My Mom gets after me a bit about my immense love for France at the expense of my own country, Canada. Well, while it’s not Paris, I must admit that the little hamlet of Shakespeare, Ontario has charms all its own. Located south of Stratford, home of the famous Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare appears to consist of a cluster of buildings at a crossroads, but what’s inside them can be surprising.
Our first stop was Harry Ten Shilling for afternoon tea in a building that dates to 1850. The name comes, suitably enough, from a reference to Henry IV Part II. The tea room has been in business since 1977 and there is now a second location in Stratford. While high tea, complete with scones, cream, and finger sandwiches, may be as English as can be, France was present in the macarons and the Versailles Lavender Earl Grey tea, one of dozens of flavors. Although the large, square scones were rather untraditional, they were very tasty and we left with enough treats for another tea at home.
Suitably refreshed by tea, we went a couple of doors down to Glen Manor Galleries (15 and 21 Huron Street). There were some wonderful pieces here, including a gorgeous three-panel French screen that I would have loved to cart off. For truly museum quality pieces, check out Jonnys Antiques (10 Shakespeare Street, with another location at 21 Avenue Road, Toronto). If you’re very lucky, they’ll open the special room at the side with the real treasures, including a 2,500 year old Chinese terra cotta horse. I spotted a lovely soft blue French dresser and a ladies desk that would have made any home have a little French je ne sais quoi.
Today’s expression, ne pas en croire les yeux (nuh paz ohn crware lays yuh) means that one can’t believe one’s eyes. Seeing antiques that belong in a museum in a small rural community or scones the size of a small loaf would qualify. For my Mom, seeing that I’ve finally written about Canada would be just as astonishing!