A Bustling Community Warms the Cannington Winter

Alison Bennie

Personally, I love a Cannington winter, and as I look around I'd say many of us here in the north of Durham Region like to make the most of them...

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand for a talk beside the fire: it’s the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

And so, we find ourselves in winter. Some weather experts say it will be a long one, and the Farmers’ Almanac predicts a snowy one. Personally, I love a Cannington winter, and as I look around I’d say many of us here in the north Durham region like to make the most of them.

For those who enjoy outdoor winter activities, don’t forget we have many kilometers of groomed snowmobile trails running through this area that help make winter in Cannington extra enjoyable. Trail maintenance and grooming are handled by the Heart of Ontario Snowmobile Club, located at the trail entrance just off Laidlaw Street south. Remember, you need to buy a trail permit in order to run your snowmobiles on it. However, you don’t need a license to snowshoe or cross-country ski on these beautiful trails. To me, these activities are the cornerstone of what makes winter so much fun in these parts. I also find that the trails are perfect for walking my dogs, which helps us all to enjoy the winter wonderland we are so lucky to have up here.

Even with the current current COVID-19 restrictions, there is still quite a lot happening in Cannington. Just when we were thinking, “how long is this COVID stuff going to last?” or “who would start a business during these uncertain times?,” I’m delighted to report on a few daring and brave entrepreneurs who have recently opened, and seem to be faring quite well in our little town.

Bargain $ Mart on Cameron

“The new dollar store is open!” “Have you seen the dollar store?” “Have you been to the new Dollar Store?” These have been the hot phrases on the main street of Cannington since October. Small towns are funny like that, and it’s one of the reasons I adore Cannington. Small things can generate so much excitement! Although, I probably shouldn’t use the word “small” in this case, because as far as stores in Cannington go, I found this place to be quite large and full of everything one could imagine. In fact, I’d call it an emporium of extravaganza! It’s got everything the larger chain dollar stores in the bigger cities have. Rows and rows. Happily for us residents, Mohammad Iqbal, the owner, chose Cannington because the community didn’t have any similar stores.

One can find a vast array of goods offered there: kitchen items, pet supplies, party supplies, office supplies, crafts, and seasonal items. They have new items arriving all the time and will also order things if you make a request. No more having to drive out of town. Just stroll over to the main street. Bargain $ Mart is located at 8 Cameron Street East (or phone 705-432-3222). Current store hours are Monday to Wednesday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Thursday to Friday (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Sunday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). As usual, hours and capacity may change due to COVID-19 measures.

The WILD Garden

Just a few paces down the block,  The WILD Garden, located at 16 Cameron Street East, is another noteworthy local spot.

Scott and Richard and their staff know how to decorate a store, and walking in feels like you’re stepping out of Cannington winter and into somewhere very special. The store is full of beautiful displays and exciting, often surprising merchandise. “Upscale in downtown Cannington,” I like to call it, and still very affordable—which makes it even better. Once COVID restrictions have lifted, you must visit in person as further description here does not properly do them justice, but expect to find antique furniture and vintage items.

Muddy Paws Dog Grooming

I was on one of my two daily dog walks through town with Lillie (a mostly laid-back Jack Russell) and Eddie (a chihuahua/maltese who looks like a Jack Russell and is NOT laid back at all) when I saw a sign on a neighbour’s lawn, Muddy Paws Dog Grooming. “What a great name,” I thought as I looked down at my two rascals and their dirty little feet. “I should give them a call.” I took a quick photo of the sign, then phoned them a couple of weeks later when my dogs were even muddier.  I discovered the business was located on John Street at the house where I first saw the sign. The owner, Jessica, has renovated her attached garage into a dog grooming salon.

Jessica has been living in Cannington for about 8 years and owns a 7-month-old corgi named Zoe.  According to Jessica, Zoe is currently just learning to go for longer walks. (I wondered if it was because of the dog’s short legs, but I didn’t ask). As we chatted, Jessica told me she saw a need for this business here, as there were no dog groomers in town. Nearby, Sunderland and Beaverton have groomers and Jessica figured that, especially during COVID lockdowns, Cannington residents should have the option to stay in their own town. It turns out that Jessica is also a registered nurse working at Lindsay Ross Memorial. She has always wanted to do something with animals but didn’t know what that would look like. After completing her training, she opened in July 2020, guessing correctly that there would be a need for more dog groomers as COVID restrictions and cleaning procedures meant other grooming salons were handling fewer appointments.

As a nurse, Jessica is very aware of COVID protocol. She takes only one appointment at a time or one household bubble of dogs. For instance, as in my case where my dogs live together, they may have a joint appointment to be groomed together. She offers pet clips, wash, blow-dry, de-shedding, de-matting, nail trims, and ear cleaning. Her salon is also large-dog friendly, which means she has a hydraulic lift for dogs with joint or mobility issues. Her personal touch is to take pics of the dog while being bathed or groomed to send to the owners, and she likes to provide updates to the owner throughout the appointment. Grooming is by appointment only; call 705-879-6050. Please note that COVID screening for the dog owners is in effect. Owners do not come into the grooming area, but instead, they are met outside by Jessica. If you are displaying any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, your appointment will be re-scheduled. You can follow Muddy Paws Dog Grooming on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest COVID-19 protocols.

Carolyn’s Custom Cooking

What would a Cannington winter be without a warm mug of hot chocolate and some yummy baked goods? I discovered a little gem called Carolyn’s Custom Cooking right about the same time we were locked down at the beginning of COVID. She’s what I call “the double bonus”—delicious baked goods with delivery included. She takes orders through her Facebook page during the week and then whips them all up Thursday and Friday morning, delivering throughout Brock township on Friday afternoons. She is a “no contact” business in every sense. You can view the weekly specials on her Facebook page and then place an order. I have had her cinnamon buns, carrot cake, and cheesecake, and they were ALL delicious. In fact, a photo she posted online many months ago of her cinnamon buns is what ignited her business. Suddenly, people started contacting her and asking her to bake for them, so she decided to continue.

Carolyn is a retired chef who went to the Stratford Chef School, so she really knows how to cook. She specializes in custom cooking and baking for Brock, Scugog, and surrounding areas. She lives just outside of Cannington and specializes in creating delicious foods for those with food allergies and intolerances like Gluten Free, FODMAP, and Dairy Free. In fact, every two weeks, she does a special gluten-free bake.

Carolyn is also a kindly soul and likes to give back to her community.  On most special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, to name a few,) she does a “Sweet Pick Me Up.”  Customers can nominate someone from the area who may be undergoing medical treatments, an elderly person stuck inside, or just someone going through a difficult time to receive an order of free cinnamon buns. She draws three or four names from those suggested, and bakes and delivers them for you. Remember: You don’t have to wait for a special occasion either.  I ordered apple cinnamon buns and had them delivered to a sick friend nearby, and they were VERY well-received!

NOTE: At the time of publishing, Durham Region is in a province-wide shutdown with extensive measures in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Residents are encouraged to stay at home with exception to essential trips, wash hands frequently, wear a mask and physically distance from others.

We continue to publish these stories to encourage you to explore these businesses and communities online and through social media. When possible, please order for safe curbside pick-up if offered, and prepare to explore these areas once they are able to safely reopen.