Tuesday morning, under our umbrellas, Jackie and I 'test-walked' Dorset. In our hands was the brochure the Lake of Bays Heritage Advisory Committee has been working on, taking us on a self-conducted Heritage Walk through this charming Village.
Jackie came because she's not familiar with Dorset. She was our "fresh eyes." Our reputation ran along ahead of us, on this rainy morning. When we stopped in Robinson's General Store, one of the clerks greeted us with a cheery, "So YOU'RE the ones walking through town with umbrellas!" Not a lot of tourists were out mid-week in September, so with our big umbrellas, we stood out.
Zachariah Cole was one of the first settlers into Dorset. He arrived as one of the surveyors on the Bobcaygeon Road, and saw such promise here that he became the first settler, clearing 17 acres. When the logging boom hit, Zac Cole built a hotel and trading post on the site of an old French Trading post, complete with a whiskey still in the backyard next to a brick kiln. A driving force in developing the young village, Zac used to claim he wanted his coffin made from tamarack, because it burned with loud cracks and noises, sparking and spitting, so everyone in Hell would know he had arrived. Today a great many people consider the village that Zachariah Cole promoted to be a little piece of heaven.
One purpose of our jaunt was to time the walk. It takes about an hour and a half, with some pauses to chat to the gentleman bailing out the S.S. Bigwin, Jackie buying a sweatshirt in Robinsons, a short conversation with another committee member bumped into along the way. We didn't have the luxury of enough time to stop in one of the restaurants for even a cup of coffee... and the Museum was closed. But next time, Jackie wants to spend the entire day there. And why not?
From the lovely little church, with the stone wall built to keep out cows and the cheerful attitude that if it rained on Sunday, services would be held on another day; past the Marine Museum by the arched bridge built in 1914 to replace the old wooden bridge that collapsed under a team and wagon loaded with lumber (horses and wagon were fine, bridge -- not so much), out past Kissing Rock, where lovers' could hide from view under the arching trees along the road, to the Museum and the view up to the Fire Tower, this is one heck of a community, one delightful destination, and this Heritage Walking Tour brochure will be just one more great reason to spend some time there.