Dunnville, Ontario

Famous for the spectacular Elora Gorge and its 80 foot limestone cliffs descending into the Grand and Irvine Rivers. Adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers regularly flock to Elora, Ontario to enjoy some fun and take in the natural beauty.

Many original stone buildings from the 1800′s still make up the downtown village centre. Over the decades, Elora has maintained its old world charm and the century-old buildings have been transformed into unique galleries, gift shops, artists studios and charming restaurants creating the perfect four-season shopping and dining destination.

Elora is a cultural haven with so much to offer. Rich in live music, visual arts, crafts, up-scale boutiques, natural beauty, architecture, culinary flavours, and diverse in culture; Elora provides an alternative lifestyle not typically found in small, rural communities in this day and age. Discover for yourself what makes Elora so unique and you will fall in love too!

Secret Surfer
by Shelley Norman

shelley norman sandals

“Nice water bottle,” I commented to my co-worker Alexia as I dropped my purse on my desk and settled into my swivel chair for another day at the office. “Thanks,” she smiled, picking up the flamingo bedecked bottle. “It was my secret surfer gift.” “Ooh! That sounds interesting! Do you have a new boyfriend?” I spun my chair around to face her across the aisle that runs between our desks. “Spill the beans girlfriend!”

“Yeah, tall, dark and handsome, don’t tell my slightly over-weight husband,” she laughed holding her finger up to her lips in the universal sign for ‘shh’. “No, my family held it’s annual ‘Christmas in Summer‘, over the weekend. Instead of Santa Claus, we have The Sunset Surfer.” “That sounds fun,” I replied. “So you all draw names and buy gifts for that person like secret Santa.” “Yep. And at sunset on ‘Christmas in Summer’ the kids all leave their flip-flops or sandals or whatever on the deck when they go in to get their pj’s on before the big bonfire. And if they’ve been good the Sunset Surfer will come on his surfboard carried by eight pink flamingos and leave treats in their shoes. But if they’ve been bad he will fill their shoes with sand,” Alexia smirked. “My brother usually got his footwear filled with sand, when we were little.”

“Wow! Your family has been doing this for a long time then,” I commented. “Hey, I’m not that old!” she responded hands on hips, smiling. “It just became too hard for everyone to get together in December, due to weather, illness, hockey games, other holiday commitments, you know what it’s like. So it was decided that Civic Day weekend would be when our extended family would all get together to celebrate and my mother and her sisters came up with ‘Christmas in Summer’ and ‘The Sunset Surfer’ and all the other traditions.” “There are other traditions? Like what?” I asked. “Well we get together at my great-aunt’s huge beach house. We decorate the yard and deck with basically luau decorations; flamingos, palm trees, coconuts, leis, tiki masks, etc. There are twinkle lights everywhere, and of course the six foot tall cardboard ‘Sunset Surfer’, my Aunt Miranda got somewhere,” Alexia pulls a picture up on her phone to show me.

“Wowee! He’s handsome. Do you think if I left my flip-flops on the porch next weekend he might leave his phone number in one as a treat for me?” I flutter my lashes at my friend. “Moving on,” she flips to another photo on her phone. “Here’s my Great-Uncle Jack carving the watermelon. A special honour reserved for the oldest in attendance. And in this next picture you can see the winners of the Hawaiian shirt contest. Yes, that’s my hubby, Paul, with the ribbon for brightest colours. This photo shows the pig my sister-in-law sculpted out of tofu, with the intent to have the guys roast it on a spit over the bonfire. The next picture shows the tofu-pig on fire after it fell off the spit and landed in the flames.” “Tofu pig?” I cringed inwardly. I love bacon far too much, I admit it. “She’s a vegetarian and likes to be inventive,” Alexia said as she continued to scroll through the photos on her phone. “Most of these are of the kids playing on the beach, swimming, volleyball, horseshoes, that kind of thing. Ok, here’s one of the evening bonfire. This has always been my favourite part. We roast marshmallows and make s’mores and sing campfire songs and goofy ’Christmas in Summer’ songs my family has made up over the years. In this picture you can see the kids with grass skirts over their ‘jammies doing the hula as Great-Uncle Jack plays the ukulele.”read more Shelly Norman “Oh they look so cute! Even the baby has a hula skirt!” I gushed over her barely walking 13-month old. “Yep! And she even got a treat in her tiny little sandals from the Sunset Surfer,” Alexia tucked her phone back into her purse. “Sounds like you had a great weekend,” I turned back to my desk, stuffing my purse in the bottom drawer. “It sure was,” she answered turning to pick up her ringing phone with a smile.