By George Dyke….
On Saturday, October 14, 2023 Citroën Autoclub Canada held their annual fall outing. This year we took in the autumn colours on a road tour to picturesque Elora and St. Jacobs through the counties of Halton, Wellington and Waterloo.
Although we had do deal with light rain at the start of the trip at 10:30 in the morning, when we departed from our meeting location at McDonalds in Milton, ON, the rain soon tapered off and made for just a cloudy day.
View a full photo gallery of the outing here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAYAHu
One fortunate thing about the inclement morning weather was that both Elora and St . Jacobs were not packed with tourists as would usually be the case on a fall weekend.
We traveled the entire route along lovely country back-roads, first stopping in Elora, where the group was treated to a glass blowing demonstration at Blown Away Glass Studio. We got to watch a multi-coloured drinking glass be created from an initial glowing blob of molten glass on a pole and crafted into a beautifully formed finished product. Quite a fascinating process!
From Elora, the next stop was West Montrose where there is one of the oldest covered bridges in Canada. Also known as the “Kissing Bridge” it was built from 1880–1881, mostly of oak and white pine. At the time of construction, the estimated useful life of the structure was 70 to 80 years. That was significantly increased with subsequent restorations. The primary modifications during restorations added concrete and steel parts to strengthen the aging structure. However, the current visible form of the bridge remains true to the original design.
It was a great place for a photo op of members’ Citroëns exiting bridge.
Stopping in St. Jacobs, the group visited the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway, an O scale (¼”= 12”) model railway depicting Southern Ontario in the late 1950’s. The exhibit is spectacular. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, it is run by true train enthusiasts and depicts the Southern Ontario area, including parts of the Niagara Escarpment, in the late 1950’s. The older fellows there not only have real-world experience with trains, but they hand-built the towns and settings in the layout from what they actually remember!
We felt so fortunate to see it because it is going to permanently close in December. They are trying to find a new location as the the landlord of the building they are currently located in has raised the rent the point that they cannot afford to keep the doors open and plan to demolish the building in favour a new project development. (The landlord by the way is the Zehrs, which is part of the George Weston Limited and Loblaw Companies Limited empire.)
We also got the opportunity to see at how quality brooms are made at Hamel Brooms. Originally founded in Waterloo in 1908, the St. Jacobs location is the last corn broom manufacturer left in Canada.
On the return portion of the trip we stopped at Maryhill for a photo op at Voisin Garage.
If the Voisin artwork of their logo looks familiar, that is because the family owned business can trace their roots back to France and Aéroplanes Voisin — a French aircraft manufacturing company established in 1905 by Gabriel Voisin and his brother Charles. The company was continued by Gabriel after Charles died in an automobile accident in 1912 and the full official company name then became Société Anonyme des Aéroplanes G. Voisin.
Gabriel Voisin established Avions Voisin a French luxury automobile brand in 1919 which produced cars up until 1939.
Seeking a better life in Canada after the devastation of WWII in France, Voisin Garage in Maryhill was established in 1946 by brothers Roman and Harold Voisin. They opened the small garage where they fixed everything from tractors to cars. Greg Voisin, a nephew to Roman & Harold Voisin, took over the family business in 1994 after Roman retired.
There is strong Citroën link to Voisin because André Lèfebvre, the principle engineer of the Traction Avant, began his career as an aviation engineer working for Gabriel Voisin. He was also a racing driver and race car designer, and won the 1927 Rallye Monte Carlo. He joined the Renault in 1931 but with a tenuous term working under Louis Renault was hired in 1933 by André Citroën for the hurried development of the Traction Avant. After the death of Andre Citroën in 1935, he continued his work at Citroën on the 2CV, DS and HY Van.
In all it was a fun filled day for those who didn’t mind a little dampness at the beginning of the day in favour of yet another memorable Citroën Autoclub Canada Fall outing.