Growing up in a small town, it feels like most young people make a decision that they are “getting the hell out of here” regardless of how beautiful the area may be. The thought of moving back home after finishing post-secondary education is not even a blip on the radar and most plan on staying in the big city. I was like most, having no plans of returning to Markdale or the Grey County area after finishing my education. It’s fascinating to reflect back on my early childhood years (which were spent exploring and loving the natural wilderness of Grey County), that those memories suddenly seemed to be forgotten in my youth.
It wasn’t until later in life when coming home for family functions that I began noticing and remembering the beauty of this area once again. During visits, my future wife and I would hike and explore the area; which is where I felt that sense of wonder and fondness for Grey County return. It wasn’t until I decided to become involved with the family business of Chapman’s Ice Cream in Markdale, that moving back became something I longed for and looked forward to.
There’s something great about living in Markdale. Unlike other communities in the area, it’s literally a 30 minute driving radius to almost everything in Grey County. Being central to a little bit of everything has been a fantastic opportunity for my family.
One of our favourite family experiences is to explore the area’s many waterfalls, especially Inglis Falls. This waterfall is a quick accessible detour when heading into Owen Sound and my kids love it. We typically visit two or three times a year, hike the trails and stop to admire the falls at the different times of year and vantage points. One benefit of the abundance of rain and the higher water levels recently has meant this waterfall has been even more spectacular to see in person.
Our family looks forward to these hikes and one of the benefits of our girls growing up so quickly has meant we get to be a little more adventurous with our local hiking selections. One of our favourites is exploring Beaver Valley and Old Baldy because of the scenic beauty, changing colours and sense of wonder it creates and inspires in our children. Wanting them to experience these fond childhood memories of exploring, independence and nature at their doorstep is one element I love about Grey County and something you just can’t experience as easily in the big city.
Having returned back Markdale, I now realize how lucky I am. Unlike many individuals who are traveling up to Grey County from the GTA to escape the city, I don’t have that need. This is because I have nowhere to escape to since I am already where I want to be.
As my girls get older, I look forward to trying more things Grey County has to offer just 30 minutes away. This winter we are hoping to introduce our girls to skiing. It has been a great experience to watch my girls grow up where my roots are planted, and see childhood memories in the making. My only hope is that they don’t forget how uniquely special this area is when the lights of the city twinkle in their eyes.