Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tin Can Tourists

Warning: This is a very lengthy post so keep that pot of tea or coffee or your bottle of wine close to your computer. Remember to take bathroom breaks and if you find yourself nodding off, please just take a nap and come back – or not.

This passionate group of RV’ers was what attracted us to Backus Conservation Area.

While shopping in Port Rowan the previous day a small parade of antique vehicles and RV’s passed through proudly tooting and waving to everyone. Let me say that this was quite a display for this sleepy little town. They seemed to be heading north towards Backus Mills. Having caught our attention, as soon as we got back to the motorhome I checked it out on the internet and we made plans to attend their show the next day.

Approximately a dozen vintage vehicles and twenty RVs were on display.



Visitors were all welcome to take inside tours

Remember these?


Quoted from the Port Rowan Good News newspaper:

Vintage RVs were marvels of design - When Mom & Dad took the family camping in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, it was a very different experience than today. The “vintage recreational vehicle show” at Backus Heritage village from July 29 to 31st was a reminder of just how much things have changed. The show paid tribute to the innovative RV’s that appeared over sixty years ago to help the family “get out of town” for a holiday. In the process, an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was also created.


This must have been one of the first of what is now called a Fifth Wheel.


This magnificent black and chrome ‘Silver Streak 8’ Pontiac sedan hitched to a hand made varnished wooden trailer.


All of the tires matched, the trailer even bore the Pontiac Chief emblem.


We always take a special interest in these little fiberglass beauties. It’s much like our Dave (SIL) & Shy’s (DD). You’ll read more about that in another post.


Some of the details in their elaborate displays amazed us.



Check out this portable bathtub!


You non RV’ers may not find the following of any interest.

To our RV’ing friends  *** Bathroom Break ***

This is an excerpt from their website:

The Tin Can Tourists were organized at Desoto Park, Tampa, Florida, in 1919. They received the official state charter a year later. The groups stated objective was “to unite fraternally all autocampers”. Their guiding principles were clean camps, friendliness among campers, decent behavior and to secure plenty of clean, wholesome entertainment for those in camp. The group known for the soldered tin can on their radiator caps grew rapidly during the twenties and thirties. Members could be inducted fellow campers through an initiation process that taught the prospective member the secret handshake, sign, and password. After singing the official song “The More We Get Together” the trailerite was an official member of the Tin Can Tourists of the World.

1920 Tin Can Tourists in Tampa, FL “Watching the Ball Game”


Summer reunions were held at various Midwest locations, with Traverse City, Michigan serving as a primary host city. The club spent winters at Desoto Park until 1924.

"Tin can tourists. 1921 or 1922." Car camping and watermelon in or around Washington, D.C.

Tin can tourists - 1921 or 1922. Car camping and watermelon in or around Washington, D.C.

Because locals grew tired of their park being over run with northerners, the park was closed a month early in March. The canners took the hint and moved the Winter Convention to Arcadia, where the community had built a municipal park especially for the Tin Can Tourists. By 1932, with membership estimates ranging from 30,000 to 100,000, city Chambers of Commerce were actively pursuing TCT to choose their community for either Homecoming, Winter Convention or Going Home meets. The Winter Convention was the best attended and was an economic boon to the host community. Sarasota had its eye on the prize and lured the Convention away from Arcadia in 1932. The vote on the Winter Convention site was hotly contested. Many Canners were loyal to Arcadia, the town that wanted them after their ejection from Tampa. A 250 strong car caravan let by Sarasota’s mayor and other public officials, helped swing the vote selecting Sarasota as the Winter Convention site for 1932. As a concession to those that favored Arcadia, it was designated as the official site for Homecoming festivities. In 1938, the mayor of Sarasota indicated that the national perception that Sarasota was a tin can tourist’s town was hurting the community and that he would not renew the Winter Convention contract. Tampa offered the canners a five-year deal to return to Tampa. It was accepted and the Winter Convention returned to specially built Municipal Park. The group faced membership declines due to combination of factors, (1) a schism with in the ranks and the formation of ATA, the Automobile Tourists Association, (2) an economic recession in 1939 that greatly diminished the number of trailer manufactures, and (3) the onset of World War II. Winter Convention photograph depict a much smaller group in 1948 at Tampa. The original groups “Swan Song” convention was held in Eustis, Florida in 1968. By the mid-80’s the club was no longer in existence in any form.

Well, I’m proud of all you readers who hung in there till the end. Hopefully you found this as interesting as we did.

For more info you can click here for the Tin Can Tourist’s website.

Today I am grateful for our motorhome’s modern bathroom.

Backus Mills, Port Rowan

Back in the ‘70’s, our early tent camping days, Backus Mills,as it used to be known, was always a favourite for our whole family.

Having expanded quite a bit over the last few years it now hosts 164 sites accommodating rustic campers or larger RV’s. Seasonal sites are available in a couple of different areas with all of the sites being beautifully treed.

You can spend hours enjoying the incredible local wildlife displays in the Nature Centre and discovering the log cabins, gardens, blacksmithing sheds, various antiques, a one room octagonal shaped school house and other replicas in Heritage Village. There is a small church which is actually used for services and small weddings. The beautiful grounds surrounding the main house are a very popular site for engagement and wedding photographs. Quite a few sheltered areas provide privacy for family reunions or gatherings.

Backus Conservation Area offers a large range of activities for young and old.


Sitting quietly with pole in hand


to proudly showing off the catch of the day


or just enjoying the serenity


Wandering the grounds


Touring the mill


or exploring the other buildings


I did the math. In 17 years this car travelled 264 miles. Price of gas in 1953 was about 20 cents so this guy spent about 13.00 on gas in 17 years!

I told ya I did the math Nerd smile 

Unable to find a website, I did find the following info on the internet:

“A visit to Backus Heritage Conservation Area, a 502ha (1,240-acre) site, satisfies a curiosity for both natural and social history. A heritage village that emulates southern Ontario life in the late 1800s and early 1900s forms the best-known section of the park. It includes four buildings that were on the site when the Backus (originally Backhouse) family sold the property in 1955, plus a variety of other period structures relocated here by the Long Point Region Conservation Authority. The most impressive of these is a hand-hewn beam structure now known as the John C. Backhouse Mill. Wheat has been stone ground into flour in this building since 1798, making it Ontario’s oldest continuously operating gristmill. It is also one of the few mills close to the U.S. border hat survived the War of 1812. Another structure worth noticing is the large brick house, which was built by the Backus family in 1850 from clay found on the property. Restoration efforts have included repainting the interior in its original colours and reconstructing the veranda in 1996.”

This is the type of activity that both The Cowboy & I really enjoy on a  lazy summer afternoon, strolling the beautiful landscape, reflecting on our heritage. Finding the perfect shade tree to enjoy a picnic lunch, feeling extremely grateful for all that has been created for us.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How to Warm a Shed

Our friends Ken & Jean recently purchased a lovely property just north of London. It boasts 5 acres of well maintained grassy areas with a recently updated large house, 2 car garage and 2 sheds – one attached to a very large barn. This is such a perfect property for them. Ken collects antiques – mainly tractors and farm toys but he has many collections consisting of old calendars, photos and all types of memorabilia as well.

Not only is the large shed perfect for housing most of these rare collections, it’s also a great place for a party! This gala celebration was disguised as a ‘Shed Warming’ but was also a good excuse to celebrate Jean’s milestone birthday. Now, far be it from me to tell you how old she is but she’s now receiving ‘Cash for Life’! Winking smile


And Yes that is a live band you see. This was a ‘No Holds Barred’ event that approximately 140 guests were there to enjoy. Tons of delicious roast beef, huge bowls of salads and several crock pots overfilled with beans, plus all the trimmin’s  was (thankfully) mostly catered.

Jean & Ken renamed file-70

No shed warming would be complete without a hayride!

Jean & Ken renamed file-137

As you can tell from the background quite a few of us took advantage of the space and came complete with our RV’s . . .


and Classic Cars


As you can tell by the pics everyone had a great time and we’ve all pretty much decided that this was the first of what will now be an annual event.

Big Thank You to Ken & Jean – the best hosts ever!

It was difficult to pick the photos for this post because as usual I snapped a lot – edited down to 278 to be exact but who’s counting? There were just so many awesome subjects. For a larger image just click on the photo or you can view them all at .

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Holland Marsh & Orangeville Tree Sculptures

This is what the traffic looked like as we were leaving Orillia.


Quite the view from the Princess throne eh? Princess

                       (Please keep in mind that these photos were taken                  through glass as we were travelling.)

DSC_0112Workers in the Holland Marsh – The Heart of Canada’s Vegetable Industry

“The Holland Marsh, located 50km north of Toronto, Ontario, is commonly referred to as Ontario’s ‘vegetable patch’ because of its incredible variety and copious amounts of fresh produce. Produce selections range from more traditional crops such as carrots (of course), onions and celery, to more diverse options like Chinese broccoli, Asian radish, and water spinach. The ability to grow and harvest these crops, which cumulatively amount to over $50 million worth of produce per year, results from a combination of dedicated farmers and incredible muck soil.”

If you want more information or photos click here

We see a lot of quaint little villages and towns as we travel and we make notes of places that we would like to return to and spend some time exploring. Orangeville is one of those places.


These tree sculptures and wood carvings line the streets.


Again, keep in mind that we are travelling in our motorhome towing our Grand Vitara. The Cowboy’s not real crazy about stopping just to let me take a picture. Flirt male

“The Art Walk of Tree Sculptures for Orangeville has attracted a lot of attention from residents, visitors and other municipalities since it was initiated in 2002. The project gives trees a new life after they have been declared beyond hope by the municipal arborist.”


“All kinds of wooden carvings on permanent display including "chainsaw carvings", "totem poles" & "cigar store Indians" along roadways in parks in front of stores, lodges and wherever they may be placed for outdoor public display. *Wooden signs do not meet this category's criteria (those currently accepted previous to Feb 4 2008 will be grandfathered). The wooden display must be of a sculpture format. The carving must be made of wood and not resin reproductions.”

Most of the information here is from the internet. Just google ‘Orangeville Wood Carvings’ and you’ll find lots of web sites. From my understanding, there is a team of artists that work on this project. One that caught my attention is Jim Menkin, a chain saw carver. You can check out his website here for more (professional) pictures and info.

Thanks for travelling along with us.

Honkytonk Badonkadonk !

Dwight & Elaine are great friends from Orillia that we met in Kenwood RV Park in La Feria, Texas about 4 years ago. We’ve kept in touch, thanks to Verizon’s phone plan, and  we make sure our paths cross often. The last time we got together was last spring as we were heading north to Canada. We met up at the Horseshoe Casino in Louisville and spent a few days.

Most casino’s are RV friendly and Dwight & Elaine, like a lot of other RVers, spend a lot of free nights in their parking lots with some of the casino’s even offering hook-ups for travellers. ‘Free’ being the key word there! For the Cowboy & I it usually costs us more than paying for an overnight sight in a high end RV resort. Not that we’re big gamblers, by any means, but we usually leave behind a donation  $20  $40  100 bucks.


That’s a photo of their beautiful rig, a Holiday Rambler Ambassador and the loaded Lincoln Mark 5 on the right is their humble little tow car.

We hang out together quite a bit . . .


Shopping at Sam’s Club


Flea Markets

A little culture – waiting for a play P1160587to beginP1160590






And way too often our outings include dining out. Texas buffets are simply the best! We love Furr’s & Golden Corral.


Whenever we go to a buffet, Dwight, always the gentleman, waits at our table and watches our purses while the rest of us scratch and claw our way up to the tables piled high with a wonderful variety of food.

Dwight & Elaine also help out at our MASA presentations. We sometimes have up to 200 attendees and it’s really great having a couple pair of extra hands. We’re very grateful for their help. Plus they make it a lot more fun!


Here’s a photo of them (ahem) helping us Rolling on the floor laughing

During our last visit with them in their home town they treated us to a wonderful dinner at Casino Rama and we topped the evening off with a Trace Adkins concert.


We really enjoyed the fun, food & entertainment.

Thanks Dwight & Elaine for the wonderful visit, for all of your help in Texas and most of all for your friendship!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A trip back in time–St Jacobs Mennonite Country

On our way to visit our RVing friends Dwight & Elaine in Orillia we decided to spend a couple of days in St. Jacobs. This area is bursting with touristy attractions (read: shopping) and is well known for its Farmers Market and Outlet Mall.

We boondocked in the large restaurant parking lot right across the road from both of these landmarks. Our first night there we ate at this newly established restaurant and when I remember the name of it I will come back and edit this post. What I do remember is that the food was excellent, very large portions and the service was exceptional as well.

2011-07-13 St Jacobs

Since I took a lot of pictures today most of the photos in this post are in collages. Just to give you a glimpse of all that there is to experience at this incredible Famers Market.

You can see a larger image by clicking on the photo.

2011-07-13 St Jacobs1

Beautiful sunshine and blue skies found us at the Market a bit early; some of the vendors were still setting up their displays.

2011-07-13 St Jacobs2

All of our senses came alive in full force as we wandered inside to the amazing aromas of freshly baked breads and desserts of all kinds. All of a sudden we knew we were starving but the big decision loomed over us – what to have? The fresh cheeses and meats all looked so appetizing. We were offered free samples too – good marketing! We settled on sharing a healthy serving of perogies and cabbage rolls, found a shaded picnic table outdoors and enjoyed people watching with our delicious meal.

2011-07-13 St Jacobs3

The large indoor market offers 2 floors of food from all countries,specialty coffees and teas, crafts, collectibles, clothing, jewelry and everything in between.


The outside area boasts all kinds of local fresh vegetables, preserves, honey, more crafts plus clowns, buskers & entertainment for all ages.


I felt that these last two photos warranted their own space.


We Love Summer in Ontario! This is just one of the many great places to visit.

You owe it to yourself to make a day of it (or three).

If you have been there before - you still owe it to yourself to go back and re-visit.