Best places to go cross-country skiing!

It’s believed that cross-country skiing originated about 5,000 years ago in Scandinavia, as a way for people to travel cross-country, over snow, on skis. It eventually became a sport during the 18th century when the military organized skiing competitions. Today, cross country skiing is enjoyed by old and young alike. The low cost of entry to the sport, combined with the ease to learn how, keeps the sport popular among North Americans and Europeans alike.

Here is a list of some of the more popular spots in the area for cross country skiing.

Mill of Kintail Conservation Area: Located on the 8th Concession, off the Clayton Road, just outside of Almonte, the Mill of Kintail offers 154 acres of forest and bush and beautiful trails of varying lengths, totalling about 7 kilometres. The trails and grounds are open from dawn to dusk and a fee of $6 per car is charged. A ticket machine is available at the gate. Just purchase your ticket and leave it on your dash.Pakenham Ski Hill: Although better known for its downhill ski facility, Mount Pakenham also offers cross country ski trails as well as equipment rental. Mount Pakenham offers more than 15 km of scenic trails, and a day pass will cost you $12.00 plus tax. There is lots of free parking, and washrooms, equipment rental and a canteen are available on site. They have a Winter Outdoor Wonder (WOW) Trail map filled with fun facts about nature and Eastern Ontario wildlife, including an orienteering challenge designed for ages 8-14, including animal scat and track information, outdoor survival trivia and a beautiful walk in the woods. And on weekends, the day pass also gives you access to the Snowtubing hill – in case you have a little energy left at the end of the day.Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail (OVRT): Formerly known as the CP Rail line, the OVRT runs for 296 kilometres from Smiths Falls to Mattawa. It’s available to motorized and non-motorized users alike, and it’s easy to access it from any place, including Carleton Place and Almonte. Currently there is no charge to use the trail, and it provides an interesting mix of trail through towns, and forest and fields alike.Goodwood Trail at Beckwith: The Goodwood Marsh Nature Trail was developed in 2012 as a community development initiative with the Beckwith Recreation Department and Beckwith Township Council, funded by the Infrastructure Stimulus Grand with both the Federal and Provincial Government. The trail boasts a variety of bird houses, donated by the Ashton United Church. Approximately 72 kilometres in length, it originates in Franktown and follows a winding path east ending at the Rideau River north of Manotick. There is a long stretch of wooded swamp with mixed woods, and motorized vehicles are not allowed on this trail.
There are only a few more weeks of winter left (honest) so if you had plans to get out and do some cross country skiing, don’t delay. Check out one of these local trails and have some fun!

7 Fun Things to do with the Family on Family Day!

“Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.”
— Michael J. Fox
Of course we know how important family is, but in the busy-ness of our lives it can sometimes slip our minds. That’s why Family Day is a great time to pause and remember why our families mean so much.
There are all kinds of family things we can do on this holiday, which this year is on Monday, Feb. 18. Here are 7 that won’t take you far from home.

Watch a movie at the Old Almonte Town Hall: Mississippi Mills will be hosting another family movie at the town hall, “Dog Days”, in the Ron Caron Auditorium. Doors open at 10:40 and showtime is 11:00 a.m. Canteen snacks will be available for purchase, and admission is FREE!
Free Public Skating: The local arenas are offering free public skating for family fun this Monday. Family Skate is sponsored by Tim Horton’s and you can skate from 1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m. at the Almonte Community Centre Arena; from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Stewart Community Centre in Pakenham. Carleton Place Arena is offering family public skating on Monday from 1:00-2:00, with admission of $1.00 per child and $2.00 per adult!
Carleton Place Comic Con: The Carleton Place arena will host their 2nd Annual Comic Con Event from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Monday. Admission is either a $1 donation or a non-perishable food item donation to the Foodbank (children under 12 are Free). There will be free face-painting, comics, games, video games, toys, cards, art and much much more. I haven’t attended this one personally, but I think it’s a definite event to check out!
Public Swim at the Carleton Place Pool: This is a pay per use event, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Monday. Adults are $6.75 and kids under 12 are $3.75, or get Family Admission for $16.50. Could be a great, warm way to burn off a little steam with the kids!
Family Day at Fultons: Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush in Pakenham is having its Family Day Events on February 18th, 2019. (Family Day) Fulton’s invites you to bring your family to spend a memorable day together with them!  Enjoy a hot pancake meal in our restaurant from 9 am to 3 pm with extras such as toe tapping music & sleigh rides between 10 am – 2 pm.  Come play in their backyard and make maple memories with us! For further information please visit www.fultons.ca or call 613-256-3867.

Mill of Kintail Conservation Area: The forecast looks amazing for a little outdoor activity – if that’s what you like. This would be a great time to visit the Mill of Kintail on the 8th Concession. There is no charge for parking on Family Day, and there are tons of trails which would be ideal for snowshowing, hiking or cross-country skiing. Don’t forget to BYOE – bring your own equipment!
Last Day of Winterlude: Family Day marks the end of Winterlude. If you haven’t checked it out yet – and eve if you have – there are plenty of fun things to do to say goodbye to winter (soon!) Some events on the go on the 18th include: Skating on the canal, of course, if the weather’s cooperating, Sliding and so much more at Jacques Cartier Park, Crystal Garden and a family-themed scavenger hunt in the Byward Market.However you decide to celebrate this Family Day, enjoy the day. And remember, only another 4 ½ weeks till Spring!

Where are the best local bakeries?

If you are looking for something to do to get you out your house during these long winter months, a drive to the “country” might be just the thing!  There are so many little towns just a short drive from Ottawa, and each offers their own unique mix of shops and restaurants to explore.  You might not be looking for a lunch or dinner out during your visit, but you should consider sampling some of the best little bakeries around.  A little treat with an amazing cup of coffee or delicious cup of tea might be just what you need to help pass these long winter days!

Baker Bob: If you are visiting Almonte, you need to be sure to stop on Mill Street and visit Baker Bob’s shop.   A long-time fixture in Almonte’s Downtown core, Bob Graff has been baking buns and cookies, pies and cakes for Almontonians since 1995.  The shop features Almonte’s largest display of candy as well as other food items including jams and preserves.  You need to go early in the morning if you want to enjoy one of his chocolate croissants or fruit-filled Danish, but you are sure to be able to snag a delicious butter-tart or date square if you don’t make it in until the afternoon.  He even serves his own blend of Equator coffee!

Sunflower Bake Shop: Another long-standing bakery on Gore Street in Perth, the Sunflower Bake Shop has also been in existence since 1995.  More than just a bake-shop, they are famous for the delicious lunches and yummy baked goods.  Sunflower offers gluten-free goodies and cakes; hand-crafted artesian breads including peasant bread, flax-seed sunflower bread, focaccia and spelt; cakes such as tortes and pound, and chocolate and carrot; squares and cookies, pies and flans and an amazing variety of eat-in/take out lunches.  I love to stop by in the summer and grab a sandwich and coffee and head to the park.

Antrim Truck Stop:  Although not exactly a destination location, if you are heading to Arnprior on the weekend, you can’t go wrong if you stop at the Antrim Truck Stop on White Lake Road for a little snack.  Baked on the premises they offer a variety of Bread and Rolls, Squares, Cookies, Cakes, Pies (fruit pies and cream pies), Tea Biscuits, Cinnamon Buns and Cheese Sticks.  They are best known for their pies, with “mile-high meringue”.

Maberly Bake Shop: Another out of the way bake shop, off Highway 7, west of Perth near the little town of Maberly, this bake shop’s claim to fame is that they have sold more than 40,000 butter tarts since their opening in the summer of 2017!  Now, that’s a lot of butter tarts!  It’s very much a Mom and Pop shop, with owners Bonnie and Ross Palmer behind the ovens.  They do offer an array of lunch items as well as cinnamon buns, breads, cookies and lemon squares, but if you are considering a stop here – you really need to test their coffee and butter tarts!

Equator: Everyone knows Equator for their amazing coffee, but do you also know that they sell THE best gluten-free baking around?  Sweet-cheeks Kitchen is their local supplier of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan baked goods – and they are delicious!  They offer a variety of cookies and squares from Tutter Barts (as delicious as a butter tart without the gluten), to Turtle Oat or Nanaimo Bars.  With more and more people dealing with food allergies and intolerances, it’s nice to have some delicious options… and of course you can’t go wrong with the coffee at Equator!

Little Stream Bakery:  Located in the hamlet of Glen Tay, not too far from Perth, Little Stream Bakery has been baking bread since 1992.  In order to meet new certification requirements for gluten-free baking, they established an off-site bakery in 2017, but still run the day-to-day operations from their bakery by the river.  They use a traditional wood-fired oven for their spelt, kamut, and wheat artisanal sourdough breads, and rustic spelt pastries. The breads contain only whole grains, artesian deep well water & unrefined sea salt with the occasional addition of seeds, or raisins. Their pastries are made with organic butter and spelt flour crafted into a puff pastry and filled with organic apples, and unsweetened fruit spreads and they also make a vegan version of these pastries.

 Whatever shop you choose, whether you are looking for a sugar-fix with a home-made butter tart, or something a little more suited to your needs like a spelt-flour, organic-apple filled pastry, there are lots of options available to you on your Saturday drive to the country.