Many newcomers moving from metropolitan centres are surprised to learn that a balanced, affordable lifestyle full of vibrant arts, culture, recreation and nature is possible in St. Thomas-Elgin. There is a common misconception that smaller communities lack cultural opportunities, but this is simply not the case. Nature surrounds us in St. Thomas-Elgin, constantly inspiring our creativity and providing time for reflection. Whatever your passion, you will find opportunities to explore it here.
Arts & Culture
St. Thomas-Elgin has a strong artistic scene across all forms. Many artists and entrepreneurs have settled here or returned to the area after living abroad because they are inspired by the people, history and landscape. The lower cost of living enables them to pursue their passions everyday.
There are several award-winning theatre societies and art galleries that present shows in historic venues at a fraction of the price you would pay for a comparable event in a large city, such as:
- Elgin Theatre Guild,
- Aylmer Community Theatre,
- St. Thomas Public Art Centre,
- West Elgin Dramatics Society, and
- Port Stanley Festival Theatre.
Cultural events and attractions also showcase local artists in the region, such as:
- St. Thomas' Railway City Arts Crawl,
- Port Stanley’s Christmas in the Harbour, and
- West Elgin’s Arts & Cookery Bank.
These modern attractions blend seamlessly with heritage towns and buildings, such as the historic village of Sparta and the Aylmer Old Town Hall Theatre. Everyone is welcome to participate and volunteer in local arts and culture to create new attractions and events for everyone to enjoy.
For more information about arts and culture in the area, visit:
St. Thomas-Elgin offers recreational opportunities for everyone.
Every region in St. Thomas-Elgin has a community centre offering a range of sports, activities, clubs, and amenities at affordable prices. The St. Thomas Public Library and Elgin County Library systems also offer year-round programming related to literacy, hobbies, recreation, and mentoring. Communities also use facilities at local schools to organize activities for children, adults, and seniors.
In the summertime, residents play sports and exercise outside at parks and public facilities, such as basketball courts and soccer fields. Joining a sports team to play competitively or for fun is a great way to meet people if you are new.
In the winter months, our communities come together for indoor sports at local arenas. Arenas are usually located inside of, or close to, community centres and become a gathering place in colder months when children and adults play hockey, curling, and figure skating or simply watch from the sidelines with a steaming hot beverage. Even if you have never skated or seen snow before, don’t be afraid to try a winter sports league. Winter activities are as much social as they are recreational.
If you prefer to a specific type of workout, our region also has a great selection of fitness amenities, including gyms and personal training studios, yoga and meditation studios, martial arts and karate dojos, and indoor/outdoor swimming pools. You can easily continue your current exercise regime or create a new one.
For more information about local recreation services, visit Active Elgin.
To see community centres and libraries on a map, see the Explore the Area page.
Much of Elgin County is located in close proximity to Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes in southwestern Ontario. There are four award-winning beaches in the area - Port Glasgow, Port Stanley, Port Bruce and Port Burwell. Swimming, boating, fishing and water sports are popular activities in the summer months.
In addition to numerous parks and playgrounds in the region, Elgin County is also home to several conservation areas and provincial parks offering day use facilities for hiking, picnics, swimming and other activities, including overnight camping. For more information, visit: