Sunday, October 11, 2015

OH CANADA! Toronto zone conferences


Here we are back in the Toronto, Ontario area / mission again.  It's hard jumping all around like this in the blog but we've been on the road so much it was impossible to blog as we went. We were gone about 12 weeks this summer!! Which puts us at home about 3.  Crazy busy but wouldn't trade it!   I felt it best to blog about the most recent things first but now this seems so very long ago and almost a distant memory.  So sad because it was all so very wonderful! I hope and pray my memory revives and I can do this incredible journey and experience  the justice it deserves.

As we last left off this adventure, we had just completed our first of 4 zone conferences in the Ontario, Toronto Mission.  That one was held in Cambridge on Friday, June 19th.  The next was was on Tuesday, the 23rd so we had the weekend free. 
One of the best things about this trip was that we were able to reconnect with some delightful people from years ago.  Elder Dave Goldthorpe was one of our very favorite missionaries serving in the HB 1st ward when Dale was serving there as Ward Mission leader. We had him over to our home a lot for dinners, and even shared a Christmas Eve with him and his companion.  He was a very hard working,  great missionary and also a fun, happy, very positive person. The whole family just loved him.  We knew he was from Canada and kept in contact through Christmas cards for a while and even met his beautiful wife when they came back to California for a visit. But sadly we kind of lost track after awhile.  As it turns out Dave is the Institute Director for the Ontario region.  He knows President Clayton and was chatting with him and found out we were coming so he contacted us!  We were thrilled!  We made arrangements to meet and spend some time with them.
Being the kind and thoughtful man that he is, he suggested we take a scenic route from Cambridge to his home in Orangeville and that we stop in the charming little towns of Elora and Fergus on our way.  Stopping in St. Jacobs at their famous farmers' market was also recommended by just about everyone we met so we headed there first.  

St. Jacob's

It is basically a big swap meet with a heavy emphasis on farm fresh food. I thought I took some photos of the enormous heads of lettuce and other fruits and vegetables that were far superior than any I have ever seen but I can't find them.  :(
This is Amish country and it was a pleasant sight to see many of them manning the farm stands and booths.  

The same folks who said this was a must see also said these apple fritters were a must eat.
So we waited in the loooong line and tried them.  Yummy!

We loved driving through upstate New York and seeing its lovely farms and rolling hills, but this rivaled it.  Farms everywhere you looked.  

Elora and Fergus

The only other time I have heard the name Elora was in the movie "Willow" in which this darlin' lass played the role of Elora Danan. 
I thought it was a magical name which evoked Ireland and fairies. 

 We were very grateful for the "insider's tips'!  They proved to be splendid little stops.
Both Elora and Fergus are heritage towns on a heritage river- the Grand.  Beautiful settings for many cultural events and festivals.  There is a strong Scottish element here, especially in Fergus.  They have a Pipes, Plaid and Pageantry Parade and Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Fergus and a very English Horse and Hound parade in Elora.  These towns and their spectacular natural settings offer outdoor activities are aplenty.  

 I'm disappointed we didn't see any, but how can you not love a town that has parking spaces reserved for horse and buggy? (For the Amish)

Have you ever gone swimming in a quarry before?  I have and it's amazing.  The water truly is this color- no filters. It is fresh water and clean and clear as a bell.  I would be here every day or, at the very least, once a week if I lived here!

There was quite a distinct difference in the architecture between the two towns.  Fergus was very strong and almost formidable with all its stone and granite homes and buildings.  That's pretty much what every edifice is made with. Very Scottish.

Well as pretty as all this was we couldn't wait any longer to see the Goldthorps! So we took off in their direction in Orangeville, a charming family town they call home. 

And without further they are!

Darling, fun, down to earth, fantastic family!
They made us instantly feel right at home.
Left to right. Front row to back:
Brigham, Charlotte, Ammon
Jonathan, Kathy, Dave

Anyone can appreciate the family dynamics going on here!  :D!
Just love how "real" they are...reminded us so much of our kids when they were these ages. 
(Jonathan was the photographer)

Their home was full of warmth and love and the spirit.
They showed us such a good time.
After meeting everyone and catching up a bit, we went to a really good little pizza and ice cream place run by the nicest authentic little Italian grandpa.
Afterwards we got a mini tour of the city.  One of the unique things that they are rightly proud of are the following statues.  What makes them special is that whenever a tree dies in town, instead of cutting it totally down and digging it up or just leaving an ugly stump, a local man carves different statues in each one.  There were many more I didn't get photos of but this is a good sampling.

What an impressive, creative and beautiful thing to do!

We spent a most pleasant evening just chatting and learning all about their busy lives, past and present.  
The next day was Father's Day and it was so lovely to spend it with a family and attend their ward with them, AND...
to go home to Kathy's scrumptious dinner!
She is an excellent cook and had a catering and dinner delivery business she did from her home for a few years so we were obviously in for a treat.
Kathy is also a talented musician.  She teaches piano lessons and we were fortunate enough to talk her into playing and singing a song she wrote herself. It was beautiful! 
Such a gifted family.

After sharing the afternoon we said our goodbyes and headed to Toronto.
We were happy to know we would be seeing Dave again in a week in Ottawa where he would be speaking at a Single Adult Conference. 
Thank you, Goldthorp Family! 
We sure love you!


We had Monday free in between conferences so naturally we had to explore the city of Toronto.
It was a very clean, safe feeling city and very walkable.

First stop :  Chinatown.

Right next to Chinatown is the Kensington Market section of town- very bohemian.

 We caught the Spadina Street Streetcar and took it down to the waterfront and the CN Tower area.

 Beautiful Day!  Beautiful views!

No game today...Dale was out of luck. 

There is a very impressive train museum right across from the tower.  Our little grandsons would have been in heaven! It featured the first roundhouse I had ever seen.  

Washrooms = Restrooms
(for those of you who don't speak Canadian!  Lucky I do, right?)

The waterfront was lovely.  Never expected to see palm trees in Canada! 
(Dale still working away  :)

 One of the best things about Toronto according to the touring tips and guides is its fantastic little island just right there!  We didn't have the time to take a ferry over and explore it but it looked like so much fun! Beaches, biking and walking trails, kayaking, etc. 

OK. Dumb picture, I know.  But it is part of my ever-growing collection of my "Bridge of Sighs" around the world.  Indulge me.

THE cutest statue!

Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Always love me some Trompe L'oeil.

Had to go to the Eaton Center mall to see this famous mobile of flying Canadian Geese.

In love with this clock tower!

The Jazz Festival was just beginning.  We were able to hear a few acts warming up for free!

As we take our leave of Toronto, 
we rejoice in the thrill of seeing another famous city, its captivating countryside and towns,
and again most of all its people.  So very happy for the reunion with the Goldthorps. 
Gospel friendships are eternal blessings.

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