Glen Williams is an adorable hamlet in Halton Hills, Ontario (yes, it’s too small to be called a village!) and it’s the perfect place to spend the day. If you love visiting small towns in Ontario and you’re seeking a fun day trip from Toronto, I highly recommend checking out Glen Williams.
While you can visit the neighbouring towns of Georgetown and Acton, you may find yourself spending all day in Glen Williams, Ontario. We’re actually locals to Georgetown and Glen Williams is only a five minute drive down the road for us. After visiting Glen Williams quite a few times, here are the best things to see and do in this historic hamlet.
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In this travel blog post about Glen Williams, Ontario, we’re going to share a little bit about the interesting history of this tiny community. Then, we’ll show you all of the best things to do in Glen Williams for an amazing day trip. Glen Williams is only an hour from Toronto and near many other cities and towns in southern Ontario.
About Glen Williams
Glen Williams was founded in 1825. Many of the buildings here are original, dating back to the 1840s and 1850s. Several of the historic buildings are included on The Canadian Register of Historic Places. The village was built around the Credit River as many of the industries were once powered by its waters.
Glen Williams was known as Williamsburgh until 1852, but there was already a settlement called Williamsburgh on the St. Lawrence River. After the town’s name changed to Glen Williams, the settlement established a post office at Wheeler’s General Store, which is now where the Copper Kettle Pub is located.
The village became quite bustling with activity and industry with its own hotel, woolen mills, saw and flour mills, and brickyards. There were cabinet makers, a tannery, pump makers and shingle makers. In 1856, the village purchased its own fire engine, which was destroyed in a fire 10 years later.
The Beaumont Knitting Mill was constructed in 1882 and replaced a converted saw mill. Nowadays, the same building is home to two antiques and vintage shops: Beaumont Mill Antiques & Collectibles and Feathered Nest Furnishings.
Glen Williams Parks and Nature
As Glen Williams is such a small place, you can easily walk from one end to the other in about 15 minutes. There’s one main street that’s called, you guessed it, Main Street. When you visit Glen Williams, be sure to admire the Credit River, whether it’s checking out the beautiful views or going for a tubing adventure.
The Credit River
The Credit River winds through Glen Williams and you can catch glimpses of the river as you walk through town. We heard that locals love to go tubing on the Credit River. There aren’t any official tour companies and it’s strictly on a “bring your own tube” basis. Justin and I can’t wait to try this out sometime!
Walk behind the property of the St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church. Those at the church don’t mind if you walk across their property in order to access the river. Enter the Credit River on your tube here and gently float down this natural lazy river.
You can also start a little farther up around 10th Line and Side Road 22. For an all-day adventure, start your adventure up in the village of Terra Cotta and make your way down to Glen Williams. Your tubing trip can end at the Shelagh Law Parkette. It’s easiest if you park one car in Glen Williams and park a second car at the starting point. Then, drive back up to the starting point to pick up your car.
Shelagh Law Parkette
On the southern end of Glen Williams, you’ll find the Shelagh Law Parkette. A parkette is a tiny park, which is awfully fitting for a hamlet. There’s a sign welcoming you to Glen Williams in front of the parkette.
Walk across the orange Indigenous crosswalk to reach the Shelagh Law Parkette. It sits opposite the Glen Williams Cenotaph on the other side of the road.
The Shelagh Law Parkette is situated on the banks of the Credit River, offering a peaceful place to relax. There are a couple of benches and picnic tables where you enjoy a coffee or a picnic lunch.
Williams Mill Creative Art Studios
When you visit Glen Williams, stopping by Williams Mill Creative Art Studios is an absolute must. It’s an entire destination in itself! Williams Mill unites visitors with the artists themselves as this is a working art studio and art gallery all in one.
Williams Mill is divided across several heritage buildings where each artist has their own booth and workspace. There’s a glass blowing workshop, a stone cutters studio, and art studios for painters, jewellers, textile artists, ceramics and so many more.
I’m grateful to have met so many amazing artists on my visit to the Williams Mill Creative Art Studios. I loved being able to ask them questions, learn more about their creative processes and what inspires them to create.
I’m going to highlight a few of my favourite artists and their works, though you really need to stop by to discover everything for yourself. The artists themselves may be working in their studios when you visit, so you’ll be able to talk to them and purchase their works from them directly.
Main Street Studios
The Main Street Studios has inviting window displays that alternate each month, featuring a different artist and their works. This stone building is the perfect gallery with its high ceilings and bright, spacious windows.
I immediately noticed the hand drawn creations by Darlene Hartung. She was in the middle of teaching a student when we arrived, which was really neat to see. You can purchase her original drawings or order custom artwork. I really love how she draws pictures of people’s pets!
Berna Kilic is a glass artist who specializes in handmade glass beads and jewelry. You can find all kinds of treasures in her booth, such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and even plant decor. Berna had recently fired some beads in her kiln, and it’s really interesting to see the raw glass materials that go into her creations as well.
Zsuzsa Monostory is a ceramic artist and sculptor who specializes in raku firing techniques. She creates unique human figures, and works based on animals and nature. Zsuzsa expresses her concerns about environmental issues through some of her pieces. She takes on commissioned works and is an accomplished teacher as well.
Stephanie Schirm is an accomplished fine artist, designer and illustrator. You’ll notice immediately when you walk into her art studio that she loves to use bright, vivid colours in her paintings. Each one is truly a statement piece that will bring so much life to any space. Stephanie also teaches many painting classes in Glen Williams, Orangeville and Brampton.
Courtyard and Stone Building Studios
The Stone Building at the back of the courtyard is one of two heritage buildings at Williams Mill. It’s home to several artists, including painters, textile artists, stone sculptors and ceramic artists.
Pauline Gladstone is a professional artist who creates oil paintings, both big and small, in this Glen Williams studio space. She has explored still life, nature, animals, landscapes, portraits and more as the subjects of her art. Pauline also leads painting classes, workshops, kids creative workshops, and more.
When Justin and I visited, we caught Barbara McDiarmid in the middle of creating a new art piece. Barbara creates works in encaustic and oil painting, as well as acrylic and wire art. Sometimes she’ll make mixed media pieces that incorporate oil or acrylic paintings with found materials.
Marlene Madole is an impressive award-winning artist who has exhibited her work in countless group and solo exhibits across Canada. She incorporates light into her works through her watercolours of fruit on the vine, as well as her landscape paintings of lakes and rivers visited on her travels across Canada. She was one of the founding artists of Williams Mill Visual Art Centre in 1995.
Sara Heathfield, also known as the Glen Girl is an artist, filmmaker and designer. Her creative processes have resulted in a clothing shop, gift store and dried flower market. Sara begins by creating an original hand painted work on canvas that she then transforms into a repeat pattern on fabric. You can purchase these limited edition garments on clothing exclusively available in her shop. Sara creates a new artwork and fabric each year.
Jenanne Longman is a ceramics artist who takes inspiration from her surroundings in Glen Williams. She creates works inspired by architecture, urban landscapes or the nature around Glen Williams. Jenanne experiments with various designs, imprints, industrial designs and painted pieces. She also teaches beginner pottery classes, workshops and more.
Of course, I must mention the Stone Sculptors Studio, home to the unique works of Graham Bowden, Mary Ellen Farrow, Irene Sirko and Martina Skuce. We met Mary Ellen Farrow and learned about how she works with limestone, marble, alabaster or soapstone to create sculptures of all sizes. She often constructs miniature pieces as a precursor to much larger works that can take anywhere from weeks to months to create.
Glen Williams Glass
When you stop by Williams Mill, don’t miss checking out Glen Williams Glass! This is a collective studio made up of several independent glass artists. Visitors can pop by to watch the artists create glass works before their eyes. You can observe the glassblowing process and discover the variety of styles that vary from artist to artist.
And yes, it gets hot in Glen Williams Glass as those ovens are intense! You’ll find many displays of glass art available for purchase, including jewelry, ornaments, glass flowers, housewares, vases, bowls, decorations, paper weights and more.
Glen Williams Coffee Shops
Glen Williams is home to two cafes, both cute and unique in their own way. Since I am a self-professed coffee addict, I managed to visit both coffee shops in one day.
I suggest stopping by Kit’s Little Kitchen in the late morning to start your day. Enjoy your beverage in the cafe, out on the patio, or perhaps even for takeaway to drink at the Shelagh Law Parkette.
Then, venture over to Main Street Market after shopping and lunch for a midday pick me up. Main Street Market is a marketplace and cafe combined, so you’ll be able to continue your shopping spree around Glen Williams as you sip a yummy beverage.
Kit’s Little Kitchen
Kit’s Little Kitchen is owned by Kathryn, aka Kit, who lovingly creates simple, homemade meals and desserts. You’ll find sweet treats, breakfast and lunch, and ready-to-eat meals if you don’t feel like cooking that night.
Justin and I stopped by Kit’s Little Kitchen for some coffee. They offer a wide variety of plant-based milk options, as well as many flavour shots to personalize your beverage. I ordered one of my go-to drinks, an iced Americano with oat milk and vanilla. Yum!
Kit’s Little Kitchen is a small cafe with only a few tables, though it feels bright, airy and spacious. On a nice day, enjoy the outdoor patio, which is especially popular with cyclists traveling through the area. If they happen to be busy, I suggest having a picnic at the Shelagh Law Parkette.
Main Street Market
Main Street Market is a cafe and handmade market all in one. The market place features handmade goods from artisans and small businesses both locally and across Canada. There’s clothing, housewares, potted plants and so much more. They also have a great selection of specialty food items, gluten-free items, hand-tied bouquets, and freshly baked bread.
The cafe emphasizes that it has really good coffee (it’s awesome!). I think it’s pretty cute that they call it a “Canadiano” instead of an “Americano”. For those who don’t drink coffee or caffeinated beverages, you’ll also find tea, apple cider, hot cocoa, lemonade, cold pressed juices and smoothie bowls.
Main Street Market has some indoor seating and a patio to enjoy in the summertime. The business is family owned and operated, and it’s one of the newest establishments in Glen Williams. Be sure to check it out while you’re there.
Lunch at the Copper Kettle Pub
Copper Kettle Pub is Glen Williams’ neighbourhood pub with delicious food, locally brewed beer, and the best patio in town. Even though the entire village feels like a little oasis, their patio is yet another wonderful place to soak up the town’s idyllic vibes. Soak up the sunshine on warm sunny days or get cozy by the wood burning fireplaces when it’s chillier out.
I love how they offer local craft beer on tap and by the bottle, so you can discover microbreweries you may not have known to exist. The Copper Kettle Pub has a couple of items on the menu that are vegan or can be modified to become vegan: mixed green salad, Mediterranean chickpea salad, and the black bean and chickpea burger.
What would a historic village be without an antique store? If you’re on the hunt for antiques, vintage items for your home or unique collectibles, you need to stop by the historic Beaumont Knitting Mill building. There are two excellent shops within the same building where you’ll surely find many treasures.
The Beaumont Knitting Mill is the oldest remaining mill in Glen Williams, established in 1878. Be sure to admire this coursed rubble limestone building before venturing inside Beaumont Mill Antiques & Collectibles and Feathered Nest Furnishings.
Beaumont Mill Antiques and Collectibles has two levels and multiple rooms packed full of intriguing finds. You never know what you might stumble upon! Whether it’s a home essential that completes a room or a new addition to your collection, you could easily spend hours uncovering the goodies and delights here.
Feathered Nest Furnishings features upcycled, new and previously loved home décor and furnishings. They have an interesting system where the price becomes reduced the longer it stays in the shop. Don’t wait too long before buying that item you’ve got your eye on, as someone else might buy it first.
Hiking Near Glen Williams
Take a short drive up Ninth Line from Glen Williams to reach Silver Creek Conservation Area. Although it’s technically located outside of Glen Williams, Silver Creek Conservation Area is only an eight minute drive from Glen Williams, so I’m pleased to include it in this itinerary.
Silver Creek Conservation Area is the largest of all the Credit Valley Conservation Areas. There are enough trails to spend your entire day here or you can visit several times to hike new paths through the forest on each visit.
You’ll find a section of the popular Bruce Trail here, a 900km footpath connecting Niagara and Tobermory. Fun fact: I’m (slowly) hiking the entire Bruce Trail and blogging about my journey. You can find a list of all of my Bruce Trail hikes here.
At Silver Creek Conservation Area, you’ll come across scenic lookouts, dense forests, and rock formations that are characteristic of the Niagara Escarpment. If you visit in the late spring and summer, be sure to pack your sunscreen and your bug spray as it does get quite buggy here (like most hiking trails in Ontario during this time).
Lauren is the full-time travel blogger and content creator behind Justin Plus Lauren. She started Justin Plus Lauren in 2013 and has travelled to 50+ countries around the world. Lauren is an expert on vegan travel as one of the very first vegan travel bloggers. She also focuses on outdoor adventure travel, eco and sustainable travel, and creating amazing travel itineraries for cities and small towns.