There's always something going on in Waterloo Region! Whatever the season, whatever the occasion – we have events to suit every taste. There's something for everyone!
Welcome to a place where the spirit of rural Ontario truly comes alive. Here, quiet roads wander through a patchwork of fields and farms where common sights include roadside stands that beckon you to buy scrumptious goods straight from the farm, "slow moving vehicle" signs and the occasional Old Order Mennonite horse-drawn buggy. Dotted throughout the township are ten settlement areas, each offering its own unique character. Take time to check out the bustling shops in Elmira, which is the proud home of the annual Maple Syrup Festival, and the village of St. Jacobs where you will find specialty foods, their signature Mennonite quilts, unique clothing and gifts, restaurants, theatres and the Mennonite Story Centre.
At the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, which is Canada's largest, you can visit over 500 food and craft vendors, indoors and outdoors. In Conestogo, you can shop for antiques and gifts, and end your day with a lovely dinner concert. West Montrose is home to the "Kissing Bridge", the last remaining covered bridge in Ontario. Winterbourne is graced by a majestic two span, single lane steel bridge crossing the Grand River on the outskirts of this charming hamlet. The spire of St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church in Maryhill, an area landmark, is used to advantage by the Waterloo Regional Airport in Breslau. A "must stop" is Floradale, where you can indulge in a sumptuous cream bun at the delectable bake shop in the village centre.
With its rural heritage and bountiful harvests, Woolwich offers ways to experience a taste of country. While traveling along our rural roads, farm-gate signs and roadside stands will tempt you to stop and make an impromptu purchase - fruits, vegetables, flowers, maple syrup. However, you will be reminded on the signs to respect "No Sunday Sales". The country's finest farmers' markets are located in Woolwich. Excellent restaurants, country inns and bed & breakfast establishments will entice you to stay a while to enjoy the superb hospitality.
You will meet your step-on guide in Elmira and your tour will take you through an area where most of the farms are owned by Old Order Mennonite people. These are the people who will drive horses and buggies along the roadways. Many of these people still use horses to do their farm work, and it is possible to see an impressive 5-horse hitch plowing the fields. The tour passes through Wallenstein, Hawkesville, St. Jacobs, Conestogo and West Montrose. At various points along the Conestogo River, your guide will point out the Mennonite buggy bridges used as shortcuts by horse-drawn vehicles.
Your guide will explain the history of the area, and of the Mennonite religion down through the last five hundred years. You will see the 'plain' church buildings used by the Old Order Mennonites and learn about their Sunday services - why they have five entrance doors, how a minister is chosen, seating arrangements and when the building is used. You will learn all about the every day lifestyle of these simple living people, their courtship and weddings. You will pass one-room parochial schools and learn about the education of their children. You will discover how the Old Order Mennonite people are working to keep their traditions and way of life alive, through their young people.
In West Montrose, you will get off the coach and have the opportunity to walk across the "Kissing Bridge". The Kissing Bridge has a 198' span across the Grand River, built in 1881. To request a tour guide please contact the Visitor Information Centre in Elmira.