My dog loves art. Of course, at 10-months old her taste is not refined. Basically, my dog loves sniffing through public parks where art is installed. So, that’s what we did.
How thoughtful it was for Haldimand County, Ontario, Canada to launch a public art project throughout the towns of Caledonia, Dunnville, Hagersville, Lowbanks, Cayuga, Selkirk (check out recent Selkirk adventures) and more within an easy drive of our home. Haldimand County is located about 60 to 90 minutes from Toronto, depending on traffic and where in the county you’re headed.
Haldimand County has partnered with 23 local artists asking them to paint paddles – yes, boat paddles – because The Grand River flowing through Haldimand is a unifying attraction. Like the painted moose scattered around Toronto decades ago, these paddles are installed at 23 scenic locations throughout Haldimand County.
Welcome to the Paddle Art Tour Haldimand (PATH)
The Paddle Art Tour Haldimand (PATH) is like a tourist scavenger hunt through several small towns dotting a large rural area. But don’t worry – the paddles aren’t hard to find considering the address of each is listed in the guide (here). All are located where visitors and locals are likely to frequent: parks, riverside trails, marinas, farmers markets … all locations worth a road-trip stop, anyway.
Finding a painted paddle is an added bonus.
With my Sprocker (Cocker/Springer Spaniel cross) harnessed up, we jumped in the car and spent civic holiday 2021 checking out the PATH.
Did we see all 23 painted paddles?
No. We focused our efforts on Dunnville, Ontario, a small town near Rock Point Provincial Park and Byng Conservation Area. Dunnville is a midpoint between Hamilton and Niagara Region along Highway #3, about a two-hour drive from Toronto.
What do you discover following the PATH through Dunnville, Ontario?
Find all five painted paddles in Dunnville, Ontario and you’ve found all the public parks and outdoor spaces designed to keep people lingering in the area. Follow the Dunnville part of the PATH, and you’ll have completed a thorough town tour:
PATH Stop #1: Lions Club Park “First Robin of Spring/Red Wing Blackbird”
640 Lock Street West, Dunnville – This location is the Lions Club Park with outdoor basketball and tennis courts, public swimming pool, children’s play area and Gloria Kingam’s “First Robin of Spring/Red Wing Blackbird” painted paddle. (Check out both sides of every paddle). This one’s my dog’s favourite because she’s a bird dog, and in fact, was more interested in the park’s avian flying around than posing for pics with a paddle.
PATH Stop #2: Central Park Bandshell “Orcas”
117 Lock Street West, Dunnville – This is the Central Park Bandshell – a popular neighbourhood park thanks to a splash pad and jungle gym for kids. To my surprise, the town had a bandshell, hosting live music when allowed. Love whales? Then you’ll like Rose Lamothe’s aptly named “Orcas” paddle because that’s what’s painted on both sides.
PATH Stop #3: Waterfront Park “Grand River Serenity”
218 Main Street West, Dunnville – Waterfront Park next to the marina is home to Shumauni McIntee’s “Grant River Serenity” paddle. The park offers a beautiful view of the Grand River from the picnic table area near the pavilion. It’s also the location of the small Dunnville Farmer’s Market, 9 am to noon, Saturdays and Tuesdays, which I was disappointed to discover is not dog-friendly despite essentially being an open barn.
PATH Stop #4: Wingfield Park “On the Water”
202 Main Street West, Dunnville – This location took us to a spot I’ve been meaning to stop at for no other reason than to walk the dog along the waterfront with a distant view of bridges and wind turbines. Wingfield Park is also the location of Barb Rowe’s “On the Water” paddle, one of my favourite of the tour.
PATH Stop #5: Centennial Park and Muddy “Willow River”
731 Main Street West, Dunnville – If you saw the giant fish on the drive into Dunnville, you’ve seen this park. Muddy the Mudcat in Centennial Park is the World’s Largest Mudcat (a fish – see photo above) … so, there’s that. But the park is also a recreated Carolinian Forest, with water feature, bridged pond and Paul Chartrand’s “Willow River” paddle highlighting environmental preservation necessity.