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In autumn, the beauty of Ontario’s rural landscape is breathtaking. People come from all over the world to marvel at Mother Nature’s scenic splendor as the leaves change color. There are numerous leaf-peeping organized tours you can take, or simply hop in the car and do it yourself. If you jaunt through the Kawarthas, you can stop for delicious treats along the butter tart trail at roadside restaurants that specialize in the gooey, sweet tarts. Get more information on this region at thekawarthas.ca.

Another area to explore is through the back roads of southern Georgian Bay around Collingwood and Thornbury, where multiple cafés invite you to savor a slice of delicious, homegrown apple pie. October is apple season and the fruit is crisp, sweet and at its best. Also, north of Toronto are the winding roads of Muskoka where you can get a taste of the landscape that inspired the famous Canadian Group of Seven’s art (discovermuskoka.ca). The Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery features 80 mural reproductions on exterior walls of businesses throughout Huntsville, Lake of Bays and Algonquin Park.

Romantics will enjoy the covered bridge (also known as the Kissing Bridge) in West Montrose, in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Stroll over the historic bridge and you might see the horse-drawn buggies of the area’s Old Order Mennonite farmers.

Another great way to celebrate the harvest season is fall fairs where ribbons abound for the most delicious apple pies, the biggest squash, and the most astounding pigs, sheep, horses and cattle. “Fairs are about our roots as Canadians. They’re about how we feed people,” says George Araujo, general manager of the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show. The oldest, continuously running fair in the country celebrates its 175th anniversary this year from October 6-12.

Near Caledon, the 165th Erin Fall Fair on the Thanksgiving weekend features a strong equine bill, including heavy horses and Welsh ponies. “Many horse lovers come just to see and get closer to the animals than they normally could,” notes Jennifer Girvin, who has attended the fair since she was a child and now runs some of the horse shows.
Paul Quinlan, secretary/manager of the Norwood Fair, 30 km east of Peterborough, first went to the fair with his grandmother 65 years ago. “The church groups would lay out all their homemade goodies, homemade pies, sandwiches and fresh coffee,” he recalls. “The smells were so tantalizing.”

Pioneer villages are also offering autumn experiences. At Lang Pioneer Village (langpioneervillage.ca), 15 km southwest of Peterborough, a new series of historic literary walks introduces visitors to the spirits of some of the first settlers of Canada, including such authors as Susanna Moodie (Roughing It in the Bush) and her sister Catherine Parr Traill (The Backwoods of Canada). “Impersonators in period costumes interact with visitors and allow them to step back in time,” explains Joe Corrigan, museum manager.
At the McLean Berry Farm Pumpkin Festival (mcleanberryfarm.com) near Peterborough, from Thanksgiving to the last weekend of October, you can take a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkin, get lost in the corn maze, or get your take aim and shoot the pumpkin cannon.

Why not take a drive into Ontario’s countryside this fall? It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty and the bounty of the season.

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Maureen LittleJohn
Maureen Littlejohn is Culture Magazin's executive editor. She is a Canadian award-winning journalist who has practiced her craft around the world including in the United States, Africa and Vietnam. Currently based in Toronto, she has a keen eye for detail and has a deep appreciation for the “East Meets West” approach of Culture Magazin. Travel is her passion and she is happy to be able to share her adventures on a regular basis with the magazine's readers.