We’re buried under a mountain of snow in Hamilton so I am pulling a summer car story out of the archives. I called it the Bookworm Tour of Southern Ontario.
It’s 24C at take off and the Porsche 911 Turbo is gassed up for a for departure from Hamilton. Buck-a-bag book sales wait for us at the Caledonia, Hagersville, Selkirk and Dunnville Libraries. We’ll stop for lunch at Hoover Point Marina to watch boats bob past the gas dock.
It’s everything I love, Porsches, water, country roads and books, and Hamilton is a great starting point for a rural romp.
Our ride, the 2014 911 Turbo is a cool grey- like Lake Erie on a stormy day. It starts at $169,200 but with a tasty option package the price puffs up to $185,965, enough money to put a pretty special wing on any of the libraries we will visit.
“Hi I’m Wendy, Welcome to the Caledonia Library.”
The library is busy with kids and young parents. In the lineup in front of me a junior reader is checking out Trouble Times Two. Wendy Ockenden stamps the return date the old way with a punch and sends the kid packing. I’m up and I ask her what’s special at the Caledonia library. ‘We have some great local authors,” she says, “Suzanne Hurley’s romantic mystery novels are very popular.”
Reassuring that people still go to libraries and read things printed on paper.
In the all-business cabin of the Porsche Turbo there’s hardly a place to store a piece of paper. The ride is smooth enough, however, to make notes with a fountain pen while riding shotgun. Even with 520 horsepower, and Sport and Sport Plus buttons on standby, the 911 is a civil ride, and fun enough at legal speeds to enjoy. It shoots quickly from subdued to show-off when the sporty buttons are punched. Paddle shifting up bound, gears are engaged with a popgun blast from the twin-turbo, an addictive sound as we motor with the optional $2,280 sunroof open.
Highway 6 funnels us toward the Hagersville Library. 6 can always be counted on for a stretch of gravel construction zones. Rocking over a rutted section brings appreciation for the 911 Turbo’s flexible front chin spoiler. As part of the Active Aerodynamics it tucks up close to the body in normal mode and deploys to a street sweeper level in Sport Plus Mode. As we exit the gravel to the paved roadway, the flagman propping up the SLOW sign calls out “Give ‘r,” Nice.
The Hagersville Library is in an old glove factory. Assistant librarian Teresa Thompson’s surprise is a museum tucked away in a corner. There’s china, clothing, and photos of the Hager family-they owned most of the land where the village formed around 1855.
Heading south toward Lake Erie, the 911 sifts by farm fields and windmills. There’s little traffic and we’re free to poke along or let the twin-turbo 3.8 litre kick up some dust. Though it’s a fearsome machine, it remains a relaxing vehicle to drive with its pinpoint steering and laser like handling. A study of the technical specs will point to hundreds of reasons why the 911 Turbo behaves so impeccably. Could it be the dynamic engine mounts included in the $4,600 Sport Chrono Package? They switch from hard to soft based on the type of driving being done. The package includes the endlessly amusing Launch Control which surely ruins your mileage (we averaged 12.1 L/100 km), but maximizes fun.
After a quick stop at the Selkirk Library, lunch at Hoover Point Marina was perch on a bun at a picnic table.
From Hoover Point to Dunnville, South Coast Drive and Lakeshore Road hugs the shoreline of Lake Erie. An onshore breeze is pushing big waves onto the beach and rattling the poplars shading the cottages. It’s a slow drive and a lovely one.
You don’t need Google Street View to find the Dunnville Library, it’s the one with Harvard Mark II mounted on the front lawn. Dunnville was the home of the No. 6 Service Flying Training School during the Second World War. Thousands of airmen were trained on the Mark II.
The Dunnville Library has the biggest and best book sale, but one more book stop had to be made. Doubling back to Simcoe a visit to Towpath on the Grand Antiques and Collectibles yields a 1957 Ontario Motor League Road Book, complete with turn-by turn directions.
A bag of books and a box of piano keys I couldn’t resist buying, easily fit in the Porsche’s deep-dish trunk. Then it’s time for the bookworms to buckle up and head homeward to Hamilton.
By Kathy Renwald