This year, as you dig through your cupboards and drawers trying to round up enough candles to celebrate Canada’s 150th year, we’ve come up with 150 or so “realsons” to light them up here.
What’s a realson? Well, it’s not a typo, because those happen when you’re rushing things, and that doesn’t happen here. Unless it’s creek water rushing past your lips as you try to drink it, or horses rushing out of the barn, excited as kids on Christmas morning.
Headwaters is where Ontario gets real. And while we have a few ideas what real means, we’d much rather you come find out for yourself. People say it’s how our cooking tastes, our air smells, our people are. And mostly, how Headwaters looks: unspoiled, unpretentious, unlike anywhere else in Ontario.
All those things, they’re realsons. But the biggest one of all is how you will feel when you’re here. We’ve heard it described as renewed, calmer, simpler, and very often, Canadian. On this special birthday year, why not shoot up here for a day or a weekend, and give yourself the gift of yourself — at your most real.
And real easy. One hour from Toronto, even less, and you’re in bigger skies, purer air, rollier hills. While everyone else is still on the road. We don’t get it either.
We are what we were.
As Canada turns 150, there’s going to be lots of looking back all over the country. We thought, why not invite people to look around instead? At ways of living that, after 150 years or more, are still going strong. So you can take a history lesson, or you can pop up here, and experience what is and always has been, real.
Outdoors from A to Z: Albion Hills, Bruce Trail, Cliffs & Caves, take the Dog Everywhere, Forests, Golf, Happy Hour! Ice fishing, Jogging, Kanoeing (we know), Luther Marsh, Meditation, Nightswim in an Old Pond, Quiet. Rolling hills! Ski/Skate/Spa, Tai Chi, Unplug, View a Waterfall, Credit Valley EXplorer, Yoga… Zzzzs. And that’s just Saturday.
Realsons No.5 – 9:
Realsons No.10 – 13:
We’re called Headwaters because we’re the birthplace of four major rivers: the Nottawasaga, the Credit, the Humber and the Grand. As well as too many other streams and water bodies to count, but you’re welcome to come up and try.
Our food, in all its forms and feelings. Craving sweet? Bakery butter tarts, maple syrup, Rosemont General Store pies. Feeling fresh? Farmers’ markets and anything for sale at a farm. Nostalgic? A church dinner or diner breakfast will transport you to your gramma’s kitchen. Real food isn’t just a way of life here, it sustains one.
Realsons No.15 – 19:
Realsons No.20 – 22:
Realsons No.23 – 30:
No artifice, just art. Approachable, authentic and all-over. In artists’ homes, in festivals (see p. 25) and just about everywhere. At Dufferin County Museum, which houses a pioneer house. At the breathtaking Alton Mill Arts Centre, where artists welcome you to pop in as they work. With air this pure, how can we be stuffy?
Realsons No.32 – 36:
Realsons No.37 – 91:
The Orangeville Chainsaw Masterpieces.
In downtown Orangeville, 55 trees that have aged and died naturally have been reborn as one of the most authentic art and community projects you’ll ever see, and here’s why: the heroes carved into eternity aren’t the usual historic suspects, but beloved locals like the town’s long-serving dentist, a group of boxers and a cherished teacher, amid a handful of powerful symbolic pieces. And the carvers are even more unexpected: a cop, a web developer, a couple of carpenters and of course, a few brave artists. Strolling Victorian-themed Orangeville is an essential Headwaters activity on its own: The Art Walk of Tree Sculptures makes it pure whimsey.
Realsons No.92 – 98:
We grow artists, musicians, creators by the bushel up here. And in a year when Canada’s artists and the rugged, epic nature that so often calls to them are top of mind, a trip up here to soak up both is an inspired thought indeed. From outdoor summer music and art festivals, to ambling, self-directed home-studio art tours, to fiery winter food and art mashups, we just can’t keep our creativity inside.
Celebrating, country-style. And not just Canada Day, but all year-round. Cutting your own Christmas trees, then watching a parade of lit-up tractors: massive cornfield mazes at Halloween: ancient festivities like wassailing, to wish the trees a good harvest. Traditions feel traditional up here, not to mention simpler and more meaningful.
Realsons No.100 – 104:
Realsons No.105 -111:
You can read about how confederation-era Canada honoured its agricultural ways, or you can come to our Fairs and taste, see, and oh yes, smell it. Have fun, and watch where you step.
More like 23,000 realsons, one for every horse up here. Headwaters is horse country. Stunning Caledon Equestrian Park hosts free Olympic and National level equestrian competitions year-round. You can ranch, rodeo, ride (or learn how), take behind-the-scenes stable tours. And you can stop to scratch someone’s nose anytime.
Realsons No.113 – 139:
Headwaters is horse country, as well as an artists’ colony. Bring them together, you get the Parade of Horses, winner of multiple tourism awards including the Canadian Tourism Award as the 2016 Visa Canada Innovator of the Year. You can hunt them down all over Headwaters, and get a little help at paradeofhorses.ca.
Owner-operators. The people who made your soup from scratch/designed your ring/balanced your chakra or even your tires came up here to do it because making, starting-up, small businesses, it’s the country way. Strike up a conversation. You’ll learn about doing things slowly and doing them right, and about following a dream all the way up here.
Realsons No.141 – 145:
Realsons No.146 – 161:
TASTES AS CLEAN AND PURE AND DIVERSE AS CANADA ITSELF.
Realsons No.162 – 177:
THE PEOPLE AND PASSIONS THAT MAKE HEADWATERS FLOW.