Author Archive

CityHome 2014: Design Lover’s Guide to Everything


Our first ever special issue of CityHome is on newsstands now! CityHome, aka The Ottawa Design Lover’s Guide to Everything, includes tips from local design experts, a roundup of talented furniture makers, beautiful photography of amazing homes in the city, a shopping guide, and more.

Read the rest of this entry »

MONEY: Generation Executor — an unofficial guide to handling your parent’s estate


This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.


Illustration by Celia Krampien

One of the last legs of the road trip to full adulthood is orphanhood. If you are lucky, you will outlive your parents. But if mom and dad ask you to be the executor of their estate, there might be times when you wish you hadn’t. There are many guides to help you do it right. Here’s an unofficial guide to help you get through it with your sanity intact

First, know that as far as your siblings are concerned, being named executor will be further proof that Mom really did love you best. But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Years ago you may have always gotten the window seat, but for this journey, you’ll often find yourself crammed in the middle and feeling queasy. It’s a big job — from arranging the funeral, liquidating assets, and paying taxes to deciding who gets the moose antlers above the fireplace at the cottage. And while executors are entitled to a percentage of the estate, the process is likely to take more time and energy than you’ll see in return. With that in mind, use these tips to keep stress levels down and bickering to a minimum.

Know where to find an original copy of the will.
The safety deposit box is not a good place because the bank may require proof that you are indeed the executor before granting you access. And you won’t have that proof without the will, which is in the safety deposit box. Welcome to the first circle of executor hell.

Make multiple copies of the death certificate.
Demands for copies will come from the most unlikely sources. It’s required, for example, to cancel a furnace maintenance contract.

Know that you do not hold the karmic wheel.
News flash: Mom and Dad were not perfect. And no, it wasn’t fair that they paid for Janie’s first car but not Jacob’s. That’s not something you can fix. Your job as executor is defined coldly and legally. Bygones must be bygones.

What happens in the station wagon stays in the station wagon.
Only direct beneficiaries should be at the table for estate discussions. In-laws can have input through their family representative but should not be added to email chains or otherwise participate in the process. Keep it in the family.

Expect strong emotions.
Orphanhood sucks at any age. And just when you’re mourning, you’re stuck with a really hard job that demands you act like a grown-up. Remember that you don’t have to respond to every email and phone call. And if one evokes strong emotions, let it sit.

Use social media.
Go on eBay to see how much the Fiestaware is actually worth. Film the contents of the house and post it for your sibs on YouTube. Take photos of the art and put them on Flickr. This way you can start divvying up assets without everyone being in the same room.

Get your Excel on.
Chances are, Mom and Dad chose you because you have a steady hand on the wheel. Prove it. Set aside one afternoon a week when you can completely focus on the job. Use transparent systems like Excel to show that you are doing your job properly. You don’t need to invite input into decision-making, but you do need to share information regularly to temper expectations and avoid surprises.

Plan rest stops.
Make sure you still have fun together as a family. Don’t turn holidays and birthday parties into business discussions about the estate. Set boundaries.

Hire experts.
Make friends with a lawyer and an accountant, as well as appraisers and real estate agents. If the bulk of your parents’ wealth is in real estate that needs to be sold, get several appraisals to decide on the listing price. Even then, latter-day Donald Trumps will insist that the 1950s bungalow with original plumbing is worth way more. With outside professional validation, you will have an easier time shutting them up.

Give them what they want.
Really. The best system for settling who gets Dad’s fishing rods and Mom’s Lladró figurines is to tell everyone that they can have anything they want. It’s a tactic that deflates grabby tendencies: “Really? I can have whatever I want?” Yes, but there’s a catch. You have to prioritize. Make a list with what you want most at the top and least at the bottom. If no one else wants what you want, you get it. If you want it more, you get it.
Of course, there will be some conflicts — the items everyone wants. Then you get a trusted third party (in our case, a revered aunt) to pull names out of a hat (with witnesses). The first name chosen wins the first item in conflict, but then his or her name goes to the bottom of the list. For the next item in conflict, the second name chosen from the hat wins, and so on. In the end, it’s a fair way to make sure people get several things that they really want.

Remember it’s just stuff.
My sister and I got into it over sterling iced-tea spoons — an essential trousseau item for our mother, a 1950s Southern bride. They were useless for me, now living in Canada, a country that is only now discovering the glories of iced tea. So I got the oyster forks — perfect for poutine. But who eats poutine with sterling? No one. That’s why they are sitting in the attic in a box marked Silly Silver by my very wise husband.

Help Mom and Dad get rid of stuff before they die.
That way you won’t be driving around town with your brother in the middle of the night, looking for dumpsters for those last bits of junk. Just sayin’.

Remember the real legacy: family.
Fiercely keep an eye on the end game. You are family, and even without Mom and Dad, you need to stick together. That’s what they would want. If love can’t get you to your destination, good manners will. No bickering. Don’t make Dad pull over.

EVENTS: Orienteering enthusiasts find their way to Arnprior for Championships Thanksgiving weekend


Article was originally published in the October print issue of Ottawa Magazine.

Originally created early in the 20th century as a training exercise for the Swedish military, orienteering is now seeing a rise in popularity as a recreational pursuit. On Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 10 – 13), athletes from across Canada and the United States, along with competitors from as far afield as Uganda, Barbados, and Romania, will descend on Arnprior for the 2014 North American Orienteering Championships. Enthusiast and event co-organizer James Richardson talks with Ottawa Magazine about the growing appeal of a sport that uses traditional way-finding techniques.


James Richardson out in the wild, training for the 2014 Orienteering Championships held this weekend, from Oct. 10- 13 in Arnprior. Photo: David Kawai

Ottawa Magazine: Since orienteering isn’t well known, can you paint a picture of what it involves?
James Richardson: It’s a running sport, a little like cross-country running, but you choose the route. You have a map that shows a series of points, known as controls, and you have to get from point to point in the most efficient way possible. There’s no GPS and no way to cheat. A big challenge is to choose your route. If there’s a hill in front of me, I could go straight, but I’d have to go up over a hill and then down. A trail might be easier to navigate, but maybe it takes a longer route. People’s most efficient routes may be different. My knees aren’t the greatest, so I’m probably not going to choose the hill.


Orienteering athlete, James Richardson, runs through the forest with map in hand, on his way to the next point — training for Thanksgiving’s 2014 Championships in Arnprior, Oct. 10-13. Photo: David Kawai

OM: It sounds like it’s a test of brain and brawn.
JR: You have to think really fast. You can’t plan things in advance. But when you get really good, you can look at a map and interpret it in five seconds.

OM: What’s in the orienteer’s toolkit?
JR: Not much more than a compass, a whistle (in case you get lost or meet a bear), the map, and a list of the controls. And you probably want shoes that are better than your Converse sneakers.

OM: What brought you to the world of orienteering?
JR: Growing up in Newfoundland, my father was heavily involved [in the sport], and our family used to travel across Canada to wherever the Canadian championships were being held. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Then we moved to Ottawa and drifted away [from orienteering]. When I came back in my 30s, I thought, I’m spending a lot of time at a desk — I need to find a hobby where I get out and do something.

OM: How does geocaching compare with orienteering?
JR: Geocaching is a bit more of an adventure or a game, while orienteering is actually a sport. Geocaching has no time limit, and you can use GPS.


Typical Orienteering gear is a good pair of shoes, since the sport requires a great deal of running, as well as a map, a compass, and a whistle — in case you get lost or you run into a bear. Photo: David Kawai

OM: Are orienteering enthusiasts competitive?
JR: There’s a real collegial atmosphere within the orienteering community. Of course you want to win, but if you get to a control and there’s someone there, you don’t throw a hip check to get them out of the way. It’s also a sport everyone can participate in. We have a category for people 85 years and older and one for kids under 10.

OM: So it’s a kinder, gentler sport than hockey or football.
JR: Yes, but it is still a physically tough sport with a lot of injuries. It’s not a gentle walk in the woods. Our club has two training sessions a week, plus our regular weekly meet. Our elite guys train almost every day.


James Richardson, somewhere in Ottawa’s wilds, checks his map as he trains for this weekend’s Orienteering Championships in Arnprior, Oct. 10-13. Photo: David Kawai

OM: What places around Ottawa provide the best terrain for orienteering?
JR: We have maps that cover most of the Gatineau Park area, which has mountainous areas, forests, and swampy areas, and we have maps of many of the Ottawa parks that tend to be a bit flatter but swampier.

OM: How are preparations for the North American championships going?
JR: Arnprior is our host town, and they’ve been phenomenal. They are actually shutting down a downtown street for one of our races, which is unheard of. We’ve also been able to go to schools in Arnprior and get them excited about the sport.

OM: Is orienteering the kind of social sport where people go for beer after a race?
JR: The drinks tend to be non-alcoholic, since our club meets on Sunday mornings. But yes, it’s a very social thing.

MY LOOK: PDA Projects’ Brendan de Montigny

Originally published in the October 2014 print issue of Ottawa Magazine.

Brendan de Montigny is co-founder of PDA Projects, a new gallery on Elgin Street. Photo by Jessica Deeks

Brendan de Montigny is co-founder of PDA Projects, a new gallery on Elgin Street. Photo by Jessica Deeks

Although he is always carefully styled, you could never characterize Brendan de Montigny as superficial. A graduate of the University of Ottawa’s Master of Fine Arts program, de Montigny is co-founder of PDA Projects, a community-centric space for art that opened to no small fanfare on August 16 at 361 Elgin St. Tony Martins talks to de Montigny about life, style, and art.

You seem to have a look that is at stylish and unconventional. Would you agree?
When I was 10 years old I wore a clip tie regularly and I’d read the newspaper in the morning before school. I don’t know if I am unconventional, maybe just always odd. From worst to best, I would read the world news, Canadian news, art news — and I’d save the comic strips for last.

I remember seeing you with a pocket square with tiny skulls. For you, how much about style is in the details?
Style is the details. I used to consider myself a punk — or at least, I was into the music. I now wear the skull pocket square with a suit, a culturally loaded garment, and I like that questioning of binaries found in culture.

What are some of your favourite places to shop locally?
Stroked Ego and Victoire. I also like Tristan because it’s Canadian designed. I actually only shop for clothes a few times a year and then wear them into the ground.

Your haircuts are distinctive and razor sharp — you must work with a seasoned professional, yes?
This is actually embarrassing: I get my hair cut every three weeks! For me, it is a way to relax, have a soda, get a hot shave, a trim, and listen to some good music. I have been going to the House of Barons for the past nine months at 481 Sussex. My barber is Jeff and he has a knack for banter, a good hand with a blade, and is quite existential. The space reminds me of a tree fort for grown ups, they also have Crown shaving products from Toronto — that’s a plus because they’re also Canadian.

Brendan de Montigny is wearing a shirt from Tristan, a black jacket found at Kensington Market in Toronto, black jeans, Nike high-tops, and a Nixon watch. On the wall: artworks by Marc Knowles. Photo by Jessica Deeks

Brendan de Montigny is wearing a shirt from Tristan, a black jacket found at Kensington Market in Toronto, black jeans, Nike high-tops, and a Nixon watch. On the wall: artworks by Marc Knowles. Photo by Jessica Deeks

Do you follow any men’s fashion magazines or go fully rogue?
Rogue, I guess. I am not going to lie. I have tried to read GQ or Esquire and so on and really I don’t identify with this masculine, or gendering, “bro” culture. My late grandfather, who worked an assembly line, who fished who hunted and drove an RV, told me many times: “A person is based on how they act, not how they dress.” I live by that.

Are you inspired by any style icons from the art world? Andy Warhol? Salvador Dali?
Not really. I appreciate that there have been these artists in our history who have pushed their ideas further. However, I have issues when their ideas are diminished by the colour of their hair, the length of their moustache, or the shape of their eyeglasses. Fashion shouldn’t only be determined by what the successful players think, nor should art in Canada be. Art is for everyone. If you love any type of art with confidence you are already succeeding.

QUEST: Raspberry Rhapsody


Originally published in the September 2014 edition.


Heirloom Cafe Bistro’s smoked paprika and cumin spiced Berkshire pork tenderloin with grilled peach and raspberry-red onion jam. Photo: Christian Lalonde

Remember picking raspberries out in the countryside as a kid? The fruit, with its velvety feel, fairly burst against the roof of your mouth, didn’t it? Although perfection was right rare. Either a hard unripe berry would not come free of its white cone (the receptacle), or the fruit was dull red and past its peak, or birds had picked the bush clean. Thank goodness raspberries have gone commercial, then. (Not to say they’re not still prone to dampness, mildew, and overripeness.) So sweet when prime — sprinkle with sugar, pour a little cream over. And as Edward A. Bunyard in 1929 understated the matter in The Anatomy of Dessert, “I find the smallest drop of a fine champagne in [this] simple mixture is acceptable to many.” Although, c’mon, raspberries can be awfully fun to dress up even more!

Smoked Paprika and Cumin Spiced Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Peach and Raspberry-Red Onion Jam
Imagine cooking turkeys with raspberries in the combat zone! Yet that’s what 17th-century founder of French cuisine Pierre La Varenne suggested in Le cuisinier François in the chapter “Cooking With the Army.” On the other hand, Richard Kletnieks, chef and co-owner of the Heirloom Café Bistro, dreamed up a raspberry-red onion jam to accompany tender, juicy Berkshire pork tenderloin. Spicy sweetness — there’s ginger in the jam — together with the loin and its smoky paprika-cumin rub makes for one great combo. Grilled peaches add a surprise element to this well-thought-out dish. $26.
Heirloom Café Bistro, 7 Mill St., Almonte, 613-256-9653

Mozart Torte
Mozart Torte, an old German recipe, is “a balance of flavours,” says Margret Stubbe of Stubbe Kanata. That concept matches the well-tempered music of Mozart. Thus we have the harmonious notes of almonds, chocolate, and raspberries. Stiffly whipped egg whites give the sponge cake lightness. Then instead of flour, ground almonds make up this gluten-free number, giving not only substance but fine taste. Dark chocolate glaze enrobes the whole of it, while dark chocolate ganache fills the four layers. The raspberry filling in the middle?  Pure brilliance! Eine kleine Nachtmusik, indeed. $35.
Stubbe Kanata, 500 Hazeldean Rd., 613-435-4336

Raspberry Lemonade
Union Local 613 (finally a hip spot that doesn’t take itself too seriously!) produced its own pop from the beginning. Therefore it’s no surprise that they make their own raspberry lemonade from scratch. “It takes a boatload of work!” says co-owner Ivan Gedz. So is it worth all that bother of mixing juiced lemons with made-in-house raspberry syrup and mint syrup? We say yes! Lively, fresh, with a touch of raspberry. For a honey-caramel version, Union 613 adds Wild Turkey bourbon, which is cured in oak casks. The corn makes it sweet. $4; with whiskey $10.
Union Local 613, 315 Somerset St. E., 613-231-1010

FOLK FEST PRIMER: Lorde, M. Ward, Lee Fields, and other make Chris Lackner’s must-see list

For its 20th anniversary, the Ottawa Folk Festival has expanded to five days for the first time (Sept. 10-14), leaving local fans with more musical options than ever before. Pop culture junkie Chris Lackner highlights the acts not to miss at this year’s festival.


M. Ward plays Sept. 10.

M. Ward plays Sept. 10.

M. Ward (Sept. 10) – The Wednesday night lineup features some big headliners in pop-rockers Foster the People and Blues Traveler. But low-fi, Americana troubadour, M. Ward, is the one not to miss. The talented producer and musician’s solo work sounds ageless, culling influences from folk, country, and gospel. But it’s Ward’s gravelly voice that truly resonates. Part of She & Him with Zooey Deschanel, Ward deservedly gets the chance to hog the spotlight when flying solo.

Lorde (Sept. 11) – The young electro-pop chanteuse has lorded over the music scene over the last year, practically taking it by storm with her debut Pure Heroine. Lorde breaks the female pop star mould. A darling of both critics and fans, she may be the most buzz-worthy name in this year’s lineup.


Lee Fields and the Expressions play Sept. 12.


Dailey & Vincent (Sept. 11) – They put the blue in Bluegrass. With stunning harmonies and a top-notch backing band, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent will help many fans discover – or rediscover – the musical genre.

The National (Sept. 12) – The moody, introspective indie-rockers are one of the most talented band’s in the business – proving you can make intelligent rock music and still become a headliner. Matt Berninger’s deep, brooding, baritone vocals are pure magic.

Lee Fields and the Expressions (Sept. 12) – You got soul? The venerable North Carolina artist has been crafting R&B since 1969. The man is timeless.

Neutral Milk Hotel (Sept. 13) – The revered, experimental indie band have a cult-like following despite disbanding after their acclaimed 1998 album In The Aeroplane Over the Seas. In 2013, frontman Jeff Mangum and company announced a reunion tour with their entire 1998 lineup. Dreams do come true. This Milk will go down easy for lovers of bands like Arcade Fire and The Decemberists.

Couer de pirate plays

Coeur de pirate plays Sept. 14

The Strumbellas (Sept. 13) – The Canadian six-piece’s 2013 album, We Still Move on Dance Floors, was one of the year’s best. The indie-rockers fuse folk, country, and bluegrass to craft a stirring live show. Prepare for an assault of hollers, handclaps and harmonies.

The Lone Bellow (Sept. 14) – The Brooklyn country rockers play acoustic-based Americana as it was meant to be – with grit, earthiness and fire in the belly. Fans of The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons will find something to like. Fans of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams will too. (Fans of today’s plastic pop country stars need not apply).

Coeur de Pirate (Sept. 14) – Yes, the final day is chalk-full of headliners such as The Gaslight Anthem and Joss Stone, but one not to miss is spellbinding Quebec songstress Béatrice Martin – otherwise known as Couer de Pirate. The petite singer-songwriter has an unexpectedly powerful voice that could simultaneously break hearts and move mountains.










KITCHEN CHRONICLES: Celebrating one year of Kitchen Chronicles PLUS some acknowledgements

By Barbara Sibbald


Fiona walks into the kitchen, prepared to tangle with the mess of bottles and debris from last night’s party. Luc wasn’t in bed when she woke up so she assumed he’d gone to buy the paper. But there he is, sitting at the kitchen table, with his usual cappuccino. The kitchen is spotless, the dishwasher hums gently.

—   You cleaned up! she exclaims. And it was such a wreck when we went to bed.

—   Sleepy head, he chides with a grin. I’m not a total slug, you know. Besides you did the lion’s share of party prep.

—   It went well, didn’t it? she says, settling into the chair across from him.

Luc nods.IMG_4300

—   It was great! he says. Loads of people. I don’t think I talked to anyone for more than three minutes. Did you get a chance to talk to Georges or Anne?

—   Anne. I can’t quite face Georges on his own yet, after what he did. But then I keep thinking, if Anne can forgive him, who am I to hold a grudge? I think it’s the way it all went down. Anyway, Anne was gushing about how things were going so well with them, but then later in the evening she was steaming because Georges was flirting with Trish.

—   No way! says Luc.

—   Oh, yes. Trish does look fabulous. The short hair suits her and her breastfeeding cleavage is fabulous! She was flirting with him too.

—   What was she doing? asks Luc.

—   Oh the usual Trish stuff, touching his arm and shoulder, touching her face, flipping her hair. As I was passing, I heard her telling him how good he looks and guessing he’s like fifteen years younger than he actually is. She knows his age! Usual BS. Trish hasn’t lost her touch. Craig didn’t seem to notice at all. Or maybe he doesn’t mind.

—   Just as well if he’s going to stay with her, says Luc.

—   Yeah, well Anne should take a page out of his book. Georges is incorrigible. I think he’s grown up a bit this past year, but some things will never change. He’s a flirt to the core.

—   Still, he should be more considerate of Anne, says Luc. If he has to flirt, he should at least make sure she’s not around.

—   For sure. Anyway, they seemed okay by the end of the evening. Holding hands, laughing.

Luc takes a sip of his coffee.

—   Trish and Craig seem really happy together too, he says.

—   And Sunshine is adorable, adds Fiona.

—   But what a flakey 70s name, says Luc. What were they thinking?

Fiona shrugs.

—   Maybe it will suit her, Luc. Hey, could you please make me a capp too? she asks.

—   Oh, yeah, sure. Sorry.

Luc gets up and begins fussing with the machine. You’d think it was rocket science, thinks Fiona with amusement.

—   Jacen looked well, says Luc.

—   Yeah, you’d never know he has HIV. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. How’s he liking the geriatric gig?

—   So far so good. The patients — clients, I guess — they love Jay.

—   No surprise! says Fiona. He can be so entertaining. And he’s a good listener.

—   I’m sure the old guys love that, says Luc. We all need to someone to listen to our old stories. That’s what makes us who we are.

—   Did you know Neil phoned last night? says Fiona.

—   Oh did he?

—   Yeah. He was sorry he couldn’t come to the party.

—   And he’s doing well?

scrambled-eggs—   Finger’s crossed. So far, so good. He likes his new job, designing apps. And he’s out of his apartment, working in an office. All guys, but still, he at least has a social life. Plus he loves living in Burnaby. I have to hand it to Dad….

—   Speaking of which, did you talk to Don? I know he’s your gardening buddy, but this as the first time I’ve met his girlfriend. She reminds me so much of Lorelei.

—   Except she’s really nice!

—   Meow! Your Dad’s wife isn’t that bad.

—   Best thing about Lorelei is that she lives far away! I have to admit she’s being good to Neil though. And she did back down on the will.

—   After you stuck your big oar in!

—   Rightly so!

—   Oh believe me, I’m not being critical, says Luc, handing her a cappuccino. I couldn’t be happier about him paying for Gavin’s university.

—   I know, says Fiona. What a great break for us! And Gavin. Hey did you see him cadging a beer last night?

—   I figured he might, says Luc. He is fourteen after all.

—   Oh, I forgot to mention. Don and his girlfriend got engaged.

—   That was quick, says Luc.

Fiona shrugs.

—   Some people just like being married.

—   Would you? asks Luc.

—   What do you mean?

He laughs.

—   Would you like being married?

—   I haven’t thought of it in years, says Fiona.

That’s not entirely true, she thinks, remembering a year ago when they moved in. House and all, I thought it might be time to make it all official.

—   I remember you made a big fuss about it when Gavin was born, continues Luc.

—   Yeah, well, it’s different when you have a baby. I wanted more security, for him as much as for me.

—   And I was such a jerk about it. It would have been easy enough.

—   Luc! I never thought I’d hear you say that.

—   Yeah, well, I’ve grown up a bit. I’ve been thinking about us, about getting married. I’d like to celebrate, to formalize….

—   Why now? she asks. After all these years.

I can’t believe it, she thinks. Then again, everything’s always on his terms. Luc shrugs.

—   Georges and Anne were a real wake-up call for me. I wasn’t sure they were going to make it. And when I was talking to Georges about what it would be like to be single, well, it made me realize how sweet I have it. With you. And then Georges talked about how he doesn’t treat Anne very well, and I wondered whether I treat you well.

—   You do, says Fiona.

—   Well, I thought maybe I could show it by buying you some bling or something, but then I thought about what you’d really like, and I wondered if you’d like to get married.

She smiles at him affectionately. He really is trying, she thinks.

—   You’re so sweet, she says. Let me think about it. I don’t want to mess with something that’s working. Marriage might change the dynamics.

—   What do you mean?

—   I don’t know exactly, says Fiona. It’s just a gut feeling. Maybe we’d stop trying as hard. Like sorting out the control thing we both have going.

—   It’s sorting, says Luc. Well, except you want to be the boss.

—   Ha ha, she says, grinning. You know what I mean, Luc. If we were married, we might not work at the relationship in the same way. We might just settle in. Stagnate.

—   So you don’t want to? he asks.

—   Just give me some time to get my head around it, she says.

—   Another fifteen years?

—   It’s been working so far! Fiona says.

They smile at one another across the kitchen table.



Thank you to my thoughtful readers, Kathlyn Bradshaw, Stuart Kinmond and Jeremiah Bartram, for their excellent suggestions. Thank you to the friends and family members who shared their wonderful recipes with me over the years. They’ve become my favourites. Merci to Joelle and Danielle Dumont, the talented sisters who graciously and quickly corrected all my French language errors. And finally, I thank my beloved husband and cooking partner, Stuart Kinmond, for the illustration, encouragement and endless Chronicle-related conversation. Cheers!



DAYTRIPPER: Almonte — bustling arts scene, shops, and foodie paradise



Baker Bob and his ‘helper’. The bakery is just one of many shops to visit in the quaint, historic town of Almonte. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

With a thriving local arts scene, a bustling main street, and a new-found identity as a foodie’s paradise, Almonte — the quaint, historic commuter town just 30 minutes west of the city — has hit its stride.

Mill Street Crepe Company  
14 Mill St.
Executive chef Charlene Santry is the creative mastermind behind Almonte’s little slice of France. Nestled in the new Heritage Court — a collection of independent shops at the bottom of Mill Street — Mill Street Crepe Company, a licensed venue, offers an ever-changing lineup of crepes. Our favourite is the country-style smoked ham and Gruyère, packed with oven-dried tomatoes, thyme, and apple-honey mustard. But you may have to get one of each.

Tin Barn Market
73 Little Bridge St.
Whatever your thrifting fancy — be it vintage, antique, handmade, or up-cycled — Tin Barn Market is bound to deliver. A relatively new addition to Almonte’s historic town centre, this tiny concept shop features a wonderfully eclectic mix of vintage housewares and salvaged goods, plus handcrafted jewellery and stationery.

Doree’s Habit
65 Mill St.
A stylish boutique sure to impress even the most discerning fashionistas, Doree’s Habit is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. With a remarkable eye for detail, owner Brodie O’Connor selects clothing and accessories that are at once fun, fresh, and sophisticated. The shop is also committed to keeping things local: Schwiing (Montreal), Pink Martini (Toronto), and Vandentillaart (Kemptville) are just a few Canadian lines you’ll find.

Baker Bob’s
75 Little Bridge St.
No visit to Almonte would be complete without a stop at Baker Bob’s, a local institution. A bit of a celebrity in these parts, owner Bob Graff has been serving up home-style goodies since 1995. Stop in for freshly baked butter croissants, muffins, and Danishes (the blueberry is to die for). Wash them down with an excellent cup of fair-trade organic coffee, with beans supplied by Almonte’s own Equator Coffee Roasters.

78 Mill St.
Impeccable service and authentic ambience distinguish this charming artists’ hangout. Owned by chef/baker Sally Parsons, Palms is not just an average coffee shop. All food is prepared fresh on the site, from the sweet and savoury loaves and scones to the artfully crafted paninis (we recommend the capicola, a delightful little number stuffed with capicola ham, provolone, peppers, onions, and succulent sun-dried tomato pesto).

Gallery: Photos by Justin Van Leeuwen

KITCHEN CHRONICLES: Is Trish in labour? PLUS a seasonal dill pickle recipe

KITCHEN CHRONICLES: Trish learns the bald truth about family PLUS recipe for Gado gado chicken skewers