A Tourist in St. Jacobs

Written on November 12th, 2012

We recently spent two days as tourists in the village of St. Jacobs, just north of Waterloo. It is a pretty little town and the Mennonite influence is evident, making it very quaint and welcoming.

At the north end of King Street, you can go into the old feedmill, where there are actually boutiques located in the silos. As well as various shops selling clothing, accessories, and other specialty items, the old mill contains several museums and collections, for which admission is only a donation. There are:

– The maple syrup museum where you can watch a video and see the tools of the trade through the years

– A quilt collection, including a beautiful quilt depicting figure skater Diane Szmiett of Watford

– A model train exhibit with a miniature town of St. Jacobs for the trains to run through

– The Home Hardware museum, with lots of interesting items from years gone by

– An electricity museum, where you need to watch out for the lightning strike with the thundering sound effects!

Along the main street (King) you will find bakeries, antique shops, quilt shops, and various boutiques selling tourist-y items.

Further south towards Waterloo, there is an outlet mall and the famous farmer’s market. Make sure you go on a day the farmer’s market is open: Thursday & Saturday. If you’re not interested in little country inns or staying at a bed and breakfast, there is a Best Western and another new hotel under construction. Also at the south end is St. Jacobs Country Playhouse where Annie is opening soon. I saw this production in Grand Bend this past summer: it’s an excellent show. If you missed it this summer, take the kids now…here’s my review: http://www.entertainthisthought.com/2012/08/19/annie-2012

Yes, it is still very much Mennonite country, and to visitors unfamiliar with the Mennonite culture it seems like a strange step back in time. Along with roads are the yellow diamond-shaped caution signs with a black horse and buggy on them, and then as soon as you see the sign, there is a horse and buggy on the road. A few Mennonites had already brought out their closed-in buggies for the winter. We witnessed one horse that sped up going downhill, and then ran a red light. Thank heavens there was no traffic coming through the intersection at that moment.

We spent the night at Benjamin’s Inn – an 1800s hotel with 9 rooms. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at there, starting with their famous flatbread, and finishing with the best chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake I have ever tasted. Victor was equally impressed with his very rich pecan pie.

In the evening we attended Paintertainment at the St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre, located just a block off King Street. This was our second time at this annual Drayton Entertainment fundraiser. Well-known Waterloo artist Peter Etril Snyder works on painting a local scene in front of an audience. He answers questions and talks about his reasons for including the different elements in the scene. Drayton favourite Neil Aitchison was emcee for the evening, and together he and Peter kept the audience laughing for the entire evening. Everyone was pleased to hear that Neil will be back next summer as the hobby-horse riding Mountie in “Sorry … I’m Canadian”, first at the brand new Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge and then at Playhouse II in Grand Bend.

But back to the artist – Peter gathers an assortment of photographs he’s taken, taping them around his easel, and then chooses various items to include in his painting. Last year he did a beautiful summer scene of a Mennonite farmer with his horse and wagon going down the road followed by a dog, with cows, a house, barn and silo in the background. This year, he painted a winter scene of a sugar shack in the snow, just waiting for the sap to run in the surrounding maple trees. To see more of Peter Etril Synder’s work, click this link: http://www.snyder-gallery.com/

At the end of the evening, a draw was made from the names of all those attending, and the winner will receive the finished painting. Although it looked amazingly good by the end of the evening, Peter will take it home and add a lot of detail, shipping it to the lucky winner in a few weeks. To see the progress of his sugar shack painting go to the Drayton Entertainment website at http://draytonentertainment.com/season_productions/paintertainment_2012/

The next morning we had breakfast at Benjamin’s Inn, and we literally sat right over the sidewalk. The delightful sun room juts out of the second floor, and from the windows you can see all the comings and goings of the people of St. Jacobs.

We drove out to West Montrose to see the covered bridge, also known as the “kissing bridge”: the last remaining 1880s covered bridge in Ontario. Unfortunately, it is closed for repairs right now – apparently someone in a canoe went under it and noticed that there were some structural problems. It’s good to know they are fixing it up and preserving it.

For lunch, we enjoyed the tastiest hamburgers ever at Jacob’s Grill, and later had a delicious dinner at the Stone Crock. The Stone Crock has a huge salad bar every day, and the full buffet on the weekends. We had schnitzel with sauerkraut and cabbage rolls – everything was so flavourful.

We also saw The Love List, a great Norm Foster comedy, running until December 16th at The Schoolhouse Theatre – here’s my blog:  http://www.entertainthisthought.com/2012/11/12/the-love-list

So if you’re thinking of going to St. Jacobs, soon it will look like a Christmas wonderland:  Starting November 15-18 all the little white Christmas lights twinkle all over the village. http://www.stjacobs.com/sparkles

2 Responses to “A Tourist in St. Jacobs” | Add Your Thoughts

  1. Hi Mary
    Very interesting. I have been to St. Jacobs and really enjoyed reading about the things I had seen and for got about.
    Take care

  2. Hi, Mary,
    Thanks for the reminders about the wonderful things in Saint Jacobs. The Mennonite Farmers’ Market is a great spot, but nothing like the old one it replaced where you bought from the back of buggies and had to be there before 7 AM to get the fresh veggies before it was all sold out!
    We used to go to the Stone Crock regularly when I was at WLU … family style dinners were great for always hungry residents!

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