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Back to school bells are ringing, and just like that, we have begun adjusting into a routine that feels familiar and seasonally appropriate. Even if this new normal isn’t quite what we are used to, we can feel a sense of satisfaction as we begin to find our footing after months of uncertainty. Fortunately, residents of the Ottawa Valley are known to embrace the seasonal rituals, whether it be “Back to School” preparation, or enjoying activities such as Maple Bush excursions in the spring and camping trips in the summer. Now, with summer nearing its end and the cooler temperatures signalling all things pumpkin and spice, apple picking is at the top of the to-do list for families everywhere. 

It is possible that history plays a part in our desire to venture out into the apple orchards each fall as Canadians seem to make apple picking a tradition. Every McIntosh apple in North America can trace its ancestry to an apple orchard near Ottawa, settled by a Scottish immigrant back in 1811 just outside of Kemptville, in a town called Dundela  (pronounced Dun-dee-la).  The McIntosh family shared the seedlings with neighbours allowing everyone an opportunity to enjoy that wonderful crisp sweet and sour taste of a ‘Mac’ that we continue to thoroughly enjoy each autumn. The MacIntosh apple accounts for a third of Canada’s apple consumption – having lost some ‘s market share to new ‘designer’ apples we find in the grocery store in great abundance.

If your family is looking forward to the juicy flavour of a freshly picked apple, the time is now. Here are a few of the best apple orchards located in South West Ottawa 

Smyths Apple Orchard
Located in the home of the MacIntosh Apple itself, Dundela, Smyths Apple Orchard is a family run business that has been around since the mid-1800s. Enjoy the historical feel of this orchard and be sure to pay John McIntosh a visit, as there are two monuments commemorating his discoveries.

Mountain Apple Orchard
Plan a day of family fun at Mountain Orchard, where you can get lost in a corn maze or enjoy a  hayride with your family. Once you’re done picking apples, be sure to stop at the baker for some famous doughnuts and butter tarts, grab a bite to eat at the BBQ, and check out the shop on your way out for take-home favourites such as apple cider, apple butter, candy apples, and more. 

A lesser-known fact about Mountain Orchard is that they also have a sawmill where wood mouldings are made. If you have a renovation project, this is a great place to shop locally for your finishings! 

Log Cabin Orchard
Just twenty minutes south of Ottawa, located in Osgoode you will find Log Cabin Orchard. This family-friendly orchard boasts a wide selection to be picked throughout the season. To make the most out of the day, dress in your best fall fashion as there is a fall-themed backdrop with beautiful barn boards, flowers, pumpkins and gourds that make for the perfect opportunity to snap some family photos! 

If you are planning an apple picking trip here is a list of pick your own apple orchards in Ottawa. To make the most out of your trip, and staying within the apple theme, be sure to take a drive up to Appleton. This town just west of Kanata and the Mississippi River is formerly named Apple Tree Falls. Here is a story commonly shared of the Indigenous groups who would stop their portage at Appleton to rest before the last leg of the journey to Ottawa. Many apple cores were left along the river bank, and so when Irish settlers arrived there were many apple trees. While few remain, Appleton remains a wonderful place to picnic with the family after visiting any of the orchards in West Ottawa, such as Pinewood Orchard, Dekok Berry Farm, or Beckwith Berries. Make sure to bring the kids with you, as there is no better way of enjoying the outdoors and appreciating its history while replenishing the pantry for school at the same time.

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