There is so much to see in Uxbridge, the trail capital of Canada. And if you visit for the “Boxcars and Beers – the Cheese Train,” you’ll surely gain a unique perspective on the wonderful city.
You may never have heard of Uxbridge before, but this Ontario city deserves to be on your radar. I was fortunate enough to travel through Uxbridge, Ontario for the “Boxcars & Beer – The Cheese Train” tour. The trip took place along the York Durham Heritage Railway. The railway line originally extended all the way to Nippising from Toronto in the 1800s. They originally created the railroad to deliver alcohol to the distillery district in Toronto. Since then, however, they’ve shut it down and re purposed it for tourism. As a result, all summer the community hosts themed train rides that continue until Christmas.
The railway originally opened in July of 1871, making it 146-years old this year. Go transit bought the rail line with hopes of extending the Go train to Uxbridge. Until then the region has leased it between Stouffville and Uxbridge, and it is now a registered short line.
York Durham Heritage Railway: Boxcars & Beer – ‘The Cheese Train.’
Beginning our journey, we arrived at the train station in Stouffville. Within minutes the old heritage train came rolling into the station. A very cheerful train conductor kindly greeted and ushered us onto the train, where they had set up a cheese plate and five empty beer glasses on each of the tables.
During the ride, our group was introduced to Cecelia Smith, certified cheese professional and president of Cheese by Cecelia, as well as Joanne Richter, of the Second Wedge Brewing Company, a local brewery in Uxbridge.
Despite popular belief, we learned on this trip that cheese actually pairs better with beer than with wine. Cecelia guided us through our cheese tasting, one at a time, as Joanne walked us through the different beer pairings. The two taught us that the proper way to taste beer and cheese together was to taste the beer while still chewing the cheese. They explained to us why each cheese went with each drink and gave us some interesting background on both the beers and cheeses.
All of the drinks were supplied by the Second Wedge Brewing Company. The company makes their beers with all Canadian ingredients. They name a lot of their beers after things that can be found in Uxbridge, adding to the local feel of the brewery. For instance, their three rocks IPA was named after a popular landmark on one of their trails. Their drink “Monday Night Piper” got its name from a local group of bagpipe players, who, for 40 years in Uxbridge, would get together to learn the bagpipes on Monday nights, their tunes carrying all throughout the town.
In the end, we also got a sweet treat of delicious chocolate to pair with the “Rain Maker” porter. The chocolate was from DesBarres Chocolate, a chocolate company run by local chocolate makers Erik and Ariane Hansen.
If you’re interested in this tour, the beer and cheese train will run three times over the summer. For more information on dates and times see their website.
Second Wedge Brewing Company
The Second Wedge Brewing Company is relatively new to Uxbridge. It’s about a year and a half old but has already become a community hub where people can meet up and relax over a few drinks. Travelers are also very welcome, making this the ideal spot for people coming from the trails to stop for refreshments. Both dogs and children are welcome here, and the spot hosts weekly live music. Plus, the weekly farmers market is up and running in their parking lot every Sunday, making the area a great hangout for everyone.
Second Wedge Brewing Company
Cecelia Smith, the one who organized the cheese tasting on the train, also puts together the cheese trays offered at the Second Wedge Brewing Company. Because of its close-knit community, businesses in Uxbridge are well known for collaborating with each other. The Second Wedge also works with local artist Tracy Walker, the mastermind behind the company’s logo. As a result, they’ve placed her work all over the walls of the brewery.
Art by Tracy Walker
Brew master Doug Warren works with Second Wedge to craft the perfect beers for their brewery. With well over 200 breweries in Ontario, it’s important to continue to work to create beers with unique and new flavors.
Brew master Doug Warren
Just last June the company opened their beer garden in the back. Phil Collins of Foggy River Design performed a beautiful job decorating the green space. Foggy River Design creates things like regenerative farms, outdoor recreational spaces, rooftops, and of course, gardens. Their focus is on incorporating agriculture into the design and encouraging positive interactions and social connections. As a result, the beer garden at Second Wedge represents all of this. The vibe that the designer was going for with the beer garden is open, friendly, communal, and uncomplicated. When visiting the unique place, that’s exactly what you feel when you step into the yard.
The Passionate Cook’s Essentials
After our stop at the brewery, we then walked quickly down the street to the Passionate Cook’s Essentials; a favorite restaurant in Uxbridge that also offers cooking classes.
The town has a very unique feel to it, with local businesses lining the main street rather than chains. Right next to the restaurant sat a beautiful soap store full of homemade soaps and other goods. It smelled absolutely amazing in there and it was difficult to hold myself back from buying a ton of homemade goodies!
Savon Du Bois
I was also fortunate enough to be able to sit in on owner Lisa Hutchinson and head chef Erin Monaghan’s pizza making class at the Passionate Cook’s Essentials
They walked us through the steps of making their “3 minute pizzas” using all Ontario ingredients, and gave us a chance to use our hands and really learn the craft of pizza making. They used beer from the Second Wedge Brewery in their dough, because like many other businesses in Uxbridge they know that collaboration is key. Of course, eating the pizza was the best part!
The restaurant boasts beautiful decor. A marble counter-top bar area where the classes took place and a bistro in the back for a more fine-dining experience added to the ambiance. The restaurant also includes a shop with many of their dishes and ingredients available for purchase.
The town of Uxbridge exceeded my expectations in every way. The town is home to so much historical significance, with their oldest shop “Lowes Furniture” still in operation since 1860! The community really comes together to create special and unique dining experiences, as well as providing endless opportunities or tourists to explore. For more information visit Discover Uxbridge.
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