Just one hour west from Toronto we drove to the Waterloo Region for a whirl-wind tour touching on everything we could fit into a day trip. This area of Ontario has deep roots in the Mennonite Community. You will still see horse and buggies in town and on country roads. The whole landscape is loaded with charm.
St Jacobs Farmer’s Market
Our first stop was the famous St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market. We arrived around 10:30 in the morning and stepped into the fabulous indoor/outdoor market where you can purchase quality farm-fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, baked goods and so much more,you really have to see it to believe it.
There’s also casual dining featuring regional and ethnic cuisine, cafes and food trucks selling everything from Pizza’s, Perogies, Samosas, Kebabs and Apple Fritters. A reflection on the changing population surrounding the market.
There are boutiques, outlet stores, galleries, theaters and the new market building, that we were able to tour. Year-round market hours on Thursday and Saturday are 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and the Summer Farmers Market (June–Labour Day) is Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo Central Railway
We left the market for St. Jacobs Village on the Waterloo Central Railway. This was a really cool experience. Originally completed in 1891, it’s now totally run and restored by volunteers and operational between mid June and October 31, but only on Market Days (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday).
The “No.9” steam engine still pulls the train, from Elmira, with stops at the village and the market. There’s a charming caboose that can be reserved for birthday parties or the whole train for weddings, family or business functions.
Village of St. Jacobs
The quaint Village of St. Jacobs was founded in 1820 by Jacob C. Snider and Son and still shows the signs of its Mennonite Heritage. There are many artisans in historic buildings making pottery, quilts, jewellery, woven hangings and glassware including tiffany lamps.
Lunch and Craft Beer tastings at Abe Erb
We stopped in Uptown Waterloo for lunch at Abe Erb, which is named after Abraham Erb, the first Mennonite settler from Pennsylvania and founder of Waterloo, Ontario. We shared nachos, wings, pizza and salad before continuing our trip.
Fashion History Museum
Founded in 2004 this museum houses a collection of nearly 10,000 garments and accessories dating from the 1660’s to present day. If you have a passion for fashion, then this is a must-see.
Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa, Cambridge, Ontario
Langdon Hall is a romantic, gourmet retreat in the country, set in acres of manicured gardens and Carolinian forest, with seven and a half miles of walking trails. This four-diamond hotel has a 5-diamond restaurant, 52 luxurious guest suites, a wonderful full service spa, amazing ambiance and impeccable service.
We were given a tour of the beautiful vegetable garden, plants and flora by Mario Muniz, head gardener. Muniz explained his gardening process and how different vegetables are grown according to changing seasons.
Talented Executive Chef Jason Bangerter, using the vegetables and herbs from the gardens along with other ingredients gave an impressive cooking demonstration.
All in all it was a wonderfully fruitful day. If I have a regret, it was the limited time spent at St. Jacobs Market. You really need half a day to see everything and enjoy the shopping.
Next time I’ll overnight, allowing me two days to do justice to the area. I recommend you do the same. There are a lot of accommodation options in the area, ranging from $70. to $700 a night.
For more information about the region visit: www.explorewaterlooregion.com