Feeling the Vintage Vibes in Orono

Will McGuirk

"The walk around the vendors is the perfect mix of kitsch and collectibles, old sports team memorabilia and brewery items, signs and posters, delightful old photographs, and an array of tea sets and dining dishes."

The fanciful village of Orono, tucked in away off the 115, is the dream destination in Durham Region for a day of antique hunting. One could spend hours digging through all the fabulous vintage finds at one of scores of market stores in the downtown but, of course, those dreams are on hold for now. 

However, if one was dreaming, the suggestion is to start the day at the Buttercup Hollow Pantry at the north end of Main Street, mulling over one’s antiquing plan of attack. The shop operates in a way like an indoor farmers market, showcasing local produce such as wines, honeys, syrups, and pottery. There is a seating area next to the fireplace, perfect for enjoying the silky taste of their butter tarts.

The Main Thru Church Antique Mall is the first stop. The mall is made up of many individual booths with their own specialties. The walk around the vendors is the perfect mix of kitsch and collectibles, old sports team memorabilia and brewery items, signs and posters, delightful old photographs, and an array of tea sets and dining dishes. 

At the corner of Main Street and Park Street is the historic Orono Town Hall, built in 1898. Orono was at one time the seat of government for the township, and the hall’s Romanesque Revival style architecture reflects its status as the head and now the heart of the community. The Town Hall is used for community events these days but has also been used as a location for several films, including Anne of Green Gables and Dead Zone.

The Orono Antique Market is located on Park Street in the Orono Armoury and is another vast market with many vendors. The majestic building, built in 1923, houses sellers of antique furniture, china, jewellery, rare books and papers, art, and one-of-a-kind treasures. 

The town is also walkable with some wonderful buildings such as the Oddfellows Hall and cozy Clarington Public Library branch on Centreview Street as well as many century homes. Gardening is an obvious love for many residents, and The Garden Path, north of the downtown on Brown Road, is the source of many of the blooms. For interior bouquets, Apple Blossom Flowers on Main Street is the only place to go. Elegant and thoughtful flower arrangements are at the root of this family-run business.

But it is to the Orono Crown Lands around the Orono and the Wilmot Creek one should head. The lands and its trails are accessible from the downtown by way of Station Street, and a gentle session of forest bathing after wandering the rooms of halls and malls is a welcome balm. Small painted pebbles and rocks can be seen in some places; some are gifts from the residents, some are x-marks-the-spot indicators for geocaching explorers. While many parks are closed at this time, the Crown Lands are open to the public with social distancing guidelines.

The Fire Hall Bistro is the cutest place to enjoy a fabulously finger-licking burger with a beer. The bistro also supports local artisans and showcases them on the walls. Paint Night Parties are offered and are a fantastic way to chat and create some masterpieces of your own.

One can also create masterpieces at home, and knitting is very much a comforting activity as the world endures this pandemic. Soper Creek Yarn recently took over another heritage building on Park Street, a former bank built in the early 20s. The store is full of the wool you will need for any project plus the bobbins, stitch markers, threaders, hanks, and hooks, and, of course, the needles every knitters’ kit should have. It is the perfect gift for oneself after a very active day.

If one stays later into the evening in Orono, there is little in the way of live entertainment or a bar scene. However. don’t be fooled into thinking music is not favoured in the little town. A stroll at dusk will reveal the glow of backyard fires, and the sound of guitars and fiddle will be heard guaranteed. And if you linger, you may be invited in to enjoy the heat and to hear some of the best fiddlers in the Region.