Small town living…

These days I live about half an hour away from the capital of Canada, Ottawa, in a little town of 5,000. Small and picturesque, Almonte has a river running through it, two sets of waterfalls and miles of green space surrounding it.

For 30 years I lived, studied and worked in the centre of Ottawa, which has close to a million inhabitants and serves as the seat of the federal government. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle and all the culture and diversity that Ottawa had to offer — and before that thrived on the tempo of two other big Canadian cities — Toronto and Montreal. So I’ve always considered myself a big city kind of gal.

Today life in Almonte with its slow unhurried pace couldn’t be more of  a contrast. But there is much to appreciate in small town living.

I’m excited by how Almonte continues to develop into a small hub of creativity as artists and craftspeople open up shops and galleries. The beautiful stone buildings on our historic main street preserve our past as a textile mill town and have been converted into restaurants, galleries and unusual apartments.

The old Post Office was designed by the same architect who built the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and now houses a lovely marble floored restaurant and a new outdoor patio. The clock you can see throughout the town is the original one, which is maintained by a local volunteer. The falls on the river that powered the mills now create our electricity in a green manner.

I never tire of showing off my town to friends from the city and from other parts of the country and the world. This super short video (49 seconds) gives a flavour of one such recent visit.  I invite you to have a look. I hope to capture more of Almonte in future videos.

The world’s smallest bookshop…


I’m not one of those people who gets all excited by the world’s biggest this or that — the tallest building, the hugest cruise ship, yadda yadda.

I’ve always been more inclined toward the “small is beautiful” mentality. So I was totally charmed when driving along Highway 503 about 100 miles northeast of Toronto (near Kinmount, Ontario) one day a few weeks ago, I saw a sign for “the world’s smallest bookshop”!

I had to stop and check this out. Not only is it teeny tiny (10 by 10 feet), but it’s open 24 hours a day, and has no staff. All books are $3 and it’s totally operated on the honour system. What a little gem!

I didn’t have much time to take photos since we were on a mission to buy a dinghy in Midland, Ontario and we had a 10-hour drive to cover. But I managed to snap a few before jumping back into the truck.

Evidently I was not the only one who was delighted to find such a sweet little place in the countryside, because there were lots of appreciative notes pinned up all over the place.

I found out later it is a labour of love on the part of Gord and June Daniels. I wish I had time to meet them, but perhaps next time. I know I’ll be back.

bookshop2A handout available at the shop reads:

Why I love Books

1) Books are silent.

2) Books do not require hydro.

3) Books do not interrupt.

4) Books open easily — no switches or remotes.

5) Books can be shut up easily anytime.

6) Books cannot be offended.

7) Books do not talk back.

8) Books do not demand T.L.C. — but get it anyway.

9) Books do not require food or water.

10) Books will not feel neglected.

11) Books will not send you on a guilt trip if you lose interest or ignore them.

12) Books never require medical attention.

13) Books do not have commercials.

14) A book does not go into a snit if you look at another book.

15) A book won’t mind if you are reading more than book at a time.