Hello! Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog. Today, we’re heading to St. Jacobs, where we’ll learn all about St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours.
St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours
For over a decade now, St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours has been running tours within St. Jacobs, and they’ve established themselves as one of the best activities in the Waterloo Region. St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours is currently ranked #2 out of 14 Tours in the entire region, and it very much deserves to be held in such high regard. We’ll show you why by first breaking down their title, one word at a time.
St. Jacobs is a community located in the Township of Woolwich, north of Waterloo. It’s the second largest Woolwich community; Elmira is the largest.
Both St. Jacobs and Elmira, and their surrounding areas, are home to a large portion of Canada’s Old Order Mennonite community. This unique cultural identity, in addition to many enjoyable sites and attractions, makes St. Jacobs quite a popular place to visit, for both locals and visitors.
The St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is the most famous attraction, and it’s fantastic.
The market building is a massive, 34,000 square foot structure that resembles a Mennonite-style red barn. Both within the market and, during the warmer months, outside of the market, numerous vendors (400 during peak season!) sell their wares, ranging from delicious apple fritters to historical maps.
It’s really quite something. But for this article, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is just the starting point.
You can’t have a Horse Drawn Tour without horses, and St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours’ most certainly has horses (of course). The tours employee one horse or a team of two horses, depending on the tour (we’ll be getting into those shortly).
The horses come in various breeds of draft horse (draft horses are large, strong horses bred for their ability to work and pull large weights). The main breeds are Belgian (typically light chestnut in colour) and Percheron (originally from France; often gray or black, and quite muscular).
If you love horses, the St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours is great for that aspect alone: the horses here are beautiful and well-cared for, and the tour staff are quite knowledgeable about them.
With the driver’s permission, you should be able to pet the horses, get a picture with them, or even steer the carriage for a portion of the tour (this is particularly popular for visiting children). Speaking of carriages..
Just as you need horses for a Horse Drawn Tour, you need something for the horses to draw – and something you can sit down in. Again, the carriages vary by tour, but the most commonly-used one is a distinctive red and white trolley.
Another option is the smaller, distinctive black horse-drawn buggy, which will be recognizable to anyone who’s spent time in Woolwich: it’s used to this day by Old Order Mennonites throughout the Township.
During the wintertime, you can hop on one of two horse-drawn sleighs: a larger brown one, with room for up to 15 adults, and a smaller, more ornate red one, with room for up to 4 adults. You can get a look at the horse-drawn sleighs in action here!
Now that you’ve met the horses and the carriages, it’s time to get to the part that really makes St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours what it is: the tours!
Mennonite Farm Tour
This is St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours’ most popular tour, and for good reason: it’s both enjoyable and educational.
This tour (as well as the next two) departs from St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market; specifically, guests meet at the Log Cabin at the southern end of the market, on the corner of Farmers Market Road and Benjamin Road.
Visiting St. Jacobs is always great, but the Mennonite Farm Tour really adds to the overall experience. Over the course of the 75-90 minute tour, you’ll learn much more about the community, while relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds.
You’ll make your way along country roads to a fully-functional, Old Order Mennonite mixed farm.
While at the farm, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how the farm works from the people who know best.
Explore the farm grounds, take a look at the livestock, stroll through the apple orchard, admire the timbre-frame barn (built over 150 years ago!) and the buggy-full buggy shed, and more: it’s all a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of the city. On the trip back, you’ll learn more about Mennonite culture, and their way of life here in Woolwich and St. Jacobs.
As is always the case with St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours’, the drivers/tour guides are very knowledgeable and friendly, and you’ll have plenty of time to ask questions. Learn more about the Mennonite Farm Tour here.
As noted earlier, you can go for a horse and buggy ride in a traditional Mennonite carriage. You’ll often see these carriages out and about in St. Jacobs, so it’s great to be able to go for a ride in one: a very authentic experience. Buggy Rides are available for private bookings; contact them for more info.
Maple Sugar Bush Tour
If you read our recent article on the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, you already know that maple syrup is important in Elmira; well, it’s important here in St. Jacobs, too!
This tour runs from March to April (peak sap season), and it’s both informative and delicious (if only more things in life were both informative and delicious).
Leaving from St. Jacobs Market, you’ll make your way to a working sugar bush, at which you’ll learn all about the process of harvesting and making maple syrup (both modern and historical methods) in an interactive setting.
You’ll get complimentary hot beverages, as well as pancakes with maple syrup. There are other things to enjoy while here (including a petting zoo), and plenty of marvellous maple products available to purchase.
Unlike the other tours, you get to choose when you leave the sugar bush: horse-drawn shuttles make their way back and forth every 20-30 minutes. You can read more about the Maple Sugar Bush Tour here (including dates and prices).
Winter Sleigh Ride
This tour commences at the farm at 1222 Apple Road Grove, Woolwich – about 5 minutes north of St. Jacobs Market.
The sleigh ride is roughly 45 minutes in length, and is incredibly relaxing and serene: you can sit back and enjoy the wintery landscape (both wide, open fields and tall sugar bush) as the horses gracefully pull the sleigh forward, jingle bells softly jingling all the way.
The Winter Sleigh Ride ends in a wooden sugar shack, which is heated by wood stove. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy hot apple cider and conversation. Booking fees are not per person, but per sleigh: check out their page here for details.
St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours also offers tours of the Mennonite Farm and the sugar bush for students; find out more here.
If you’d like to learn more about St. Jacobs, as well as the Mennonite people and their heritage, then St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours is perfect.
It’s relaxing, it’s enjoyable for young and old alike (the tours are particularly great for families), and you really get to experience the different aspects of country living – all for a fair price.
If you’d like to book a tour, you can visit their booking page here. If you’re interested in a private booking (they’re great for parties, weddings, and more) – here’s the link to contact them once more.
Written by Will Kummer