This former tobacco mecca is now humming a new tune.
It was an industry that thrived for decades until the decline in tobacco usage, combined with less expensive growing regions in the United States and elsewhere, spelled hardship for the entire region. Like so many communities in Ontario, Tillsonburg has had to sing a new tune to ensure its continued prosperity.
Part of their strategy includes embracing art, culture, and heritage. Stompin' Tom may not have been fond of the Tillsonburg of yester-year, butI feel confident that his spirit smiles down on the town's endeavors today. Here's why.
My favourite vendor produces a somewhat less edible product. Makkink's Sunflower Farm grows beautiful sunflowers, as well as many other flower, and they even offer workshops on creating your own arrangements and centerpieces. As I would learn throughout my visit, vibrant colors and even sunflowers themselves are particularly special to this region.
There's an impressive pottery workshop in the basement and the recent efforts from a kids' camp showed the kind of fun spirit and character that I know Stompin' Tom would have applauded.
But there's something really unique and special in Tillsonburg, something as old as the town itself, something that's been around as long as commercial tobacco, that puts challenge to the idea of the arts scene being a recent development in the area. That something is Annandale House.
It's hard to imagine embracing this kind of decor today. Fans of minimalist design might feel a bit overwhelmed! But all visitors will recognize that Annandale House is one in a million and quite worthy of National Historic Site designation. Incredulously, this amazing property was once designated for the wrecking ball until the community came together with the money and the plan to save it. This is a southern Ontario must-see and I can guarantee you won't find anything that remotely resembles it anywhere else in the world.
Where to stay in Tillsonburg
It is worth mentioning that the Inn's internet was very spotty (when we could connect at all) and the check in process was plagued by a bit of chaos as we weren't sure if the first reception desk was for the restaurant or the inn. (Turns out it's kinda for both - I think). It took a while to flag someone down from inside the restaurant, who in turn had to flag someone else down..... You get the picture. These two concerns gave us the subtle impression that perhaps the lodgings are a second priority to the restaurant operations on the ground floor (a lively place that someone like Stompin' Tom would feel right at home in!). I'd definitely stay at the Mill Tales Inn again but I hope that the few wrinkles we experienced will have resolved.
We'd love to hear from you! Have you ever been inspired to visit a destination based upon a song?
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