dundurn castle hamilton ontario

Exploring Beautiful Hamilton: The World In And Around It

All work and no play makes a lawyer… well, I don’t want to say, but it is true that, once in a while, we all need to take a break from the everyday.  Doubly so if you’re in the midst of a personal injury suit.

I make no secret of the fact that I really enjoy the city of Hamilton and the areas that surround it. Over the years, I’ve discovered a couple of great day trips that the whole family can appreciate, and I thought I would share them with you.

Stratford ~ Shakespeare

Travelling toward the town of Stratford Ontario, you will likely drive through Shakespeare.

The tiny village of 159 souls is just the gateway to the 19th century town of Stratford, itself bisected by a river that is the home to swans and a lot of water fowl.

My kids love feeding the ducks and you can even buy duck food at the boat rental outlet, right by the river, off the downtown main street.

Even if you don’t plan to see a show at the famed Stratford Festival, the ‘little village’ quality of the streets of Downtown Stratford will leave you feeling calm and refreshed.

Lovely cafes and many excellent restaurants are available, whether you’re dining out with the whole family, or just as a couple.

Dundurn Castle ~ Bell Homestead ~ Westfield Heritage Village

If you’re a bit of a history buff like me, or a fan of Downton Abbey like my wife, there is a well-known place to get a glimpse of that life, very close by.

Take a visit to Dundurn Castle.

The 40 room Victorian era villa gives you a taste of the lives lived upstairs, as well as downstairs. It’s former resident, Sir Allan Napier MacNab, was actually the great, great, great grandfather of the current Duchess of Cornwall (otherwise known as Camilla), creating an impressive family connection.

Another interesting site is the Bell Homestead in Brantford where you can learn about one of the single greatest inventions of mankind: the telephone. Younger kids won’t even know what some of the artifacts and replicas are!

The homestead is filled with pieces from the period, giving you a view of the life a great inventor who changed the world in 1874, when inspiration struck at this location for a ‘speaking telegraph’ (source).

My kids are fans of the pioneer life so we always make time to head over to Westfield Heritage Village.

It’s a 40-building reconstructed village that brings pioneering history to life. The ‘in character’ villagers provide fun interaction and live demonstrations of what life was like in the 19th century. My kids learn about history without even knowing it, and as an adult, I enjoy it much more now than I did as a kid!

St. Jacobs ~ Elmira

Speaking of living history, the Mennonites in Southern Ontario, and particularly in the areas around St. Jacobs and Elmira, are a relevant, vital example of simpler era.

The residents who maintain the Amish ways, including driving with a horse and buggy and keeping to the Old Order style of dress, are frequent visitors to town.

Interestingly, their homes are as they would have been a hundred years ago: no electricity and nothing ostentatious in their manner of decoration and dress. Tell your kids: no iPads. They’ll never believe you.

Personally I like the idea of showing my sons in a respectful way that people can and do live differently, even close to home. It expands their horizons and I hope it will pique their interest in travel when they get older.

You can learn more about Mennonite history and lifestyles by visiting the Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs, an interpretive centre with exhibits and artifacts that is the beginning of a self-guided tour of the area.

Jordan Station

When my practice gets really busy, I can’t think of a better way to get away from it all than to get out into nature. The area around Jordan Station is perfect.

At the heart of vineland, you can tour and taste at a winery, shop for antiques, or hike a local conservation area.

Located at the edge of the Twenty Mile creek, near Lake Ontario, Jordan Station has a little something for everyone in the family.

My wife and I will often go for a drive, visit a winery if we’re alone or go for a hike if we have the boys, then go for lunch or dinner at the Jordan House Tavern on the way home – it’s kid-friendly. We have also gone to weddings at Inn On The Twenty, located just down the road, although for us, it’s a bit fancy when we have our little guys in tow.

We’re all busy these days but getting out of town can do much to clear your head and boost morale. And if you’re in the midst of a suit, you need to step back now and again for your own piece of mind.

Are there places that are close to Hamilton that you like to visit when you need to get away?  Feel free to share in the comments below!


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