Collingwood has been described as a town with small town sensibilities and big city amenities. It’s kind of Mayberry meets the Hamptons. It doesn’t take long before shopkeepers know you by name as it is a friendly community that makes you quickly feel at home. At the same time though, Collingwood offers much more than many towns of its size due to the large number of tourists in the area. There is an excellent hospital, several grocery stores, exceptional fine dining, art galleries and shopping choices. Collingwood’s rich shipbuilding heritage can be seen and felt through-out it’s historic downtown and in the grand century old homes you’ll find on the quaint tree-lined streets near to the town’s core. In the outer rings of the community, modern subdivisions and condominiums serve the growing population of both full and part-time residents choosing to make Collingwood their home.
Population: 21,500 full-time
Official web site: www.collingwood.ca
But there is so much more to this town and it appears that the secret has leaked out. According to the 2001 census, Wasaga Beach is Ontario ’s fastest growing community and the fourth fastest growing community in Canada. Once known only for its seasonal cottages, “The Beach” now boasts many newer home subdivisions and prestigious residential estate neighbourhoods. The town appeals to families, commuters and to retirees who have escaped the city. No longer just a resort town, the Wasaga Beach of today is an established community with a wide range of services and amenities including a commercial sector that is quickly developing to meet the demands of the growing population.
Population: 14,000 full-time plus 16,000 part-time
Official Website: www.wasagabeach.com
Located about 30 minutes west of Collingwood, Meaford is a delightfully surprising, hidden treasure. The “new” municipality of Meaford is an amalgamation of the former Town of Meaford and the surrounding townships. The rolling hills in the rural countryside remind me of a classic English countryside with their rocky crags and pastoral farmlands and, as the area produces close to one-quarter of Ontario ‘s total apple harvest, the orchards provide breathtaking beauty in the spring and a plentiful bounty each fall. The urban part of Meaford features quaint neighbourhoods and an authentic “Olde Ontario ” downtown. Meaford offers more public access to the waterfront than most other towns in the area and has a fantastic harbour which is a must to see. Meaford won an award as the ” Prettiest Town in Canada ” in its class as a part of the National Communities in Bloom Competition. Every October, the town celebrates the apple harvest with the Scarecrow Invasion & Family Festival when thousands of scarecrows line the downtown and residential streets. Meaford boasts wonderful parks, lookouts and conservation areas with miles of hiking and cycling trails. The Bogner Marsh is an easily accessible natural wetland habitat for a variety of upland birds and animals and is a magnet for environmentalists, birders and those who love to be close to nature.
In Meaford, the pace is slower and the days seem longer. Life is simpler here.
Official Website: www.meaford.ca
Live Downtown Meaford Webcam: http://www.harbourmicrotrends.com/webcam/
The Blue Mountains
The Town Of The Blue Mountains was formed in 1998 by the amalgamation of the former Town of Thornbury and the Township of Collingwood. It really is an eclectic blend of villages and hamlets that offer the gamut from quiet rural areas and pristine beaches to world class ski resorts. Here you’ll find a mix of urban sleek and country chic contrasted by century old farmhouses still owned by the same families for generations.
Every year, close to two million visitors come from around the world to enjoy this unique community, making tourism it’s number one industry, followed by apple growing and processing.
Located on the shores of Georgian Bay, the urban centre of Thornbury has a charming downtown with numerous restaurants and unique shops. The town’s population is made up of a mix of full and part-time residents including numerous time-share owners.
In the eastern portion of the municipality, Blue Mountain Resorts and Intrawest’s Village at Blue Mountain are located right at the base of the popular ski hill. For the record, Blue Mountain is Ontario ’s number one mountain resort with the highest vertical lift in the province and 2.5 kms of horizontal ski terrain. It is also the sixth most-skied hill in Canada and is located within 150 kms of ten million people! The Intrawest “community” will eventually have some 2100 units and 70 restaurants and shops in the Village core which is mirrored in the history of old Ontario. The Town is home to several new and exclusive golf course communities, upscale subdivisions and condominiums.
Population: 6115 full-time plus 10,000 part-time
Official Website: www.thebluemountains.ca
Here is a little video prepared by my friends at mycollingwood.ca showcasing the lovely Town of Thornbury in the Blue Mountains
The Township of Clearview, one of the southernmost municipalities in our area, was established in 1994 by the amalgamation of the four former municipalities of the Town of Stayner, The Village of Creemore, and the Townships of Nottawasaga and Sunnidale. Each of these municipalities brings a distinct history and character to the new township. The charming village of Creemore was named by Harrowsmith magazine as “one of the ten prettiest towns in Canada ” and I’d have to agree. With a population of about 1300 residents, its tree-lined main street is graced by grand century homes and a quaint downtown with unique shops and restaurants. It’s here you will find the popular Creemore Springs Brewery and a tiny tourist attraction – the smallest jail in North America . The village itself is tucked into the Mad River Valley and is surrounded by rolling land called the Purple Hills. To the north, you’ll find Stayner which has a population of 3100 people. It calls itself the “Town of Friendly People ” but also wants you to know that it is the home of the Stayner Siskins hockey team. Weekly hockey games are a favourite activity of the local population who also keep busy through the many local service clubs and churches. Stayner’s largest industry is Reinhart Vinegars. There is a local high school, two elementary schools, a grocery store, medical centre and bustling downtown making it a good choice for families. Clearview is also home to numerous farm operations, rural estates and to Osler Bluff ski club – the oldest established private club in the area.
Population: 13,800 full-time plus 3,000 part-time
Official Website: www.clearviewtwp.on.ca