I’m not much of a snow bunny and a winter drive for me is driving out to Vaughan Mills, but when I was asked if I wanted to check out the Cannington Dog Races and Winter Festival I felt like I just had to take my very first Winter Ontario Road Trip!
Of course the weather did not cooperate as 5 cm of blowing snow had fallen overnight only adding to my fear of leaving the plowed urban area of Central Counties and heading out to unknown roads. I didn’t let it get to me. I have snow tires on the car, I put on some warm tights and several layers of clothes and got on the 404 and made my way up to HWY 48 for the drive up to Cannington. The road was plowed the whole way up and I made it up safely to a winter wonderland.
When I got to Cannington, I noticed several ice sculptors were working on ice sculptures for the town’s main street. I drove to MacLeod Park where the event was taking place and parked the car. It was snowing which made it all the more beautiful. As the thick flakes of snow fell around me, I walked through the many tents in the marketplace filled with Dog Hats, yummy treats, jewelry and other crafts and goods for sale. At the end of the food and marketplace was a Pioneer Winter camp with a small outdoor stage. Around the stage a display by the Oshawa Metis Council with traditional teepees, and first nation’s people dressed in full ceremonial dress. On the stage the sound of drums lured the crowd in, as several first Nation’s dancers treated the crowd to several performances.
The highlight of the event of course was about the dogs. So I walked further into the park towards the dog sled race track and the musher’s area. The dogs were all being fed and waiting to get dressed for their races.
The sound of excited barking dogs was really awesome. They just couldn’t wait to get out there and race and their mushers had to settle them down as they walked towards the start line. One at a time teams lined up at the starting line and they were off. The dogs jumped excitedly into action and raced for a first place finish and of course a cash prize. Racers came from across North America to compete in 4-dog and 6-dog races.
For those of you who always wanted to take a ride on a dog sled, well the baseball diamond was the place to be! People lined up to take part in a dog sled ride around the field and kids and adults took part in an exciting dog sleigh ride of their own.
Just next to the race grounds a small tent was set up by the Glass blowing company who put on a great show as they tried to create a dog sled team with glass. While their first attempt proved to be unsuccessful the sleigh was taking shape nicely in my eyes.
Across the river families were treated to native carvings on display as they waited to board the carriages for a winter horse and wagon ride. Behind them many children were enjoying the fresh snow on the hill in the park as they enjoyed some sledding.
In the community centre people warmed up in the Auditorium located on the second floor, where local acts played music while everyone ate and drank.
By the time I headed home, the snow had stopped falling, the roads were clear and the sun even popped up on my road trip home! Another fantastic adventure in Central Counties!
Sharon Mendelaoui is a Thornhill based travel writer. Her blog dreamtravelmagazine.com is an online travel magazine filled with travel tips, hotel and excursion reviews and dream vacation destinations and experiences.