Whether giving or receiving, you’ve probably noticed an interesting effect: gifts feel more meaningful with a story and a sense of place attached. In an age of mass-produced goods, artisanal or experiential gifts are prized for their distinctive and uniquely local qualities. Luckily we’re spoiled for choice in Kawarthas Northumberland. In time for the holidays, here are a few of our picks for gifts that stand out from the pack.
Black’s Distillery takes local to a new level. This artisanal distiller in Peterborough’s East City doesn’t just produce their spirits in-house, they do it using locally grown Red Fife wheat. Red Fife is Canada’s oldest strain of wheat, having been introduced by Peterborough’s David Fife in the 1840s. Black’s signature gin and heritage vodka take full advantage of the grain’s flavourful qualities. A distinctive blend of botanicals make Black’s gin ideal for a tasting party or fine cocktails. Whisky fans will also want to check out the white barley and white rye offerings.
Black’s products are available through the LCBO or their own retail store, which also hosts tours and taste tests. For an experiential gift, check Black’s Distillery’s Facebook page. They occasionally run mixology workshops and other special events that will appeal to the cocktail connoisseur.
Warkworth’s Centre & Main Chocolate will please the most discerning chocolate lover. Chocolatier Angela Roest is on a mission to combine top-quality chocolate with unexpected and often local ingredients. The results are sophisticated, ethically sourced, and utterly delicious: Roest’s creations have taken home top honours from the International Chocolate Awards Canadian Chocolatier Competition. Centre & Main bars often incorporate local flavours, such as their strawberry rhubarb saffron bar, made with product from Warkworth’s True Saffron, and the Popham Lane Farms black currant bar. Centre & Main is located on the main drag of one of Northumberland County’s most charming communities – get more details and directions here.
The Lakeview Arts Barn has seen some changes in its time, having evolved from a cattle barn to a dance hall to its current incarnation as a black box theatre. These days Globus Theatre uses the LAB as its base of operations, staging professional plays and concerts in the Bobcaygeon area. Programming includes a mix of original scripts and newly imagined classics, while a three-course table d’hôte menu before each evening performances offers guests a chance to linger. While Globus hasn’t announced the details of their 2020 season yet, gift certificates are available so the lucky recipient can decide when they’d like to take in a show.
Perfect for pet lovers or anyone with an offbeat sensibility, Haute Goat just outside Port Hope integrates animals into the wellness experience. In goat yoga sessions, for example, friendly goats mill around while participants practice simple yoga poses. Petting goats is not just allowed but encouraged. The Haute Goat Schmurgle adds alpacas, chickens, and horses to the mix along with Nigerian Dwarf Goats for an immersive natural experience. Other experiences include the Alpaca Knuffle Shuffle, Haute Horse Heart and Soul Connections, and Goat Whisperings. An on-site café offers the chance to sample chèvre made in-house and other delicacies. All the experiences are structured to boost appreciation and empathy for animals, another big reason to consider giving the gift of goat yoga this season.
Personal care products may be a common stocking stuffer, but Walton Wood Farms’ are guaranteed to stand out. The Bailieboro company has distinguished itself through savvy, irreverent marketing and high-quality boutique products. Catering to both women and men, their catalogue includes body washes, shaving soaps, lip balms, hand creams, and more. Sample products include “Week from Hell Hand Rescue” and “Sugar Coat It Lip Scrub.” The operation runs out of a lovingly restored historic barn near Rice Lake. See more reasons why owner Leslie Bradford-Scott was nominated Peterborough County’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 over at the Walton Wood Farm site.
Craft beer enthusiasts are always on the lookout for new flavours, and Kawarthas Northumberland is host to a number of excellent breweries. One of the latest additions is The Pie Eyed Monk in Lindsay, makers of Murph’s Daily Ration stout, Brownie’s Belgian Blonde, Laughing Troll Lager’d Ale, and several other varieties. The historic C.L. Baker Building has been home to a granary and pool hall, and now serves as a very handsome brew pub. Stop in to pick up a sampler pack and take time to admire the vintage brick and beam construction.
Has someone on your list gone minimalist? Treat them to an informative, engaging weekend in Peterborough. The ReFrame Film Festival features a mix of world-class cinema and locally produced content. ReFrame’s lineup of documentaries is unfailing inventive and thought-provoking. The focus is typically on issues of social justice and environmentalism, though the exact theme changes each year. The larger Peterborough community rallies around the event, with special events and afterparties taking place throughout the city. The festival runs January 23-26 in 2020. Read our retrospective from a recent year here, or grab tickets at the official ReFrame site.
You could be forgiven for mistaking pictures of Ste. Anne’s Spa for an Old World estate. Situated on 400 acres of rolling property in the Northumberland hills and centred around an inn built in 1858, Ste. Anne’s exudes unhurried rustic charm. Despite the luxurious surroundings, the vibe is easygoing and casual. Visitors can bask in a range of well-promoting activities like massage and yoga, spend time in the steam room, or simply wander the meandering country trails. Ste. Anne’s even makes their own signature line of skin care products for use in their treatments. Day spa getaways and overnight packages are available, featuring accommodations in spacious and tastefully decorated rooms. The perfect gift for a loved one who needs a chance to unwind and pamper themselves.
South Pond Farms has name recognition thanks to owner Danielle French’s turn on the Netflix show Taste of the Country. The venue has since continued its run as a major event hub, lending its beautiful grounds to weddings, workshops, and special events (see our coverage of the sourdough bread baking class here). Consider booking a Full Moon Supper for the foodie in your life. These unique events take place at different locations around the farm and incorporate traditional cooking techniques. This is a culinary experience served al fresco around a bonfire – get more details at southpondfarms.ca.
If you’re in the region and looking for more options, this is just a sampling. Check out unique shopping opportunities in Peterborough and the Kawarthas, use the Kawartha Lakes Cultural Map to seek out new studios and boutiques, or check the Northumberland County Holiday Map and see what strikes your fancy!