Surely a great number of tourists pass through Stayner Ontario on their way to Collingwood and the Blue Mountains in a rush to reach their perfect vacation destination, but how many stop for more than just a fill-up at the corner Esso?
With a population of just 3,100 people and a quaint and quiet main street, Stayner may not often be thought of as a vacationer’s ultimate R&R location; but the humble community deserves far more than a passing glance.
So much to do – so many choices
Just minutes from the Blue Mountains where the slopes welcome the bustle of the holiday season and another short jaunt from Wasaga Beach - the largest fresh water beach in the world - Stayner sits within arms reach of highly sought after outdoor excitement. The tiny town’s ideal location puts visitors and residents alike right in the middle of all the adventure.
While the town boasts extravagant neighbouring vacation destinations it too offers amenities for retreats of all kinds.
The surrounding championship golf courses, water sports and fishing, cross country and hiking trails are just the beginning. The town itself has matured from a rich agricultural history and has taken on only the best of new beginnings, while clutching tightly to its hometown charm.
Blast from the past – at home in the present
Minutes from all this excitement, is the 1875 Gothic Victorian treasure now known as the Gables Bed and Breakfast. The Gables is just one of the locations where guests can enjoy the amenities of the modern world while being pampered with the past.
Long-time resident of Stayner, Dr. Bill Ives probably knows the town and its past better than most. Ives has lived in the welcoming community for almost 80 years, delivered three generations of children and watched them grow along with the community. Ives says he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
"I knew even before I left for medical school that I was coming back," said Ives. "Everyone is just so friendly here."
Ives has witnessed his community change over the past eight decades, blossoming from a quaint farming fed economy to a recreational wonderland.
"What I remember most of all and what I miss most really, was Saturday nights. All the farmers would come into town to do their shopping and the main streets would just be clogged with cars and horse drawn wagons," recalled Ives.
Shopping at its quaint and finest
"I can still get everything I need right here in town. I can buy my gifts at Nifty’s and Knit 'N Kaboodle and if there’s something I just can’t find, Home Hardware will order it in for me."
Ives says he doesn’t just venture downtown for shopping either, but to get his local gossip too. This ‘friendly neighbour’ environment is evident even to first time visitors welcomed in, out of the bustling fall wind or holiday flurries for a charming and unique shopping experience.
The small, ‘old-school’ Stayner Home Hardware still boasts a cooking section for those hard to find tummy-warming gift ideas, and while you’re shopping the kids will likely tug your sleeve at the sight of the German made LGB Model train running in the store. Now you’ll know where to send Santa for the latest addition to your little one’s wish list.
Other main street conveniences include local boutiques such as Nifty’s, which offers eclectic giftware, retro candy, jewellery, handbags, bath and body essentials and even gourmet foods - and there’s more where that came from!
The friendly small town gift store Knit ‘N Kaboodle is one of Ives’ favourites too. The name may be deceiving – no they don’t sell knitting supplies – but they have a wonderful selection of hand knit items to keep those fingertips and toes toasty during the snowy winter months - and just like their good neighbour Home Hardware if there’s something special you just can’t find they can help. They’ll likely make it for you and wrap it up too!
Aarden's Chocolates offers a wonderful section of truffles and bonbons Each special celebration, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day is all made a little sweeter by chocolate, and you can find the most unique and exquisite chocolates to accompany any special occasion.
There’s also R.C Robinson’s Menswear proudly dressing Stayner’s men and boys in their best for the past eleven years and Barb’s Clothes Closet helping women look and feel their finest for the past three decades. These seasoned boutiques offer fashions most excellent at its most experienced.
To sooth hunger pangs there is Main Street Eatery, Stayner Beef Burger (great burgers), Jongs Chinese Restaurant, Bluewater Fish n Chips, then the quicker places like Mr. Sub, Subway, Tim Hortons, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen. There is a fabulous coffee shop on William Street called "Uncommon Groundz" they have a lunch menu as well, like sandwiches, soups and desserts.
Get on your gear and get going!
Once you’re dressed and ready for the outdoors B&E Cycle will get you there in style with a unique choice of bikes for everyone including people with balance problems and disabilities.
Ives admits biking isn’t for all seasons in Stayner, but the big snow falls still can’t keep him away from town. "When airport road is closed during snowy weather I sometimes cross country ski into to town," he laughs. "Sometimes I’ll snowshoe instead, but that’s a lot of work."
If cross-country skiing isn’t your forte then there’s plenty more to see and do year-round in town.
On the May long weekend the Stayner Horticulture Society hosts an annual plant and bake sale so you can spruce up your gardens or satisfy your sweet tooth at a great price. Ives says you can see their green thumbs at work - the beautiful pots that decorate Main Street in the spring and summer are put together by the Society’s President.
If gardening’s not your thing either, but you love the outdoors join a bubbly group for live music, food and drink in the park every Thursday from July 1st until Labour Day. A great excuse to sing along while sneaking a peak at the sparkling country night sky.
Come one come all, it's time for fall!
Once the leaves have hit the ground Fernwood Farms off highway 26 hosts its annual pumpkin pyramid lighting, where over 600 pumpkins light the sky with wagon rides to a corn maze and pumpkinland to follow. There’s also annual plays put on by Clearview Community Theatre at the Duntroon Recreational Centre just a few minutes west up Main Street.
Santa visits Stayner too!
The festivities certainly don’t end with the shedding of leaves. The snowfall brings plenty to do as well. Residents are already preparing for the annual Santa Claus parade where you can shop and enjoy the festive floats on Main Street, December 2nd.
Ives also recommends the Journey of Love, a live re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem on the eve of Jesus’ birth. This outdoor walk held November 23rd to 26th is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
Visit Stayner – Stayner forever
If you do take the time to really appreciate this picturesque, charming, fun loving town you may not want to leave. This abundant community offers even more for those who stay for good.
Stayner is deeply rooted in the great Canadian love of hockey. Ives says skating on the old frog pond in the winter was a favourite past time now carried over to the arena just north of Main Street on Regina Street. There’s also nearby bowling, curling, lacrosse, soccer, figure skating, horseback riding and trail associations.
Gourmet and award winning dining locations to warm your palette and fill your tummy are also far from few in the area. You’d have to live nearby to truly enjoy them all.
If you do decide there’s no turning back from the casual pace of hometown living, finding housing couldn’t be easier. Stayner offers an array of housing from century to modern all at competitively low pricing. Claire Weston a realtor for E&B Chapman Real Estate Ltd. has lived in the area for the past 22 years. Weston is a member of the Stayner Chamber of Commerce and the Stayner Evangelical Missionary Church among other credentials. Saying that Weston knows the area would be an understatement. With her hometown knowledge and seasoned experience she can help any newcomers find the perfect seasonal or year round place to call home.
From sprawling farmland, to pine and oak rich forests, to the unique and quaint shops and boutiques on Main Street and gourmet good eats, Stayner is a place of beauty and tradition offering entertainment for everyone.
Ives once cruised Main Street in his first car – a 52 Chevy - possibly unsure of where his new sweet ride would take him, but always sure he would call Stayner his home. Give this hidden Georgian Bay treasure a chance and you just might feel the same.