My Christmas Gift to Almonte

My Christmas Gift to Almonte…

Christmas in Almonte is one of the most magical times of year. It begins with the shopkeepers Christmas Street Market night in late November, followed by the festive “Light Up The Night” event on the first Friday in December, where Mill Street turns on the Christmas Lights to start the season, to the evening Santa Claus Parade on the Sunday. Friends and neighbours and families come together to celebrate the season.

In keeping with the spirit of giving this holiday season, I have rented the Old Almonte Town Hall on Sunday, December 9th from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., where I am hosting a Free Family Movie Afternoon, featuring the timely classic – The Santa Clause. Admission is absolutely free, but I will be collecting donations of a non-perishable food item for the Lanark County Food Bank in Carleton Place. During a season where so m
any of us have so much, it’s important to remember that not everyone is as blessed, and I want to help support this much needed service in our community.

The Mississippi Mills Youth Centre has been invited to join me, and they are setting up a canteen in the Town Hall where they will sell refreshments for a small fee.

I held a Facebook contest earlier in the fall to help decide which movie people would most like to see, and The Santa Clause won hands-down. (There weren’t many votes for It’s a Wonderful Life which is my favourite Christmas Movie…. Maybe next year?)

The Santa Clause is a 1994 American Christmas fantasy family comedy film stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, an ordinary man who accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve. When he and his young son, Charlie, finish St. Nick’s trip and deliveries, they go to the North Pole where Scott learns that he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves that he is indeed Father Christmas. The movie was shot in the Toronto area, so it’s almost a “local” movie!

It seems like a perfect winter afternoon activity, to add to a family-friendly, activity-filled weekend – and then afterwards, movie-goers can head to the streets to take part in Almonte’s Annual Santa Clause Parade.

Local Christmas Tree Options

Local Christmas Tree Options…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so it’s time to start thinking about getting your Christmas Tree (even though the rules are thatyou can’t put it up before December 1st!)  I sure wish I could convince all the homes in town that I see with Christmas Trees up already about what the rules are!

There are different theories on whether you should have a real tree versus an artificial tree.  Some will argue that an artificial tree is better for the environment – theoretically you only need one tree for your entire life, but as a Christmas enthusiast, I can justify having a real Christmas Tree by purchasing them from one of the local Christmas Tree Farms, where they continue to plant new trees for this sole purpose.  And truth be told, there is nothing more wonderful than the smell of a pine tree in your home!

Here are some recommendations for a local experience where you can do so much more than just purchase a tree for your home.


Cedarhill Christmas Tree Farm – Just a short distance from Ottawa, the Cedarhill Christmas Tree Farm is located between Almonte and Pakenham, off the 7th Concession from Highway 29.  Started by the Ralph Family back in 1988, the farm is now owned by the Martin Family (Pam is the daughter of the local Fulton Family famous for Fulton’s Maple Syrup).  The Martin Family moved to the area in 2016 and took over the business from the Ralph Family.  They continue to offer the same great service that locals came to know and expect, and they have worked hard to offer an even greater experience.

There is no charge to take your family to Cedarhill, and there is so much for everyone to do.  They have a great hill for sliding.  Bring your own sled (but no GT racers please).  They offer free tractor and wagon rides as well.  The grandkids were especially delighted with the straw bale fort, and once I convinced myself it was safe and wouldn’t cave in on them, I enjoyed it too!  Other activities include a bon-fire for enjoying a cup of hot chocolate around, and the Café Claus where you can purchase a light lunch or mid-afternoon snack after working up an appetite.

Of course, the whole point of a trip to the farm is to purchase your Christmas tree, or two.  From 3’ to greater than 12’ tall, with a mixture of white spruce, scotch pine, blue spruce, a variety of fir trees, you cut yourself and they will shake and wrap it for you or buy a pre-cut tree.  Also available for purchase are wreaths, planters and decorations.

While there is no obligation to purchase any product at the Tree Farm, the only way a family business can stay in business, is through the support of local residents who purchase their products.  Sign up for their e-mail notifications to stay tuned to activities at the Tree Farm.

Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park – Richmond Road near Carleton Place

What a great start to the season with all the snow we have had recently for Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park.  This is another family-run business in operation for almost 40 years, and located approximately 15 minutes from Carleton Place, just off Richmond Road.  It’s another great family outing, but there is a charge for this one.  Admission includes access to any activities in the park and a free hot chocolate.

Our last family trip to Ian’s was a few years ago, in the evening, after dinner.  There is something quite magical about bonfires, real reindeer and Santa Claus – by starlight!  Candycane Lane was beautifully lit, and it wasn’t particularly busy on the Sunday evening that we visited.

They offer a hill for sliding, a wagon-ride that takes you to Ho Ho Lake, a skating rink (although we never found it with all the short legs we had in our group), and what feels like miles and miles of trails.  We got to sit with Santa around the campfire during our visit – and there were several warm out-buildings where we could do a diaper change.

The map to the park is helpful and points out the various features we missed including a Hay Maze, a Rope Maze, the Beaver House and many, many trails.

You can cut your own tree and they have saws available for your use, or you can purchase a pre-cut tree (like we did).  They have the usual selection of trees including pines, spruce, fir and cedars, and ranging from 4 feet to 15 feet or more!  Be sure to check their website before venturing out, just to confirm they are open.

Of course you may just opt to purchase your Christmas Tree at the grocery store or road-side fundraising stand, but if you are looking for a family-friendly experience and want to enjoy some time outdoors with the kids, I encourage you to check out either of these local options.  You won’t be sorry you did!


Imagine having a massage just to “feel good”, rather than trying to fix a hurt!  Many people have  a health benefit program through their place of employment that provides full or partial coverage for massage therapy, and yet they don’t even make use of these benefits!

There are some great local options for massage therapy and as we near the end of the fiscal year and calendar, people may be leaving their massage therapy benefit untapped.  Why not check out some of these local options – even if it is just to make yourself feel good, after a stressful day of Christmas shopping or a rough week at work.

Almonte offers a few great options for massage – from a massage therapy clinic to an in-home massage studio.

Bjork Massage – A one-woman business, Nina Bjork Stefansdottir, has been offering massage services since 1997.  Her at-home studio provides a serene, warm and friendly environment where you are greeted by Piglet, her four-legged assistant, at the front-door.  She can adapt her services from a gentle, relaxing massage to deep-tissue, it-hurts-so-good massage, depending on your needs. 

relax. – Formerly known as Absolute Massage Clinic, with offices in Kanata and at Greenbank, there are currently 8 different therapists to choose from.  Clinic hours are 6 days a week, with morning, afternoon and evening appointments available, and weekend appointments too.

With such a large number of staff they can offer a variety of massage services including Hot Stone Therapy, Swedish Massage, Deep-Tissue Massage, Trigger-point Therapy, Pregnancy Massage, Sports Massage, Functional Taping and Craniosacral Therapy.   They are also able to do direct billing to insurance providers and provide easy on-line booking for appointments.


Carleton Place with its larger population offers more than a dozen different massage therapy options.  There are more independent service providers than clinics in CP, but here are a few options you might want to consider.

Darlington Acupuncture and Massage Therapy  – Patricia and Steve Darlington, a husband and wife team,  have been offering myriad services for more than 20 years, including acupuncture and massage.  Their office is in the downtown core, and you receive the benefit of being able to chose gender for your massage, in case that matters. In addition, they offer acupuncture services which can work well with massage therapy, particularly if you are dealing with an injury.

Mahagony Salon and Spa –  When I think Spa, I think relaxation and pampering, and Mahagony has been offering several different types of massage to Carleton Place residents.  Their massage services include Lomi Lomi (which incorporates energy work and chakra balancing into massage); Pre-pregnancy Massage; Swedish Massage and Signature Massage (a more relaxing/refreshing type of massage).

So, whatever your massage needs are, there are some great local options available to meet your needs.  Avoid the last-minute “better use-them-before-I-lose-them” massage bookings, and book yourself a massage appointment now.  Your body will thank you.