When our kids were small, their bedtime ritual included a trip to the beach. I can still see them wrapped in thick towels, grinning from ear to ear and begging to stay just a little longer. We still go to the beach in every season to catch what we think are the very best sunsets in the world.
Even though some local folks have tried hard for years to call it “The Georgian Triangle,” this area remains known through-out the world simply as Collingwood. Or as Blue Mountain. Once known almost solely as a winter ski destination, the region is now one of the most desirable areas in the country for both full-time living and four-season recreating. Its reputation has grown to mammoth proportions in recent years as it has become one of the most sought-after destinations for people of all stripes. Why? People say it’s the skiing. It’s having the world’s longest freshwater beach. It’s the golf, the trail, the bay and the mountain. But really, it’s much, much more.
When you’ve been here just a little while, you start to discover some of the secrets. Where the best places to swim are, the best places to eat, the best places to buy pies and the best places to hear local musicians jam.
Stay a little longer and you get to know where to buy tickets for sold-out shows, where to attend free lectures, who is the best butcher, the best picnic sites and where to tip in the canoe.
After about two decades here, I know there are some things that never get stale. Autumn in the Pretty River Valley, watching the salmon spawn by the Millpond, seeing the ski runs lit up at night, apple trees in bloom, thunderstorms in the Valley and villages where time literally seems to stand still. Mostly though, I love the annual Canada Day celebrations when everyone in town comes out to the park to play games, hear the music and watch the fireworks. When everyone stands up at first darkness to sing “Oh Canada ,” I choke up. Corny maybe, but very real.
But there is a downside. There is no such thing as hopping into the grocery store to quickly pick up a few things. It becomes a social event as you bump into old and new friends in every aisle. Strangers even say hello. Dinner is always late.
This part of Southern Georgian Bay is a collection of communities each with its own distinctive personality and flair. You could say that Georgian Bay is our front door and that Blue Mountain is our compass. The region stretches along the shoreline from Meaford in the west, through Thornbury and Collingwood to Wasaga Beach and Stayner in the east, south to the quaint village of Creemore and includes rural villages as small as crossroads along the way. It has a total population of about 75-80,000 full-time residents with another 35,000 part-time residents people across a vast area of about 580 square miles. Because the region also attracts over three million visitors every year, it has the unique benefits of having sophisticated urban amenities that usually far exceed what you normally would find in small towns. Really, it’s an almost perfect blend of city conveniences with small town sensibilities. Here is a great website detailing much of what the area has to offer.
When you add it all up, this area offers a spectacular natural environment, a rich social and cultural scene, a strong sense of community, a great deal of opportunity and an unmatched lifestyle.