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Group of Seven in Stone Cellar, Perth, Ontario

Every summer we try to make a few local trips to explore our province and  one of the regions we love to visit is Lanark County, which offers perfect combination of small towns, cottages on the beach and wild life. And after spending couple days in the cottage (“The Dancing Bass” Lodge cottage) we went to Perth for some shopping and lunch.

That lunch was a very special treat for us! Based on the art of Famous Canadian Group of Seven Chef Jamie Troutman from “The Stone Cellar” created the menu that interprets various elements present in paintings in “edible art”. Hours of research made it possible to reflect the famous Canadian art in the fine Canadian cuisine. In his creations Jamie is using the true Canadian ingredients coming from local farms. Chef Troutman, as per his own words, using the “deconstruction of the elements” from art into cuisine.

Lawren Harris, Icebergs by Chef Jamie Troutman

The shot glasses made of clear ice represent the art of Lawren Stewart Harris, who was criticized as being cold, but in fact deeply spiritual and one of the skilled abstract painters.

From ice and cold we suddenly surrounded by flowers and greenery of “Tangled Garden” by J. E. H. MacDonald –  Jamie Troutman’s sunflower salad full of summer colours and fresh herbs… MacDonald’s art is distinguished by dark palette, tough, rich and at the same time elegant design. And Jamie is using the dark of the stone slab as background for the splash of colours…

Group of Seven MacDonald Tangled Garden
“Tangled Garden” in sunflower salad by Chef Jamie Troutman

From flowers and greenery of the garden we travel to Nova Scotia with help of another Jamie’s culinary creation based on “Nova Scotia Cove” again by J. E.H. MacDonald.  Scallops and wild rice combined in a beautiful setting with shells to represent seashore…

Group of Seven, edible art
Chef Jamie Troutman, Scallops  served with Wild Rice – “Nova Scotia Cove” by J. MacDonald

We keep our taste buds tuned as next we get served Canadian beef – so tender! …accompanied by some root vegetables… chef’s creation based on the painting by Arthur Lismer “Habitant Farm”…

"Habitant Farm" Lismer and Chef Troutman
“Habitant Farm” by Arthur Lismer and Chef Troutman

Lanark County is well known for Maple Syrup producers and it would be logical to find this unique Canadian product in local cuisine and famous art.

J. Troutman "Maple Glazed Pork" based on "The red Maple" by A. JacksonJ. Troutman “Maple Glazed Cheese” based on “The Red Maple” by A. Jackson.

Our experience would not be complete without the dessert!Apple dessert based on "Asters and Apples" by J. MacDonaldApple dessert based on “Asters and Apples” by J. MacDonald

If you decide to indulge in creativity and fine cuisine make sure to make a 48 hours reservation, and if so, you may need to find a fine place to stay. Luckily the area offers a good variety of hotels – one of our favourites is “Perth Manor” which offers classic architecture, cozy rooms, beautiful garden and friendly atmosphere.

The Stone Cellar Restaurant                                                                                   Address: 71 Gore St E, Perth, ON K7H 1H Menu: thestonecellar.com                                                                                       Reservations: opentable.com                                                                                 Phone: (613) 267-0200

Perth Manor Hotel                                                                                                 Address: 23 Drummond St. West, Perth, ON                                       Phone: (613) 264-0050 and if this one is not available –

Best Western Plus Perth Parkside Inn & Spa                                                   Address: 82 Peter St, Perth, ON                                                                 Phone: (613) 326-0082.

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Farmstead experience on Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County, Ontario

After the four and a half hour drive from downtown Toronto we arrived at the Blue Hen Farm.  Right at the turn we saw an old cupboard filled with jars of homemade preserves and a sign “Honk for Service”…  And we saw the farmhouse in the opening between trees.

Farmers Jeff and Leslie greeted us and as we entered the house we were amazed by the old fashioned setting of the rooms – furniture, chandelier and even the old upright piano that produced some wonderful melodies after our evening meals…

Executive Chef, Costas preparing dinner for Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

 

Leslie and Jeff used to live in Ottawa and have jobs as many of us do… The idea of farming came up after some changes in jobs and also as a result of research of the food industry, commercial farming and agriculture.

Executive Chef Costas

Later, after getting settled in our rooms we headed down for dinner made by Chef Kostas who came out to tell us about the ingredients he used in his cooking, the dinner was amazing and filling.

As farmers do every day after dinner, we went into the barnyard to help with evening chores.

 

 

We found all the work surprisingly entertaining; we unloaded some 20 stacks of straw that will be used as bedding for the animals, fed the calves and pigs, brought the sheep and goats back to the barn and herded the chickens into their coop.

Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

There was a special place where hens lay eggs, so we picked our breakfast! The eggs were dark and light brown, white and even light blue…

Once the chores were done, tired we went to our bedrooms; may be the mattresses were so comfortable or the day was long – falling asleep was no problem at all.

Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

In the morning we woke up around half past six to the mouthwatering smell of bacon and eggs…

Breakfast during Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

And after breakfast we went to the yard to do morning chores which repeats the evening in the back order – letting the sheep and chickens out,  showering and feeding pigs… and saying hello to all of the farm animals.

Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Evening chores during Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

 

The goats are very young and new to the farm and don’t know the barn yard, so they we carried to the pasture  like babies!

Calf is sucking a finger, Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

Although all of the chores seem like quite a lot to do, they were our favourite part of the day. We also found that doing chores and waking up that early in the morning was very refreshing which was useful since we had a long day ahead of us. We found all of the animals so cute… and especially the three kittens that roam around the barnyard. There are also two dogs that help farmers by guarding  the barn yard from foxes and other invaders.

Leslie and Jeff ask that visitors do not  bring or wear any fragrances on the farm including mosquito spray, however they do supply their own free of charge so that you do not get bitten by pesky flies.  Leslie makes her own natural soap – I found it very smooth and took a little piece home as a souvenir. Around the house we also found natural fragrances, bug spray and soap – all handmade from natural ingredients that smell like summer fields…

Their mission statement is free range thinking, meaning all of the animals are free to roam the field and raised with no antibiotics or chemical supplements at all. “Being a novice in such a tedious business as farming should be challenging for city folks” – I asked… yes, and they learn every day.

We also had a chance to learn – about how to feed pigs and chickens and how to take care of sheep and goats;  we would join Leslie to let the animals out of the barn with the first rays of sun and get them all back in the evening…

For us it was just two days – but these days were filled with smiles and laughter, delicious homemade meals and that feeling of love and happiness…

After Dinner Chat

We took a lot of pictures that will remind us about this wonderful place and people that are so enthusiastic about  what they do.  Thank you Jeff and Leslie for teaching us some very basic skills that we miss in our city life!

So, time to leave The Blue Hen Farm… I think I  saw tears in some eyes…, we hope to come again.

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Exploring Waterloo Region – Bingeman's Big Splash

After lunch at the (nearby) Boston Pizza, we came in to the Bingeman’s Big Splash. After changing into our bathing suits we stepped out on to the deck exited about all of the slides that awaited us. They had many slides to choose from and better yet, the height restrictions are very reasonable so that everyone can go (most of the required heights are around forty inches). My personal favourite slide was the Cyclone.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

Over all, the park quite fairly spread out which makes it feel like there is less of a crowd, there also is a big wave pool

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

which has a shallow end

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

and a deep end however the tubes have to be rented for five dollars each and Cabana rentals are also available, another thing to note is that most of the rides are one person at a time, however there are a couple that two people can ride on at the same time.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

We highly recommend that you try it out especially if traveling with young ones.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

Overall it is the most fun water park in the region.

By Jonathan K.

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Ctrl – V Experience in Waterloo, Ontario

As soon as we knew that we are going to CTRL-V we were so impatient that could not wait for 8 pm! The dinner took so long… Finally at 8:10 pm we arrived at Ctrl-V  – Canada’s first virtual reality arcade that was opened in Waterloo just recently.                                       We walked in the first set of doors… First the parents  had to sign the waver for safety reasons… after the wavers we watched the helpful demonstration video… and finally were ready to start!                           My first game was “Climbey”.  I had a tutorial, also the staff helped me to figure out walking and climbing techniques.  After playing “Climbey”, I choose a game where you pick a song and with your controllers you bump to the beat of the song – I chose “Shake it off” By Taylor Swift. It was a good exercise. My  about an hour experience felt like ten minutes…

By Anna Sophia

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Needle Felting with Peg Learn in Ottawa Valley

Felting with Peg Learn in the Ottawa region

Needle Felting  with Peg Learn

After spending the day in Almonte, we arrived at the Blue Hen farm for a felting workshop presented by Peg Learn ( Learn Creations). She greeted us with a big smile, hand holding a large red dragon made from felt pieces … Surprisingly felting is much easier than it may look; everyone was given a felting needle, a foam pad and of course some colourful wool. Since we are the beginners Peg suggested that each of us make a simple Halloween pumpkin. The process is started by taking wool strands and using the needle to compress the wool together by poking it and combining into a ball. The pad is used to rest the material while using the needle. It was quite entertaining and after we got the pumpkin form down we started customizing our pumpkins in different ways. I put a French mustache on my pumpkin while others placed eyes, and/or smiles..

Peg Learn

It was very fun and informative and we highly recommend it as something to do while in the area. Peg also told us about her experiences in felting competitions where the winner receives many pounds of felt, which means a LOT  of felting fun! And according to Peg ” It is the most fun when you can have stabbing something repeatedly and legally” … It was a great eye opening experience that made something that appeared hard quite easy to learn.

If you wish to learn felting and have really fun workshop with Peg, her contact is: www.facebook.com/learncreations.

By Jonathan K.

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Family trip to African Lion Safari, Hamilton, Ontario

African Lion Safari, Hamilton, Ontario

African Lion Safari first opened its doors to the visitors in 1969 and since then went through a lot expansions and animal additions… About 6,000 visitors come here daily to see the exotic animals that are roaming free in the fields or just enjoying the warm summer day in their artfully created habitats on land and water.

To start our visit we boarded the “African Queen” boat that took us around the island where we saw monkeys jumping in the ropes and multiple birds such as vultures and pelicans.  One of the spots was taken by two lemur families. The boat operators told us about animals routine and some funny life stories…

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

The boat came back to the pierce and we decided to take a bus that goes to African savanna . We had to enter through the specially designed gate system that allows buses and cars to safely go in and out of that area. “Keep your arms and heads inside, no windows opening”…. The bus tour goes through multiple enclosures  each housing different wild animals.  We are surrounded by lions,  then  we pass by cheetahs… We got to see many mountain goats as well as rhinos and many giraffes…

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

The best part of the bus tour was visiting the giraffes, they came up very closely so we had around four of them circling around the bus, one of them even licked the bus mirrors. It is quite a spectacular view  – one of them gracefully approaching our window, the other is in the front of the bus… oh, one more is in the front!

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

Following the bus tour we went on the ”Nature Boy” scenic railway, the tour lasts around fifteen minutes. On the way we got to see the elephants habitat, a donkey and many turtles that came out of the pond for summer sun. It was a nice way to give our feet some rest and enjoy the fresh air coming from the lake and trees…

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

 

Elephants Bath time was now up, so we headed to the lake to see them coming gracefully – leading was a large male elephant and then smaller ones – females and young siblings. Elephants got in the water, it looked like they are walking on the bottom of the lake – but no, some places are deep and they do have to swim, sometimes we could only see the very top of the head and the trunk… they had some fun time splashing and spraying each other; later rangers came and started throwing apples to the elephants – which was a lot of fun for all!!

Elephant swim
A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada
A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

It was a hot day – we would not mind to go for a plunge too – and we could at the Safari’s water park area – however, we were quite hungry and went to the cafe to have lunch…. We had to say goodbye to all the animals big and small before heading of to our next destination.

By Jonathan K.

 

 

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Port Maitland fishing trip. July 2017

The best spots are towards the middle however they are the first to be taken up so arrive early!

We did not have much luck that day, if you are lucky it is very likely that you catch 10 or more fish!

On the way home we stopped at the mudfish statue it was built in honor of the local mudfish
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Day trip to Collingwood, July 2017

After the 1 hour drive from downtown Toronto we arrived at the Cranberry Village. We first arrived to the rooftop patio, which has the best view in all of Collingwood.

Roof top Patio in Living Water Resort, Collingwood

From the roof you can see the lake Huron, the 19 hole golf course as well as the newly refurbished marina.

Cranberry Golf Resort

Following a quick resort tour and lunch on the roof top patio we went to do paddle board yoga (SUP Yoga).

 

SUP Yoga, by Blu Wave in Living Water Resort, Collingwood

 

At first we thought that there was no way we could balance on a paddle board, let alone do handstands, bridges and other meditation poses.

Paddle Board Yoga by Blu Wave, in Collingwood Ontario

It turned out however that meditating on a paddle board while being gently rocked by the lake was very relaxing as well as a slightly challenging workout, after about an hour we returned back to the village to take on the iron chef challenge.

The iron chef challenge works like this; two teams of equal size are given 10 minutes to plan a dish using unknown ingredients
They can also “ purchase” products such as a lemon or herbs using the team’s points, which are then deducted from the final score.

Iron Chef Challenge Team 1, July 2017
Iron Chef Challenge food preparation

Once they have used up their 10 minutes of planning time, they are given 20 minutes to cook and arrange their chosen dish. The team at the end with the most points wins. However its not that simple as the chefs who organize the competition/exercise will throw in some really odd ingredients to challenge the contestants even more. For example in our list of products that we must use was included local fresh perch and oddly enough, a small box of cereal, again, all of the given items must be included.

Iron Chef Competition
Second Team in Iron Chef Challenge in Living Water Resort, Collingwood
Iron Chef Challenge winning team, July 2017

 

After completing the challenge, we went to the lakeside grill to enjoy their specialty steak, we heard that it was delicious because they had recently invested quite a lot of money into a brand new grill that cooks the whole steak perfectly and evenly and it was delicious, so delicious in fact that we all wanted another plate of steak even though we were full.

And like that the day was finished, we said our goodbyes and got in the car for the 1 hour drive back home.

By Jonathan K.

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Yamaska National Park, Quebec

To have a complete travel experience in Montreal area we decided to visit the Yamaska National Park, well known as a wonderful family escape whether you are camping, just came to enjoy the beach, like to hike or bike.
That morning weather outlook promised some rain and cloudy, so the beach option was not on the list, so we opted for a bike ride.

We did not bring our bikes, so had to rent – you know that feeling when you take someone’s else bike – I hope it’s good… – well, the bikes were not just good, they were great – all in perfect condition, had all the proper gear installed and ready to roll!

Parc National de la Yamaska,Granby, Quebec

The Yamaska National Park is located on the Choiniere Reservoir, is represented by great variety of trees, small animals and birds. The park was created in 1983 and is a perfect for all kinds of activities combined in one great location – boating, paddling, fishing for those who prefers to be on the water and hiking, biking, camping as an addition and for those staying on land. The water is very clear, we saw a lot of small fishes close to the shore.

Parc National de la Yamaska,Granby, Quebec

The beach is well equipped with water bikes, kayaks and paddle boards… we would be very happy to try them all, however at that time decided to go for a bike ride to explore the trail which is about 19 km and runs through he forest for some distance along the shore and later through the woods.

As navigation help we also got i-pods with map, detailed information about the location and some interesting facts about where we were in real time!

Parc National de la Yamaska,Granby, Quebec

Yamaska National Park
Address: 1780 boulevard David-Bouchard, Roxton Pond, QC J0E 1Z0
Phone: (450) 776-7182

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Bombardier Museum of ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec

We arrived in Valcourt QC to see the place where the man known as the  pride of Valcourt created his company that would be renowned by the  world. The visit begins with the simple garage where  Joseph Armand  Bombardier decides to overcome the challenges of driving in the deep  snow.

Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec

By adapting the tractor wheels into treads and skis to become parts of  the vehicle he was able to make the first snowmobile- the B7 – that  within a very short period of time became in great demand not just in Quebec but all over Canada. In the garage there is still his officefilled with tools and papers, as if he just stepped out for a moment.
And you can see the first original snowmobile that looks quite bulky, since it was made of wood and various parts from other machines, stands in the middle of the garage.

Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec

The new creation became so popular that the company moved to the new larger building and was supported by the whole community of Valcourt. The larger sized vehicles followed and the business was prospering until… after World War II, the Quebec government passed a law that required cities to  remove the snow from highways and streets and the need for the snowmobile as a transportation quickly faded. The creativity of Joseph Armand Bombardier never stopped and he
brought new ideas into growing the business… a few months later the “Ski-Doo” comes out of his production and quickly gives raise to the new sport and gives all new outlook for winter fun.

Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec
Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec

From section to section we could see the machines created in different times for the variety of purposes – snowmobiles of all sizes, all terrain vehicles, the rail transport – here you can get on the actual streetcar and image being on the streets of the busy downtown.
In the next hall we were impressed by the original subway wheels that are used in Montreal Metro – and these are produced by Bombardier Inc. as well.

Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec

One of the expositions is dedicated to the aircraft industry, here the imagination will take you up to the skies – yes, you can fly! And feel like a pilot of the commercial aircraft, which destination is any place of your choice!

Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec

And not just the destinations you can reach here, you can build the totally new vehicle of your own creation. In the room filled with I-pads there is big screen with the images of all sorts of surrealistic machines moving, floating, flying, zooming… it’s a wonderful world of imagination; and no matter the age – it is a great fun for all!

FabLab, Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec

One more surprise at the end of our tour – so called ‘’ FabLabs’’. Anyone who likes to create, is in need of tools and good technical advice can come here and for a very reasonable fee get it all including materials, software and a helping hand! Really impressive and well done! And so encouraging!

Bombardier Original Garage, Museum of Ingenuity, Valcourt, Quebec