As December rolls in, the Holiday Season is in full swing! Between shopping and gatherings we often throw our routines out the window and forget to take care of our own needs. To help you out this season, we put together a locals guide to Holiday Self-Care to ensure that whether you are visiting the Railway City this season or call it home, you will find something to bring some balance to the festivities over the coming weeks.
While you are exploring the shops, stop in to a local coffee shop to warm up and refuel. If you are in a hurry take it to go, but if you have the time to enjoy an uninterrupted cup give yourself that gift! Try a locally roasted Las Chicas brew at Streamliners or wander to Why Not Cookies in the West End.
St. Thomas is full of great places to grab a treat for yourself or someone else. If you need to streamline your holiday party planning you can order sweets from many spots to bring a #tasteofstthomas home with you. Many stops are worth the drive to St. Thomas all on their own with treats like Ice Cream filled Donuts, International Award Winning Chocolates, unique sweets , and so many more!
Take a wander around town and check out all the lights! Drive into Pinafore Park and see what volunteers have done to Light the Night this holiday season or wander around your favourite neighbourhood. Pick up a walking tour map at the Railway City Tourism Office for some historic routes to get your started!
Take out takes on a whole new meaning when you can stop at Salt & Pepper Meals to pick up weeknight dinners for the family. You can make sure everyone is getting FED (Fresh. Easy. Delicious) and make the most out of your time this extra busy season.
There is something about a cup of tea that just makes you want to slow down. Pick up some new loose leaf or herbal blends by visiting infuZed tZ at Elgin Centre or take the drive out to Wildflowers Farm to pick up a blend that's right for you and take that moment to slow down and reflect on how well you are doing on your shopping list.
Drop in for a Yoga class at one of the studios around town and re-balance the hustle and bustle. Each studio offers something a little different and many have special series or events happening throughout the season. Find the one that's right for you by visiting our Spas & Wellness page.
Fill your home with the scents of the season and find the essentials that help to create a sense of calm amidst the business. Take a workshop and learn how to use oils for yourself or make some of your holiday gifts this year! If calm is what you need most go visit Steed and Company Lavender and stock up for all your relaxation needs.
Sometimes when the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is so delightful you just want to curl up with a book. Check one out at the St. Thomas Public Library, browse Coles at Elgin Centre, or peruse the used books at Books and Beats on Ross St.
Whatever the Christmas Season has in store for you, be sure to take the time to enjoy it. If you need some help relaxing our Spas and Wellness page might have some suggestions for you. Get a massage. Have someone help get you Holiday Party ready. Get your nails done. Amidst all the thoughtful gift shopping and holiday preparations, don't forget to give yourself the gift of self-care the Railway City way!
It’s time to crack out the Winter jackets as the winter season is slowly creeping upon us. Soon enough all the Autumn leaves will fall and snow won't likely be far behind. Christmas festivities are already popping up around St.Thomas and all are encouraged to join in the celebration or the season! We gathered up a few to get you started!
This year marks the 23rd annual Christmas Tour of Homes event. Presented by the Rotary Club of St.Thomas the Christmas Tour of Homes will take place November 9th, 10th, and 11th. The event highlights five sites with the potential of experiencing the candlelight preview. For those interested in touring festive homes be sure to visit the event on any of the three event days!
Get your holiday shopping well underway with one of the Christmas Markets happening in town!
Weekends in November - Christmas at Canadale
November 17 - Horton Christmas Market
November 21 - CASO Night Market
December 2 - ECRM Christmas Market
December 12 - CASO Night Market
The St. Thomas Downtown Development Board hosts a tree lighting celebration annually to kick off the start of the festive season. Along with an early visit from Santa Claus the tree lighting celebration is hosted out front of City Hall. This free event will occur on November 16th, 2018 at 5:30pm and we encourage all to join the many other Railway City residents in this annual tradition.
Another St.Thomas tradition to officially welcome Santa to town is the Optimist Santa Claus Parade! This is a perfect event for families as kids will be aching to get a glimpse of Santa Claus before the Christmas holidays begin. As well, the Santa Claus Parade is a very entertaining night with great things to offer! Be sure to join in on the celebration on November 17th starting at 6pm. Pop in to Railway City Tourism for a quick warm up before the parade where there will be samples on hand from InfuZed Tz and Las Chicas del Cafe from 5-6:30.
Starting November 17th, Light The Night will be open to the public from 5pm - 11pm. This volunteer run initiative deck Pinafore Park out in thousands of lights for people to enjoy. Come out to the park a get a little festive through the holidays.
Thanks to Emily Olsen and the Establish Media team for this guest post about the Culinary Tour! Check out their website for a video of the adventure too!
Conductor’s Choice – A Culinary Experience on Rails was truly an eye-opening event to the abundant culinary talent in St. Thomas and Elgin County. It included a day-long tour to different foodie destinations in the area and ended with dinner and a show at the ELGIN COUNTY RAILWAY MUSEUM. Guests had the option to experience just the tour, just dinner, or enjoy the full day of events.
The tour began at the historic CASO STATION for a brunch by Fanshawe College’s culinary students and St. Thomas’s own coffee roastery, LAS CHICAS DEL CAFE. Maria Fiallos of Las Chicas chose her Don Rey’s Viennese roast to serve guests – a popular roast that she describes as a “crowd pleaser” because it has good body and works well either with sugar and cream or black. Accompanying the COFFEEwere muffins, scones, and yogurt parfait made with as many local ingredients as possible by students in Fanshawe’s culinary program. LIVING ALIVE GRANOLA and apples from BERRY HILL FRUIT FARM completed the event’s first meal. Guests spent some time in the elegant train station before boarding the PORT STANLEY TERMINAL RAIL for the journey to WILDFLOWERS FARM.
The ride through beautiful Elgin County featured a few more local gems en route – RAILWAY CITY BREWING and SALT & PEPPER MEALS. A beer tasting of The Witty Traveller was paired with a sample of Salt & Pepper’s coffee-rubbed pork crostini drizzled with a chimichurri mayo.
The train stopped at Whyte Station at 12 PM and guests walked the short distance to Wildflowers Farm, a nine-acre organic family farm owned by Chuck and Jane Magri. There was no shortage of things to do for the hour and a half scheduled at Wildflowers – from bee tours and tea talks to listening to St. Thomas musician King Jeorge’s smooth, soulful melodies. Several exquisite food pairings were also offered at this stop. THE WINDJAMMER INN teamed up with WILDFLOWERS TEA to create Kapha tea brined and smoked duck topped with pickled peaches from GREAT LAKES FARMS, all on LA HOULETTE DE VIE BAKERY’s Wise Walnut Bread. HELM BAKED also partnered with Wildflowers to create mini tea-infused cupcakes featuring the Pitta and Simplicity blends, which produced a hibiscus-forward cupcake with raspberry buttercream icing and one with flavours of chamomile and a vanilla bean buttercream icing – all gluten free.
After a fulfilling farm experience, guests boarded the train for the final time to wind through Elgin County’s lush forests on the way to Port Stanley. During the journey, SEED CONFECTIONS served their melt-in-your-mouth macarons and Railway City Brewing paired it with a taste of their Barrel Reserve Tart Cherry Wild Ale.
A snack of BARB’S BRICKLE from the Storehouse and some time to wander around Port Stanley was followed by a bus ride to one of Elgin County’s scenic wineries, QUAI DU VIN. Jamie Quai, owner and winemaker, greeted guests and began a tour of the vineyards, processing area, fermentation and barrel rooms. His fascinating talk was complemented by several wine tastings, including Quai du Vin’s 2016 Signature White and Aurore Muscat. In the barrel room, a delightful creation made with organic vegetables from ORCHARD HILL FARM was waiting – sweet corn pudding including three cheeses, topped with a roasted tomatillo salsa.
The last destination on the Conductor’s Choice tour was the Elgin County Railway Museum, an important piece of St. Thomas history and a stunning setting for the final event. Built in 1913-14 to house the Michigan Central Railroad repair shops, the 52,000-square-foot building was a perfectly on-theme venue, complete with locomotives throughout and a 5700 steam engine backdrop. Set up in front of the steam engine was THE PAIRS, a folk pop group from London that consists of three classically trained vocalists and a former punk rock drummer. Their moody blend of harmonies and rhythm added to the dramatic atmosphere, especially alongside the immersive performance by ZERO GRAVITY CIRCUS. An aerialist swung from the ceiling, suspended by silks, while characters on stilts and a classic policemen and bandit trio wandered among the tables.
Dinner was served by students of Fanshawe’s Artisanal Culinary Arts and Culinary Skills programs with the help of program coordinators Patrick Hersey, Josie Pontarelli, and Troy Spicer. Pontarelli called it “a celebration of local food,” with most ingredients coming from local sources such as FRESH FROM OUR FIELDS, DEBACKERE FARM MARKET, COMMON GROUND FARM, CELTIC RIDGE FARMS, SPRINGWATER PACKERS, MCKECHNIE FOODS, CLOVERMEAD, STEED AND COMPANY LAVENDER, and COLE-MUNRO FOODS. Gourmet choices like smoked trout tacos, French style fingerling potato salad, smoked pork shoulder, wild rice and grain salad, beef sirloin steak, and BBQ chicken were featured. Pontarelli was pleased that the students had the opportunity to see the hard work that goes into an event and receive instant feedback on their creations.
ELGIN HARVEST brought their own touch to dinner, complementing the variety of food with their authentic wood-fired pizza made with sourdough crust and local vegetables, some grown at their own farm.
Sarah Noble, Manager of RAILWAY CITY TOURISM and coordinator of the event, said she was excited to see the culinary tour come together and witness the many guests from out of town experience our community for the first time and really embrace it. She credits the success of the event to the many local food creatives who partnered with Railway City Tourism to make this culinary experience happen. She explained in her speech, “I wanted to see people discover these gems and take stock of how fortunate we are to have such a diverse food culture here. It’s growing and driving forward to serve the community in new and exciting ways. This day-long culinary adventure was only possible because these people believe in what they’re doing and wanted to share it with all of you.”
Guests certainly noticed and appreciated the work that went into the day. Andrea Sauer experienced the full event, from the CASO Station to the Railway Museum, and described the day as “perfect” and “seamless.” “All of the pieces of the puzzle fit together so beautifully. I really feel that everybody has put their heart into it and it’s been a great experience.” Like many guests on the tour, she had not visited many of the destinations before and felt that “it really opened your eyes to St. Thomas and what St. Thomas has to offer.”
Many expressed their hope that the event would happen again next year. Fortunately, Noble says there is room to grow. “This year we used one train car, maybe next year we can use two.”
Keep up with St. Thomas’s food scene on social media with the hashtag #tasteofstthomas and by following @railwaycitytourism on Instagram!
Saturday October 27th is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY for Halloween and St. Thomas is ready to Haunt!
Free Comic Books will be available* at Fan of the Sport, Railway City Tourism, St. Thomas Public Library, Dark Matter and Submariner Tales in St. Thomas.
Trick-or-Treat with your halloween_haunt_-_passport__3_.pdfPASSPORT from 10 am - 2 pm and visit participating businesses for treats or a contest draw. Visit at least 10 of the participating businesses to be entered to win $50 in Downtown Dollars! Passports can be left at your last stop or delivered to Railway City Tourism before 4 pm.
Print your PASSPORT at home before heading out.
Dress up in your Halloween finest for added fun! You never know who you might run into downtown for photos opportunities!
Oh My Fur & Whiskers - 257 Talbot St.
Why Not Cookies - 373 Talbot St.
Chick Boss Cake - 381 Talbot St.
Crocker's - 445 Talbot St.
Submariner Tales - 488 Talbot St.
The Nook - 567 Talbot St.
Limitless Tattoo - 529 Talbot St.
St. Thomas Public Library - 153 Curtis St.
STEAM Centre - 168 Curtis St.
Fan of the Sport - 571 Talbot St.
Rail City Bistro - 599 Talbot St.
Railway City Tourism - 605 Talbot St.
Bulk Barn - 730 Talbot St.
Vesta Shop - 797 Talbot St.
Ohtera - 797 Talbot St. Unit 3
Dotsy's - 111 Ross St.
Dark Matter Toys & Collectibles - 127 Ross St.
Romantic Designs - 120 Wellington St.
Railway City Brewing - 130 Edward St (opening at 11)
Follow along with the event page for more details and updates!
*free comic books will be available until close of regular business day or until we run out. Dark Matter Toys and Submariner Tales will have back issue comics while Fan of the Sport, Railway City Tourism, St Thomas Public Library will have official Free Comic Book Day issues
As the leaves begin to fall and the hot summer weather starts to cool off, along with it comes beautiful colour change that Autumn brings. The golds and rusted reds create a tone of warmth that has many of us looking forward to sweater weather and . To many, this is the most beautiful season of all. Railway City is the perfect place to enjoy Autumn and we welcome this seasonal transition with open arms. Where is your favourite spot to witness the season change locally? We are looking forward to seeing images from the Elevated Park! Use #explorerailwaycity and #stthomasproud to share your photos with us!
The variation of colours is always so fascinating. These leaves that show a spectrum of warm tones were captured by @spitzkymedia
Railway City is surrounded by an abundant amount of farmland and with it comes a beautiful opportunity to capture these landscapes. Fall is a very important season for all farms and markets in Elgin County and we encourage you to visit local markets like The Horton Farmers Market, Salt Creek Farm Market, Briwood Farm Market, and DeBackere Farm Market to enjoy the very best this harvest season has to offer. Credit Instagram User @yodaskitchen for this great capture!
The magic of the changing season begins so subtly. With just a few pops of yellow in a sea of green. But the shift from coll green summer to the feeling of Autumn warmth is undeniable in this picture. Credit Instagram User @viewsfromthe519.
Another instance of fall colour not necessarily being in the leaves! The cooler days and moody skies create amazing sunset shows too! Credit Instagram User @popem77 for this beautiful beach sunset!
There are so many trails to enjoy this season. Even if you explored them all through the summer months, they take on a completely different feeling this time of year. So get out and enjoy a hike, run or bike ride! Credit Instagram User @pink_sparkphoto for this gorgeous capture.
This final Fall-featured photograph shows a beautiful autumn sky with the colours of festive orange and rusted red vibrantly showing through. Especially with Halloween just around the corner, this image is perfect for the time of year! Thanks @lisabella for the image! Be sure to check out all the Halloween Events coming up in St. Thomas and celebrate the season to the fullest!
Every year from April to October, communities across the province open the doors to hundreds of historical buildings, places of worship, museums, private homes, heritage gardens and other interesting venues. Many of the participating sites offer special activities, such as tours, exhibitions and demonstrations – all free of charge!
St. Thomas’ Doors Open is coming up Saturday October 13th from 10am-4pm and will feature some unique experiences for the day, including free train rides! The train runs from the L&PS Station at 605 Talbot Street to the Elgin County building at 450 Sunset Drive, where people have an hour layover to explore the Elgin County Heritage Centre and Elgin County Archives.
St. Thomas Sites
10am depart L&PS Station - Return departure 11:30 am Elgin County Building
12pm depart L&PS Station - Return departure 1:30 pm Elgin County Building
2pm depart L&PS Station - Return departure 3:30 pm Elgin County Building
RAILWAY CITY TOURISM will be open at 9 AM for you to get your train tickets!
For more information about Doors Open Ontario 2018, contact Sarah Noble at 519-631-1680 x 4132 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Doors Open for detailed event information, highlights and site details.
Doors Open Ontario is a program of the Ontario Heritage Trust working with communities across the province to open the doors, gates and courtyards of their unique and most fascinating cultural sites so you can explore the stories inside.
Download your Doors Open flyer here to get all the info on times and locations!
We are starting to feel the cooler temperatures and the leaves are ever so subtly starting to change. The only thing that isn't changing is the fact that there are still so many activities and opportunities to enjoy our city! Follow along with our social media accounts for updates and check out what our incredible partners are offering for you to enjoy throughout the month of October!
ARTS & CULTURE
Until Oct 20 | In View of the Artist | St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre
Until Oct 20 | Shelby Hayward - Doyenne | St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre
Until Dec 22 | Baseball and Brass Bands | Heritage Centre
Oct 11 | Art Class - Halloween Cat | Romantic Designs
Oct 11 | Bridges to Better Business featuring David Usher | Elgin County Railway Museum
Oct 11 | Paint Night | St. Thomas Road House
Oct 13 | Doors Open St. Thomas | City Wide
Oct 13 | Art Class - Winter Wolf | Romantic Designs
Oct 13 & 20 | Murder Mystery Train | Port Stanley Terminal Rail
Oct 15 | From Fair to Foul - Magicians in the 19th Century | St. Thomas Public Library
Oct 15 | Pick your Project Sign Night | St. Thomas Road House
Oct 17 | Art Class - Acrylic Workshop | Romantic Designs
Oct 19 | Booktoberfest | Railway City Brewing
Oct 19-20 | Dungeon of Doom Haunted House | Dotsy's
Oct 20 | Allure - A Photo Immersive Event | Jac's House
Oct 20 | Art Class - Dragon Days | Romantic Designs
Oct 20 | STEGH Foundation Gala- Midnight in Paris | St. Anne's Centre
Oct 20 | New Orleans Jazz & Blues Dinner| St. John's Anglican
Oct 22 | Christmas Porch Signs | St. Thomas Road House
Oct 24 | Art Class - The Lighthouse | Romantic Designs
Oct 26 | Almighty Roast Beef Dinner| St. John's Anglican
Oct 26 & 27 | Halloween Mystery Train | Port Stanley Terminal Rail
Oct 26-27 | Dungeon of Doom Haunted House | Dotsy's
Oct 27 | Art Class - The Witch | Romantic Designs
Oct 31 | Dungeon of Doom Haunted House | Dotsy's
Tuesdays | Dart Night | Railway City Brewing
Tuesdays| Euchre Club | St. John's Anglican
Oct 3 | Brewery Boot Camp | Railway City Brewing
Oct 6 & 20 | Seed Saving Workshop | St. Thomas Public Library
Oct 13 | Love, Life & the Afterlife | Princess Ave. Playhouse
Oct 20 | CJR Performance Season Ending Weekend | St. Thomas Raceway Park
Oct 12 | NO LIARS | Brunswick Tavern
Oct 26 | Open Mic Night | Streamliners Espresso Bar
Oct 26 | Sounds of Samhain | Back Alley
Saturdays & Sundays (+ Thanksgiving Day) | PSTR Train Rides | Port Stanley
Saturdays | Pumpkin Festival | Clovermead
Oct 18 - 31 | Haunted House | Rail City Recreation
Oct 26 | Downtown Pumpkin Prowl |Downtown St. Thomas
Oct 26 & 27 | Pumpkin Train | Port Stanley Terminal Rail
Oct 27 | Halloween Haunt for FREE Comic Book Day| St. Thomas
Saturdays | Horton Farmers' Market | Horton Farmers' Market
Oct 17 | Night Market | CASO Station
Oct 24 | Night Market | CASO Station
Oct 27 | Spooktactular Sweets | The Nook
In preparation for Culture Days this weekend we are featuring a submission from Romantic Designs Artist Studio. They have programming on all weekend from September 28-30 and there has never been a better time to pick up a brush and let your artistic side expand.
After retiring from the Military in Ottawa, Major Daniel Brassard and his wife Sharon, chose St. Thomas to set up their home and Romantic Designs Artist Studio. Their studio is situated at the crossroads of Wellington and Princess street, adjacent to the Whistle stop Trail, in a quaint wooden building with plenty of free parking. Romantic Designs Artist Studio is a side by side Gallery/Gift Shoppe and Classroom and has been open for 8 years and continues to draw tourists and students both locally and beyond. They credit their success and wide stretching net of interest to three things Versatility, Accessibility and Communication. Dan is a multi-media painter and Sharon is a sculptor. Where they come together is their subjects which range from Celtic and Medieval, Fantasy and Folklore. “It was part of our business plan – to create a niche- something that would pull in customers from both home and abroad. Dan says. “We are opened all year round - offering a variety classes each month that are all-inclusive and diversified with a customer reward program. More bang for your buck”.
The Brassards’ are more than just good business partners and have often been referred to as a ‘Two Person Artist Guild “. Their acclaims are global. Their paintings and sculptures have been shipped to various locations throughout the United States and Europe with one of Dan’s’ paintings winning a ribbon at The World Fantasy Convention. They have designed and won trophies on Parade Floats and have been active participants in a number of Ontario sponsored Art Programs.
“When we get visitors/students from as far as Windsor, Toronto and Owen Sound, we ask them why us? Its always the same answer- “What you offer is both different and affordable – its unique and worth the drive.” That’s a good thing- because when they were looking for a location 10 years ago they determined that "St. Thomas has everything we are looking for.”
Long standing participants of The Goderich Celtic Roots and Robin in the Hood Festivals, Sharon and Dan also bring their art on the road at summer outdoor festivals. “Our Powertex Celtic Dancer was a big hit last year at the Goderich Celtic Roots Auction…. and our Dragons always draw a lot of attention.”
Whether it’s a gift for someone special, a day out to explore or a destination to bring your visitors from out of town or trying your hand at Watercolor class …. A visit to ROMANTIC DESIGNS ARTIST STUDIO is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Classes and Workshops - Painting in Watercolor, Pencil, Acrylic, Mixed Media, Pastel, Oil, Alcohol Inks, Mosaic. Sculpting in Powertex, Polymer Clay, Fibre
Gallery and Gift Shop - Plenty of free parking with a well-lit lot day or night and Handicap access to washrooms and classes
Every year, millions of Canadians engage in thousands of free activities and performances hosted by artists, cultural organizations and municipalities in communities across Canada. From Nunavut to New Brunswick, and from British Columbia to Baffin Island – and all points in between – we share all the inspiration, artistry, creativity and expression that reflects the mosaic of Canadian culture.
Culture Days celebrations return this year from Friday, September 28th to Sunday, September 30th, and there are tons of free, participatory arts activities happening in St. Thomas for you to participate in!
Check out our condensed guide below to help you find the best activities (or for more events that may be added after this post!) for you this 2018 Culture Days weekend, or click here to find the detailed Culture Days St. Thomas info.
Romantic Designs Art Studio
Little Red Mitten
St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre
Southwold Township Library - Shedden
St. Thomas Public Library - St. Thomas
St. Thomas Horton Farmers’ Market - St. Thomas
The Village Collective - Sparta
Boat Launch - Port Stanley
Port Stanley Library - Port Stanley
Steam Centre with St. Thomas Elgin Local Immigration Parthership - St. Thomas
Contact: Petrusia Hontar | email@example.com | 519-631-9800 x 241
Joe Thornton Community Centre - St. Thomas
Talbot Teen Centre - St. Thomas
Elgin County Heritage Centre - St. Thomas
Elgin County Administration Building - St. Thomas
Portside Gallery - Port Stanley
Belmont Library - Belmont
Springfield Library - Springfield
Aylmer Library - Aylmer
Family Central Restaurant - Aylmer
Christ Anglican Church - Port Stanley
Glover Park - Port Stanley
Streamliners Espresso Bar - St. Thomas
Hiram Smith House - Sparta