Toronto, Canada, with a population easily exceeding 2.5 million, is the largest city in Canada.
Yet, despite the massive differences, the Clinton County community, which got it's name because the town's founder grew up in the Canadian city, is quaint community that is home to some nice people, a great restaurant, and a beautiful county park that lies along the Wapsipinicon River.
Iowa Adventurer visited this small town one Saturday last Fall and enjoyed lunch at HeineeJo's, the town's popular restaurant and bar, that doubles as both a pool hall and pseudo-museum.
HeineeJo's is the only restaurant in town and it's right on Mill Street, the main north/south blacktop running through town.
Walking in to the main entrance, you instantly realize the place is definitely a bit more partisan towards the Hawkeyes. As a Cyclone, I've just come to (sadly) expect that in Eastern Iowa.
The inside of the place is quite spacious and full of seating options. There's a variety of tables and even a few stools at the bar.
There are a couple of pool (billiards) tables set up and I noticed that one of the walls had a bunch of information about pool leagues and past champions.
I don't know whether COVID-19 has affected things, but there were sheets up with information about the current leagues.
One of the walls is full of old pictures and information about Toronto. It serves as a bit of a museum of sorts for the town.
There's other unique decor that give the place the sort of small town character and charm that you would expect at a place like this. For example, there's a naked mannequin woman behind the bar. I'm guessing there must be a good story behind that.
There's also a TouchTunes machine on the wall and a couple of video type games in a corner.
The menu at HeineeJo's looks pretty similar to what you would find at a lot of small town bars and grills with burgers, tenderloins, fries, and appetizers. However, they have Tuesday night chicken wings, seafood Saturdays, tacos on Wednesday nights, and chicken on Sundays.
There's even a calendar of specials on a marker board. Who says meal prepping is hard?
You can also find a bulletin bard with to-go menus, a monthly calendar, city business, and business cards. As I always say, you know you are in a popular place in rural Iowa when you find the bulletin board of event notices, job postings, and business cards.
I decided to try the unbreaded pork tenderloin sandwich and I should have gotten the basket which included the fries. I saw a few other guys order a basket AFTER me and it looked spectacular. Rookie mistake. Instead, I ordered an appetizer of corn nuggets as a side. It was all delicious, however.
The nice woman who was working even brought me out some condiments and containers of pickles and onion. I'm not a ranch consumer (am I really Iowan?), but many who do love ranch would probably appreciate that they bring out an entire bottle.
If you are more thirsty than hungry, they do have a fully stocked bar with a television behind it.
You can even buy a pack of smokes. That's something that used to be quite commonplace in small town bars but I see less of these days.
During nicer weather, you can enjoy a nice patio area behind the building. There's a set of doors that leads you right out there.
After I finished my meal, which was very delicious, promptly served, and quite reasonably priced, I headed out to check out the rest of Toronto. Next door to HeineeJo's is a beautiful, stately old house.
There are a couple of other buildings in the downtown area, too.
A couple of these old buildings look like they are in tougher shape but I'm sure could be very neat if they could be brought back to life and repurposed.
This particular building has the remnants of an old advertising mural on the side. I would love to see that restored.
Toronto is home to a couple of churches, both of which are very similar in their architecture. The Catholic Church is on the south end of town on the highway.
There's also the Community Church of Toronto. However, I looked online and on Facebook and could not find any information about the services or the congregation. I'm wondering if it is still an active church?
Elsewhere in town, I found an emergency services garage that houses the fire department.
The town has a number of single family dwellings of varying size.
On the north side of town, right along the banks of the Wapsipinicon River, is Walnut Grove Park. It is a nice county park that is managed by the Clinton County Conservation Board.
The park has a number of different amenities, including a boat ramp that allows access to the river.
Even if you don't want to go into the water, you can enjoy some nice views of it from the shore.
There is an area with playground equipment.
I also found a spot where you can shoot a few hoops.
There is a Frisbee golf course.
If you are into camping, there are a number of spots where you can park your camper.
There's a building that includes restrooms.
I also found another shelter house that is perfect for picnicking.
Toronto was in the part of the state that got hit relatively hard by the August derecho. The tree damage in and around the park was still quite noticeable.
Before heading out of town, I stopped to appreciate the old bridge over the river.
On my way out of town, I caught a sign hiding in some trees alerting me to a cemetery.
Iowa has a lot of beautiful old cemeteries and the one outside of Toronto certainly fits that description.
On a concluding note, as someone who is working to get a #CitySignSelfie with a sign in every Iowa community, I was quite disappointed to see that Toronto does not have a welcome sign. Fortunately, there was the green and white DOT sign and that I used. Perhaps someone in the town could lead the effort to design, purchase, and erect a sign or two to welcome visitors to town? In fact, a nice homemade painted sign would even work. I think that would be a nice addition and help enhance the town pride a little bit.
Canada's Toronto may have more people in one floor of a high rise than the entire town of Iowa's Toronto, but it's still a lovely small town worth visiting and appreciating. From it's great local restaurant to its beautiful riverfront park, I enjoyed my visit and am looking forward to returning to Clinton County for more exploring and adventures in the near future.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Clinton County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this website.