Falling Under Southampton’s Spell

There's just something magical about this town on the shores of Lake Huron.

Southampton Ontario piper at sunsetGord Yakimow
A piper plays at sunset.

Southampton, Ontario is a small and enchanting town. And in its middle, there’s a faery lake. Every Friday evening in the summer months in this enchanting town, a bagpiper pipes down the sun as it sets in the west. The sunsets are often long and lingering, breathtaking and beautiful.

The piper pipes tunes that many who gather at the piping spot recognize: “Loch Lomond” and “Danny Boy” and “Mull of Kintyre” and “Amazing Grace.”

Cruiser Night in SouthamptonGord Yakimow
One of the many vintage cars attending a weekly Cruiser Nite event.

Cruise Nights in Southampton, Ontario

Every Thursday evening in the summer months, antique car nuts bring their automobiles to town, and they park them at the end of the main street and show them off and talk about engines and miles-per-gallon and where they are going this summer and where they went last year.

A hundred cars each week show up, including a ’57 Merc owned by Gary Brown, who started the event 25 years ago.

People stroll about and admire the antique cars and talk with the owners and take photos.

“Since inception, our raffle sales and 50/50 sales from Cruiser Nite have raised almost $300,000, all of which has been donated to the local hospital,” Gary, known locally as Mr. Cruiser, happily explains when asked.

On the short but astonishingly wide main street, there are two small but excellent owner-operated hardware stores for the home and cottage handyman. And an excellent owner-operated bakery whose specialty is the Bruce Potato (which is not a potato at all).

There’s an excellent sports bar and restaurant with an outdoor patio that caters to sports enthusiasts and families, and hosts excellent dinner events. Not to mention the excellent theatre in the Old Town Hall, whose local troupe puts on excellent plays in the summer, and has lately linked up with another excellent local restaurant to offer excellent dinner/theatre evenings.

In short, this enchanting town provides an abundance of excellence!

Once a year, a huge boat race is held in a protected lagoon on Lake Huron near the enchanting town. It’s for kids only and the boats must be made from cardboard and duct tape. The course of the boat race is not long; nevertheless, the young contestants often get turned around and race off helter-skelter in all directions as the spectators, lined up four-deep, yell encouragement amid a lot of laughter.

Fortunately, the pirate Captain Sparrow is close by, and he and his able crew assist in getting out-of-control boats pointed back in the right direction.

These hidden gems of Ontario are yours to discover.

Southampton Ontario - Chantry Island LighthouseGord Yakimow
Chantry Island Lighthouse.

Nearby Attractions

Not far away is Chantry Island, which has on it an old lighthouse. Boats manned by volunteers from the enchanted town take people out for a visit. Chantry Island is a protected cormorant nesting ground, and in the trees around the lighthouse are the nests of cormorants. Hundreds of noisy cormorants!

Nearby is another town where Wiarton Willie lives. Wiarton Willie is the groundhog who pokes his nose out of his burrow on Groundhog Day and decides how much longer winter is going to last. In that town there is found a magnificent statue of Willie.

Not far away near the village of Tara is the Keady Auction Barn, where every week farmers come from great distances to place bids on a great number of four-legged, hoofed animals. The farmers understand the fast-talking auctioneer, and they occasionally nod and raise their hands ever so slightly. People who are not farmers and have just come to watch haven’t a clue what the auctioneer is saying. But the farmers do and a great number of farm animals are auctioned off.

Turtle sunning on logGord Yakimow
A turtle just hanging out on a sunny day.

Nature in Abundance

Did I mention that there is a wonderful walking trail around the faery lake in the middle of this enchanting town? And as people stroll around the faery lake, they often come across one sort of living creature or another.

They see foxes. And they see painted turtles and rabbits. And they see cormorants and herons and ospreys and robins and orioles and owls and hummingbirds. Often they see the birds catch a fish from the faery lake.

And they see ducks and geese and monarch butterflies, for the enchanting town is a monarch butterfly sanctuary.

These beautiful butterfly pictures will take your breath away.

Wood Carving OwlGord Yakimow
An owl carving along the lakeside walking path.

And they see wood sculptures of many of the creatures who live around the faery lake. And every Sunday evening in the summer, there is a marvellous musical concert that people can comfortably settle in to and watch, provided they have brought their own camp chairs. Otherwise, they have to sit not-so-comfortably on the hard ground.

And of course as people stroll around the faery lake, they see other people also out for a stroll around the faery lake.

My wife and I visited the enchanting town in the summer to spend a bit of time with our grandchildren, for our daughter and son-in-law have a cottage there.

We were living in the Yukon when she and her brothers were growing up, and she loved the time spent at our rustic log cabin. The lake on which that cabin sat was on the trail of the Klondike Gold Rush, and we had our own beach and a spectacular view of mountains.

Now our daughter and her family have their own magical place, on a faery lake in the heart of the enchanting town of Southampton, Ontario. And the faery lake in the middle of it all is called, aptly enough, Fairy Lake.

Next, check out our gorgeous gallery of Canadian lighthouses.

Originally Published in Our Canada