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1. Beeswax Candle from Honey Pie, Prince Edward County

2. Bee Pollen from Dickey Bee Honey, Innisfil

3. Beeswax lip Balm from Honey Pie, Prince Edward County

4. Honey Mineral Foundation from Goods with Story, on-line (Update: our apologies, the Goods With Story page seems to be down at the moment. We’ll update the link when the product page is available again. Sorry!)

5. First Lessons in Bee Keeping from Munro Honey, Alvinston

6. Goat Milk and Honey soap from Goods with Story, on-line (See #4)

7. Clover Honey from Whole Sugars, on-line


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  • Anonymous - Don’t forget mead!!! ;-)ReplyCancel

    • Sarah Koopmans - Tell us about the mead that you like, Jennifer! Where do you get it? What do you love about it?ReplyCancel

{Get} 12 Great Rural Ontario Cheese Shoppes

Images from Dags & Willow Fine Cheese and Gourmet Shop

12 Great Ontario Cheese Shoppes

Cheese is a staple in our house. We can’t help it! Everything really is better with cheese. And even more so if that cheese is made and/or purchased in rural Ontario. There’s something about knowing that Ontario cows and goats and sheep munched Ontario grass and hay and skilled artisans turned their milk into the delectable morsels that grace everything from sandwiches to pasta to charcuterie boards.

Ontario has a long dairy heritage, and with the artisan food movement at full steam, there is no better time to be a cheese-lover. Producers have been honing their craft, and there are many shining stars from rural Ontario to get excited about. Some of my favourites are Gunn’s Hill Cheese Oxford Harvest, Blyth Farm Cheese Blyth Cumin goat gouda, and Woolwich Dairy’s Goat Brie.

If you’re a cheese lover like me, you’ll get excited about this list. Not one, not two, but 12 great Ontario cheese shoppes (in no particular order)!

1. The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop118 Ontario Street, Stratford

This boutique cheese shop features local, Canadian artisanal and European selections. Find a great selection of cheeses, crackers, chutneys, and other tasty charcuterie accoutrements. Planning a party? The staff at The Milky Whey will help you put together a tasting platter with a variety of cheeses for your guests. Or, get a made-to-order picnic lunch perfect for taking a break on the banks of the Avon River!

2. Jennard Cheese  — 424 Main Street, Exeter

This shop got its start with an identified need for higher-quality fundraisers in the area. Since then, owners Rick and Jennifer have brought excellent Canadian and European cheeses to South Huron, specializing in cheese trays for every occasion and featuring lots of other great Ontario products: local honey, maple syrup, and Coastal Coffee, to name a few.  Now, they’ve branched out even further to include lunch items. Go for the cheese and stay for a sandwich or bowl of soup!

3. Dairy Capital Cheese Shoppe  — 474 Dundas Street, Woodstock

The Dairy Capital Cheese Shoppe is a prime spot to pick up some of Oxford County’s award-winning Gunn’s Hill Cheese, as well as stocking up on sauces, dips, chocolates, kitchen gadgets, and much more. While you’re at it, enjoy the freshly-prepared sandwiches, salads, and other dishes at this popular lunch spot located conveniently in downtown Woodstock. Enjoy your cheese or lunch on the patio, with a view of the fountain in Market Square and the Woodstock Museum. It’s also a stop on the Oxford County Cheese Trail!

4. The Cheese Store  — 510 Michigan Avenue, Point Edward

Your local destination for an impressive array of cheeses, but not only that! Join professional chefs at themed “Chef Series” events, such as “Mexican Street Food,” and interactive dinners where attendees participate to make their own food, such as gluten-free and Paleo dishes.

The Cheese Store will also hook you up with a well planned cheese platter or basket for any kind of event – let them know who or what you’re shopping for and they’ll lend their expertise.

5. The Mill Street Cheese Market  — 96 Mill Street, Georgetown

This quaint shop features local and international cheeses, cured meats, and lots of other specialty food items, many of them made in Ontario! Known for their well-curated collection of the best crackers, delicious tastes to complement every type of cheese (jellies, chutneys, etc.), and an excellent selection of cheese-serving accoutrements, stopping into this shop can’t possibly disappoint.

Plus, you can sign up for the Mill Street Cheese Club and get three different cheeses, a tasting card with notes about each cheese and some pairing suggestions, and a jelly or chutney to complement the cheeses. Attention, anyone gifting to me this year: one for me, please! Call (905) 873-6000 to get in on the fun.

6. La Jolie Cheese Shop  — 9-2 Orchard Heights Boulevard, Aurora

At La Jolie Cheese Shop, the love of cheese goes beyond just eating it – it becomes about its history and heritage. You are invited to consider the character of each cheese and carefully make an informed selection. Choose from many cheeses from Canada, several countries in Europe, and beyond. You’ll find Halloumi from Cyprus, Feta from Greece, and Gjetost from Norway, alongside 14 of Canada’s shining cheese stars.

Spoil your guests by ordering a platter of the finest international cheeses, accompanied by Ontario-made jams and nuts and delicious crackers.

7. Mildmay Cheese Haus  — Hwy. 9, Mildmay & 522 Goderich Street, Port Elgin

One of the most established cheese shops in the bunch, the Mildmay Cheese Haus opened its doors in 1972, in a building that had been a creamery for decades. Boasting over 200 varieties of cheese, this shop aims to stock something that will please every kind of cheese lover. And, you can always try before you buy! Any shop that lets me taste the wares is a very tempting shop indeed.

Go for the cheese and go home with a bag full of novelty food items, such as local maple syrup, gourmet fudge, Greaves Jam, Wellesley Apple Butter, and many others.

8. The Dover Cheese Shop  — 318-A Main Street, Port Dover

The staff at The Dover Cheese Shop are committed to taking the mystery (and fear) out of the realm of cheese tasting and purchasing: “Our mission is to provide Port Dover with a fun and comfortable neighbourhood cheese shop,” says owner Jenny Ball. A daily changing selection of approximately 40 cheeses will tempt you with some of the best tastes of Canada, the US, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Scotland. Complement your cheese purchase with handcrafted cheese boards, cheese knives, and fondue sets.

9. Towne and Country Cheese Shoppe117 Queen Street East, St. Marys

With a dizzying array of cheeses from over a dozen countries, there’s no way you won’t find something you love at this shop. Choose from almost 30 varieties of Canadian cheddar, Finnish Lappi, Danish Blue, German Limburger, all the best English cheeses, Italian gorgonzola, Irish Dubliner, Norwegian Jarlsberg, and many more!

10. The Cheese Gallery  — 11 Bruce Street South, Thornbury

This shop is all about artisans: it features artisanal cheeses, local food producers, and the work of local artists. You’ll also find locally roasted coffee, and a wide variety of teas, which you can sit and sip in the cozy seating areas. Another thing that really sets this shop apart is that you can have wine with your cheese! A fully licensed establishment, you can taste your cheesy morsel along with a sip of wine from a nearby winery.

11. Dags and Willow Fine Cheese and Gourmet Shop  — 25 Second Street, Collingwood

The mouth watering catering menu sets this shop apart! Several of the many, many dishes listed feature cheese (as you might expect). I’m not sure how I would decide between the pulled beef wrap with horseradish, mushrooms, and blue cheese or the Down Home mac ‘n’ cheese with 6-year-old cheddar! You could also stop in to pick up lunch items freshly-made by the in-house chefs.

Dags and Willow, housed in an award-winning commercially restored heritage building (check out the pictures of the restoration process on their Facebook page), sells over 150 varieties of cheese, many of them proudly artisanal.

12. Cheese Secrets — 38 Market Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake

A boutique cheese experience, this shop is passionate about the 100+ varieties it offers. Get these cheeses served up on spectacular made-to-order charcuterie platters for a party, and get everything else you’d need to host an unforgettable gathering. You might  want to their “almost famous” Garlicky Asiago Cheese Spread at your next event! Or maybe keep it just for yourself, so you don’t have to share.

Discover some other great NOTL spots in our post, {Try} A Cozy Day in Niagara-on-the-Lake This Winter.


Know of another great cheese shop in rural Ontario? Leave a comment to let us know!

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  • Emily Blades - Ouderkirk & Taylor in Guelph is also a top contender! Artisanal bread, cheeses and meats are all to die for! If you are ever in Guelph, be sure to pop in. Hands-down — they bake the very best baguettes in the city, which takes the whole cheese experience to the next level.ReplyCancel

    • Sarah Koopmans - Thanks for sharing, Emily!ReplyCancel

  • Sue McGregor-Hunter - You could have included Chasing The Cheese in Peterborough Fantastic cheese shop that supports small producers.ReplyCancel

    • Sarah Koopmans - Thanks for posting for everyone, Sue!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Mader - C’est Cheese on Water St in Cambridge (Galt) also has a fabulous selection as well.ReplyCancel

  • Mike Burgess - And if you’re in Grand Bend drop by FOODIES for a great selection of artisan cheeses from Gordon’s goat dairy, Pine River Cheese, Thornloe Cheese, and Gunn’s Hill Cheese to name a few. Also a huge selection of gourmet foods, treats from Great Britain and much more !ReplyCancel

5 food photos by Jennifer MaloneyAll photos by Jennifer of Seasons and Suppers

When Jennifer of Seasons and Suppers started following us on Twitter and I checked out her website, I knew instantaneously that I had to feature her work on Ruralist. You’ve seen the pictures already — drool-worthy, right?! Her food is a prime example of why Ruralist exists: there are amazing things outside of Ontario’s urban centres!

Before I give you links so you can run off and see how Jennifer’s masterpieces are made, here is a little bit of her story:

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live just outside of Bracebridge, Ontario (where I was born and grew up, as well). I have been married for almost 30 years and we have two kids – a son, now 25 (and soon to be married!) and a daughter, who just turned 18 and graduated high school. I have always been a working mom, working for a number of non-profit organizations over the years as an Executive Director.

How did you “get involved” with food and cooking?
I guess it’s fair to say I got involved with cooking out of necessity – first, because when I got married, I discovered my husband isn’t really much of a cook and then, once we had kids, I, of course, needed to cook good food for them, too. Putting food on the table 7 nights a week for many years is just about the best kind of experience you can get, I think.

What inspires your recipes?
The recipes that appear on my blog are pretty much what we’re eating in our house. I’m inspired by what looks good at the market or the grocery store. If it’s local strawberry season, I’m eating and cooking with strawberries! We are so lucky in Ontario to have a great selection of homegrown fruits and vegetables. The seasons are short, but when fresh and local is around, I’m living on it!

Beyond that, I pretty much cook what I feel like eating. If it’s minus 20 degrees, I’m craving soup and stews, and likewise, in the summer, it’s lighter and fresher or something that we can cook on the BBQ.

What are the most unexpectedly delicious dishes you’ve cooked or ingredients you’ve used?
Most often I’m surprised by the simple dishes I’ve cooked that are just drop-dead delicious. I think we often assume that “delicious” means lots of ingredients and/or time spent in the kitchen. But every time I cook my 20 minute homemade mushroom or tomato soup, I’m reminded how wrong that assumption is!

What tips would you give aspiring food photographers about photo styling?
I really struggled with food photography when I first started. Food is a tricky subject and photographing it in a way that makes people want to eat it is not nearly as easy as I thought it would be. It’s definitely a learning curve!

My first tip would be to find your own style. Some people like lots of props, while others focus just on the food. Do what feels most natural for you. Secondly, always use natural light. Find a good window and take your pictures there, even if it means cooking earlier in the day. Finally, learn to post-process your photos (lighten, sharpen, add contrast etc.). A good quality photo is as important as a good recipe!

What are your five favourite things about rural Ontario?
I know there are examples of these things all over Ontario, but I thought I’d highlight a few in my native Muskoka area:

1. Small town bakeries that have been around forever, like Don’s Bakery in Bala
2. Knowing the local farmers and being able to easily drive to their farm to “shop” (Brooklands Farm)
3. Rural General Stores, like the Robinson’s in Dorset or Silver Stream Farms in Port Sandfield
4. Historic resorts, like Windermere House
5. Small, independent butcher shops like Stephen’s in Port Carling


And now for the magic (recipe links organized according to photo collage, clockwise from top)!

Peach Dutch baby with Wild Blueberry Sauce

Pear, Pancetta, Pecorino, and Pecan Salad

Picnic Perfect: Pressed Italian Sandwiches

Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ice Cream


Mmmmmm!! I’m still drooling…


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One of the ultimate luxuries of living in rural Ontario is having year-round access to beautiful quiet beaches.  It’s easy to take for granted that we live right beside some of the cleanest and most pristine fresh water beaches on earth.

Beach quality is a major concern of mine: when my children and I play in the water, I want to be sure that it’s clean and safe.  Rural communities that are embracing the value of beach quality should be recognized and commended for their efforts in caring about their local environment and playing their part to protect our planet.

Our beaches are getting international attention as well: eight of Ontario’s rural beaches are recognized by Blue Flag as being among the world’s best for water and beach quality.  The Blue Flag award is truly inspired by ruralists. The organization was established in France in 1985, when French coastal municipalities were awarded the Blue Flag for complying with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria.

Today the Blue Flag organization works towards sustainable development of beaches and is owned and run by the non-government, non-profit organization Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Copenhagen Denmark. The organization has recognized 3650 beaches in 46 countries around the world. Beaches are awarded the Blue Flag for one season at a time, based on strict compliance with 32 criteria.  If the criteria are not fulfilled during the season or the conditions change, the Blue Flag may be withdrawn.

Have a look at what Blue Flag is saying about Ontario’s eight best rural beaches:

Port Stanley Beach

“The Port Stanley beach is an urban sand beach enjoyed by thousands every summer. It is situated on Lake Erie’s north shore, with beach volleyball, a boardwalk, free parking, friendly service, lots to do and everything you need close by. There are superb and historic B&Bs, elegant harbourside inns, fully equipped cottages, cozy retreats and much more. The beach is staffed with lifeguards from late June until early September. A beach wheelchair is available while the lifeguards are on duty, and washrooms and change facilities are accessible for the people with disabilities.”

Grand Bend Beach

“Grand Bend Beach consists of approximately 20 acres of beautiful sandy beach. Located in an urban/resort setting, Main Beach is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. For many it has become a generational destination. The area serving the beach is the exciting and vibrant downtown…with dozens of restaurants, snack bars and more, all within walking distance. The beach has a wide range of amenities, including its new beach house which contains women’s and men’s washrooms, an accessible washroom, and a concession booth, and a viewing deck with stair and elevator access gives visitors a fantastic panoramic view of the lake, harbor and downtown. Fully trained lifeguards and staff monitor the beach daily from mid-June to September 3rd between the hours of 11am to 6pm during weekends and statutory holidays, and from 11am to 5pm weekdays. ‘User pay’ parking lots are capable of accommodating approximately 450 cars directly adjacent to the beach but the beach is busy so if there isn’t room there, there are several other lots a short walking distance away.”

Bayfield Main Beach

“This beach is located in Bayfield, Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron. This small sandy beach has amenities close to the beach including accessible public washrooms and parking. On the north side of the beach, the pier at the mouth of the Bayfield River provides opportunities for boat watching, fishing or strolling at sunset. A pedestrian walkway a short distance east of the beach joins the beach and marina visitors to the scenic Main Street of Bayfield. This beach contains naturally sensitive features such as dunes and bluffs.”

Station Beach

“Station Beach is Kincardine’s primary beach. Situated along Lake Huron, this beautiful sandy beach with small pebbles stretches over 1.1 km and is a favorite destination for many. The water is shallow with a gentle slope and the beach is bounded by a boardwalk. Fully equipped lifesaving stations and first aid are available along the beach. A snack stand is located within walking distance and offers a variety of goodies for visitors. Parking is free.”

Wasaga Beach

“This 14-kilometre sandy beach is located on Georgian Bay. Every summer thousands of people flock to this provincial park to enjoy its natural wonder. The park features hiking trails, a historic site that tells Wasaga’s colorful naval history, jazz concerts and environmental educational activities. Lifeguards patrol the entire beach area and first aid equipment is readily available. All necessary amenities are within walking distance.”

Sauble Beach

“Located on the shores of Lake Huron, this rural sandy beach stretches over 6 kilometers and is surrounded by a natural dune ecosystem. Fully equipped lifesaving stations are available on site with an emergency response unit in close proximity. Adjacent to many amenities, including restaurants and clothing stores.”

Northwinds Beach Park

“Situated in the heart of Georgian Bay, close to Craigleith Provincial Park and across the road from the historic Craigleith Depot,  Northwinds is a small sandy beach which is the home of board sailing. There is a fully equipped lifesaving station and amenities including public washrooms and parking. Trees provide natural shade. Tables and barbeques are located throughout the park for picnics. This beach is a perfect place to spend the day with family and friends.”

Little River Beach Park 

“Situated next to Thornbury Harbour, Little River Beach Park is positioned in the tip of Georgian Bay. The pebbled beach has a fully equipped lifesaving station available as well as amenities including public washrooms, a playground for kids and parking. Trees provide natural shade. This very accessible urban beach is a perfect place to spend the day with family and friends.”

Related Posts

  • Wolf Braun - You forgot Sandbanks Provincial Park in beautiful Prince Edward County.ReplyCancel

    • Erin Roy - Good to know Wolf! We are always happy to include another beautiful rural beach to our list.
      Thanks for reading Ruralist, keep the feedback coming. – ErinReplyCancel

  • Jennifer White - Please help spread the word.

    Not only is Station beach in Kincardine one of the best rural beaches in Ontario, as noted by it’s Blue Flag status, it is also now fully accessible.

    The Rotary Club of Kincardine is proud to present the Municipality of Kincardine with a beach wheelchair. This wheelchair will be available free of charge to anyone living in or visiting our fair beaches, ensuring access for all.

    The link below provides more information

  • William Valoppi - Hello, nice list of rural beaches, but you forgot the ones in Norfolk County (on Lake Erie), which would include Long Point, Turkey Point and Port Dover.ReplyCancel

    • Sarah Koopmans - Thanks for adding those, William!ReplyCancel

{Get} 5 Unique Gifts for the Outdoor Chef

There’s nothing quite like a meal cooked outdoors over an open flame, whether on the barbeque on your patio or over a fire on a campsite. It’s one of the best parts of summer! If you have a grill enthusiast in your life, check out these fun gift ideas:

Iron Embers grill

A very clever addition to your fire bowl or campfire, this Ontario-made grill accessory will have your friends jealous while you mix good food with good fun. Available from the manufacturers in Orton, Ontario or from several vendors across rural Ontario.

Eco-friendly wooden cutlery

For a truly one-with-the-earth dining experience, try these biodegradable and compostable wooden utensils. Carved from trees cut during softwood harvesting, these utensils are light to carry, washable, and will make you feel great about not throwing out plastic! Available online from Canadian Outdoor Equipment.

Canada Maple Leaf Lump Charcoal

This Canadian lump charcoal blend of maple, birch, and beech woods is only one of many kinds available at Ontario Gas Barbeque, and is sure to have your steaks tasting delicious!

Buster’s BBQ Sauce and Seasoning

Buster’s is a made-in-Ontario product that has won years of awards at what is known as the “World Series of Barbeque.”  This sauce is sweetened with blueberries and is definitely on my BBQ bucket list! Available from the Buster’s website or at a long list of Ontario retailers. Or, try the sauce in action at Buster’s eatery in Vermilion Bay.  It’s been featured on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here… so I guess you gotta!

Stainless Steel Coffee Perk

As you may know by now, fresh-brewed coffee is my jam. When I go camping, I take a whole collection of gadgets with me so that I can get the good stuff, even without electricity. Brew your java outdoors with a stainless steel coffee perk, like this one available from Timber’s Outfitters in Seaforth, or a similar one from your local outdoor gear store.


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