As part of our Exploring Wellington County adventures, just after we toured Fergus, we drove to near by Elora.
FACTS: Elora's was founded in 1832 by Captain William Gilkison, a British officer recently returned from India . The village,originally called Irvine Settlement, was renamed Elora when the post office was established in 1839. Gilikson named the community after his brother's ship, which was itself inspired by the Ellora Caves near Aurangabad India.
Elora is well known for its artistic community, which include several shops of hand crafted art, glass, jewelry, drawings and clothing, along with several cafes, ice cream shops and tea rooms. Two of the many shops that we wandered through were the glass shop where everything was made from mouth blown glass. The jewelry was lovely but some of my favourite pieces were the garden glass stars in which you placed a candle. Such talent. The most curious shop we wandered through got us through the door because of the SPSH and the need for door knockers. This shop was devoted to knockers of every shape, size, material and design.
We ate lunch at the Desert Rose Cafe, specializing in home cooked vegan and vegetarian dishes. We both had almond and egg salad sandwiches on freshly baked dark rye bread. To drink we tried their specialty Bengal Spice Ice Tea - I have since been making this at home. Mr Man prefers a sweet ice tea but he did enjoy this and as it was rather a warm day, a refreshing choice. It was a small cafe and the seating arrangements were big family style wood harvest tables and benches, so you could end up sitting with people you didn't yet know. Since we were touring on a weekday we didn't have to wait for a seat. Prices were reasonable. With tip, lunch was $25 Cdn. This also ticked off an item on the Summer of Doing Manifesto - eat at 2 new to us restaurants.
Elora has been a regular day trip for us when we could still get to the Tooth of Time waterfall which is/was overlooked by an old mill with viewing platform. The old mill, now hotel, on whose property the platform resides, has been closed for renovations for at least 5 years. Not being able to have a look at this amazing natural piece of architecture was SO very disappointing to us. But this trip was not just about the waterfall, so on with touring.
The river just before where the Tooth of Time spills over was quite full so I can only image that the water was flowing as freely as the internet photo shows. Most of the outdoor patios and terraces that overlook the river were not open for the season on the day we were there. On previous visits in the evening you often hear music from one of the local night venues and as the traffic usually quietens in the evening the mix of music and water make for a beautiful blend of two sounds.
As we wandered the streets we came across this outdoor paper mache display. During October the entire town has Halloween related paper mache creatures amongst the gardens, the shops and along side the park benches. Elora celebrates Halloween in a big style. These art pieces are a little too ghoulish for my tastes.
The town of Elora shares some of its fame with the spectacular Elora Gorge and its 80 foot limestone cliffs descending into the Grand and Irvine Rivers, along with The Elora Quarry, which was used to film a couple of scenes in the movie Angel Eyes. The Elora Gorge now hosts zip lining, repelling and rubber tubing adventures, none of which are we brave enough to participate in. We watch with enthusiasm. There was only one zip liner this day. The Elora Quarry Park, a former limestone quarry, is now maintained and manged within the Conservation Parks network, and is a very popular swimming area. With the very high cliffs surrounding the now water filled quarry, it tempts one too many cliff divers and every year someone looses their life at the quarry. No Diving signs are posted everywhere, but mostly ignored.
Elora is also home to the Elora Festival Singers, an all professional Grammy- and Juno-nominated chamber choir and hosts annual concerts for 4 weeks in August. We have enjoyed their talents at a Christmas concert in Guelph. Other entertainment in Elora is a racetrack and gambling facility with 200 slot machines. Both hotly debated.
While I did enjoy our afternoon touring Elora and knowing full well that this is a hot tourist location, I am not sure I felt the tourist high of discovery. Maybe because I have wandered around a number of times with the sole purpose of watching the waterfall and because I was denied, I could have had my day sullied by this. It is a town that delights, inspires, amazes and is quite a pretty postcard picture. Outside of the downtown hub, the homes are expensive and have amazing gardens. Yes, do visit Elora when you come to Ontario..