Woodstock To Tillsonburg, There Is More Than Cheese in Oxford County - Marc Smith
January 22, 2018
Have you explored the Oxford County Cheese Trail? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? It took me two days to visit 9 of the 20+ stops on the cheese trail which means I need to come back for another tour. During my cheese trail adventure, I called the town of Woodstock “home base” and discovered a few extra places in Oxford County you may want to visit during your cheesy adventure. One such place is a lovely 19th century historic home turned bed & breakfast. There is also a fabulous restaurant that can hold its own with any place I’ve eaten at in Toronto. Last but not least is the National Historic Site that was once the home of the Tillson family and its design was influenced by Oscar Wilde. Oxford County may be a big name in the world of Cheese but there is more to this part of Ontario’s Southwest than just curds and whey, all you have to do is open your eyes.
This part of the adventure starts at Château la Motte. Built in 1895 by Thomas “Carbide” Willson this 19th-century mansion is now a place you can call home for one night or a week. Let me take you on a tour of this mansion including the large bedroom that I slept in. The old word details have been wonderfully maintained and it showcases a style and opulence that is hard to match in today’s homes.
It is hard to believe that after a full day on the Cheese Trail I would be hungry for dinner. Once I looked at the menu of restaurant Six Thirty Nine it was as if I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day. Chef and Owner Eric Boyar has created a destination restaurant in Woodstock that attracts diners from Oxford County and beyond.
If you are lucky and the Chef’s table is available, book it! You will sit at a high top right on the edge of the kitchen where you can watch Chef Eric and his team hard at work. Completely comfortable leaving my dining choices in Chef Eric’s hands I had the Chef’s Tasting Menu with wine pairing. Delicious food, great wines and fabulous conversation with the kitchen and my dining companion what could be better? Two of the outstanding dishes were the Smoked Five Brothers Arancini and the Apple Smoked Berkshire Pork. I think the photos say it all.
Even if you are not a person normally interested in touring museums I would suggest you visit Annandale. Aside from being a spectacular home it also sheds light on the Tillson family the founders of Tillsonburg. To call them groundbreaking would be an understatement. Fabulously wealthy they built Annandale to live in and created an experimental farm surrounding it. Innovations at the farm still have an impact today, but it is the house that really stands out.
Built in the 1880’s the design of the house was inspired by a lecture given in Woodstock by Oscar Wilde in 1882. The design is called Aesthetic Art Movement and Annandale House is one of the finest examples still in existence in North America. Featuring colour and decorative detailing in all areas of the home a tour of the house will assault your senses. To show it in pictures I would need to share 100’s of photos, but here is a small sample as an example of the exquisite workmanship and restoration on display.
On-site is the local museum which has a permanent collection along with a rotating display that explores more of the history and impact of the region. Well worth a tour through.
Small towns like Woodstock and Tillsonburg in Ontario’s Southwest are quite exciting to explore in my opinion as they are rich in history and you only need a day or two to discover it. Just ask the locals. There is more to Oxford County than an ooey gooey cheese trail.