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Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Largest Single Day Maple Syrup Festival, Elmira’s Maple Syrup Festival is considered a true sign of spring. Visitors are drawn by spring fever and a nostalgia for a rural way of life. Try the golden-brown pancakes and famous maple syrup. Browse handmade crafts and other unique goods; taste apple fritters, baked goods, maple syrup and other delectables. All this and much more await you and your appetite along the half-mile-long outdoor Mall. See the old-fashioned way of boiling down the sap and sample unforgettable maple syrup toffee. Venture out to a local sugar bush by bus to experience all of the maple syrup preparations. Join the Venturer Scouts of the 1st Elmira Scout Group to test your sawing skills. Don’t forget to bring some maple syrup home.
One of the most humbling and authentic ways to get to know a place is through its food. In Stratford, the foraging trend is becoming increasingly more accessible to travellers offering a genuine connection to Stratford and its bounty of local and natural food. Peter Blush, a passionate forager whose reputation is reflected in several magazines including Travel+Leisure, will lead us through an hour long trek through a beautiful forest of trees and streams. You will learn to identify and harvest wild leeks, ginger, trout lilies, garlic mustard and marsh marigolds in early Spring, or in later spring fiddleheads, stinging nettles, and cattail shoots. Your findings are yours to take home and with your newfound knowledge and provided recipes, you can put them to use in your own kitchen to create delicious and homegrown meals.
Join Lisa and India for an energizing afternoon of body movement in the quaint town of Elora, a scenic 50 minute drive from Stratford. The class will be set amid a stunning park on top of a spectacular towering cliff, with the sound of thrilling white water rapids. India will lead you in Nia, a barefoot workout for body, mind and soul. Nia is a cardio-dance fitness class that blends energizing, soul-stirring music with choreography that is easy to follow and designed to address the whole body. Moves are infused with the power and precision of the martial arts, expression and fun of the dance arts, and with mindfulness of healing arts. Lisa will lower your heart beat a little bit by connecting you with nature through yoga. You might also expect a hula hoop session, some enriching food and great company. A day for body, mind and spirit!
‘Farm to Table’ is the kind of phrase that we know we are supposed to like and endorse, but maybe don’t fully understand what it actually means. This tour shows us how food gets from point A to point Z (your plate!) by allowing us to experience it firsthand. Tour an on-farm artisan cheese factory where you will sample a variety of delicious cheeses, and then head over to McCully’s Hall Farm Market to shop Perth County’s best fruits, vegetables, preserves, meats, and more. Finish your day by taking a picturesque horse drawn wagon ride through the sugar bush forest and learning all about life in the countryside.
Angela Brayham, Curator and Director of Gallery Stratford, gives the group an exclusive insiders tour of galleries in Waterloo Region. Traveling along the backroads of Perth and Oxford Counties, our first stop will be historic downtown Galt. Here we will visit the Cambridge Art Galleries | Idea Exchange main Queens Square location and Design at Riverside. We’ll have time to enjoy a casual lunch or coffee overlooking the mighty Grand River. We will then make a brief respite at the Preston Gallery on our way to the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, as well as the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo. The Clay and Glass is home to an excellent gift shop, which has work from many of Canada’s best clay and glass artists. Our trip concludes with a glass of wine and tour of current exhibitions at Gallery Stratford, 54 Romeo Street.
This trip heads to a land of fish, rivers and First Nations. We board rafts on the spirit-back of the mighty Grand River at Glen Morris, site of an old Mill dating back to the mid 1800's. Watch with each stroke as the canvas of the Carolinian Forest opens and closes before you and see how the respect of the ancient Haudenosaunee people was won. Approximately three hours and eleven kms later we arrive in Paris, once named 'Canada's Prettiest Little Town’ by Harrowsmith Magazine. The village is located where the Grand and Nith Rivers meet. It received its' name from the product made from the mined gypsum that lay along the Grand River bed and banks. Many walls and ceilings around the world have a little piece of this community within in them, if they were made using Plaster of Paris!
Ontario is home to numerous charming small towns. Bayfield, located not even an hour from Stratford, is undoubtedly one of the best. We will start at Pioneer Park, overlooking Lake Huron, second largest of the Great Lakes, and then make our way to Bayfield’s historic Main Street by strolling through a cute neighbourhood. The downtown core is filled with beautiful heritage buildings, towering oak trees, and Muskoka chairs reclined in the shade, inviting weary travellers to take a brief rest. Spend an afternoon admiring Bayfield’s many local shops and restaurants. Stop in at the quaint yellow Ontario cottage, home to the Village Bookshop, see how the Pink Flamingo pairs gourmet baking and small town sweetness, and enjoy an ice cream cone at Rosie’s or a beverage on the cobble stoned patio of the Black Dog.
When was the last time you connected with your food’s origins? Stratford and Perth County's agri-food sector generates 1.5 to 2 million dollars a day - more than six of Canada's ten provinces food output combined. Our road trip is to the renowned family farm, Soiled Reputations, where we will learn the ins and outs of food from Antony and Tina. The farm is certified organic, supplying gourmet greens and heirloom vegetables. You might recognize Antony and Tina as the Hosts of ‘The Manic Organic’ which aired on Canada’s Food Network, and HGTV. The show sold to over 50 countries around the world, including the Discovery Home Channel in the U.S.
One of the greatest things about our community is how much there is to discover; locals who have lived in Stratford their entire lives have no idea that there is a fully sized windmill in the area. Further exploration leads to a charming lake and two canals, perfect both for those who want an idyllic afternoon paddle boarding or kayaking and for the adventurous types who love wake boarding. The windmill, originally built for flour and lumber in 1983, has now blossomed into a recreation area, perfect for folks of all ages. It boasts a surf shop, a variety of water sports, a fantastic lake obstacle course, as well as table tennis, basketball and frisbee. If desired, wake board lessons can be arranged, whereby participants will be lifted by a tow rope not attached to a boat, but to a cable.
Nestled in-between a spectacular gorge and a picturesque downtown area lies the enchanting village of Elora, originally inhabited by the Attiwandaronk, who were called Neutrals by the French because they were neutral in the known wars between the Iroquois and the Hurons. Elora’s architectural beauty is in its original stone buildings from the 1800’s. If you choose, you can experience the spectacular churning waters of the gorge up-close and personal by zip-lining through its towering walls of limestone ravines or you can simply watch others. A local historian will meet us and take us on a guided tour through the town and leave us with some time for shopping. On our way home, we drive through the West Montrose covered bridge, and the Amish settlements of Milbank and Milverton.