Yours to discover

Who knew that Thunder Bay makes a mean sour-key-tini?

By Crystal Luxmore

On Tuesday May 26th, 2009

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Think life stops outside Toronto? These small town lawyers beg to differ. Far from Commerce Court and the TD towers, they’ve built their practices in some of Ontario’s most treasured towns

 Thunder Bay: Beaver and moose and bears, oh my! 

Local Guide: Fhara Pottinger, Weiler, Maloney, Nelson

Why go? It’s a city within a park — enjoy the wilderness of Northern Ontario beyond the urban hub.
When to go: May, June, or September. The annual cottage exodus means summer
is quiet.
Where to stay: Outside: rent a beautiful campsite, cottage, or B&B. Inside: the Valhalla Inn.
Happy Hour: “Tony & Adam’s is my personal favourite. They make an awesome sour-key-tini.”
Natural wonder: Hike around the Amethyst Mine Panorama to hunt for chunks of the precious stones (they’re yours to keep).
Favourite restaurant: Caribou or Bistro One. For pasta lovers: “Mamma Alfa — but you have to call in the morning to see if they’ve made fresh pasta. It’s insanely good!”

 Perth: A river runs through it

Local Guide: Craig Halpenny, Barker Willson P.C.

Why go? Its heritage character, (TVO voted it the “prettiest town in Ontario”), great dining, 100 lakes within 50 klicks.
Where to stay: Posh: Code’s Mill Inn & Spa. Boutique charm: Perth Manor.
When to go: July: catch the Park Music Festival or the 175th anniversary of the UNESCO Tay Canal.
Natural wonder: The nearby Lanark Highlands for autumn splendour, and pancakes at Wheelers Maple Syrup Camp.
Happy Hour: Fiddleheads. “Locals converge here Fridays after work. The heritage building gives it an old-town feel.”
Favourite restaurant: Bistro 54. “Hands down best food anywhere I’ve been.”

 Fergus: Toronto’s mini-me

Local Guide: Sarah Jacobs, Grant & Acheson LLP

Why go? The world-class chefs, local artisans, and boutiques. “It’s my Toronto neighborhood on
a smaller scale.”
When to go: May through October. Artisans open their doors for the Elora-Fergus Studio Tour in the fall.
Where to stay: Van Gali’s is a bright and lively little B&B with a café known for its delicious paninis.
Happy Hour: A riverfront pub like The Brewhouse, or the Goofie Newfie.
Natural wonder: The trails along the Grand River.
Favourite restaurant: The Breadalbane bistro. “The menu’s always changing and they emphasize local, seasonal food.”

 Port Dover: Lovely Lake Erie

Local Guide: Drew Bowyer, Stahl and Bowyer

Why go? In the summers, families turn it into a lively beach resort. Dive around shipwrecks, catch yellow perch, and bite into the Arbor’s legendary loaded hot dog.
When to go: July and August — the water’s warm!
Where to stay: Rent a cottage for a week. In town: the Brant Hill Inn.
Happy Hour: Hob-nob with the locals at the Norfolk Tavern, or chill with fellow bronzed visitors at the
Beach House.
Natural wonder: Long Point Provincial Park. This 40-kilometre-long sandspit is a UN-recognized biosphere. Its marshes teem with songbirds, fish, turtles, and frogs.
Favourite restaurant: “The Erie Beach Hotel has wonderful dinners.”