic word for “short lake”; businessman James A. Gairdner dubbed the property Gairloch Gardens after he bought it in 1960. When he died in 1971, the property was bequeathed to Oakville to be used as an art gallery and public park. The well-manicured grounds provided an excellent opportunity to test the quality of the camera—we were impressed with the high-quality images that resulted.
The small art gallery located in a Tudor-style home currently features an exhibit spotlighting the artists on the Ontario long list for the 2011 Sobey Art Award. The works range from a minimalist use of text on window looking out at the lake to a multimedia presentation based on emotional moments from 1970s/1980s films that we spent most of time guessing the source materials used on the monitors (we recognized Silkwood).
We continued our exploration of Oakville’s shoreline further west at Bronte Harbour. Benches were full of seniors watching leisure craft enter and exit the marina. We walked along the pier on the east side of the harbour and heeded warnings not to feed the waterfowl. The signs didn’t specify whether we should feed a weasel-like creature also enjoying a stroll along the pier. Before we could give the critter a snack, it scurried under the neighbouring rocks.
Walton Memorial United Church.
North of the harbour, Walton Memorial United Church (2489 Lakeshore Road West) has served the spiritual needs of Oakville since 1850. Originally built across the road as the Bronte Methodist Church, the current building was erected prior to World War I thanks to a gift from the Walton family. Two things we noticed: a sign with a reference to a 1950s pop hit and a section of the parking lot cordoned off for bicycles.
As we were about to leave Bronte, we notice a park sign on the west side of the creek pointing to “Sovereign House.” We drove down a dead-end street and came upon a 19th century farmhouse (7 West River Street) currently operated as a museum by the Bronte Historical Society. Built between 1825 and 1846 by farmer/Justice of the Peace Charles Sovereign, the home was later occupied by novelist Mazo de la Roche before she launched the popular Jalna series. Though the museum was closed, we wandered the grounds. After a few contemplative moments atop the neighbouring bluff reviewing what we had captured during an unexpectedly beautiful afternoon and watching sailboats in the harbour, we placed our destination into the Ovi Maps function and headed back to Toronto.