After the four and a half hour drive from downtown Toronto we arrived at the Blue Hen Farm. Right at the turn we saw an old cupboard filled with jars of homemade preserves and a sign “Honk for Service”… And we saw the farmhouse in the opening between trees.
Farmers Jeff and Leslie greeted us and as we entered the house we were amazed by the old fashioned setting of the rooms – furniture, chandelier and even the old upright piano that produced some wonderful melodies after our evening meals…
Leslie and Jeff used to live in Ottawa and have jobs as many of us do… The idea of farming came up after some changes in jobs and also as a result of research of the food industry, commercial farming and agriculture.
Later, after getting settled in our rooms we headed down for dinner made by Chef Kostas who came out to tell us about the ingredients he used in his cooking, the dinner was amazing and filling.
As farmers do every day after dinner, we went into the barnyard to help with evening chores.
We found all the work surprisingly entertaining; we unloaded some 20 stacks of straw that will be used as bedding for the animals, fed the calves and pigs, brought the sheep and goats back to the barn and herded the chickens into their coop.
Once the chores were done, tired we went to our bedrooms; may be the mattresses were so comfortable or the day was long – falling asleep was no problem at all.
In the morning we woke up around half past six to the mouthwatering smell of bacon and eggs…
And after breakfast we went to the yard to do morning chores which repeats the evening in the back order – letting the sheep and chickens out, showering and feeding pigs… and saying hello to all of the farm animals.
The goats are very young and new to the farm and don’t know the barn yard, so they we carried to the pasture like babies!
Although all of the chores seem like quite a lot to do, they were our favourite part of the day. We also found that doing chores and waking up that early in the morning was very refreshing which was useful since we had a long day ahead of us. We found all of the animals so cute… and especially the three kittens that roam around the barnyard. There are also two dogs that help farmers by guarding the barn yard from foxes and other invaders.
Leslie and Jeff ask that visitors do not bring or wear any fragrances on the farm including mosquito spray, however they do supply their own free of charge so that you do not get bitten by pesky flies. Leslie makes her own natural soap – I found it very smooth and took a little piece home as a souvenir. Around the house we also found natural fragrances, bug spray and soap – all handmade from natural ingredients that smell like summer fields…
Their mission statement is free range thinking, meaning all of the animals are free to roam the field and raised with no antibiotics or chemical supplements at all. “Being a novice in such a tedious business as farming should be challenging for city folks” – I asked… yes, and they learn every day.
We also had a chance to learn – about how to feed pigs and chickens and how to take care of sheep and goats; we would join Leslie to let the animals out of the barn with the first rays of sun and get them all back in the evening…
For us it was just two days – but these days were filled with smiles and laughter, delicious homemade meals and that feeling of love and happiness…
We took a lot of pictures that will remind us about this wonderful place and people that are so enthusiastic about what they do. Thank you Jeff and Leslie for teaching us some very basic skills that we miss in our city life!
So, time to leave The Blue Hen Farm… I think I saw tears in some eyes…, we hope to come again.
After lunch at the (nearby) Boston Pizza, we came in to the Bingeman’s Big Splash. After changing into our bathing suits we stepped out on to the deck exited about all of the slides that awaited us. They had many slides to choose from and better yet, the height restrictions are very reasonable so that everyone can go (most of the required heights are around forty inches). My personal favourite slide was the Cyclone.
Over all, the park quite fairly spread out which makes it feel like there is less of a crowd, there also is a big wave pool
which has a shallow end
and a deep end however the tubes have to be rented for five dollars each and Cabana rentals are also available, another thing to note is that most of the rides are one person at a time, however there are a couple that two people can ride on at the same time.
We highly recommend that you try it out especially if traveling with young ones.
Overall it is the most fun water park in the region.
By Jonathan K.
Needle Felting with Peg Learn
After spending the day in Almonte, we arrived at the Blue Hen farm for a felting workshop presented by Peg Learn ( Learn Creations). She greeted us with a big smile, hand holding a large red dragon made from felt pieces … Surprisingly felting is much easier than it may look; everyone was given a felting needle, a foam pad and of course some colourful wool. Since we are the beginners Peg suggested that each of us make a simple Halloween pumpkin. The process is started by taking wool strands and using the needle to compress the wool together by poking it and combining into a ball. The pad is used to rest the material while using the needle. It was quite entertaining and after we got the pumpkin form down we started customizing our pumpkins in different ways. I put a French mustache on my pumpkin while others placed eyes, and/or smiles..
It was very fun and informative and we highly recommend it as something to do while in the area. Peg also told us about her experiences in felting competitions where the winner receives many pounds of felt, which means a LOT of felting fun! And according to Peg ” It is the most fun when you can have stabbing something repeatedly and legally” … It was a great eye opening experience that made something that appeared hard quite easy to learn.
If you wish to learn felting and have really fun workshop with Peg, her contact is: www.facebook.com/learncreations.
By Jonathan K.
We arrived in Valcourt QC to see the place where the man known as the pride of Valcourt created his company that would be renowned by the world. The visit begins with the simple garage where Joseph Armand Bombardier decides to overcome the challenges of driving in the deep snow.
By adapting the tractor wheels into treads and skis to become parts of the vehicle he was able to make the first snowmobile- the B7 – that within a very short period of time became in great demand not just in Quebec but all over Canada. In the garage there is still his officefilled with tools and papers, as if he just stepped out for a moment.
And you can see the first original snowmobile that looks quite bulky, since it was made of wood and various parts from other machines, stands in the middle of the garage.
The new creation became so popular that the company moved to the new larger building and was supported by the whole community of Valcourt. The larger sized vehicles followed and the business was prospering until… after World War II, the Quebec government passed a law that required cities to remove the snow from highways and streets and the need for the snowmobile as a transportation quickly faded. The creativity of Joseph Armand Bombardier never stopped and he
brought new ideas into growing the business… a few months later the “Ski-Doo” comes out of his production and quickly gives raise to the new sport and gives all new outlook for winter fun.
From section to section we could see the machines created in different times for the variety of purposes – snowmobiles of all sizes, all terrain vehicles, the rail transport – here you can get on the actual streetcar and image being on the streets of the busy downtown.
In the next hall we were impressed by the original subway wheels that are used in Montreal Metro – and these are produced by Bombardier Inc. as well.
One of the expositions is dedicated to the aircraft industry, here the imagination will take you up to the skies – yes, you can fly! And feel like a pilot of the commercial aircraft, which destination is any place of your choice!
And not just the destinations you can reach here, you can build the totally new vehicle of your own creation. In the room filled with I-pads there is big screen with the images of all sorts of surrealistic machines moving, floating, flying, zooming… it’s a wonderful world of imagination; and no matter the age – it is a great fun for all!
One more surprise at the end of our tour – so called ‘’ FabLabs’’. Anyone who likes to create, is in need of tools and good technical advice can come here and for a very reasonable fee get it all including materials, software and a helping hand! Really impressive and well done! And so encouraging!
During the last couple of years the topic of visiting Quebec was coming up several times in our discussions. Finally in May 2017 we booked a hotel and planned out the itinerary that would include some of the places that we thought would be interesting for everyone in the family.
The main destination was Quebec City and its beautiful downtown was so well preserved and such a distinct French heritage. We spent most of our time just strolling the streets, window shopping and watching the street performers who really amazed us with their skills – fire jugglers, drama characters and musicians…
One of the destinations that excited our kids most was the Granby Zoo, which is about 3 hours drive from the downtown Quebec, and about an hour from Montreal. We were welcomed in the nice reception hall, got our tickets and went to explore the animal world.
Right as we entered there was a gigantic size dinosaur’s head and a line up of kids willing to climb inside of it! No matter how big or small – they were very about the opportunity to see the real size dinosaurs! And there 21 of them right in front of you, so be very careful – but don’t try to feed or pat these creatures!
Enough of the dinosaurs – the kids forgot about dinosaurs right at the sight of the farm animals. And there were lots of them – pigs, sheep, and goats – so friendly and ready to make friends!
After some hugs exchange with farm inhabitants we decided to go see some of the exotic creatures on display.
Oceania seemed to be a good place to start – first the stingrays and the variety of tropical fish and then all way around the Australian continent to see black swans, parrots, emus, and kangaroos. Stingrays seem to be attracted to the hand emerged in the water – some of them will come and allow us to gently touch their backs…
The Kangaroos were too busy to discuss any matters of their life, so the visit to the Oceania Garden was quite interesting as it is extremely rare you get to see kangaroos that close and with no fence!.
We entered the aviary and right away we were surrounded by many colorful parrots! For $1 you can buy a special nectar – just hold the cup tight and they will sit on your hand and drink it!
We spend some good time there – the parrots are so colorful and it is such a great experience to see them so close.
But there was a lot see and the time was limited.
Our next destination was Africa! Who doesn’t like to observe the grace of big cats, see elephants shower using trunks, slowly moving zebras and giraffes, and the hilarious monkeys?
One of our major observations about Granby Zoo was the design of the areas, nice fences that imitate greenery and well maintained grounds. We later learned that Granby Zoo received an Award for the Energy Consumption Reduction Efforts project that was implemented during the renovation of 2005-2010.
The Zoo is well mapped and organized – it was no problem to find any continent or animal of interest. And yes, the zookeepers definitely speak many languages, no worries if you don’t speak French!
After Africa we had just a bit of time to make a short tour of South America. We stopped by llamas who stretched out their necks asking for treat…
it was a lot of fun to feed them some green leafs that we found on the trees around; we were impressed by the spread of the wings of the Andean Condor and spent some time waiting for the alligators to wake up from the afternoon nap; finally one of them yawned and slowly moved towards the water… at the end of the South American trail we saw a powerful jaguar, at the moment it was quite relaxed and not interested in any aggression.
On our way to South American continent we made a snack stop at “Le Marcher”. The restaurant offers a variety of foods and drinks and nice dining area; there is also a large area outside with tables under umbrellas.
Next to the Restaurant there is an Amusement Park – where kids found some free rides while we were resting our feet; there is also an Amazoo Water park that offers quite the variety of water rides, not now however… we may visit it some other time when the day will be hot enough for water fun…so long for now, the Zoo is closing and we are tired enough to get to our hotel and have some dinner.
New play-based exhibit for children on its way to CMHR
Magna Carta exhibition closes after welcoming over 11,000 visitors
Winnipeg – September 24, 2015 – The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is getting ready to welcome a new hands-on exhibit for children next month after bidding farewell to Magna Carta.
“XOXO: An Exhibit About Love and Forgiveness ”
will open to visitors inside the Museum’s new Level 1 Gallery on October 4 and run until January 3, 2016. Through play-based learning, the exhibit will help kids explore notions of human dignity, respect and equality – concepts that serve as foundations for later human rights learning.
Children will enter a lively, colourful exhibit about feelings. They will play and have fun, act silly, consider what makes them sad, mad and happy, and be encouraged to think about love and forgiveness. The travelling exhibition – appropriate for even the youngest members of the family — was created by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh with support from the Fetzer Institute.
XOXO: An Exhibit About Love and Forgiveness will be the second exhibition in the Museum’s Level 1 Gallery, a 450-square-metre space completed in June 2015 with state-of-the-art technology and climate controls that enable the Museum to host exhibits of any size and type.
The first travelling exhibition in the gallery, “Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy“, closed last Friday (September 18) after a five-week run that welcomed 11,600 visitors to view one of the world’s most famous historic charters, alongside some of Canada’s
most important foundational documents. The exhibition celebrated the 800th anniversary of the great charter that laid the foundation for basic principles of democracy and human rights.
“We began in the past and now move to the future, with a wonderful exhibition aimed at the next generation of human rights defenders,” said CMHR president and CEO John Young. “Development of human rights concepts are for all ages, including the youth. We know they resonate from our school programs and summer day camps. Our new exhibit will give families, daycares and children’s groups another reason to visit Canada’s new national museum. We hope it will prompt family conversations about how we treat and interact with each other.”
An online game connected to the Magna Carta exhibition, developed by the CMHR, will continue to be available through the Museum’s website. The game, called “Making Meaning: Images and Perceptions” is intended to provoke thought and discussion about the way human
rights history can be reinforced or distorted.
Magna Carta and its companion document, the Charter of the Forest, were on loan from Durham Cathedral in the United Kingdom in an exhibition tour organized by Magna Carta Canada, developed by Lord Cultural Resources. The exhibition makes its next stop in Toronto’s Fort York National Historic Site, starting October 4. The CMHR had developed a unique companion exhibit for the Winnipeg leg of the tour, focused on Canada’s own constitutional documents – on loan from Library and Archives Canada– and their connection to rights and freedoms.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the CMHR creates inspiring encounters with human
rights for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.
Connect with the CMHR online Connectez avec le MCDP en ligne
Canadian Museum for Human Rights 85 Israel Asper Way | Winnipeg, Manitoba | R3C
0L5 | (204) 289-2000 | Toll-free: 1-877-877-6037 | TTY 204-289-2050 humanrights.ca
Wake up the wild … “Steak and Carrot for breakfast”
“Africa Lion Safari” said the road sign… At 7:45 am the place was empty – no-one around… in a couple minutes a friendly fellow came up and gave us directions.
We had to fill some forms and sign it – so just in case if we are eaten by the lions the park is not responsible (no kidding!).
The bus was very comfortable with large windows and choice of seats!
We are going to feed the animals! Well, we will first see the cheetahs and lions, so we can’t really feed them – just watch! Thus the forms and the bus – all to make sure we behave and well protected.
Cheetahs are living in groups usually formed by siblings – we saw four brothers playing and enjoying the morning. Their neighbour was the single male cheetah, in the next area we saw couple others… They live in a fenced area, so that the groups do not interfere. Cheetahs are territorial and will fight for their area. They are the fastest runners and can develop the speed up to 76 kph. They got nice spotty coats that help them hide and strong lean bodies with long legs. Very gracious animals!
We are driving to the lion’s area! The keepers put pieces of good (AAA!) meat in different spots around large area. Lion can eat about 7 lbs of meat once a day, usually in the morning. They will play and nap during the day… morning is the most active time of the day. So here is the signal – all ready, lions are coming! First we see two of them… they come at a slow pace knowing that the food is waiting for them… here is a large male lion – his mane makes him look really big and powerful. It takes five years for the mane to grow to its full size. Females also look really strong – large paws, strong neck and gracious body. They quickly found the meat and picked each a good piece… not without a fight for same piece of meat. Their canines are about two inches and the tongues are really rough – they can clean the meat off the bone like sandpaper!
In wild, males do not hunt – they protect the group while lionesses are hunting; they can kill an animal three times their size.
Next we saw the white lions – they are very rare. The colour of their fur is not really white, they are not albino, they do have some beige in the fur, just light; and their eyes have nice light yellowish colour. Strong and gracious –
We leave the lions and go to the next area, but before we change the vehicle – now we are in the open trailer and we got two buckets – one filled with carrots and the other with fresh lettuce – we are going to feed giraffes! It was a chilly day with periods of rain and some wind… may be the cooler weather made animals more active? Giraffes were wandering around and slowly approached the truck as soon as we stopped. “Take a carrot in your hand and stretch the hand out… do not pat them, they get scared and can go away” – we were told by one of our guides.
Baby giraffes can only eat lettuce – their teeth are not strong enough… That was a lot of fun! Feeding carrots to giraffes! And that is what we did for the next hour or so until our buckets got empty! Their tongues are purple and can reach 20 cm. Giraffes like to eat juicy leaves from the trees and for this their tongues can twist around the branch and strip off the leaves. They did it with carrots twisting their tongues around if we hold it a bit away sort-of teasing.
Next to giraffes area we saw rhinos and antelopes: some grazing and some wandering around. Rhinos eat really fast – they are constantly chewing, the grass there is so short… they look fat, but is their skin that makes folds on their backs, not fat. Rhinos like to lay in a mud, it helps them to keep the insects away. Their spine is very fragile, so have to lay on one side then another. Their friend is a small bird that usually follows rhino picking bugs from its skin. The bird alarms rhino in case of any danger – rhinos got weak small eyes and can’t see well so if the birds fly up it alarms rhino.
Antelopes were grazing peacefully… some had very long twisted horns. The antelopes got a very interesting body system allowing them to adjust to the high Africa temperatures. The body temperature can rise up to 40C, which allows them to control perspiration and avoid dehydration.
We also saw some zebras walking around; they nicely get along with antelopes, giraffes and rhinos sharing a large pasture. We saw pile of rocks in a middle of the field – artificially created to reflect the natural habitat.
Giraffes saw our truck and came again for more carrots and lettuce!
It was time to go back! We were ready for our breakfast – it was waiting for us in the restaurant. Nice pastries, fruit, juice and warm waffles with whipped cream – all was beautifully served to us.
Later on we went to explore the rest of the park. We saw elephants swim in the pond, took a tour on the boat around the islands with various types of monkeys, saw parrots and bats.
I never saw a bat so close! It was hanging from the keepers arm and eating some fruit. Their digestive system allows swallowing food while handing. Their wings have a unique ability to repair it if they get a small damage quite fast.
Next we saw a show where parrots could sort out colours, say some words and one by the name Fernando could sing “O’Canada!”.
After a long day we were finally back to Hamilton Sheraton.. It was nice to relax in the swimming pool after the rainy day filled with fun and full of unexpected.