I am just back from a bit of a cross-Canada expedition, part of which saw me visit a couple of towns in Northern Ontario, including Kenora.
Northern Ontario does not impinge much into the minds of either Newfoundlanders or British Columbias, but when I visit there two things always strike me. One is just how much like rural Newfoundland and British Columbia Northern Ontario is. This is despite the fact that the trees are what most British Columbians would think of as weeds (although Newfoundlanders would recognize them as familiar) and the Canadian Shield is not like the geography of either of our two bookend provinces. Nevertheless, there is the combination of empty space, towns emerging out of the forest and vast distances which stikes a chord.
When I woke up on Tuesday morning (after flying to Winnipeg and driving like a demon to Kenora the night before), I had a quick shower and headed north to Grassy Narrows. When I went out to get in my car I was struck both by the silence and calm of the town -- something that is not all that common in any city, even St. John's and Victoria. I snapped a picture of the view just outside the hotel, which is situated beside Lake of the Woods.
I then also got to indulge in one of my favourite small town pastimes -- find the good breakfast diner. While Kenora, like most every other human settlement in North America and Europe, has its McDonalds, I found an excellent breakfast at Ted's in downtown Kenora.
No-one at Ted's was wearing a suit or tie (I felt a bit overdressed with a sports jacket on). The coffee comes in one brand. The waitress/cashier seems to know everyone by name and made a point (I noticed) of saying megwich to her Ojibway customers and speaking French to a couple of the (what appeared to be) truckers sitting at one table. The eggs and bacon were excellent; the toast was buttered; the hash browns were a mountain (though I did resist the latter).
While these palces don't necessarily need my encouragement (it was packed), I exhort you all: resist the packaged food -- eat at your Ted's today.