Saturday Morning in St. Catharines

Saturday was Valentine’s Day, and it was full of my favourite things. Not raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Think food, chocolate, wine, and for me, a dose of history.

Starting off at the St. Catharines Farmers Market.

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I have always loved going to Farmer’s Markets, especially at harvest time. But my new life means it can be a bit more challenging to get there. Markets tend to open very early, and are usually wrapping up around 1:00. By the time breakfast is served and daily B&B chores attended to, I have missed the market. So this was a real treat.

Even though it is the middle of winter, there was such a variety of goodies for sale.

Of course, good old fruit and veg

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Chocolates

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Breads and other baked goodies

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Meat and cheese

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Organic sprouts, and vegan soups

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Flowers

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And lots of sampling, with good conversation

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Actually, I think the sampling is my favourite part.

Appetites stimulated, I promised Ken that we could go for a good old diner-type breakfast. So we headed out in the freezing weather, in search of sausages, eggs and coffee. Fat and caffeine are a necessity when it is this cold.

We found a little cafe – The Carlisle – for Ken’s fry-up.

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And I had Eggs Benny

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And then we ventured back out into the cold.

I’ve gotta say, I really like downtown St. Catharines. There is such a great vibe, mix of the old and the new.

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I love to wander around and look at the old buildings. I would have taken more pictures, but honestly in minus 5000  minus 30 degree weather, it was a bit chilly for outdoor photography.

The downtown area is really being revitalized. The New Performing Arts Centre will open its doors this year – a 95,000 square foot academic and cultural complex, comprised of four state-of-the-art performance venues. Very exciting. There are lots of great restaurants too. Last month I had dinner at PowWow, which I really enjoyed. I am eager to go back and try more of the restaurants – there are lots to choose from.. Happily, my friends at Niagara Culinary Tours offer a foodie tour in St. Catharines, so I am really looking forward to it.

We finished off the morning with a visit to the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre. We have driven by so many times, and decided this was the day to stop in. I particularly wanted to see the exhibit called Doing Our Bit: WW1 from St. Catharines to the Western Front. I have been very interested in WW1 for many years, and have travelled to Ypres and Passchendaele, due to my fascination.

What I appreciated about this exhibit was that it felt very personalized – history really comes alive when you can put a person’s face to it. There is a wall with pictures of some of the men who went, and beside their picture is the details of their story. Some came back and lived well into old age. One survived the war, only to be tragically killed in an industrial accident. Another received the Victoria Cross posthumously for his bravery. There was also an old diary from a St. Catharines woman who was a nurse overseas in the war. I had my face pressed up to the glass as close as I could to read it – what I wouldn’t give to read that diary cover to cover!

But the story I loved the most was about the St. Catharines soldier who befriended a British soldier. They made a pact that if something happened to one of them, the other would go personally to see and comfort the deceased one’s family. The St. Catharines soldier died in the war, and his British comrade kept his end of the bargain. He made the long trek to St. Catharines to talk to his friend’s widow. He stayed for awhile. They fell in love, and got married. What a lovely story for Valentine’s Day.

We left the museum in search of wine, chocolate, and some tasty treats to have with our dinner. Luckily, those things are very easy to find in Niagara.