Ontario’s Barn Quilt Tales & Trails

A cross-shaped quilt hangs from a barn with peeling red paint

Are you familiar with a barn quilt? It’s not entirely unlike the everyday quilt you’d find in your home.

On a crisp winter night, nothing’s cozier than a welcoming, warm, quilt crafted with care. But there’s so much more to appreciate from the tradition of quilting. The unique designs and motifs showcased in this form of textile art tell a story of people and place, both past and present.

Many rural communities have gone a step further by proudly displaying their quilt designs like a crest or coat of arms. These quilts are artwork painted on large durable boards and mounted to barns and other properties such as museums, wineries, cottages, and fences. The distinctive designs pay homage to traditional fabric quilts and represent the history of their communities. Traditional and innovative at the same time, this form of community of storytelling can be appreciated anytime all year round.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the brilliant creative patterns of barn quilts speak volumes. Take a tour of these Ontario barn quilt trails and discover their stories.

The Ontario Barn Quilt Trail

Prince Edward County

The County’s largest outdoor gallery boasts over 100 barn quilts, like ‘County Apples’ at the County Cider Company in Waupoos. If you’re going to hit up one spot to view barn quilts, this would be it.

While you’re here: Enjoy breakfast or lunch at the Saylor Café House Café and B&B in Bloomfield. Make a reservation at its B&B to take in more sites. Near Picton, The Waring House Restaurant, Inn, Conference Centre & Cookery School is a great place to grab a bite if you’re with a group or travelling solo. Stay at the Inn to enjoy nightly musical entertainment and take in a class the next day at the cooking school.

Elgin County

History buffs will appreciate the barn quilts that tell the story about people who settled in the region, such as the Mennonite community.

While you’re here: In Aylmer, enjoy a meal at the Green Frog Tea Room, a log cabin that’s on an older 54-acre property. It’s a quaint place to enjoy tea and an assortment of baked goods too. There’s also a gift shop on site, so be sure to take some goodies home with you.

Chatham-Kent

Travel to Ontario’s Southwest, where the roots of rural life and quilt culture run deep. Choose from the East Chatham-Kent Barn Quilt Trail, Thames River Barn Quilt Trail and Longwoods Barn Quilt Trail. Or experience them all!

While you’re here: Combine a barn quilt trail visit with events at Pastime Pieces, a two-story barn converted into a quilt shop. Catch up on the latest in quilting products, fabrics, and inspirational project ideas.

Port Hope

Explore the 23 heritage barns throughout urban and rural Port Hope that were recognized for their architectural significance during Canada150 celebration. You can use the Interactive Driving Tour on your smartphone while you are on the road taking the tour. It's great for directions and points of interest along the route.

Cavan Monaghan

Local quilters, artists and craftspeople in this Peterborough County township have collaborated to produce various barn quilt installations that showcase the history and value of agriculture in the community. Self-guided walking tour maps are available.

While you’re here: Take a walking tour of the charming Village of Millbrook and see the barn quilts displayed by local businesses. Visit resident quilt shops Kawartha Quilting and Sewing and The Quilter’s Bolt. Get to know the community at Quilter’s Bolt, where there’s never a shortage of exciting craft activities like sewing parties.

Simcoe County

Over 100 barn quilts by Simcoe County artists and farmers are on colourful display.

While you’re here:  Stop by Thimbles & Things for quilting supplies.

Gravenhurst

Follow the Ryde Barn Quilt Trail to experience the history of the former Ryde Township, now part of the town of Gravenhurst. The trail’s 26 quilt sites were erected in 2014 in celebration of 135 years of settlement in Ryde.

While you’re here: Enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a homemade baked good at Camp Muskoka Coffeehouse in Bracebridge.

Niagara

Although they currently have a modest barn quilt representation, community members of Niagara Barn Quilts are quickly spreading the word about their pride in the region’s rural past and present. As the group’s motto says, they’re ‘making Niagara beautiful one quilt at a time’.

While you’re here: The quaint village of Jordan is an ideal home base, and not only because it’s home to some of this tour’s must-sees. You can’t go wrong with the wine country dining and accommodations you’ll find at Inn On The Twenty.

Ultimate Barn Quilt Planner

Barn quilt trails continue to grow, transforming the barnscapes of Ontario into works of art. Visit barnquilttrails.ca to learn about all the trails in Ontario.

Please be mindful that many of Ontario’s barn quilts are on private property. Unless open to the public, please admire the artwork safely from adjacent roadways.

Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.

For the most up-to-date information on where and when it is safe to travel please visit: covid-19.ontario.ca