Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


Make the most of sunny September days!

True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

Summer has given way to the autumn equinox. It will be fondly remembered as a very busy summer with lots of sunny days once we got rid of the rain. But, like many of you, I am looking forward to a change of rhythm.
One of my favourite ways to celebrate harvest time at this turn of season is AGRITOUR which offers a unique opportunity to visit local farms, orchards and vineyards, to meet local producers and sample their goods. Every year, I choose two or three destinations and enjoy the country drive while discovering new venues and new products.
This year, Jacques and I started with Camino Farm, owned by Lucie Savage and Jean Dupuy ( Situated on Des Pins Street (formerly old route 200) in Limoges, the farm is home to a herd of over 60 alpacas. These beautiful animals, cousins of the lama, are native to South America, mostly from the rugged Andes Mountains. They are docile, curious, intelligent and very loving animals. They each have their own personality and colour blend. There are effectively twenty-two different colours from white to beige, shades of brown from toffee to coffee and shades of grey to black. Basic colours blend in an interesting way, giving each alpaca its unique look! Lucie says a newborn is always a surprise!
Because of their sensitive and loving nature, alpacas have a therapeutic effect on autistic children. Their company is enjoyed by people of all ages, including the handicapped and the elderly. Lucie introduced us to Corinna, a beautiful white female who loves to cuddle. She also showed us the latest newborn of the herd as the mother watched protectively and communicated with her baby.
We later visited the Camino shop where Lucie and Jean offer woolen socks, soles, thread, scarves, headwear… and more. I own two pairs of alpaca woolen socks and I swear your feet never get cold during winter when you wear them.
For our next stop, we headed to Clarence Creek at Claude “Butch” Bouchard’s “volarium” on Joanisse Road. As you may have guessed, Claude raises exotic birds. He has converted an old school bus into a showcase where you can admire more than twenty pheasants of various species, a variety of common and exotic poultry (chickens, roosters and chicks), wild turkeys, quails, partridges, doves and pigeons.
We had met Claude in Lefaivre during the Foire gourmande where he was offering quails’ eggs on crackers. At that time, he was also showcasing his fine wooden pails. Back home at Gadi Farm, he proudly led us through his workshop where he produces high-quality pieces with various types of local and exotic woods. I wish I could have bought one of his umbrella holders. It would have definitely become a showpiece for my front entrance along with my parson’s bench!
Running out of time for a third stopover, we decided we would invite the clan to the Cumberland Heritage Museum AppleFest the following Sunday. Again, the weather was perfect and the children were anxious to get going. We started out on the tractor-driven wagon ride and headed right for the Ottawa Valley Live Steamers and Model Engineers train station. The children were amazed to see various types and sizes of miniature steam trains. All aboard! They hopped on one of the trains and enjoyed the ride while we stayed with Baby Jessie. We then walked back to visit the village church, fire hall, and the small animals. The children got acquainted with Hope, the little bunny whose life was spared when a wily fox came around and devoured her siblings.
Of course, we visited the one-room schoolhouse and the children played in the schoolyard. They decided the swing seats were pretty uncomfortable compared to today’s molded versions. After much fun, we decided it was time for a snack: bottled water, St. Albert cheese, crackers and cookies. As we sat near a shady tree, waiting for the apple-tasting session to begin, we heard a muffled rumbling and felt the earth tremble. “That’s an earthquake!” I announced. And sure enough, we later heard it was a 4.6 tremor originating near Masson, Québec, just on the other side of the Ottawa River.
There was an improvised mini-putt in the clearing near us so the children tried their luck, earning an apple as a reward. Finally the door reopened and we went over to the Foubert House for the apple-tasting. Crystelle, our gracious hostess, had quite a few varieties to offer. She made the children identify the different varieties and offered slices, asking them which one was their favourite. The children enjoyed the challenge and learned how they dried apple slices in the “old days” and made jelly preserves for the winter months. She also showed them a doll with a dried apple for a head. It was difficult for Lea to imagine this could be a fun doll to own.
The next activity was using a huge wooden barrel with a press to make apple cider. Needless to say that attracted as many wasps as it did curious visitors. Afterwards, we visited the Duford House and a tiny square-log one right beside it. The children loved the Duford House with its steep stairs leading to the bedrooms but couldn’t imagine living in the other one with its tiny, tiny kitchen and living quarters. Our last stop was the train caboose – an important relic of the past that once connected Canada, coast to coast.
Et voilà! It was time to go and we hadn’t seen it all. For sure, we will return and visit the other buildings and take in some more activities. Lea said she enjoyed the train-ride most! Nathan and Spencer loved the apple-tasting experience. Logan enjoyed the mini-putt and exploring the buildings. We took it all in and enjoyed everything, except maybe, the earthquake.
Dolly Parton once said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” For the 21st century generation, it’s important to connect with the past as it is so much different from their everyday life. And for all of us, it’s wonderful to know that farmers and artisans are still keeping traditions alive and offering quality foods and workmanship.
P.S. I invite you to come out and meet artists and authors at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre, 300 des Pères Blancs Ave. in the Vanier sector of Ottawa for Canvas in Colours. It runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday the 25th. The Sugar Shack will be open for breakfast and lunch. The weather is promising to be great. I will be there so come and visit and say hello!

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