Ruralist »

{Try} A Self-Guided Walking Tour in Rural Ontario


What is a Self-Guided Walking Tour?

Self guided walking tours are the ultimate day tour adventure for the independent traveller or interested local. A self-guided walking tour is an inexpensive, convenient and interesting way to discover the history, culture and stories in the places you are visiting. Rural Ontario is full of architectural and historically significant buildings and landmarks. What better way to get to know a town then to get out on foot an check it out. We’ve found ten fascinating tours that will provide you with an abundance of interesting venues and stops as well as many delightful things to see and do when you visit.

To make your trip even more enjoyable why not pack a picnic lunch and plan to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way? All of the communities featured here have excellent dining and shopping options to round out your visit. Heck if you’re saving money on the recreation part of your adventure, you can splurge al little somewhere else. Here’s hoping that you find your way to one of these 10 beautiful locations for a pleasant heritage walk this summer!

10 Self-Guided Walking Tours in Rural Ontario

Ganonoque – This pretty little town on the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River was founded in 1792. This heritage tour covers 30 unique locations in the heart of Ganonque including several historic homes, churches and manufacturing facillities.

St. Marys – Located in Perth County, St. Marys is a perfect day trip for visitors looking for en joyable wander through a historic small town in southwestern Ontario. There are three diferent trail options of varying lengths to choose from on this tour. One will take you right through the town, the others travel the scenic perimeter. We recently visited St. Marys and shared our own experiences on Ruralist in our feature story {Try} Dining and Shopping in St. Marys be sure to check it out for our Ruralist recommendations for shopping and dining.

Bobcaygeon – The village of Bobcaygeon is particularly enhanced by its beautiful natural setting, it is situated on three picturesque islands between two lakes in Ontario, and within the City of Kawartha Lakes. The three islands are joined by a series of bridges with Lock #32 of the Trent-Severn Waterway system located in the centre of the Village. This 45 minute walking tour will take you to many of the historical highlights of the town – including the localtion of the infamous Bigley’s Shoes. We recommend bringing some extra cash along for some impromptu purchases at Bigley’s as a reward at the end of your journey!

Port Stanley – Port Stanley is situated on the north shore of Lake Erie and is home to numerous boutiques, shops, Inns and restaurants. This village bustles year round but is busiest in the summer when the beach and local theatre draw many tourists. THis short walking tour will take you around the heart of Port Stanley and will showcase many heritage properties dating back to 1822.

Merrickville – Merrickville like most of the settlements on the Rideau river system, developed beside falls or rapids which provided the water power to drive early development. The town of Merrickville is an attractive historic village spanning the Rideau Canal between Smiths Falls and Kemptville. This walking tour especially nice as the village streets are lined with shops carrying such things as locally-made products, art of all kinds, antiques, collector’s items, furniture, home & gardening accessories, specialty foods, and more.

St. Jacobs – The Village of St. Jacobs is a beloved destination steeped in history and set in a charming location along the Conestoga River. Located in Waterloo Region west of Toronto and within an hour and a half of Niagara Falls, it is renowned for Canada’s largest year around Farmers Market. The charming Village of St Jacobs is also home to a population of approx. 4,000 Old Order Mennonites who farm the surrounding countryside. This walking tour has no less than 30 stops so you may want to plan to have dinner or lunch while you’re there.

Vittoria – Vittoria is a quiet, peaceful hamlet in Norfolk County in Southern Ontario with some real architectural gems. With a population of about 600, VIttoria is home to The Cider Keg and Kernal Peanuts – two must-see foodie destinations. This nicely illustrated walking tour, covering 26 locations in the hamlet of Vittoria, would make for a leisurely summertime stroll.

Gravenhurst – Gravenhurst is the Gateway to the Muskoka Lakes. First settled in 1861, it soon gained prominence, first as a transshipment centre from stages to steamboats and later as a major lumber town and boat building centre. Today, with a population of roughly 11,500, it caters to tourists and cottagers. This coulourful and well-designed self-guided walking map features 26 stops of historical significance in the heart of Gravenhurst.

Delta – Best known for The Old Stone Mill, a National Historic Site showcasing milling technology and 1800s industrial heritage, Delta is located in eastern Ontario. The village is located between two lakes, Upper Beverley and Lower Beverley, along highway 42, approximately 15 kilometers west of Athens, Ontario and 28 kilometers east of Westport, Ontario. Take a stroll along Court St. and visit Lower Beverley Lake Township Park and its excellent facilities for camping, picnicking and swimming. Amble casually on this tour. Imagine the ring of the mason’s hammer, the whripp of the carpenter’s saw, the humming of mills, the singing of choirs, the laughter and tears of family and village life as it was a century or two ago.This short tour will take you to eight highlights in the community.

Beamsville – This self-directed multimedia tour takes you up and down the Niagara Escarpment to 20 destinations in the Beamsville Bench area of the Greenbelt. It introduces you to the history of grape growing and wine production in the Niagara Peninsula, and takes you past historically significant landscape features, vinyards, wineries, and juice producers. You’ll hear about the ecological, climatic, and agricultural aspects of grape and wine production, and explore the rise of wine grapes and the demise of juice grapes in the region.