by Stephen Johnson
I am always looking for hidden treasures in Ottawa. The Log Farm would qualify as a crown jewel for family fun.
Last year, the National Capital Commission (NCC) put out a call to see if there was any interest for a family to live and work at The Log Farm site. The Orr family responded to the challenge and have since moved in. They plan to animate the site with activities year-round.
My dad, son and I heard they were operating a sugar bush with pancakes. I had a Friday off so we hopped in the car, motivated by the thought of pancakes and syrup.
Arriving to the farm, the first thing we noticed was that it was a family affair in the best sense of the word. As part of the Canada 150 celebrations, the NCC has constructed a pioneer pavilion visitor’s centre on site. Larry and Karen Orr were staffing the pavilion while their son, Ryan, and his wife, Amy, were at the farm.
My son, David, made a beeline from the pavilion to the nearby tent where they were serving pancakes and sausages. The food was delicious and was a fair price. It was fun watching my dad and young David enjoying the pancakes with equal pleasure.
With our hunger satiated, it was time to go explore the farm site. There was a small admission fee to enter the farm but it was well worth the cost. It is about a five-minute walk from the pavilion to the farm. We were greeted by a wagon pulled by a tractor. After a short ride, we were dropped off at a working sugar shack where Ryan demonstrated traditional maple syrup production. We hopped back on the wagon and made our way to the main farm area.
Touring the farm, we were greeted by an array of different farm animals including pigs, horses, cows and a somewhat ornery donkey. We also had the opportunity to meet Amy Orr. “My husband found out about the NCC proposal last year,” said Orr. “He put his name forward and now we are living on the farm. It is a great place to raise our three daughters. We want to share this with everyone in Ottawa.”
We finished off the day by meeting Matilda Bradley (actor portraying Matilda Bradley) in her kitchen. The farm was first settled by Abraham and Matilda Bradley, who raised their family there in the 1860s and 70s. Miss Bradley told us what life was like in the 1800s and some of the joys and hardships her family faced. She engaged David in conversation and it was fun to see the disconnect from the 1800s till today. It would have taken us at least a day to reach the Bradley farm from the east end of Ottawa in the 1800s. That was a wonderful history lesson for David and one he will not soon forget.
The Orr family have big plans for The Log Farm. They intend to start a farmer’s market, and the farm will be open for visits outside of maple syrup season as well.