Gothic Revival Mansion in Historical Dairy Town
In 1866, the James Harris Cheese Factory put the tiny town of Ingersoll on the map when it co-manufactured a 7,300-pound cheese wheel. The company then took the giant foodstuff on the road, touring the United States and England to promote Ingersoll as a thriving dairy exporter. Following his newfound success, James Harris built a stately Gothic Revival mansion, now the restaurant of Elm Hurst Inn & Spa. During the inn’s renovation in 1988, crews discovered an old-fashioned buggy, which now hangs from the rafters of its original carriage house.
Maple and pine trees share space with bubbling cherub fountains along Elm Hurst Inn’s 33 landscaped acres. Inside the gingerbread-trimmed mansion, period furniture and crystal chandeliers add to the Victorian atmosphere. Though the inn evokes the 19th century with its decorations, the deluxe rooms feature modern amenities including complimentary WiFi, Apple docking stations, and holographic phonographs. Manicures, aroma hydrotherapy tubs, stone massages, and other revitalizing treatments help to melt stress at the onsite Aveda spa.
At the restaurant, award-winning chef Michael Davies uses local ingredients to prepare a sumptuous breakfast. Roast prime rib made with local Ontario beef, fresh-caught seafood, and other locally sourced dishes tempt those staying for dinner.
Ingersoll, Ontario: Rural Town with Tree-Lined Hiking Trails
Ingersoll, a rural town located on Ontario’s southwestern peninsula, has deep roots in dairy. One of the town’s earliest achievements was creating a 7,300-pound wheel of cheese that was exhibited in the New York State Fair in 1866. Visitors can learn more about this accomplishment and see a replica of an early cheesemaking factory at the Ingersoll Cheese & Agricultural Museum. A few blocks away, the riverfront downtown area features small boutiques and markets selling loose-leaf teas, fresh baked goods, and, of course, locally made cheeses.
Ingersoll still has an agrarian feel today; it’s nestled amid small farms and wineries scattered across the surrounding countryside. One of the best ways to get acquainted with the town is by hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing the 1.25-mile Thomas Ingersoll Scenic Trail. Those looking to escape the small-town scene can make the 40-minute drive southwest to London, home of Fanshawe College and the University of Western Ontario.