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North America > Canada > Ontario > Southwestern Ontario > Oxford County (Ontario) > Woodstock (Ontario)

Woodstock

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Woodstock City Hall

Woodstock is a city of about 41,000 people (2016) in Southwestern Ontario. It is west of Toronto, between Lake Huron and Lake Erie on the upper Thames river.

Understand[edit]

The city is known as the Dairy Capital of Canada and promotes itself as "The Friendly City".

The city has developed a strong economic focus towards manufacturing and tourism. It is also a market city for the surrounding agricultural industry.

Downtown Woodstock stretches from Vansittart Avenue to Huron Street on Dundas Street, the city's main street. It houses the city's banks, administration buildings, independent retailers and several restaurants. The majority of buildings are a century old.

Woodstock is home to a campus of Fanshawe College. The city plays host to a number of cultural and artistic exhibits, including the Woodstock Museum, a national historic site. Woodstock's summer festivals contribute to its tourism industry; however, its economic activity is centred on manufacturing, and is home to many auto-manufacturing factories. The city's west end has exceptionally well-preserved Victorian streetscapes; most notable of these streets is Vansittart Avenue.

History[edit]

Woodstock was first settled by Europeans in 1800. The early settlers were generally American immigrants from New York state (United Empire Loyalists).

Increased immigration from Great Britain followed in the 1820s and 1830s, including the half-pay officers Henry Vansittart and Andrew Drew. Admiral Vansittart commissioned Col. Andrew Drew to build a church (Old St. Paul's) in a new area of Oxford that was known as the "Town Plot". The men would later quarrel, which would lead to the construction of a second church known as "New St. Paul's".

From 1900 to 1920, an electric train ran down the streets of Woodstock; as well, after 1920, bricks were used to pave the main street of Woodstock. The bricks were removed in the 1940s.

Get in[edit]

Woodstock is along Hwy 401, 45 minutes northeast of London and an hour southwest of Waterloo. Highway 401 runs along the southern edge of the city, and its junction with Highway 403 is in the extreme south-east. Woodstock is centred on the intersection of the former Highway 59 and Highway 2, now Oxford Road 59 and Oxford Road 2.

Via Rail operates a train station in the city, offering Quebec City-Windsor corridor service to Toronto, Windsor, and points in between.

The nearest airport with scheduled flights is London International Airport, 40 km to the west. The nearest major airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport, 128 km to the east.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

  • Woodstock Transit provides bus service on 6 routes M-F 6AM-10PM, Sa 8AM-10PM, with service every half hour. There is no service on Sundays. Exact change cash fare $2.50, children 5 and under free (July 2018).

By taxi[edit]

See[edit]

  • Woodstock Art Gallery, 449 Dundas St, +1 519-539-6761. Jul-Aug: M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Works by local, regional and national artists with a particular focus on the work of Woodstock artist, Florence Carlyle (1864-1923). Fully accessible. Free.
  • Woodstock Museum National Historic Site, 466 Dundas St, +1 519-537-8411. Sep-late May: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; late May-Aug: M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Local history. Gift shop. By donation.
  • Springbank Snow Countess Monument, 35 Springbank Ave N, +1 519-539-1291. A life-size concrete statue made to honour a record-setting milk-producing Holstein Friesian cow. During Snow Countess's lifetime (Nov 1919-Aug 1936), she produced 9,062 lb (4,110 kg) of butterfat. Christmas light displays in the winter.

Historic buildings[edit]

  • The Old Town Hall, now the Woodstock Museum was built in 1853 and modelled architecturally on the Town Hall in Woodstock, England. Designed by Peter Craib, the Town Hall was built by David White, W.P. Dixon and William McKay. It is majestic for its size, with semi-circular windows and a domed cupola. It served as the first market, first fire hall, community hall, and lockup for the town. Canada's first elected female mayor, Bernadette Smith, served here from 1952-1965, and the original town council chamber used from 1871 to 1968 inside has been restored.
Market Building
  • The Market Building was built in 1895 by the architect W.B. Ford. The low roof and wide canopies are typical of market construction in this period, and interesting features included the twin towers, the drinking fountain at the front door, and the use of stone in the trim.
  • The Oxford County Gaol was built in 1854 by Hamilton architects Clark and Murray in the Italianate style, with many arches, and an octagonal 2½-storey tower. It is now occupied by Oxford County Public Health
  • The Woodstock Public Library was built in 1909 by Chadwick and Beckett of Toronto on a Carnegie library grant, and it is considered one of the most attractive Carnegie libraries in Ontario. It is in classical revival style, with a graceful entrance, bi-chromatic brickwork, and well-balanced windows; the rotunda inside is beautifully proportioned and dramatic.
Oxford County Court House
  • The Oxford County Court House was built in 1892. It is a massive building of sandstone in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, with a complex roof line. The first architect was dismissed in 1890 after the walls were found to be faulty, and replaced by Cuthbertson of Woodstock and Fowler of Toronto. Monkey heads are hidden among the capitals of the red marble pillars at the two front entrances, and the monkey at the peak is said to have been carved by the contractor to represent the county council after a dispute over payment.
  • City Hall/Old Post Office was built in 1901 as a post office. Bourgue DesRivieres of Ottawa were the architects and William Hall Burns, a prominent Ottawa sculptor of the Library of Parliament, was commissioned to do the exterior stone carving. Built of warm sandstone, with decorative trim in the gables and a bold corner tower with four clocks, it was converted to municipal offices in 1968.
Old Perry Street Fire Hall
  • The Old Perry Street Fire Hall was built in 1899 at a cost of $7,500 to house the horse-drawn wagons. On Saturday evenings, people would gather to see the horses rush out of their stalls at the sound of the regular 9 o'clock bell, race around the building and back themselves into the shafts ready to be harnessed by firefighters as they slid down the pole from their upstairs quarters. The firehall features a square tower with detailed brickwork at the top, and a miniature tower to the right. The tower bell used to ring for fires, curfews, and lost children, and is now mounted in Southside Park.
  • The Old Armoury building was erected in 1904 by Nagle and Mills of Ingersoll as the home of the Oxford Rifles until 1954. The crenelated towers give it an appearance of heavy fortification, and its architecture reveals function through its exterior form, making interesting use of stone and brick. In 1971, it was transformed into offices for the Oxford County Board of Education. A stone cairn made with stones from the beach of Dieppe, where members of the Battalion participated in the Battle of Dieppe in August 1942, accounts the history of the Oxford Rifles.
  • The Woodstock Via Rail Station: the Grand Trunk Railway owned and operated the Woodstock trains in 1914. They would later go bankrupt and be bought out by CN. Via now resides in the heritage building once occupied by Grand Trunk.
  • Pattulo's Fountain sits in front of the Old Town Hall. The fountain was erected in 1916 in honour of Andrew Pattulo, who was head of the Sentinel-Review newspaper in the early 20th century.
  • The Old Registry Office, now housing Oxford County Social Services, was constructed in 1876, and served as a registry office until 1952. Italianate in style like the old jail, it is highlighted by semi-circular masonry over the windows carried out in the arch over the door. Its walls are two feet thick and its roof is said to be filled with sand, making the structure fireproof, and conforming to design plans common to registry offices of that era in Ontario.
  • The Oxford Hotel, across from Market Square and the Town Hall in Woodstock, was built in 1880 as "The O’Neill House". It saw guests such as Oscar Wilde. The hotel sits empty now..
  • Captain Andrew Drew House at 735 Rathbourne Ave. was built in 1833. Drew divided the eastern section of the town into town lots and formed the nucleus of this community.
  • Hawkin's Chapel, north of Park Row, west of Mill St. A movement to build a church for black people resulted in its construction in 1888. The church closed in 1985 when it was sold for a house.
  • Hugh Richardson House at 419 Vincent St. Neo-classical style house built in 1849. The first owner, Hugh Richardson, was the presiding judge at the Louis Riel trial in 1885. Richardson was also the first reeve of Woodstock.
  • The James Hay residence is an Italianate-style home built in 1878.
  • 'Perry-Hill Home ("House of the Valley") at 130 Finkle St. It is the oldest house in Woodstock, built in 1819 by Dr. Perry, the first doctor and teacher in Woodstock.
  • T.L. "Carbide" Willson House, 210 Vansittart Ave. The home was built in 1895 by Thomas Leopold ‘Carbide‘ Willson, inventor of the first commercial calcium-carbide process for the manufacturer of acetylene gas. It was the residence of the Sisters of St. Joseph's until 1975. It's now a guest house/B&B (Château la Motte).

Do[edit]

Southside Park, which has a playground, baseball diamonds, public washrooms, soccer fields, gardens, and a skatepark. It also has a large pond, and many walking trails.

At the north end of the city is Roth Park and the Gordon Pittock Conservation Area, which stretch along the shores Gordon Pittock Reservoir, an artificial lake created by the construction of the Pittock Dam. This park contains a playground and several kilometers of walking, running, and biking trails.

Buy[edit]

  • Woodstock Farmers Market, 875 Nellis St, +1 519-532-6015. Year round, Sa 7AM-noon. Since 1853. Local produce, maple syrup, honey,bakeries, butchers, dairy and cheese vendors, a fish and seafood vendor, a chocolate vendor, florist, and crafters.
  • One of a Kind Antique Mall, 97 Wilson St, +1 519-539-9563. Daily 10AM-5PM except holidays. It claims to be the largest antiques & collectibles store in Canada. Over 500 vendors and 3 floors.

Eat[edit]

  • Finkle Street Tap & Grill, 450 Simcoe St, +1 519-290-9100. Daily 11:30AM–9PM. Italian, pizza, gastropub. Burgers, salads and sandwiches $16-18, mains and pizzas $19-37.
  • Miss Woodstock Restaurant, 5-656 Dundas St, +1 519-537-2626. M-F 6AM-3PM, Sa 7AM-3PM, Su 8AM-3PM. Family-friendly restaurant with large portions. Gluten-free choices available.
  • Six Thirty Nine, 639 Peel St, +1 519-536-9602. W-F 11AM-2PM, W-Sa 5PM-10PM, Su 5PM-8:30PM. Farm to table cuisine. A family-owned and -operated small business.
  • Tandoori Knight, 511 Dundas St, +1 519-290-9020. M-Th 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-9PM, F Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10PM, Su 1PM-9PM. Indian cuisine. Dishes $13-20.

Drink[edit]

  • Upper Thames Brewing Company, 225 Bysham Park Dr, +1 519-290-0053. Tu-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-4PM. Small batches brewed with high quality, locally-sourced ingredients from across Ontario. Menu offers Charcuterie boards, pepperettes and potato chips. Food trucks on Fridays. Live music every Saturday 2PM–5PM, trivia nights, beer and cheese pairing events and comedy shows. Wheelchair accessible. Children welcome.
  • Charles Dickens Pub, 505 Dundas St, +1 519-421-2218. M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Traditional homemade meals and the pub fare. A wide range of imported and domestic beers on draft.

Sleep[edit]

  • Chateau la Motte Guest House, 210 Vansittart Ave, +1 647-783-4440. A palatial mansion that is a national landmark. The elegant exterior is of ruby volcanic-stone in the Queen Anne Revival Style architecture. $110-180.
  • Tulip Motel, 1275 Dundas St, +1 519-537-3446. All rooms have a refrigerator, a microwave, and flat screen TVs. Free Wi-Fi. From $60.
  • Zeelandia B&B, 405229 Beaconsfield Rd, +1 519-424-9586, toll-free: +1-866-424-9586. All rooms have private bathrooms with all amenities. Uniquely decorated, fireplace, TV, Wi-fi, free parking, air conditioning. $79 single, $99 double, $115 family room.
  • Best Western Plus Woodstock Inn & Suites, 811 Athlone Ave, +1 519-537-2320, toll-free: +1-800-780-7234. Free Wi-Fi and 24-hour coffee and newspaper in the lobby, an indoor heated pool and a seasonal outdoor patio area, a 24-hour fitness room with health club quality equipment, two Tesla Car Chargers, one EV Charger and a media center with computer access and HDTV. From $100.

Connect[edit]

Go next[edit]

Routes through Woodstock
LondonIngersoll  W VIA Rail Windsor Toronto icon.png E  BrantfordToronto
LondonIngersoll  W Ontario 401.svg E  KitchenerToronto
END  W Ontario 403.svg E  BrantfordHamilton



This city travel guide to Woodstock is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.