Banjo Cider Uxbridge

Durham Region: The Apple of Ontario’s Eye

As the dew glints off the crisp ruby orbs that adorn rows upon rows of trees. Rooted in place for decades, the spectacles they’ve seen and the stories they hold are remastered into new tales and memories. As you breathe in the crisp air that comes with fall, you can’t help but be entranced by the ephemeral beauty of apple season. Especially knowing that the apple capital of Canada is just one hour from downtown Toronto!

It’s no secret that apples have been a staple in our diets for centuries. While they were brought over by European settlers, apples flourished under the care of Indigenous communities. This combined with the perfect weather conditions provided by Lake Ontario, Durham Region is a hotbed of apple activity.

Apple Orchard

Generations upon generations have seen the trajectory of this iconic fruit transform as growers and non-growers alike are crafting innovative ways of connecting with it. New seeds are being planted and unique stories are written from the fruits of this labour, especially in Clarington or more specifically, the town of Newcastle.

The Apple Growers Story

Newcastle, Ontario is our country’s apple capital. And where you’ll find Algoma Orchards, the largest producer and processor of apples in Canada. Owned and operated by Kirk Kemp and his family, their passion for agriculture shows across the four generations of hard-working farmers. Apple farming has always been a part of Kirk’s life for as long as he can remember. He grew up lending a hand on his uncle’s farm which was passed to his family before he graduated high school. Helping his dad in the apple orchards was the only job Kirk ever had so upon graduation, it only made sense to continue on in his family’s footsteps and purchased his very first acres when he was just 19 years old!

As the years progressed, Kirk continued to purchase land and plant rows upon rows of apple trees. When he turned 25, Kirk vividly remembers sitting in his parents’ kitchen as his father passed the torch and declared that he was now the boss. While it caught Kirk off-guard back in the day, he’s forever thankful his dad let him take the reigns. As he has seen too many businesses caught in old ways of thinking, he knew he wouldn’t make this mistake either as he has now passed along many of the responsibilities to his own sons, Eric and Byron. Kirk has taken a step back from the everyday operations but his sons know that he’s always around to lend an ear, a hand or a sound mind whenever necessary. However, he still walks and drives the orchards every single day, consistently in awe of the miracle of nature as he watches the apples go from the size of a golf ball to the hearty globes we all know well.

Apple Orchard

Their beginnings may have been humble but Algoma Orchards is now home to over 1500 acres, more than one million apple trees and show no signs of slowing down. Every year they continue to grow by planting 150 acres more, but that’s not all they invest in. They say an apple a day supports a healthy immune system (why else would it keep the doctor away?) and that support continues through the Kemp family. Algoma Orchards is continuously donating to local food drives, sports teams, community initiatives and more!

Not only this, but the Kemp family is investing in our future. Algoma Orchards is constantly looking to become more energy efficient and lower its environmental footprint including being one of the first self-sufficient plants in Canada by battery packs that store energy gathered by their solar panels. Algoma Orchards also utilizes drip lines to place the recycled rainwater they catch directly into the soil, minimizing evaporation and therefore significantly reducing the amount of water used in caring for so many apple trees!

From Ambrosia to McIntosh and a plethora of varieties in between, you’ll find more apples than you’ll know what to do with at the Algoma Orchards’ Farm Store. Open year round, you never know what local eats and treats you’ll find. And one day in the not so distance future, you may just see fresh apples every single month of the year!

Where to Get Your Apples in Durham

Family Apple Picking

While Algoma Orchards is the largest player in the apple game, there are a number of additional local apple farms that each deserve a visit. Check out their website’s for U-Pick this fall.

Allin’s Orchard in Newcastle – Here you’ll find 26 apple varieties available in their storefront.

Brooks Farm in Mount Albert – Right on the boarder of Durham Region sits Brooks farm. Bring the whole family and let the kids greet the local farm animals, explore the playground and race rubber ducks after picking your own apples.

Hy-Hope Farm in Pickering – How about a round of 18 holes, and apple picking to go with some freshly baked apple pie? You can enjoy both and even more goodies including live music, produce, and fresh baked bread at this hidden gem!

Maple Grove Orchards in Bowmanville – Get lost in the corn maze before enjoying a tractor ride and picking your own apples from one of the seven varieties available.

Natures Bounty Farm in Scugog – Explore rural routes along the Sideroads of Scugog. Take in the brilliant views of the Oak Ridges Moraine with a private gourmet picnic on this stunning apple farm where you’ll find unique varieties to pick such as Silken and Macoun apples!

As you can see, there is no shortage of apple orchards to be found across Durham Region. Each provides a unique experience but they all have one thing in common – a place to slowdown and reconnect with not just the land but one another.

The Apple Bakers Story

Food always brings people together and what better sweet treat to enjoy in the fall than an apple cider doughnut? Anyone in Durham Region will tell you that the best place to go for one (or a dozen) is Tyrone Mills. While chances are you have come for these renowned desserts, stop and take a moment to appreciate the over 175 years of history. Peek at the old but reliable hardware inside the woodworking and blacksmith shop as you learn about one of the oldest water-powered grist mills still operating in Canada.

Tyrone Mills

Built in 1846 by early settlers John Gray and James McFeeters, it has worn many hats including as a flour mill, lumber mill and more recently an apple cider producer, historic tour stop and bakery. Most importantly though, Tyrone Mills serves as a rural community centre of sorts where locals and visitors can meet. Owner Robert Shafer is proud of the fact that the mill has been transformed into a place where folks from all walks of life come and connect.

Tyrone Mills has pivoted through so many hardships that have turned our world upside down, a fact that’s not lost on Robert and his wife Frances. He muses that while we won’t be around forever, it’s because of resilience and community that historical icons like Tyrone Mills have stood the test of time. However, no matter your generation, the delicious scent of apple and cinnamon wafting through the air will have visitors of all ages grinning from ear to ear. As one takes a bite of their iconic cider doughnuts, remember to take a minute to appreciate how much history has led up to this moment.

Cider Donut

Where to Get your Apple Treats

If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, never fear as there are plenty of delectable apple delights across Durham Region!

White Feather Country Store in Oshawa – Visit the area’s largest country store for some of their freshly made apple fritters. Many believe they have the best in Durham.

Hanks Pastries in Port Perry – Truly does takes the title for top apple fritter. You do not want to miss out on these fritters that are the size of your head!

Village Bake Shop in Whitby – Has a verity of apple themed treats like; fritters, apple turnovers, and apple-filled doughnuts as well.

Little Thief Bakery in Uxbridge – This bakery has raised the bar as their apple fritters are handcrafted with fresh cut apples, plenty of cinnamon and are dunked in 100% Canadian maple syrup.

If you now want one of everything, nobody will blame you!

The Hard Cider Story

Can’t seem to eat any more apple-themed goodies? Chances are you’re feeling parched and what better way to quench your thirst than with some hard apple cider! Head to Slabtown Cider located just south of Uxbridge in the stunning Oak Ridges Moraine. This family-owned and operated cidery and orchard is surrounded by rolling fields and forest as it connects to the trail capital of Canada. If you weren’t thirsty before, you will be after hitting some of the neighbouring trails in the Durham Regional Forest!


Previously a cow pasture, co-owner Loreen and her husband Jason purchased the land the cidery resides on with the vision of shaping it into a cidery. At the time, Siloam Orchards was being sold and the property was home to gorgeous heritage apple trees. As the new owners would not be needing them, Loreen jumped at the opportunity to keep this history alive and transplanted a number of them onto their newly acquired property.

Between relocating and grafting these mature trees, Slabtown was able to preserve 90 acres of these historic fields to create one of the largest collections of unique heritage heirloom apple cider varieties! To top it off, Siloam was part of the original settlement that was a hotbed for milling wood to build the railway. It was not uncommon to see slabs of lumber strewn along the roadsides, hence it garnered the nickname “slab town” and the cidery’s name is another nod to this history.

Enjoy a taste of history as it’s brought to life in beverage form. With over 16 flavours of cider available at any given time, there’s certainly something for everyone especially as many of their flavours are inspired by a variety of cocktails as well as the visitors themselves! It’s not uncommon for Loreen and her team to take flavour recommendations from patrons and turn them into the newest cider offering. This is especially true for concoctions that can use ingredients sourced right from their garden on-site such as their Watermelon Thyme cider. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Hard Apple Cider in Durham

Banjo Cider Apples

Just as there is a wide range of apple varieties to be found across Durham Region, there are a number of ciders as well! Raise a glass and cheers to each and every one of these unique cideries and the beverages they create!

Applewood Farm and Winery in Seagrave – Their small-batch cider is best enjoyed straight from the taps on their outdoor patio. You also may recognize them from the hit TV show Schitt’s Creek!

Two Blokes Cider in Scugog – If dry ciders are right up your alley this is the place to be, as their beverages are made from UK apple varieties grown specifically for cider!

Archibald’s Orchards and Estate Winery in Bowmanville – This wonderful spot has eight varieties of cider including black currant and strawberry lime which will make it hard to have just one!

Banjo Cider in Uxbridge – Has the cutest patio, amazing ciders, and uses all local ingredients including their own organic apples. New this summer check out the IRV Restaurant in a shipping container on the patio.

Ocala Orchards in Port Perry – For something different head to Ocala. Here you can sip on their non-alcoholic ciders or try one of their apple wines. Fun Fact: Ocala is the only winery to grow grape for wine in Durham Region.

While the Latin name for apple may be malus meaning bad or harmful, we can all agree that Durham Region is certainly the opposite. Whether you visit Clarington, Oshawa, Uxbridge or anywhere in between, you can guarantee that the apple capital of Canada is at the core of an epic autumn adventure!

Apple Eating

Have you fallen in love with Durham Regions apple story and want to explore even more? Head over to Durham Tourisms brand new Apple Adventure

Apple Map

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