Sparkling “Old Aylmer” Delights and surprises!
You hear the delicious ripple of laughter and follow it to find its source - a gaggle of teenage girls giggling delightedly in the gazebo of l’Imagier Park. It’s so fun and infectious you can’t help asking the smiley young ladies what they’re so excited about.
“Oh, we’re just a bunch of girlfriends having a picnic,” they laugh, sitting before a feast of cake and assorted goodies. Ah, pure serendipity. Summertime and Aylmer living is easy.
Here in the Marina area of Old Aylmer, the wind is refreshingly right, as you view dancing sailboats dotting the river just before swinging into the Symmes Inn Museum where pleasant, chic Nada Amri greets you the second you enter.
With youthful and genuine eagerness, she invites the tourist in you to sample some of Aylmer’s fascinating history. How oddly new to you is the “oldness” of Aylmer’s past in the many artifacts: the massive “Prentiss Piano”; delicately woven vintage snowshoes; and an old Pop-eyed bonhomme on an old lathe structure. (Surely he will come alive and speak to you!)
A stroll around the two-storey museum shows wall-sized images of historic personalities, and a mere touch of a computer screen instantly brings images to life. You also see notices about a Heritage Square guided tour…
This makes you want to sample a bit of Old Aylmer now, so you stroll up Rue Principale. Its charm at first is subtle, with period lampposts signed Carré Patrimonial with dual hanging baskets pregnant with drooping flowers.
Slowly, but certainly, Old Aylmer’s perky, rainbow personality grows on you in its varied colours and je ne sais quoi style displayed by its inhabitants’ unique decorating of their houses and shops.
The streetscape you discover with each step is irrepressibly artistic. Here, even normally traditional professions can’t help but show their art side.
At Gâteau Néo, you will be seduced by flamboyant cupcakes that look like outrageous flowers while at Béatrice et Chocolats, you will be smitten by ladies’ high-heeled chocolate shoes that you can eat.
You notice colourful “art bikes” of all sizes and shapes lining rue Principale. They are sporadically placed here and there, some as part of business signage, some leaning suavely against a tree or porch steps. Like an insouciant outdoor Modern Art Show.
They seem to say “I am not just a bicycle, but a proud two-wheeled symbol of that June 29th Canadian Championship elite cycling race that drew thousands here, like it was Christmas.”
All of these discoveries have been quite exhilarating and you are ready for a little break – perhaps coffee or a bite to eat or a drink at any of the delightful restaurants. With Mexican, schezwan, gourmet sausages, breads, fusion and so many other options, the choice is tantalizing. Le Matinal, a little further up Principal serves real maple syrup and is open for lunch as well as their famous breakfasts. It is so popular, there is a client card for regular customers.
Just a pause, mind you, to catch your breath and plan more exploration in Old Aylmer’s treasure trove of delights and surprises.