Beaverton: Durham’s Hidden Gem on Lake Simcoe

Alison Bennie

I first ventured into Beaverton quite a few years ago as I was driving from Toronto to our family cottage and looking for a place to stretch my legs and let my dog out. I had seen the town indicated on a map (yes, a paper map, not a Google map, but an actual map printed on paper) just a few kilometres off the main highway 48, and I decided to meander in and look around.  I was delighted to discover lovely Victorian houses (my favourite kind) with many constructed of yellow brick, instead of the usual red I was used to seeing.  After passing through the downtown core, I ended up at a small harbour. There was a park, playground area, public restrooms, and a concrete jetty jutting out into the lake – Lake Simcoe. There were cute little cottages on one side of the harbour area that hung over the water so you could actually drive your boat into the boathouse under each. I thought that this was very cool. It is this harbour complete with a lovely new splash pad that I now frequent since I moved to the area over 15 years ago.

The lake is the fourth largest in Ontario. and if you look across it you can see two islands.  Thorah Island is the one directly across from the pier, and it is just over 1,400 acres, and belonged to the Chippewa in the 1800s. Interesting fact: it is one of two islands used today as a Research Centre and Mating Station for the Buckfast honey bee run by the University of Guelph.  Farther and to the left in the distance is a much larger island, Georgina Island, which is a Native reserve inhabited by the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, a band of Ojibwa people.

You can walk out on the pier to a large platform area at the end. While strolling, you’ll see a couple of swimming platforms that are slightly lower down. Please remember to check the water quality before going in as it can be posted unfit for swimming, especially after a big storm or heavy rain. I have seen some of the most beautiful sunsets from this jetty. I call them “picture postcard” sunsets, and I can spend endless evenings photographing them. Over the years, I have caught many fish from here; perch, occasionally sunfish, mainly small but still a huge thrill for me. I catch and release – unless, of course, I am lucky enough to get a good-sized one which I take home to fry up. The thing is, you can also fish here in the winter. Yes indeed . . . ice fishing . . . a great Canadian tradition! Floyd Hales Fish Huts offers a variety of winter sport fish, including Lake Trout, Whitefish, Perch, and Herring. Bombardier buses are provided to take you safely to one of 40 modern fish huts you can rent. The huts are surprisingly warm, and nothing beats a day on the ice when the sun is shining and you’re fishing. It’s days like that when I don’t really care if I catch anything or not – okay, I care a little, but a beautiful winter day on the ice is such a fantastic experience! When winter is over, you can use the public boat launch, docking slips, as well as an accessible kayak launch dock which you can also use for your canoe. Unfortunately, not all facilities are currently open due to COVID-19, so please check before going.

Moving away from the harbour area, there are a few streets along the lakeshore you can drive to sneak a peek at the cottages. Some big, some small, all with their own unique look. There’s a beautiful B&B at the southern end of town called  Moorelands Station Bed and Breakfast. In town, you’ll find the Grant House B&B. If you want to just park your car, stay and walk around the downtown area, then this is the place to do it. It’s in an old Victorian house that has been beautifully renovated and decorated. I have heard that John, one of the owners, actually makes his own maple syrup from surrounding trees, and it’s served with French toast for breakfast.

It’s an easy walk around the corner from here to the main downtown section of the village. You’ll pass by the beautifully renovated Beaverton Library, the Beaverton Town Hall with its colourful rainbow steps showing support for the LGBTQ2 community and which houses the Brock Community Services Hub. An interesting fact (at least I thought so), is that The Carnegie Foundation of New York established a grant program for Ontario communities in 1901. An application for a grant to build a new library in Beaverton was made, and they received a grant for $7000.00 on August 28, 1910. I’m so glad to see this and the other Brock Township libraries doing so well and still such an essential part of the community.

If your explorations have got you feeling a bit hungry, there are plenty of restaurants at hand to help you fill up. The Wing House, Golden Star Chinese Restaurant, and around the corner on Mara Road, one of my favourite restaurants – the Beaverton Fish & Chips Restaurant – which serves the best fish and chips I have ever eaten.  In fact, a few years ago I actually saw a review in the Air Canada Enroute magazine mentioning this place as “one of the best places to go for fish and chips!”  Great all-day breakfast too!  

While in Beaverton, please visit the Simcoe Street Market offering a diverse, quality, shopping experience and presenting a unique selection of jewelry, ceramics, glassware, textiles, homewares, illustration, and beauty products. There is also Jack’s Place 4 Kids, stocking interesting puzzles, toys, and books for kids. Shirley’s Country Clutter features lots of great gifts and unique items, including Beaverton and Simcoe branded clothing, and Maxine’s Fashions strives to offer Canadian-made clothing and accessories, as well as quality pieces for women 20+.  The Hamilton House Day Spa & Boutique, one of my favourite looking buildings here, offers massage therapy, beauty, and spa services.  I’m waiting patiently until it’s able to open again so I can treat myself to a relaxing massage and perhaps even a facial!