Paris Ontario oozes small town charm. Discover its history, shops, eateries, and unique cobblestone homes.
You’ll probably think I’m lying when I say I went to Paris for a weekend, but it’s true. And it took me less than an hour to get there from Hamilton, Ontario. How’s that for high speed travel?
The Canadian version of the "grand Pa-ree" is a little town (pop. 11,000) in Southern Ontario, near Brantford. The connection between it and Brantford is more than geographic; there’s an important historic link between the two. While Brantford is famous as the “telephone city” (the site of Alexander Graham Bell’s home and the first long-distance telephone call), people sometimes forget that Bell made that call to Paris. A bronze plaque on one of the stores we visited on Grand River Street (the main drag) proudly announces this. The call was made on August 10, 1876.
Paris is known as the Cobblestone Town because of the use of that material on some of the heritage buildings. The neighbourhoods are full of handsome Victorian houses.
The quaint downtown has maintained many of
its 19th century commercial buildings (some complete with tin ceilings!), except
for one unsightly gap where a couple of new, brutish buildings have been
used as infill (”what were they thinking?!”).
The town’s most famous store is Mary Maxim, which sells craft supplies and gift items. This is quite a large store and is a "destination" for crafters in Southern Ontario.
Downtown, the shops along Grand River Street include a bakery, gift stores, fashion shops, and housewares. My favourite is the chocolate shop, Chocolate Sensations.
A former textile mill has been renovated and is now a market. Wincey Mills at 31 Mechanic Street houses several vendors selling local produce, meats, seafood and cheeses, vintage and handmade
jewellery, lady’s fashions and housewares, and original works from
The most interesting building on the main street is the stately
old Arlington Hotel built in the 1850s. The heritage building was renovated recently and has two restaurants, so even if you're not staying overnight, you can take in the historic ambiance.
The town boasts several patios for outdoor eating in fine weather. The Grand River runs through the town, backing right up to the rear ends of the buildings along one side of Grand River Street. Many of these buildings sport balconies that hang over the water, making this a scenic spot for a leisurely lunch.
You can find more information about downtown Paris at the website: http://downtownparis.ca/