By Sharilene Rowland
Torontonicity was invited to attend the Headwaters Region re-branding launch media tour hosted by the Hills of Headwaters Tourism Association for the communities of Erin, Caledon, Dufferin County, Mono and Shelburne on May 7 and 8, 2015. The Headwaters Region is preparing to host the equestrian events that are part of the Pan Am / Parapan Games in July 2015. Fortunately for me, it was an amazing adventure packed full of wonderful and new experiences in my own backyard so to speak. Only a little over an hour outside of Toronto, you are able to enjoy horses and beautiful countryside, fresh, local foods, leisure biking and hiking trails, a wide variety of creative art, interesting heritage and of course, festivals of all kinds throughout the year.
We began our two day adventure at the Best Western Plus Orangeville Inn & Suites. We checked into our beautiful suites, with ensuite mini kitchen, lounge area with comfy seating, large, clean bathrooms, large jacuzzi, extremely soft bathrobes, and the most comfortable bedding and pillows ever.
The Inn also offers free internet, free parking, pool, gym and a complimentary breakfast offering a selection of hot and cold items served in a bright, clean, open café.
The hotel staff was courteous, friendly and efficient from check-in to check-out.
Next stop was the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park located in what is known as Canada’s largest horse community. The facility has been chosen to host the Toronto Pan/Parapan Equestrian Games.
To accommodate the games, the park underwent retrofit and redesign, ending up with a new main stadium building, a new indoor riding area and upgrades to the stable areas. These upgrades will allow the park to extend their competition season and provide multi-use programs during the colder months.
Onsite from now until August 30, 2015 are the Parade of Horses, including artwork and biographies of the artists that worked on each statue. Along with highlighting the majesty of the horse, and showcasing the talent of local artists, the parade of horses is an opportunity for individuals or businesses to purchase a one-of-a-kind sculpture. Visit Headwaters Horse Country for more information.
An interesting fact about Airport Road, which runs up into this county: it is never closed due to bad weather or snow. The road is always cleared because it is the main road from Camp Borden to Pearson Airport.
My next stop was the Brampton Flight Centre for a 45 minute tour in the sky. The Centre was relocated to Caledon due to urbanization. The centre is one of the top flight training centres in Canada and the only airport owned and operated by a flying club, the Brampton Flying Club. The facility includes an airport, hangars, maintenance shop, fueling station, a restaurant and the Great War Flying Museum.
This airport is also home to many privately owned aircraft and hangars. They offer a variety of training programs throughout most of the year along with tours, aircraft rentals and youth camps during July and August.
My in the sky tour was breathtaking and informative. The pilot was able to share the history of the area, the towns and the land. It was also very cool to fly above the equestrian park I had just left. From the sky, you really got to see the scope of the park and the work that had gone into it.
It was a memorable flight and did I mention it was only a four seater plane and I got to be the co-pilot.
The Flight Centre will be holding their annual Light Up The Runway Walk on August 6, 2015. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised will go towards the Bethell Hospice located in Inglewood.
From the Flight Centre, we headed to Heatherlea Farms, family owned and operated by Pat and Gord McArthur, along with their son and daughter-in-law, Don and Melinda.
The family had prepared the most delicious lunch for us in a beautiful outdoor setting. On the menu was of course fresh homemade all beef sliders, organic tomatoes with fresh herbs, curd sausage and fresh dill pickles. Compliments of Spirit Tree Estate, we sipped on one of their award-winning ciders, Dry-Hopped Cider. It was so smooth, refreshing and went wonderful with our sliders.
Heatherlea Farms specializes in grass-fed beef, drug-free and free-range meats. Farming Black Angus Beef Naturally. Their shop carries local pure honey, preserves, sauces, seasonings, wholesome home baked goodies and of course a large selection of frozen beef and prepared meals. In partnership with local dairy farmers, you can also purchase fresh eggs and milk daily.
I was so happy to find out that our next stop was Spirit Tree Estate Cidery!! Now I could purchase the wonderful cider I just had at Heatherlea Farms and more.
Upon arrival, we were treated to a wine and cheese tasting in their restaurant/bar area just next to the bakery and farm store. The cider, home baked breads and cheese were to die for.
Needless to say I ended up bringing home some of everything.
Spirit Tree Estate is a cidery, bakery, kitchen and farm store. Designed with sustainability and practicality in mind, they have the apple orchards just outside their doors, the distillery just out back, a wood burning oven in which they prepare awesome pizza and a variety of tasty bread. All bread is made with all natural ingredients and baked in the old European style wood fire ovens daily. They strive to serve the highest quality products using traditional methods and local produce.
The Spirit Tree Estate is definitely worth checking out! You can purchase their Dry-Hopped Cider at your local LCBO or it can be found in bars and restaurants around Toronto.
For dinner, we were invited to enjoy a menu prepared especially for us by Cabin Restaurant at the Hockley Valley Resort. Read about my dinner at Hockley Valley Resort here.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Headwaters Region media tour where I visit more Caledon area businesses and sample more farm-fresh food from the area…