The southern region of Hastings County is the epitome of simple, rural living. The area has a rich history of farming, forestry, and mining – with an old fashioned feel that still lingers in the air. Filled with friendly folks and plenty of local treasures, you’re certain to enjoy the charm of the three beautiful communities that I visited on a recent road trip.
Start your day off at North America’s Smallest Jailhouse (if you can find it, that is!) to learn about its unique past and get a taste for life behind bars. The building currently serves as a tourist information centre, so be sure to gather brochures for all the nearby attractions before you leave.
Just a short walk down the street is By The Way Café, a vivacious venue with a cool tribal vibe. Locals love the 100% fair trade and organic Arabica coffee and free Wi-Fi. The menu offers homemade soup, samosas, sandwiches, scones, smoothies, and more! I opted for an iced tea (brewed using their lemon lavender mint tea) and a ham and swiss Montreal bagel. Both get my stamp of approval.
Next, I suggest indulging in a bit of shopping at The Unconventional Moose as you make your way to Madoc along Highway 7. Unlike the jailhouse, this store is easy to spot as the front garden is home to a life-sized moose statue. Here, you can find tonnes of nature-inspired and Native-made clothing and giftwares/home décor to spruce up any room,closet, or garden in your home.
Now continue on to the O’Hara Mill Homestead & Conservation Area and be prepared to feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. Within the peaceful seclusion of the forest you’ll find a historic sawmill complete with a dam and covered bridge, pioneer buildings (including an original farmhouse, carriage house, and carpentry shop), and gorgeous gardens. The nature trails, which wind around a small pond, are open year round.
When you’re ready to head back to reality, make your way downtown and take a look around the Hidden Goldmine Bakery, which doubles as an enchanting antiques shop. I couldn’t resist trying a butter tart and one of their famous golden fudge nuggets, both of which were sinfully sweet (in a very wonderful way). It’s a good thing they also sell their baked goods by the package, because you’re going to want to bring some home with you.
Before you head home however, you absolutely must pop over to Marmora to visit the Marmoraton Mine. This former iron mine is now a gigantic man-made lake filled with crystal/sapphire blue water that stretches hundreds of feet below the surface. High atop the edge of the mine, you will experience an eye-pleasing panoramic view – this is one of those places that will truly take your breath away.
Whether your interests lie in history, antiques, culinary creations, outdoor recreation, fishing (Stoco Lake is a prime location for year-round casting), music (there are various jamborees held throughout the summer and a funky-fun Tribute to Elvis Festival in Tweed in late summer), or shopping for locally crafted products – There’s something for everyone in Hastings County.