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*Updated September 8, 2020*
Halton Hills is a community of towns, hamlets and villages that occupy an area 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.
VISIT THE Halton Hills Cultural Centre – 10:00 AM
DAY 1 – 10:00 AM: The halton hills cultural centre HAS IT ALL
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.
Ride Down Historic Guelph Street – 12:00 PM
DAY 1 – 12:00 PM: Head down Guelph Street, and you’ll come across several 19th-century churches.
First, check out St. John’s United, which was first built in the 1840s by local Methodists. The building’s 1902 renovation transformed the original wooden structure into its current gothic revival form. Next up is l’Eglise Sacré-Coeur, originally Holy Cross Parish, constructed in 1885 and later given to local French Catholics. Finally, there’s St. George’s Anglican Church, which was built on land donated to the Church of England by the Kennedys. Like St. John’s, it started out as a wooden structure in 1833 before the sturdier stone building replaced it in 1851.
If you’re hungry, grab a quick lunch to go because your next stop is perfect for a picnic.
Wander Dominion Gardens Park – 1:00 PM
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 and 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 – 2:30 PM
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.
Take a Hike Through Silver Creek – 3:30 PM
DAY 1 – 3:30 PM: If you’re keen to carry on, the Silver Creek Conservation Area presents a worthy challenge.
Explore the area’s high ridges, open plains, marshy lowlands, and many rivers. Catch a glimpse of 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’s grounds; 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.
Explore Glen Williams Park – 10:00 AM
DAY 2 – 10:00 AM: The history of the hamlet known as Glen Williams is intertwined with THE HISTORY of Georgetown.
In 1825, United Empire loyalist Benajah Williams arrived in the area now known as Halton Hills. Like his brother-in-law George Kennedy, he was industrious and established several mills.
A small hamlet, Glen Williams had to be self-sufficient in many respects. If the villagers needed something, they had to make it themselves; in 1964, locals established Glen Williams Park after recognizing the need for a gathering space. Now, it’s a great spot to enjoy the fresh air and catch the occasional softball game.
Go for a Hike on the Credit Valley Footpath – 10:30 AM
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 wellbeing, local heritage and Indigenous history. Programming highlights included an Indigenous Water Ceremony, interactive arts activities, themed trail walks and tasting traditional Indigenous cuisine.
Visit Williams Mill Art Centre – 11:00 AM
DAY 2 – THE WILLIAMS MILL CREATIVE CENTRE BEGAN AS A SAWMILL and was 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.
Heritage Tour of Town – 12:30 PM
DAY 2 – 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 Glen Williams Town Hall 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 province. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.
The Town of Halton Hills provided information for the creation of this guide. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. The guide was written by Kevin Valbonesi.