Go West, Day 1 – Parry Sound

Author: Larry St Aubin

When I first planned this trip, I was going to go Sudbury on June 3rd. However an opportunity came up to leave on June 2nd. I decided to spend some time in Parry Sound – which I have never been to.

The best laid plans of Pugs and Men…. On Wednesday, 2 days before we leave, I noticed Greta rubbing her eye. Check it out and see some discolouration. Luckily, I was able to get a vet appoinntment for Thursday. An eye stain revealed the beginnings of an ulcer. Got her started on the medication and will do a check with a vet in Winnipeg

Picked up the rental from Hertz, loaded it with the camping gear and supplies (and pugs), then headed up highway 400. Whenever I’ve headed north, my route has been to Muskoka. I’ve always turned on to highway 11 at Barrie. Staying on the 400 is new territory. But then, this is what the road trip is all about – explore and be happy.

Hertz gave me a brand new Hyundai Kona – only 5,700 Km on it. We’ll compare it at the end of the trip.

Got my playlists ready. Yes, we are Alive and yes, we are Kicking.

“The District of Parry Sound is home of the Anishinaabeg/Anishinaabek – Ojibway, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples, and the territory of the Wasauksing, Shawanaga, Magnetawan, Dokis and Henvey Inlet First Nations and is under the Robinson-Huron Treaty. As we are all treaty people, it is important to learn about the lands we stand on and the people who live here.”

Fort Knox Island Grill. We head to this take out place for some Caribbean cuisine. The have outdoor seating with a view of the Sequin River and the Old Train Bridge. The bridge is part of a walking trail. I get a chicken roti to take out.

I carried Greta into the place to order. The chef fell in love with her. I told him about the road trip and that Greta loves chicken. He took me out to show me his BBQ

Tower Hill Heritage Garden. I chose this because it is located on a hill that overlooks Parry Sound. It was constructed by the Ontario Forestry department in the 1920s. It is now run by the municipality. The original flagstones have been preserved.

Well, we looked at the tower from ground level and all voted to NOT climb it. We went to the museum instead.

In addition to the gardens is a fire tower. In fact the fire tower came first. It was District Forester Peter McEwan that realized tourism would add to the local economy. He arranged for public access to the tower and had the fire crews cultivate the ornamental gardens at its base. Cool.

There were different gardens to choose – Wildlife, Rain, Lilac, Sundial and Rock gardens.

The lilacs were in bloom so decided to start there. The mosquitos were on us and I didn’t have the bug spray so we headed back to the car.

In 1931 the fishpond, sundial and 3 acres of planting were completed. 11,000 pine trees were planted to replace those lost to drought. Eve eyes the fish.

The rock garden was built in 1934 consisting mailing of coniferous shrubs.

From 1954 to 56, small menagerie of Canada geese, guinea hens, pheasants and ducks take up residence in the Tower gardens.

In the 1960s, the tower, as a fire detection system, became obsolete. It was dismantled but a new communications tower was built. It is the one that is now accessible to the public.

The weather predicted a heat wave and possible risk of a thunderstorm. I made plans to find a place indoors. Turns out, there was a museum at Tower Hill.

The Tower Hill Museum (West Parry Sound District Museum) is pet friendly so we head inside. However, the pugs cannot walk on their own. The Director of the museum said the dog has to be carried. So, Greta goes into the back pack and Eve goes into the stroller.

They have completed a 3 year renovation of the E. Roy Smith gallery – their permanent exhibition space. It was done mostly by volunteers. COVID interrupted the process but started again in March 2021. A model of the Ottawa, Arnprior & Parry Sound Railway was completed.

The railroad model was fantastic. It went all the way from one end to another, then continued along L shape.

I asked the volunteer who had made it but she didn’t know. And there was no information on the builder at the exhibit.

But she did leave her desk to come take a photo of us.

In the other room was a new exhibit feature art work by Bert Liverance on the local wildflowers.

Lady Slipper

The Old Train Bridge is part of the Algonquin Fitness Trail that runs through Parry Sound. It is a complement to the CPR Trestle Bridge. It was a CN/CPR spur line from 1906 and abandoned in 1984. It was converted to a pedestrian trail in 1995. We were going to walk it but it was too hot. We headed to the patio of Trestle Brewing Company.

In 1907 construction began on the CPR Trestle bridge. It was completed by 5,000 workers in 1908, allowing for the CPR to go directly from Toronto to Winnipeg. It was the longest trestle bridge in Ontario at 579 metres long.

In 1914, artist Tom Thomson visited Parry Sound and painted the CPR Trestle bridge.

The Tower Hill museum has another painting artifact of the trestle bridge by Tampa Bay resident Pete MacDonald. The family spent cottage time in the area for years.

At the end of the Trestle Bridge is the aptly named Trestle Brewing Company. There was actually a line up of dogs and their owners to get in. We had to wait 20 minutes for a table. However they offered to text me when it would be ready so we cooled down in the car.

Got the South Channel IPA and a Reuban sandwich. Greta insisted she had never had corned beef before so need to taste it. There is a border collie under the table near us and another farther down. A standard poodle had just left.

A train went by on the trestle bridge and tried to get a shot of it.

Parry Sound Inn and Suites. This was a last minute booking and couldn’t find a pet friendly hotel downtown. The Inn is located near the Trans Canada on the outskirts. We head back to our hotel for an early night. A couple of snoring pugs after a day’s adventure


  1. Oh Larry….this wonderful trip with Greta and Eve is giving me so much joy! You are such an informative travel guide!! Wow….great detail and so very interesting! Boy, I’ve enjoyed learning so much about the Parry Sound area. I’ve never been there myself but now I feel like I am experiencing the trip with the three of you. I eagerly look forward to tomorrow’s adventures. The puggies are doing so well and melted my heart seeing them snoring away on the big bed after all the attractions of the day! Thank you so much Larry…safe travels and hope you enjoy that wee car! ❤️🐾 Ann xx

    • Thanks Ann, I’m so glad you have joined us on our journey. Greta is doing better but she been sedated the last couple of days so she mostly sleeps in the car, stroller or backpack

  2. P.S. Larry….So sorry to hear about Greta’s ulcer. I hope her eye will be ok. Pugs and their ulcers!? My boy Pino had quite a few in his day. Onward and upward in good health the three of you! ❤️🐾

  3. What a wonderful day. I’m glad that Greta finally got to try some corned beef. Looking forward to a month of your adventures.

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