Being so close to Toronto, we in York Durham Headwaters have fantastic destination towns and cities with lots to see and do. In our southern communities, we have thriving metropolises, residential neighbourhoods and heritage districts, all interspersed and connected by country roads and farm-fresh growing centres. But if our southern communities are the only places you’re exploring in York Durham Headwaters, then you are missing so much! This winter, we invite you to venture north of the 401. Way, way north, in our northern most regions in fact, is where winter fun reigns supreme. You will find so much to see and do that you’ll wonder why on earth you haven’t been up here before. After all, nothing says winter like the great white north.
Shelburne and Mulmur
This rich, natural environment is home to a vibrant arts and culture community in the heart of Dufferin County. This is Niagara Escarpment country, a wee bit of heaven just an hour’s drive North-West of Toronto. You will be enchanted by the dramatic slopes and river valleys that undulate through dense, lush forest. Explore the gently-rolling farmlands and country roads, or spend time getting lost in Historic Main Streets.
A drive through the Shelburne and Mulmur area is the perfect lead into a casually elegant meal at Mrs. Mitchell’s Restaurant. Enjoy a superior dining experience that features farm-fresh ingredients prepared with simplicity and elegance. Mulmur’s slopes and valleys are the perfect setting for this building’s colonial charm which is brimming with local history. Steps away from Mrs. Mitchell’s is Granny Taught Us How, a quaint and gorgeous shop that offers the practical, the unusual and the hard-to-find. This is not just your ordinary country collectibles shop; this is a shopping destination that draws visitors from around the GTA. Find one-of-a-kind gifts, treasures, and home décor pieces that will brighten your day and mark the memory of your visit.
Of course, no visit to Dufferin County would be complete without a stop at the Museum of Dufferin. This is a country museum with a lot of class! Here, the local history of rural Dufferin County is not only preserved, it’s showcased in a state-of-the-art facility that encourages visitors to interact with exhibits and programs that bring history to life. The MoD offers a number of educational and interactive programming throughout the year as well, and the pride and joy of the museum is the Corn Flower Glass gallery, which is the largest collection of this type of glassware in the world.
Since you are in the heart of Ontario’s farmland, you will want to have a direct line to the bounty of the earth, right where it was grown. Stop in at Lennox Farm Market, an on-farm store operated by the French family that showcases the freshest, locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh baking and handmade preserves. Next, meet the ladies of Sheldon Creek Dairy… the bovine ladies, that is. This pampered and well-loved dairy herd produces milk products of exceptional quality like A2 fresh milk, cream, ice cream, kefir and yogurt. Sheldon Creek also raises a herd of Shorthorns for pasture-fed beef.
And last but certainly not least, Ontario Honey Creations makes raw, unpasteurized honey and honey products from over 600 hives around the entire York Durham Headwaters region, and even in Downtown Toronto. Shop their products online, help support their sister company the Toronto Bee Rescue, and then book your beekeeping and farm experience for your next trip to Shelburne and Mulmur… because after you’ve been once, we are sure you’ll want to come back.
On the southeastern shores of Lake Simcoe is Getaway Country… also known as Georgina. This is your mecca for lakeside living, wide open spaces and scattered sandy beaches. This is the kind of cottage country that people travel from around Ontario to escape to—and it’s right here, in our own backyard. Winter in Georgina is stunning, and the cold-weather sports and activities are plentiful. Come and explore our own Winter Wonderland in the north of York Region.
With freshwater north lakes making such a large footprint on Georgina’s landscape, this is your destination for ice fishing. There are fewer winter experiences that are more quintessentially Canadian than gathering in a heated hut on a frozen lake and enjoying quality time with friends and family. Beginning mid- to late-January and running through to mid-March, you can enjoy this time-honoured tradition at providers like Casey’s Fish Huts, Ice Fishing Outfitters, Hank Heyink Fish Huts, Pefferlaw Fish Huts, and Snake Island Fish Huts. Make a weekend of your ice fishing adventure by booking a getaway at the Briars Resort and Spa in Jackson’s Point… or, just book a getaway on its own. This picturesque lakeside resort, spa, event and conference centre is an all-season experience surrounded by idyllic grounds and rich history. It is truly “Another World on Lake Simcoe.”
For a getaway day, visit the Georgina Centre for Arts and Culture, which hosts a stunning permanent collection of renowned Canadian artists and an Indigenous collection of Native and Inuit pieces. After you’ve had your fill of beautiful artwork, stop in at Georgina top-rated restaurant, The Corner House Bistro in the community of Keswick. Enjoy fine dining with a casual feel. The cuisine is Mediterranean influenced, with many dishes to choose from, including gluten free and vegetarian options. Come and see why it has been rated among the top 10% of restaurants in the world by TripAdvisor!
A winter’s day spent out on the trails is a memory worth making. Enjoy Sibbald Point Provincial Park as your picturesque setting for some wonderful winter hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The weather is exhilarating when you’re bundled up warm and exploring the outdoors. When you’re through with your outdoor adventure in the embrace of nature, head over to Turkey Shoot Brewing Company to warm your insides. This is Georgina’s first craft brewery, which uses 100% Ontario Hops. Here, you will discover delicious local flavours offered on the regular menu, like Ice Hut Stout and Bitter Baldwin India Brown Ale (perfect for that winter warmup we’re sure you’re craving by now), and rotating special taps to surprise your palate. You’ll enjoy the stunningly rustic décor as much as the brew you’ll be quenching your thirst with.
There is a reason why this region’s slogan is “Breathe It In.” This northern community in Durham Region is rich in culture, heritage and recreation. Close to the southeastern shores of Lake Simcoe, this is an area of extensive waterways. Leave the mucky, slush-covered city behind this winter and get away to this beautiful and quaint countryside, with wintry-white expanses of natural spaces and century-old architecture in its warm hamlets and villages.
Like Georgina, ice fishing is big in Brock. Get cozy with friends and loved ones in a heated fishing hut on frozen Lake Simcoe with providers like, Floyd Hales Fish Huts, Tim Hales and Mitchells’ Fish Huts. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy this quintessentially Canadian winter experience. When you’re through with your day on the lake, visit Villa Vida Loca farm market where you will want to pick up all the accompaniments you need to prepare your catch for your evening’s meal. This boutique farm market features only farm fresh, homegrown, handmade and personally chosen products.
For a unique destination visit to this farm-fresh township, we recommend Forget-Me-Not Alpacas in Beaverton. These animals are truly unique; a must-see for people of all ages. Shop the on-farm store for super-soft alpaca fleece products and farm merchandise, book a farm tour with owners Sandra and Geoff Bannon, or even book your personal winter photoshoot. These super-sweet alpacas will be the highlight of your snowy season. Or you can explore a new craft skill at Rolling Hills Studio in Sunderland. Artist Anja Kooistra is a fabric sculptor who brings to life magical creations that tell a story for your home and garden. Purchase your own whimsical figure, or take one of Anja’s popular workshops to learn how to make your own.
If you’re travelling to Brock on a whim or with no fixed plans, we suggest you visit the Simcoe Street Market for some leisurely shopping at your own pace. This boutique artisan market is a curated marketplace that brings together contemporary and traditional makers, artisans and traders in Beaverton’s Historical Main Street. Enjoy a diverse and quality shopping experience, and meet the makers themselves. Of course, no shopping trip is worth its name if you don’t accompany it with a treat from a café—especially in winter. Enjoy the creations of passionate baker Evelyn Pocock from her Underground Bake Shop in Beaverton. You haven’t lived until you’ve indulged in her winter specialty, the Nutella Yum Bun. And enjoy the charm of The Shortiss Café Bar, located in the history-infused, centuries-old building that was once Beaverton’s Shortis(s) Hotel during the Victorian Era. Warm your tum with specialty coffee, tea, hygge lunches, sweets and more.
Story by Katherine Ryalen