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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Honk, honk! Make way for the Stratford swans; Spring Cottage Life Show; parks and sappy outings


   One-Tank Trip for March 16/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   So much for groundhog predictions of an early spring – but wintry weather really is on the wane.
   Sure signs of winter beating a retreat are swans making their noisy march in Stratford, the Cottage Life Show, parks coming alive and flowing sap.
With much pomp and ceremony, the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums shows the way.
   The honking wiggle, waddle parade by 22 swans, “Stratford’s honorary ambassadors,” happens April 7 from 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
   This is part of a weekend of “family fun announcing the arrival of spring,” said Cathy Rehberg of the Stratford Tourism Alliance.
   There’s also the “pop-up decorated swans” in downtown Stratford where someone can win a $100 shopping spree by voting for their favourite.
   Crowds flock to Stratford to watch the swan procession to the Avon River. (Scott Wishart photo)

   The celebrated swans are piped to the Avon River by the Stratford Police Services Pipes and Drums band with crowds of spectators taking a gander and cheering them on.
Dressing the part. (Terry Manzo photo)

   The fine feathered critters can’t wait to “escape” from their cozy winter quarters to establish their nesting and mating grounds.
   There’s great pomp and ceremony for these regal, graceful and majestic birds, the first two of which were a gift from railway worker J.C. Garden in 1918.
   Several of the swans are descendants of Queen Elizabeth II’s royal herd, donated to Canada in 1967.
   “We don’t consider spring officially launched until their annual release,” Rehberg said.
   Flocks of people turn out, some wearing swan finery such as hats and other regalia.
   The fun and free city-run event takes place from Morenz and Lakeside Drive. visitstratford.ca; 1-800-561-7926 (SWAN)

   It’s better at the cottage
   The Spring Cottage Life Show signals the start of summer planning and preparing for visitors.
   The show for doers and dreamers getting ready to open the cottage, cabin or lakeside retreat is on from March 21 to 24 at the International Centre (6900 Airport Rd.), Mississauga.
   Some 40,000 people will attend the “largest, premier, one-stop destination to get ready for summer,” said publicist Kate Calder.
It will soon be time for relaxing on a dock.
    The show features 600 exhibitors for browsing and shopping for everything related to cottaging and outdoor living.
   There are boats, docks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, seasonal property builders, innovative building products, eco-friendly solutions, indoor and outdoor furniture, grills, gazebos, decor, food and more.
   The Real Estate Centre has 500 realtors with new listings from about 36 lake regions in Ontario.
   Check out the walk-through model cottage from Bonneville Homes, sample a brew at the Dock Party and see cooking demos.
   The BBC Earth channel gives attendees an immersive stargazing experience inside a pop-up planetarium.
   There are also “celebrity appearances” by Cottage Life TV personalities, Danielle Bryk, the new Bondi Vets, Hope for Wildlife’s Hope Swinimer and The Brojects.
A vast selection of cottage “toys” fills the International Centre. (Jim Fox photo)
   The Wildlife Centre shows some of cottage country’s  critters and there a cottage games area for kids. cottagelife.com/shows
   Elsewhere, the Ottawa Cottage Life & Backyard Show runs April 12 to 14 at the EY Centre and the Edmonton Cottage Life & Cabin Show is April 26 to 28 at the EXPO Centre.

   Book that campsite now
   It’s starting to sound like spring in Ontario Parks as the “snowbirds” are returning.
This perfect campsite, just steps from the lake, will soon be taken for the season at Ontario Provincial Parks. (Barbara Fox photo)
    Many parks have special programs to welcome them back including Pinery’s Return of the Swans until March 31 for the migration of thousands of tundra swans and other migratory waterfowl.
   Avoid the “campground full” signs by reserving your campsite now, up to five months in advance, and 2019 passes are available, too. ontarioparks.com

   Sappy adventures
   The sap is starting to flow for maple syrup time.
The sap is flowing for Tap Into Maple in Ontario’s Lake Country.
   - Tap into Maple runs through April 30 in Simcoe County, north of Barrie, with a self-driving route. ontarioslakecountry.com
   - A maple-inspired two-day getaway is offered at Casino Rama resort. casinorama.com; 1-866-329-5959
   - McCully’s Hill Farm in St. Marys has Maple Syrup Festival weekends this month with horse-drawn wagon rides through the sugar bush and seeing how maple syrup is made. http://mccullys.ca
   - Bronte Creek Provincial Park’s Maple Syrup Festival continues weekends this month. brontecreek.org

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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