6 min read

London, Ontario Travel

Getting through the checkpoint was a first time experience for me and I ended up pulling into the semi lane which was pretty funny. The government worker was sitting in a booth above my car roof (semi window height).
London, Ontario Travel

I wanted to take an adventure so I drove my Chevy S10 from Chicago through the Detroit Canadian government checkpoint and into Ontario. I left downtown Chicago early in the morning and got on the road. The drive is a little less than 8hrs which is part of the reason I chose London.

Getting through the checkpoint was a first time experience for me and I ended up pulling into the semi lane which was pretty funny. The government worker was sitting in a booth above my car roof (semi window height) and she bitched at me for not being in the right lane. I told her that I have never been through a border crossing in my car and she calmed down, at least I hope.

The next step after giving your papers is a full vehicle search. The officers searching seemed to enjoy the mess in my car. After the search you head into the immigration office. They want to make sure everyone has available funds and that they had legitimate business in Canada. They seemed curious if I knew anyone in London and also they had no idea what AirBNB was. I was then interviewed because growing up, being a pretty heavy duty libertarian, I wound up with some silly victim less, non-violent charges on my record. The Canadian Immigration officer was very respectful and cute, she could tell I was not a miscreant. I got a yellow slip after the interview clearing me to drive into Canada.

The highway from Windsor, ON, to London, ON (Highway 401) is very well maintained and is pretty much a straight line making the drive very easy and quick seeming. The speed limit is very low considering the quality of the road but traffic seemed to ignore that mostly and kept a quick pace. On the highway I was passing up a bigger Chevy on the highway with guys about my age and I blew them away with my 4 cylinder which they seemed to enjoy.

The AirBNB room I booked for a week was on a large rural property south of Highway 401. The home/estate was added onto in the late 80’s to accommodate medical travelers as London has a big hospital. My hosts David and Roma-Lynn were extremely polite and a joy to interact with. Here is the AirBNB listing

The downtown of London was much more vibrant than I expected. I did not realize that London was like this before I went to check out downtown. The first place that I went to check out was Milo’s Craft Beer Emporium. This was where I first realized how nice Canadian’s are. Two employees both wrote up lists for me with places to check out during my trip. Also, the patrons at the bar were also a joy to talk to! I met a nice couple who was curious why I chose to go to London and had a fun positive conversation with them.

I slept comfortably all nights in the AirBNB room and woke up everyday wondering what I would check out next. The morning after arriving I wanted to check out the Ontario coastline of Lake Eerie. That led me to a town called Port Stanley, ON which is about 40 minutes directly south of London. I walked around the main section and checked out a coffee shop and art galleries. I purchased a print at the Art Emporium gallery which has a very nice display of local artist’s works.

On the drive back to London from Port Stanley I took a different way which led me along the coast line and down a gravel road parallel to Lake Eerie. This a picture I took about 5 miles east of Port Stanley:

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My hosts told me to check out a town called Sparta, ON which was a former Quaker town. There I walked into another art gallery which ended up being very rewarding. The art gallery was Peter Robson Studios and I met his widowed wife Eleanor who was very nice. She is keeping his art gallery alive and making sure that it will stick around for some time! She was a very energetic lady and I didn’t even realize that it was her husband who did all the art when talking to her in the studio. I walked out with some small prints, onto the next town!

The next stop was in St. Thomas, ON which is a fairly populated ‘suburb’ south of London. I stopped in a St. Thomas Roadhouse Bar and Grill for dinner and sat next to the regular barfly townie. He was hilarious and we enjoyed sharing our perspective of each of our countries. I think his name was Tom. I asked what his favorite place he’s ever been to in Canada and he mentioned Banff National Park. That is now on my to-do list as it looks absolutely amazing, check it out! The food at the Roadhouse was extremely good and the Molson beer was sufficient. I didn’t realize that Molson had merged with Coors in 2005.

Drove back to London to hit the hay after the Roadhouse and woke up on Monday and tried to do remote work on the poor internet connection. That didn’t work so well. On Monday I picked up some groceries at Farm Boy which has some pretty high quality produce and meat. I was very surprised at the quality of food on average in Canada. It was better quality at every establishment I bought food in.

During the middle of the week I tried to do work during the day and once that was done explored the area. One other notable trip was the London Archaelogy Museum. I got a first hand look at the Native American artifacts that have been found over the years and on the site of the museum which was a prominent native settlement with up to 2,000 natives at one point.

The Lawson site is a 500-year-old Neutral Iroquois Village situated on a flat plateau overlooking Medway River and Snake Creek in northwest London. Prehistoric Neutral Indians selected this location for its defensible characteristics, access to water, and proximity to a wide variety of animals, fish and wild plants. The site is 5 arces in size and was occupied by an estimated 2000 people.  Three-quarters of the Lawson site remains covered by trees and is undisturbed by previous farming or archaeological digs.

Later in the week on the best night of the trip I went to Milo’s again and met Allyson a local artist who grew up in London. She was absolutely a blast to talk to and we became friends. I opened the conversation rather brashly with a true, but insane story and she couldn’t even believe I was not from London. That was funny. She told me about her time on Peelee Island in Lake Eerie. That is another place I would like to check out! These Canadians really know how to market their country! I learned Allyson is focused on the written word and is currently doing a year long project where she designs a post card every single day. I got to see her card stash and was blown away and thought she was on to something. You can take a look at photos of her progress at LeftySmudges.com. I encourage you to do so.

Allyson told me that the Barenaked Ladies were playing next door that night and I was shocked as my goal that night was to check out some music in London. After a few beers that were very strong I went to see them by myself. That was a blast, I didn’t even realize the Barenaked Ladies were from Canada. They put on an awesome show and were very funny. The showmanship was better than the music quality although they did turn it up a notch towards the end. During the show the lead singer’s son’s came on stage and jammed with the whole band, one kid playing lead guitar and one drums. They killed it and that really motivated me to breed talented kids. You could see the joy on all 3 of their faces jamming in front of a hometown packed crowd.

Took an Uber home and that story I’ll save for later as it was absolutely ridiculous.

The next morning I drove myself to Niagra Falls which was about 2hrs east of London. Some nice views across Lake Ontario of Toronto skyline and the falls were absolutely amazing. I’ll let the pictures and video speak for themselves:

Allyson and I hung out a couple times and we enjoyed each other’s company. We have similar interests (Gardening/Blogging/Friends/Art/Etc). She showed me her Sunday breakfast spot growing up, Irene’s Seafood. That was my breakfast before the drive back and we wished each other good luck and I drove my 13 year old rusty pick up truck back to America.