After trips to Niagara Falls, Disney World and Calgary last year, we've decided not to take any big trips this summer. So, we're going to play tourist in our own little part of the world. Last week, we visited Manotick, a small, rural suburb of Ottawa where we had a surprisingly good time.
Kate, Lena and Lena's friend, Sidney and I first stopped at Watson's Mill, a 19th century flour mill along the Rideau Canal. The building houses plenty of artifacts and equipment demonstrating how wheat was received and transformed into flour. The mill also holds demonstrations of the machinery in action and grinds and sells small batches of the flour it produces.
If that isn't enough, a ghost is said to roam the property. Apparently, one of the mill's owners, Joseph Currier married a young American woman, Ann Corsby, shortly after the mill began operation. At an event marking its first year in business, Currier was showing young Ann around the joint when her dress got caught in some of the machinery and pulled her violently into a beam, killing her instantly. Alas, her spectre was not in evidence the day we were there.
After the mill, we headed across the street to the Dickinson House, where the family of the other co-owner, Moss Dickinson, lived until the 1930s. Again, the house is furnished in a mix of the Victorian and Edwardian styles and the resident interpreters gave an excellent overview of both the Dickinson family history and of life in the 19th and early 20th century. I love this kind of small "h" history -the history of everyday life and every man and woman - very much. Sadly, one of the interpreters mentioned to us that the City of Ottawa is considering selling the property and shutting the museum. Losing this little piece of local history would be a shame.
We had worked up quite an appetite after our fix of industrial and social history, so we headed to the corner of Mitch Owens Drive and Main Street where a two-trailer food truck sits on a vacant lot. Pizza All'Antica is the kind of mom-and-pop operation I love. Actually, the operation seems to be run by a man and his mother-in-law. The front man, Joe, is clearly proud of what he is doing with his business. He is a big friendly guy who is quite happy to talk about the pizzas he makes with fresh ingredients, many imported from Naples where, many allege, pizza was born, and then baked in a mobile wood-burning oven. Just sitting at the picnic table in the lot smelling the smoke was worth the trip, but the pizza is quite possibly the best I've ever had. Very fresh toppings, including a wonderful fresh-tasting homemade sauce, sit on top of a perfectly cooked and very thin crust. As Kate said, the pizza quells your hunger without it feeling heavy on your stomach. I really can't say enough about this place. If you're ever in Manotick, you have to stop and try it. Even if you're not in Manotick, this place is worth making a special trip to try.
Right across the street from the pizza place is a store called Chilly Chiles. This business sells hundreds, if not thousands, of different kids of hot sauce. The store used to be located in the Byward Market and I used to shop there regularly, then it moved to Navan, which is too far afield for us, before more recently moving to Manotick. After lunch, Lena and I went across to check it out. Shelf after shelf hot sauce. Even if you don't like hot sauce, the store if worth checking out for the art on the labels, many of which are, well, saucy. Derrieres, often with flames shooting out of them, feature prominently. After sampling several (sauces, not flame-throwing butts), I left with nearly $30 worth of sauce. Another great store - a locally owned business selling products that the proprietors are passionate about but that probably aren't making them rich.
For such a small town, Manotick has quite a lot to offer and I can recommend it as a day-trip destination to anyone living in the Ottawa area.