The work station of a local artist featuring a colourful landscape painting.

Matilda Swanson Gallery | Destination Ontario

24 hours in two artsy, artisanal villages: Thornbury and Clarksburg

The work station of a local artist featuring a colourful landscape painting.

Matilda Swanson Gallery | Destination Ontario

Coined "Artsburg" by late local artist Bill Hartman, Clarksburg is a mecca for art, culture and originality. Pair that with the fiercely locally grown and sourced culinary and craft drink in and around Thornbury for the ultimate art and artisanal getaway.

Fuel up for the day in Thornbury

 

If breakfast sets the tone for your day, every day is a great day in Thornbury.

Thornbury Bakery Café

Opened in 1901, Thornbury Bakery Café is a main street institution serving fresh coffees and pastries to early risers on the go, plus a full breakfast and light lunch. Everything is made from scratch including their line of home-baked specialty keto-friendly, gluten-free and vegan breads.

Bread and Butter

The minimalist Scandi-style decor of Bread and Butter sets the right vibe for a little morning zen.

Good Grief Coffee

Feed your Instagram with a selfie in the plush plum chairs below a wall of plants at Good Grief Coffee, a super chill spot for in-house roasted coffee and freshly baked donuts.

Embark on an arts crawl in Clarksburg


Just a 3-minute drive from Thornbury is the village of Clarksburg. Whimsical artwork hangs off the street lampposts, a large wall along the main street displays a mural of local paintings, and even the public garbage and recycling bins and planters are colourfully painted.

Matilda Swanson Gallery 

This gallery features the work of 45 diverse artists, both local and from across Canada. Owner Sarah Filion is a passionate and tenacious driving force behind the "Artsburg" movement. She strives to make art appreciation approachable, engaging and fun, both in her studio and throughout the community. And it’s working.

ArtBank Collective 

A few doors down, ArtBank Collective is a light-filled gallery showcasing a range of metalwork, textile, paint and print pieces. The heritage building formerly functioned as a bank, complete with the old vault door.

Soft leather reading chairs welcome you to relax and stay awhile. If you’re lucky, you may get to meet co-owner Don Kilby’s dog, Brownie.

Danfield Antique Furnishing and Fine Art

Attention antiquers! Don’t miss Danfield Antique Furnishing and Fine Art. Discover treasures in every nook and cranny of this heritage building—including above your head: the ceiling resembles the hull of an upside-down ship.

Owners Dan and Susan Field are experts in antiques and art, specializing in Canadian works, and can share fascinating backstories about every item. Pottery, paintings, jewellery and woodwork fills the walls and shelves at Marsh Street Gallery, a cooperative of local artists.

Unleash your inner artist in Clarksburg


Take your art appreciation to the next level. Clarksburg is the perfect place for an artsy excursion for families taking a break from the ski hill, a couple’s retreat or friends weekend-ing. Events, workshops and paint jams encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get creative.

Marsh Street Community Centre

In the heart of the village, the Marsh Street Community Centre is a not-for-profit charitable performing arts centre with a versatile space used as a hub for theatre, music and cultural and art events.

Clarksburg has h’Art

Mark your calendar for Clarksburg has h’Art. This annual festival celebrates the arts and culture scene and spills out to businesses throughout the community.

Sign up for a paint jam with artist Suzette Terry, whose Group-of-Seven-influenced work is featured at Matilda Swanson Art Gallery. You may uncover talent you never knew you had.

Artfully Crafted 

Artfully Crafted is a mobile curated eat, drink and paint workshop led by local artist Lily Findlay, perfect for a friends’ or girls’ getaway.

Sample local beverages

 

Grey County is orchard county. In fact, South Georgian Bay supplies 25% of Ontario’s annual apple crop. Wine, craft beer, spirits and cider enthusiasts are in for a real treat.

Georgian Hills Vineyard

Sample celebrated wines and distinct ciders at Georgian Hills Vineyard, one of the area’s original wineries. The tasting room overlooks the vineyards and surrounding hills of the Beaver Valley.

Not too shabby a spot to sip a glass of Pinot Noir Cuveé, a gold medal winner from their Wild & Inspired wines, or to savour a delectable dessert pear cider over a charcuterie plate of local cured meats, cheeses, olives and jellies.

Spy Cider House

Just minutes away, Spy Cider House and Distillery is the county’s newest cidery, having just opened its doors last year after tenderly (and organically) restoring 20 of the 80 acres (8 of the 32 hectares) of neglected orchards. (Takeaway: tree whisperers exist.)

The facility is sleek, airy and geothermally powered, with a stylish tasting bar and lounge in view of the large copper still. Try a flight of their signature, refreshingly dry ciders or sample the innovative Calvados-inspired apple spirit.

Thornbury Village Cider House 

This is a local favourite located right in town, and caters to all palates with great craft cider, beer and wines available on-site or for take-away. Two heated outdoor igloos create the perfect winter wonderland ambiance, or challenge your crew in the games room.

Treat your taste buds in Thornbury


Bruce Wine Bar & Kitchen

Feed your curiosity and your appetite at Bruce Wine Bar & Kitchen, a two-story restaurant on Bruce Street in Thornbury. Slanted ceilings and a wine wall, porthole window, piano and music paraphernalia in the upstairs loft create an intimate and artsy vibe.

The menu focuses on locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable food, with an Ocean Wise designation. Chef Shaun Edmonstone confides that the mixed charcuterie and cheese boards are some of his favourite dishes to create as they pay homage to his hyper-local credo. We are obsessed with his traditional Neapolitan wood-fired pizza. You be the judge.

The Mill Café 

Family-owned and -operated for generations, The Mille Café instantly feels like Thornbury’s "local." Perched on the riverbank, there is a comforting buzz of conversation, a bustling open kitchen and a soft glow from the fireplace.

Chef Andrew Barber serves up a seasonal menu of favourites, from brunch to dinner to can’t-miss desserts. 

Sumac + Salt

Attention foodies! Look for Sumac + Salt, a unique, communal, multi-course forest-farm-fork dining experience hosted by partners Hannah Harradine and Chef Joel Grey.

Local, seasonal, farmed, forested, foraged and preserved are all key themes explored. Vintage plates and flowers add that final Insta-worthy touch.

Stock up on supplies


The Cheese Gallery

Cheese lovers will not want to leave The Cheese Gallery, a cheese shop and tasting bar offering an extraordinary selection of local and international cheese, plus cheese-themed events like Fondue Fridays.

Honey House

For everything honey, the Honey House in Clarksburg is a retail outlet for Beaver Valley Gold Honey (open April to December). You can’t miss it—it’s shaped like a honey hive.

Unique accommodations

Penny's Motel, Thornbury

With a splash of whimsy and a dollop of luxury, this recently renovated boutique is far from your average roadside motel.

The Farmer’s House, Meaford

This four-bedroom pet-friendly country home sits on 100 acres (40 hectares) of Niagara Escarpment, with stunning views and access to an indoor swimming pool.

Rocklyn Inn Bed & Breakfast, Rocklyn

This bed and breakfast, with five guest rooms in a heritage home, is super close to Clarksburg and Thornbury.

 

If you love wholesome food, unpretentious art and friendly people, set your GPS to Grey County this weekend.

Last updated: January 13, 2023

Looking for Ontario travel advice?

Our experts are here to help you plan your perfect trip. Call or book today.