by George Dyke…
Niagara Region outings are always the most popular of our Citroën Autoclub Canada driving events. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to taste some of the Niagara region’s finest wines, perhaps the convenient location, or the fact that we seem to choose the ideal time to experience Niagara’s growing season.
See our photo gallery of the outing here.
This year we had another great turnout and a hot day with plenty of sunshine. We began by gathering at John McCulloch and Chris Deja’s house in Oakville for coffee and cake. Three new participants joined in; Ann-Marie France Winston in her lovely, all original, black, Belgian built 2CV, Ann and Rick Stasiuk in their newly acquired mint (and original) 2CV Charleston, and Gord Linkletter in his impressive 1955 Traction Avant 11BL. George Klein asked Pierre Quenneville to give his newly restored 1973 Silver SM 5-speed a thorough road test while he drove his white 1972 SM. Herns and Nettie Pierre-Jerome also road tested their newly purchased US spec DS21 that they just imported from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In all we had 14 Citroëns and quite a variety; 2 SMs, 3 Tractions, 5 2CVs, 3 DSs and a GS.
We made our way to Lakeshore Rd. and drove through Burlington, then onto the Beach Strip Road which runs parallel to the QEW, meeting up near Hamilton with Lloyd McBride in his 1960 ID19 and Bill Rea in his newly purchased 1953 Traction 11B (actually my car that I had sold to a collector in the Newmarket area that recently came up for sale again. Bill moved on it and now he’s the new proud owner).
Our first stop was Tawse Winery where we were invited to their private tasting room. Tawse offers a selection of arguably the best white wines in Ontario, all organic and with a craftsmanship that is unmatched. Their Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer are not to be missed! And their locale is spectacular, overlooking Lake Ontario with a long driveway, beautiful gardens and impressive fountain in the middle.
From there we made our way to Stoney Ridge Winery near the village of Jordan Valley and then onto Flat Rock Estates Winery where we were treated to another spectacular view of Lake Ontario. A clear enough day to be able to see right across the lake to Toronto.
Well wined and dined from the picnic lunches we packed, we began the serious driving part of our outing. In the area bounded by Beamsville, St. Catharines and Pelham lie some phenomenal back roads. We took a course for about 45 minutes that wound through narrow scenic roads of untouched woodlands, upscale estates and small farms. Everyone was smiles and thumbs-up as we stopped for gas at Pelham, even though three cars had managed to go astray during the drive and discovered their own route before hooking back up with us again.
From Pelham we headed toward Ft Erie, taking flatter farmland roads as we worked our way over to the Niagara River Parkway and drove along it to Niagara Falls, stopping for dinner at Paris Crêpes Bistro, a quaint authentic French restaurant that is located in the old downtown section of the city, well away from the tourist area and the casino that has over commercialized the natural majestic wonder of the Falls. The food didn’t disappoint and the staff was thrilled to see the street in front of the restaurant filled with Citroëns.
With the event officially over at Paris Crêpes Bistro, we said our goodbyes to those who stayed for dinner and made our way back to Toronto. We joined the Niagara Parkway again for a beautiful sunset drive to Queenston Heights watching the sun cascading off the cliffs on the American side of the Niagara Gorge. Then we took York Rd. back through St. David’s and over to join the QEW just before the Garden City Skyway as it crosses over the Welland Canal. As the sun slowly set on us along the QEW we couldn’t help reflecting on how superb a day it was and how life doesn’t get much better than this!