The County of Haliburton offers you a never-ending variety of natural beauty. Familiarly known as the Haliburton Highlands, the county is bordered on the north edge by Algonquin Park, in the southwest by Moore Falls, and in the southeast by Silent Lake Provincial Park.
The Highlands is a four-season destination. With over 600 lakes, boating pleasures are unlimited in summer. And so many of the lakes are connected that canoeists can paddle for hours and even days.
Fall is a time of glory. All across the rolling hills the trees change by the hour, little flames of crimson and pink, flashes of gold and copper, ultimately peaking in a crescendo of dazzling colour so brilliant you can hardly breathe.
In winter skaters are to be seen gliding gracefully or energetically along snow-cleared shorelines -bright red and blue spots in delightful contrast to the glittering white all around them. Elsewhere, skiers are dashing and darting downhill or sliding softly along any of hundreds of different cross-country trails (www.trailsandtours.on.ca).
Spring comes and, as the snow melts, you watch the water cascading down rocky hillsides, streams suddenly rushing over rocks and around bends that seemed only yesterday so still and silent. The ice on lakes vanishes and little buds blossom. Suddenly, the sap is flowing -and dozens of maple syrup folk begin the traditional and magic art of transforming sap into sweetest liquid gold.
Tucked among these hills are villages large and small. The two largest are Minden and Haliburton. Minden was the first settlement and became the county seat in 1874. Perhaps its most picturesque feature is the placid Gull River, framed on either side by wide emerald banks and charming homes of varied architecture, some dating well back to the previous century, and especially St. Paul’s Anglican church, recently restored to its former charm. Moments from town the gentle water of the Gull turns into a roaring tumble of rocks and foam. In fact, the Minden Wild Water Preserve is a recognised world-class white water facility. Somewhat tamer but equally impressive is the Minden Panoramic Lookout with its stunning views over the town of Minden and the hills beyond: ideal at sunset and in autumn. The Minden County Town Museum, with its authentic log home and the old schoolhouse will transport you back to the "olden days" of country living
Haliburton Village is a lively community built around the shimmering calm of Head Lake with its landscaped park, bandshell, beach, and docks. An old wooden caboose, now the tourist information centre, marks the terminus of the railroad line that ran all the way to Lindsay. Today, the line is a popular walking and bicycling trail. Next to the caboose is the old railway station, now a home for regular art exhibits throughout the summer and fall -and appropriately named the Rails End Gallery. The Haliburton Highlands Museum has permanent displays as well as a blacksmith shop and an authentic, furnished log home. Sir Sandford Fleming College is located here and is summer home to the Haliburton School of the Arts (www.flemingc.on.ca/programs/haliburton/default.asp).
The Highlands have innumerable attractions; wherever you happen to find yourself, there’s something noteworthy nearby. Kinmount, for example, is on the Burnt River and the old mill and railway station are picturesque sights. The station houses an operating model of the old Kinmount-Haliburton railway line, created by local railroad enthusiasts. In Gooderham you can take in Horseshoe Days, an end-of-July celebration featuring horseshoe tournaments, midway, dances, canoe race, talent contests, and much more fun. The Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost Museum is the site of the first provincial outpost which operated from 1922 to 1957. Eagle Lake is known as the Rhubarb Capital of Ontario and mounts a Rhubarb Festival each July. Buttermilk Falls at the outlet of Halls Lake is one of the county’s most scenic waterfalls. Here you are also within moments of the Leslie M. Frost Natural Resources Centre where you can pick up a wide variety of information on trapping, logging, and the wildlife of the Highlands forests. A variety of instructional "walks" are frequently conducted covering everything from bird identification to understanding our wetlands (www.frostcentre.on.ca). Just north of West Guilford is The Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, the largest private forest reserve in the world -over 50,000 acres maintained in its pristine natural state. Two hugely popular attractions are the Wolf Centre where you’ll see these legendary animals living healthfully in their own natural habitat and the famous "Walk in the Clouds", featuring a ½ km walk in the canopy of an old growth white pine forest (www.haliburtonforest.com).
These are just a few examples of attractions around our county. And it’s good to know that, whichever appeals to you, there’s at least one of our member bed and breakfasts nearby. For full information on the many attractions and events in the Highlands, contact the Chamber of Commerce at www.haliburtonhighlandschamber.on.ca. The web site covers all aspects of touring the Highlands and provides you with the opportunity to request any further information you may require.
Photographs for this issue courtesy of the Haliburton Highlands Bed and Breakfast Association