Aug. 30: Havelock Family Drive-In, Havelock ON

Cars in front of a drive-in screen after sunset

Photo from the Havelock Family Drive-In Facebook page

It’s Day 242 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, and my 17th in Ontario. I finally found a diagonal highway, cutting a good 10 minutes off an otherwise hour’s drive from the Port Hope Drive In, just east of Port Hope of course, to the Havelock Family Drive-In just west of Havelock of course.

Gord Henderson works full time for a concert hall in Toronto, but he found time to build and open the Havelock in 2011. He told the Trent Hills Independent that he’s wanted to open a drive-in ever since he was a teenager. “Life was getting in the way and eventually you’ve got to put the pieces together and here it is,” Henderson said. “I always felt that when you went to the drive-in it was a good feeling and when you left it was a good feeling. I thought if I’m going to do a job in my later years that’s where I want to be.”

The Havelock is an odd little drive-in, with room for just 75 cars but a large concession stand / projection / restroom building. Years after it opened, it still didn’t have any real marquee or other signage, but reviews on Facebook praise its spirit and cleanliness. One really great idea is mosquito screen rentals; I created my own with screen fabric and a magnet collection, but it’s nice to have it already available.

The Peterborough Examiner caught up with Henderson at the end of his second season, and he said he was still having the time of his life. He said he calls his approach “the four wows” of the big screen, FM stereo sound, that cleanliness, and the food. The staff will deliver pizzas to cars, and there are burger, hot dogs, and the other usual suspects available.

In June 2015, it was Peterborough This Week‘s turn to drop in on the Havelock. Henderson had upgraded to a digital projector and was looking forward to a season of better movies and better weather than 2014.

When Henderson retires from his full-time job, he’ll continue to run the Havelock, he told This Week. For now, it’s a way to recharge his batteries from work. “Some people go fishing, some people golf and I go to the drive-in,” he said. “The plan is to do this until I can’t see the screen anymore.”

Miles Today / Total: 40 / 28147 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Hitman’s Bodyguard / 156

Nearby Restaurant: The Havelock Garden Restaurant is another quirky little place. Its specialty is Chinese, but it also offers “Canadian food” such as burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and French fries with gravy. I stuck with the house specialties, and was just a little sad that I wasn’t here for the weekend buffet.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The place to stay in Havelock is the Moonlight Motel just east of town on the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s another one of those well-maintained mom and pop kind of motels, set back from the road with trees and flowers in the front yard. My clean little room had a mini-fridge and microwave along with solid wifi. As far as breakfast and coffee go, any town with a Tim Hortons is a town where I’ll be just fine in the morning.

Only in Havelock: South of town in Campbellford, there’s an 18-foot wide toonie coin mounted eight feet off the ground. The monument honors Campbellford artist Brent Townsend, who created the polar bear image in its center.

Next stop: Mustang Drive-In, Picton ON.