When winter arrives, I have a tendency to take out my warmer clothing from under the bed, and quickly replace it with my ambition and will to leave the apartment.
During winter, you’ve got full
license to stay home for a couple of months, and play the role of
hibernating bear, but what if I told you there was another way? What
if I told you that the best part of winter is leaving your proverbial
bear den, and getting out? I want to emphatically announce to the
world that I found a happy middle ground here in Ontario – a way to
hibernate in style!
Bri, my lovely wife, and I took it upon ourselves to prove that winter is anything but boring, and offers plenty of excuses to wear your Sunday best. We both grew up in Toronto, so the idea was to test our theory outside of our hometown, but in a region that wasn’t much of a drive away. We wanted a place where we could wake up on Saturday and think, “I want to do something different today,” and get in the car in go. Enter the diverse and intriguing region of York Durham Headwaters, Ontario’s road trip destination.
For our first stop, we set the coordinates to historic downtown Port Perry, a picturesque town by any standards. We wanted to spend some time at META4 Gallery, one of Ontario’s premier destinations for original art and fine craftsmanship. META4 has an incredible array of workshops, and I wanted to take part in a workshop for an art form that I knew precisely nothing about. That’s when we discovered Johnathan Wager’s Woodworking class at META4.
Once we got started it became clear that Johnathan was a careful teacher, but even talked about the therapeutic value of something like woodworking. These days, entertainment relies on bright colours, fast moving screens, and booms and bangs, but there’s something sacred about spending time with yourself in an endeavour like woodworking. Johnathan sums it up well when noting that,” at first most people are scared, nervous, or unsure but after getting settled in they quickly realize they are making progress and the room begins to lighten up and the time flies.”
Before we started, I was sure I’d be awful at it, but, dare I say, I was actually decent at it. Bri, having considerably more patience than I, fared well, and we walked out with a cooking spoon and slotted spoon that we now use regularly. Everytime we cook with them, we’re reminded that we’re a couple that likes to do something different, and knows how to have fun together. To me, that’s well worth the cost of the class – and woodworking was just the start of our adventure.
Located in Mono, Ontario in the Hills of Headwaters is Adamo Estate Winery, a small-batch boutique winery that has over 23,000 vines and is focused squarely on producing wine the right way. The owner, Mario Adamo, began pondering in later life whether he could make wine in this region after spending much of his life in Canada. In some ways, it reminded him of his hometown of Calabria, Italy, though he knew the weather was rather different, especially in winter. He remain undeterred, and the first vines were planted in 2012, with the winery opening in 2016. Let it be known that Adamo Estate Winery is now an award winning winery.
Bri and I did the full tour of Adamo, as well as taking part in the tasting. Markian, our guide for the tour, told stories of the family and winery with incredible passion, and Bri and I only felt too happy to be along for the ride. Wine wise, I especially loved the peppery finish of the Petit Verdot, while Bri was more partial to their Cabernet Blend. We also stayed after our tour and indulged in a charcuterie board from the second floor, and concluded it was an ideal place to hibernate in style.
Woodworking and wine were a brilliant start, but there was more work to be done.
Sometimes, when the weather is miserable out, and you can barely shovel your walkway, it’s nice to be transported to another world, and that’s where Theatre Orangeville comes in. Bri and I saw a performance of Lunenberg, about the coming and goings of a small town in Nova Scotia, and it was just brilliant. Outside, snow could be teeming from the sky, but you’d never know while you’re in there, and there’s something magical about that.
I spoke at length with the artistic director for Theatre Orangeville, David Nairn, a man who has been at the helm of this theatre for nearly 20 years. He has contagious energy, decisive conviction, and is owed a lot of credit for the blossoming of this theatre. He summed things up well when noting, “there is no community in the country that is more beautiful or creative, per capita…and, as for this theatre, you just couldn’t imagine the community without it”
When that last leaf falls off that final stubborn tree in our neighbourhood, we have a tendency to bow our head in resignation, and immediately start dreaming of spring. The experience I had in York Durham Headwaters proved to me that winter is actually the perfect opportunity for you to do all the things you’ve been putting off. You can take off those pyjamas, put on a dashing dress and brave the cold for a moment on the way to a touch of dinner and theatre. Or, perhaps, you can visit a suave winery, and stay to appreciate the views of a wintry vineyard.
In York Durham Headwaters, winter can actually be the most romantic season. This winter, Bri and I shared smiles in the theatre, wine in the vineyard, laughs during woodworking, and memories to last a lifetime.
Written by: Christopher James Mitchell