Looking for fun things to do in Thornbury Ontario? Contributor Kim Kerr-Dearsley shares her top tips
With its quaint, heritage homes and shady, tree-lined streets, Thornbury Ontario is one of those charming Canadian towns that visitors seem inexorably drawn to. With a population of just 1,700, the town boasts more eateries and classy retail stores than a community this size could ever hope to support without a steady influx of cottagers, day-trippers, skiers, and boaters.
Located where the Beaver River flows into the Nottawasaga Bay section of that huge expanse of fresh water known as Georgian Bay, Thornbury is definitely one of the best places to visit in The Blue Mountains and Collingwood areas. Whether you add it to your next trip to Collingwood and The Blue Mountains or come up especially to see all the town has on offer, you won’t leave disappointed (in fact, like so many before you, you may never leave).
To help you get the best out of your trip, LuxuryCollingwood is pleased to share our list of the top things to do in Thornbury.
A visit to Thornbury should start at the waterside. Leave your car in the public parking by the marina (or lock your bike up at the Municipal Harbour building if you’ve cycled up from Collingwood along the wonderful Georgian Trailsnetwork) and head straight for the large breakwater guarding the harbor entrance. You’ll be rewarded with an incredible panoramic view of Georgian Bay that stretches all the way from Collingwood to Tobermory.
Grab a handful of pebbles for an impromptu game of checkers on the heavy blue metal table there, watch the yachts come and go, or just kickback and watch the kids on the other side of the harbor have fun jumping into the deep water along Little River Park and its world-class Blue Flag beach (better still, go join them!).
Family fishing and the Fishway
If you’ve got young fisher-folk with you (kids under 18 don’t need a license), grab a rod and try your hand at catching a lake or rainbow trout. According to the Harbour Master, the fish are plentiful. Afterwards, head over to the nearby Thornbury Fishway, a unique fish ladder that helps trout (spring) and salmon (fall) circumvent the town’s dam.
Running under the bridge over the Beaver River, the fish ladder was designed to provide the trout a route from Georgian Bay to their spawning beds upstream. Best viewed from the stairway and platforms accessible from the parking lot next to the Town Hall, the path even has interpretive storyboards to tell the structure’s unique story.
Thornbury Bakery Café
After exploring the harbourfront and fish dam, you’ll be ready for a snack (if not lunch). Just follow the crowds (or your nose) to the delightful Thornbury Bakery Café on Brice Street, the town’s main drag. Looking just like you stepped back into the 1940s, the bakery’s rustic charm is only surpassed by the incredible array of baked goods on display, including their always popular butter tarts.
Once you make it to the front of the line, you’re going to have to choose between the bakery’s famous Chelsea buns (be sure to arrive before 10am to claim yours), spicy-sweet chop suey buns or cupcakes with delicious inch-high buttercream icing. Everything’s made from scratch, from the delectable breakfast (eggs benedict and French toast) to lunch (steak and feta wraps).
Visit their website at www.thornburybakerycafe.com.
The Cheese Gallery
Across the road is The Cheese Gallery, a unique mix of deli and art gallery and the perfect place for a late afternoon snack. Owned by Casey Thompson, the store boasts more cheeses than you can shake a stick at, and all of them authentic – the Gruyere is from Switzerland and the Parmesan from Italy, naturally, and Canadian cheeses are well represented on the ever-changing chalkboard inventory with delicious aged cheddars from Ontario and Quebec.
The store’s bestseller? No sample tray is complete without the exquisite Chateau de Bourgogne, aka the BTS (‘better than sex’) cheese, best paired with one of the gallery’s local wines or ciders.
Check out their website at www.thornburycheesegallery.com.
The Dam Pub
Undoubtedly the best way to finish off your sampling of the best things to do in Thornbury is to head over to the superb The Dam Pub at the top of the main street for a hearty lunch or dinner, or even a wee dram of whisky. Owned by the vivacious Stephanie Price(aka The Whisky Chick), this wonderful gastro pub boasts more than 850 whiskies to sample from around the world, ensuring you’ll never run out of new things to try.
If you time it right, you may also find yourself participating in one of the pub’s famous music nights (Celtic, of course) or a whisky tasting. The food served here is simply scrumptious, much of it based on traditional Scottish dishes but given a completely contemporary twist (try the deep friend haggis!). It’s also one of the few pubs (and in fact the first pub in Canada!) to have Innis & Gunn on tap, one of the finest beers to come out of Scotland.
You can learn more about Ontario’s top whisky pub by reading our feature story on The Dam Pub, or visiting their website at https://thedampub.ca.
Kim Kerr-Dearsley is a luxury travel writer and globetrotter.