Travel Photographer / Writer
chasing the essence
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Perky Peterborough (Ptbo)
“Tart me up!” Now there’s a request you don’t get every day — especially from a tourist board.
It’s a genuine offering, though, from the little city of Peterborough, Ontario where culinary delights are becoming a trademark.
Butter tarts are favoured across Canada, but they just seem to taste better in small communities. Maybe it’s because they’re made with a spoonful of old-fashioned love, just like at home. Anyway, 90 minutes north and east of Toronto, Kawartha and Northumberland counties have cooked up a mouth watering butter tart driving tour. Tasty and fun? You betcha.
The idea reveals something else about the town: Ptbo is reinventing its charms. Beyond the familiar franchise icons dotting the landscape are independent entrepreneurs contributing to a resurgent pride in local history, culture and cuisine.
Home-grown quality is exploding. You can see it in a small but growing number of eateries nourished within an energetic farm-to-table culinary culture.
There are downtown tours by foot and by fork, July to October, a Saturday farmers market with lots of local foods plus restaurants near and up to 45 minutes drive away in the surrounding Kawartha region.
You'll find everything from pulled pork burgers and local garlic to cakes, Belgian chocolate and fruit wines, from cycling tours to indoor and outdoor theatre, galleries to wedding cakes, goat milk products to Lang Pioneer Village.
But it's water that made this town — in several ways. It was one of the first places in Canada to get hydro-electric power (It's not called the electric light town for nothing). Edison General Electric Company lived here (and still does, as G.E. Canada). So does Quaker Oats. And Parks Canada has its Ontario Waterways HQ here.
The 286 km Trent-Severn Waterway flows through Ptbo in a spectacular way via the world's highest hydraulic lift locks--- a giant bathtub of sorts hoisting pleasure boats 65 feet into the air and on their way. And finally, the legacy of making fine canoes is preserved in the Canadian Canoe Museum, a nice touch of class.
Peterborough has a ‘Yes I can’ attitude that takes in all sorts of activities. I witnessed that when the town called up resources to nicely host the Annual General Meeting of the Travel Media Association of Canada. This is one cool place to follow.