Story & Photos submitted by: Linsey De Ruysscher
When you step foot on the grounds of O’Hara Mill & Homestead in Madoc, you really do feel like you’ve stepped back in time. From the old-style buildings to the O’Hara staff decked out in pioneer clothing, it’s a pretty fun experience for both kids and adults.
We stepped back in time for a few hours on Sunday, July 23rd for Heritage Day at O’Hara Mill, and for a place with NONE of the ‘comforts’ and ‘gadgets’ of 2017…our two boys did NOT want to leave! They had an absolute blast! From the pioneer demonstrations and live entertainment, to the horse and wagon rides and walking trails, it was definitely a fun experience for all of us as a family. It was interesting watching their faces as they learned about how life was back then. ‘What do you mean there’s no TV?!’
We wandered through the grounds, held some chickens, walked some trails and we made our way through all of the buildings including the old pioneer house. Inside, they were cooking soda bread and some desserts over the fireplace for people to try. Our favourite building was The Log School built in 1861. We walked in and the boys were amazed at how small it was and how back in the pioneer days, ALL the grades were taught in that one, small school house. They sat at the desks and were taught how to write cursive with slate pencils on small chalkboards.
After the school house, we went on a horse drawn wagon ride. The horses are absolutely beautiful and the boys were in awe of how big they are. We were allowed to pet them before our ride and our 7-year-old shouted… “Their feet are HUGE!”. He’s right. They are!
Heritage Day was a lot of fun and even though you may have missed it, there are still plenty of fun events coming up at O’Hara Mill & Homestead so you can step back in time too! Visit their website for a full list of upcoming events.
Another great family place to check out in Hastings County is Amazing Graze Alpacas just north of Stirling. Let me tell you, I might have a new favourite animal. They’re adorable!
When we arrived, we were met by Marj, the owner, and 4-year-old, Jupiter! (Isn’t he just so cute?!) Now normally, alpacas aren’t huge fans of people petting them. Especially around their face. So Marj brought out Jupiter and held him so we could pet him. I love the hair on their heads! Which I learned is call a ‘top knot’. Marj is wonderful, knowledgeable and she graciously answered all our 7-year-old’s questions about where baby alpacas (called “crias”) come from. Thank you, Marj!
Amazing Graze Alpacas has around 40 alpacas (and Marj knows all their names!), and we walked around the entire farm to see where the boys hang out and where the girls and the little crias are kept. We learned that alpacas have a life expectancy of around 15-20 years and a couple of the alpacas were walking around the farm right next to us.
Not only do they breed alpacas at Amazing Graze Alpacas, but Marj also has a little shop where you can purchase products made from alpaca fibre. Gloves, mittens, socks, scarves and more! The alpaca fibre used in all their products is 100% Canadian, grown in Ontario, and most of it comes from their own herd members.
There are lots of upcoming events this Fall & Winter if you’d like to check out these beautiful animals for yourself. Visit the Amazing Graze Alpacas website for full details and dates.
Lots of family fun was had at both places, and we look forward to doing some more family wandering in Hastings County this year! Keep your eye on the Hastings County blog to read about our next adventure!
Story and photographs by Linsey De Ruysscher
As one of our six Local Wanderers exploring Hastings County, Linsey enjoys making memories with her family hiking on new trails and discovering new hidden attractions along the way. If there is a river to be paddled, they'll be there!
Learn more about Linsey through her bio, as well as for a link to the other adventures she has shared with us. You can also read about our other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County.
Our Local Wanderer Initiative is funded and supported in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport and Regional Tourism Organization 11 - Ontario's Highlands.