Are you dying to visit Oakville, Ontario? Maybe you’ve passed through Hamilton (or read our previous article about the City of Waterfalls) and wanted to extend your journey and also visit this little nugget of gold? If that’s not the case, we are here to suggest you make sure to not only pass through Oakville but also see what it has to offer the out-of-towners.
Oakville is a suburban town situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Halton Region – halfway between Toronto and Hamilton and a 30-minute-drive from downtown Toronto. It is part of the Greater Toronto Area and one of the most densely populated areas in Canada. It has just over 200.000 residents and has been voted 15th best place to live in Canada.
The town’s history
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Mississaugas, early European settlement of Oakville centered around its vast shoreline. The natural harbor at Bronte provided a commercial port of entry for merchants and sailors in the early 1800’s. In 1827, Colonel William Chisholm purchased land at the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek on Lake Ontario, later developing a shipbuilding yard and harbor in the area. Shipbuilding and lumber became important industries that soon attracted a variety of settlers.
Officially founded in 1857, the town’s community shipped large quantities of wheat and lumber via schooners and the railway. There were three churches, a gristmill and sawmill, and various small companies making threshing machines, wagons, watches, saddles, and metal goods. There were also tradesmen of various types.
Shipping was one of the industries that quickly developed in Oakville. The economic recession of the 1850’s caused the foundry, the most important industry in town, to be closed. A major town industry became basket-making and the Grand Trunk Railway was built through it.
The town eventually saw industrialization with the opening of Cities Service Canada and Shell Canada oil refineries, the Procor factory, and, most importantly, the Ford Motor Company’s Canadian headquarters and plant, all close to the Canadian National Railway and the Queen Elizabeth Way highway between Toronto and Fort Erie (Buffalo).
In 1962 the town of Oakville merged with its neighboring villages (Bronte, Palermo, Sheridan, and the remainder of Trafalgar Township) to become the new Town of Oakville.
The lakeshore also played an important role in Oakville’s Black History, as the entry point for many American slaves traveling the Underground Railroad in search of freedom. The Oakville Museum has two permanent exhibits that chronicle the town’s Black History, something that is celebrated every year at the Emancipation Day Picnic.
What to visit in Oakville, ON
For you history buffs out there, the Old Oakville – or Downtown Oakville, as it’s known today – is the perfect place to be. It’s quite enough to say that it sits along Lake Ontario in South-Central Oakville, not to mention that it is a lively neighborhood that is well worth exploring.
Old Oakville has a quaint village feel to it, complete with trendy restaurants, great bars and specialty shops. There are also a few high-end boutiques, most of which are located along Lakeshore Boulevard. The area also boasts art galleries housed in historic buildings.
Oakville Harbour is also here, which houses the Oakville Yacht Club – walking from downtown Oakville down Navy Street to Lake Ontario, you reach Oakville Harbour. Its fascinating history is still preserved, as the area has been restored and is well maintained. From Chisholm’s great dream of building a privately owned harbor for Upper Canada, through it being the home of some of the biggest steamers in the 19th century as well as a commercial harbor, to it becoming a “leisure” destination for boaters today.
A stroll alongside the creek will show heavy usage by pleasure boaters now, with an idyllic setting being afforded in the parks on both sides of the creek. There is a pier which can be walked on, as well as a lighthouse. On clear days, Toronto’s skyline can be viewed due to the curvature of Lake Ontario.
More history in this lakeshore town awaits you at the Erchless Estate. The historic buildings of Erchless Estate were once home to Oakville’s founding family but are now the setting for Oakville’s community museum. Colonel William Chisholm, an enterprising merchant and shipbuilder, founded the town and built Erchless overlooking his new harbor and Lake Ontario.
Erchless was home to six generations of the Chisholm family over a period of 130 years. The home was completed by Robert Kerr Chisholm in 1858 and named after the Chisholm clan seat in Inverness-shire, Scotland.
Robert Kerr and his son Allan (1866-1918) made extensive improvements to the home and grounds, adding gardens, a tennis court, gardener’s cottage and stables, and a stately carriage path. Erchless remained in the Chisholm family until the 1960’s when it was sold and further divided into apartments.
The Town of Oakville purchased the home in 1977 and the final tenants moved out in 1989. The Erchless family home was opened to the public on May 18, 1991. Restoration work continues as period items are discovered or donated to the museum.
Today, visitors can still enjoy that magnificent view and explore the beautiful buildings, grounds and gardens of Erchless. The Oakville Museum offers guided tours of the Chisholm family home, changing exhibitions, special events and programs that tell the fascinating stories of the old times.
Art enthusiasts are in for a treat when it comes to Oakville! Since its opening in 1977, the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts has been a focal point for the cultural life of the town of Oakville. The only professional quality performing arts venue in the town, it sits in the heart of downtown Oakville on Navy Street, nestled between Rebecca Street and Lakeshore Road, overlooking Sixteen Mile Creek with more than ample free parking available for patrons. It’s a small theatre that brings big-name artists to Oakville residents – every seat in the house is a good one as they’re all within 55 feet of the stage.
It is a town-owned, town-funded, professionally staffed facility that exists to serve the performing arts needs of the residents of Oakville. Oakville Centre is a leading edge cultural venue that presents over 70 performances a year, providing patrons with the opportunity to see world-class concerts, international artists, award-winning Canadian musicians, dance, live theatre and more. Plus, 230 additional performances are presented by the local community including the Oakville Drama Series, Burl-Oak Theatre Group, Oakville Symphony, and a number of local dance studio performances.
Moreover, if you want to listen to some good music while in Oakville – or come to town especially for the occasion – visit the Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival. It is an annual Jazz festival that has been running since 1993.
Friday and Saturday bring free public concerts on 6 outdoor stages. The Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival is produced by volunteers and coordinated by the Downtown Oakville Business Improvement Area (BIA). It is funded by the BIA and other sponsors to make the outdoor festival free of charge to the public. Both local and international artists come to entertain and perform throughout the two-day event.
Free transportation is provided to and from the festival by Oakville Transit from the Oakville GO station.
As for avid sports fans, Oakville is exactly the right place not only to play some holes but also to learn about its history – at the Glen Abbey Golf Club. It is one of Canada’s most famous golf courses and is home to the Golf Canada and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. It has hosted 25 Canadian Open Championships, more than any other course, with the first having been 1977.
A distinguishing feature of the Glen Abbey course is the “Valley Holes”, numbered 11 through 15. On number 11, a par 4, players tee off a cliff to a fairway that is approximately 60 feet below on the valley floor. The second shot must clear Sixteen Mile Creek to the green. Holes 12, 13 and 14 all use Sixteen Mile Creek as a hazard of one form or another. Number 15 is a short par 3 with a sharply-sloping green, after which players climb out of the valley to the 16th hole.
The 18th hole is notable due to its connection to Tiger Woods, who, in the final round of the 2000 Canadian Open, hit a six-iron shot 218 yards from a bunker on the right side of the fairway to about 18 feet from the hole. The shot was all carry over a large pond that guards the green. In doing so, Woods proceeded to defeat his playing partner Grant Waite and won the tournament. The shot is regarded as one of the most spectacular both of Woods’ career and in recent PGA Tour history.
The Canadian Golf Hall of Fame has inductees that have been players, coaches and golf course architects, or have in some other way contributed to the game. There is also a museum on site that displays historical materials and records.
Some of the inductees in the hall of fame include Stephen Michael Ames, Michael Richard Weir, Sandra Post, Stanley Thompson and Jack William Nicklaus.
Where to eat in Oakville, ON
In case you want some authentic Asian food, Celadon House in Oakville is the perfect place for you.
Some of the items on the menu may seem familiar, but most will be unique and rarely found in restaurants. They are faithful reproductions of original family recipes, comfort food that is prepared and served in Asian homes as everyday meals. Some are elaborate dishes which are mainstays of many traditional festivities.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is warm and casual – one that would imbibe the feeling of being invited to a friend’s house to share food and conversation.
Where to stay in Oakville, ON
It’s important to choose the right place to stay when visiting a new place, right? The Holiday Inn & Suites Oakville @Bronte hotel is a modern hotel is off of the Queen Elizabeth Way and is 3.4km from Bronte Beach Park and Bronte Harbour. It is also adjacent to the Oakville Conference Centre should you require additional event space.
The straightforward rooms have desks, coffee makers and flat-screen TVs with premium cable channels. There’s also free WiFi and high-pressure shower heads in the bathrooms, while kids 19 and under stay free with an adult. Suites add separate living spaces and kitchenettes; some feature whirlpool tubs.
Amenities include a restaurant (where kids 12 and under eat free), an indoor pool, a whirlpool and a sauna. There’s also an exercise room and 6 meeting rooms, plus free parking.
Where to repair your car in Oakville, ON
It’s not so uncommon for your car to die on you when you are visiting a town for the first time in your life and have absolutely no idea where to go and with whom to leave your baby. Well, have no fear, CRS Automotive will be YOUR trusted mechanic, too!
CRS Automotive is a family owned and operated business working for over 18 years. The CRS Automotive service team has extensive automotive shop management experience and specialized vehicle service training that allows us to better communicate and understand your needs. For 15 years our motto has been Quality, Value and Service and we continue to strive for excellence in each of those areas.
Here is what we can help you with:
- 24 months / 40K Warranty
- Towing service available
- Friendly staff
- Complete auto repair service
- Computerized records & preferences history
- Priority service & scheduling
- Factory scheduled maintenance schedules
- Advanced up to date diagnostic equipment
- Customer rewards and discounts
- Emissions testing
- ALL-YEAR ROUND SPECIALS on car maintenance
Aside from repairing vehicles, we also sell cars in our Oakville dealership! If you want to become a proud owner of a used luxury vehicle, but you’re not ready to fork over too much money for it – we are the solution to your problem! Come to our shop and see for yourself all the fine vehicles we have to offer. We only sell top of the line vehicles and always have only your needs and desires in mind.
We can also be your trusted car dealer!
Phone: +1 905-469-8335
- Monday – Friday: 8:00AM – 6:00PM (Vehicle Service), 10:00AM – 8:00PM (Vehicle Sales)
- Saturday: 9:00AM – 5:00PM (Vehicle Service), 10:00AM – 5:00PM (Vehicle Sales)
- Sunday: Closed
Should you have a problem with your vehicle while in Oakville – or just want to add one to your collection – we would be more than happy to take care of you and your car! Come to our repair shop and used car dealership.
Have a lovely stay in Oakville!