PARIS – A “Small Town Gem” in Ontario’s Backyard
When I was a kid, Paris, Ontario (located just 90 minutes west of Toronto) was a booming town. Highway 2 was a major thoroughfare in Ontario and that highway passed through the quaint community of Paris.
From a popular highway overlook, many travelers would take in picturesque views of the historic town.
A short drive past the overlook was, “The White Horse Restaurant”. We would dine there, only when celebrating very special occasions. It was always a dress up affair. Their advertising read – The White Horse of Paris, Ontario. Canada’s most outstanding Country restaurant, famous throughout the land for superb food and gracious dining – Also featuring our old-tyme Country Store.
I also recall the “Trading Post” Restaurant that was across the street from the “White Horse”. They served breakfast, lunch and dinner to hungry “Highway 2” travellers. I was intrigued with its distinctive road sign.
Years past and a new, modern, “Highway 403” opened. “Highway 2” quickly became a secondary road with little traffic. The many businesses in Paris that relied on the “Highway 2” motor vehicle traffic quickly suffered and most closed.
A few decades have past and Paris is booming once again. It proudly regards itself as the “Prettiest Town in Canada”. It also claims the impressive, “Cobblestone Capital of Canada” title.
Tourists flock to small town Paris – a perfect escape, from big metropolitan cities. It’s now very trendy to exit, “Highway 403” in order to spend some quality time exploring the historic downtown core of Paris.
Paris is no longer a sleepy, little town – its grown at an unbelievable rate. New housing subdivisions have popped up all over the place. I’ve even considered putting my house up for sale and relocating to Paris – it a community with so much to offer and you can’t beat its central location.
Luckily, despite all the tourists and influx of new home owners, the downtown core has kept its “small town” charm. Locally owned businesses line the Main Street. During the summer season you’ll admire the towns many colourful hanging flower baskets.
The “Paris Wincey Mills Co.”, dates back to 1889. What a neat looking building. Today, its Market Hall features quality vendors. My favourites are, “Link Street Sausage House” and “Jiggs-n-Reels”. “Paris Beer Co” is the latest occupant and I expect they will be extremely successful.
Summer tourists often purchase ice cream treats from one of the many seasonal ice cream stands that are found in the downtown core and outskirts.
The “Little Paris Bread Co” is a small batch bakery that specializes in all things sourdough. It’s worth a stop.
Paris is also home to a number of yearly successful festivals and its Fall Fair continues to be one of the most successful in Ontario.
Many of you probably don’t realize that “The Walters Family” started our dinner theatre shows at the Paris Fairgrounds before opening at our family farm, in Bright, ON, 20 years ago.
Paris is located where the Grand and Nith Rivers meet. Many excellent, downtown restaurants offer river views. I can confidently recommend, “Stillwater’s Plate and Pour”, “Juniper Dining Co” and “Capeesh Craft Kitchen and Cellar”.
When Paris is bursting at the seams with tourists and all its downtown restaurants are full, its just a short drive out of town to the “1909 Culinary Academy”, located on Trussler Road. This very casual spot is an ideal location for a family picnic lunch. Order one of their many take-out gourmet burgers, fresh cut fries, locally produced ice cream and grab a seat on one of their many picnic tables.
Paris is a vibrant community which makes it well worth a stop when exploring our Ontario Backyard.