YOU CAME, YOU SAW – AND NOW YOU DON’T WANT TO GO HOME!
You’re not alone! Boomers, zoomers and others are escaping the traffic-jammed, densely populated urbanscapes for tranquil, clean air communities and small subdivisions that nestle along Lake Huron’s shoreline. Wanting the convenience of local health care, hospitals and retail hubs as well as vibrant communities and cultural life leads many to consider the residential communities of Bayfield, Grand Bend, Forest and Exeter. The combined population of the municipalities in which these towns and villages are located – Lambton Shores, South Huron, Bluewater and North Middlesex – is just over 34,000.
Many transplanted Ontarians speak of the friendliness of local, multi-generational retailers and service providers as well as that of complete strangers, who make eye contact and wish you a good morning. Area farmers market vendors are genuine producers and tell you about their growth or production methods. Many even grow their own feed for the livestock they raise. Here, it really is possible to know where your food was grown, raised and produced. The 100 km food diet is a reality in an area with longstanding agricultural roots and heritage farms.
Lifestyle & Amenities
Summers packed with weekend events designed to bring in area visitors gives way to fall and winter club and interest based activities and events. Residents are spoilt for choice, regretting the inability to attend two events at the same time. Rotary, Lions and Optimists clubs are active organizations whose members organize a number of popular local events – like Beachfest in Grand Bend or the Morrison Dam Fishing Derby in Exeter or Bayfield’s Home & Garden Show.
Perhaps community theatre, gardening, history, art, personal development or conservationism is your interest – you’ll find a like-minded group of people in the form of Partners in Learning, Port Franks Camera Club, Probus, or the local horticultural and historical societies, to mention just a few. Check the GrandBendTourism.com website for a list of community clubs and organizations under its Services section (select “Community Clubs”). Under the same Services section, there’s a full listing of area churches and places of worship (select “Churches & Places of Worship”).
Business hubs like Grand Bend, Forest, Exeter, Bayfield and Parkhill provide a broad product and service mix where residents can walk to their downtown cores. Healthcare, legal, banking, real estate professionals, retail, automotive, home furnishings and building centres are found throughout the area and most within a short walk of in-town residents. Enjoying an active lifestyle can begin simply with a trip to the grocery store.
Public and Catholic school boards provide nursery, junior, intermediate and high school education with the University of Western Ontario (London,) University of Guelph (Clinton), Fanshawe College locations (London, Simcoe, St. Thomas, Woodstock, Tillsonburg, Clinton) and Lambton College locations (Sarnia & Petrolia) just an hour’s drive away or less.
Libraries are located in Arkona, Bayfield, Exeter, Forest, Grand Bend, Port Franks, Thedford and Zurich and all areas have conveniently located post offices.
Picture Perfect Panoramas
Whether you’re looking for a cottage or permanent residence, re-sale or new home, the area offers a choice of residence styles and locations – lake front, river front, forest, farm or downtown small town.
Grand Bend and Bayfield have played host to a number of dream lottery homes over the years. Local builders like Medway Homes, Oke Woodsmith, Platinum Builders, and Nicholson Builders have been involved with the construction of lottery homes. They, along with Rice Development Corporation, are respected, quality home builders and developers of custom homes and small subdivisions.
Adult Lifestyle Communities
Active adult lifestyle communities are not just for retirees, in fact many communities embrace empty-nesters in their late 40s happy to move into a community of like-minded people, without the noise, bustle and other problems of conventional suburbia. There are a variety of ownership options – owning, renting and leasing, so it’s a good idea to visit a number of communities and determine the right ownership style for you. Visit and assess the amenities being offered. Ask about pets and any restrictions or conditions on pet ownership.
The area has a number of these communities, including Grand Cove Estates in Grand Bend, Northville Estates in Port Franks (519-243-2500), River Meadows in Exeter (519-297-3130), Bayfield Mews in Bayfield (519-565-4542) and Meneset on the Lake (519-524-3282) and The Bluffs at Huron in Goderich (519-955-6780).
There are also a good number of permanent, year-round and seasonal communities offering land lease homes or cottages, some adult lifestyle and others for families. These types of communities offer a budget friendly option for snowbird couples or families seeking a vacation spot. Typical amenities might include a community centre, cable TV, natural gas, programmed activities, pool, playground, snack bar, golf and mini-golf. Examples include Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities (parkbridge.com) that offer retirement, family and cottage and RV resorts. There are also many resorts or campgrounds that offer a combination of seasonal trailer sites and park model manufactured homes. These can be year-round or seasonal locations.
If it’s time for a retirement residence or assistant living either for yourself or a parent, then consider residences such as Country Manor Retirement Home in Thedford (519-296-4949), Forest View Villa Apartments in Forest (519-333-2751), Queensway Retirement Home in Hensall (519-262-2830), Bluewater Rest Home & Apartments in Zurich (519-236-4373), Goderich Place (519-524-4243) and Harbourhill Suites (519-440-0110) in Goderich and Seaforth Manor in Seaforth (519-527-0030). Private services like Willow Homecare (519-294-8807) and Community Care Access Centre in Huron help coordinate local services to accommodate retirees remaining in their own homes. One Care (877-502-8277) offers a wide variety of programs for older adults and those with special needs to support and promote independent living and community involvement.
Although there is currently no public transportation, there are local taxi and shuttle services both private (Bluewater Taxi, Clinton Taxi, Grace Taxi, Grand Bend Taxi, Huron Taxi, Star Taxi, That Girl Taxi,) and agency operated (One Care Support, Lambton Elderly Outreach, Rides for Seniors). In true country style, local taxi companies are much more than just a ride from point A to point B, most also offer youth and student transportation, grocery store and prescription deliveries, vet appointments, battery boosts and gas delivery!
Service and special interest clubs, sports and recreation organizations are active throughout the area. Whether it’s bridge, euchre, baseball, shuffle board, hockey, scouts, music, quilting, theatre, photography, books or more intellectual pursuits – you’ll find a like-minded group of people. In additional to grandbendtourism.com, visit these municipal websites for recreation and community centres, clubs and organizations:
- Municipality of Lambton Shores (Arkona, Forest, Grand Bend, Ipperwash, Northville, Port Franks, Thedford), 1-866-943-1400: lambtonshores.ca
- Municipality of Bluewater (Bayfield, Hensall, St. Joseph, Zurich), 519-236-4351: municipalityofbluewater.ca
- Municipality of North Middlesex (Ailsa Craig, Parkhill), 519-294-6244: northmiddlesex.on.ca
- Municipality of South Huron (Centralia, Crediton, Dashwood, Exeter, Huron Park, Kirkton, Mount Carmel, Shipka), 1-888-204-0747: southhuron.ca
“Get Up Bayfield” is a pole walking group in Bayfield that changes ordinary walking into fitness walking using specially designed poles. Pole walking combines an upper body technique similar to cross country skiing along with walking with a shortened stride. The technique results in great physical fitness results like tightened abs, sculpted arms and shoulders and strengthened upper back muscles. Facebook.com/bayfield.pole.walking.
Arkona Library, 16 Smith St.: 519-828-3406
Bayfield Library, 20 Main St. N.: 519-565-2886
Exeter Library, 330 Main St. S.: 519-235-1890
Forest Library, 61 King St. W.: 519-786-5152
Grand Bend Library, 15 Gill St.: 519-238-2067
Hensall Library, 108 King St.: 519-262-2445
Port Franks Library, 9997 Port Franks Rd.: 519-243-2820
Thedford Library, 119 Main St.: 519-296-4459
Zurich Library, 50 Main St.: 519-236-4985
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