THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE…
THOSE WHO WANT TO LIVE AT THE LAKE AND THOSE WHO DO!
Living at the lake is an amazing lifestyle. It is not just a home location. Connect with the community and everything small town living has to offer.
You will never regret escaping the noisy, crowded, traffic-jammed urbanscape for the tranquil, clean air communities in this region created of four municipalities – Bluewater, Lambton Shores, South Huron and North Middlesex.
Retail hub towns of Bayfield, Forest, Grand Bend and Exeter have seen an influx of city-escapees in recent years, with new home developments in Bayfield, Forest, Grand Bend and Exeter. This trend stems from Boomers, Zoomers and even X-Gens buying pre- and retirement properties. In 2020, the trend became red hot with even more folks making the decision to leave the city after working from home for months due to Covid-19 and realizing there is a lot less about an urban environment they loved or needed. With an average population density of 17 people per square kilometre (Toronto – 4,149/km2; London – 178/km2), we are sure you’ll find space to live and breathe. READ MORE
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Explore our towns, villages and hamlets.
THE OBVIOUS BENEFITS
You will never run out of things to do! The lake provides endless opportunities to have fun and be active, consider beaching, swimming, kayaking, sailing, fishing, boating, windsurfing, paddleboarding – just to name a few!
You could lower your blood pressure. There are studies that support the claim that seeing and being in nature (green space or grass, trees and other vegetation and blue space or water, lakes and rivers) contributes to lower stress levels. Lake living provides this on a daily basis. Imagine sitting on the patio, soaking in the sun while gazing out at the lake.
You will enjoy more privacy and social support. Rural homes are placed further apart. This is simply a factor of the space required for a septic system, but the net effect means you’re not looking into your neighbour’s bathroom or kitchen. Year round residents know their neighbours by name. Mature trees and other vegetation typically surround homes, also contributing to one’s relaxation and privacy. And it’s quiet. Traffic is minimal and related to the comings and goings of your neighbours rather than semi-trucks, construction and delivery vehicles.
You will see wildlife, like Tundra swans, eagles, geese, ducks, seagulls, wild turkeys, deer, coyotes and many other wild creatures.
FRESH & FARM-GATE FOODS
This area of Ontario is the most agriculturally productive in the province. Area farmers’ market vendors are genuine food producers, happy to tell you about their growing or production methods. Many also grow the food they feed their livestock. Farmers’ market are active in Bayfield, Forest, Grand Bend and Exeter. Farm-gate markets and retail outlets are located throughout the area offering a wide variety of food and foodstuffs from fresh fruit and vegetables, turkey, chicken, beef and pork, jams, honey, baked goods, specialty roasted fair-trade coffee and kombucha. Check out Taste Explorers and the Shoreline Sipping Route.
CONNECT WITH COMMUNITY
As the seasons change from hot, sunny summers through to cold, snowy winters, so do the quantity and type of events and activities. In peak tourist season (May through September) there are about 200 local events going on spread across spring, summer and early fall weekends. Instead of tourist-attracting events, late fall and winter activities change to hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skidooing. Indoor activities become club and service-club based. Find Rotary, Lions and Optimists in each municipality and Kiwanis Club in Forest, which looks after the Kineto Theatre, one of the world’s oldest film theatres. There are special interest clubs for hiking, pole walking, gardening, theatre, visual arts, history, line dancing, darts, euchre, shuffleboard and personal development.
Here’s a brief listing:
- Partners in Learning (partnersinlearning.ca),
- Probus (probus.org),
- Grand Bend Art Centre (gbartcentre.com),
- Port Franks Camera Club (portfrankscameraclub.com),
- Bayfield Historical Society (bayfieldhistorical.ca),
- Forest Historical Society (forestlambtonmuseum.ca),
- Savanna Strollers (pinerypark.on.ca/walking-club),
- Bayfield Pole Walkers (@bayfield.pole.walking),
- Grand Bend Area Horticultural Society (gbhort.blogspot.com),
- Lambton Nature Trail Blazers (lsntblazers.com),
- Port Franks Garden Club (facebook.com/groups/portfranksgardenclub/).
You can be as busy and involved as you would like.
Royal Canadian Legion Halls
- Exeter – Branch 167 (519-235-2962),
- Forest – Branch 176 (519-786-5357),
- Grand Bend – Branch 498 (519-238-2120),
- Hensall – Branch 468 (519-262-2948),
- Parkhill – Branch 341 (519-294-6261),
- Thedford – Branch 278 (519-296-4939).
Get Up Bayfield (facebook.com/bayfield.pole.walking) is a pole walking group in Bayfield that changes ordinary walking into fitness walking using specially designed poles. Pole walking combines an upper body technique similar to cross country skiing along with walking with a shortened stride. The technique results in great physical fitness results like tightened abs, sculpted arms and shoulders and strengthened upper back muscles.
The Savanna Strollers Walking Club (pinerypark.on.ca/walking-club) is a partnership between the Friends of Pinery Park, Ontario Parks, the Grand Bend Community Health Centre and the Lambton Heritage Museum. Members gather every Wednesday morning at 9:15am at Lambton Heritage Museum and walk a different Pinery Park trail.
Business hubs like Grand Bend, Forest, Exeter, Bayfield and Parkhill provide a broad product and service mix where residents can walk to their downtown cores. Healthcare, legal, banking, real estate professionals, retail, automotive, home furnishings and building centres are found throughout the area and most within a short walk of in-town residents. Enjoying an active lifestyle can begin simply with a trip to the grocery store.
SCHOOLS, COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES
Public and Catholic school boards (Lambton Kent District School Board - lkdsb.net; Bluewater District School Board - bwdsb.on.ca; Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board - huronperthcatholic.ca) provide nursery, junior, intermediate and high school education with the University of Western Ontario (London,) University of Guelph (Clinton), Fanshawe College locations (Clinton, Goderich, London, Simcoe, St. Thomas, Tillsonburg, Woodstock) and Lambton College locations (Sarnia & Petrolia) just an hour’s drive away or less.
Libraries are located in:
- Arkona (519-828-3406),
- Bayfield (519-565-2886),
- Exeter (519-235-1890),
- Forest (519-786-5152),
- Grand Bend (519-238-2067),
- Hensall (519-262-2445),
- Port Franks (519-243-2820),
- Thedford (519-296-4459) and
- Zurich (519-236-4985).
GOVERNMENT SERVICES & AGENCIES
Post offices are conveniently located in Bayfield, Clinton, Exeter, Dashwood, Forest, Grand Bend, Hensall, Parkhill, Thedford, and Zurich – visit canadapost.ca for street address information.
Community centres are scattered throughout the area’s towns out of which run various recreational programs. To find out what is available and what sports organizations are based in what centres, visit the municipal websites.
Municipality of Bluewater (Bayfield, Hensall, St. Joseph, Zurich), 519-236-4351: municipalityofbluewater.ca
Municipality of Lambton Shores (Arkona, Forest, Grand Bend, Ipperwash, Northville, Port Franks, Thedford), 1-866-943-1400: lambtonshores.ca
Municipality of North Middlesex (Ailsa Craig, Parkhill), 519-294-6244: northmiddlesex.on.ca
Municipality of South Huron (Centralia, Crediton, Dashwood, Exeter, Huron Park, Kirkton, Mount Carmel, Shipka), 1-888-204-0747: southhuron.ca
BUILD YOUR DREAM HOME
Whether you’re looking for a cottage or permanent residence, resale or new home, the area offers a choice of residence styles and locations - lake front, riverfront, forest, farm or downtown small town.
Grand Bend and Bayfield have played host to a number of dream lottery homes over the years. Local builders like Medway Homes (pittao.com), Oke Woodsmith (okewoodsmith.com), Platinum Builders (platinumbuilders.ca), and Nicholson Builders (nicholsonbuilding.ca) have been involved with the construction of lottery homes. They, along with Rice Development Corporation (ricedevelopmentcorp.ca), are respected, quality homebuilders and developers of custom homes and small subdivisions.
ADULT LIFESTYLE COMMUNITIES
Active adult lifestyle communities are not just for retirees. In fact many communities embrace empty nesters in their late 40s happy to move into a community of like-minded people, without the noise, bustle and other aspects of conventional suburbia.
There are a variety of ownership options - owning, renting and leasing, so it's a good idea to visit a number of communities and determine the right ownership style for you. These types of communities can free you from property maintenance and provide an entire community of residents in the same life-stage as you. This means instead of a neighbourhood devoid of daytime residents due to work and school, you'll have lots of opportunities to make friends and socialize and to participate in the events and activities going on. Visit and assess the amenities being offered. Ask about pets and any restrictions or conditions on pet ownership.
The area has a number of these communities, including:
- Grand Cove Estates (ricedevelopmentcorp.ca/grand-cove/) in Grand Bend,
- Northville Estates in Port Franks (519-243-2500),
- River Meadows in Exeter (519-297-3130, parkbridge.com/en-ca/retirement-communities/riverview-meadows),
- Bayfield Mews in Bayfield (519-565-4542, bayfieldmews.ca),
- Townsend Meadows in Forest (townsendmeadows.com, 519-786-3420),
- Meneset on the Lake (519-524-3282, parkbridge.com/en-ca/retirement-communities/meneset-on-the-lake) and
- The Bluffs at Huron in Goderich (519-955-6780, thebluffsathuron.com).
There are also a good number of permanent, year-round and seasonal communities offering land lease homes or cottages, some adult lifestyle and others for families. These types of communities offer a budget-friendly option for snowbird couples or families seeking a vacation spot. Typical amenities might include a community centre, cable TV, natural gas, programmed activities, pool, playground, snack bar, golf and mini-golf.
Examples include Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities (parkbridge.com) that offer retirement, family and cottage and RV resorts. There are also many resorts or campgrounds that offer a combination of seasonal trailer sites and park model manufactured homes. These can be year-round or seasonal locations.
If it's time for a retirement residence or assistant living, either for yourself or a parent, then consider residences such as:
- Exeter Villa (519-235-1581),
- Country Manor Retirement Home in Thedford (519-296-4949, cmanorestates.com),
- Forest View Villa Apartments in Forest (519-333-2751),
- Queensway Retirement Home in Hensall (519-262-2830),
- Bluewater Rest Home & Apartments in Zurich (519-236-4373),
- Goderich Place (519-524-4243, facebook.com/GoderichPlace),
- Harbourhill Hill Suites (519-440-0110, harbourhillsuites.com) in Goderich and
- Seaforth Manor in Seaforth (519-527-0030, seaforthltc.ca).
Private services like Willow Homecare (519-294-8807, willowcare.ca) and the Ontario Community Care Access Centre in Huron and Lambton help coordinate local services to accommodate retirees remaining in their own homes. One Care (877-502-8277, onecaresupport.ca) offers a wide variety of programs for older adults and those with special needs to support and promote independent living and community involvement.
On December 14, 2020, Huron Shores Area Transit (HSAT) launched, serving towns, villages and hamlets in the municipalities of Lambton Shores, Bluewater, Kettle & Stony Point First Nation, North Middlesex and South Huron.
Four transit routes support local residents moving within the region as well as connecting the region to Sarnia and London. Individual bus stops based on resident and business needs support area shopping, leisure, medical and social activities.
The core routes run daily Monday to Sunday and Monday to Friday. Accessory routes run two days per week. Bus fares are affordable and depend on a passenger’s starting point and destination, ranging between $5 for local routes and $10 to $15 for long distance routes.
Visit huronshoresareatransit.ca for route and schedule information. It is possible to travel to Grand Bend by bus, leaving from Masonville Mall in London and Lambton Mall in Sarnia.
- Bluewater Taxi (519-235-3335),
- Clinton Taxi (519-482-7433),
- Grace Taxi (519-317-8294; 226-423-2047),
- Huron Taxi (519-482-1100),
- Star Taxi (519-238-7827; 519-235-2255),
- South Huron Taxi (519-235-3335),
- That Girl Taxi (519-238-1080).
- One Care Support (1-844-482-7800),
- EasyRide (1-877-500-9875),
- Lambton Elderly Outreach (1-800-265-0203).
PRIMARY HEALTH CARE CENTRES
- Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre, 69 Main St. E., Grand Bend, 519-238-2362
- North Lambton Community Health Centre, 3-59 King St. W., Forest, 519-786-4545
- South Huron Medical Centre, 23 Huron Street West, Exeter, 519-235-3343
- South Huron Hospital, 24 Huron St W, Exeter, 519-235-2700
- Bluewater Area Family Health Team, 6 Goshen St S, Zurich, 519-236-4314
- Hensall Health Centre, 122 King St., Hensall, 519-262-3140
- Lighthouse Medical Centre, 2 Bayfield Main St. S., Bayfield, 519-565-4141
PLACES OF WORSHIP
- Arkona Baptist Church: 519-828-3062
- Elim Bible Chapel: 519-828-3076
- Zion Lutheran Church: 519-237-3548
- Bethel Reformed Church: 519-235-1435
- Caven Presbyterian Church: 519-235-2784
- Christian Reformed Church: 519-235-2990
- Exeter Bible Fellowship: 519-235-3501
- Exeter Pentecostal Tabernacle: 519-235-2991
- Exeter United Church: 519-235-0860
- Precious Blood Church: 519-235-4546
- Trivitt Memorial Church: 519-235-2565
- Anglican Parish of North Lambton: 519-786-2634
- Echoes of Faith Pentecostal Church: 519-786-2808
- Forest Baptist Church: 519-786-3480
- Forest Gospel Hall: 519-786-2600
- Forest United Church: 519-786-2514
- Jehovah Witness Kingdom: 519-786-6200
- Lakeshore Gospel Hall: 519-786-4040
- St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic Church: 519-786-5243
- St. James Presbyterian Church: 519-786-4522
- Baha’i Community of Lambton Shores: 519-238-8092
- Grand Bend Church of God: 519-238-2142
- Huron Shores United Church: 519-238-2402
- Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic: 519-238-8556
- St. John’s By-The-Lake Anglican Church: 519-238-2489
- Hensall United Church: 519-262-2935
- Ravenswood United Church: 519-786-5682
- Bethel Pentecostal Church: 519-296-4468
- Knox Presbyterian Church: 519-296-4910
- Pinery Baptist Church: 519-243-2144
- Thedford-Sylvan United Church: 519-296-5657
Zurich / St. Joseph
- St. Boniface Church: 519-236-4191
- St. Peter’s Catholic Church: 519-236-4191
- St. Peter’s Lutheran Church: 519-236-4697
- Zurich Mennonite Church: 519-236-4933