Guest Writer: Robert Iantorno
Robert Edward Iantorno (1986) is curious; always has been. Raised by his Nonna, he grew up in Toronto in the family business and learned the value of kindness and good work. Robert studied at U of T and has designed products and managed companies in the building products space, always with the ethos of customer service, quality of product and responsible Canadian industry. Robert lives in Singhampton with his lovely wife Maria and their dogs in a Quonset shell house that he built. He loves sharing his enthusiasm for rural places and bringing people together over common ground. Robert especially likes the popping sound of his Triumph motorcycle under deceleration when heading down Grey Road 30.
Flesherton is located at the intersection of Highway 10 and Grey Road 4 - right at the “X” on the map. The ancient lands were turned and churned by glaciers in the last ice age, which carved out the Boyne river, the Beaver River and created an abundant place for the Wyandot people to live for generations.
Named after the early settler “WK Flesher”, Flesherton’s geographic situation is appropriate, as it’s a place defined by contrasts. You’ll see old buildings with Victorian Mansard roofs, parapets and ornate brickwork, now home to many artsy, colourful people, running progressive, colourful businesses.
If you’re in town on a weekday, I recommend parking and walking from shop to shop, asking for recommendations from the people that you meet, and stopping to enjoy the many murals that dot the village. Grab a coffee from one place, a sandwich and a book from another, and enjoy them by the Flesherton pond or in the Memorial Park. Flesherton is a cool place that rewards the wanderer. Here’s a brief rundown on some of the spots enjoyed by locals:
Highland Grounds is all about fair business. They offer over 160 varieties of fair trade coffee, 126 teas, as well as organic snack foods (perfect to pack for that visit to Hoggs Falls), sauces, syrups and preserves. You’ll also find local art for purchase on the walls, as well as a large selection of books by local authors, and a line of socially-conscious clothing, with proceeds to local causes. It’s a good place to stock up on organic local meats and fish as well. I really enjoy their medium roast drip coffee and a fresh baked blueberry scone.
Located on the South West corner, the Eco-Refillary is run by enthusiastic owner Katrina who seeks to bring not just sustainable, but intentional living to her clients. Their refillable soaps reduce waste, and their candles are made in store with soy waxes and essential oils. This is a business that supports many Canadian women makers, and you’ll find everything from woven bamboo clothing to gummies made from apple cider vinegar. The staff is always helpful and happy to make recommendations.
Located in the historic WK Richardson building, you’ll be drawn to this place by the beautiful smell of fresh baked carbohydrates. Their classic donut has just the right amount of chew and sweetness, and the grilled sandwiches are ideal for that picnic by the pond.
Run by literary enthusiasts, you can find non-fiction, classics and works by local authors at this classic small town bookstore.
At the north end of the busy part of town, this place is hard to miss. There’s a wandering sculpture garden out back, and the colourful, meaningful M.A.D. Wall (Make A Difference) full of murals alongside. Owners and artists Jenn and Holger love talking about their travels and what inspires them in their artwork. Find positive vibes here as well as a large selection of local artwork.
Run by former theatre insiders, The Bicycle Café is in a beautiful old building, once home to the pharmacy, and now decorated with an eclectic mix of tapestries, album covers and David Bowie paraphernalia. Their sweet Vietnamese coffee really hits the spot on a cold day, and they offer an international menu ranging from Grey County Shawarma to Vegan Peanut stew. I enjoy their “Arabian” Smoothie with dates, banana, coconut mango and pineapple juice - it just hits different.
A Flesherton classic, stop into Jolley’s for your classic scoop of Chapman’s Ice Cream, surprise $0.25, $0.50, even $1.00 bags of penny candy (!), and even a movie rental (remember those??)
There’s always time for cheese. Staff here are helpful with recommendations, and they offer a great selection of imported olive oil, preserves, charcuterie, and those fancy crackers that my mom likes. Check out their selection of frozen pot pies as well.
Professional chef Chris offers a wide variety of frozen prepared meals, and quality meats including Wagyu and Duck, ideal for stocking your freezer. Their curry apricot chicken stew is perfect for the fall weather, and your house will smell amazing.
Owners Carol and David are positive, friendly people and came to Flesherton with a migration of other artists in the 1980s. Their shop is located in an old building across from Jolley’s on Rd.4, and is home to handmade feel good items ranging from magic wands to pottery, clothing and paintings.
On the way to the Beaver Valley, you’ll spot a converted steel Quonset workshop with a big, rad arrow sign out front. Welcome to Savvy Co., where you can find curated Local craft beers and ciders, European Wines, and a Caesar complete with a meal on a skewer (full size pickle, jerky, more stuff). They also offer $2 drip coffee and great espresso drinks. Tourists and locals will feel welcome here, and they have a BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket) policy on the patio.