On weekends in December, Santa’s taking a break from his North Pole toy workshop to get away to his home away from home in Eastern Ontario.
From now until Christmas, families are welcome to visit the big guy at Santa’s Village Dalkeith, about an hour’s drive west of Montreal, where you can enjoy a wagon ride, pick a Christmas tree, hand-feed baby deer, savour hot chocolate by a crackling bonfire, and take a picture with Jolly Old Saint Nick himself.
Owner Andy Scherer has been transforming part of Scherer Gardening Centre into Santa’s Village for about six years. The garden centre has been a local source of Christmas trees for 24 years, but in recent years Scherer added a campfire and a petting zoo, and he said it just snowballed from there.
“If you enter our farm here, it’s like you’re entering the North Pole,” Scherer said. “Elves are hard at work, Mama Claus is telling stories. It’s like you’re in a completely different world here. You really feel the spirit. It’s an extremely nice way to celebrate the beginning of Christmas.”
Those who are looking for a Christmas tree can venture into a forest of white spruce and cut their own, or select one of the pre-cut balsam firs. All tree sizes and varieties cost $50.
The site also features a network of snowshoe and cross-country ski trails, toboggan runs, Santa’s gift shop, locally sourced sausages, strudels and other treats, and a unique playground with a trampoline and swings specially designed by the elves. The petting zoo features ponies, goats and deer so tame they will let children hug them, said Scherer. Kids can also take a ride on a trackless train or, if there is snow, a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the forest.
Santa’s Village Dalkeith, at 1535 Dalkeith Rd., Ont. opens for the season on Dec. 2, and continues for the first three weekends in December. Visitors are welcome from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $10 per person, and children under 2 are free. Train and sleigh rides cost $5 but all other activities are included. For more information, visit santasvillagedalkeith.com.