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Travel Canada -- Ontario Getaways -- The Hills of Headwaters Region

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Uploaded on Jul 28, 2010

Summer weekend getaways in Ontario are one of my favourite things. And they are even better when you can enjoy the serenity of the country less than an hour from home. On July 16, 2010 I drove about 45 minutes northwest of Toronto, into the Caledon Region, also known as the Hills of Headwaters area.

My first stop was at the historic Millcroft Inn in the picturesque village of Alton, a former knitting mill from 1881 that has been turned into an upscale hotel and spa. General Manager Steve Yates showed me around this impressive property after a nice breakfast in the glass enclosed alcove that overlooks the magnificent waterfall.

Continuing with the historic theme I then visited another signature destination in Alton: the Alton Mill -- which came into being as the Beaver Knitting Mill in 1881, also produced longjohns for WWI soldiers and later become a rubber factory in 1935. The Western Rubber Company even manufactured condoms for Canadian servicemen during World War II.

After it was shut down in 1982 the mill became vacant and fell into disrepair until local entrepreneurs Jeremy and Jordan Grant purchased it in 1990 and lovingly restored it back to life over many years. Today the Alton Mill houses 20 studios with more than 30 artists, a café, various event venues for all sorts of special events as well as the Turbine Room Heritage Exhibit with machinery and artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th century.

During the late afternoon I headed to the picturesque Belfountain Conservation area, followed by a brief visit to the historic Belfountain Inn and a stroll through this pretty village. Dinner was back at the Millcroft Inn, in the warm evening sun on the outdoor terrace, right next to the Mill Pond.

July 17, 2010 started with equally gorgeous sunshine and I enjoyed my breakfast overlooking the waterfall at the Millcroft Inn. I then went on a brief walk through the forest to the Alton Mill, one of the many trails that are part of the expansive Millcroft property. During the second half of the morning I headed to the village of Erin, which has become a popular shopping destination with its pretty main street. I checked out the whole main street and chatted with a few of the local merchants.

Then it was back to the Alton Mill for "Cuisine-Art", an innovative festival that combines art and food. I watched demonstrations by renowned local chefs, chatted with various organic food merchants and met many more of the local artists who liven up this historic space.

Now it was mid-afternoon and I embarked on a local history tour. Shelley Craig, owner of the Top of the Hills B&B in Cheltenham, showed me her historic 1830s home that was created by the village's founding father. She inspired me to take a walking tour of scenic and historic Cheltenham.

Last but not least I capped off my adventure with a visit to the Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, a very recent entrepreneurial venture created by Thomas Wilson and his wife Nicole Judge. This young couple has created an award-winning travel destination that offers cider production, on-site baking of various breads and pastries and an attractive retail area with various unique culinary products. For those that have time to linger, they have an outdoor patio and a tasting room where one can sample three different varieties of cider, including the delicious sweet ice cider. What a great place for a weekend outing...

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