The problem with short road trips is that they come to an end all too quickly, even if the final day starts with a tiny pumpkin and a mammoth wheel of cheese. For our trip home, we decided once again to stay off the beaten path as much as possible. With the final snow of the season laying heavily on the ground, that promised to give us an exciting day!
Roads which had been beautiful, hard pack gravel just a couple of days earlier had turned to legitimately treacherous passages. Even with proper snow boots and keeping speeds below 40 km/h, it took all of my years of performance driving experience to keep the tiny Nissan on the island. Icy bits, covered with heavy slush made the going tough. Super fun, but it required every ounce of concentration and what would have taken 20 minutes driving before took us over an hour. Meanwhile, the Versa soldiered on.
As we approached Madoc, I saw one of those blue Ontario Travel signs for O’Hara Mill. I had no idea what it was, but thought it was worth investigating. Talk about an awesome needle in a haystack sort of find. Out there, in the middle of freaking nowhere, was this incredible pioneer museum type of place with some great Ontario history.
Patrick O’Hara and his family settled the area in 1823 and his descendants lived on the farm until more than a century later. Over the years, the family farm grew to include a sawmill.
The Moira River Conservation Authority, bought the farm in 1954 and then the sawmill in 1965. It was designated as a park and to this day, five of the original buildings remain on the site, including the mill.
Run by the community, a number of log cabins have been re-located to the site from the area and a new visitor centre was added in 2009. The museum offers kids programs, hiking trails and seasonal events including ice skating and Christmas events.
While the buildings were closed at the time of our visit, the park is always open and there were people wandering around exploring the site. We are going to make an effort to return for a visit this Summer to explore further.
One last stop along the way was a quick photo bomb at the Actinolite Log Cabin Restaurant, just to make our friends at Actinolite smile.
If you think you need an expensive grand tourer to explore the back roads of your state or province, you are totally wrong. You need a fun and functional, economical little hatchback like our Versa Note tester. Our tester stickered out at just a tick over 17 grand, offered fuel economy that averaged at about 6.8 l/100 km and kept us grinning the whole time. Even if you only need a runner for around town, the Versa Note is totally worth a look.