I was in a Mercedes and I had a mission. The mission was to see the 1863 East Seneca United Church at a rural crossroads in Haldimand County.
Heading in that direction on a road trip is one of my favourite things. The church popped up on an old listing of Doors Open Haldimand for 2016.
We headed out there in the tremendously pleasant C Class wagon. A station wagon that is both luxurious and useful, for a price, $56,865. Not cheap but it delivers a lot of perks.
The church still stands after all these years, weathered and poignant. Built of old growth pine, the style-picturesque gothic- is fitting for a country location.
The earnest interior is still intact, with an attendance board for bible class clinging by one nail to a white washed wall. Multi segmented windows are missing a few panes but still gorgeous in their simple style. An outhouse is hidden in back of the church, and to the side a graveyard. Buried in the pioneer cemetery are the parents of Peter Lymburner Robertson, the inventor of the Robertson screw.
This winsome church is maintained by a small congregation. They are protecting it against the elements and opening it once a year. Surrounded by fields, it is a peaceful place to visit and contemplate the rich architectural heritage of Ontario.
We often include a spin down scenic River Road when travelling out this way. On the west side of the Grand River are lovely farms and sprawling Victorian houses, and a stop at Ruthven Park National Historic Site is always welcome.
The C Class as we expect is a smooth operator. The cabin is quiet, the seats lounge-like, and the layout and quality of the instruments is polished. Only the cumbersome operation of the technology features is sub-par. Almost every operation from navigation to entertainment functions, can be found in three different locations. It tries to hard to be complicated.
The C Class Wagon is powered by a 4-cylinder, 2-litre turbo with 241 horsepower. Despite the modest output, it is lively and responsive. The car feels solid as a tank, but moves like a dancer. A 9-speed transmission offers enough gears to keep fuel economy modest, with ratings of 8.0 L/100km on the highway and 10.7 L/100km in the city.
Road trip day coincided with the opening of The Potting Shed (www.pottingshedcanada.com), a fine nursery in Dunnville, run by my old friend Jack Kent. In addition to unusual plants, he has an adorable collection of Nigerian Dwarf goats which visitors enjoy as much as the plants. Jack has been in the gardening business for over twenty years, but this season will be the last for Kent and partner Paul Bolland. They are packing up the goats and moving to Nova Scotia. If you love plants..my advice is to get down there this summer.
From Dunnville we hugged the Lake Erie shore and poked on up to Welland. Of course the Benz has the usually driving aids, but the roads are mostly empty and nicely shaped, so we enjoyed the sharp handling of the C 300 with no need for assistance.
I always like to see the Pan Am Flatwater Centre on the old Welland Canal. Our local Knot A Breast Dragon Boat Team is training there in advance of the world Dragon Boat Festival this summer in Florence Italy. Training from a local club was just finishing as we parked the wagon for a photo.
It was a lovely day trip in a handsome car that can hold plenty of cargo in a cocoon of luxury. Who needs an SUV where there are still tried and true station wagons on the market.
Kathy Renwald is an award winning freelance journalist and a regular columnist for the Bay Observer, Hamilton Spectator, Grand Magazine and Wheels.ca. She covers city issues, lifestyle and autos.