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by • May 24, 2015 • Travel & LifestyleComments (0)

Travel & Lifestyle | Heading to Headwaters – Where Ontario Gets Real

It’s so strange to realize how quickly the month of May has gone by. With Julio’s birthday at Trump Toronto, daily features with some of our favourite brands AND events… it kind of flew by. One of the most memorable moments of the month would have to be our press trip to visit Headwaters, just 45 minutes north of Toronto.

We had the amazing opportunity to visit the region to celebrate the launch of their new brand pre-Pan Am Games festivities which will be taking place in a few short weeks. The region, which encompasses Erin, Caledon, Orangeville, Dufferin County, Mono and Shelburne in a 2,534-square-kilometre radius, truly stole our hearts. Come & see our personal experiences and how this destination is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city to ‘Where Ontario gets real.’

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Bright and early on a Thursday morning, Julio & I woke up in the west end of Toronto where we live. Although we aren’t car owners, we do know the value of a great car. It’s why we chose to work with our friends at Lincoln Canada and the beautiful 2015 Lincoln MKZ. The car was perfect for our little road trip north, but I could totally see myself driving it cross country. Comfortable, great on gas and elegantly designed, the 2015 MKZ in a great choice for those of you like us who want a car that is safe but not “too old” either. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t “speak car” but for those of you who do, make sure to check out the detailed specs on this beauty by clicking here. And who doesn’t love those ads with Mr. Sexy himself, Matthew McConaughey?

To find your local Lincoln dealership and test drive this vehicle we loved, click here.

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So into our Lincoln MKZ we got, made sure to pick up some much needed Starbucks and we hit the road. We left pretty early because I am a stickler for being on time and HATE being late. I was amazed at how quickly we got to Orangeville – our rendez-vous point to meet the Headwaters Team – (just shy of 50 minutes from start to finish) without any traffic.

After some introductions we were ushered onto our the media tour bus to begin our 36 hours full of experiences and adventures which helped to showcase just a small part of what the area has to offer. At this time I should let you know that I’ll be focusing on my personal experiences and activities since Julio & I actually divided and conquered so we could see and do more. To see what Julio has to say and his personal experiences, make sure to click here for his FASHIONIGHTS round up feature.

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Our first stop of the day was the newly constructed and revitalized Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park. This stunning new facility will be home to many of the upcoming Pan Am Games equestrian competitions and will house beautiful horses from around the world. We were sneaky during our tour and snuck away to meet this stud (see photo of Felix and his trainer above) while visiting the new facilities. State of the art stables and grounds that went on forever are going to be brimming with the excitement of the upcoming games soon enough and we were lucky to see them before it all begins.

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On these celebrated grounds, we gathered together for the big announcement of the new brand for Headwaters. Being that I work in Marketing during the day, I LOVED the new faces of the brand which are actual faces of people from the region as opposed to stock photography. Putting a personalized touch on a personal experience truly has helped to captivate the sentiment of Headwaters in their newly launched Headwaters Visitor’s Guide.

“The new identity was launched in front of 200 dignitaries, businesspeople and media at the Caledon Equestrian Park, future site of the Equestrian events of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. Named for being the source of some of Ontario’s biggest rivers, Headwaters is also home to over 23,000 horses and is one of the most concentrated equestrian areas in Ontario.”

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After the exciting unveiling of the faces of Headwaters and the Visitor’s Guide, we were invited to visit with local artists who were painting The Headwaters Parade of Horses. Each of these horses will be on display in the Headwaters region during the Pan Am Games and the festivities surrounding them to showcase local talent. Pictured above are Julio being artsy (not shocking to anyone) and with local artist Dorothee from Rawhide Adventures with her beautiful piece of art. We found out we have 1 degree of separation with her and her family! Small world…

Add to that the Pan Am Taste Trail and you’ve got two really good reasons to visit immediately

“The Pan Am Taste Trail begins when the torch relay comes to Headwaters and ends when the Para Pan Am Games are finished. Focusing on local ingredients, local restaurants and producers will be offering signature food or drink items. The public is invited to visit the many establishments on the trail to taste the signature items and vote for their favourite.”

After a few nibbles from local food establishments and farms, we grabbed our infamous rubber boots (note. these come in handy when visiting. ESPECIALLY on the farms!) and headed back onto the tour bus.

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After dropping off Julio I headed over to The Brampton Flying Club. Thankfully for the amazing team behind Headwaters Tourism, they chose this activity for me and not Julio. He isn’t the biggest fan of heights, let alone the tiniest planes ever invented. I loved every moment as I learnt about the historical society that calls the club home and restores WW1 planes. Oh. Did I mention they also fly them? Such an amazing organization!

After introducing ourselves to our pilots we split into teams of 3 and climbed into the tiny planes for an aerial tour of the area. It was exhilarating and breath taking to see the area from hundreds of feet in the air, and I loved every minute of my experience. To check out how you can experience the same with one of their professional pilots, click here.

Back on the bus and off to our next adventure, I quickly realized that Headwaters had so much more to offer than we originally had thought.

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Our next stop on our whirlwind tour of the region was Heatherlea Farm Shoppe. We got the chance to meet their cattle, see the shop which carries local fresh products and produce and even got a cooking lesson from the whole family. In the beautiful sun, we toured the grounds and came to understand the importance of farmers. After all, the old adage is true, and Farmers feed cities. The shoppe itself is perfect for picking up fresh food, baked good and produce during your visit and I love the hands on approach that the family has.

“Our mission is to raise and craft the highest quality artisan meats, meals, snacks and treat using clean ingredients and local products. We are a family, a farm, and proud members of your community of Caledon, Ontario, where we’ve been raising pasture-fed Black Angus beef since 1975. Our animals are grass-fed and free to roam outside in the fresh air and graze on the pasture. We finish our cattle on hay, silage, and a small amount of grains, without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics, so our beef is extremely tender with outstanding flavour. We promise it to be the best tasting and most tender beef your family has ever had! Find it in our on-farm shop that serves Caledon, Erin, Belfountain, Georgetown, Orangeville, Brampton, GTA, and surrounding Ontario.”

Melinda McArthur from the farm is ALSO one of the faces of the new Headwaters (pictured above in front of the banner stands during the announcement ceremonies we attend first thing on Day 1)

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Our next stop was Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, a local brand that produces delicious apple cider and products. We spoke about the importance of local production and sipped on cider and sparkling wine paired beautifully with Woolwich Dairy Inc. goat cheeses. I was in foodie heaven and recommend pairing these two brands on your visit north of Toronto to the region.

“Nestled amongst the rolling Caledon hills, Spirit Tree is a cidery, bakery, kitchen, and farm store. We pride ourselves on offering the best local products and produce, and on creating superb cider, bread, and pastries for your gastronomic pleasure.”

Back on the bus and off we went onto another adventure!

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It was time for dinner and Hockley Valley Resort’s Cabin 1865 was just what the doctor ordered. A modern restaurant in a rustic setting, the resort itself is stunning and I would encourage you to visit it on your own Headwaters adventures. The restaurant provided us with delicacies that tantalized our tastebuds and left me feeling content after a busy day exploring.

“The culinary experience will be defined by our farm-to-table philosophy on food. The a la carte menu will celebrate the best of local cuisine, using only the freshest ingredients from the Resort’s two-acre fruit and vegetable garden, seasonal preserves, and fare from local farmers and suppliers.”

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After dinner we had the pleasure of catching the 2nd half of a play at the Theatre Orangeville. The Theatre holds a LOT of history since it was build and has hosted some major actors on its stage over the years. It was so relaxing to sit and enjoy a performance in the heart of quaint Orangeville.

“We at Theatre Orangeville are a family of artists. From the stage, to the office, to the shops and the boardroom – all of us passionately believe that theatre is a powerful and entertaining experience that with your support, is helping us to contribute to the creation of a vital and vibrant community. We look forward to sharing the imaginative, unexplainable miracle that is live theatre with you and your family – every time you become part of our audience.”

— Insert a well deserved soak in the jacuzzi in our suite at Best Western Plus Orangeville & Suites alongside a good night’s rest. We MAY have overslept our alarms in the morning and had to get ready in ten minutes to not miss the bus. For those of you who know Julio, that’s basically a miracle! Thank you Best Western Orangeville for a lovely stay. Next time, we’ll make sure to stay a little longer to enjoy all your amenities! —

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Bright and early on day 2, we left for more adventures in Headwaters. After we dropped off Julio, I headed to The Friendly Chef Adventures Inc. for a private cooking lesson with Chef Pam Fanjoy (who btw is one of the faces of the new Headwaters brand!). This adorable store not only sells kitchen necessities and goods but also doubles as a café AND cooking school. We had the chance to make delicious Thai Food together and I loved what we made so much that I even kept the recipes and use them at home.

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Onto the bus to pick up Julio and we were off to our last stop on our tour: Landman Gardens & Bakery.

Boasting beautiful grounds, 300 goats, calves, pigs, a bakery, a butcher, 2 acres of produce… is there anything this family DOESN’T do?! We had the pleasure of meeting the baby goats (who for the record are cute, act like puppies and like to nibble on EVERYTHING. Including YSL aviator sunglasses). Participating in a feeding frenzy made me realize how much I love goats. Julio, not so much.

My favourite part of the tour we were provided was of course The Blackhouse. What is a Blackhouse you ask? (Because I asked the same question when it was introduced to me) Well, Julio summed it up perfectly:

” It’s a traditional type of house which used to be common in the Scottish Highlands, the Hebrides, and Ireland hundreds of years ago and was made by hand, no cement, no mortar. Stones that are strategically placed. Physics, people, physics.”

We had the opportunity to enjoy a farm-to-table lunch in The Blackhouse with fresh produce, baked goods that may have stolen my heart and food that would make any foodie smile in delight were presented for our enjoyment. For $55 a person, you get an experience 45 minutes away that will blow your mind. Imagine escaping from Toronto for a country experience at only $55 a head plus HST which includes five delicious courses, coffee, tea, cider, and a brief tour of the farm. You can’t cross the city of Toronto in that time or find a 5 course tasting meal for this price in the city. It’s worth the drive and I have a feeling once Torontonians learn about this, it’ll be tough to get a booking!

For more information on these dinners/lunches/brunches and the farm, make sure to click here.

Landman Gardens and Bakery is proud to announce a variety of themed dinners for 2015! Working with a variety of artists and speakers we have built an exciting line-up of experiences followed by a five course farm to table dinner. Contact us today to book your own private experience on the farm. Blackhouse dinners feature a five course meal prepared using farm fresh ingredients, served in our one of a kind dry stone Blackhouse.”

— And just like that, our whirlwind adventures in Headwaters came to an end. —

eOverall, the area truly stole my heart. It feels as though you are hours away from the craziness of the city without having to commit to that much travel time. With these experiences and so many more available, I would challenge each and every one of you to visit and not feel the same way. From the friendly people who live there to the fresh produce, the art and the culture, the history balanced with modernization… #RealHeadwaters helps to remind you what is important in life.

I can assure you that Julio & I loved our visit both personally and professionally. SO much so that I can’t wait to return and hopefully bring along our media friends for an experience they won’t soon forget!

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As the Headwaters Website says, “Headwaters is where Ontario gets natural, gets unplugged, gets real. We invite you to do the same.” I couldn’t agree more!

Remember to check out Julio’s review of his experiences on FASHIONIGHTS now!

To get inspired from your own travel adventures, follow @HillsHeadwaters on Twitter & ‘Like’ their Facebook Page today. Make sure to use the #RealHeadwaters hashtag to join in on the social media conversation and to bring us along on our your adventures Where Ontario gets real.

For more behind the scenes of this and other amazing brands we are working with around the world, follow along with the #DoTheDaniel Instagram account. We’d love to have you be a part of our exciting day to day!

Photos: HeadwatersFASHIONIGHTSCaledon Pan Am Equestrian ParkLincoln CanadaSpirit Tree Estate CideryHockley Valley ResortHeatherlea Farm Shoppe

Cheers!

Daniel Desforges

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