Headwaters is the perfect place to look after yourself. Discover the arts, heritage, dining and wellness and stay in rural comfort, less than an hour from Toronto.
Where the spectacular landscape stirs the artists’ soul, here you will find over 200 artists, working in every media imaginable. We invite you to discover the power of artistic inspiration in Headwaters.
Located just 45 minutes north of Toronto lies the scenic Headwaters region – home to a vibrant and inspired arts community!
Known for rolling hills, deep valleys, spectacular fall colours and the unique headwaters of four major river systems, it seems our exciting landscape has stirred the artist soul.
In the Hills of Headwaters there are over 200 artists working in every media imaginable. Painters, potters, ceramics artists, glassblowers, woodcarvers, weavers, sculptors and jewellers all create here – in styles that range from classical to contemporary to avant-garde!
Every season studio tours and art exhibitions are launched! And every autumn the Headwaters Arts Festival kicks off its 17-day celebration of the region’s finest artists, artisans and performers with 65 events in over 30 venues.
Standing proudly over falls that were harnessed by pioneering settlers 130 years ago, the Alton Mill Arts Centre is now a vibrant arts centre featuring some 20 artists and artisans in working studios, 5 art galleries, hand-crafted jewellery and clothing designers, a heritage exhibit and café.
In Headwaters our artists find inspiration all around…
…and you’ll find them wherever you look. The sign you just passed points to a lane between rows of sugar maples and leads to a studio. That artist has set up an easel beside the road where you stopped and has given the view another life. You really should see what he sees.
Our artists are not only inspired by what they see but also what they touch and hear. Old trees are turned into bowls to reveal the marvelous colours, hills and valleys in the grain… or they are carved into shapes you have to feel to fully appreciate. Ancient rocks are polished and set in mosaics or hammered with steel into sculpture. Nature’s sounds inspire music and song. Even the words of our people are grist for stories and plays.
History, beauty and art are everywhere here. The spectacular landscapes of the region offer unending inspiration for our artists and, in some cases, the raw materials for the arts they create! In every village, town, hamlet and indeed throughout the countryside, you will sample as much diversity in the art as you will in the landscape.
So come for a visit and be inspired! Every rural back road, from Mulmur to Terra Cotta, is a potential scenic drive and a chance to sample the magnificent landscapes so often transformed on the artist’s canvas. Century homes, schoolhouses and historic buildings rejuvenated into galleries and studio spaces offer a glimpse of our proud heritage. Along with world-class restaurants, professional theatre, museums and unlimited recreational possibilities, the region embodies a unique beauty. And amidst the beauty and history, you will experience first-hand where our inspired artists (and the patrons who support them) live, work….and play!
Our artists are easy to find.
You can walk down Broadway in Orangeville. See a Theatre Orangeville play by a writer who grew up in the hills. Walk on the creaking floors of Dragonfly Arts on Broadway, marvel at the art on the walls, and talk to the artists as they work. In Shelburne you can hear the music that has passed down through generations and talk to the musicians who play the same fiddles their great grandfathers played. In Alton you can spend a day in the studios of Alton Mill Arts Centre where one winter’s night the black smoke and hot fire of birch bark made a steel sculpture glow in the dark. Bolton and Caledon, Melville and Erin, Belfountain and Cataract, Hillsburgh and Terra Nova… ‘most every small town and village is home to a studio or at least an artist or two.
We can show you where to go.
For decades, annual studio tours have guided visitors to artists they’d have never found otherwise. Their works you have probably seen – illustrating books you’ve read to your children, in Dufferin County Museum and Archives, the AGO and other downtown galleries, bronzes standing guard in front of office towers in distant cities, in the Vatican, presidential and royal collections. But the studios you find by following maps down the back roads.