Era 67 in Orillia


When Chef Ian tells me his kitchen is a place of sanctuary, I understand intrinsically the food presented to his clientele is prepared with reverence and will be the very best available.

It is.

Sourcing local is priority, from the kitchen to the décor; stunning art work adorns the walls, I was particularly impressed with the four seasons of maple trees by local artist Brian Tosh. Honey and maple syrup is available to purchase in store, as are some glorious Group of Seven mugs, homage apparent for all things Canadiana. Also available seasonally are freshly made compound butters, which have adorned the corn on the cob at the Mariposa Festival for many years. They are made in house with Kawartha Dairy butter, in flavours as diverse as dill pickle, brown sugar wild blueberry, maple chipotle, and garlic Provençal.

I was delighted to celebrate my birthday dinner at Era 67, even more so when I discovered a charming personalized birthday card nestled next to the fresh flowers on the table. This is good customer service. Gordon Lightfoot tunes played in the background, the soundtrack epitomizes Canadian music. Trust your server; I asked for recommendations and we were thrilled with his choices.


Rather than bread service, Era 67 offers fresh made kettle chips with a maple chipotle aioli for dipping. This proved popular for those with gluten sensitivities and is a such a hit, many of the clientele will purchase a bag or two to take home with them.

I started dinner with the “Wild Boar East Coast Scallops; pan seared diver scallops atop wild boar bacon confit, complemented with curried Georgian Bay McIntosh Apple and Bala cranberry chutney”. Darling daughter enjoyed the Era 67 rendition of Caesar Salad which includes; duck fat crouton, Balderson Cheddar and parmesan frico, double smoked bacon, creamy roasted garlic Provençal vinaigrette.


The steaks are all Alberta Butcher Block Reserve, which is the top 4th percentile in marbleization, AAA beef. Mine was topped with stilton butter, with a side of frites and aioli.

Creating your cut and “accessories” provides ample opportunity for individual tastes and appetites. Darling daughter dined on the Local Tre Sorelle handmade pasta stuffed with Era 67 Wild Mushroom duxelle, Chardonnay reduction, shallots, thyme, Woolrich goat cheese, Balderson aged cheddar, tossed with a roasted garlic cream sauce and topped with wilted baby arugula, grape tomatoes in maple marinara.

With friends and a birthday cake waiting for me at home, I was still tempted to try a wee dessert. Once again the servers’ choice was correct. “Sweet Poutine” was light as air, “Crispy puff pastry fries tossed in cinnamon sugar topped with Era’s whisky vanilla caramel sauce, chocolate cake pieces, maple chip cream and chocolate sauce for dipping”.

Dinner was delicious.

I returned to Era 67 on a sunny fall day to share a delightful conversation with Executive Chef Ian Thompson; as with most of the Chefs and restaurateurs I have interviewed for Simcoe Dining, supporting local is their lifestyle. Local brings down the carbon foot print, improves the local economy, and it allows for the development of solid relationships with the farmers and growers of the food that Chef Ian brings into his establishment.

There are staples on the menu, but it is “tweaked” seasonally to reflect the growing season. Having trained at George Brown and then obtained a culinary apprenticeship in Ireland, which developed into an extended stay at a restaurant on the Celtic Sea, where he moved his way up through the ranks. Fresh from the ocean was what the fishmonger caught daily, literally eating off the door stop. Chef Ian is also a natural storyteller, I sat entranced, than doubled over in laughter when he told me about the “eels”.

Missing this “great country of Canada” he returned home, put his experience in place on Canadian soil and when this location became available he and his wife Sarah started Era 67 and are now firmly rooted in Orillia.


I asked what message Chef Ian Thompson would like to share with my readers: “I would say that food is the one thing that you can be selfish with, because if you actually look at food as the biggest social aspect of our lives. So in closing I would like to say be selfish when it comes to food, bring everybody together, take that time to yourself and your loved ones, but if you look at today’s society when does anybody ever do that anymore, but food will always bring you together, if you let it.”


One of the best things about writing for Simcoe Dining, aside from having fantastic meals, is the relationships I have formed through meeting likeminded people, because it’s not just about food, it’s the attitudes that come with. Its soothing to converse and do an interview, it’s finding another simpatico person who shares my belief that this isn’t just about feeding the body it’s about feeding the soul. Executive Chef Ian and I concur on this point; while confederation in 1867 brought together our country, food brings people together and this bonding is good for us all.


I highly recommend Era 67, and if Chef Ian has a moment, ask him to share the story about the eel.

Era 67
64 Mississaga Street West.
Orillia, ON, L3V3A8

Phone: 705 259 1867

Manager – Sarah Valiquette-Thompson
Chef – Ian Thompson

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and local food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow

Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings at Violet’s Venue



Bruce grew up in the 60’s, a huge music fan who dreamt of opening a concert venue someday. For thirty years the responsibilities of career and family took priority, but his dream didn’t fade. In February 2014, Violet’s Venue, a “purple hued no expense spared temple to the Blues”, opened its doors in Barrie, thus fulfilling Bruce’s long held dream while setting the stage to leave a musical legacy for his young daughter Violet.

Violet’s Venue provides concert goers from near and far with an exclusive, very intimate concert experience. Seating is for 92 patrons, every seat is a great one.

For those that require it, an elevator is available. Merch table, meet and greet with autograph session are part and parcel of the evenings, a fans dream! Beverages both alcoholic and non are available. Facilities on the main floor avail themselves for foodie events.

A historic organ, the type traditionally played by Blues musicians, bronze plaque polished, gleaned from a Toronto church, is right of stage and the entire sound system, well, it is astounding! Which brings me to the music, and at Violet’s Venue, it is all about the music.

Mid set; I was honoured to be granted an exclusive interview with Tom Wilson, of Juno Award winning, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.


Penelope Morrow: I usually interview Chefs, so can’t help but bring a comparison to food; too many cooks can spoil the broth, but NOT with you guys. You have a stellar musical career happening, all of you, and extraordinary talents.

How do you identify what song is going to be your song and what song is going to be a Blackie and the Rodeo Kings song? How do you choose?

Tom Wilson: You know what, there is some kind of thing that comes out of the cosmos, some kind of magic trick, or some kind of spiritual guide. Let’s call it for lack of a better term, there’s a spiritual guide that comes out of the creative energy you know, something we do pool from other worlds, and you follow that lead. That you go with creatively so you actually know what’s right and after doing this for so long we don’t try to do things we shouldn’t be doing, we don’t try and force things, on one another or on ourselves or try to put the round peg into the square hole kind of thing.

PM: What is your BARK method as it were, for reconciling with strong personalities both musical and personal, and dealing with the distance between your locales? You’re in Hamilton, Colin is in Nashville and Stephen is in Halifax. How do you have such a cohesive band when you are so far apart?

TW: I think it probably helps a little bit, we don’t get under each other’s skin, we don’t see a lot of each other except, unless, we have the intent of doing something creatively, it defines our relationships at this point in our lives. I have known Colin since I was 16 years old; I have known Stephen since about 1994, about 21 years I guess. So familiarity builds contempt and there is just none of that in this band. Also we have built a band that doesn’t say no to one another we are open to ideas all the time, because we are able to trust one another that the person is not going to lead us down a path we shouldn’t be going down so not having to say no is easy.


PM: You are touring North and South, had to use that one, you are even going to the Calabogie Road.

TW: Yah we kind of go from one project to another. Colin is about the one guy that is the most stable at home these days as he works in Nashville. He is a go to guy as a guitar player and as a writer and as a producer, he is working on a TV show called Nashville full time, he is on the show, he is part of the musical direction of the show, recording team, its huge, the show is huge, nice little gig to be working on. It’s also a great creative outlet for him, but also its keeping him at home. And every once and a while, I am 55 and tired of travelling, so you always look for ways to be able to, that allow you to choose what you want to do when you want to do it cause that’s what becoming an artist is all about.

Basically it’s impossible for us to be told what to do. For whatever reasons we are born with authority issues and now we are middle aged men with authority issues, so it’s even more difficult for us to be told what to do. Sustaining a life where you get to be creative and you get to make choices that you get to live with, that you don’t have to live by anyone else’s choices for you, that’s important and that’s what we will continue to try and do until they are throwing dirt on our caskets.


PM: Do you like the small venues?

TW: Sure I like any venue. This is a great place. I like any place, I like it here. This is nice, I don’t know what it was, it looks like it might have been a funeral home or a banquet hall maybe.

PM: I believe it was a banquet hall.

TW: Most of all it’s about the heart that people put in the venue. Bruce, who owns it, he puts a lot of heart into this place and he’s got a real love for music and that’s what we need. We need more of that.

PM: I agree!

PM: Tell me about your painting?

TW: Yet another vehicle for the life I choose to live, the creative life I chose to live. I started painting in 1997, because I wanted to stop being destructive, and I wanted to be productive, and it was a great

PM: Thank you so much for your time.

TW: Thank you very much, it’s good.


Blackie and the Rodeo Kings performed an amazing show at Violet’s Venue on November 10, 2014. Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson engage the audience with their thoughtful wit and storytelling between songs. The caliber of their songwriting impresses me, rich with life experience and depth of emotion, with guitars in hand they lead us, they make my boots stomp and my hips sway. This is damn good music.

Their gratitude in achieving success is clear, while showing altruism and caring for others with their support of World Vison, offering the audience “anything off the merch table to those that sign up to support this cause”.


Tom Wilson eloquently summed up my own thoughts about Violet’s Venue when he noted the love for the music that Bruce Maltby has; it is visible in the quality of the workmanship, the autographed photographs of each performer that has played at the venue that surround the picture of his beloved daughter Violet.


There is quality at Violet’s Venue, on stage and off.

Music lovers, go there!

Phone: (705) 238-9282
Address: 52 Morrow Road, Barrie, ON L4N 3V8

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and local food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow

Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography