I’m a big fan of small towns.
Why? I find there is more to catch the eye. There are more, what I call characters, people are eager to help and they seem comfortable in themselves. They are take it or leave it folks. If you don’t like what you see, well that’s your loss. They practice old-fashioned good manners. They even wait at crosswalks until the light changes. Small towns are places you can chill.
Dunnville is just such a place.
You’ll never go hungry as long as you have a few dollars in your pocket in Dunnville. With a population of 12,000, Dunnville has plenty of restaurants, all near or in the compact downtown area. Here’s a few of them: of course, Tim Hortons, Hyatt’s Restaurant (it’s a Chinese restaurant), Chestnut Lane, Flyers Cafe and Bakery, The Minga, A&W, Dairy Queen, The Village Restaurant, Little Caesars, Johnny-Famous, Knowles Diner, God Fathers Pizza and Lollies.
All have their regulars with their favorite seats. However, they still welcome visitors. If you’re so inclined, you’ll soon be joining them in conservation.
With the air crisp, we needed to kick off our morning with a hearty breakfast. From past visits I knew the Dunnville Deli at 322 Broad St. E. would fill the bill. Joe Rauscher has been owner/cook/and chief bottle washer for the past 40 years. He’s one of those guys who seems to have a permanent smile and if you want to know anything about Dunnville he’s the go-to guy. Over eggs and coffee you can learn lots of things.
If you haven’t been here you’ll soon learn besides plenty of restaurants Dunnville is a plucky, working-class place and, oh my, tons of history. Many buildings date back to the mid-1800s. You can read the history of some of them on signs found on windows outside the buildings. The information was gathered in 2010 as part of the town’s sesquicentennial celebrations.
Much of the morning we spent walking the small downtown where parking is free. We enjoyed a late lunch at Flyers Bakery and Cafe. This place has a down-home atmosphere. Fresh sandwiches are served on homemade bread. You can even request the sandwiches be served on gluten-free rice bread. Flyers is located in a building that was more than 100 years ago a hardware store. Throughout the year, Flyers features live entertainment.
After lunch, we spent part of our afternoon driving around town looking at the lovingly restored homes. One particular knockout and quintessential charmer of the town is the Lalor Estate Inn Bed and Breakfast at 241 Broad St. The Edwardian home with a gorgeous wrap around porch was built in 1905.
At the west end of town we discovered on the edge of Hwy. 3 a 15-metre-long “Muddy the Mudcat.” Mudcat fish are common in the nearby Grand River, so the town has adopted the fish as its mascot. There’s even an annual festival. The 41st Dunnville Mudcat Festival takes place June 11 to 14 this year. A few of the things featured are a parade, strongman competition, midway, fireworks and live entertainment.
To grab a much-needed burst of afternoon energy before heading home we went back downtown to Knowles Restaurant. It was here long before Timmies and is reminiscent of the 1950s. It still has the same nine stools and half-dozen booths that patrons have sat on since 1958. This restaurant is the real deal. It’s open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., cash only.
If you arrive on a Tuesday or Saturday morning between 7 and noon you can head to the farmers’ market located behind the beer store.
This is a nice day drive and an easy one-hour ride along Hwy. 3 west from Niagara.
For More Information
Dunnville Chamber of Commerce, 231 Chestnut St., Dunnville
www.dunnvillechamberofcommerce.ca or 905-774-3183
By George Bailey, Special to QMI Agency Niagara
Friday, April 17, 2015 4:41:23 EDT PM