GODERICH, at the mouth of the Maitland River just 20km north of Bayfield, is a delightful country town, whose good-looking centre perches on a bluff behind and above its working harbour. It began life in 1825, when the British-owned Canada Company bought two and a half million acres of southern Ontario – the Huron Tract – from the government at the ridiculously low rate of twelve cents an acre, amid rumours of bribery and corruption. Eager to profit on their investment, the company pushed the Huron Road through from Stratford in the east to Goderich in the west, an extraordinary effort chronicled by a certain Mr Moffat – “The trees were so tall, the forest was eternally dark and with the constant rains it was endlessly damp… Since each man was responsible for cooking his own food after a hard day’s work, the men sometimes ate the fattest pork practically raw… To make up for such fare, a barrel of whiskey with a cup attached always stood at the roadside.” Completed in 1828, the road attracted the settlers the company needed. Indeed, within thirty years the Huron Tract had two flourishing towns, Stratford and Goderich, and was producing large surpluses of grain for export, as it continues to do today. Perfect for an overnight stay, Goderich has several good B&Bs and two intriguing museums.
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