By: Alison Silveira
Earlier this month, I went on an incredible getaway in the Headwaters Region of Ontario, which is a mere 40 minutes drive northwest of Toronto. The Headwaters Region is a great travel destination for the urban dweller who needs a break from the fast-paced city life. The region includes the picturesque communities of Caledon, Dufferin County, Erin, Mono and Shelburne. I immersed myself in novel experiences and saw beautiful unspoiled nature, rolling hills and rural farmland as far as the eye can see.
I relaxed in a luxurious suite at the Best Western Plus in Orangeville, which is in close proximity to the Hockley Valley Golf & Ski Resort and the Island Lake Park Conservation. My suite was quite large with two queen sized beds, a seating area and a kitchenette. Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast to start your day on the right track. Take a dip in the pool to cool off after a busy day of hiking. Other amenities include room service, a fitness centre and complimentary WiFi.
Cabin is a chic and modern restaurant located at the Hockley Valley Golf and Ski Resort. Serving gourmet fare, Cabin sources local produce and fresh meat and fish. I enjoyed a delectable feast consisting of multiple courses. To start, I had the asparagus salad with beets and greens. The divine cheese ravioli with fiddleheads, ramps, peas, asparagus and crema provided excellent combinations of textures and tastes. The main course was a juicy and flavourful beef tenderloin accompanied with mushrooms, bacon and rapini. The perfect ending to the meal was a creamy rhubarb and strawberry panna cotta with delightful white chocolate popcorn. Great service and gourmet food await you at Cabin.
For a truly unique and authentic country-style experience, I highly recommend paying a visit to Landman Gardens & Bakery. My fellow travellers and I were taken on a tour of the Landman farm, where we saw week old chicks, pigs and learned how goats are reared. After the tour, we dined in an intimate Blackhouse, which is a small a dry stone house built by the owner of the farm. We enjoyed delicious food, including pickled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, homemade goat cheese, fresh salads with ingredients plucked right from the garden beside the Blackhouse and a smorgasbord of meats and cheeses. The intimate setting is perfect for a special occasions with family and close friends.
Go on a sightseeing flight over the sprawling countryside and view checkpoints of the Pan American Games torch relay route. I marvelled at the Cheltenham Badlands, which is an eroded section of dry land that is rust in colour and has small rounded hills. An experienced pilot at the Brampton Flight Centre showed me the sights of Caledon, Belfountain, Inglewood and Alton in a Cessna 172, which has room for three passengers. After your exhilarating flight, visit the neighbouring Great War Flying Museum, which houses replicas of WWI aircrafts.
Caledon is informally known as horse country and the highly anticipated Pan American Games will be held at the newly renovated Caledon Equestrian Park in July. Attend jumping and dressage equestrian events at the park, which will play host to 14,000 visitors and offers entertainment and an eatery on site.
Take a cooking class with the Chef Pam Fanjoy at the Friendly Chef Adventures Inc. Chef Fanjoy is a dynamic and hands-on instructor that teaches practical kitchen skills. We were taught tips, tricks and knife skills that she had learned while training at the famed George Brown Culinary School. We made quick and easy chicken rice paper rolls and simple, yet delicious cashew nut chicken stir-fry. After we cooked, we enjoyed a communal meal together.
Handcraft your own jewellery with instructor Carol-Ann Michaelson at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre. I exercised my creativity by fashioning tubular shaped, colourful earrings. I worked with polymer clay using the Japanese metal-working technique called mokume-gane, where the materials are fused together to create a unique pattern.
Take in an entertaining performance of a play or musical at Theatre Orangeville. The company encourages productions featuring Canadian talent and stages plays by one of Canada's preeminent playwrights, Norm Foster.
Where to Shop: There are lots of quaint little shops offering a plethora of wholesome and homemade items. Woolwich Dairy offers gourmet, artisan goat cheese products that are made and sold in Orangeville. The Spirit Tree Estate Cidery offers sparkling apple, pear and apple cranberry cider, as well as hard ciders. Enjoy their cider with an array of homemade culinary delights like Normandy apple bread and chicken liver pate. As if the mayor of Mono, Laura Ryan was not busy enough, she still finds time to bake and sell the most delicious and freshest of pies at the Hockley Village General Store. I absolutely adored her blueberry fruit pie filled in a flaky, sugared crust.
There are no shortage of activities to engage in, food to taste, and places to explore in the beautiful Headwaters Region. I was pleasantly surprised and will certainly return to escape the hustle and bustle of city life in Toronto.