With a focus on instruction and eco-friendly outdoor exploration, Heritage River Canoe & Kayak Company readies adventurers to paddle the waters of the Grand and Nith Rivers aboard their canoes, kayaks, and rafts. The company is a member of the Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association and guides are certified in first aid and CPR, rendering them able to diffuse even the largest of pool noodle fights. Most have worked on or around the river for most of their lives and also take their passion to the land as resource interpreters and nature teachers when not leading trips. On the water, they orchestrate guided river tours at various times of day, night, and season, allowing participants to witness rare sights such as the local fishes’ Boxing Day hauls. Throughout each trip, they further the company’s partnership with Grand River Conservation Authority to help preserve the ecosystem of the river and its watershed.
The rental shop staffers, located in Brant Conservation Area, can supply solo customers with rental vessels or equip them for self-guided tours with any needed boats, paddles, and star charts. Those who prefer a hand in expeditions can experience structured paddling trips through introductory lessons and day camps or board rafts to fish for small-mouth bass and other river denizens. As they drift along the river, groups may encounter the area's many bold and beautiful residents, such as red-tailed hawks, ospreys, and bald eagles, all soaring above the rare Carolinian forests to their treetop condos.
Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe complements its aromatic free-trade coffee with a crowded menu of fresh cafe fare. Lunch dates commence as pairs settle into the cafe’s brick-walled, cozy ambience—complete with wooden floors and a grandmother encouraging guests to eat up—and select Brown Dog signature half sandwiches such as the smoky Country turkey ($7) or the stacked simplicity of the ham and swiss ($6). Hot sandwiches, including eggs benedict ($5) and bacon-cheese ($4), arrive at tables escorted by doting pickle-spear chaperones and the customer's choice of salad or soup of the day. Diners contemplate the complex aromas of one of Brown Dog's in-house roasted fair-trade signature coffee blends while sitting on the Paris location's brisk patio area, where the Grand River eases along nearby and compels patio sitters to speak only in haiku. In addition to flaky apple fritters, the amiable Brown Dog staff keep the ovens humming with classic cafe delectables, including scones ($1.75), french toast ($3.50), and a fluffy assortment of muffins ($1.75).
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Only an hour outside of Toronto, the city skyline gives way to the towering trees of wilderness. Grand River Rafting lets visitors explore this natural wonderland under any conditions they like. Along with maintaining a fleet of rafts, kayaks, and canoes, the company targets guided tours to a variety of interests. Romantic paddling adventures top off a kissy-faced excursion with lunch, while guided moonlight paddles illuminate the stars and their constellations.
Beyond its three main modes of conveyance, Grand River encourages people to explore their surroundings with self-propelled tubes and stand-up paddleboards. For fishing amateurs or enthusiasts, Grand River hosts lessons to refine casting skills and trips to seek out steelhead trout and smallmouth bass. Plenty of outdoor experiences exist outside the water, too, including zipline courses and hikes where guides identify 40-plus trees and edible plants, such as the cheeseburger hyacinths that bloom every spring.
At Fescue's Edge Golf Club, the white blooms of queen anne’s lace sway alongside ponds dappling 96 acres of tree-lined fairways. Though most of the nine holes on the par 70 course nestle up to towering pine trees, some also incorporate these water hazards. On the par 4 fifth hole, aquatic obstacles sit on either side of the fairway, forcing the player to work as precisely as a bomb technician wearing a white shirt and eating a meatball sub. Sun-soaked sand traps, straight fairways, and five sets of tee boxes await players on other holes.
Off the course, cartfuls of players warm up at the driving range, where grass tees simulate the real course. Shelves at the pro shop brim with clubs and other equipment from brands such as Callaway. Fescue's Edge Golf Club also runs a banquet hall and full-service restaurant, where frothy glasses clink together on tables with scenic views of the course.