Home to Ontario’s first Amish settlement, the Township of Wilmot is a patchwork of communities sharing a proud history. Located along the banks of the Nith River, it is made up of rolling farmland, quaint villages and growing towns.
New Hamburg, Baden, St. Agatha and New Dundee are four of the seventeen villages that make up the township, with more than half of Wilmot’s total population living in the rapidly growing towns of New Hamburg and Baden.
Settlement of the township began in 1824, and it was settled very quickly – in approximately twenty years. This was due in part to the development of an organized roadway system which provided easy access to goods and supplies in the neighbouring townships. Many Amish settlers were attracted to the township because of the rich farmland. The township also attracted many immigrants who were tradesmen and artisans. Waterways including Smith’s Creek (now the Nith River), Alder Creek and Spring Creek were used to provide power to run mills, which were the township’s first industries. As a tribute to this part of the township’s history, a 50-foot working waterwheel – the largest in North America – is located by the Nith River in New Hamburg’s Heritage Conservation District.
DYK: Baden is the birthplace of Sir Adam Beck, founder of Ontario’s public hydro-electric system
Today, the Township of Wilmot provides the best of rural and urban living, and is a popular destination to live, work and play. The township is honoured to be the home of the Prime Ministers Path by Createscape Waterloo Region. When complete, twenty-three life sized, bronze sculptures of Canada’s Prime Ministers will flank the walking trail through the parkland beside Castle Kilbride in Baden.
Located in the town of Baden, Castle Kilbride was the home of flax industrialist James Livingston who built the house in 1877. It has been designated as a National Historic Site and is considered an architectural wonder with its Italianate style and belvedere lookout. The unique trompe l’oeil paintings throughout the home create an illusion of depth and beautiful three-dimensional images. A tour through this magnificent Castle is a step back into the lavish Victorian Era.
While at Castle Kilbride, you can also walk along the Prime Ministers Path, which features bronze sculptures of Canada’s Prime Ministers, designed by Canadian artists.
The New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale and Moparfest
Although two very different events, the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale and Moparfest have one thing in common: both festivals bring tens of thousands of visitors annually into Wilmot Township to enjoy everything they have to offer!
The first Mennonite Relief Quilt Auction was held in 1967 in the town of New Hamburg. In the 50 years since, the sale has raised over 12 million dollars with all proceeds going to the Mennonite Central Committee for worldwide projects. The highlight of the sale is the auction of hundreds of handmade quilts, all of which are donated by individuals and organizations. Visitors also enjoy the many different types of food available, including traditional Mennonite and Amish foods. Children’s activities, musical performances, and vendors are also part of the relief sale. The festival is held annually on the last weekend in May.
Moparfest attracts more than 20,000 car enthusiasts and 2000 cars over the two-day festival held annually in August. Dubbed Canada’s largest all Mopar Car Show, it includes vendors, food tents, a beer garden, cruise nights, and much more. Since Moparfest began in 1979, over $3.15 million has been raised and donated for community betterment.
Puddicombe House Family Restaurant, B&B and Spa
Puddicombe House is the perfect place for a weekend getaway! Nestled in the heart of New Hamburg, experience all the ammenities of high end retreats, without the hustle and bustle of the city. This elegant 1868 home features six luxurious guest rooms that will have visitors feeling comfortable and relaxed from the moment they enter in. Once settled, enjoy casual fine dining at Puddicombe Restaurant, featuring seasonal foods with a local flair. Then get ready to be pampered while enjoying one of the many services offered at Puddicombe’s Spa and Hair Salon. With packages that include Girl’s Night Away or a Couple’s package, it’s the perfect way to de-stress and relax!