Red brick building with green copper kettle sign hanging from the front Photo courtesy of George Wang

Halton Hills, Georgetown and Glen Williams

Halton Hills is a community of towns, hamlets, and villages along the Niagara Escarpment, with the Credit River winding its way through the forests, plains, and marshes. The abundant natural beauty and small-town charm have captured the hearts of artists, encouraging many of them to call this place home.

Day One

Bike-friendly Start to your Day
Day 1 – 10:00 AM: The Halton Hills Cultural Centre has it all

The Halton Hills Library and Cultural Centre has been designated a Bike Welcome Centre and has everything you need to tune up your ride and prepare for your tour. The John Elliot Theatre is in the same complex as the Helson Gallery, which places the old Congregational Church structure, with its vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows, firmly in the present day. At the Helson Gallery, enjoy workshops, community art projects, and the latest work from local artists.

Stock up your bike basket with fresh produce, cheeses and breads from the local farmers market in downtown Georgetown. The farmers’ market runs Saturday mornings from June to October.

Ride Down Historic Guelph Street
Day 1 – 12:00 PM: A Historical Street With Snack and Eats

Nineteenth-century history lives here at the crossroads of French Catholics and the Church of England. There’s St. John’s United (1840s with renovated gothic revival form), l’Eglise Sacré-Coeur (1885), and St. George’s Anglican Church (originally a wooden structure in 1833 before the sturdier stone structure replaced it in 1851).

If you’re hungry, you can do a coffee and snack crawl along your way to check out the best patios along the historic street. But save room because your next stop is perfect for a picnic.

Wander Dominion Gardens Park
Day 1 – 1:00 Pm: Enjoy the Fresh Air in Dominion Gardens Park.

There’s a splash pad and a playground, but the Old Seed House Garden is the park’s main attraction. Entrepreneur William Bradley founded the garden in 1928, and within a decade, business was booming, with seeds sown from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Today, the area remains a tribute to its place in local history. The gazebo at the heart of the garden is a popular place to rest, with twin flowerbeds of tulips, daffodils, lilacs and forsythias surrounding the structure.

Visit the Grounds of Historic Devereaux House
Day 1 – 2:30 Pm: Cutting Across Town, you’ll Come Across this Pleasant Victorian-era Farmhouse.

Though its surrounding farmland was established in 1829, it wasn’t until the 1850’s that Elijah Devereaux, a member of the local militia, constructed the house. Unfortunately, the building eventually fell into disrepair, but in 2007, locals fundraised to restore it to its former charm

A wooden walkway above a still lake, many trees with varying colors are on the other side of the lake Photo Credit: Credit Valley Conservation
Take a Hike Through Silver Creek
Day 1 – 3:30 PM: if You’re Keen to Carry On, the Silver Creek Conservation Area Presents a Worthy Challenge

There are high ridges, open plains, marshy lowlands, and several rivers. You may notice turkey vultures flying overhead and trout swimming through the waters. On your journey, you may come across a lonely cabin on what used to be the Fallbrook Farm. The existing cabin was built in 2001, replacing the early-to-mid 1800s original.

If all of this trekking has tired you out, rest up at one of the many local bed & breakfasts before tomorrow’s tour through Glen Williams.

Day Two

Explore Glen Williams Park

The History of the hamlet known as Glen Williams is intertwined with that of Georgetown.

In 1825, United Empire loyalist Benajah Williams arrived in the area which would become Halton Hills. Benajah was the brother-in-law of George Kennedy, and like his relation, he was industrious and established several mills.

Glen Williams, small as it was, had to be self-sufficient in many respects. If the villagers needed something, they had to make it themselves, so it was with Glen Williams Park. As with its other civic spaces, the locals recognized the need for a gathering place and they cleared the land to create the park in 1964. Now, it’s a favourite of residents in which to enjoy the fresh air and catch the occasional softball game.

Go For a Hike on the Credit Valley Footpath
Day 2 – Up for a Bit of a Hike?

Glen Williams Park gives visitors easy access to the Credit Valley Footpath via the Ainley Trail access point. After a detour through the meadows in the Glen community, explore the area around the Credit River, which is teeming with vegetation and wildlife.

The Wendat and Mississaugas were the first people to explore the area’s ridges, plains, and rivers, using the Credit River to facilitate trade and transportation. When European settlers arrived, they tapped the river’s current to power mills for several industrial purposes. On your hike, you may spot the ruins of the Barber Mill, which was built in 1854 and was shuttered a century later.

For Ontario Culture Days 2019, the First Steps along the Path’ Celebration took place here. The program received a Spotlight Recognition Award for showcasing a unique set of activities capturing the themes of well-being, local heritage, and Indigenous history. Programming highlights included an Indigenous Water Ceremony, interactive arts activities, themed trail walks and tasting traditional Indigenous cuisine.

A path leading to a large yellow house
Visit Williams Mill Art Centre
Day 2 – The Williams Mill Creative Centre began as a sawmill, built by Benajah Williams in 1825.

The structure was rebuilt in 1852 and then repurposed several times⎯⎯it became a hosiery factory, an electrical facility, and a fruit processing factory. Now, it’s a hub for artists.

The Mill is a collection of artist studios that are open to the public. The artists run regular classes on life drawing, sculpture, music and more. Be sure to check out Glen Williams Glass to watch glass artists at work, and look out for community events and celebrations held at the space.

If you’re hungry, grab some lunch at the Copper Kettle, which is a short walk away. You’ll also find options for sushi, pasta, burgers and pancakes in the area.

Heritage Tour Of Town
Day 2 – The Final Leg of your Journey Starts at Glen Williams Town Hall

The final leg of your journey starts at Glen Williams Town Hall. In 1871, local leaders established the gathering to meet the varied needs of this small, tight-knit community. The newly minted building was often rented out for church services, concerts, and the occasional theatre production. Lucy Maude Montgomery, of Anne of Green Gables fame, lived nearby in Norval and staged a few shows here in her day.

Walking from the town hall, explore the area’s heritage homes which date back to the mid-19th century. Explore the Charles Williams House, William-Holt House, the Williams Edge Tool Factory, and the Forester House. They aren’t palatial abodes or massive factories, but these buildings were the beating heart of Glen Williams at the time.

And with that, you’ve completed your bite-sized excursion in Glen Williams. You can explore the other towns and hamlets in the hills or sit on the benches by St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church and watch the Credit River flow.

Your trip at a glance

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please CONTACT US.

All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.