Webers: A Stop for Train-Lovers on Hwy 11

If you are travelling on Hwy 11 near Orillia, with a train loving toddler (or anyone who likes trains and French fries) I recommend a stop at Webers – the burger place on a train. Well, a few old train cars.

You’ll eat on a dining car (unless it’s beautiful out and you choose to eat where you can look at the train cars instead).  The bathrooms are in another converted car. There’s a bright yellow caboose and more.  We visited in winter, at night, and it was still fun to look at everything. Another day time visit has been requested though, so The Small Controller can have a really good look around.

The menu is online (and of course subject to change), so I won’t get too much into it here, but my understanding is that they have tried to keep it pretty simple to speed up service during big cottaging weekends.  You may even know their burgers already from the frozen meats department of your local Loblaws affiliate – though buying them to make at home probably isn’t the same as getting a charcoal-grilled one onsite.  We were happy to discover that they had veggie burgers, too. The condiments selection is limited. This is unlikely to disturb most toddlers but if yours has specific burger needs it might be worth cold packing any toppings beyond cheese, ketchup and mustard, and bringing them with you. The Small Controller regretted the lack of mayo, but made do and enjoyed the burgers, fries and milkshake.

It has been further suggested that when we go back, during the day, we will have ice cream, since it was spotted on the menu.  It’s not a bad idea.  I definitely remember my own mother employing the “ice cream break” strategy on long trips up north when I was a kid.

Service was friendly and quite good, despite our being there on a very snowy night only half an hour before they closed.

Webers is on the northbound side of the highway, but their popularity is such that they have a parking lot on the southbound side, and a bridge over the highway (the only privately owned bridge over an Ontario highway).  It was snowy when we traveled and I have to admit I was nervous about crossing an icy, windswept bridge over the highway with a toddler.  I needn’t have worried (or at least not much): the upper part of the bridge is enclosed.  The wind and weather are concerns on the stairs up and down, but they were well maintained (as was the lot), and the bridge itself was more or less dry even as a snowstorm was dying down around us.

We ate, used the restrooms, and wandered around as much as we could in the snow to admire the train cars.  It was a good experience, and definitely helped The Small Controller get through the drive.  There was anticipation, the visit and then talking about the visit and when we might go again (while still slurping milkshake).

They have a good website that includes a calendar noting which days they are open (We were returning from a visit with family, and got lucky with one of their open days following Christmas.  Webers won’t be open again this year until mid-March).

I’ll add more pictures and any warm weather addendums to this post once we’ve gone again.  If you’re travelling that way I hope you get the chance to stop in, and enjoy it.

The Obsession Begins

Not all toddlers are obsessive, but if you have one that is, you know it. The range of things they can be obsessive about it pretty impressive: dinosaurs, butterflies and moths, or construction vehicles all seem to be pretty common. With my little one it began with the alphabet.

Not all toddlers are obsessive, but if you have one that is, you know it. The range of things they can be obsessive about it pretty impressive: dinosaurs, butterflies and moths, or construction vehicles all seem to be pretty common. With my little one it began with the alphabet.

We watched Sesame Street videos. I was home-alone-with-baby a lot, as many new mothers are, and my baby was a bouncer. It freaked me right out when the bouncing took place in the high chair, and a little video calmed things down while I made second, third and sometimes fourth helpings of cereal (and other foods, as they were introduced).

Sesame Street has approximately a thousand versions of the alphabet up on YouTube.

Okay, okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but they have a lot. A lot. My kid loved them all. Patti LaBelle? Oh yeah! Kermit? Yup. Usher? Yes, we will watch that please. Elmo? Sing it, furry red monster! Ray Charles, India Arie, Tilly and the Wall? Yes, yes and yes!

They have songs about individual letters, too. My child had favorite letters of the alphabet. We would cheer when the letter U came out, like it was the star player of a sports team.

The alphabet, I will have you know, is a gateway to train obsession.

Trains are a perfect vehicle (literally) for displaying the alphabet, collecting the alphabet and singing about the alphabet. There are lots of alphabet related train videos, and slowly we started watching some of them, too.

I can’t blame only the alphabet though. The truth is, we watched Baby Einstein’s Things That Go video and for reasons I will probably never know the train segment struck a chord deep within my child. The entire video was loved, but as soon as my little one could sign “more”, there were requests to re-watch the part about trains.

There were no train toys in the house. It was ages before we saw Thomas and Friends or anything like it. It didn’t matter. My kid was in love.

If there is a train nearby it will be found and celebrated, whether hurtling past us on the highway or in the background of an illustration nearly hidden in a jumble of other objects. Unrelated items that bear passing resemblance to a train are inspected for possibilities.

High speed mouse

High speed train

Monorail sink edge

Monorail train

In our house (and outside of it) we do trains.

When it began, I knew next to nothing. Like, seriously, right next to nada, zip, zilch. I was a frequent subway rider, and had taken a train to visit my grandmother in northern Ontario as a child. I’d never even had a toy train. Now I tweet about trains and toddlers, and write, and hope that even if your child isn’t quite as laser-point focused as mine is, that you may find some of it useful and interesting.

I didn’t (and don’t) know if it will end someday and another love will blossom, but my kid is still pretty keen on the alphabet, and the love of trains is going strong.