It’s a sunny Sunday in 1910. Parties of picnickers catch the North Grey Railway passenger train at the Collingwood station and head to the countryside just west of the small hamlet of Thornbury. The scent of July-ripened blackberries and raspberries sweetens the air, and a breeze off Georgian Bay whispers through Nipissing Ridge.
It’s a beautiful spot. It's a farm worked by descendants of Richard McGuire, the area’s first settler, who came here back in 1834. Like all early homesteads, it has been a mixed farm, but the rail line has made apple growing big business, and the fields have gradually given way to orchards.
Some of the daytrippers pick berries. Others sit back and lose themselves in the blue-hazed views of the Niagara Escarpment or the vista of Lora Bay and Georgian Bay. Yet others wander back up the tracks to Thornbury for ice cream. Wild grape tangles around the cedars and pines, and – dared by their giggling companions – pucker-faced children munch the sour fruit.
That Pastoral Paradise is Still Here. It’s called Trail Woods.
Not a lot has changed. Remnants of the rail fence that once corralled the family’s cattle can still be found laced throughout the cedar bush. Immense white ash hug the forested ridge that runs through the centre of this upscale country community.
Blue Mountain rises nearby, and on windy autumn days you can hear the crash of Georgian Bay breakers. The rail line is now the Georgian Trail, a 32-kilometre recreational path joining Collingwood and Meaford.
It’s still only a short walk or bicycle ride to Thornbury, where you can watch the boats in the harbour, pick up a sticky bun at the village bakery, or like those long-ago picnickers, visit the ice cream shop. The sky is just as blue. The water is still as fresh. The air is still as clear.