They say that people and horses often form a special bond. As a boy, Michael Chen–the co-proprietor of Pathways on Pleasure Valley in Uxbridge, ON–had that very same experience. The only difference in his case was that he’d never seen a horse in his life.
Chen grew up in an urban neighbourhood in Taiwan. His only exposure to the equine animals was through the western films he’d watch with his dad. He dreamt of horses; imagined he’d seen them. He once lied to a Grade 1 classmate, telling her that he kept three ponies on his apartment balcony. The fib worked until his teacher called him out for the obvious fabrication.
That love affair with horses followed Chen when he eventually emigrated to Canada, working as a graphic designer and as an instructor at Humber College. In 2010, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and bought three horses, learning to care for and train his new charges. Chen’s only regret was that he couldn’t find his old classmate and let her know that he did, indeed, own a few horses—it just took him a few extra decades to make the purchase.
Then, in 2012, at about age 37, Chen approached his wife Natalie Hung with an idea. What if they packed in a comfortable career in the corporate and academic worlds for a life in the country? After all, he’d always wanted to live on a farm after being raised in a big city.
“I decided I wasn’t going to die in front of a computer,” Chen recalls. “I wanted to follow my passion. Being on a farm brought me peace of mind and a feeling that everything would be OK.”
So, the couple leased land in Stouffville north of Toronto, and fully embraced rural life. When their landlord decided to double their rent, the two purchased land in nearby Uxbridge and called the farm Pathways on Pleasure Valley–a hybrid incorporating the name of their first farm, Pathways. It would be a riding and training centre that reflected their passion for horses, as well as a dynamic event venue. They haven’t looked back since.
We’re very happy they took the entrepreneurial plunge, because Chen and Hung have created a truly unique equine experience complete with a 3,000 sq. ft. indoor event lodge that’s perfect for weddings and corporate events. Flooded with natural light, the lodge can accommodate up to 76 people for seated dinners, while an outdoor area is perfect for large functions under sprawling tents for as many as 200 people.
The sustainability-minded among us can rest easy knowing that the venue is also fully off-grid thanks to an on-site solar power system. In addition, the outdoor area features a picnic site, picnic tables, a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and a fun games area.
“Ours is a very unique venue,” says Hung, who brings a high-touch service approach to her event management duties. “When people come to us we want them to see an open canvas. They can be creative and make it into whatever they want to achieve their event vision.”
The absolutely gorgeous countryside setting is the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable function. Add in a little Kiss the Cook culinary flare when we cater your event—maybe a customized food station here, or an elegantly rustic plated dinner there—and you have the perfect recipe for a winning gathering.
We love the fact that a social or corporate group can enjoy horseback riding, sit down for a delicious meal and enjoy one of Chen’s amazing team-building events. That includes horsemanship demonstrations and even workshops on communication.
“It’s possible to manage a 1,200 lb. animal without verbal communications,” Chen explains. “It’s all about body language. When we show them, our guests leave with a better sense of how to interact.”
As he puts it, people come to understand that some of the same problems they experience trying to communicate and lead in the office are exemplified in the human-horse interactions of his workshops. “They see themselves more clearly and realize that their problems aren’t with others, but with themselves. That helps them become better leaders,” he says.
We can’t think of a better way to get out of the city, enjoy delicious food and maybe even learn new ways to cope with difficult situations—or simply spend time with friends and family—than enjoying an afternoon or evening at Pathways on Pleasure Valley. It’s a special place and we’re very happy to be one of their preferred catering partners as we bring the best of the rural GTA to guests in search of a special event venue.
Fia Pagnello, CEO
To book your Kiss the Cook catered event at Pathways on Pleasure Valley, contact us now!