Road Tripping Part 1: Tasty Grub and Cool Finds in Peterborough, ON

My husband and I work opposing shifts these days. We don’t see each other much during the week, so we make a point of having some fun when we do have some time together. For us this usually means taking day trips around Ontario to local gaming, hock and thrift shops to search for buried gaming treasure and other stuff.

Today’s excursion was to Peterborough, Ontario, an hour and 20 minutes northeast from our home in Stouffville, ON. We had only been to P-Dot a couple of times before, but have always had some good fortune during our past visits. Our target was a store called Chumleighs on George St in downtown Peterborough. A mainstay for the past twenty years, Chumleighs is the mecca of used games, DVDs, and CDs in the Kawarthas. (And…Added bonus is that there is a chocolatier that sells the best taffy and ice cream two doors down! Tee hee!). With our iPod full of awesome tunes and my shitty eff-up GPS in tow, we steered the car Northeast, through the hamlet of Goodwood (cue the Beavis and Butt-Head laugh), and up Highway 7A toward Peterborough.

What makes this trip a real pleasure is the scenery: open sky, rolling hills, and farmland flank either side of the two-lane roadway. Every so often, you come upon cool little hamlets with quirky stops that sell chelsea buns and runny butter tarts, Muskoka chairs or antiquities. As a seasoned Ontario car traveler, I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of gas stations along the highway. If you need gas desperately on 7A, rest assured, one will be just around the bend! This is quite unlike other experiences we’ve had driving to and from our hometown of Sudbury, Ontario where Highway 69/400 literally has 4 working gas stations maximum from Sudbury to Parry Sound 2 hours away, and you DO NOT want to break down on Highway 69 (But, don’t worry: those “sweatin’ on empty” tales will be saved for another time)! We stopped at a gas station en route on the edge of Bethany, ON that also had a variety store that sold “pop, chips, lotto, and auto access.” I also noticed they sold coffee makers, while they were at it.

While my husband fueled up the car, I was charged with locating a decent joint to chow down at once we entered Peterborough as lunchtime was rolling up. This meant using our eff-up GPS, Mr. TomTom. A word about our navigation device: it’s a TomTom Via 1505 with unlimited maps, and I have hated it from DAY ONE. Although it shows you where to go decently, it has bad searching capabilities, and navigating the menus is not intuitive. The maps often hold on to outdated information even post update. In our experience, finding a restaurant using that stupid thing is a total crap shoot as it will list every restaurant that ever opened in town, and NOT according to category so you get overwhelmed with the choices and choose blindly on name alone. The search usually never ends well with TomTom, and often the GPS will direct us to an empty lot, a residential neighbourhood, an abandoned boarded up building in the ghetto, or take us around the town in a complete circle, only to end up at the SAME place, just around the back of the building (oh, yeah, I am on fire with GPS stories)!  We also don’t have a data plan with our cellphones, so more indepth study of certain places is out of the question without wifi.

Searching for restaurants in P-Town on the GPS this day was par for the course: a million choices popped up. Our first option was a restaurant called Jake’s Neighbourhood Grill in Peterborough. Sounded promising on name alone, but not sure what their deal was. We continued on our way to Peterborough with only 15 minutes to go. Our plan to go to Jake’s was shot to hell upon arrival, however, when our jerk GPS Mr. TomTom directed us to a Chapters parking lot. No Jake’s here…The closest thing to a restaurant close by was a South Asian restaurant. Jake’s is obviously CLOSED! You jerk, Mr. TomTom!!

Alright, enact plan B: We took a chance and decided to ignore the TomTom altogether and drive until we hit a damn restaurant. Thankfully, this wound up being a good thing!

Driving up and around the bend on Lansdowne St. was a big sign that said, “Mark’s Finer Diner.” A split decision was made and we turned into the restaurant that looked very much like a log cabin. A large bear carved out of wood greeted us at the entrance.

When you first step in to Mark’s, the sweet smell of lacquered wood and burgers fill your nostrils. The decor reminded me very much of a hodge podge of several restaurants, with a shabby chic cottage-type feel: Montana’s, Jack Astor’s, and Wimpy’s Diner. A lot of charming plaques filled the wall real estate, canoe paddles were used as functional bannisters and door handles – that type of decor; which made total sense considering Peterborough is the gateway to cottage country in Central Ontario.

The menu items were indeed pub-type fare – burgers, fish and chips, french onion soup and chicken pot pie. My hubs chose the Burger Royale and I went for chicken fingers and fries. Our meals were delicious! Each dish came with a side of coleslaw. My plate arrived with five decent-sized pieces of breaded chicken strips, and a nice side of fresh-cut fries. What I originally thought was a side of gravy for my fries, was actually a garlic plum sauce that was a delicious rare pairing that made me want to ask the waitress what brand they were serving. Sorry, I don’t have any food p0rn pictures of my lunch to show other than my empty plate! We left Mark’s fed and satisfied that we had found a great place to eat while in P-Town. Mark’s Finer Diner – highly recommended! Huzzah!

Chumleighs wound up being a goldmine of awesomeness. This place sells used merchandise from what I gather, and really takes the care necessary to clean and “make like new again” what they sell, at reasonable prices. I was most impressed with their table of TV DVDs! Can you believe this place had every season of ER? Impressive! The movie selection is to die for. Not to mention THE GAMES!! NES, SNES, Xbox, Xbox 360, Sega Genesis cartridges, Wii, Wii U…I could go on. The hubs is put into a trance every time we come here!

I was not seeking any gameage this day as I am up to my neck in games. So, while the hubs browsed the games, I studied Chumleighs’ wall of CDs. I don’t often buy a lot of CDs (my collection is being stored in a Rubbermaid bin at the moment) but when you come across something rare, you jump at it. This day I found one CD I had wanted from my University years, but I could never find it. That CD was the Watchmen’s first album, McLaren Furnace Room. When I read the spine I couldn’t believe my eyes, and instantly said out loud, forgetting where I was: “This CD is MINE!” Haha!

You see, I’ve been a fan of the Watchmen ever since their song Run & Hide appeared on a CD of songs packaged in my Frosh Kit, at the University of Western Ontario’s Orientation Week 1993. Oh yeah! The band toured University towns frequently, and as a result, I was able to see the Watchmen at least 4 times while in Uni. Most recently I got to catch their sold out reunion show in 2008 at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. I have recently heard they will have back-to-back shows at the Horseshoe this Sepember 18 and 19, but I can only make the Friday show which is sold out. Regardless, I was so excited to find their first album, I could barely contain my enthusiasm!

My hubs picked up several games to add to his gaming collection, and along with my find, we cashed out, happy the trip to Chumleighs was successful!

Next, we stopped at Peterborough’s version of Value Village called Talize. I never heard of such a place, but it is a thrift shop that is very similar to Value Village. We found a percolator (that when we got it home, it turned out to be broken) and I found a t-shirt. Nothing too thrilling, other than GROSS OUT WARNING GROSS OUT WARNING // when I went to pay at the cash I found a live earwig in my wallet!! I have only seen two in the house this summer season, but never in my handbag! What an odd place to find an earwig! Blech! //END OF GROSS OUT WARNING!

We headed home shortly after Talize, satisfied that today’s trip to Peterborough was enjoyable and successful, and we definitely look forward to our next road trip!


    1. Opened up my wallet and BAH! Earwig!

      Our TomTom effs us over all the time. Last year it took us around Ottawa and made a point of hitting up every construction site. And I have another tale to tell about a recent trip to Hamilton. It’s a real bastard.


        1. You too, eh? I told Kevin he’ll be going back himself. Driving in that town is a nightmare. No offense to anyone from there, but not my favourite town.


            1. My friend Jenn (who is also a big Watchmen fan) lived in Stoney Creek for a summer while in uni. I went for a visit. I actually recognized the intersection and apartment building she lived in when I saw it this last time (a big Fortinos around the corner). We bussed it everywhere which was a huge pain.


  1. Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Peterborough? A Royale with Cheese.

    Peterborough reminds me of getting “Sea Legs” when I got off the Houseboat we were in to see the April Wine concert. Memories. Next time I am there I will check out Chumleighs and Marks. Thanks.

    P.S. Tickets are available for the Watchmen shows. Thursday September 18 show for The Watchmen at The Horseshoe in T.O, but the Friday 19th show is sold out. Go to Ticketfly to buy tix. $27.50. As well, Saturday September 20 in Ottawa at Mavericks. Go to Mavericksbar,com for tickets. Tix $22. I think another road trip is in order.


    1. Hi Brian,
      Thanks for letting me know more tix are available. I was told both nights are sold out! I can only make Friday’s show. A trip to Ottawa, as tempting as it sounds, is out of the question for me in September.

      The hubs remarked that the Royale was a like a quarter pound with cheese – ha!


  2. I. Love. That. First. Watchmen. Album.

    Oddly, right now, I do not own it. WTF. I’ve owned it about five times, over the years, and it always gets loaned out/never returned, or sold off during moves, etc. I need to get me a copy and KEEP the f-ing thing.

    I went to the 3-day festival called Edenfest in 1996, right there where you were in Lindsay (beside Peterborough), and Watchmen were booked to play the Sunday afternoon. Thing is, all weekend, it’d been leaked that there was gonna be some Special Guest playing to close the show. All weekend, it was all people could talk about – would it be green Day? Smashing Pumpkins? Metallica? It was 1996, coulda been anyone.

    Anyway, just before the Watchemn hit stage, some stooge from the festival gets on the mic and says the special guest was supposed to be a super-group: a guitar player from this band, a drummer from that one, all these singers – everyone who’d already played the festival. Trouble was, schedules didn’t permit so everyone had to leave and so there will be no special guest. Oh well, nevermind, and here’s the Watchmen!

    The crowd went from huge to pathetic (amidst much booing) but you know what, the Watchmen hit that stage and f-ing rocked it. Whether it was a huge f-you to the runners of the show or whether they always they hit that hard, I dunno, but they totally earned it that afternoon and sealed themselves in my heart forever. And all the disappointed morons who wanted Nine Inch Nails (or whatever) went off and started tents on fire and had a huge garbage fight on the hill in the campground. Morons. They should’ve stayed. Watchmen owned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great story!! I first saw the Watchmen at the Western Fair – London’s fall fair thingy in 1994. Awesome show. They continued to come back to London – UWO’s campus bar, played there several times. Two of my friends and I loved these guys live. Their performance hit the mark EVERY.TIME!! All I had for the longest time was their In the Trees album. I was po’! Later, I got others, but never McLaren Furnace Room. That album was elusive. Could never find it. Probably because they f-ing rock! Those Edgefest morons can have their burning garbage – I’ll take Danny Greaves and the boys any time!


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