Come Wander
Mainstreet in Madoc Ontario

In the depths of winter, after travelling what seemed like an endless stretch of road lined with snow-capped trees, we wandered off Trans-Canada Highway 7 at its junction with Highway 62 and found Madoc, a small hibernating town tucked away from the bustle of city goers speeding between Toronto and Ottawa.

Don’t be fooled by first glance: Madoc isn’t just a pit stop to refuel on gas and caffeine, it’s a community with deep roots and a gritty gold rush past that’s worth exploration.

While Madoc’s humble main street may be somewhat sparse in late January, the silhouettes of friendly faces dance behind the frosted windows framing the historic downtown. Stay here long enough and behind the quiet storefronts you’ll likely overhear stories told by old-timers – who grasp warm coffee with calloused hands that have known years of manual labour.

These are the stories of days gone by when locals hunkered down through treacherous snowstorms – eating only what was left in their cupboards; a testament to the strength and tenacity passed down in these parts for generations.

My mother, daughter and I spent the day here to check out what still lingers of the prospecting fever that existed in the community where Ontario’s first goldrush hummed.

But first, breakfast!

Madoc Dairy: Burnside’s Casual Dining

To fill us up for a morning of discovery, we found ourselves a no-nonsense breakfast at Burnside’s Casual Dining, run by three generations since 1937. Fluffy, buttery eggs, peameal bacon, deep-fried home fries and a side of toast – exactly as you’d want. And, of course, coffee, enjoyed in the warm and inviting atmosphere made possible by a fire blasting in a wood-burning stove, accompanied by the chatter of locals in the dining room.

Breakfast at Burnside

Warm, down-home, no-nonsense breakfast at Burnside’s Casual Dining in Madoc.

Insider tip: Pick up some delicious butter tarts made by Paradise Tarts, a company from Stirling – just 20 minutes from Madoc – on display at the cash on your way out. We’re so glad we did! And if you’re on your way through Madoc during cottage season, head next door to Tom’s Cabin for a summer favourite: ice cream. We hear they make a mean banana split.

Buttertart

A delicious butter tart made by Paradise Tarts picked up Burnside’s Casual Dining.

Hidden Goldmine Bakery

Hidden Goldmine Bakery

Hidden Goldmine Bakery is a treasure on Madoc’s main street.

Though Madoc’s humble beginnings were stimulated by mills and ironworks, the discovery of Ontario’s first gold mine in nearby Eldorado in 1866 established Madoc as an industrial centre and triggered the province’s first gold rush.

You can get a flavour for Madoc’s gold rush history at this quaint bakery nestled in a historic building on Madoc’s main street. The smell of fresh baking and coffee brewing will warm you from the cold and welcome you after a long drive.

Insider tip: The bakery closes each year in January. Plan your trip so you can enjoy this culinary treasure of Madoc.

O’Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area

With our bellies full, and coffee in hand, we went for a wintry walk at the O’Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area. The best part about visiting the Conservation Area: it’s free! Donations are accepted to help with the site’s operation.

You can step back in time in the serene setting laced with walking trails where “nature meets history.” The site is peppered with the historic structures that make up the pioneer homestead.

O'hara Mill Homestead

The O’Hara Sawmill in Madoc is serene in the winter months.

When we were there, my mom, daughter and I were alone. It was serene and peaceful. It’s a perfect area for kids, dogs and a family outing that sparks imagination and intrigue of pioneer life in the 1800s. We were entranced by the cascading water rushing underneath an ice crust formed by days of sub-zero temperatures beside the O’Hara Sawmill.

O'hara Mill Homestead

My mom and daughter enjoy the winter wonderland on The Covered Bridge at the O’Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area.

Fun fact: The O’Hara Sawmill, built by James O’Hara Sr. in 1850, is still located on its original site. The sawmill is an example of “Frame Saw” technology. Its large wooden frame stretches the saw blade taut, while the frame and the blade are driven up and down by waterpower. The O’Hara sawmill is believed to be the only water-powered frame saw left in Ontario and the only working one in North America.

Insider tip: Except for special events, facility rentals and educational programs, the buildings at the homestead are closed during the off-season. But that doesn’t stop you from hopping out of your car and having a quiet winter walk among the trees to enjoy a site steeped in history. Pick up a grounds map for an overview of the homestead site and a short history of each building, so you can learn about the homestead even in the off-season. Grab a walking stick at the front gate, too. It makes you feel like a vagabond explorer.

O'hara Mill HomesteadO'hara Mill Homestead

7/62 Craft Brewery and Taproom

Parched after a long walk in the woods? How about a pint to quench your thirst? You’re in luck. Just minutes from O’Hara Mill is 7/62 Craft Brewery and Taproom, a new craft brewery in Madoc.

It’s the only craft brewery in the immediate area. Two passionate guys – brew master Al Shaw and business manager, Scott Williams – opened 7/62 in the fall of 2019. Its name is drawn from Madoc’s long history as a rendezvous point for weary travellers to recharge, and 7/62 is keeping that tradition alive with its taproom open for beer lovers to gather. It’s a brewery where craft is just as important as community.

7/62 Craft Brewery

Scott Williams, 7/62’s business manager, holds up a sampling of The Little Irish Red Ale, a crowd-pleasing light beer.

7/62 Craft Brewery

Al Shaw, 7/62’s brewmaster, works on the latest batch of craft beer at the brewery in Madoc.

Brewing fresh batches of beer two times a week, 7/62 is quickly gaining popularity in the local area. The steamy windows inside – caused by the beer brewing process – juxtaposed against the cold outside is sure to warm your soul.

7/62 Brewery

A sampling of 7/62’s craft beer offerings served up in the brewery’s taproom.

Sit down over a sampling of their fresh brews and taste their unique tasty bites. The Bavarian Style Soft Pretzels and the Taste of Hastings Cheese Board – featuring locally produced cheeses – won’t disappoint.

Pretzel at 7/62 Brewery

A Bavarian Style Soft Pretzel served up at 7/62 Craft Brewery and Taproom in Madoc.

Insider tip: 7/62’s signature bitter, Al’s Best Bitter, already has a cult following. It’s got a unique bite with bold body. It’s a favourite. Still new to craft beer, or need something on the lighter side? Try the Little Irish Red Ale, an approachable light, crisp beer with subdued complexity that will get your taste buds singing.

7/62 Beer

A can of Best Bitter brewed by 7/62 Craft Brewers in Madoc enjoyed on a winter’s day.

Stories

Just Breathe

Discover the beauty of mindfulness and allowing yourself to Just Breathe.

Spring is Calling

Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling. Get out of […]

Spring Break

The sun is warm, the air smells like spring, and the birds are singing their special warm weather songs. It’s official; spring has sprung. After a long Canadian winter, spring getaways are a time-honoured tradition for families here in the great white north, and haven’t we earned a little fun in the sun? This is […]

Pause for Pi Day

Celebrate Pi Day with the best pie at these bakeries in Ontario’s Highlands.

Mad About Maple

Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes. Celebrate Canada’s iconic sweetener in all its forms in Ontario’s Highlands.

Breaking Bread

Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian – dine with confidence at these 10 Ontario’s Highlands restaurants. Your belly will thank you.

Best Pancake Breakfasts

Escape the city for a hearty meal with pure maple syrup at these top places for pancake breakfasts in Ontario’s Highlands.

Sweet Maple Escapes

Discover sweet places to stay for maple adventures in Ontario this spring.

Jigging Through Ice

You slip and slide your way across the ice, your arms laden with fishing gear, excitement building at the thought of the unscripted day ahead. Tucked amidst your gear is a warm blanket, a thermos of something rich and delicious, and a carefully packed cooler with goodies to keep you cozy all day. Ice fishing […]

Winter Just Got Awesome

Learn to climb or brush up on your skills with an epic ice climbing adventure at SOIceFest 2020 in Maynooth, ON.

Make a Toast (in Hastings County)

Tour craft drink producers for a chance to meet the makers, and get the inside story on what inspires them to make and sell their product. Oh, and sample delicious brews, too!

Ultimate Après-Ski Experiences

Meet up with friends after a day well spent on the slopes or on the trails. Discover these top places in Ontario’s Highlands to celebrate the Apres Ski!

Cheers to the Holidays

Get into the holiday spirit this month with these mixologists and craft drink producers in Ontario’s Highlands.

The Best Baked Goods

Discover some of the best bakeries in Ontario’s Highlands and their tasty treats.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

If you can’t beat winter, join it with an epic dog sledding excursion through some of the most beautiful forests in Ontario.

Winter Jams

Warm up your winter with good music and good food, together, at the Sharbot Inn & Crossing Pub, in Sharbot Lake, Ontario.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

Discover Historic Accommodations in Ontario

Spend the night in historic accommodations to take yourself to way-back-when, and get into the spirit of the community you’re visiting. These inns have stories to tell of the people who lived and breathed inside their walls.

Cider Season

Find these cideries on your next road trip through Ontario’s Highlands to discover a refreshing way to toast the apple harvest with a cold cider.

An Ode to Poutine

Discover these chip trucks and their classic dishes, located throughout Ontario’s Highlands.

The Great Pizza-Off

Chow down on artisan wood-fired pizza at any of these gems across Ontario’s Highlands.

Before the Lake Wakes

Wake up lakeside with a steaming cup of coffee from a roastery in Ontario’s Highlands.

A Delicious Day Trip

Sip & Savour your way through the best food and drink spots in Lanark County.

The Perfect Scoop

Discover these top ice cream stops across Ontario’s Highlands to keep cool this summer on your road trip.

Exhale and Unwind

Experience a slice of farm life at Dwyer’s Farmhouse in the Ottawa Valley.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Discover these top ways to enjoy the strawberry season, when you let these farm-fresh berries shine on their own or in a variety of treats.

Farm Fresh Finds

Indulge your taste buds this summer with these 5 local finds at Farmers Markets through Ontario’s Highlands.

Valentine’s Day Treats

Treat that special someone this Valentine’s Day to a gift of sweets at one of these top places.

Moo-ve Over, Vodka

Discover Vodkow, the new beverage from the Dairy Distillery causing a stir in Almonte, Ontario.

A Day in Ormsby

Discover why Ormsby Ontario is worth exploring on your next road trip.

A is for Apples

Meeting cider kings and discovering great things in Hastings County.

Concerts with a Community

In September each year, the spirit of community comes alive all across Ontario’s Highlands when the Festival of Small Halls rolls in.

Roam If You Want To

Follow along with Chris from Travelling Mitch as he wanders through Haliburton Highlands and Hastings County on the Rustic Roamer Road Trip.

Ground to Glass

Discover how four craft drink makers harness Mother Nature’s flavours to elevate their beverages in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Devour an Ottawa Valley tradition and feel your taste buds rejoice with Wes’ Chips in Arnprior.

Where Am I?

Discover the big things happening in the small towns along the Rideau Canal.

Top 4 Summer Treats

Top 4 summer treats that are worth the stop on your next Ontario’s Highlands road trip.

The Rustic Roamer

I’m a Rustic Roamer. I wander to discover authentic moments, to embrace the spirit of locals, and to understand the stories of the communities and countryside that I visit.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Maple Mania

Discover one writer’s quest to discover what makes Lanark County so sweet with Maple Mania.

Life is a Highway

Two wanderers explore 135 kilometres of hidden gems in Hastings County.

The Ultimate City Escape

Explore these three ways to escape the city, slow down, and absorb rural life in Ontario’s Highlands.

My Hometown: Haliburton

After years of travel, read the story of why Emily returned to Haliburton to officially call it her home.

Journal of a Foodie

Take a journey through Ontario’s Highlands on a road trip that will satisfy your inner foodie.

Summer Brews

Take a trip around Ontario’s Highlands to these micro-breweries to discover your perfect summer beer.

A Different Kind of Detour

Take the road less traveled through Ontario’s Highlands to these unique festivals that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Good Food, Great Company

The Good Food Tour, a delectable walking tour in Almonte the showcases a story and the local flavours.