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.
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…
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…
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”…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
In the morning we woke up around half past six to the mouthwatering smell of bacon and eggs…
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.
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!
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…
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.
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
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..
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.
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…
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…
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!
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…
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!!
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.
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.
From the roof you can see the lake Huron, the 19 hole golf course as well as the newly refurbished marina.
Following a quick resort tour and lunch on the roof top patio we went to do paddle board yoga (SUP Yoga).
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.
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.
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.
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.
JUNE 30 and july 1
Festival brassicole des Laurentides
Parc de la gare
420, rue de la Gare, Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré
819 688-2161, extn. 234
The Laurentian Beer Festival invites all fans of microbreweries
to discover and taste craft beers and
meet the artisans behind these products. Product
presentations, entertainment, shows, music and
booths serving local and regional food.
july 1 to 29
Nostalgia evenings in Sainte-Adèle – Concerts
Parc de la famille
Corner of Morin and Émile-Cochand, Sainte-Adèle
450 229-2921 | ville.sainte-adele.qc.ca
Series of free outdoor musical concerts, on Saturday
nights, at Parc de la famille. 8 p.m. First part at
• July 1: A tribute to Peter Gabriel
• July 8: All Access Showband – Songs from the 50s
• July 15: Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs –
Moderne traditional music
• July 22: Lobster Country Band – Country
• July 29: Gregory Charles
july 1 to 9
Lac Masson en fête in
Ville de Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson
1 855 228-2545 | ste-marguerite.qc.ca
• July 1 and 2: great annual bazaar in favour of the
church, on the parish grounds. Rain or shine.
• July 8 and 9: local products fair and sailing festival,
in the heart of the village, SUP tryouts with Echo
Aloha, big BBQ, pontoon rides, animation, storytelling
july 1 to december 3
Série Ça Me Dit Concerts Rona Dagenais
Parc Georges-Filion – Saint-Sauveur
1 877 528-2553 | valleesaintsauveur.com
The Rona Dagenais «Ça me dit» concerts (concert
series) has really changed since its beginnings. Now
it offers much more than concerts: exhibitions, circus
performances, thematic weekends, open-air cinema,
an urban dance competition, two sidewalk sales and
many free outdoor concerts.
july 2 to august 27
Les dimanches sur la promenade
Promenade Paul-Sauvé – Saint-Eustache
450 974-2787 | saint-eustache.ca
Free concerts, Sunday afternoons, on Promenade
Paul-Sauvé, behind the Saint-Eustache church, on the
shores of Rivière des Mille Îles.
until august 6
It’s peak season at la maison lavande
La Maison Lavande – Culture et parfumerie
902, chemin Fresnière, Saint-Eustache
1 877 780-3009 | maisonlavande.ca
It’s finally peak season at La Maison Lavande. The
summer activities resume with a bunch of little extras:
bistro, entertainment, guided tours, picnic area,
new terrace, a family area and more. You can bring
your own picnic. Open daily, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(the fields are open until 4:30 p.m.). Applicable entry
july 4 to august 1
Place du Village en spectacle in Sainte-Thérèse
free outdoor concerts
Place du Village
6, rue de l’Église, Sainte-Thérèse
450 434-1440 | sainte-therese.ca
Various outdoor music concerts presented on Tuesdays
at Place du village. 7:30 p.m. Animation at 6:30
• July 4: Fanny Bloom – Pop
• July 11: Riot and The Blues Devils – Blues rockabilly
• July 18: Jojo et les Sixtease – Retro
• July 25: A tribute to Bob Dylan, with Alain Lépine –
• August 1: Frédéric Lapierre, Angèle Courville and
the Alternatim Vocal Ensemble – Francophone
july 6 to august 6
Festival International Hautes-Laurentides
1 855 776-4080 | concertshautes-laurentides.com
Music festival. Artistic director: Alexandre Da Costa.
This year, festival organizers have decided to modify
the event and innovate by having more of a presence
on the regional cultural scene, thus creating a more
significant impact than the last 18 years. This 19th edition
will mark the beginning of the new «international»
era, with its new name: Festival International HautesLaurentides.
july 7 to august 13
2435, rue de l’Église, Val-David
1 888 322-7030, extn. 4235 | 1001pots.com
The largest exhibition of ceramics in North America.
25,000 original pieces. Workshops and special
activities. Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission $2.
july 7 to 16
Tremblant international blues festival
1000, chemin des Voyageurs, Mont-Tremblant
819 681-3000, extn. 46643 | tremblantblues.com
More than 100 concerts, mostly free, on multiple
indoor and outdoor stages. Ten days of blues,
ranging from its purest roots to R&B, soul, funk,
country, folk and rock influences. More varied than
ever, this year’s program will be presented in a series
of intimate settings so you can get up close and
personal with all the performers.
july 8 to august 26
Outdoor musical concerts in
2, rue Saint-Louis, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts
1 888 326-0457 | ville.sainte-agathe-des-monts.qc.ca
Free outdoor concerts at Place Lagny on Saturday
nights. 8:30 p.m., first part 7:30 p.m.
• July 8: A tribute to Les Colocs
• July 15: Cherry Chérie
• July 22: Annie Blanchard
• July 29: Loco Locass
• August 5: Qw4rtz
• August 12: Marco Calliari
• August 19: Pierre Kwenders
• August 26: Raphaël Torr – A tribute to Joe Dassin
july 13 to 16
399, chemin Gougeon, Lachute
450 562-3741 | expolachutefair.com
The oldest agricultural fair in Québec! Agricultural
exhibits, rides, demolition derby, various shows,
diverse contests, exhibition of farm equipment.
july 14 to 16
AIM Electronic Music Festival
Rue du Plein-Air, Saint-André-d’Argenteuil
AIM is a new, outdoor electronic music festival presenting
over 50 artists on 3 stages (techno, house,
deep house, pop electronic and chill out) held at Parc
Carillon in Saint-André d’Argenteuil. With a focus on
live and DJ performances, interactive multimedia
art, sound and digital technology, AIM proposes an
ultimate and intimate set design in a festival environment.
july 14 to 16
Festival Manitou: Celebrating indigenous
539, chemin Saint-Bernard, Mont-Tremblant
819 425-3588 | domainesaintbernard.org
First edition of the event Festival Manitou: Celebrating
indigenous cultures. The event is part of the
celebrations planned for the 150th anniversary of the
Canadian Confederation, and aims at the demystification
and reconciliation of past and present Aboriginal
and Canadian cultures. Musical and dance performances,
culinary discoveries, forest walks, stories
and legends will be among the highlights of the day.
july 15 to 23
Route des Arts
Southwestern Lower Laurentians
450 533-6360 | routedesarts.ca
An open doors event in the workshops and ateliers.
Come and admire the artists’ beautiful creations
and learn about their techniques in the intimate setting
of their studios and, perhaps, find a high quality
work of art to suit your taste. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
july 21 to 30
Festival Nuits Blues Laurentides
Parc Adolphe-Jodoin – Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard
450 745-3212 | nuitsblues.ca
Festival for blues aficionados presented in
the enchanting atmosphere of Saint-Adolphed’Howard
village, on sponsored stages and at
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!
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.
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!
Yamaska National Park
Address: 1780 boulevard David-Bouchard, Roxton Pond, QC J0E 1Z0
Phone: (450) 776-7182
During the last couple of years the topic of visiting Quebec was coming up several times in our discussions. Finally in May 2017 we booked a hotel and planned out the itinerary that would include some of the places that we thought would be interesting for everyone in the family.
The main destination was Quebec City and its beautiful downtown was so well preserved and such a distinct French heritage. We spent most of our time just strolling the streets, window shopping and watching the street performers who really amazed us with their skills – fire jugglers, drama characters and musicians…
One of the destinations that excited our kids most was the Granby Zoo, which is about 3 hours drive from the downtown Quebec, and about an hour from Montreal. We were welcomed in the nice reception hall, got our tickets and went to explore the animal world.
Right as we entered there was a gigantic size dinosaur’s head and a line up of kids willing to climb inside of it! No matter how big or small – they were very about the opportunity to see the real size dinosaurs! And there 21 of them right in front of you, so be very careful – but don’t try to feed or pat these creatures!
Enough of the dinosaurs – the kids forgot about dinosaurs right at the sight of the farm animals. And there were lots of them – pigs, sheep, and goats – so friendly and ready to make friends!
After some hugs exchange with farm inhabitants we decided to go see some of the exotic creatures on display.
Oceania seemed to be a good place to start – first the stingrays and the variety of tropical fish and then all way around the Australian continent to see black swans, parrots, emus, and kangaroos. Stingrays seem to be attracted to the hand emerged in the water – some of them will come and allow us to gently touch their backs…
The Kangaroos were too busy to discuss any matters of their life, so the visit to the Oceania Garden was quite interesting as it is extremely rare you get to see kangaroos that close and with no fence!.
We entered the aviary and right away we were surrounded by many colorful parrots! For $1 you can buy a special nectar – just hold the cup tight and they will sit on your hand and drink it!
We spend some good time there – the parrots are so colorful and it is such a great experience to see them so close.
But there was a lot see and the time was limited.
Our next destination was Africa! Who doesn’t like to observe the grace of big cats, see elephants shower using trunks, slowly moving zebras and giraffes, and the hilarious monkeys?
One of our major observations about Granby Zoo was the design of the areas, nice fences that imitate greenery and well maintained grounds. We later learned that Granby Zoo received an Award for the Energy Consumption Reduction Efforts project that was implemented during the renovation of 2005-2010.
The Zoo is well mapped and organized – it was no problem to find any continent or animal of interest. And yes, the zookeepers definitely speak many languages, no worries if you don’t speak French!
After Africa we had just a bit of time to make a short tour of South America. We stopped by llamas who stretched out their necks asking for treat…
it was a lot of fun to feed them some green leafs that we found on the trees around; we were impressed by the spread of the wings of the Andean Condor and spent some time waiting for the alligators to wake up from the afternoon nap; finally one of them yawned and slowly moved towards the water… at the end of the South American trail we saw a powerful jaguar, at the moment it was quite relaxed and not interested in any aggression.
On our way to South American continent we made a snack stop at “Le Marcher”. The restaurant offers a variety of foods and drinks and nice dining area; there is also a large area outside with tables under umbrellas.
Next to the Restaurant there is an Amusement Park – where kids found some free rides while we were resting our feet; there is also an Amazoo Water park that offers quite the variety of water rides, not now however… we may visit it some other time when the day will be hot enough for water fun…so long for now, the Zoo is closing and we are tired enough to get to our hotel and have some dinner.