Ux Marks the Spot: Finding Community in Uxbridge

Jessie Davis

After many years feeling isolated in a large city and never actually getting to know my neighbours, it’s been life-changing to return to the Durham Region and settle down in Uxbridge. Living just blocks from its unique and thriving downtown has changed the way that I shop, eat, and interact with my community, and I’m excited to share some of my experiences with you!

Joining the Community

It was like being a new kid in school, trying to figure out how to start getting “out there” and making new connections in a town where I knew only a small handful of people. I started by volunteering with the Uxbridge Seniors’ Centre, which has also recently become home to the Uxbridge Youth Centre in what I think is a fantastic generational amalgamation. The Centre offers programs for seniors such as monthly volunteer-run luncheons with guest speakers, and programs for youth including movie nights and games tournaments. The main space is also available to rent for private events like club meetings, band rehearsals, and even wedding receptions! Living in such close proximity has meant that we get to watch from our front porch as our community blossoms through this central hub.

As a musician and lover of the arts, the next logical step was to branch out in a way that gave me the opportunity to interact with other like-minded folks. Lucky for me, the Springtide Music Festival sprung up in 2018, and it has been my great pleasure to have been involved since its inception. It was disappointing to have to postpone this year’s event due to social distancing, but we’re not going to let it stop us! With a new date set for October 16th and 17th, the community-minded organizers are keeping up the momentum by doing a “Weekly Roundup” newsletter to share spotlights on local artists and businesses, and to keep folks informed about music and arts events that are currently live streaming. If you’re interested in receiving these updates or want to learn more about attending or volunteering in October, join the Springtide mailing list!

Through Springtide, I began to connect with other local musicians and feel more confident in participating in one of the many open mic nights that happen in downtown Uxbridge each week. Once things open up again, I look forward to having the fun “problem” of choosing between the evening open mics at Col. McGrady’s or Wixan’s Bridge (both of which are currently offering takeout options), or the Sunday afternoon open mic at the Uxbridge Legion. In the meantime, local musicians of all ages are live streaming together in a weekly Self-Isolation Open Mic on Facebook, which shouldn’t be missed!

Photo of signpost in Uxbridge, Ontario

Eat Local

This town is absolutely rich in fantastic food options, from casual brunch at Navarro’s Eatery to beautiful charcuterie boards at The Passionate Cook’s Bistro. Unfortunately, both of these businesses are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but The Passionate Cook is still offering prepared foods for pickup or local delivery.

Of course, no town is worth its salt if it doesn’t have a great poutine. As a self-appointed connoisseur, I have made it a mission to try each and every poutine in Uxbridge and my favourite right now is from The Smokehouse. Thankfully, they currently offer a limited menu at reduced hours, so we can still get our fill of fries and cheese curds smothered in delicious gravy.

And while cheese and gravy are an important food group to me, I am also a huge fan of vegan delights. That’s why I’m especially glad that The Bar Café and Market is not only located steps from my door in the heart of downtown Uxbridge, but is also still open for groceries, takeout, and delivery during lockdown! 

Drink Local

In recent years Uxbridge has become a haven for lovers of craft beer and cider, and an added bonus is that our local crafters are also strong champions of the area’s music and arts community. The Second Wedge Brewing Co. has become a sort of hearth and home for local musicians in the downtown core, and not only do they continue to feature live local music throughout the lockdown with their “behind the glass” live stream series, but they’re also offering online ordering, a touchless drive-thru, and delivery all over Durham Region right now. As a bit of a beer snob, it gives me great pleasure to brag about our home-grown heroes (beeroes?) and their many varieties. My favourites are the Rainmaker porter and the 3 Rocks IPA, in case you were curious.

A new addition to the Uxbridge area is Banjo Cider, located just outside of downtown on Sandford Road. Specializing in small batch, traditionally-made dry ciders, it would be a mistake not to try their Rouge blend that combines apple and dark cherry juices to create a warm, tart, and sweet flavour palette. Luckily, they are also offering online ordering and curbside pickup in these strange times of social distancing.

Live Local

Just steps from downtown is Elgin Park, a picturesque dream of a park that boasts a gorgeous pond, a nice stretch of low-impact hiking, a children’s playground, communal workout equipment, and a bandshell that often features live acts in warmer months. In fact, you can actually rent it to put on your own live event! Unfortunately the playground, bandshell, and fitness equipment are currently roped off and closed due to COVID-19, but simply walking the grounds right now really does wonders for lifting the spirits. Elgin Park is also home to the Uxbridge Optimist Club’s Fantasy of Lights, the town’s Canada Day festivities, the Uxbridge Fall Fair, and last year saw the first-ever Uxbridge Craft Beer Fest

Living so close to the train tracks that flow through the downtown core, I can often hear the whistles of the York-Durham Heritage Railway train and it takes me right back to my childhood. From their annual Day Out with Thomas (the Tank Engine), gourmet dinners and high teas, to theme nights like murder mysteries, the wild west, and roaring twenties jazz parties, they offer so many different trips and packages that there is bound to be one for you. 

Speaking of stepping back in time, downtown Uxbridge is also home to both the Roxy Theatre and Parish Lanes, which feature both the architecture and air of simpler times. Catch a modern-day flick in one of the two intimate art deco-styled movie theatres at The Roxy, or knock down a few bowling pins at Parish Lanes. Both of these spots are perfect for date nights or family fun alike.

Shop, Learn, and Connect Local

In a town with such a rich arts scene, it’s no surprise that many of our local shops and businesses focus on feeding the soul. Walk the creaky floorboards in the beautiful, historic building as you browse for books, records, and gifts at Blue Heron Books or Presents Presents Presents, both of which are now offering delivery and pickup options. Purchase unique home décor or learn new crafting skills like milk painting, hand-stamping necklaces, or the basics of stained glass at The Lemonade Stand. Shop gently used clothing and accessories at the quirky and charming M.T. Hangers or find that perfect brand new outfit at Woods Clothing, who have just launched a brand new online shop to accommodate customers in the wake of COVID-19.

Community Living

Despite all of the social distancing and self-isolation we’re currently experiencing, the Uxbridge community is working hard to keep spirits high and neighbours connected. Facebook groups like Connecting in Uxbridge Township and Uxbridge Cares allow for information sharing, conversation, and connection while the newly-formed Uxbridge Helping Hand was created to connect volunteers with housebound, immuno-compromised, or otherwise vulnerable community members to ensure that everyone stays safe, healthy, fed, and in good spirits.

I couldn’t imagine a better town to call home.