Based on the popularity of my “10 Things to do In Kenora” post, I’ve decided to make it a series! And my adopted hometown of Almonte Ontario is next on the shopping block. (Har dee har.) So here we go!

10 THINGS TO DO IN ALMONTE ONTARIO (By a proud Almonte resident of  nearly one year!)

1. The Almonte Riverwalk

View of Almonte from the Riverwalk

The Almonte Riverwalk is actually pretty spectacular. At the top of the hill is a bench they made from an old millstone (yes, its a mill town!) In the summer there is a little ice cream shop at the end of it, a reward for your trek. (Your 2 block trek!)  Best to start at the Old Town Hall, and head down along the river, as then you have gravity on your side. There’s a boardwalk and series of bridges that lead along the various sets of falls. The water is shallow and you can see little fish and fun condos from the back. Grab a root beer float from the ice cream shop (Waterfall Delights!), then continue down Mill Street and across Almonte Street and down to the boat launch, which has a pretty great view at sunset.

2.Mill Street Shops!

If you have time, turn it into a shopping expedition! There are loads of cute shops, but check out some of my favourites:

  • Find fun vintage clothes and housewares at Vintage Wear/Ware
  • Browse books and games at the Miller’s Tale
  • Stock up on gourmet condiments and chocolates at Foodies Fine Foods
  • Blackbird and Design by Destination have uber cute gifts, notably gorgeous housewares at the former and fantastic import scarves at the latter!
  • Then run one of my favourite errands: Buy a birthday card from Robin’s Paper Thin, head over to the Groundz Cafe (Now the Palms Cafe) for a coffee and panini, and write your birthday wishes from Almonte! The post office is just across the street. Buy a fancy stamp – those always make people’s days.
  • Summer 0f 2010 Update – We now have a Creperie! Check out the Mill Street Crepe Company in Heritage Court at the bottom of Mill Street. Yummm….

3. Festivals!

North Lanark Highland Games - Almonte Fairgrounds 2009

North Lanark Highland Games - Almonte Fairgrounds 2009

Almonte takes it’s festivals pretty seriously. Really – there’s one about every two weeks. So chances are, if you’re by in peak season, there will be a festival to check out! The ones I can think of:

Surely I am missing some… They are nonstop! But this should give you a good start! Check the Calendar at missisippimills.ca before you come. Also there are ongoing events like:

And so on and so forth. The days are just packed! Check it out!

4. Take a bike ride!

Bicycle Month Sign

Bicycle Month Sign

Almonte people like to bike. Take a scenic (or challenging!) ride around the country roads – here is a handy map of some different routes that they put together during Mississippi Mills  Bicycle Month! You can check out bridges, an alvar area, a handful of cemeteries. I recommend working an iced coffee  from Equator Coffee Roasters into your route! Its on Houston drive, down the street from the Independent Grocer’s.

5. Cross country skiing at Mill of Kintail (Or hiking in summer!)

There is a network of great trails all around a beautiful creek and this old building, which was once the studio of Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, and is now a museum with his works. Its a beautiful piece of land – people get married there! There’s nowhere in Almonte (that I know of?) to rent skis, but you can rent them from Bushtukah or MEC. Then, maybe a hot chocolate at the Groundz Cafe?

6. Take a pottery class at Almonte Pottery Guild! I haven’t actually done this yet, but once I finish upholstery at My Upholstery Shop, I will! Almonte has a great community of artisans (check some of them out during the fall Crown and Pumpkin studio tour!) and there are loads of classes. This one I am excited about, because I find pottery to be pretty much like therapy – its so relaxing. You could also try jewelry classes from Kehla Design or fine woodworking at the Rosewood Studio.

7. Saturday Morning – Breakfast and a Farmer’s Market

If you can make it out early enough, the third Saturday of every month, the Almonte Legion hosts an egg and bacon breakfast for $5. It is pretty much the best deal around! You get eggs, bacon AND sausage, pancakes, homefries, and coffee and juice! They put a sign out front on the Friday before, or I guess you could call them to make sure that its running. : )  It runs from 8-11AM usually. More importantly, every Saturday morning during the summer in the library parking lot, there is a small but spectacular Almonte Farmer’s Market! Check it out for delicious baked goods, local produce, meat and eggs, and bedding plants and cut flowers. It is my new favourite farmer’s market.

8. Lunch at the Barley Mow Pub during High Water

This is one of my favourite places to bring visitors, just because it has a great view and a very relaxed atmosphere. The serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and it is pretty good! Also there is loads of patio space in the summer, so lots of room to while away a summer evening with a pint. More importantly, if you come in the spring, the water rushes past the windows in the hall where you walk to the back room, and it makes you feel like you’re in a boat heading upstream. Its a very cool location! And last time I was there the waitresses were super nice.

9. Visit a SugarBush! And Pakenham!

There are several sugar bushes around Almonte (did you know Lanark County is the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario? It IS!) but the closest one is Fulton’s Pancake House. Its actually closer to Pakenham, but hey, we’re amalgamated now! They are open all year, and have pancake breakfasts throughout the winter. The day we went, there was live music, which was fun to eat pancakes to. There’s a gift shop, a maple taffy stand and sleigh rides. All the maple goodness!

While you are in Pakenham, stroll over the 5 span bridge (one of Lanark’s Seven Wonders!) and go to the General Store. I have also heard great things about the Copper Kettle, which is a little restaurant run by a Hungarian (I think) couple. Call ahead, but it sounds pretty amazing. The same friends also run Riverbend Campground in Pakenham if you want a scenic place to pitch your tent (or RV?). Play a round of horseshoes on the banks of the Mississippi!

10. Play in Blakeney falls

Probably you won’t want to play in the falls when it looks like this, but in the summer, its very fun to hop along the rocks and try not to soak yourself. There is a short trail and some bridges, as well as a grassy picnic area. To get to the falls from Almonte, you take Martin Street West to Blakeney Road (South).

Well that should give you a start on getting to know my little town! I hope you like it as much as I do.

A Day at Atelier Orange

April 10, 2009

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Koen de Winter, a designer that I had come to know of through my school. I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, but Koen has made continuing education a priority in his ceramic studio, Atelier Orange. He doesn’t have a website, (I should do something about that, eh?) but there is some good info on him at this site: DesignAddict.

In any case, this is why I was able to visit Koen de Winter’s very cool three story boutique/studio nestled along the river near Saint Andre Avellin. I had seen his earthenware on another great site, the Canadian Design Resource, and fallen in love with the contrast of colour and material, and the organic, geometric forms. Little did I know I had actually met the designer! And little still did I know that he and his lovely wife Lise would feed me and my colleague lunch. Lucky!  Sometimes as a design student you don’t realize what a small world it is.

I’ve wanted to learn slipcasting ever since I took my first pottery class and thought to myself “This isn’t what I wanted to do!” Also because Amy Adams from Perch! is my hero. [Side note – I met her at ICFF and was all starstruck, I’m such a dork.]

Works in Progress at Atelier Orange

While I was there, I took a few photos, but mostly I just absorbed. Koen used to teach at UQAM, and he does like to talk. : ) I think my favourite anecdote was when Koen pointed out that for the same reason there are no books on learning to ride a bike, there are no significant books on slip casting. Its something that, when described, is exceedingly simple, but to get the feel for and to excel at you have to try it, and learn it in your bones.

Taking a little off the top - Koen de Winter making a positive from plaster on the wheel to make a slip casting mold.

Taking a little off the top - Koen de Winter making a positive from plaster on the wheel to make a slip casting mold.

He also had some interesting insights on design education, having been on both ends of the experience. He suggested that all students would be better off if they did at least four courses in some subject of their choosing, thereby making them an expert in one thing, rather than, as designers seem to naturally become, jacks of all trades, masters of none. He suggested it would help with at least differentiating you and getting you that first job. It would have been interesting to do it in such a formal way, but I felt that most people manage to massage their projects into their own particular likes and interests anyway. I know I did!

The finished positive, waiting to get turned into a slip casting mold!

The finished positive, waiting to get turned into a slip casting mold!

So I don’t know how to slipcast yet, but I do want to go back for the rest of the lesson. Its immensely humbling to speak with someone who has been designing products since before you were born, but Koen is in no way pretentious. He was gracious and I felt very honoured to have been able to learn a little of his trade. He was very generous with his time, although his staff buzzing around indicated that he was pretty busy! If anyone is in the Ottawa area, I’d highly suggest at least a visit to the boutique, if not a day in the studio. I would try contacting him via the link I listed earlier. Spread the learning, people! Its glorious.

damn you mother nature!

July 18, 2008

i’ve been growing a strawberry plant on my balcony, and we’ve had some trouble with squirrels (I think?) eating the flowers and unripe berries and digging in the dirt. I tried the cayenne treatment, and for the last few days it seemed to be working; we had this one beautiful, red strawberry growing. Yesterday Peter said we should eat it, and I said we should wait, since it was still a little white at the top. This morning I went out to check, and the little bastard has been tramping around, knocking over juice glasses, breaking stems on the tomato plants and EATING OUR ONE PERFECT BERRY!! grrr…..

Damn food chain…. Anyhoo, here’s a picture from yesterday… rest in peace, little berry.

my little brother has a summer birthday. being a september child myself, i am always jealous of summer birthday kids. my stepmom says its actually a disadvantage, since by the time you want to have your birthday party, half of your friends are gone on vacation. but the summer swimming parties you could have, and the sweet summer gifts! for his fourth or fifth birthday we got him a big inflatable tigger, and one year we got him a crab-themed slip and slide. i think it would be worth it.  anyway, since it was his big day a while ago, i made him a birthday card. watercolour crayons are basically my favourite medium – so messy! fantastic.

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so now i should probably get down to some real type work… but there are more birthday gifts to be made! what to do…