Sitting on the edge of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario is the charming historic town of Goderich. So charming, that it was once described as “the prettiest town in Canada” by Queen Elizabeth II. Ontarians seeking a day trip destination need to look no further and plan your next road trip here. Goderich offers visitors a great mix of sandy beaches, vibrant downtown, friendly locals and a thriving arts & cultural community.
After the War of 1812, John Galt and a group of investors formed the Canada Company. The British government granted the Canada Company 1,100,000 acres of land stretching from Lake Huron to Guelph. The location of the proposed town was cleared of its dense trees and a log cabin was erected. When John Galt arrived by boat to the shores, it was celebrated as founder’s day – June 29, 1827.
He then drew up the town plan. Similar to the design of the charming village of Bayfield it includes a central square and streets fanning out from it. Very different than the usually grid patterns you seen in most towns.
The Heart of Goderich
Stroll the Downtown
Like any small town in Ontario, the heart of the community can be found in its historic downtown. Goderich’s downtown is surprisingly large. At the centre sits Courthouse Park, an octagonal shaped public space with eight streets radiating out from there. You will hear locals refer to it as ‘Market Square’ or just ‘The Square’. It’s the location of the County Courthouse built in 1857. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by a fire and replaced in the 1950’s by a modern Art Deco style. Most of the buildings around The Square were built in mid to late 1850s and were inspired by influences of Georgian, Italianate and Second Empire styles and detailing.
Peruse the Shops
There are almost 200 unique shops that line the historic downtown. Everything from antiques to art galleries to specialty shops.
Join the locals at the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings in The Square.
Check out a Museum
If you are looking to learn about the history of Goderich and surrounding area head to Huron County museum. Did you know that the last public hanging in Canada took place in Goderich? Also, did you know, you can visit the Huron County Jail from 1842 to 1972? It’s now a National Historic Site.
Watch a Local Theatre Production
Attend a Festival
This family-friendly community offers year-round festivals. A highlight in the summer is listening to the local highlanders pipe band ‘Pipe Down the Sun’ every Friday evening. And, in the winter, don’t miss the Tree lighting ceremony followed by a holiday parade and festival of lights.
Grab a Bite
The best eatery in Goderich is definitely Cait’s Café – a Parisian inspired café. A must-try are their butter croissants. For breakfast, it’s the decadent chocolate croissant and for lunch it turns into a delicious sandwich with your favourite toppings. Their delicious croissants can stand up to any boulangerie in Paris- they are that good!
The Shores of Lake Huron
Head to the Beach
There is no doubt that one of the biggest draws to this town is to spend some time on the beautiful shores of Lake Huron. Goderich offers visitors three beaches to choose from. There’s the Main Beach – perfect for families or Rotary Cove Beach – a shallow sandy beach. Then, there is St. Christopher’s Beach – a dog-friendly beach – this is where I go with my dog.
Walk the boardwalk, stretching 1.5-kms along the beach front. With the beach on one side and green space on the other. Bring your bikes for a fun coastal ride with epic views.
The Goderich Lighthouse is the oldest Canadian light station on Lake Huron. Built in 1847, it only stands at just over 6 metres (or 20 feet). As it sits on a hill above the shoreline, it has a focal plane of 46 metres (or 150 feet).
As a holidaymaker…
The entire shoreline of Lake Huron have been recognized as one of Canada’s best beach areas. And, beyond the beach it’s in close proximity to some other amazing small towns – check out Bayfield, Kincardine and Sauble Beach. This is now becoming the new hot spot for Torontonians to come for the weekend.