Port Hope, Ont., is a lovely little town about 100 kilometres east of the Big Smoke, also known as Toronto.
Founded in 1793 by United Empire Loyalists (and called “Toronto” for a short time after the War of 1912 – I kid you not), it officially became a town in 1834 and, because of the efforts of local conservationists, its downtown looks about the same today as it did back then.
Which makes it the perfect platform to film scenes for period TV dramas like CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries, which has happened.
Port Hope has a lot of things going for it, besides its architecture. Vincent Massey, the first Canadian-born governor-general, was from there. Farley Mowat, the author and pre-Greta Thunberg eco-warrior, wrote his best books while living there. And the Ganaraska River, which meanders through town and periodically overflows its banks, is the site of a 10-kilometre riverboat race every spring called “Float your Fanny down the Ganny.”
Before the newspaper business got serious, a Toronto tradition on race weekends was for editors and reporters to close the Press Club shortly after midnight Friday and board a rented school bus for the short hop to Port Hope where the rest of the night would be spent building a flotation device that the revellers, led by the late columnist Paul Rimstead, hoped would get them to the finish line without a) overturning or b) flat-out sinking.
They seldom made it all the way; annual April bouts of pneumonia were not uncommon.
I was in Port Hope last week to test drive the new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is already in showrooms but hadn’t yet been given the once-over by Canadian automotive writers. We needed a base, so a dozen or so, including me, stayed in a place that had started life back in the 19th Century as a bank but is now called the Hotel Carlyle and Restaurant.
We were fussed over by Elise Herman, a member of the family that owns it, and when I asked for a shaker of salt at dinner one night, which is usually a no-no in houses of fine dining, she produced one without delay. In fact, when she brought me my bacon and eggs the following morning, she also brought the salt without me asking for it – an attention to detail that merits reporting.
But down to business.
To read the rest of this review, go to: Port Hope, Port Perry and the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee | The Star