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

Cheers to the Holidays

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

5 Foodie Road Trips That Will Get You Somewhere

If you’re dreaming of packing the car and setting out for a day trip to find the best foodie experiences in Ontario, we’ve got your back. Where else can you visit and sample products from craft breweries, distilleries, and cideries, cheese makers, and award-winning eateries that reflect the diverse flavours of Ontario’s Highlands? Following a […]

Get on Board with Charcuterie

You’ve heard the word and maybe you’ve even seen Instagram pics of colourful charcuterie boards, and if you’re lucky you’ve sampled this meaty treat yourself (in case you wondered, it’s pronounced shahr-ku-tuh-ree). Charcuterie is originally a French word that literally translates to “pork butcher shop” which is so unimaginative we’re happy to use the term […]

Find Your Hygge Here

You nestle into a soft cocoon of blankets while curled up on the couch, the fire casting its flickering glow onto the faces of friends or family as you share comradery and conversation. You clasp a warm mug in your hands, the rich scent of creamy chocolate drifting up to you. This, you think, is […]

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.

Local Love: 9 Local Gift Ideas You Can Order Online Today

‘Tis the season – for shopping. Yes, the leaves may have barely fallen from the trees but the jack-o-lanterns will shortly be switched out for ornaments and holly and the days are numbered before the holidays are here live and in person. This year when planning your shopping to-do list, we have two words for […]

Bringing Together the Best of Haliburton

Before Michael Schiedel-Webb came to live full-time in Haliburton, he had never made beer. Not once. Not ever. His first batch came from a really big home-brew kit, located in the living room of his cottage, in the middle of the winter. “It was minus ten, and we had to do some of it outside,” […]

Tales of Wilno: Exploring Canada’s Oldest Polish-Kashub Settlement

Wilno is a land with stories to tell – many stories, in fact. If the hamlet could talk, it would tell you tales of first settlers, church fires, bustling railway lines, and hockey games played on the outdoor rink. Known as Canada’s first Polish/Kashub settlement, Wilno is the place where settlers from Poland/Kashubia first laid […]

Celebrate All Things German this October

Oktoberfest brings to mind a crowded beer hall filled with large Germans shouting ‘Prost!’ and knocking thick beer steins together with gusto. But is this an event or a cultural celebration? We would argue the latter, and not just because we are looking for an excuse to drink beer and eat schnitzel. This year will […]

Tiny Cabins, Yurts, and other Glamping Getaways

So you’ve seen the Instagram posts of friends or family seated around a rustic campfire, enthusing on the beauty of nature and a rugged camping experience, but you’re thinking “That’s totally not for me?” Hey, don’t sweat it, you are not alone. Camping isn’t for everyone, and who says it should be? If everyone were […]

Top 7 Comfort Foods and Where to Find Them

When was the last time you bit down into something so warm and rich, cheesy and flavourful that your heart said “thank you!” and your belly said “more please!” The best comfort foods are rich and calorie-laden, and best enjoyed in a warm, cozy restaurant or at home on the couch in your comfies. These […]

Shiver-Worthy Spooky Spots

There’s something lingering in the air throughout October, leading up to the culmination of all things spooky on its final day – Halloween.   October starts with the summer’s lush canopy of green bidding a final farewell through a stunning display of vibrant colours. When the leaves die off and settle as a multi-coloured blanket on the forest floor, and the fog rolls in over the lakes and […]

The Artist’s Way

Who says art can only be found in big galleries or urban showrooms? To find fantastic local and Canadian art you need to head to the places that inspire artists to create, and Ontario’s Highlands is among the most beautiful places in Ontario (in our humble opinion). Beyond the inspiration found in the rugged hills […]

5 Fall Drives to Enjoy with the Windows Down

When the forest has transformed from shades of green to vivid reds, fiery oranges and brilliant yellows, the road will begin calling, sending a gentle reminder that the days where you can head out on the road with the windows down are numbered. In fall you aren’t looking for a highway experience, you want to […]

Beer, Butter Tarts & Burritos (By Bike)

Could this be Ontario’s tastiest bike route? A natural backdrop of Canadian Shield, shimmering lakes and lush Crown land forests surround you as you pedal down a 50/50 mix of quiet paved roads and gravel rail trails that traverse a series of communities. These small towns and rural hamlets are now known for art and […]

Big Attractions in Ontario

Are you the type to pull over when you see a comically large roadside attraction, or a picture-perfect spot to snap a few shots? Amateur photographers and Instagrammers alike can agree that a giant ice cream cone, a massive mural adorning the side of a building, or a full-size replica of a jet plane are […]

Ground to Glass

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

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.

Best Highway 60 Hikes

So, you’re ready to hit the road. The King’s Highway 60 is calling your name – and who could blame you? The vistas on this route are stunning, from the Ottawa Valley to the Madawaska Valley. Every kilometre is a captivating experience. It may seem like you could cruise forever on this roadway, but everyone […]

With Love, to Frontenac County

Now more than ever we are drawn to our community, and the places that help us to unwind and get outdoors. To get away from the crowds and reconnect with our roots. Frontenac County tempts us to sit back, unwind and check into vacation mode, to rediscover a world of countless lakes and a region […]

With Love, to Haliburton Highlands

We are so lucky to come from a place that has it all: phenomenal views, rugged landscapes, abundance of trails, and infinite opportunities for recreation, all enticing you to leave your comfort zone and step into the wild. Here, endless forests meet cool, clear lakes and rivers to create incredible vistas that reach out to […]

With Love, to Lanark County

Lanark County is a land of sweet contrasts, where dense forests of sugar maple border lush, green fields and you’re as likely to come across a cyclist as a farmer on one of the region’s winding roads. Urban and rural unite here to create a region that’s as colourful and varied as the patchwork quilt […]

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Hastings County

The deep lakes and meandering rivers here are ripe with life, both on land and in the water. This land is known as a region rich with minerals, and we haven’t forgotten how our communities were settled by the gold rush, where miners flocked, eager to delve into the earth to unearth its riches. Thick […]

Cycle Haliburton

What’s your favourite flavour of cycling? Do you prefer digging in off-road, pedaling hard for speed and distance, or just a light taste with a short meander? A bike ride can be what you want to make of it, which is part of the fun, isn’t it? Haliburton Highlands’ varied terrain calls cyclists to explore […]

Roots of Revival in Smiths Falls

Ribbons of water and steel sear the land through Smiths Falls. The railroads and rushing Rideau River provide a physical reminder of the industrial heritage that helped shape this small, bold town in the heart of the Rideau Canal, a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Smiths Falls is a place of contrasts and character, where […]

Bikepacking in North Frontenac

Imagine a weekend of backcountry camping in a quiet forest just a few hours from Ottawa or Toronto. As you settle down at camp, you think back to the fresh moose tracks you saw earlier that day and the amazing swim you had when you stopped for lunch. The scenery feels familiar but something’s different. […]

Bancroft Rocks!

For one of the best views of Bancroft, turn off Highway 62 onto Eagles Nest Crescent; turn right onto Eagles Nest Park Road and go up, up and then up some more. From the parking lot, take the Hawkwatch Trail; it won’t take long. You’ll find the lookout deck where you can see for yourself […]

Best Ontario #RoadTrips

Did someone say road trip? The mere thought of a road trip brings to mind the excitement of heading out on an adventure where you may not know where you will end up but you’re pretty sure the getting there will be half the fun. When you head out for the day the options are […]

Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

This year the key to exploring is to keep it local; this is the time to explore our own backyards, and the regions close to home that have so much to offer us in the way of exhilarating outdoor experiences, fantastic food and drink, and blissful relaxation. If you’re exploring a new corner of Ontario’s […]

Secret Swimming Holes

Shhh…we’re not supposed to tell you about these swimming holes…some of them don’t even have names and you may never find them without a map, but we understand that when it’s 40 degrees out with the humidity and the public beach is packed the hunt is on for the perfect swim spot. Those in the […]

Hidden Gems Along Letterkenny Road

If you never thought that a simple road could spark your curiosity, initiate historical debates AND bring out your inner geologist, then you have obviously never been introduced to Letterkenny Road. Connecting the hamlets of Brudenell and Quadeville, this fully paved settlement road winds around pristine lakes, and leads you to a prized rose-quartz quarry. […]

Meet Me at the Drive-in

“Stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool What will they say Monday at school?” – Danny Zuko, Grease We could think of worse things than being stranded at the drive-in with Danny Zuko this summer! Maybe it’s because of the 1950s movie Grease, or maybe it’s just because it’s an awesome experience, but there’s something […]

Go Backcountry

You waken slowly in the early morning, the high-pitched warble of birdsong drifting lightly through the trees overhead. The sky is faintly brightening with the coming of dawn, and the natural world is gradually blossoming to life. Around you there is no trace of human activity, no murmurs of voices, clanging of dishes, or whir […]

Live the Yacht Life

Live the lifestyle of the rich and famous – for a week, anyway – with a Le Boat cruising staycation.

Date Night In

You don’t need to leave the house for a romantic and locally inspired experience. Bring date night home with these four romantic experiences.

Dear Dads, We Love You

Tell Dad how much awesome he is this Father’s Day with a little local love from these places in Ontario’s Highlands.

This Fry’s for You

Challenge accepted: Take on the Great Potato Abundance of 2020 and put a dent in the local potato population.

An Ode to Poutine

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

Cocktail Hour is Back

If you’re missing your spring cocktails, the drink makers at Rhubarb Haliburton are happy to share their recipe for a delicious and fizzy cocktail.

Summer Brews

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

Exhale and Unwind

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

High Tea Fit for a Queen

Make a high tea that’s fit for a queen using Tea & Cake’s secret scone recipe and how-to.

Chocoholic Fudgy Cake (Yes, Please!)

Rich, velvety chocolate, whipped ganache, creamy frosting…chocolate cake is the ultimate in old-time comfort foods. Ignite a passion for chocolate with this recipe from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker.

Cooking with Cider

A frosty glass of crisp cider may be the perfect accompaniment for patio sipping, television watching, dock sitting, or just hanging out in the warm, lemony spring sunshine, but did you know it also happens to be a fantastic and versatile ingredient for cooking? For Margaret Van Helvoort and Kees Morsink there is no bad […]

Before the Lake Wakes

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

Baking with Beer

Great beer makes great food. Check out some great recipes to bake with beer with Chris Thompson from Whitewater Brewery Co.

Chocolate Marshkebabs DIY

Easter is just a bunny hop around the corner and dreams of chocolate are filling the minds of children – and adults, too. A chocolate treat is the perfect way to sweeten your spring, and when it comes to this dark delicacy, the folks at Perth Chocolate Works are the experts. Since opening their doors […]

Just Breathe

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

The Great Pizza-Off

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.