Summer weekend getaways in Ontario are some of my favourite things. But it’s strange, the older I get the less fond I am of driving and sitting in traffic. So that meant I was looking for a place very close to Toronto that I would be able to reach within about an hour. So I sat down with a provincial map and started doing my research. And what I came up with was the Caledon Region, just northwest of the outskirts of Toronto, a region I have fond memories of from when I was living in Brampton, northwest of Toronto. I used to do many outings and bicycle rides in that region and realized I had not been back there in many years now. It was time to visit again.
The rolling hills of the Hills of Headwaters Region
In my research I found out that the Caledon Region has a new name now: it is now called the Hills of Headwaters because it is the birthplace of four important Ontario rivers: the Humber, the Grand, the Credit and the Nottawasaga Rivers. This region has the highest elevation in Southern Ontario and is anchored by the Niagara Escarpment that traverses the region and offers great hiking and nature opportunities.
The Millcroft Inn, a heritage building from 1881
Ready for a trip into the country I embarked on my trip on July 16, 2010 and after a drive of only about 45 minutes I reached my first destination: the historic Millcroft Inn in the picturesque village of Alton. This popular destination is a former knitting mill from 1881 that has been turned into an upscale hotel and spa. General Manager Steve Yates welcomed me and started to show me around this impressive property.
The glass-enclosed Pod overlooks the Mill Pond and the waterfall – the best spot in the house
We started with a nice breakfast in the main-floor restaurant which is located right next to the mill race. As we sat down in the so-called “Pod”, an alcove that is suspended above the river with a gorgeous view of the waterfall, Steve explained that the Millcroft Inn and Spa has earned the Four Diamond Award from the CAA for 15 consecutive years. This historic inn is part of the Vintage Hotel Group which also includes other fine properties including the Queens Landing, the Prince of Wales, the Pillar and Post, and the Moffat Inn, all renowned upscale properties in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The Manor House is where the original mill owners lived
The Millcroft Inn has 52 rooms and is located on 100 acres of land. There are three separate guest buildings: the Main Mill, the Manor House, and the Crofts, which are relatively recently built townhomes. Having finished breakfast, Steve showed me the main floor of the inn which was the former heart of the woolen mill and still boasts many original architectural features. Then we went upstairs to room 304 whose highlight is the gorgeous view over the mill pond and the waterfall. Each of the 22 rooms in the Main Mill is appointed with a unique mix of Canadian and European antiques.
On the lower level of the mill we visited the River Room, a private and public space for guests where they can read or relax by the open wood fireplace. Large panorama windows open up to Shaw’s Creek Falls. We then left the main building and walked through the manicured grounds to the Manor House which used to be the residence of the mill owners. Today the Manor House holds King and Queen-size bedrooms that are a bit larger than the rooms at the Main Mill. Most of the guestrooms here also feature large jetted tubs.
One of the spacious rooms in the Manor House