We have a confession to make. At first we thought Perth, ON and Perth County, ON were one and the same. We quickly realized we were mistaken and that the two are no where close to one another. This lovely rural area is home to several small towns, a few of which even include Mennonite communities.
If you want to read about Perth then read our guest post by the very talented writer Marisa Baratta.
We had so much fun in Perth County that we couldn’t fit it all in 1 video! Check out our Day 1 & Day 2 videos on our Let’s Discover ON YouTube Channel:
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Our first stop was in Listowel, to check out their world-famous yarn bombing. Turns out the people of Listowel are knitting fanatics! Poles, trees, tractors, fences…nothing is safe from these hardcore knitting fiends!
Sharon Darcey from the North Perth Chamber of Commerce then explained that this is not vandalism but instead a community initiative to promote community spirit and give visitors to the town something neat to check out. It works, all over town we saw people pull over to the side of the road to grab pics of the various yarn bombed objects.
One reason why the yarn-bombing is so popular is because the largest yarn making factory in Canada is right in town. Spinrite Yarn sells their yarn all over the world and they also have a massive tent sale in their parking lot. We met knitters and crochet-ers who have driven from 7 hours away to be at this tent sale. That’s where we met Glenda. Glenda had enlisted the help of her teenage daughter to haul all of the yarn she just bought back to their truck.
See all that yarn in the picture above? That was from her second haul of yarn for the day. Needless to say, the Spinrite Tent Sale is a big deal in the knitting community. Watch our chat with Glenda, and learn why she wanted to drive over 3 hours just to get to the Tent Sale.
We needed a cool drink after all the excitement at Spinrite so off to Shakespeare Brewing Co we went. This is a really small craft brewery that has a unique approach to making beer. It’s the first time we’ve come across a craft beer made entirely from Ontario ingredients – all of it.
Ayden Gautreau explained that the malt comes from Guelph, and the hops from 10 minutes down the road. For seasonal brews, he uses ingredients that are all locally grown. For example, using blueberries grown at the farm next door for his Bumbling Bear Blueberry Wheat beer. It’s refreshing by the way.
Time to eat! Off to Anna Mae’s Bakery & Restaurant in the small town of Millbank. It’s a family owned establishment that specializes in Mennonite style home cooked meals, so don’t be surprised if you spot a horse & buggy in the parking lot!
They’re famous in the area for making all kinds of fresh pies…at peak times times they can actually bake around 1,200 pies per day! Trust us, they’re delicious. Cherry, pumpkin, pecan, peach, apple, they make em all.
We learned that a typical ‘Mennonite style meal’ consisted of a meat, some vegetables and potatoes. We tried the broasted chicken and turkey with all the fixings. If you call ahead, you can book the ‘buggy booth’ and dine in true Mennonite fashion. We felt a little touristy, but it makes for a great photo.
We started Day 2 of our weekend getaway at Lynn River Farm. It’s yet another family-owned and operated small business in Perth County that grows and sells their own organic produce as well as ready-to-serve meals from a retail storefront. We met the Owners Lindsay & Mike Higgins who gave us a tour of their property as well as a picnic basket full of their offerings to sample.
If you’re looking for a farm-to-table dining experience then you’ll find it at Lynn River Farm. However, if you’re looking for a quick laugh, you can watch Tony try and wrangle one of their rogue chickens back into it’s enclosure in our video of Day 2 in Perth County. It’s the blooper right at the end.
We took off from Lynn River Farm with our picnic basket in hand to enjoy our meal at the Wildwood Conservation Area. We started our visit with a personalized & private tour of the Conservation Area, by boat, with Paul the Superintendent.
Paul also gave us a tour of a few back-country camping sites available within the area. This is such a unique feature within Southern Ontario for anyone in the area who previously traveled several hours to Algonquin Park for example for this type of camping experience. You should know that these back-country sites are only accessible by canoe or bike.
Wildwood also offers group camp sites as well as a trailer park. In terms of activities while camping or even for their day-use visitors, Wildwood offers canoe rentals as well as several trails for hiking and biking in addition to shore fishing.
Grabbed our picnic basket from the car, and set up right on the water’s edge to enjoy some lunch. I would tell you everything that Lindsay and Mike from Lynn River Farm had packed for us, but seriously it’s too much to list. Look at the photo below of the menu they printed out for us. They really pay lots of attention to each detail and every aspect of their food, that they grow or prepare, it really does show. Our salads even had some edible flowers in them.
So grateful that we got to visit the farm, and then enjoy the meal that had grown from that place. I wonder if that rogue chicken from the video was the one who laid the egg on my plate?
Bellies full, we made our way over to the Stratford Perth Museum to learn more about the area and it’s history. It was an eye-opening experience because there were some surprises.
They have some pieces on display from the Stratford Fire Department. The usual things like tools used by firefirghters, the fireproof suits, uniforms, that sort of thing. Then there’s the vintage fire truck, which has been restored to look brand new – it’s amazing!
Now for the surprise. Tucked in a corner of the museum is the town of Stratford’s very first Fire Wagon. Obviously, before the invention of motorized vehicles, people had wagons…drawn by horses. Except for this wagon. This wagon was pulled by at least 40 men from the local firehall to the scene of the fire. Emma Thomas, the museum curator explains why in our vlog.
We continued our tour through the museum and learned how the town really boomed thanks to the railway and train station. There’s also some sombre history with a room to commemorate the people of area who joined the armed forces to fight in WWI and WWII. If you have relatives that were involved with either World War from Perth County and surrounding area, there’s an interactive exhibit you should try. You can search by name and find their military history, photos, medals earned and any other bits of information that the museum was able to stitch together.
Perth County is approximately a 2 to 2.5 hour drive from Toronto.
Where to Stay
- There are several B & Bs in the County and some are even on working farms.
- If you’re really adventurous and an experienced camper then a new back-country campsite is just what you are looking for at Wildwood Conservation Area. There are also several other types of campsites to choose from.
- The Festival Inn is another option if you’re looking for a budget hotel.
Where to Eat
- There is an incredible selection and wide variety on the menu at Veky’s in Listowel.
- Grab a meal and dessert at Anna Mae’s in Millbank. This family owned restaurants was even featured on The Food Network’s show You Gotta Eat Here. Ask to sit at the buggy booth if its available and don’t leave without trying a slice of pie.
- Visit Lynn River Farm for fresh produce, eggs or meat. You can even grab something prepared from their ‘Take & Bake’ fridge.
Must Do or Try
- Snapping selfies with all the yarn-bombed items in Listowel.
- Search for rare finds at the various antique shops in Shakespeare.
- Pick up a pint or two of the latest brew from the Shakespeare Brewing Company.
- Get to know the local history by visiting the Stratford Perth Museum.
We were so impressed and humbled by the generous and kind-hearted people we met in Perth County. There is a great sense of pride and loyalty to family, neighbours and community. It’s a slower-paced and simple life in Perth County so if you’re looking for a change of pace from the hustle & bustle of big-city life then plan a visit to remind yourself of everything that is truly important in life.
Have any photos or videos of your visit that you would like to share with us? Send them over to @LetsDiscoverON.