Pictures and story submitted by Britt and Jeff
The most Canadian winter we’ve had in a while is making it harder and harder to fight the urge to hibernate at home wrapped in a cozy blanket on the couch. Nevertheless, in an effort to get out a enjoy some fresh air, sunshine, and gems our beautiful county has to offer, we braved the -20 temperatures and ventured up Highway 62 to O’Hara Mill in Madoc for some exploring. We had written about O’Hara Mill before, it being one of our stops in our What to Do Along Highway 62 blog, but we were excited to see it in the beauty of winter.
We met up with some of our Hastings County peeps while we were there to take some press pictures. Armed with a thermos of hot chocolate, a few pairs of snowshoes, a wooden sleigh, a warm blanket and our best smiles, we set off to explore the conservation area.
O’Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area consists of an original water-powered saw mill, farmhouse, woodworking shop and carriage house. Several drive sheds have been added, as well as a schoolhouse and a log blacksmith shop. The Homestead is run entirely by volunteers, and boats some really interesting history. While the buildings are closed during the winter months, the grounds and trails are open 365 days a year, and there is still lots to be explored on the grounds in the winter - take in the rushing water of the mill from the footbridge, wander around the property, peek in the windows of the buildings. We had the whole place to ourselves. The weather that we had had made a fantastic backdrop for pictures. This place is a professional (or amateur!) photographer’s dream all year around.
After exploring the property for a while and taking some photos, we strapped on our snow shoes and hit the trails. There are about seven different trails within the conservation area - we decided to take the Lois Wishart Way trail, named in honour of a longtime supporter of O’Hara Mill. The trail lead us through the forest, and our snowshoes made it easy to hike. Until we came to Deer Creek, where we had to cross on stepping stones! Easy enough with boots or shoes - not so easy with snowshoes! The hike on the trail is approximately 1 kilometer long, and it took us about an hour to hike because we stopped so many times to take pictures - the views were too good to pass up!
At the end of the hike comes the best part - tobogganing! At the end of the trail there is a perfect hill for tobogganing, just big enough to bring the heat. There is even a little jump made on the hill if you like to live dangerously. Pile on to your sled and ride it to the parking lot - you’ve done enough walking! That is our style, so we piled four adults on the wooden sleigh. Made it a quarter of the way down the hill before two of us had rolled off. It’s the effort that counts.
Two and half hours later, we were all freezing and ready for lunch! On to the Barley Pub and Eatery - so far a perfect day spent in Madoc!
On your next free day, grab a friend, a hot beverage, your warmest winter gear, some snowshoes, and sleigh…yup, that should do it! Go out to O’Hara Mill, explore, take some pictures, get some fresh air! Winter is here whether we like it or not, and Hastings County has some wonderful places to help take the edge off!
Story and photographs by Britt and Jeff
Britt and Jeff are a small town Canadian couple with entrepreneurial minds, hippie spirits and a passion for food, travel, music and people.
Learn more about Britt and Jeff and their adventures as well as the other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County here.