Paris – A Hidden Gem in Ontario

Like most people;  visiting Paris has been on my bucket list for a long time and with the snow from this ice storm thawing out and sun shining bright enticing me out, I am glad I finally did it today !I must forewarn  you that there was no Eifel Tower,  Arc de Triomphe or the Louvre to be seen there but  it was still worth every single minute spent in traffic of Hwy 403.

It is amazing where life takes you if you have a curious nature and a wild spirit and it’s to this that I owe my latest travel to what the Harrowsmith Magazine called “ the prettiest little town in Canada”, Paris, Ontario.

When I saw the name on google maps, I was immediately curious and started digging more, thinking it was perhaps a sister city of the famous European city but the only connection is  “Plaster of Paris”.

Well you see,  Paris was named after the Celtic Parisii tribe of people who inhabited it, while they called Plaster of Paris by that name because of large deposits of gypsum (used to obtain Plaster of Paris) at Montmartre hill in Paris. Now when  this same material gypsum was discovered in abundance in 1793 on banks of Grand river, what better name to come up with than “Paris” !

Grand river merging into Nith River in Paris city center

Paris, is beautifully nestled at a spot where Nith river merges into Grand river in Brant county and about an hour’s drive from Toronto. It has all the charm of scenic  small Canadian town with a nostalgic town-center filled with authentic  local shops, architecture to marvel, an old Canadian tire store converted into a shopping market and warmth of the local folks but that’s not the only reason this gem deserves a visit.

Old Canadian Tire Store converted into Shopping Market

Paris is called the “ cobblestone capital of Canada” in reference to the  number of aged cobblestone buildings in the city including the St. James Anglican Church constructed in 1839 and which I would have totally missed , had I not spoken to the lovely Librarian at the Public Library.

A cobblestone constructed heritage house

There are two churches and ten homes and are all in current use. This is quite a number  and worth every effort preserving and seeing , considering there are only 600 such structures left around Lake Ontario in US and Canada.

St. James Anglican Church ( Cobblestone Construction)

And this not a town only for Retrophiles , It absolutely worth a visit if you are from the adventurous tribe. Paris is a perfect retreat for the outdoor adventurer and Grand river offers great joy if you are into anything water related including fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and rafting.

As for time of year to visit, I reckon anytime is a good time to visit but they do have a carnival called Paris Fair on Labour day weekend which I have marked down in my calendar for my next visit