Top: Sunnybrook Farm. Second row left: The Turkey Shoppe at Oegema’s Farm, Briwood Farm Market. Third row: Jumbo the elephant. Fourth row, left: Shaw’s Ice Cream; right: Railway City Brewing’s Janus. Bottom left: Jennings Furniture & Design; right: Pinafore Park in winter.
11 Reasons to Plan a Visit to St. Thomas
St. Thomas is a small city to the south east of London that traces its proud identity as Railway City to its history as the junction of 27 railways. You’ve probably heard of Jumbo the elephant or tasted Shaw’s Ice Cream, but you may not know that St. Thomas is home to the gorgeous Pinafore Park. Or that one of Ontario’s largest craft breweries, named for the city’s heritage, boasts ongoing success there! There are also some food and shopping destinations you won’t want to miss.
1. Railway City Arts Crawl – Feb 27-28
The Railway City Arts Crawl is a free winter event celebrating local arts and culture. Participants are given a passport to guide them to the various sites throughout St. Thomas. Explore at your own leisure between 6 and 9 p.m. on February 27th and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. February 28th. Get your passport stamped at each of 10 stops to be entered into a draw for one of several prizes! Get all the details on the website.
And then, to kick it up a notch, there will be fireworks starting at 6:3o p.m. on Saturday the 28th! There will be excellent viewing of this Fire in February display from the Roadhouse to Ross Street. Then, at 7:00, join the organizers at the Midtown Tavern (701 Talbot Street) for the After Party. Join the artists, enjoy some local food appetizers, and experience some great live music for this fun night. Did we mention it’s free?
While you’re in St. Thomas, be sure to stop in to get your picture taken with a life-sized statue of the most famous elephant in the world! Jumbo, “The King of Elephants,” was tragically killed when he was struck by a Grand Trunk Locomotive on September 15th, 1885.
On the 100th anniversary of Jumbo’s death, the city dedicated a 38-tonne statue as a tribute to the most famous elephant who ever lived. Now, the statue is the most popular tourist attraction in St. Thomas!
Railway City Brewing is one of the largest, if not the largest craft brewery in Southwestern Ontario and it is still growing. They recently expanded into a new facility and offer tours daily.
You won’t want to miss the signature ale, Dead Elephant, named to honour that famous beast, but the Blonde, Copper, and Amber Ales are all smoothly delicious. Then there are the seasonal brews, such as Shambock for St. Patrick’s Day, the summery, citrus-y Witty Traveller (Johnathan’s favourite), and this winter’s feature, The Magnificent Janus, which make stopping in for samples a must-do.
See more of Railway City Brewing on Ruralist here.
The St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre has accomplished a remarkable amount in its relatively short history. It has amassed a collection of over 1500 works of art, representing a diverse number of 19th and 20th century Canadian artists. The Centre has the distinction of being ranked as grade A-1 museum facility, capable of housing works of almost any shape, size or description from around the world. All of this illustrates a commitment to a mission to collect, preserve and promote our visual heritage, and to educate all interested.
As part of the Railway City Arts Crawl, you can see renowned London artist Larry Russell do a live painting demonstration at the Art Centre on February 28th from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. While you’re there, walk through all three galleries to see the permanent collection as well as a few temporary ones.
Even though it’s winter and the outdoor markets are closed, you can still find places in St. Thomas to buy delicious local produce.
Briwood Farm Market specializes in providing the most fresh and best quality local produce they can source. Find some unique Ontario items such as Elgin’s own Shaw’s Ice Cream; Hewitt’s Dairy products; milk, eggs and cheese from Bright’s and Jensen’s; Ontario pork and beef and of course their hand-selected fruits and vegetables.
Oegema’s Turkey Farm is a third generation family farm, started in 1958. Then, in 1992, The Turkey Shoppe opened, offering turkey products to consumers direct from the farm. Now, you can buy everything from fresh turkey pepperettes or Oktoberfest sausage to turkey bacon and jerky to turkey pies! And, of course, you can get fresh, whole turkeys to roast for the holidays.
Jennings Furniture & Design has been a truly a full-service destination for renovators and builders alike for generations now. If you’re thinking of giving your house a face-lift, add a visit to Jennings to your must-do list. You’ll find upholstery and leather, cabinetry, furniture, art, decor, linens, and much more. And, if you’re looking for something that you can’t find on the shelves, the in-house designers will work with you to custom-make it!
Sunnybrook is all about immersion in nature. Located just outside St. Thomas, it is a quaint getaway with amenities still close at hand. The garden level suite is set in 9 acres of lush Southern Ontario countryside, with an orchard, meadow and lots and lots of wildlife.
Loved by locals and tourists alike, Pinafore Park is your destination for many year-round outdoor activities. You can do everything from hiking to skiing to tennis to baseball! Then there’s the wildlife sanctuary, the splash pad, the lake, the playground, and the bandshell. Fireworks, historic pavilions, gardens… the list goes on. Needless to say, you won’t want to miss it!
10. Shaw’s Ice Cream
Anyone that has made the trek to Port Stanley on a summery day and has driven past Shaw’s Ice Cream knows how difficult it is not to stop in and get a cone or a cup of one (or more) of the many unforgettable flavours. My favourite is Caramel Turtles and Fudge… yum! When the weather is warm, enjoy your sweet treat on the patio, or, if you’re going for this weekend’s Arts Crawl, take a pint to enjoy later!
11. Le Cafe Siam
Rated St. Thomas’s most popular restaurant on TripAdvisor, Le Cafe Siam offers authentic Thai food that is beloved by locals and travellers alike. They’ve got my favourite, Panang Curry, and Johnathan’s, Mass Sa Mun Curry, and some lesser known dishes as well. Known for excellent service and decor that will have you feeling as close to Thailand as you can get while still in Southwestern Ontario, you will want to make sure you make a dinner reservation here while you’re in town!