Is Ontario terrible? No. Am I terrible for ever falling into the ignorant “I hate Ontario so I am going to go along with my friends and call it Onterrible too” trap? A little, yes.
Honestly, when you travel frequently to other areas of Canada or abroad, it sometimes becomes easy to slowly hate on where you’re from. The reason that we do this is because if you were born and raised in a particular area and you’re STILL living in that particular area, sometimes you get bored. Especially if you have seen other beautiful places and had epic adventures in those same places.
Well what if you’re stuck? What if you don’t necessarily have the money to move away from the place you were born and raised? What if you have a family or a job tying you down to that place? What if you can’t afford to travel to faraway lands? You become resourceful. You explore your home town and surrounding towns and cities.
I wrote a blog post a few months after returning home from Australia called “No Place is Mundane”. I wrote this post because before leaving Australia to come home, I was complaining to an American friend I had met about how much I didn’t want to go home and how much I hated Ontario and how horribly awful it was living there. My American friend told me not to look at home like that but to instead try and find all of the cool things there are to do at home or near my home town in Ontario. I couldn’t hate it THAT much could I?
I also really ripped Ontario apart on a daily basis with my friends, who also traveled a lot. Some of them started calling Ontario ‘Onterrible’ and I thought “hmmm well it’s true so I will too, Onterrible it is!” (I didn’t mean to rhyme like that, it just kind of happened). I was also ignorant and bitter when I couldn’t afford to travel. Now that I think about how I used to talk with such a negative attitude, I personally want to slap myself. This was a few years ago when I was a bit of an asshole who partied all the time and had the worst outlooks on life, which I have since forgiven myself for and changed. Another significant point to mention is that if you have traveled anywhere like shanty towns, favelas, or slums… you SHOULD have a much greater appreciation for where you’re from. I can’t emphasize it enough how lucky I am that I live in a country like Canada, in a nice quiet town that isn’t ridden with poverty or war. Like I said… I was a real asshole.
I met my boyfriend Nick a few months after returning home from Australia and he has been a huge inspiration for me to explore things outside. He took me on my first ever ‘real’ camping trip to Algonquin Park last year, which is a place I had never seen in Ontario. Algonquin Park really bitch slapped me into realizing Ontario was not Onterrible whatsoever. After Algonquin we kind of made it our mission to explore other cool places near us or in Southern Ontario. Both Nick and I really want to travel overseas and hopefully live out West in Canada eventually but right now we are both broke and Ontario will have to suffice, and it is. Trust me.
We’ve hiked to almost every waterfall in the area. Webster’s Falls, Tiffany’s Falls, Tews Falls, Balls Falls, Sherman Falls, Albion Falls, Decew Falls, and even Niagara Falls (hello… we basically have Niagara Falls in our backyard, kind of cool). We have also been to so many other waterfalls that I actually can’t even remember the names of all of them.
We just drove up to spend my 25th birthday in Tobermory, which I am sure you’ve either seen my blog post or you’ve seen all eight million of my Instagram posts (sorry about that but I just can’t help but post every cool thing I see, even if it goes against the rules of how much you should post on Instagram in one day if you don’t want to be unfollowed). The water and cliffs in Tobermory made me feel like I was relaxing on the shores of the Mediterranean somewhere or lounging on a beach in the Caribbean. It didn’t feel like Ontario, but it was. The rock formations on Flower Pot Island didn’t make me feel like I was in Ontario, but I was.
Yesterday, we drove to Scarborough Bluffs Park in Scarborough, just outside of Toronto. My friend’s little sister told my friend that it seemed like a place I would love so off we went. This was probably the most mind blowing of it all… The water in Lake ONTARIO was blue? Pardon? Yes, blue. So blue in fact that people thought we were posting old photos from Tobermory. It wasn’t even the same blue as Tobermory. The Tobermory water was more of a crystal clear green-blue colour that one might find in The Philippines. The water on the shore of the Scarborough Bluffs was like a creamy blue, almost like the blue water at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland (on my bucket list). It was a bright blue. It was gorgeous. It’s also sort of a hidden secret (until I post this of course) so no one else was there taking pictures and trying to find the perfect view, which is always a huge bonus.
Last summer we started driving up to Port Dover on Lake Erie, which is about 45 minutes from Stoney Creek. The water isn’t blue BUT the beach is nice and there are a ton of little surf shops and restaurants around. One day we rented paddle boards and cruised around the lake with them, just enjoying the nice weather, having a Saturday off, and not being at home.
See what you can find if you just put on your thinking cap and look? Ask people from different cities near you what the cool things to do near them are. Use that special thing we call Google and research cool things to do near you. Find cool blogs (like this one!?) and see other places people have been near you. Nick and I are more into finding things that are outdoors but we have also explored China Town, The Royal Ontario Museum, The Science Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, The Distillery District, Kensington Market, and a bunch of other cool places in Toronto. We also explore Hamilton a lot as well… and by explore I mean eat a lot of really amazing food there. We have favourite Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, and Thai places in Hamilton. We have a favourite little coffee shop called Mulberry Street Cafe in Hamilton. In the summer we always venture through Art Crawl on James Street, where local artists display their work in various shops, galleries, restaurants, and even on the sidewalks. Nick is one of those artists (check out Two Guys One Canvas). You think people talk a lot of smack about Ontario? Have you heard what they have to say about Hamilton? You don’t even want to know. I feel like I have become an ambassador for Hamilton, always coming to its rescue and defending it when someone starts bad mouthing it. Hey, I’m not arguing that there aren’t some super sketchy areas but if you’re willing to explore it and find the good spots you will know what I mean. Andrea, if you read this… remember the time we saw a guy at 10:30AM huffing and puffing up and down the street unleashing a carton of eggs on people’s houses? Just stay away from those places folks.
Last night when Nick and I were laying in bed watching a movie, his friend’s sister sent him a message on Facebook asking him where all of these cool places are that him and his girlfriend (girlfriend being me of course) have been exploring. She jokingly said, “I’m looking for a tour guide of Southern Ontario”, which we probably could be at this point in time. She told him that we have inspired her to see more of Ontario and that her and her boyfriend have booked a trip to Tobermory too.
I like knowing that all of our adventures have inspired even one person. If you’re bored with where you live to the point where you’re starting to hate it, try getting out there and finding the cool places you can go that make you feel like you’re not stuck at home and that you’re exploring some foreign land. Some of the places we have been like Algonquin Park and Tobermory do require a car, a longer drive, and a few days commitment but the others definitely don’t. Albion Falls is literally a walk under the Red Hill Valley Parkway (yes a highway) in Stoney Creek. Tiffany’s Falls is a five minute walk off of a main road in Dundas. Port Dover is 45 minutes south of Stoney Creek on Lake Erie. The Scarborough Bluffs are twenty minutes outside of Toronto, in a park in a beautiful neighbourhood. These are places you can ALL go see and I highly recommend them. If you need some time to get away and feel like you’re not at home… take a day and go exploring. And please, for the love of God… stop calling Ontario, Onterrible. If I hear you say it, I may even have to bitch slap you myself.