1797. The city of Toronto was just four years old. We were still called York back then, still just a tiny little wooden town cut out of the forest on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. But the guy who had founded our town was already thousands of kilometers away. John Graves Simcoe — the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada — headed home to England with his family just a few years after they first pitched their fancy tent at the mouth of Garrison Creek.They came home to their beautiful country estate in the rolling hills of Devon. But they also bought themselves a new place, somewhere to hang out during the summer months. It was just down the River Otter from their estate, in the seaside town that sits at the mouth of the river, surrounded by towering red cliffs. It's called Budleigh Salterton. Today, it's in the middle of a World Heritage Site. Those cliffs stretch west for more than 150 kilometers, the only place in the world where you'll find the entire history of the dinosaurs. They call it the Jurassic Coast.
The house in Budleigh Salterton where the Simcoes lived is still there today. It's undergone lots of renovations and additions over the years, but it's still called Simcoe House. There's even a plaque outside. So, on Day Ten of the Toronto Dreams Project's UK Tour, I headed to Budleigh Salterton, to leave dreams for the Simcoes there. I got to spend a night at the pub with all the friendly people who run the local Fairlynch Museum. And I took a big walk up into the heathland north of the town, up to the Iron Age hill fort where Simcoe trained men to fight Napoleon. And I followed the path along the top of those towering red cliffs, still eroding away just like they were in the days when the Simcoes called this place home.
I've already written a big post about the history of Budleigh Salterton here. And now you can check out my photos from the day I spent roaming the area on Facebook — whether or not you have an account — right here:
And, as always, you can follow me on Instagram at @todreamsproject.