An Artist’s Notes: The Road to Middleville

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by Eileen Hennemann

Wolf Grove Road is a long, almost straight road going east from Hopetown to Almonte.

On the way you go through Middleville, which is not in the middle of anywhere that is known of. Blink and guess what happens… you miss the village altogether. But there are hidden treasures there.

We used to stop at the general store on top of the hill, but it’s long gone. Then we discovered Ouellette Farm at the bottom of the hill. Not only were the folk welcoming and friendly, they trusted the local kids to pay for their candies when no one was in the little pop-up store Caroline made just for them. Ouellette Farm is now well known for their organic meat, their respect and care for their animals, as well as their traditional farming methods.

Turn left at the top of the hill to another treasure, the Middleville Museum. This is truly a step into the past! This unique museum is set in an 1861 two-story school house. As one TripAdvisor 5-star testimonial said “This is not a sophisticated museum – no buttons to push or high technology to explain what you are seeing. If you are looking for a charming, little museum in rural Ontario, this is it!” And another impressive comment: “I believe the quality of the items is on par with museums in Ottawa!” There are extensive displays of local pioneer life with collections well displayed that include an old weaving loom, patterns, blacksmithing, schoolhouse, carpentry, funeral hearse and cooking utensils. You feel transported in time in this museum.

The Middleville Agricultural Society was formed in 1851 to help farmers improve their farming practices. In 1883 the Society purchased the fairground property and built the large Exhibition Hall. This is yet another treasure in this sleepy little crossroads. The Middleville Fair is a fall celebration of rural life. Agriculture is the main focus of the Fair with animal, flower, fruit and vegetable exhibits and competitions, and crafts and heritage displays of antique machinery and household items. Kids get to play old fashioned games and run in races throughout the day. Potato sack races are so much fun to watch! There’s a ham and bean luncheon, and the day ends with the renowned home-cooked turkey dinner.

This fall, upon returning to Almonte from a pleasant tour of the Valley, we approached a pickup truck driving slow-as-molasses up the hill. He turned right into the fairgrounds. It was dinner time, so we turned in as well. Turkey tastes real good after a day out in the country.