Foraging In Collingwood: 3 Edible Wild Plants You Can Find In Ontario

For many households, the pandemic has initiated an interest in culinary experimentation. People are busting out old cookbooks and looking to get creative in the kitchen. From sourdough starters to banana bread, the cooking trend has been growing, especially now that it is winter and people are spending even more time indoors. But did you ever think of using foraged ingredients in your meals?

One of the best things about living in Ontario, especially in the Collingwood Area, is the proximity to wild forests and beautiful beaches. These wild landscapes are home to a diverse network of plants that are not only beautiful to look at but edible. Foraging in Ontario has become more popular, and people are doing their research now during the winter to get ready when the vegetation starts to bud in the spring. 

If you are interested in trying your hand at Collingwood foraging, you will want to know which plants to choose. Once the warmer weather comes along, get out your wicker basket and head into the woods with your best pair of garden shears. 

Maple Blossoms

Almost every Canadian is familiar with maple syrup, but maple blossoms are not as well-known, especially when eating. Maple blossoms grow in the spring, and they are most prominent before the actual leaves begin to form. These are said to be sweet, and crunchy, and best served covered in batter and fried. You can also try and pickle them and eat them at a later time. Make sure to search for some reference photos, so you know you are picking the right ones. 

Dandelion

An unknown superfood, dandelions are very common throughout Ontario. These yellow-flowered plants are not only delicious but extremely nutritious with a hefty amount of antioxidants. When picking dandelions, make sure to do so in wild areas rather than in urban areas as there may be pesticides. You can throw the leaves in a salad, use the stems as a pasta- substitute, and add the flowers to a stir-fry.

Mulberries

Mulberry trees are prominent throughout Ontario. These large trees can yield tons of berries every spring and summer, but many do not realize they are edible. These tart delicacies are perfect for adding to a summer pie or your favorite jam recipe. They tend to look similar to a blackberry but can come in red and lighter shades as well. A reference photo will be your best friend as you hunt for these sweet treats. 

With a wildlife oasis in your backyard, you should start getting ready for the many activities you will get to explore when springtime arrives in Collingwood.

While it may be cold now, the winter will breeze by in no time. When it does, you can get ready to pick some delicious maple blossoms, some healthy dandelions, and sweet mulberries. You could even make a salad combining all three.

Make sure that you always do your research before picking edible plants. These three tend to be very distinct and safe, but many others could pose health risks. 

 

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Great Rainy Winter Day Activities For The Whole Family  

Do you know those days when it’s not cold enough to snow but not sunny enough to spend it outside? The days where the rain doesn’t stop pouring, but it’s not warm enough for you to splash around in the puddles? Well, in Canada these days happen more often than not, especially in the Collingwood Area. 

If you have recently moved into the neighborhood and looking for something to do, the list below has got you covered. When the days are lovely, you can get excited to indulge in some of the most fantastic outdoor scenery that Ontario has to offer. 

Indoor Treasure Hunt

If you have kids and live in the Collingwood area, an indoor treasure hunt is a perfect activity for a cold and rainy day. While you may want to get some fresh air still, you probably don’t want to spend too much time outside, so why not spend what little time you do outside on a cold rainy day, collecting natural treasures. 

Head outside with your outdoor gear and have your kids collect unique stones, driftwood, or other tiny treasures. You can then head inside, make some hot cocoa, and hide the objects around the house. Your kids will be excited to find their outdoor treasures inside. 

Living Room Camping

While Blue Mountain and Collingwood are prime areas for camping and enjoying the outdoors, you won’t be getting to do much outdoor adventuring when the winter is cold and rainy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring that camp atmosphere indoors. 

Bust out your old tent, get some flashlights and sleeping bags, and set up a campsite in your living room. Your kids can camp out for a night or two, or the whole family can snuggle up for a movie marathon. Once you’re enclosed in the tent, the rain pattering away at the window, it will feel like you are deep in the woods. 

Make A Rain Gauge

If you have young kids, they may be studying science and learning about the weather and atmosphere. What better way to help progress their learning while having fun than by seeing if the weather channel predictions are accurate. You can create a rain measuring device by merely attaching a ruler to a bottle or can with a flat bottom. You can then measure the rainfall over a day and see if it matches up with weather reports. You can give away prizes to whoever has the closest guess.

While rainy days are not the most enjoyable, you may have more fun than you think if you try the above activities. Once the snow starts falling, you can grab your skis and head to one of Collingwood’s gorgeous resorts. While they may be closed for a short period, they will undoubtedly be back up and running in no time. 

If you are not a skier, no need to worry. The spring and summer present just as many opportunities for enjoying the fresh air in Collingwood. With a bit of time, you will soon come to realize you are living in the best place in Ontario. 

 

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How To Stay Social, Active, & Outdoors This Winter

With the days getting colder and with outdoor activities being more limited, people are wondering how to navigate the months ahead. While you will want to stay active and social, with indoor gatherings limited, you might have some trouble. During a year that has seen multiple hurdles, finding ways to interact from afar while outdoors will undoubtedly be more challenging this winter.

If you and your family or group of friends are trying to rethink the months ahead and find ways to stay safe and connected while simultaneously enjoying the fresh air, you might need some help. Thankfully, Collingwood is a perfect spot to make the most of the outdoors. 

Explore Collingwood Area Hikes

The Collingwood area is a natural wonderland and home to many popular destinations that attract Canadians from coast-to-coast. For those currently living in the Collingwood area or thinking about relocating here from the city, luckily, there are many hiking trails that you can still enjoy during the winter months. 

Many people often balk at the idea of hiking in the winter, claiming it will be too cold or snowy. If you prepare, though, you can make it just as fun, if not more so, than hiking in the summer. Prepare yourself some hot drinks, bundle up, and put on a good pair of waterproof shoes. Once you eliminate potential discomfort, you can head out and enjoy the Georgian Trail, Loree Forest Loop, The Beaver River Trail, or one of the many other scenic hiking spots. 

Lake Skating

While there are many outdoor rinks and community centers that offer places to skate throughout the winter, it does not compare to the wild feeling of skating across a glass lake with nothing but trees and snow surrounding you. Skating on lakes can be an excellent activity for the whole family, but you have to make sure it is cold enough before settling on a destination. 

There are various places to get ice thickness reports, which can let you know if it’s safe to skate. When it’s cold enough, you can skate on Georgina Bay, Lake Simcoe, or you can head to Eugenia Lake just a bit south of Collingwood. 

Campfire Cookouts

There’s something special about having a roaring fire amidst a snowy landscape. The smell of the fire, the cool air on your cheeks, and good company at your side can transport you to another time and place. There are many places to have a bonfire throughout Collingwood, whether it’s at your friend’s country house or a provincial park. 

Once you have a spot, call up some friends and have a socially-distanced cookout. You can wrap up some sweet potatoes in foil, roast sausages, or even throw some hamburgers on a grill. A cookout will be an excellent way to get a hefty dose of fresh air and social time. 

As you look ahead to the winter months, rather than get discouraged by the various pandemic-restrictions, try and look on the bright side. There are still great ways to get together with friends while also enjoying the fresh air. 

By checking out the Collingwood hiking trails, lake-skating, and having a campfire cookout, you can be sure your winter won’t feel too different from past years.  

 

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The Best Trails in Collingwood, ON

Collingwood is famous for its outdoor activities. With Blue Mountain and Georgian Bay on either side, there is an endless list of recreational sports to fill your time. But what if you aren’t into sports? What if you prefer a nice leisurely walk or light hike? Here is a list of the best trails in the area.

 

Pretty River Provincial Park

Part of the Escarpment and located 6 km southeast of Collingwood, Pretty River Provincial parks is a nature lover’s paradise. There no facilities and no camping permitted, so there is nothing but nature. The 6 kilometers of trails are on some of the highest points of the escarpment. Visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking and skiing. The area has a variety of terrains and users should be aware that some locations in the park are for more advanced hikers.

 

Harbourview Park Loop in Collingwood

Harbourview Park is perfect for a leisurely afternoon walk for the whole family. Starting on Birch Street, the trail goes all the way to Georgian Bay. Visitors can expect to walk or cycle about 1.3 km from start to finish. The trail is well maintained and has a great mix of trees, greenery, and flowers.

 

 

Kolapore Uplands Trail

Part of the Bruce Trail Network, the Kolapore Uplands Trail is quite long. Beginners should expect a challenge and bring a map. The trail itself is about 9 km, but in the winter it turns into about 50 km of cross country skiing trails. The trails are clearly marked and their difficulty is marked on the trail as well.

 

Western Circle Route

For the seasoned and ambitious hiker, this is a system of 6 trails that tour throughout the Collingwood area. During a hike, users can stop in at a number the local resorts as they will pass many. The total circle can take about 2.5 hours so visitors should be prepared. A map is also suggested.

 

Blueberry Plains

Described as an easy to moderate hiking trail, the trail is located on some very unique sand dunes. The dunes have been marked as a nature reserve. The area and vegetation are very fragile so families should be aware of that when walking.

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Collingwood in the New Year

As we enter into January, and the prime of the winter season, in many ways Collingwood is just starting to come alive.  The days may be short, and the darkness comes early, but there are lots of fun and exciting events to get you through the winter and into spring.  Not to mention, a great line-up of exciting things to come in the latter half of the year, and plenty of events to look forward to for kids and adults alike as we embrace a new year with new possibilities as a community.  Get out your calendar to mark down some dates and get ready to join in on the fun!

Celebrating Winter

As a town located at the foothills of the Blue Mountains, and spending much of the time in winter mode, there are still several months of snow and snow activities to look forward to as we kick off 2018.    The Skate Trail through Discovery Harbour will open on the weekends until (hopefully!) mid March, and this year, in addition to skating, will be offering a snowshoe trail and a snow tubing hill.  As has become an annual event, Locations North will host their annual Winter Blast fundraiser as a ski and snowshoe day in February.  Book your tickets now to enjoy a day of outdoor winter fun and support a good cause at the same time. And finally, for all the pie lovers and food connoisseurs in town, don’t miss out on the Apple Pie Trail Feest!  For an evening combining snowshoeing, wine, and pie, strap on your snowshoes and trek across moon-lit trails and stop at fire-lit cabins where you get to enjoy food and drink featuring local chefs and local products.  Definitely an evening not to pass up!

Take in the Arts

We have mentioned before about the amazing arts scene available in Collingwood, and this year will be no different.  With an exceptional line up of plays and on-stage performances happening at Theatre Collingwood, and Meaford Hall, and the Elvis Festival taking over the scene in July, if your heart lights up when you see shows on stage, you’re in for a delight in the year ahead.  The call for artists has gone out for the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts annual Juried Art Show, and awards will be presented on April 22.   Put your talent to the test and submit your artwork for the whole community to enjoy.

collingwood in summer

Let’s Do Summer

While there may be lots to love about Collingwood in the winter, things come alive in the summer too!  The prime location on the Georgian Bay means there are endless options for beach days, spending time with the kids building sand castles and swimming.  And don’t think that the mountains are only best when they are covered in snow.  In fact, the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster is a summer-only activity in the Blue Mountains and is a must-do in the warmer months – if you dare!  While you’re there, go on a hike or enjoy a gondola ride, and then enjoy a beer at one of the many local breweries once you reach the bottom.  Summer has lots to offer and spending it out in the community in the sunshine is the best way to take it all in.

With 2018 just around the corner, start now to plan your year, book your vacation and secure your theater tickets.  Collingwood is sure to live up to your desires for a year of fun.

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Frozen in Time Festival

If you are looking for family fun over the holidays, be sure to add the Frozen in Time Festival to your calendar. Happening December 28th until the 30th, this completely free festival happens throughout downtown Collingwood.

Start by checking out the seemingly amazing ice sculptures around town. You will be wowed as you see what local ice sculptors can do with a chainsaw and ice! These sculptures are extra special too, because they will focus on Collingwood’s history and celebrate Canada’s 150th year. Be sure to download the map so you don’t miss even one! If sculpting ice wasn’t enough, these ice carvers will also do a battle! Each day at 1pm, check  out the carving skills of these talented people.

Thrill your kids or impress your loved one with a horse-drawn old-fashioned wagon ride around downtown. Leaving from Town Hall each day of the festival, the rides will be happening from 12pm until 4pm.

Don’t go hungry! There will be local vendors selling delicious baked goods, along with hot chocolate to warm you up, just in case you are frozen as well. Of course, you’ll want to dress warm, but there will be complimentary runny nose and chilly toes supplies being handed out for those who need a little extra. You can also stop in and warm up with soup, hot apple cider, wood-fired pizza and lattes from all of the best restaurants on Simcoe Street. The Tremont Café will be serving mulled wine and German sausage on their patio, where you can sit by the fire and enjoy. Another not-to-miss will be, Soco who will be cooking wood-fired pizza from their 1951 Mercury Truck.

There’s so much family fun to be had. Start with the brand new for this year, giant double ice slide! It is just as fun as it looks! Enjoy some giant classic family games like Jenga, Connect Four and Yahtzee. These are all compliments of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge. There will be spirited games of street hockey and free concerts and theatre too. Every day at 2pm, head to the Quarter Century Theatre for classic children’s stories told by interactive performers. The kid’s craft centre will be at the Collingwood Public Library and includes toy testing, baby and me stories and an imagination playground. Moving around is one of the best ways to keep warm and you can do this at the Living Water Celebration Stage where there will be high-energy performances each day at 3pm.

If you enjoy the arts, there is an open house at the Tremont Studios at 65 Simcoe Street. As well, the Simcoe Street Theatre will show free films, starting at 3pm.

If all of this impresses you, or if none of it does, be sure to warm up at the Fireside Lounge in the Winter Wonderland Village and just connect with family and friends. See you there!

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Generosity in the Collingwood Community

If you live in Collingwood, you undoubtedly know the generosity of its residents. Our community is one of the best, not just because we live where the landscape is beautiful, but because of great entrepreneurial opportunities and a giving spirit.

Chris Dopp of The Mortgage Centre in Collingwood is one of the people here who proves this giving spirit, year after year. On December 22nd, Dopp and his company will give away 250 turkey dinners to those in need in the community. This will be his 18th time give away turkeys (and other items) to those who need it most at Christmas.

Anyone in need can attend and pick up a dinner, with no applications or process to go through. The dinner includes a turkey, vegetables, dinner rolls, potatoes, juice, apple pie, plus a toque and socks.

Pickup starts at 9am at 192 First Street and everything is first come, first served. You can call ahead at 705-445-1300 to be put on the list or have someone put on the list who could use this generous offering this year. For those who can’t get there on the day, because of mobility issues or a lack of transportation, Dopp’s team will deliver.

While the Collingwood community does have some affluent residents, there are many in need as well.

The Salvation Army in Collingwood is also a good resource for families in need. Every month they and the churches in the community host a warm and tasty dinner for those who need it. The Trinity United Church will be hosting a dinner at 6pm on December 20th and this happens every third Wednesday of the month.

The Salvation Army also does a Christmas hamper program for low income families. Register with them until December 13th.

Of course, it is up to us in the community to help those that are less fortunate. It is easy for you to do your part, by donating to one of these causes or any other community cause. There is a Simcoe County toy drive across the region, and the next one happens today at the Walmarts in Barrie and Elmvale Foodland. If you wait until December 16th, you can drop off new toys at the Craighurst Foodland.

You can also donate to the food bank, which is always in need at this time of year. There are many in the area and three in Collingwood:

  • Trinity Church
  • The Salvation Army, Collingwood Community Chruch
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul (St. Mary’s)

Be sure to do your part this year and keep the Collingwood giving spirit alive!

 

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Community in Collingwood

The holiday season is the time of year where we catch up with friends, spend time with family, meet the neighbors for the annual neighborhood potluck, and take the kids into the town square for the tree lighting.  In essence, the holidays are about community and about cultivating connections.  They’re about coming together, uniting and celebrating. This holiday season – and in the New Year ahead – make every interaction count. Here are some fantastic ways to embrace your Collingwood community:

Support the Community

While many community events this time of year are holiday and Christmas themed, participating in any events organized by the community supports community mentality and of course, encourages community economic growth.  Head to the Collingwood Winter Farmer’s Market, where you can support local farmers and local small business owners. Happening every Saturday, it’s a great way to get out in the community, plus get some fresh food for the week ahead.  You can also take part in the local art scene. The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts Annual Winter Gift Show and Sale is on until December 31st at the Arts Centre, and the Broadway Tenors are visiting Casino Rama on December 2nd.

Involve the Kids

The holiday season has an array of special activities and events that happen only once a year, and this is especially exciting when you’re a kid and have been waiting for it all year long. There is something special and heart-warming about being out in the community, surrounded by snow and seeing storefronts all aglow with their Christmas displays. It is the perfect setting to share with your family.  Head out to the streets for several Holiday Gift Market and craft fairs around town, or take in a performance of The Nutcracker.  You can visit Santa and his reindeer, or enjoy the Festival of Lessons and Carols.  All of these are kid-friendly events so they are a great chance to get the whole family out into the community as well as meet other families who live within the Collingwood bounds.

Relish in the Rich Culture

Whether you are learning about the history of the town, or attending culturally supportive events, holding onto culture and history is an important part of building a strong community.  You can think of it as building a foundation: when you understand the culture and seek to preserve it, this acts as the building blocks for a community everyone wants to support and maintain.  Support cultural awareness by attending events at the Simcoe County Museum, such as Christmas Past and Present or at the Meaford Hall Arts and Cultural Centre.  The cultural centre regularly has plays and concerts on, so be sure to check the schedule and get your tickets!

 

Despite the busyness of the upcoming weeks, put in an extra effort to show your support and get involved in the Collingwood community.  You’ll have fun, meet new people, and in the process, contribute to helping support this charming place we all love and call home.

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Collingwood in the Winter

If the colder temperatures, snow-covered ground, and icy roads have you feeling like you just want to hibernate inside, think again! Collingwood has an amazing winter scene.  There is so much to see and do here at this time of year, you’ll be sad that you missed it if you wait out the winter inside.

 

Play in the Snow

Located as the gateway to the Blue Mountain Ski Resort, a Collingwood winter isn’t complete until you go play in the snow.  Take advantage of Collingwood’s proximity to the mountains and stay in town by night, visiting the mountains to ski by day.  If skiing isn’t quite your thing, there are still lots of snow playing opportunities around town.  There are many hiking trails, which go along Georgian Bay for you to explore – by foot or on snowshoe.  Pack a thermos of hot soup and make a day of it.  If you are interested in some old-fashioned snowman building and rolling in the powder, head to Harbourview Park where kids and adults alike can play. In addition, although a bit colder, the beaches are still a great winter destination and create the perfect landscape for a nice weekend walk or afternoon out with the dogs.

Go to Events

If you can’t get the family out walking outdoors in the winter, it’s a wonderful time of year to get them together and go to some local community events.  The winter market happens on Saturday mornings, and is a great way to support local farmers as well as stock up on healthy food for the week. There are several Santa Claus Parades coming up in early December, and you can take the kids to visit Santa and his Reindeer every Saturday all month long! And don’t forget to look into upcoming Christmas craft and gift markets.  These happen most weekends around the town and are the perfect opportunity to tick some shopping off your list or find a unique gift for that hard to buy for person.

See the Town

Once you’ve done your shopping, it’s time to take a little stroll around town.  You may have spent plenty of time strolling around Collingwood under the summer sun, but have you seen it in it’s snow-covered glory? The town takes on a completely different life when you walk around under starlit skies, seeing rooftops laden in freshly fallen snow, and houses glowing with Christmas lights.  Instead of ice cream, stop in to one of our lovely cafes and get a hot chocolate or warming tea to walk around with, and finish the evening staring up at the gorgeous Blue Mountains or sitting on the waterfront.  It might be a bit chilly, but you’ll appreciate the town that little bit more for its ability to be a delight in all four seasons.

 

Don’t let Old Man Winter fool you and keep you inside.  There is lots happening around town over the winter months and you’ll be sure to find something you enjoy.  And even if it is a little colder than sitting inside by your fireplace, it will totally be worth it.

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Art Events in Collingwood

Collingwood is a town not only known for its fantastic skiing and recreation, but also a thriving art scene. During the month of November, there are a number of art events to keep anyone even vaguely interested in the arts busy while you wait for the snow to fall.

Music for a Sunday

This event has been happening since September, but if you haven’t heard of it yet, you’ll definitely want to check it out in November. It is a series of 10 concerts over five Sundays and four of them are happening this month. ZimZum, CCI Jazz Band, the Venuti String Quartet and Rowyn Campbell are all playing at the Simcoe Street Theatre this month. Ticket prices vary, but you can get through Blue Mountain Music or at the Simcoe Street Theatre box office.

Points of View: John David Anderson and Mark Hope

Head to The Blue Mountains Public Library to witness the points of view of John David Anderson and Mark Hope, as expressed through a painting exhibition. Their work will be displayed from November 3rd until the 30th.

Annual Square Foot Show

At the Loft Gallery in Thornbury, this show happens on November 4th from 4pm. You’ll start at the Corner Café, across the street, where you’ll be getting a numbered ticked for the show. All paintings sold will be 12×12 in size and sell for $144 plus tax. All work is original and gorgeous!

Candle Making Workshop

You don’t have to just view art, you can make it. Head to Serendipity Candles at 20 Balsam Street, Unit 14, for a 60-minute candle making workshop, where you’ll learn to make four candles. You’ll select your scent and jar and do all of the fun stuff yourself!

Creative Collingwood Symposium

An initiative for arts and positive change in communities, the 4th annual Creative Collingwood Symposium happens on November 8th at the Simcoe Street Theatre. This incredible event brings together what they call “creatives” from across the South Georgian Bay area for learning and networking. There will be keynote speakers, breakout sessions, plus networking with refreshments. The event is completely free and you just need to register to reserve a spot. Anyone who is a creative professional or even who has an aspiring talent is welcome to join.

Sweetwater Film Festival

Film buffs will love the lineup of 11 short films focusing on the outdoors and outdoor recreation. Happening at the Gayety Theatre, this event donates 100% of the proceeds to outdoor programs for local youth. It happens on November 11th at 7pm and tickets are $25.

Do you know of any other great arts events happening in our region? Let us know!

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