St. Jacobs (Ontario)
St Jacobs is home base to the network of Home Hardware, Home Furniture, and Home Building Supplies stores across Canada. St Jacobs is in the heart of North Waterloo's well-known Mennonite and Amish country. Driving in the area likely as not you will share the road with their horse-drawn buggies, particularly Sundays which is a day of church-going and visiting, and on Market Days when they are on the way to and from Market. Many offer home-grown produce, and home-made baking and preserves from home or road-side stands, but note that 'No Sunday Sales' signs mean just that!
There are two main tourist destinations in the area. The market is located immediately north of the Waterloo city limits. The historic village is located three kilometres to the north.
St. Jacobs is about 1 hour west of Toronto and 1 hour northeast of London. From Highway 401, exit 278/278A north, take Highway 8 to Highway 85 North, exit "King Street" (Regional Road 15). Note that there are two King Street interchanges; you want the second one. Travel north, following the signs to St. Jacobs Country.
Grand River Transit's route 21 runs on market days between Conestoga Mall in north Waterloo to both the market and the village.
The Waterloo Central Railway is an excursion train that travels between Waterloo and St. Jacobs on market days, stopping at both the market and the village.
The Mennonite Story Visitor Centre, 1406 King Street, 519-664-3518. Here you can learn about the history, culture and Faith of the Mennonite people of this area of Ontario. Take a journey and look at Mennonite life and history, the clothing and homes, beginning with a short DVD presentation.
The Waterloo County and Area Quilt Festival, annually through the month of May, is headquartered here, the premier event of its kind in Canada. The Quilt Gallery, third floor at 1441 King St. N., 10AM-6PM daily, features the work both of individual artists, and of quilting groups.
- Trans-Canada Trail (park in parking lot near Albert & Young Sts.). A portion of the Trans-Canada Trail runs through St. Jacobs, including the Health Valley trail, which runs between the village and the market, and the Mill Race Trail, which runs alongside the Conestogo River west of the village.
St. Jacobs Farmers' Market (Tuesday during summer and Thursday and Saturday year round, 7 am–3:30PM), has fresh produce, baked goods, ethnic foods, furniture, clothing, etc. There are approximately 600 vendors. On Thursdays, there are livestock auctions at the Ontario Stockyards. The Waterloo County Farmers Market (Saturdays year round, 7AM–2PM, Sundays April to December, 10AM–4PM) is on the opposite side of the road. They are located just outside of the City of Waterloo 2.5 km south of the town of St Jacobs.
- St. Jacobs Outlet Mall, 25 Benjamin Rd. E. (in the market district), ☎ +1 519-888-0138. M-F 9:30AM-9PM, Sa 8:30AM-6PM, Su Noon-5PM. A mall with around 25 shops, most of which are brand-name factory outlets, including Royal Doulton, Lego, Levi's, several (around five) shoe outlets, a food court, and more.
- The Mill Shops & Exhibits, 1441 King Street North (in the village). Contains a large number small shops nestled in the nooks and crannies of an old feed mill. Also contains exhibits such as a model railway representing the village in 1940, the St. Jacobs Quilt Gallery, and more.
- Market Road Antiques, 845 Weber St. N. (in the market district). M-W, F, Su 10AM-6 PM, Th, Sa 8AM-6 PM. Located in the former stockyards building, this building now boasts around 20,000 square feet of antiques. Open early on market days.
- Picard's Peanuts, http://www.picardspeanuts.com/ (at Highway #85), ☎ +1 519-664-2400. Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm; Sun: 11am-5pm.
- Riverworks Shops (corner of King and Albert, across Albert from Benjamin's). This small mall located in an old building contains several small shops, including several gift shops (including a Scottish-themed one), several clothing stores including a hat store, a remaindered bookstore, and more.
Area restaurants offer international cuisine, as well as authentic Waterloo County 'food that schmecks' home-cooked fare.
Many travellers visiting St. Jacobs stay in Waterloo or in other nearby cities. There are also accommodations in St. Jacobs itself:
- Best Western St. Jacobs Country Inn, 50 Benjamin Road East (in the market district), ☎ +1 519-884-9295.
- Benjamin's Restaurant & Inn, 1430 King St. N. (in the village, corner of Albert), ☎ +1 519-664-3731. This inn, in operation since 1852, features nine guest rooms in the heart of St. Jacobs. As an old-fashioned Ontario hotel, amenities are not as comprehensive as more modern hotels, but this inn has character that can't be matched elsewhere nearby.