We know how you feel: you’ve been cooped up all winter, and now that the early spring sunshine is here, you’re eager to get outside and explore. Well, as it turns out, springtime is the perfect time to explore the many trails and routes we have here in York Durham Headwaters. There are so many great YDH routes to choose from, but if you want spectacular scenery, small-town charm, and genuine hospitality offered at your own pace and suited to your particular liking, then we highly recommend you come out to Uxbridge and take a drive through the Leaskdale Loop.
If you haven’t yet discovered the pleasures of Leaskdale, then you’re in for a treat. This small community is located just north of Uxbridge in Durham Region, and is arguably best known for being one of the places where Lucy Maud Montgomery lived for some time during her prolific career as a beloved Canadian author. Today, Leaskdale is so much more. This thriving community boasts independent retail attractions, tasty food and beverage stops, fantastic rural views and exciting festivals and events that draw people to the area all year round.
The Leaskdale Loop is a collaborative effort from 14 local businesses who have come together to welcome people to their little corner of paradise. The Loop comes complete with an official brochure and map, so that you know exactly where to go and what to do. Because it is a self-driving tour, you have the flexibility to go at your own pace, and visit whichever stops suit your tastes. Whether you have kids to nurture and enrich, you’re a couple out for a “date day” adventure, you’re foodie friends looking for fabulous treats, or you’re thrilled by all things art, artists and artisans, there is truly something for everyone. And because it is only an hour from Toronto, the Leaskdale Loop is the ideal destination for a day trip.
“Everyone is so passionate about what they do,” says Patricia Cherrie, owner and artist at Greenmantle Pottery, which is one of the businesses on the Loop. “All the places on the loop are just wonderful to visit. Each business owner is a maker, and you get to see them in their element. Whether it’s my artist neighbours next door or the people growing food down the street, making the cider and growing the flowers—all of it is as local as you can get. When you come out and experience the Loop, you’ll meet amazing makers who are eager to tell you their story. They are hardworking and a lot of fun to be with. It’s been a wonderful thing that the Loop’s come together the way it has.”
The businesses on the Leaskdale Loop, all within a 10-minute drive from one another, are:
Tindall Farm and Market – Your family owned and operated produce farm for over 50 years. 13669 Regional Rd. 1
Montgomeryshire Orchard and Nursery – An orchard to explore trees, shrubs, and the special sea buckthorn berries. Orchard: 12049 Durham Regional Rd., Nursery: 820 Durham Regional Rd. 13
Leaskdale Country Store – Home-cooked Indian fare, and convenient treats for your travels. 700 Durham Regional Rd. 13
Roosters Fries – Leaskdale’s favourite little food truck, serving Canadian classics all summer long. 702 Durham Regional Rd. 13
Leaskdale Live Edge – A variety of sizes of rounds and live-edge planks for your woodworking adventures. 690 Leaskdale Rd.
The Lucy Maud Montgomery Manse – Home of the beloved Canadian author for 15 years, and the place where she wrote 11 of her 22 novels. 11850 Durham Regional Rd. 1
Nancy Newman Textiles – One woman, three machines and a relentless need to create. Purses and Totes created one at a time from sturdy, waterproof, waxed cotton canvas. 11750 Durham Regional Rd. 1
Hosta Hideaway and Out of the Barn – Over 80 varieties of hostas and day lilies to beautify your home and gardens. 10479 Durham Regional Rd. 1
Thomas Foster Memorial – More than a mausoleum, the memorial stands as a testament to the triumphs of Thomas foster a local boy who went to the city and found his fortune. 9499 Durham Regional Rd. 1
Banjo Cider – Orchard, cidery, patio and tasting room in the picturesque hills of Uxbridge. They are passionate about reviving the lost art of traditional cider-making. 614 Sandford Rd.
Concession 6 Studio – Art, woodworking, handcrafts and collectibles. 11120 Concession Rd. 6
Greenmantle Pottery – At home in your home. Each handmade piece is unique and individual. They are designed to be used and enjoyed everyday in your home. 11350 Concession Rd. 6
Pefferlaw Creek Farms – A family-owned business founded by four brothers and their passion for all things maple. 12300 Concession Rd. 6
River Ridge Farm Flowers – More than just a flower farm, they are about giving back to the community. 12500 Concession Rd. 6
How it all started
The idea for the Leaskdale Loop came about when Patricia, together with her neighbour Lisa Anttila who owns and operates Concession 6 Studio with her husband Glenn Ryzebol, began helping one another with small events to bring people out to the Uxbridge area. “It was very hard to get people up because, here in Uxbridge, it’s all farmland, very rural,” she recalls. “You don’t just happen upon our studios.” After initial success with these limited events, Lisa and Patricia began to think about expanding and bringing other businesses into the idea.
But then… everything shut down when COVID-19 broke out (as we all remember!). For some time after that, there was nothing. “Nobody did much of anything,” Patricia says. “But when things started to open back up again, we put feelers out to other businesses in the area, and we were amazed by the response we got. People were like, ‘I’m in. I’m 100% in!’ And so, year one of the Leaskdale Loop was officially 2021.”
The response from the public was as incredible as the response from the businesses participating. As Patricia recalls, there was quite a pent-up demand from people to get out of the house and do something. With Leaskdale and its Loop businesses being largely rural, the requirements for physical distancing and COVID safety were easily met. “Many of these properties are large, open barns, or they’re outside,” Patricia explains. “Even my log cabin—it’s smaller, but I opened the windows and doors wide, and people masked up. We could make it safe for everyone. You certainly felt much safer than going to some congested place in the city, or in a mall, or places like that.”
Today, the Leaskdale Loop continues to thrive, as demand for authentic, home-grown experiences like this has not dissipated the way one might expect now that things have opened back up again. We think that’s amazing—and it’s a testament to the strength of the Leaskdale Loop as an attractive destination for all kinds of passions and visitors.
The Leaskdale Loop in spring
The official Loop season kicks off in June with Spring Flower Fest, although Maple Season at Pefferlaw Creek Farms takes place on the weekends in March and April. So admittedly, early spring is not quite the Loop at its busiest and most bustling. But don’t let that stop you from coming. Most of the Loop’s businesses are open. Montgomeryshire Nursery, the Leaskdale Country Store, the Leaskdale Manse, Leaskdale Live Edge, Nancy Newman Textiles, the Thomas Foster Memorial, Banjo Cider, Greenmantle Pottery, and Concession 6 Studio are open year-round. For some locations, you may need to call ahead to visit or book a special event, and we do recommend you check each stop’s individual website for details on their hours and seasonal offerings. But that’s the beauty of the Loop—there are so many great places to visit, that you’re sure to enjoy whichever stops you make.
Plus, by doing the Loop in spring when you can take your time exploring, that means, come high season, you’re ready to hit the ground running when all of the festivals and events are in full swing. You’ll be a seasoned Leaskdale Loop pro by that time!
Have you explored the Leaskdale Loop? Tag us on social media at @VisitYDH with your photos and stories!