Welcome to Waterloo Region, where preservation meets innovation.
Imagine a place where old traditions meet new, where urban meets rural, where nature leads to great adventures, where distinguished events and festivals unite friends and family, a place for you to explore…
As you know, I love going on mini road trips. I love escaping the city for a weekend and exploring the surrounding area. Sometimes my adventures take me as far as the Ottawa Valley, and sometimes – I stick closer to home. My last 24-hour fun filled trip was to Waterloo Region.
With the Pan Am / Parapan AM Games quickly approaching, I know a lot of people in the city are going to be looking for an escape. Sure, all the tourists and attention will be great for our economy, but if you are not attending the games or participating in any of the activities – you may be looking for a way to get away from the crowds, construction, TTC delays, etc.
The Waterloo Region is a perfect, quick getaway. There is plenty to see and do – and it’s only all about an hour outside of Toronto!
My 24-hour press trip in Waterloo Region was jam-packed with activities!
The first stop the bright and sunny Saturday morning was, of course, St. Jacobs Market. The St. Jacobs Market has been around for as long as I can remember. Even though there was a devastating fire back in 2013, that burned the main building down – the community thrived together and the market is doing better than ever.
The rebuild of main building is almost complete, and will actually be bigger and better than ever! In the interim – St. Jacobs Market put up a very large tent to house the majority of vendors.
The Market barn houses food and craft vendors; a food court and more vendors are located in the Peddler’s Village building and outbuildings known as the colony houses.
Spring through fall, a lively outdoor area showcases a huge mix of local producers, Old Order Mennonite farmers, a quality flea market, and a petting farm.
A recent addition to the St. Jacobs Market are select wineries. Once I saw one – of course, I had to stop by and chat with them!
Tawse Winery is an organic winery out of Niagara Region, that not only makes delicious organic wine, but they also win multiple awards! Such as Canadian Winery for three consecutive years, and they are also recognized by Decanter as the winery who produces the second-best Chardonnay in the world (number one in Burgundy).
I have not had the chance to try Tawse wines yet, however – I did receive a lovely housewarming gift last week and included was a bottle of Tawse Sparkling Wine!
Many of the visitors to St. Jacobs Market come for their weekly fresh produce shopping.
Local farms, many of which are home to Mennonites – set up shop at the market and have been doing so for many years.
In addition to the fresh, local produce, shoppers will find a variety of fresh meats and preserves.
There are also bakeries with amply supplies of breads and baked goods. You will also find a flea market called, Peddler’s Village at the St. Jacobs Market.
The St. Jacobs Market even have a cattle auction! In fact, it’s not just cattle that is auctioned offf – many farm animals are as well.
We got a chance to go into the stadium to see it.
There wasn’t an auction going on at the time – but you could smell the remnants…if you know what I mean!
The St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is OPEN:
• Thursday and Saturday: 7 am – 3:30 pm, all year
• Tuesday Summer Market June 16 – September 1, 2015, 8 am – 3 pm
St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway is North Americas finest “O” Scale Layout. Showcasing Southern Ontario during the 1950’s. Come see our huge world renowned display accurately portrayed to every last detail.
Another attraction I had the opportunity to visit was the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway.
This unique model railway was all built by hand and has grown substantially over the years.
Built to depict Southern Ontario in the 1950s, this model railway has so many intricate details. As I mentioned, it was all hand built and painted.
Both major railways, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific weave through farmland, towns, and industrial areas and are all run by the conductors in the room upstairs.
When you visit, be sure to stay a little while because every half hour or so, the scene changes to night and the model railway is lit up with miniature streetlights!
While visiting Waterloo Region – we also had the chance to catch a show at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.
Operating year-round, the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse is a distinctive venue that features post and beam construction associated with traditional Mennonite architecture. With 400 seats, the theatre auditorium has a raked layout that affords each seat a fantastic view of the stage.
Follow the misadventures of Miles Gladstone, a man who appears to have it all: a trophy wife, a successful business, and a happily married daughter.
But then life steps in, and things get a little crazy for poor Miles, who soon finds his entire world upended by a series of disturbing revelations. His gorgeous wife leaves him, his conniving business partner cheats him out of the company, and his daughter’s marriage starts to crumble. Worse yet, now that Miles wants his ex-wife back, he learns she’s dating a guy half her age. Time is running out for poor Miles – he just can’t win!
Warm, witty and wise, The Crazy Time is a timely commentary on the pursuit of happiness as one man scrambles to put the pieces of his life back together – with unexpected results.
Different shows are shown year-round at the surprisingly large and spacious St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.
Before heading home to Toronto, we stopped by the Waterloo Region Museum.
Waterloo Region Museum is the largest community museum in Ontario. Our main gallery tells the story of Waterloo Region and our feature gallery showcases local and travelling exhibits from around the world. Waterloo Region Museum is open daily and is the entrance to Doon Heritage Village.
Once inside we wandered around and took in the Ocean Bound! exhibit.
Ocean Bound! explores the science of watersheds, aquatic animals and oceans. Embark on a journey through watersheds to see how everyone’s actions on land affect our oceans. The exhibit presents fun hands-on science for the whole family!
After exploring that exhibit we went into the main hall which gave us a background on the region, its settlers and its history.
Then it was time to head outside to Doon Heritage Village.
Doon Heritage Village is a picturesque 60 acre living history village that shows visitors what life was like in Waterloo Region in the year 1914. The village comes to life with knowledgeable interpreters dressed in authentic 1914 clothing and features historic buildings, farm animals and fun activities the whole family will enjoy.
Though we were able to take our time and wander around to all of the different buildings, houses and spots in Doon Heritage Village, there were always knowledgeable interpreters (dressed in authentic 1914 clothing) to give some feedback and history.
If it weren’t for the interpreter – I would have tried to pet those big old pigs. Thankfully – she advised against it because they have extremely sharp teeth. LOL
All in all – Waterloo Region is a great, quick, escape from the city. There is a lot to do and even more to see!
Excite your taste buds at farmers’ markets, renowned restaurants and microbreweries. Find outstanding antiquing and hand crafted goods in St. Jacobs and be captivated by the largest outdoor market in Canada. Discover the Grand outdoors: camp, fish, paddle or make a splash at the water-park. Go wild at the Safari or unwind with butterflies. Take part in the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich and the best Blues Festival in the province! Experience great entertainment including the KW Symphony, theaters, live music and ballet performances. Discover Mennonite culture that still exists today by visiting our Townships, going on a horse-drawn sleigh or trolley tour of a Mennonite farm or by visiting the Mennonite Story.
I’ll be sharing more posts about our stay over the next couple of days – so stay tuned!