It’s not unusual to see a horse-drawn buggy clip-clopping down the country roads around St. Jacobs, Ontario. Although this region is only a 90-minute drive from Toronto — Canada’s largest city — and just outside the high-tech hotbed of Kitchener-Waterloo, the St. Jacobs area is home to one of Canada’s largest communities of Old Order Mennonites.
To explore this region of farmers, quilters, and other countryside attractions, it seems fitting to stay at a historic inn like DH Food & Lodging, a former stagecoach stop on St. Jacobs’ main street that’s been accommodating travelers since 1852.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
The main floor at this country inn houses a large traditional tavern and restaurant. Upstairs are nine simple but welcoming guest rooms.
Although the rooms with one queen bed aren’t large, they’re comfortable enough for a weekend away, with solid oak furniture and crisp linens. A couple of larger units have two queen beds.
Modern amenities include free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, and flat-screen TVs.
Dining and Drinking
A Continental breakfast, with fruit, pastries, and coffee or tea, is set up for guests on the second floor verandah.
Downstairs, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily to both guests and non-guests. The midday menu includes burgers, sandwiches, and traditional specialties, like steak and mushroom pot pie or schnitzel with sauerkraut. In the evening, the meals are more upscale, with plates like steaks, grilled salmon, and roast chicken. During my recent visit, I opted for a daily special — a hearty pork chop served over mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.
As befits a former stagecoach stop, the restaurant is also a tavern. You can have a drink out on the rear terrace as well.
Another option for local libations is Block Three Brewing, an independent microbrewery located behind the inn, which offers tours and tastings.
Things to Do in St. Jacobs
One of St. Jacobs’ most popular attractions is the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, which operates Thursdays and Saturdays year-round and also opens on Tuesdays in the summer. Although the market suffered a devastating fire in 2013, it quickly reopened for business in a temporary building.
Market vendors, many of whom are Mennonites, sell local produce and other locally made products, like Ontario maple syrup. Don’t miss the apple fritters, dusted with cinnamon sugar!
To learn more about Mennonite culture, history, and religion, visit The Mennonite Story, just up the street from the inn.
This informative exhibit includes a video about St. Jacobs’ Old Order Mennonites, a history of the Mennonites’ European roots, and another video that explains about life in modern Mennonite communities around the world.
Another nearby attraction, the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway, isn’t just a room full of model trains. It’s an intricately detailed miniature world that takes you back to southern Ontario in the 1950s, complete with the local movie house, a Mennonite meeting house, and even a farmer in his outhouse!
Of course, another reason to visit St. Jacobs is simply to enjoy the quiet Ontario countryside. And whether you arrive by buggy, stagecoach, or your modern automobile, DH Food & Lodging is a comfortable country-style base for exploring this intriguing region.
Double room rates at DH Food & Lodging are CAD$100-145 per night. You can compare rates at Priceline.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. DH Food & Lodging, in conjunction with St. Jacobs Country and Explore Waterloo Region, hosted my stay for review purposes.