The summer brings the opportunity for wonderful excursions. It is a chance to explore your own backyard and re-embrace the local beauty and uncovered stories. I look at my home province as a lost treasure whose clues are scattered in every direction. Ontario road trips are always on my summer schedule and with each one, I discover spots I never would have imagined. Through this local journey I came across the elusive white squirrels found solely (with rare exceptions) in the little town of Exeter Ontario on the province’s west coast.

Exeter Ontario, Home to the white squirrels. Stop here on Ontario road trips
Exeter Ontario, Home to the white squirrels. Stop here on Ontario road trips

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White Squirrel Facts:

  • Although a few were spotted in Toronto, white squirrels thrive in Exeter Ontario
  • Scientists believe the white squirrels have the light fur thanks to albinism or leucism.
  • Nobody truly knows why the white squirrels chose Exeter with the only conclusion being that there are few natural predators around that would be enticed by the bright white fur.
  • In Trinity Bellwoods – a borough in Toronto, white squirrels were seen by patrons to the point where tributes to the squirrel were created as well as a Twitter account. Sadly a few years ago he died after being electrocuted and since then, the area still boasts the presence of the white squirrel.
  • The White Squirrel cafe, located in Trinity Bellwoods, named their eatery after the notorious local rodent.
  • However, although Toronto had sightings, Exeter continues to be the sure place to spot one on Ontario road trips.

Including Exeter on your Ontario Road Trips

So my husband has a term- 20-second towns. This refers to the teeniest little spots with fewer than 5000 residents, a post office, a token general store, and usually a Home Hardware store. Exeter Ontario has all the characteristics to fall under his term. A population of 4700 ish, all the necessary shops for functioning families, and since it is located in Canada, a Tim Hortons for locals to grab their Canadian double-double. But Exeter also is the home of the white squirrels, attracting many visitors yearly to see if they can spot one.

Exeter Ontario - a Great Addition to Ontario Road Trips
Exeter Ontario – a Great Addition to Ontario Road Trips

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McNaughton Park – Exeter Ontario

Located right on the Ausable river, McNaughton park is a great area to do a quick hike, marvel at the various tree species, spot native birds, and of course, seek out the elusive and exquisite white squirrel. The trails are quite beautiful if visited in either the spring when the fields are green and flowering, or in the fall when the oranges and golds surround you.

While we were exploring Exeter, we were blessed to have spotted two white squirrels while hiking the beautiful trails! We also saw the national Canada goose, robins, native squirrels in black and gray, and other creatures in their natural habitat.

McNaughton Park, Exeter - a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips
McNaughton Park, Exeter – a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips

 

McNaughton Park, Exeter - a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips
McNaughton Park, Exeter – a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips

 

McNaughton Park, Exeter - a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips
McNaughton Park, Exeter – a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips

 

McNaughton Park, Exeter - a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips
McNaughton Park, Exeter – a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips

 

McNaughton Park, Exeter - a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips
McNaughton Park, Exeter – a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips

 

The bridge at McNaughton Park - Exeter, stop on your Ontario road trips
The bridge at McNaughton Park – Exeter, stop on your Ontario road trips

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We Spotted the White Squirrels!

White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario - an essential stop on Ontario road trips
White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario – an essential stop on Ontario road trips

 

Houses are placed for the White Squirrels in Exeter Ontario
Houses are placed for the White Squirrels in Exeter Ontario

 

White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario - an essential stop on Ontario road trips
White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario – an essential stop on Ontario road trips

 

White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario - an essential stop on Ontario road trips
White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario – an essential stop on Ontario road trips

 

White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario - an essential stop on Ontario road trips
White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario – an essential stop on Ontario road trips

 

White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario - an essential stop on Ontario road trips
White Squirrel in Exeter Ontario – an essential stop on Ontario road trips

Getting to Exeter Ontario

If you are heading from Toronto, you need to dedicate 2.5-3 hours travel time to get to Exeter. It is approximately 45 minutes from London Ontario and 20 minutes from Grand Bend. As picturesque and novel it is to visit, I would not recommend dedicating more than 1-2 hours to hiking McNaughton Park and looking for the white squirrels before heading to other areas of the province nearby. It really is a small town with few attractions other than its exclusive and unique mascot. The hike is definitely a gorgeous addition to Ontario road trips in this direction though as the scenery and environment are just stunning. Robins are my favourite bird and they were quite plentiful on the green lawns and upon the tree branches.

Stop in Exeter on your Ontario Road Trips on the West Coast of the Province
Stop in Exeter on your Ontario Road Trips on the West Coast of the Province

 

Stop in Exeter on your Ontario Road Trips on the West Coast of the Province
Stop in Exeter on your Ontario Road Trips on the West Coast of the Province

 

Stop in Exeter on your Ontario Road Trips on the West Coast of the Province
Stop in Exeter on your Ontario Road Trips on the West Coast of the Province

 

Spot the national flower - the trillium in full bloom at McNaughton park, Exeter
Spot the national flower – the trillium in full bloom at McNaughton park, Exeter

 

Hiking McNaughton Park, Exeter Ontario
Hiking McNaughton Park, Exeter Ontario

 

A great spot for walking your dogs!
A great spot for walking your dogs!

 

Ontario road trips
Adorable robin in McNaughton Park, Exeter

 

McNaughton Park, Exeter - a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips
McNaughton Park, Exeter – a Perfect stop on Ontario Road Trips

As you can see Exeter is a nice little town for a quick stop on your summer Ontario road trips. Hopefully when you get there you will be blessed with a white squirrel crossing your path. A local told me that they are all around and the best thing is not to search for them. They will appear when you least expect it!

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Spotting the White Squirrels landed on our Heavenly Centenary Sites Bucket list! Follow along and tick off the experiences you have had too!

Heavenly Centenary sites Bucket List
Heavenly Centenary sites Bucket List

 

Ontario's West coast has so much to offer! While you decide on your Ontario road trips this summer, consider coming out this direction with a stop in Exeter to spot the elusive white squirrels! #ontario #ontariotravel #whitesquirrels #canada #canadatravel #traveltips #hikingtips #nationalpark
Stop in Exeter to see White Squirrels on Ontario Road Trips to the Province’s West Coast

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