Story and Photos Submitted by Britt and Jeff
When we were invited to explore the Hastings County Arts Route, to be honest we were a little bit stumped. It would be easy to assume this experience might be full or pretentious artist types, staring at obscure pieces, sharing comments like “its everything and nothing, all at once” and “I see myself in this piece”. Maybe someone would ask us what we see in a piece… what would we say? While we certainly appreciate a beautiful painting, browsing art galleries is something new for us. As with most new things, our pre-conceived idea of what it might be like, turned out to be wrong. Maybe the stereotypical artist snobs exist somewhere, but certainly not in Hastings County.
Sometimes road trips are best left unplanned, other times it's good to have a rough guideline for the day. This road trip we are using the “Arts Route” to add inspiration and purpose to our travels.
The Arts Route contains a growing number of unique stops across Hastings County, showcasing galleries and artisans that feature anything from paintings, photography, woodworking, jewelry making, and much more. You can use the interactive map on the Hastings County website, making it easy to navigate all 16 stops, like the gallery located in Madoc’s Public Library, to Donna Bonin's intimate home studio, on beautiful Oak Lake in Stirling. We decided to begin our tour in Marmora, at the Shore Acres Sculpture Garden.
But hold on! We are getting ahead of ourselves. Our Hastings County Arts Route Road Tour actually began right in our own kitchen! After researching the stops along the Arts Route, we came to realize that we’re the proud owners of some pieces from Bailey Brown Pottery, stop number 5 on the route. Located on Moneymore Road in Roslin. Bailey Brown makes wheel spun pottery, art designed to be used. Like our favorite coffee mugs for example! She is open year round by appointment or by chance.
Next our tour brought us north up Highway 14, to Marmora. Our first official stop was at the Shore Acres Sculpture Garden, located on McCleary Road. Shore Acres Sculpture Garden features the work of artist Stefan Duerst, as well as other Canadian artists. Metal, woodworking, and paint are among the talents featured at this gallery. Located on just under four acres and featuring an outdoor sculpture garden, we felt this was a great place to make our first stop and get our feet wet in the local art and culture. Shane, our friendly host was the first to ask the question the dreaded question… “What do you see in this piece?” Oh no! haha. He soon followed it up by telling us “if you ask five people, you will get six different responses” . It’s your individual interpretation of the art that matters, and their is no wrong answer. The inside of the gallery is very welcoming, and features a kitchen, and dining/living room, showcasing a beautiful fireplace. If you are looking for a space to host a small event or staff meeting - this would be the place. The gallery is available for rent for such events.
After chatting for a bit, our gracious host supplied us with a couple bottles of water to keep hydrated on the 40 degree day that awaited us, and we were on our way to our next stop!
From here we followed highway 7, and then headed north up highway 62 - to Coe Hill, where we had read there were a few can’t miss spots.
Stop number two, Tinhouse Woodworking, just outside of Coe Hill. Tinhouse Woodworking is owned by June and Jeff, who left the city to turn their vacation home into there year-round home and business. The property features an original blacksmith shop, and showcases art and gifts from local artisans. Paintings, furniture, pottery and natural beauty products are just a few of the items for purchase at this unique stop. Order yourself a speciality coffee for a little pick-me-up, and browse the items and property! A must-see stop.
Our last stop on our own personal Arts Route road trip led us just down the road to Ormsby, to one of our favourite places…Old Hastings Mercantile and Gallery. The space is owned by Lillian and Gary Pattison. Lillian is an artist and talented musician, and their space is a multi-artist gallery and studio. We can best describe this place as a little bit of all things cottage country - showcasing Canadian artist and artisans work, as well as Canadian made clothing and beauty products, books, housewares - even a Christmas themed room! They are expanding their space, soon all the upstairs rooms with be open for viewing!
We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many talented individuals in our beautiful County! What we learned was that we are home to a very diverse and beautiful community of artists, eager the share their craft and support the local culture. The Arts Route is a great way to discover Hastings County, use it to find a new stop along your way to the cottage, or dedicate a full day or weekend, delving deep into the local arts culture, checking off as many of the growing number of stops you can.
Story and photographs by Britt and Jeff
Britt and Jeff are a small town Canadian couple with entrepreneurial minds, hippie spirits and a passion for food, travel, music and people.
Learn more about Britt and Jeff and their adventures as well as the other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County here.