Elora is a small town near Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It is extremely picturesque, sitting along the Grand River and the Elora Gorge. The architecture is very appealing, featuring stonework buildings built by Scottish stonemasons over a century ago. There is a vibrant and creative artistic community thriving in Elora.
Elora Gorge is a beautiful sight that attracts sightseers, campers, hikers, kayakers and tubers. The limestone cliffs are 22 metres high and the Grand River exits frantically through the Gorge. It is possible to hike to scenic overlooks next to the Gorge along riverside trails - there are some magnificent views.
It is well known for its 19th-century limestone architecture and the geographically significant Elora Gorge.
- Welcome Centre, 5 Mill Street East, +1 519-846-9841.
Roman Catholic missionaries first visited this area in the early to mid-1600s "to Christianize" the indigenous people, particularly the Neutral Nation on the old Attiwandaronk Lands. The first European settlers arrived in 1817.
Elora was founded in 1832 by Captain William Gilkison, from Scotland, who was a British officer recently returned from India. He had also served in the War of 1812. He bought 14,000 acres of land on the Grand River and settled on the east side of the river. The plan for the settlement was laid out by Lewis Burwell, in late 1832, when it was called Irvine Settlement. By 1833, Gilkison had opened a sawmill and a general store. The village was renamed Elora when the post office was established in 1839. Gilkison named the community after his brother's ship, which was inspired by the Ellora Caves near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India.
In the 1850s and 1860s, Elora was a major agricultural marketplace. The flour mill and sawmill were powered by the Grand River. By 1870, several other mills, two distilleries, a carpet factory, tannery and two furniture factories were operating.
Still standing, the five-storey original Elora grist mill from the 1830s was a sawmill, a distillery and a flour mill over the subsequent years. It is now a luxury hotel and spa.
- By car: Highway 7 - 20 km (12.4 miles) northwest of Guelph
- By taxi: $40-55 from Guelph (July 2018)
- By bus: On Saturdays and holiday Mondays Apr-Oct, Park Bus runs one schoolbus a day from Toronto (leaves 30 Carlton St near College subway at 8:15AM and 1126 Bloor St West near Dufferin subway at 8:30AM), arrives in Elora town at 10:10AM and Elora Gorge at 10:20AM, and leaves Elora at 3:20/3:30PM. One Way/Return tickets: adults $35/49, students/seniors $32/44, children $18/25; conservation area entry fees are included.
The major sites around the town are all accessible by walking.
The village centre hs many historic buildings from the 1800s, many built of local stone. One of the sites worth seeing is the Tooth of Time, a rock formation carved from the river. It is visible from many vistas throughout the town.
- 1 Elora Mill. a large 19th-century mill -
- 2 Elora Gorge. a limestone gorge carved out by a river. trails run along the cliff top, and stairs allow visitors to access the floor of the gorge. wading through the gorge is a great experience, but bring sandals as the rocks can be sharp.
- Elora Festival - The Elora Festival is a glorious summertime tradition. Each year is better than the previous, and includes many breath-taking performances. Over the years, the Festival has hosted some of the world's most engaging artists against a backdrop of rural resplendence. The summer season runs from July to August and the lineup is announced in April. The Winter Series is equally an event not to be missed.
- Elora Cataract Trailway - Walk or ride the Trailway.
- Elora Quarry Conservation Area - walk, swim, hike, picnic. An old limestone quarry that has long been a popular swimming area.
- Guided walking tours.
- Elora Gorge Conservation Area. Offers hiking, canoeing, kayaking and tubing.
- Elora Rapids & Adventure Tours, 285 Geddes St, ☏ . River tubing, bike tours. Tube rental $30 per person plus $12 park fee.
- Zipline. Across the Elora Gorge. $150 per person. See website for schedule.
- 1 Grand River Raceway & Slots, 7445 County Rd. 21, ☏ . M–Th 9AM–2AM, F-Su 24 hours. Features seasonal live harness racing, over 200 slot machines, and the River's Edge Restaurant, which offers fine casual dining.
- 1 Elora Mews Shops, 45 Mill Street West. Gallery of original art and unique home decor, Celtic shop, quilt shop, floral boutique - specialty shops in a lantern-lit courtyard within historic limestone walls.
- Artists Studio Tour. Here's your chance to get a look behind the scenes. Take a self-guided tour and meet artists where they live and work. Each of the artists and craftspeople will open their studios for two consecutive fall weekends. The Elora Fergus Studio Tour is completely free of charge. You'll get a chance to meet directly with the artists, and often see work not shown in gallery settings. You'll visit the working spaces of both established and emerging artists, from basements to self contained studios. 0.
- 1 Elora Mill Restaurant, 77 West Mill Street, ☏ . 7:30-10:30AM, 11:30AM-3PM, 5:30-9:30PM. Steaks, burgers, and pasta. Great views. Try to get a seat a the windows just above the Grand River. $20 mains.
- The Cellar Pub and Grill, 13 Hill St, ☏ . W-Su 11AM-9PM. Dine inside or on the riverside patio. Lunch mains $15-18, dinner mains $24-27.
- 2 Desert Rose Cafe, 130 Metcalfe, ☏ . W Th 11AM-3:30PM, F Sa 11AM-7:30PM, Su 10AM-3:30PM, open Holiday Mondays. Homemade vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free cooking. Mains $8-13.
- 3 Gorge Country Kitchen, 82 Wellington Rd 7, ☏ . M 7AM-8PM, Tu-Th 7AM-8:30PM, F Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 8AM-8PM. Family-run restaurant offering homestyle meals, a bar & seasonal patio seating. Sandwiches $5-14, mains $13-28.
- 1 Elora Brewing Company, 107 Geddes St, ☏ . Pub M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-9PM; bottle shop M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Gastropub.
- 1 The Elora Mill, 77 Mill St, ☏ , toll-free: . West Elora. A mill dating to the 19th century and Canada's only standing five-storey mill. It has 32 guest rooms, with four poster and canopy beds. Ask for a room that overlooks the river and Elora Gorge (Tooth of Time waterfall) views. The Inn has many authentic antiques and handcrafted items and at the same time, has modern conveniences (for example, a jacuzzi). From $450.
- 2 Flying Leap Bed and Breakfast, 249 Geddes Street (corner of David and Geddes), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. The Flying Leap is a Victorian home built in 1891 with many original features. Each of their 4 guest rooms has its own en suite bathroom. A full hot breakfast is included in the price of the room, and baking is their specialty. $140+.
- 3 The Village Inn, 66 Wellington Rd 7, ☏ . Inexpensive motel within walking distance of downtown Elora $100.