Adventures in Ormsby and Coe Hill: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Story and Photos submitted by: Aysha Tayab

My daytrip to Ormsby and Coe Hill can be summed up in one word: nostalgia. But you’re not here for just one word. Lucky for you, I’ve got many words to describe my time here. I came to realize that there are many layers of nostalgia and I relished each one.

Old Hastings Gallery & Mercantile

At first glance, I wasn’t sure what I would find in here. When I stepped beyond the front porch, I was pleasantly surprized to know that there wasn’t much I couldn’t find. It was the store that never ends. Just when you thought you saw everything, there was another corner to explore or another themed room to marvel.

I stepped into a time that I’ve never lived in before, yet somehow felt deeply connected to.

I stepped back into a time where some of my most beloved memories lived. A simple piece of taffy gave off the first hint of this feeling.

It’s funny, I was talking about this taffy with my husband the day before we came here. I remember biking many kilometres to a marina in my childhood hometown several times just so that I could get my hands on this strip of tricoloured taffy. I never found it again until I came to the Old Hastings Gallery & Mercantile. It’s incredible where your intuition takes you.

The Old Hastings Gallery & Mercantile continued to bring out my inner child when I saw the toy section of the store. In our day and age, it’s nice have an appreciation for unplugging.

The “Little Room” was my favourite surprise in this entire store.

My wander through Old Hastings Gallery & Mercantile also reminded me of what I love now: Canadian made soaps, jewelry, clothing, and art.

I somehow managed to muster some self-control and bought one locally made soap and a piece of taffy. It was a good balance between the old and the new.

Old Ormsby Schoolhouse & Tea Room

After all that meandering and shopping, I was hungry. Shopping counts as cardio right? I was happy to know that there was a tea room within a stone’s throw away.

This quaint tea room had a really unique feature: it used to be a schoolhouse.

Now let me just say that if this were still a school house, I’d be in trouble for getting out of my chair all the time. I could not sit still. So much beauty and charm to look at, so many pictures to take.


My husband and I enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon tea with sandwiches, pastries, and scones alongside a fruit salad. All of this was paired with a pot of earl grey tea.

Before our afternoon tea was served, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ernie Pattison, the owner of the Old Ormsby Schoolhouse & Tea Room. I wanted to learn about the property and what inspired such a beautiful place. Here’s what I learned. The original property was built in 1921 and it remained a school house until 1964. Years later, Ernie and his wife wanted to restore the property. They fond memories of their wedding reception on this site 20 years ago. Ernie’s love of baking and meeting with people was the perfect basis for turning the site into this beloved hidden gem.

After we finished our tea and our wonderful conversation with Ernie, we listened to the old record player that is used in the tea room.

There will never be enough words to describe how happy I felt to have found this place. It certainly won’t be the last time I visit.

Tinhouse Woodworking

Driving along these winding roads was a lot of fun. It was a nice change from the usual highway scenery.

Once I arrived at Tinhouse Woodworking, another stop along the Hastings Arts Route, I felt as though I was in a rustic cabin. It brought me back to my days in summer camp.

Along with the beautiful woodwork of store owner Jeff Wells, the store is generously stocked with the work from 43 local artists; a significant leap from 15 artists when the store opened its doors 5 years ago.

The showroom is also great place to serve a beverage. The signature drink is called a “Coehilliano,” not to be confused with the Americano. Jeff’s wife June loves running the café in this sweet little place. The stunning countertop that Jeff built has really been put to good use here.

While speaking with Jeff and June, I learned that this store used to be a home. The ambiance gives customers a chance to see what some pieces would look like in a home-like setting. One of my favourite aspects of this store was the minimal amount of artificial light inside the store. The natural light gave off a touch of warmth to these spectacular pieces.

Being in this area made me feel as though I was on vacation. I managed to carry that feeling as I came back to my home in Kingston. A theme that ties all three of these places together was that the past was used as a solid foundation to build upon. All three that these buildings maintained its original structure while being transformed into something new. For me, these three places were ones where you can reconnect to the past while creating lovely memories in the present moment.

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Story and photographs by Aysha Tayab

As one of our six Local Wanderers exploring Hastings

County, Aysha enjoys Arts and Culture, Agri-Tourism and Paddling adventures.

She grew up in a rural community, suffers from an incurable travel bug, and is an ambassador for the road less travelled.

Learn more about Aysha and her adventures as well as the other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County