Waterloo Region in southwest Ontario provides the perfect balance between new and old, rural and urban, nature and technology, classic and contemporary, and tranquility and adventure. Waterloo Region’s cities and townships offer groups a unique blend of sightseeing, culture, outdoor beauty and a relaxed urban atmosphere. With easy access to Niagara Falls and Toronto, this region is an excellent addition to Ontario group tours. Here are just a few of the top attractions to explore Mennonite culture across the Waterloo Region.
St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market
Known as Canada’s largest year-round farmers market and flea market, here groups can find hundreds of local vendors inside three main buildings and in an outdoor area. Some items are brought to market by the truckload; others arrive by horse and buggy from local Old Order Mennonite farms. Shop fresh fruits and vegetables, quality meats and cheeses, locally produced maple syrup, honey, preserves, baking, authentic cuisine from many cultures, imported produce, various gluten-free and organic options, local crafts, housewares, wearables and more.
Elmira Wagon Rides
Set out on the tranquil country roads for a journey that will carry you from city to country in minutes. The Elmira Wagon Rides, pulled by a recently restored 1953 model John Deere tractor, leave from the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:15 p.m. throughout the market days. The tour guides are happy to answer questions and will give information on the Old Order Mennonite community and their unique way of life. Other wagon rides include an Elmira Sugar Bush tour. All tours are available year-round.
Waterloo Central Railway
Waterloo Central Railway offers many unique, regularly scheduled, themed train experiences throughout the year, as well as rail and station venue charter options for special events. Travel through north Waterloo, St. Jacobs, Elmira and back for a scenic countryside trip.
Village of St. Jacobs
Established in 1852 and located just outside of Waterloo, Ontario, along the Conestoga River, the Village of St. Jacobs is filled with authentic sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and one-of-a-kind shopping. There is truly something unique for all ages and interests!
The Mennonite Story
This informative exhibit of photos, artifacts, and displays describes the history, culture, and religion of Mennonites. Exhibits are translated in several different languages—Mandarin, French, Arabic, Dutch, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish—and are open year-round. Tour the museum or arrange for step-on-guide services for groups traveling by motorcoach.
Photo courtesy of Explore Waterloo Region