10 fun maple-y shopping finds!

March is the month of maple and don’t let syrup be the only thing on your shopping list. The rich, sweetness that our fabulous Canadian maple products are known for have crept its way into all sorts of fun, quirky and unique items. We’ve picked our 10 favourite finds just for you and hope you give them a try.

CoylesCandianBeaverDroppingsPortrait1.  Canadian Beaver Droppings – it doesn’t really get more Canadian than maple beaver droppings. These maple peanuts are not only fun to share, but are deliciously flavoured with pure maple syrup. There is a whole aisle maple syrup items at  Coyle’s Country Store, Tillsonburg.

 

photo 12.  Maple Apple Topping for cheese, maple mustard and maple balsamic vinaigrette are just a few of the maple inspired items available at The Olde Bakery Café in Ingersoll. While there stay and enjoy a meal from their maple menu – they make their own maple apple butter!

 

Chocolatea3.  Jakemans and local chocolatier, Cindy Walker, have partnered to create a delicious maple chocolate. The chocolates are available at Jakeman’s or Cindy’s shop Chocolatea

 

jakemanpopcorn4.  Visit Jakeman’s for their caramel inspired Maple Popcorn made with their delicious maple syrup. Order online or visit the historic shop in Sweaburg. Jakemans Maple Store

 

Coyles MaplePepper5.  Savoury Favourites Maple Pepper. This gluten free kosher seasoning is basically three ingredients: Canadian maple sugar, pepper and salt. We hear it is delicious on grilled salmon or even bacon.  Coyle’s Country Store, Tillsonburg.

 

PatinasMaple6.  Patina’s Maple Cream Candle. Light this and your whole house will smell sweetly Canadian. Patina’s is located Ingersoll and more information can be found on their Facebook page. Also check out their assortment of Canadian Pottery – a decadent way to serve maple syrup at brunch.

 

7.  Maple Sausage: McCully’s Hill Farm is known for their special recipe maple pork sausages using their maple syrup and whole pork hog. While there also try their maple butter tarts.

 

JanetBBQ8.  Or if you’re looking for a little more kick to your maple visit Janet’s Gift Shop. Start the spring BBQ season with Maple Whiskey BBQ Sauce or dress up your breakfast sandwich with Maple Bacon Aioli.

 

Sundown Farms Maple9.  Shop everything local at Sundown Farms Country Market, including Howard’s Maple Syrup. This local farm market is located at the corner of Cranberry Line & Airport Road.

 

woodwick10.  Last but not least: Check out Country Moment Candles, in Ingersoll, for their Sugar Shack – Maple soy candle. Part of their Truly Canadian candle series that with fun names and wooden wicks that crackle when lit.

March 2015 Tourism Oxford has partnered with 104.7 Heart FM. Visit the Maple in March contest page for a chance to win a maple prize pack. A different contest and prize every week.  Also visit our Pinterest Board for fun activities to do this march, and throughout the year.

Meredith Maywood, Tourism Oxford

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A Sweet Start To Your Day

Follow up a comfy and cozy overnight stay with a hot and delicious maple infused breakfast – now that’s how you thaw out from the winter and put a spring in your step! If you are ready for a sweet experience, here are three Oxford County overnight accommodation that offer “maple on the menu.” two plates of poffertjes (mini-pancakes) with a jug of maple syrup In Thamesford, Just for You B&B is serving up a breakfast worth waking up for. It’s a meal reserved for special occasions in Holland: Dutch “poffertjes” (mini pancakes) are served with maple syrup.  The breakfast also features a selection of artisan breads, local cheese, meats and fresh fruit. Gerrard is a regular at the Thameford Farmers Market purchasing fresh produce and Embro Sugar Bush maple syrup to prepare this feast for his guests. comfortinnmapleGuests at Ingersoll’s Comfort Inn & Suites are also getting the maple treatment this March. You’ll be greeted with Jakeman’s maple candies at the front desk while you check in. Enjoy world famous Jakeman’s pure maple syrup on your freshly made waffles each morning, or add some Jakeman’s maple sugar in your coffee for a decadent treat! During March, Comfort Inn & Suites Choice Privilege members will receive a Jakeman’s maple myrup teddy bear as a special thank you to loyal guests. And last, but certainly not the least is the famed spread put on every Sunday by the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in Ingersoll. Sip on champagne and oelmhurstrange juice while savouring made to order waffles and crepes drizzled with the aforementioned heavenly nectar: Jakeman’s Maple Syrup. There’s a reason their Sunday Brunch draws visitors from far and wide, well, actually many reasons: a large selection of breads and pastries, imported & domestic cheeses, fresh sliced fruit, fresh seafood, carved roast sirloin, omelettes, bacon, chicken pasta, and the list goes on.  Winter, spring, summer or fall you can have a great nights sleep and have a sweet taste of place to start your day in Oxford County.

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March Break is coming. Do you know how you’re going to keep your kids busy?

There are tons of activities across the County that are fit for the entire family. Movies, games, reptiles, sports and art…whatever your pleasure, there is something for every kid this March Break.

Photo of Woodstock Public Library, Woodstock Ontario

A great place to check out for some free family fun is your local Library. Libraries are hosting several activities fit for lots of different age groups. From Marshmallows of Mass where kids can build candy artillery, catapults and slingshots, to movies, mad science activities, Lego® lovers groups, games, crafts, story time and musical entertainers – the Library is the place to be this March Break. There is something happening every day libraries in Oxford County. Check out the Oxford County Library Calendar and Woodstock Public Library Calendar see what’s happening near you.

The Tillsonburg Community Centre is hosting their annual March Break Camp this year with activities like skating, swimming, theme days, movies and pizza lunches. You can choose to send your children for the whole week of events for $125.50 or for a day for $30.60. Call the Community Centre for more information or to register (519.688.9011).  While in Tillsonburg take in the Radical Reptile Show at the Tillsonburg Town Centre. It will be held Wednesday March 18th at 11 am and 2 pm. See the reptiles and visit some of the shops.

Porcupine Quills & Puppetry Thrills is happening Saturday March 21st.  Enjoy aboriginal story telling and a puppet show at St. Mary’s High School.   This is is one of many Family Literacy Events happening throughout Oxford County.

Woodstock Art Gallery, Woodstock Ontario

Woodstock Art Gallery

If you’re looking for something for your young artist in training, the Woodstock Art Gallery is also hosting some March Break fun. Me Too Tuesdays is an event for children ages 2-5 to create and explore stories, songs and art. The Art Gallery is also hosting a special art camp during March Break for children ages 5-10 where they will roll up their sleeves and create their own special pieces of art through sculpting, collaging, drawing and painting.

The Woodstock Art Gallery is also hosting two  workshops, for teenagers, during March Break to teach them some cool new techniques. On Tuesday, March 17, teens can learn about creating art with beeswax. And from Wednesday to Friday, teens can participate in a printmaking studio course to learn printmaking methods and techniques. Visit the Woodstock Art Gallery for more information about their March Break activities.

mccully - CopyThere are also lots of other family friendly activities happening throughout the County this March Break. Be sure to check out Jakeman’s Maple Sugar Farm for their special 4-H breakfast happening March 18th (and weekends), and the Maple Syrup Festival at McCully’s Hill Farm including their daily walking tours daily during march break.

Also visit our Tourism Oxford Pinterest Page for list of family fun attractions, places to shop and things to do.

Wishing you and your family a safe and fun March Break in Oxford County!

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Spring tastings in Oxford County

Looking for a little comfort food with a side of maple? It’s a sure sign of spring in Oxford County when you get to sample some of the best maple inspired dishes from local restaurants and maple farms. A take-home maple Dee-Light Maple MarchDuring the month of March enjoy decadent maple treats including a maple apple coffee cake and maple butter tarts at Dee-lights Bakery in downtown Woodstock. Both are made with Howard’s Maple Syrup. While at Dee-Lights, be sure to grab lunch to go including one of their daily soups, paninis or salads. The bakery has grown over the years to include great shopping for giftware including some great items to decorate the table for any occasion. For more information about Dee-Lights, follow them on Facebook  

Daily Maple Entree? Yes, please. ElmhurstSalmonEvery day Chef Michael Davies will be concocting a new maple entrée to please diners at    the Elmhurst Inn mansion restaurant.  Call ahead to find out what the day’s special is. Or if you’re looking for a beautiful Sunday brunch option, visit the Elm Hurst Inn, their extensive brunch includes waffles and crepes which you can drizzle with Jakeman’s Maple syrup. For their  Cajun Salmon with sweet potato flapjacks recipe in the image here, visit their blog. For more information about dining at the Elm Hurst Inn, visit their website.  

A unique maple experience at the Oxford Kitchen OxfordKitchenWafflesThe Oxford Kitchen in Woodstock is the place to be for some traditional chicken and waffles…with a twist. The Oxford Kitchen makes their waffles in-house and tops them with chicken from Ontario’s Sargent Farms, then covers the entire thing with candied bacon and then pours maple cheese curds and gravy (with the help of the Bright Cheese and Butter Company) and Jakeman’s maple syrup over the entire dish. To finish the plate off it gets a drizzle of Jakeman’s Maple Syrup.  Comfort food has just been taken to a whole new level! This special is available on Thursdays in March at the Oxford Kitchen. Follow the Oxford Kitchen on Facebook to see what’s cooking  

Lunchtime maple treats If you’re out and about in Ingersoll, stop into the Olde Bakery Café for a maple-inspired treat or two. Known for their olde bakery cafescratch soups and hearty sandwiches – the café will be serving up a special maple menu for the Month of March.  Try the maple apple butter fruit and nut wrap or Oxford Maple Club Panini. The panini features raisin bread brushed with local maple syrup and stuffed with chicken breast, bacon, crisp apple and Gourmet Village maple mustard.  Finish your meal off a maple latte (dusted with Jakeman’s maple sugar) and a decadent maple cupcake, a special concoction made by owner and baker Sue Reintjes. Visit the Olde Bakery Café online or follow them on Facebook

Pancake Breakfasts maplemenuOf course March isn’t complete without a visit to a local maple farm where you can have pancakes, sausage, beans, and of course maple syrup.  Work up an appetite enjoying activities on site such as wagon rides and a walk through the sugar bush. With two local pancake houses to choose from we have written a blog about each: 4-H Pancake House at Jakeman’s & McCully’s Hill Farm Maple Syrup Festival.

Pancakes and syrupQuehl’s Restaurant is going from tap to table collecting and making their own maple syrup.  In March you will find the Larsen family in the sugar bush collecting sap.  After they transform it into syrup it becomes a special ingredient in the restaurant.  You can sample their syrup on a variety of dishes from the classic pancakes to an assortment maple specials during the month of March.  Follow their Facebook page for pictures of the process to the mouth watering maple menu items they are concocting during the month of March.

FeasChef's table view at Six Thirty Nine Restaurantt On with maple at Six Thirty Nine Woodstock’s casual fine dining Feast ON restaurant, Six Thirty Nine is known for their commitment to using local ingredients and they too are offering a special maple feature on their prix fix menu. Indulge in a maple roasted squash soup, a walnut crusted Oxford harvest cheese with maple candied walnuts, poached apples, arugula and maple vidal reduction; maple-smoked bison striploin and a maple cake with brown butter maple icing for dessert. This menu is a true testament to springtime in Oxford County. Check out the full maple-inspired menu that is sure to leave you drooling, on Six Thirty Nine’s Facebook page.

March 2015 Tourism Oxford has partnered with 104.7 Heart FM.  Visit the Maple in March contest page for a chance to win a maple prize pack. A different contest and prize every week. Also visit our Pinterest Board for fun activities to do this march, and throughout the year.

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Eat a short stack for a good cause

The annual 4-H Pancake House at Jakeman’s Maple Farm is back for its 10th year beginning on March 7, 2015.

MaplesignJoin us at Jakeman’s – a producer of some of the finest maple syrup in Oxford County forthis special weekend event beginning March 7 and running until March 29, 2015. Bring the entire family for a stack of fluffy homemade pancakes paired with some of Canada’s best tasting maple syrup from the 1000 taps at Jakeman’s.  You can also sink your teeth into breakfast sausages and baked beans all prepared and served by the Oxford County 4-H members who are celebrating their 100th year in Oxford County. Be sure to also bundle up for a horse-drawn ride through the farm (weather permitting).

maplemenuThe Jakeman family has been in the maple business since 1876. The farm is open year round and features many unique maple products for purchase. Pick up a bottle of maple syrup to take home or maybe some maple-flavoured coffee, maple candy, maple cookies or even some maple lollipops from the gift store before you head home.

The 4-H Pancake House is open from 9a.m.-1:30p.m. on weekends starting March 7 –March 29, 2015 as well as Wednesday, March 18 (March Break).

Jakeman’s is located just 5km south of the 401, outside of Woodstock, Ontario.  For more information about Jakeman’s, visit their website www.themaplestore.cgiftbasketom

March 2015 Tourism Oxford has partnered with 104.7 Heart FM.  Visit the Maple in March contest page for a chance to win a  prize pack.  Each week a different prize – one week will be a Jakeman’s gift basket complete with pancake breakfasts for two.

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Tap into some good old-fashioned fun

If you’re looking for a sweet time this March, then head to McCully’s Hill Farm.

McCully’s Hill will be hosting their annual Maple Syrup Festival weekends, starting Saturday, March 7 through Sunday, March 29, 2015.

mccullyssugarshack - Copy

McCullys Sugarshack

The fun…and the syrup will be flowing for all ages at McCully’s Hill Maple Syrup Festival. Learn how maple syrup is made from start to finish.

Begin the tour on a horse-drawn wagon ride through the sugar bush to see how the magic of maple syrup making begins. Then follow the process to the sugar shack to learn how the sap is made into maple syrup and all the other yummy maple treats. Kids (and adults too) can also take a peek in the barn and say hello to a donkey or too. McCully’s Hill Farm has been home to some Canada’s finest livestock, including Suffolk sheep, Holstein cattle, Black Angus cattle, Tamworth pigs, Clydesdale and Belgian horses, Sicilian miniature donkeys to name a few.

Don’t leave without filling your tummy. Stay for a delicious pancake brunch featuring McCully’s own maple syrup to wrap up a great day in the country.

The McCully Hill Maple Syrup Festival begins on March 7-29 (weekends). Sugar bush tours are held Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  at a cost of $6.00. The pancake brunch (also held from 10-2), is $7.00 and includes a menu of scratch made pancakes (and maple syrup of course), McCully’s own maple pork sausage, maple baked beans and fruit. Homemade desserts are also available for purchase including maple butter tarts.

Every year local charities volunteer to help out with the pancake brunch.  In 2015 proceeds from the pancake brunch will go to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Salvation Army, Lions Club, Hope for Haiti, Youth Centre & Hospital Auxilary, Inner Wheel Club.

mccully - Copy

See how maple syrup is made from start to finish.

During March Break the farm is open daily and is offering guided walking tours through the sugar bush.   Learn how maple syrup is made and meet the farm animals.  A great way to get the kids out during the break for some outdoor fun and exercise!  The 1 ½ hour walking tour starts daily at 10 am and is $3.00.  Be sure to wear appropriate foot wear and clothing.

For more details on the McCully’s Hill Maple Syrup Festival, visit their website at http://www.mccullys.com

March 2015 Tourism Oxford has partnered with 104.7 Heart FM.  Visit the Maple in March contest page for a chance to win.  The first weeks draw is a McCully’s Maple Experience.

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An Enchanted Improv Night

Funky Decor

The Enchanted Theatre Company is known for its funky décor.

It was a typical February night in Woodstock – bitterly cold with winds howling as residents briskly moved from one spot to another.  Yet, it was pleasingly warm inside the Enchanted Theatre Company’s cozy Main Street hideaway.  A packed house of patrons was seated amongst the funky décor of retro tables and chairs geared up for the start-up of the monthly Improv Night.

The Enchanted Theatre Company started holding a monthly improv night a year ago.  “The Improv Night is probably our most popular event,” says owner/artistic director Kim Watson. “We get anywhere from 40 up to the capacity 60 people because they know they’ll laugh. Its family focused so it’s ideal for little kids and seniors alike. This is about having fun and that’s what we love doing.”

Stripes

Visiting teams take on the Enchanted Theatre Stripes home team.

Each month local residents volunteer to challenge the Stripes in the art of improv. The two teams take on challenges provided by the judges and suggestions from the audience.  Fun challenges include pocket lines, freeze, scenes from a hat, a day in the life of, infomercials, party perks and more.  On this special anniversary evening the House team the “Stripes” was challenging an enthusiastic group from Woodstock Collegiate Institute (WCI).  Thank you to the fearless entertainers for providing a night of laughter.

Laughs

Props, audience participation, and word play bring out the laughs.

The room screams fun, from the wild surreal décor to the energy of the audience.  Within moments the audience is munching handfuls of potato chips, laughing loudly at the improvisation and antics on stage.  The funny folk on stage find themselves having to fashion on-the-spot dialogue for their scenes from such classic lines as Oliver Hardy’s “that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into” or the classic Star Wars “may the Force be with you”.

Judges

Everyone gets into the show including the judges

Master improv comics like Robin Williams and his mentor Jonathan Winters would surely get a kick out of watching energetic local stars transforming a shoe into a baby or explaining the thoughts of a mime. Their antics even had the judges in stitches, along with the audience – just what Kim, daughter and artistic associate Jessica, artistic coordinator Mallory Rivest and the whole company love to see.

However, Improv Night is the tip of the iceberg.  Want to learn more, then check out the Enchanted Theatre Website http://www.enchantedtheatrecompany.com

Party crashers, thespians, pirates and fairies await your inquiry!

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12 (Back) Road Trips in Ontario’s Beautiful Southwest by guest blogger Louise Gleeson

Road_Trip Road trips are a great time to reconnect…
When I hear the words road and trip, I think of rolled-down windows and off-key singing to an endless loop of tunes.

I think of reconnecting to the person I’m traveling with and laughing at old and newly created memories.

When the opportunity to take a road trip through Southwestern Ontario’s - Oxford County came my way, I knew it would give me a chance to reconnect to my past as well.

My childhood landscape was filled with corn fields (I even had my first kiss in one) and barns and silos dotted the horizon of my day-to-day adventures. Visiting tiny towns that are nestled among gently rolling hills, would feel like going home, and it did.

My sister and I decided on a girls’ weekend theme and climbed into our kid-free/husband-free car, where we cranked some retro Barenaked Ladies and hit the road. After a short 90 minute drive from Toronto, we pulled into Coyle’s Country Store to kick off our weekend of window shopping and dining (one of the 12 suggested road trips that you can choose from Ontario Southwest’s website).

coylescollageThis charming pit stop, found on the edge of Tillsonburg, felt like a small-town version of a big city box store. It had a little bit of everything, and we spent well over an hour browsing its aisles. I picked up some journals, stationery and stocking stuffers for Christmas and my sister ended up purchasing a piece of furniture! We also stocked up on snacks from their bulk food area. Honestly, we could have spent even more time there if we hadn’t been on our way to dinner.

NIko_DinnerDinner was served in the heart of town, at the well-known Niko’s Eatery & Bar. We took advantage of the Oxfordlicious set menu (offered across Oxford region to celebrate local ingredients) and filled up on Lake Erie Perch, steak and fresh steamed veggies. Niko’s has a family centered appeal, with Nonna making the baklava each week in the kitchen and that approach can be felt in both the food and warm service.

 

 

elmhurstcollageThe next stop was a highlight for both of us. September and the return to school routines is always welcome, but it also knocks you on your back in many ways. School and extracurricular activities leave little time for relaxation and escape. And the Elmhurst Inn & Spa in Ingersoll was calling to us loudly. From the moment we checked in, we could feel the zen taking over. We settled into our rooms, found our plush robes and headed down to the tranquil spa for an evening treatment.

 

PatinasAfter enjoying a quiet breakfast with bottomless coffee, we took a stroll around the stunning grounds before heading back for another spa treatment (well, can you blame us really?). We were relaxed and ready for some more time on the road. We turned up the vintage Indigo Girls (girls’ road trip must-have) and headed into Ingersoll for lunch and more browsing in local shops.

(Patina’s)

 

 

oldebakerycollage-e1412790851214Do you have a friend or family member whose baking sets your heart aflutter? Now imagine walking into a cozy café filled with that kind of baking. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we started salivating as soon as we walked through the door of the Olde Bakery Café. My sister zeroed in on the freshly baked raspberry turnovers, which she managed to hold off on until she had lunch. And lunch did not disappoint. This café is home to young culinary talent, including chef, Kate Rine (her food blog is here), whose Portuguese Stone soup was absolutely phenomenal. The food is made in an in-house kitchen, which also features a separate and completely gluten-free baking area. Everyone knows everyone’s name, and you feel like you’re hanging out in a friend’s kitchen having coffee. We need more gathering places like this one.

2roadtrip-e1412791435947After fueling ourselves, we were ready to do some more sightseeing. And to get to our next destination, we were treated to a gorgeous view of those farms I am so fond of. The fall is a perfect time to explore Southwestern Ontario; the sun is bright and the air is crisp, which makes the changing leaves even more extraordinary.

 

 

 

We pulled into a third-generation dairy farm and home of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, where we were treated to a tour and tasting by award-winning cheese maker and owner, Shep Ysselstein. This family owned business, in an absolutely beautiful area of Oxford County, is an Ontario (and Canadian) treasure. We wandered aisles of new and old cheese, and we learned about the flavouring and textures. It was visually stunning to see the rows of cheese. You can book tours for $5/person as long as there are five people in your group. Not only is it a fascinating learning experience, you will be rewarded with delicious samples at the end.

gunnscollage

walter1-e1412793464939We finally pulled our well-fed selves into the brand new Holiday Inn Express in Woodstock, so we could powder our noses and put on our cowgirl boots for dinner at Walter’s Dinner Theatre in the beautiful town of Bright. Once again, we found ourselves traveling down a gravel road and winding our way through stunning farmlands. We pulled into Walters’ and were surprised by the number of cars and eager theatre-goers. In all my years of going to concerts, I’ve never had an experience like this one. We walked into a converted barn, with all its old-fashioned quaintness, and saw a room filled with tables for eight, clustered around a state-of-the-art stage. We were treated to a homemade meal (buffet-style and perfect for chatting with the other guests) and had the chance to share a meal with a table of strangers. Once again, we were touched by the simplicity and hospitality of being in a place where people want to know your name. The live show (which goes on after dinner) was very entertaining and the audience was delighted. Their schedule of shows changes every year, and it’s recommended that you book well in advance.

If you’re looking for a road trip that takes you down beautiful back roads and helps you discover all that Ontario has to offer, visit the Ontario’s Southwest website for trip suggestions and tips (there are 12 different packages), as well as over 40 deals and special offers. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but I was gifted the experiences I shared with you, thanks to the generosity of Ontario’s Southwest, Tourism Oxford and the destinations I visited during this road trip. The feedback and photos are my own.

You can also follow Tourism Oxford on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.

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Roll the Windows Down, Relax, Put some colour in your life and Drive

OakManorFarm That is what I plan to do today, roll the windows down, relax, see the colour of the leaves just starting and drive… Well that is until I am finished an errand for work. I decided that I would travel the back roads of Oxford County to my destination.  I am so lucky that this is part of my job! Today, I need to pick up gift certificates at Oak Manor (north east of the County).

I love my job at Tourism Oxford!

I am lucky enough to live in the country just west of Hickson. I don’t farm, but live on a 3/4 lot surrounded by my neighbours fields of corn, beans, alfalfa, with a maple bush that runs behind our house. You  may have seen some of my wonderful views,  if you follow us on Facebook (Tourism Oxford).

IMG_2533As long as you don’t treat a gravel road like a highway, it is a very pleasant drive.  I puttered up the 10th Line to Cassel side road and turned east towards highway #59 .  Driving along Cassel I took special note of the tree colour which is just starting (about 20-30% coverage so far).  I saw splashes of red and highlights of yellow standing out in the wood lots along the road. Beautiful… especially on this misty morning. I also noted a small shady cemetery and a home that once was an old school.  There is always something to discover on route.

My travels took me through the  village of Tavistock,  east on Perth County Line to the bend where I continue straight and turn right at that corner onto Oxford Rd. #4.  A  paved road with a number of wood lots and road cover that in a few weeks should be a full riot of colour!

IMG_2553I stopped at Oak Manor and fulfilled my mission and also bought some organic whole wheat bread flour, then continued on my way back to work.  As I was driving I was thinking about what to write for this blog on fall colour. I am proud to live in Oxford County and enjoy the wide open views of the farm scape.

I  pull over to the side of the road to take some pictures. I put my four-ways on and stepped out of the car.  I had a hard time seeing the screen of my phone as I was trying out a new panoramic feature,  when a large feed truck stopped beside me. The driver kindly called to me “Mam, are you having any trouble? Can I help?”  A little embarrassed, I told him I was just taking pictures and told him I was fine.  I am sure as he was driving down the road towards me, he saw this woman, standing by a car with hazards flashing,  swinging a phone in the air, looking like I couldn’t find a signal. Ha Ha, it was really nice of him to stop, even though I wasn’t in trouble. I will definitely be passing that bit of goodness on…

Back on the road, I was trying to decide which would be the most direct and scenic route back to work. I turned west onto County Road #8,  then turned south onto the 16th Line, where at the corner you will find the small and quaint  Hebron United Church.

I couldn’t resist stopping at Pittock Conservation Area at Oxford Rd 4,   There is a trail entrance to the east end of the Roth Park Trail.

IMG_2565The trail was lovely, shaded and cool with glimpses of the blue water and shoreline through the branches. It was so relaxing, I had to force myself back to the car and work.

I grew up in Oxford County, and I am fairly familiar with most of the roads, but I am sure there are some that I have yet to discover.  Below are some of my favourite spots to drive or walk.  If you have any interesting spots that you would like to share, please comment and let us know.

Oxford County has so many lovely roads to travel and especially at this time of year.  Here are some of my favorite spots.

Vansittart Avenue in Woodstock, if you enjoy beautiful homes and gardens with tree canopies. I encourage you to take a walk.

A drive to Lakeside in East Nissouri Township where you will fine a small cottage community around a small lake with a small campground and a dance hall.

A drive through Canning to Wolverton.  There is a curvy road that approaches Wolverton from the north, but either way works.

From Bright drive south on Oxford Rd #22 through the swamp. I love to drive slowly through that section.

Just west of the village of Sweaburg is Trillium Line.  If you turn north (right) you will discover the Trillium Trail which will be a relaxing walk and just across the road is Jakeman’s Maple store (Not open on Sunday).

If you travel a little further west on Sweaburg Road to Folden’s Line and turn south (left) to Rivers Road and turn left, it is a nice country road to travel, with century farms along the way including Stonecroft Folk that raises Berkshire pork and is known for their house concerts.

South of Woodstock off of Hwy #59,  you just have to drive down the Old Stage Road. The trees have bridged the road and is beautiful. The name does described the road correctly, it was the road the stage coaches would travel delivering mail to the communities and also a route that the troupes would have traveled in 1812-1814.

Find your way to Gunn’s Hill Road just off of Hwy #59 S, and enjoy the rolling hills of the farms, in harvest time, and discover Just a few fotos, Janice Marshal’s studio and then Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese built on one of their farms. Thursday & Fridays are squeaky cheese curds day.

The Norwich Area has a large Dutch community and Amish as well. You will see working farms, saw mills, one room school houses if you travel west of Norwich on Pleasant Valley Road, Maple Dell Road and Milldell Road and Zenda Line.  You may be lucky and see a few vegetable stands if they have any product left to sell. And if you like quaint stores, visit the main street of Norwich and stop in at the bakery for some goodies.

grist millotterville fallsOtterville is another great destination where there is a waterfall, an old mill & museum and a Black Cemetery.

 

Tillsonburg west of Otterville has a great spot for a picnic lunch at Lake Lisgar.

North of Tillsonburg,  on Hwy #59, you will travel through Ostrander to the Airport Road where on the corner is Coyle’s, a perfect shopping opportunity, and if you are traveling on a Tuesday or Saturday morning a stop at the airport (east of Coyles) and see the Harvards.

Ingersoll is a bustling town and is worth visiting the down town core for shopping at Patina’s and a bite to eat at the Olde Bakery Cafe before you head out on two more of my most favourite roads, from Hwy 19 take Clarke and travel east to Embro Road. At that corner you will discover Leaping Deer Adventure Farm and Market then turn left on Embro Road and then left again onto Karn Road back towards Ingersoll. Both roads are paved and full of rolling hills. Another good spot from Ingersoll is Hamilton Road to Putnam.

Stop in and get an Oxford County map, to help guide your way at the Visitor Kiosk, 580 Bruin Blvd., Woodstock, ON  N4V 1E5 at Hwy 401 exit 232.

Enjoy!

Jeanne Turner, Tourism Oxford

Tourism Oxford, 580 Bruin Blvd., Woodstock, ON  N4V 1E5

tourism@oxfordcounty.ca   http://www.tourismoxford.ca

519-539-9800 or TF: 1-866-801-7368  # 3355

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why You And Your Kids Should Visit A Farm

Connecting Kids with Animals and Agriculture Means Guaranteed Fall Fun

By Hailey Eisen, YummyMummyClub.ca

goat

“Oh, so that’s where corn comes from,” said my 4-year-old daughter as she stared up at the enormous stalks growing at the Leaping Deer Adventure farm

I’m pretty sure my kicorn_0ds believe that most of the food we eat originates from the grocery store, but I’m committed to teach them otherwise. The connection my kids have with the food they eat is important to me. That’s why we shop at farmer’s markets and take any opportunity we can to visit local farms. In July, we took a trip to Oxford County (about an hour-and-a-half west of Toronto) to spend the day at Leaping Deer, the Disney World of farms! This place is awesome—from the 10+ acre corn maze, to the corn cob express train, to the guided tractor ride, to the pig races, and straw slide, there was no shortage of entertainment for my kids. And the best part was, they were learning, almost by accident.

 

LeapingDeer*That’s my husband posing as the deer—he totally got into the farm spirit!

This is why you should take your kids to a farm this fall:

1. They’ll get to see first-hand where their food comes from and how it grows.

The same goes for fruit and vegetable picking! We’re huge fans of apple picking in the fall and berry picking in the summer. Showing kids the work that goes into growing food will hopefully help them learn to waste less and make them appreciate what they’re eating a bit more. At Leaping Deer my husband had tons of questions for farmer Don Budd, who eagerly engaged in conversation with him about the price of corn and the state of farming in Southern Ontario. (The learning isn’t just for kids!)

Speaking of food…once you’re at Leaping Deer, you’re just a short drive from Oxford County’s Cheese Trail, where you can learn about this region’s cheese history at the Ingersoll Cheese & Agriculture Museum (Did you know: in the 1800s there were 98 separate cheese factories in Oxford County?), visit a working cheese factory at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese Ltd., and taste farm fresh cheese at The Bright Cheese & Butter Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Yum!

2. They’ll get to interact with animals, teaching them compassion for other living things.

Spending time with the animals at Leaping Deer was my daughter’s favourite part. Once afraid to even approach an animal at a petting zoo, this kiddo is now fearless when it comes to petting, holding, and feeding animals. We spent a good 20 minutes hanging out with a pair of very eager goats, buying feed from a gum ball-type machine and offering it to them from the palm of our hands. Even my toddler got into it, running back and forth shouting, “Goats! goats!” My daughter had the chance to ask questions about the animals while she held a guinea pig, petted the rabbits, and hung out with the pigs. We then cheered on the three little pigs as they raced around a grassy track in Leaping Deer’s daily pig race—which was adorable and hilarious. Don and his wife Julie, who started this farm nearly 10 years ago, are passionate about education. “We’re parents, grandparents and former 4H leaders,” Julie told me. “We’ve always been teaching, it’s part of who we are.” According to Julie, kids love the animals at Leaping Deer because they’re so accessible. “Letting kids interact with the animals in a hands-on way gives them an understanding of how animals should be treated, what’s required for their well-being, and how they contribute to farm life.”

animals3. They’ll be free to run around in a safe, spacious outdoor environment.

Freedom is something little kids don’t tend to get a lot of. In the city, I force my kids to hold my hand…I’m a bit of a helicopter parent like that. But when we were at Leaping Deer, even my 17-month-old was free to run around on her own. She toddled around in the large grassy field, fell down, and got back up on her own. She checked out all the animals from a distance that she felt comfortable, and even slid down the giant slide into a pile of hay with a huge smile on her face. My big kid went from activity to activity without having to report in to me. She was in her element and it was almost impossible to get her to leave at the end of the day.

farmfun4. They’ll feel really good and develop a positive association with nature and rural life.

Being outside in nature is good for your kids’ health. In fact, according to this study, exposure to nature can reduce stress levels by as much as 28% in children. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods (quoted in the image above), agrees. “Kids experience tremendous stress reduction from even a little contact with nature,” he says. So, imagine what a whole day at the farm will do for them.

5. They’ll get into the fall spirit with everything pumpkins.

There’s nothing that puts you in the fall spirit like a visit to a farm. The entire month of October is the Fall Fun Festival at Leaping Deer. From The Hillbillies Return pumpkin cannon show to, a seasonal owl exhibit, to a make-your-own-creature activity using fall vegetables, there’s lots to do for everyone.

With Thanksgiving and Halloween right around the corner, a trip to Oxford County will provide you with everything you need to get into the fall spirit.

Travel Tips:

IMG_2282If you decide to spend the night and explore more of Oxford County, the Best Western Plus in Woodstock is close to the farm, has nice, modern rooms, a lovely swimming pool, and friendly service. It’s a brand new hotel and conveniently located just off the highway next to a scenic golf course. We were invited to stay the night and we had a great time. The kids love hotel adventures and after a day at the farm and a late-night (read: 8pm) swim in the indoor pool, we all slept soundly.

PicMonkey CollageWoodstock is also home to a delicious restaurant that you must check out if you’re in town. The Oxford Kitchen was opened by a lovely couple, Kevin and Mandy (he’s from England and she’s local to Southwestern Ontario). He’d dreamed of creating a restaurant that served delicious food, was comfortable and welcoming, and that he’d want to eat at. That dream came true this year. Kevin is highly involved in every aspect of the restaurant, from developing the menu to greeting guests. You can tell this is his passion and he’s living it. Oxford Kitchen uses local produce and creates its menu to focus on whatever foods are in season. It’s the perfect way to end a fabulous day at the farm—and to feed a very hungry family!

PicMonkey Collage

For breakfast the next day, before you head out of town, take your family to Dean Michaels Griddlehouse. This cozy, home-style breakfast spot has huge portions, adorable kids’ breakfast creations, and a cozy ambiance that will make you feel like you’re in the country. Like everything else in Oxford County, the service here comes with a smile.

From Dean Michael’s Kid’s Menu

 

For more information and to plan your fall getaway visit www.tourismoxford.ca or to plan a fall getaway in the stunning Southwestern Ontario region visit www.ontariossouthwest.com

*We were invited to visit Oxford County this summer and gratefully accepted the invitation. I’m a huge fan of Southwestern Ontario and have been for many years. It’s beautiful, fun, and close to home—an ideal weekend getaway. All opinions expressed in this post, as always, are my own.

Blog & Photo’s Courtesy of YummyMummyClub.ca. Written by Hailey Eisen.

Hailey we are happy you enjoyed your rural adventure in Oxford County.

 

 

 

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