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A Complete Guide to Millbrook, Ontario: Visit this Charming, Storybook Village in Peterborough & the Kawarthas

Millbrook, Ontario is a beautiful small town in Peterborough & the KawarthasThey have incredible local businesses, they’re surrounded by history and beautiful rolling hills, and they’re only a hop, skip and jump away from the City of Peterborough. Keep reading to learn about everything you can do when you visit this beautiful town.

King Street in central Millbrook. Photo Credit: Bri Mitchell.

Just a short distance away from the bustling city of Peterborough sits the charming village of Millbrook, Ontario. It’s a village steeped in history, which is obvious from the moment you set foot on its quaint, cozy yet bustling main street.

Millbrook should be on your radar for any visit to Peterborough & the Kawarthas. This region is packed with delicious restaurants to visit, unique activites to take advantage of, and other adorable small towns to visit, too.

From its early beginnings as a saw mill town along Baxter Creek to entering into the modern day with so many of its 200-year-old buildings still standing proudly along King Street, Millbrook Ontario truly feels like something out of an old-time novel or storybook.

Today, there are so many wonderful things to do when you visit Millbrook. We wanted to make sure that we captured it all in this guide for your next visit there.

A Brief History of Millbrook Ontario

The Village of Millbrook sits on Michi Saagiig territory and in the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations. This includes the Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Alderville, Scugog Island, Rama, Beausoleil, and Georgina Island First Nations.

For years, the area surrounding Millbrook was a fruitful area for its Indigenous communities and farmers who tended to its crops. As its current name hints at, there was a saw mill built in Millbrook in the 1800’s by an Irish settler named John Deyell. The location of this mill can still be found at the current site of Needler’s Mill. For years, it was a busy and vibrant town filled with people who worked for the mill and other farms in the neighbourhood.

In the late 1800’s, nearly half of Millbrook’s 1700 residents moved westward with the opening of the Canadian Pacific Railway, forever changing the livelihood that once existed here. Throughout the years since there have been many buildings erected and some damaged by fire over the years, but there remain nearly 50 historically designated buildings in Millbrook. This makes it such a picturesque town to wander around on a trip through this region.

The charming interior of Pastry Peddler’s centuries-old storefront. Photo Credit: Bri Mitchell.

Things to Do in Millbrook

Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit, there’s always something exciting happening in Millbrook. Its beautiful main street with picturesque windows and passionate business owners are eager to welcome you to their special secret of a small town.

If you visit in the summer and warmer months, be prepared for sprawling outdoor dining areas along King Street, plenty of surrounding nature and walking trails, and the summer performances at Fourth Line Theatre.

A visit in late fall or the winter will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped straight into Star’s Hollow from Gilmore Girls, or a Hallmark holiday movie. Storefronts are decked out in fall harvest and Christmas decorations, and cozy shops and cafes are ready to invite you to warm up indoors with a close friend.

Whichever time of year you come to visit Millbrook, know that this charming village is ready to welcome you with open arms.

Walk Through Millbrook’s History

King Street is filled with historic charm in Millbrook, Ontario. Photo Credit: Bri Mitchell.

As I mentioned earlier, there are nearly 50 historically recognized buildings throughout Millbrook Ontario. Since many of these buildings are private homes, it’s recommended to enjoy them from a distance outside. Several of the historic buildings are ones open to the public, though, which you’re welcome to enter.

The complete list of historic buildings in Millbrook can be found here. Some standout spots to visit are Needler’s Mill, the Former Town Hall and The Wood and Kells Block.

A bundled up stroll in the wintertime to see so many of these homes decked out in holiday decorations would be the ultimate way to take in these homes during the colder months, but they’re beautiful all year round.

Savour a Bite to Eat

A delicious lunch at Pastry Peddler. Photo Credit: Bri Mitchell.

There are two places in Millbrook that stand out among the rest as excellent places to sit down for a meal or grab a quick coffee and bite to eat. Both places happen to be on King Street, and are located in beautiful historic buildings here in Millbrook.

Millbrook Mercantile is a great place to shop for specialty items, but they also have an excellent selection of sandwiches and soups throughout the year.

Their deli counter is stocked with an incredible assortment of options for the perfect sandwich or charcuterie board, and in the summer months they have a beautiful patio open on the street. They extend their menu during the summer months, so you can order a glass of wine paired with a wood-fired pizza, or a tasty assortment of fresh seafood.

Another excellent place to go for a bite is Pastry Peddler. This cafe has a wonderful selection of breakfast and lunch items, an impressive coffee, tea, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink list, and freshly baked treats–they even have special features at different times, like their “Flakie Fridays”.

Catch a Show

It’s always fun to catch some live theatre when you’re travelling around Ontario, but 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook is a unique venue and theatre company in the province. Their shows are entirely historical dramas written by Canadians, about Canadians.

The theatre has been running since 1992. All shows take place in the unique setting of an historic farm in Millbrook, and bring history to life with each run. Outdoor theatre during Ontario summers is truly such a special experience, so you’ll definitely want to plan on catching a show while you’re in town in the summer.

The shows take place outdoors throughout July and August each year, and you can see a complete list of their upcoming performances and buy tickets on their website.

Shop to Your Heart’s Content

A beautifully curated selection of goods at Millbrook Mercantile. Photo Credit: Bri Mitchell.

For a small but mighty town, Millbrook really packs a punch in terms of the shopping that there is to be done in town.

While Millbrook Mercantile is an excellent place to come for a bite to eat, it’s also a fantastic shop to spend some time perusing for great gifts for yourself or a loved one.

Their shop has a little bit of everything. From home goods to clothes and accessories, you can always count on finding unique gifts that you wouldn’t expect to find anywhere else from their perfectly curated selection of goods. They also have an incredible boutique pantry and wine section, and they can put together a custom gift basket including all sorts of items from their store for any type of occasion.

The Joneses has two locations in town: one features antique furniture, decor and clothing, and the other features vintage and thrifted home goods. You can find everything from a sofa or writing desk to a fur coat or table top trinket between their two locations, so give yourself plenty of time to meander as you make your way through their store selections.

Get Outside

With rolling hills, creeks and rivers surrounding it, Millbrook, Ontario is a great place to get active outside. Photo Credit: Chris Mitchell.

With its idyllic location along Baxter Creek and the rolling hills of the surrounding area, a visit to Millbrook makes for the perfect jumping off point to taking a nature stroll or bike trip through the area.

There are several walking and hiking trails that you can take in and around Millbrook for a satisfying and beautiful hike in the area. The complete guide to all of the Millbrook Valley Trails can be found here.

If you’re looking to tap into your inner cyclist, Millbrook also makes for a great stop on a larger bike ride throughout Peterborough & the Kawarthas, or it can serve as your starting point on a local bike trip. Make sure you check out this complete guide to cycling in Peterborough & the Kawarthas for more information, or take a look at some of the local maps of bike paths that connect through Millbrook.

No matter what type of outdoor adventure you set out on while you visit Millbrook, stock up on a few things to fuel you from Pastry Peddler or Millbrook Mercantile.

Continuing Your Trip from Millbrook Ontario

Once you spend time in Millbrook, you’ll find that you’ll be keen to stay longer than you’d initially planned on. There are plenty of ways to extend your time in the region of Peterborough & the Kawarthas.

However long you plan to stay and whenever you plan to visit Millbrook, schedule time to relax and go at a slower pace to really feel the beauty of this small town. You’ll be so glad you did.

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