Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Ontario Footprints Experiences

Ontario Footprints Experiences

An immediate curiosity captures us when we come across footprints. They suggest that one or more people have taken a walk and experienced their environment and consequently the sight of these imprints propels us to ask questions, “Where do they lead – to discovery or to more mystery?

At Ontario Footprints we seek to satisfy this curiosity in our travellers by leading them to encounters, interactions and moments that forge unforgettable memories. Our commitment begins at The Deakins Bed and Breakfast and our heritage forest and extends beyond our doors. Through our several itineraries we connect our experiential travellers to the special people, places and cultures of our region.

Our explorations are engaging, active, hands-on, unique, authentic, sometimes pleasantly unexpected and always memorable!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Champion Maple Trees

All maple syrup producers have a favourite tree - a champion tree! It is usually a mature healthy tree of substantial diameter (in excess of 50 centimeters) that produces voluminous quantities of sap with a higher concentration of sugar than other maple trees in the forest. My present champion has a 30 degree hook at eye level and breaks off into two equally sized branches reaching to a height of approximately 16 meters. It's a modest champion by all accounts - producing two full two gallon buckets of sap with 2.8% sugar content on a good day. My neighbour's champion tree sits in a preferred location in full sunlight in the corner of a field on the edge of his sugarbush. It's a tree of some renown since one March day in 1973 it produced 12 gallons of sap, a feat not likely to be repeated since farmers these days rarely hang more than two buckets on a tree. When asked about the tree's longevity and prolificness my neighbour replied, "We only ever tapped that tree one day to see what it would do." 
Comfort Tree

These trees pale by comparison with what is reputed to be Canada's oldest sugar maple tree. The Comfort Tree stands on a quarter acre plot near North Pelham Ontario and has been under the protection of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority since 1961. Nicknamed "Old Glory" by its original owners, the 500 year-old tree is 25 meters high and has a circumference of 6 meters. It's a sure bet it hasn't been tapped in years as it was reserved for everlasting protection by the Comfort family in 1946.  Since the volume of sap a tree produces is often directly proportional to the number of leaves it has … can you imagine the volume of sap this tree might have produced in its day?

Do you have a story to tell about your favourite tree or your champion maple tree?

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Language of Travel

Travel, I have discovered, has a language of its own. Over our many years as bed and breakfast hosts we have welcomed visitors from over 50 countries. Most of these have spoken passable to excellent English. Some few have not.

Yet, communication between guests and hosts, though challenging at times, is always established.

One summer, several years ago, we were graced with the presence of three couples from different countries who spoke very little English and none of each other’s languages.

It all started when one of these non English-speaking guests showed some curiosity over a creamer that Mary Helen had displayed in the dining room china cabinet. Mary Helen proceeded to explain, first in words, and – as she became aware that no one was understanding her - then in charade and finally in pantomime -  how she had acquired this curious china piece.

Singles ... Looking for Partners
Now, in a word, the story was that Mary Helen had bought the creamer at an auction for $2, mainly because it was part of a set with a missing sugar bowl. And when I asked her why she wanted half of a set, she retorted” I don’t.!  I’ll find the matching piece at another auction sale.” Which she did … in a space of about two weeks!

Before long the six guests, perhaps out of sympathy for their hostess (who, though still undaunted, was becoming frustrated with her inability to make herself understood), began also communicating in gestures and the most bizarre facial expressions - all amid gales of uncontrollable laughter.  After twenty minutes the story was told. To this day, however, neither Mary Helen nor I is sure just how much of it was understood.

My favourite vignette on this topic involves a German couple who stayed with us for two nights. The second day, upon their return from Algonquin Park , the husband, with eyes as big as saucers and obviously quite delighted with himself, kept repeating  . “Wolf!  Camera! … Wolf! Camera!”. We surmised from this that the couple had encountered a wolf while on a trail hike and managed to capture it on camera. Naturally, I was pleased for him and impressed that he had successfully expressed himself with knowledge of only two English words.

It was only some years later when I was recounting the incident to two German guests (whose English was excellent) that I learned that the words ‘wolf’ and ‘camera’ are identical in both English and German.

Yes. Lasting memories. We have many of them.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Make Your Own Maple Syrup This Summer!

Make Your Own Maple Syrup This Summer!
The Deakins are developing a new, exciting product. Beginning this August, bed and breakfast guests at The Deakins on Mountainview can participate in a half-day workshop where they will immerse themselves in the life of a Canadian maple syrup farmer by participating in hands-on activities that end with the production of their own maple syrup. We are excited that this new, authentic maple experience will leave our guests with a lasting memory of their time in Canada and at The Deakins.
Your syrup is ready!
In past years summer guests touring our maple forest and facilities have regretted not having the opportunity to make syrup during the maple season. This lament is of no surprise to us since our own research and experience confirm that experiential travellers seek to immerse themselves in engaging ways in the culture, people and settings of the places they visit. To our knowledge no one makes maple syrup out-of-season; so, we are looking forward to providing our visitors with this unique experience.

Workshop participants will learn:
Hands On Techniques
   Selection of healthy maple syrup trees
   Tree tapping practices
    Sap evaporation and syrup finishing
    Syrup filtration
    Syrup grading
    Packaging their own syrup

Values (as reflected in our Environmental Farm Plan and Forest Management Plan)
   Sustainability of the maple resource
   Responsible pest management
   Genetic integrity
   Forest growth management

Workshop Fees, Dates, Details
   $ 35 per person for Bed and Breakfast guests based on minimum of four participants
   $40 per person for non-guests based on minimum of four participants
   Every Tuesday in August by advanced booking via website CONTACT US tab or at
   All materials supplied by workshop leader
   Start time 9 a. m.
   3 hours duration
   A typical boil will produce 250ml of quality syrup for each participant
Note:  This workhop is not suitable for children under 12 years of age.
This workshop is suitable
   for the curious wanting to participate in a unique and satisfying activity and
   for those who may be interested in starting their own small scale maple syrup

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Plan Early! Your Visit to Algonquin Park and The Deakins B & B

Plan Early for your 2014 Visit to Algonquin Park and to the The Deakins B & B

Every year during summer and fall months thousands of visitors flock  to Algonquin Park -  one of Canada’s oldest and most popular outdoor venues to enjoy a myriad of sights, sounds and activities. Its unique appeal stems from the fact that for over 100 years the Park management plan has focussed on preserving the Park’s pristine environment.  For example, each year the scope of logging operations diminishes in the park, motorized vehicles are permitted only on the Highway 60 corridor and hunting and fishing activities are strictly controlled.  

Algonquin Park Moose
Algonquin is diverse and offers something for nearly everyone. Many visitors spend up to a week or more canoeing, camping, hiking and exploring the 7,653 square kilometres of Park wilderness. Accommodations in and around the Park include campgrounds, motels, guesthouses, inns and bed and breakfast establishments - the latter existing in small numbers.

Prospective visitors, especially overseas travellers, begin planning their Park visit early, typically in February and March.  Last month 83% of The Deakins’ February Trip Advisor inquiries were for trips being planned for April or later of this year.

The Deakins on Mountaivniew Bed and Breakfast enjoys a unique location in that it is situated equidistant by highway from both Algonquin Park entrances.

The Deakins is a destination and experiential B & B. Guests can learn about the culture and history of the maple syrup industry by taking part in a guided tour of the Ontario Managed Forest as well as workshops that include tree planting and making maple products. And what about the traditional breakfast of local sausages and French toast with maple syrup and orange zest?

Prospective holidayers to the area will find more useful and engaging information on our website www.deakinbandb.com as well as on the very popular  Friends of Algonquin Park site which is maintained daily.

Whether you are staying overnight or longer, The Deakins are delighted to assist you in planning a full itinerary of experiences and lasting memories of your visit to Algonquin Park.