WOODSTOCK, Ont. - Oxford County in southwestern Ontario takes its milk and cheese seriously. That might be expected from a place that bills itself as "Canada's dairy capital."
There's even a life-sized statue of a cow — not just any cow, but a record-setting milk producer named Springbank Snow Countess — at the corner of Dundas and Springbank Avenues in the city of Woodstock, the county seat.
Local tourism officials have now issued "Oxford County's Cheese Trail," a guide listing everything from specialty stores and museums to a restaurant at the Elm Hurst Inn where cheddar soup is a speciality.
At Gunn's Hill, an artisanal cheese-maker in Norwich township, visitors can sample products and be "cheese-maker for a day." Cheese can also be sampled and purchased at the Bright Cheese and Butter factory near Bright.
In Woodstock, the Dairy Capital Cheese Shoppe sells local cheeses, as does the Birtch Farms and Estate Winery just north of the city.
There's also a farmers market every Saturday morning at Woodstock's fairground.
"It's very doable to pick and choose from what's in the guide to spend a day in Oxford County," said Tourism Oxford's Jeanne Turner.
She said the Norwich and District Museum has exhibits on butter- and cheese-making, and the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum highlights the history of a 3,311-kilogram wheel of cheese.
The free guide can be ordered by phone — call Tourism Oxford at 519-539-9800, ext. 3355 — or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.