Ferrari client Aldo Gottardo takes us to some of Canada's most scenic spots
Canada's Ontario province is famous for Niagara Falls, its pristine National Parks and its cosmopolitan capital, Toronto. Yet, less than an hour's drive from the bustling city is the Hockley Valley region, with its characteristic hamlets, farms, country clubs, golf courses and long stretches of country roads. Part of the Niagara Escarpment - a natural wonder that crosses four American states before carving its way north – the area is loved by outdoor sports enthusiasts. The 890-kilometre Bruce Trail, Canada's oldest and longest marked hiking trail, runs through these parts. With its hills, dense forests and river-hugging roads, it is also a driver's paradise.
With the resurgence of the Hockley Valley Resort, the area has a year-round crown jewel: a spa and resort, conference centre, ski hill and championship golf course surrounded by kilometres of some of the region's best holiday spots. The resort's elevation from the escarpment provides breath-taking views all the way down to Lake Ontario and Toronto.
The Hockley Valley area is colloquially known as 'the headwaters', where four major rivers - the Humber, Grand, Credit and Nottawasaga - define the region. It is an area of old villages and towns, many founded in the mid 1800s. Established farms, sporting gingerbread trim and characteristic split-rail fencing, dot the landscape. This is where, on a hot summer day, long-time Ferrari client and Toronto resident Aldo Gottardo takes us for a drive in his GTC4Lusso T. Gottardo knows a thing or two about Ferrari. A builder-developer from Toronto, he has a Prancing Horse for seemingly every occasion.
He owns 18 'made in Maranello' vehicles, including a completely restored 275GTS dating from 1965, a new-school LaFerrari hybrid, a 488 from 2017 and a 360GT from 2002. As Gottardo starts up the Lusso T, the Ferrari exhaust note is there, though dampened.
In keeping with the style of the car - it is class over sass, after all - the interior is a cocoon of leather comfort. When the car gets moving, it's a quiet ride, especially when you consider there are 602 horses under the hood. The Lusso T, with its guttural turbo boost and family-oriented seating for four, fills a niche in the Prancing Horse's lineup and Ferrari has put considerable effort into designing its rear quarters, making sure that passengers will be comfortable on any trip - short or long.
Which is a good thing because Hockley Valley offers many towns to drive through and beautiful panoramas to soak up. Every hamlet has its own version of downtown, where travellers looking to wind down and feel the rhythm of local life can browse through traditional General Stores and enjoy meals at family-run restaurants. Roadside signs advertising b&b's, organic eggs and honey abound.
The roads here are mostly two-laners, which means drivers have to keep a light foot on the accelerator. Yet even with the limited speeds allowed, an experienced driver like Gottardo, who has consistently finished in the top 10 on the Ferrari Corse Clienti circuit, can still have a lot of fun behind the wheel. Watching him drive, one can appreciate how the Lusso T's lack of nanny systems - no lane-departure warnings, no front-collision braking - suits its intended driver just fine: you drive the car; it doesn’t drive you.
Even in a place like the Hockley Valley Resort, where the locals are used to seeing exquisite cars on a regular basis, the Lusso T attracts gazes. As Gottardo stages the car down the sweeping entrance road to the resort for a few photographs, a man standing off to the side asks what the car is, and when told it's a new Ferrari, his eyes widen. "They have a wagon now?" he asks. "It's so sleek." Indeed.