by Lynn Rees Lambert
Sending letters to Santa Claus has never been quite like this: Children can hand-deliver their wish list to the CEO—that’s Chief Elf Officer—who guarantees it will go straight to the North Pole. After all, seeing to it that letters to Santa arrive on time is the CEO’s most important job. But wait until you see where he works!
Welcome to the Christmas Village at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm in Edwards, a 25-minute drive from the Parliament Buildings. The miniature elf village is nestled in a cedar grove where rush hour is all about the clip-clop of Belgian horses pulling a sleigh. Owner and farmer Earl Stanley wants to ensure little ones, heck, even big ones, enjoy the magic of the holiday season as much as he does. “I’m a big kid at heart,” he confesses.
The village, now in its second year, is located on the 250-acre farm that’s been in his family since 1787. “Our first year, we had hoped to see about 500 people come out,” Stanley explains. Response was “excellent, bigger than we hoped, with about 800 visitors.”
And, like most adventures, getting there is half the fun. In late November, Stanley and his staff of 15 (not including the invisible elves) will be opening up a fantasy world where visitors are greeted by elves in the flesh. They’re easy to spot, explains special event manager Susan Faith-Lecoupe. “They have elf hats and tunics and each has his or her own personality. “ It may be Sparkles who greets the guests, or Snowflake, but whichever elf it is, they help get the show on the road, literally, loading up the sleigh with children of all ages. And adults. Then, it’s off to the woods along the trail decorated with Christmas lights, decorations and music.
“This is the Elf Outpost for the Ottawa Valley,” Faith- Lecoupe says, explaining that most everyone agrees it would be impossible for Santa to load his sleigh with all the toys and goodies for the whole world. “So he has outposts where elves take care of the gift wrapping. It’s like a refueling centre.”
All children meet the Chief Elf Officer who deposits the letters in the appropriate mail slot. Peek-a-boo workshops for the “invisible elves” include a gift-wrapping shop, an elf daycare (where elf children eat from four good groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup), Herme’s dental shop (see above), reindeer stables and Curby the postal truck. Back on the sleigh, you’ll pass Grinch’s Mountain, but no Grinch. “We found it was scary for some children last year, so now we just post warning signs,” says Faith-Lecoupe.
At the gift shop (the original homestead), there’s a cup of hot cocoa to warm up chilly hands and a bonfire for chilly toes. “It really is for the whole family,” says Stanley. “People told me last year they loved it and that it is now a new tradition.” Christmas Village runs weekends from November 23 to December 22, from 2 to 7:30 p.m., with sleigh rides running every half hour. Cost is $12 per person and reservations are required. Call 613 821-2751 and see www.stanleysfarm.com. Stanley’s Farm is located at 2452 Yorks Corners Road in Edwards.