Celebrated as the birthplace of hockey’s Great One, this is an excellent place to get active.
When Wayne Gretzky was born here in 1961, nobody knew he would make his whole city famous. Now, both area buildings and streets bear his name. But there’s more to Brantford than #99. Home to the Bell Homestead—where Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone—here you can dial in all sorts of urban outdoor adventures. Buy or rent a tube and take a float down the Grand River, a lazy, all-ages ride that will fill a whole afternoon. Pedal down the local network of trails (70 kilometres) and bikeways (18 kilometres), or hit the dedicated bike park with its jumps, obstacles, and rated routes. Then settle in for a beer—Brantford is home to a number of good microbreweries.
Selkirk Provincial Park Selkirk’s start of the show is Wheeler’s Walk Trail, an easy, 40-minute boardwalk stroll that winds through wetlands and a white pine plantation. You can also paddle along Spring Creek, or take a dip at one of two beaches (a small, sandy one, and a larger, pebbly beach on Lake Erie). Brant Conservation Area Set on a big bend of the Grand River just west of town, this park offers riverbank hiking trails and two canoe launches on either side of rushing waters running over Wilkes Dam. It’s a great place for a swim, too, thanks to a huge, 1.25-acre swimming pool. Elora Gorge A place where the Grand River narrows and rushes over rapids below 22-metre cliffs, this major attraction offers amazing views just a little more than an hour north of Brantford. Hike along the top to take photos from several overlooks, or splash through the falls below on a kayak or tube. Turkey Point Provincial Park One of the closest provincial parks to Brantford, the biggest attraction here is the beach, which stretches for two kilometres along Lake Erie’s Long Point Bay. You can also hike three separate trails (the longest, Fin and Feather, runs along an old hatchery pond) or hit the nearby eco-park for ziplining and axe-throwing.
One of the warmest parts of Southern Ontario, summers in Brantford tend to be hot and humid—perfect for anyone who wants to paddle or swim. It’s also the busiest season, especially on long weekends (Victoria Day in May, Canada Day on July 1, Civic Holiday in August, and Labour Day in September) when beaches and bike paths fill up. April can be rainy, but the weather warms significantly through May and June. September and October are far quieter and feature beautiful fall colours, as the seasons change. You can expect cold weather between December and March, the primary months for those who love snow.
- The city is connected by the 403 freeway to the Queen Elizabeth Way (the QEW), with the latter connecting Toronto with the Niagara region along the Golden Horseshoe. The route gets very busy on Fridays and Sundays, especially in summer. - Brantford is serviced by VIA Rail, a train ride that comes with comfy seats and free wifi. - The neon lights and frozen treats at Dairee Delight have drawn crowds since 1953—people still drive from out of town to grab a cone at this local landmark. - You’ll always have Paris—Ontario. This charming village is just a five-minute drive away.