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On the Purple Road

On the Purple Road

For some, it’s all about the twists and bends and curves in the road. For others, it’s more about where you're headed and what's waiting for you at the end of your journey.



I guess I’m a KAT of a different colour. Not one to wander aimlessly, I find a certain freedom in "unplanned plans" and the kind of days you spend riding with an agenda but without a timeline.

Such is the adventure of exploring The Purple Road

If you’re someone who appreciates the kinds of adventures that can be found in "connecting the dots," have I got a road map for you…

Public face of the Ontario Lavender Association, The Purple Road is a literal and figurative guide to Lavender Festivals, special events, agri-tourism, and lavender products and services throughout the province of Ontario. From processors to farm facilities to retailers and artisans, the exploration of The Purple Road will find you discovering everything from plants in the field to hundreds of different ways that this fragrant and beautiful flower has become known as Ontario’s most beautiful crop.

This is a series of day trips or a well-planned road trip to take at any time during the riding season, with the optimum timeframe being the months of June and July (at the peak of bloom and harvest time). For planning purposes, it’s important to know that the province is divided into five main areas on the map:

 

Visiting more than one region in a day is possible, but make sure to allow yourself plenty of time for exploring each stop on the map as you connect the dots. Although they all have lavender in common, every location is wonderfully unique and full of surprises, with everything from amazing gift shops to an apiary to extra-special opportunities to create your very own memento using lavender buds fresh from the field.

I have managed to visit member businesses in three of the five Ontario regions, and have the complete list of Purple Road potential destinations tucked in Ruby’s saddlebag pocket for when I am looking to add some colour to my next adventure.

How purple was the summer of 2016 for me n’ Ruby? Have a look…

 

SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO 

STEED AND COMPANY: Located in Elgin County, along Ontario's South Coast and just outside of the historical village of Sparta, Ontario. Visit their website to find out everything from how the farm came to be, shop online for amazing products, browse through lavender recipes, check out their special events listings, and more. Although tiny in size, the adjacent village of Sparta is well worth checking out as well, with several quaint shops, a small restaurant, and lots of history to learn.

Recommended Route: Experience Elgin County Route

 

SOUTH CENTRAL ONTARIO 

APPLE HILL LAVENDER: Located in Norfolk County not far from Simcoe and Port Dover (of Friday the Thirteenth motorcycling lore), this lovely family farm is home to several varieties of both French and English lavenders. The property’s gift shop is a converted carriage house full of character and charm, and owners Jan and Harold Schooley are happy to welcome motorcycle tourists, providing visitors with plenty of room to park and rest.

Recommended Route: Ontario's Garden Route

 

BONNIEHEATH ESTATE LAVENDER & WINERY:  Named one of Norfolk County’s Top Ten Amazing Places, Bonnieheath balances an authentic agricultural experience with the sophistication and class of an estate winery. Sample handmade products and delicious wines and ciders that are created using their farm's lavender, vineyards, and orchards. Bonnieheath’s history includes such tidbits as the fact that from the 1950's to 2008, tobacco was produced on the farm’s sandy soils, and current owners, Steve & Anita Buehner, both grew up on tobacco farms and in 1990, they purchased the property from Anita's parents, who had owned it since 1974. There are wagon tours, essential oil distillery tours, a winery tour (with sampling included), guided walking tours and more – check out their website for more details. 

Recommended Route: Ontario's Garden Route

 

GREATER TORONTO AREA 

WEIR’S LANE LAVENDER & APIARY:  A lavender farm located about 40 minutes west of Toronto in West Flamborough (part of the city of Hamilton), Weir’s has more 5,000 plants, 200 hazelnut trees, and they also maintain several bee hives. Farm tours will have you discovering more than 10 varieties of Lavendula Angustifolia (dubbed True or English) and Lavendula Intermedia (dubbed Lavandin or French) families of plant, and their expansive gift shop includes everything from essential oils and candles, to gift bags and baskets, to lavender for your body & face, your house, and in a decadent variety of culinary delights including jams, jellies, honey, and food products.   

Recommended Route: Snake Road: Best in the South?

 

There’s something wonderfully extraordinary about each of the above lavender farms, and I plan to return to as many of them as I can when the sun is hot, the heady fragrance of lavender is in the air, and the promise of exploring Ontario’s countryside is married with the promise of another great adventure right around the next bend in the road.

 

KAT (aka KimberleeAnna Taplay) is a member of the ‘What A Ride!’ correspondent team, and is happily enjoying her explorations of Ontario. To share your adventures in riding, pass along a photo, or make a suggestion for a story you’d like to see from KAT, send her a quick message at kattales@rogers.com

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