Drysdale's Tree Farm: Making Holiday Memories
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It's an old-time Christmas tradition. Bundled up in toque and mitts, with snow crunching underfoot, rosy-cheeked children and their smiling parents head off into the woods to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important holiday symbol, the Christmas tree.

While many people today pick up a tree at a corner lot or even purchase an artificial tree, the appeal of slinging an axe over one's shoulder and heading off into the woods remains as strong as ever. It brings us in touch with the history of season, and Christmas is nothing if not about nostalgia and tradition.
That's the warm sentiment that Drysdale's Tree Farm taps into every year.
“We've been perfecting holiday cheer for almost 50 years now, beginning in 1965 the year the farm was established,” says Doug Drysdale, the third generation to run the family-owned farm on Country Road 56. “Of course, at the time it was far more basic. Then, it was simply cut-your-own trees and then head home. The event has gotten a lot bigger. In fact, there's so much here now that trees have become a secondary reason to come.”
While Christmas trees might be secondary to the holiday season at Drysdale's Tree Farm, they are certainly central to the holiday season in general.
In ancient Europe, druids (priests of the Celts, a people inhabiting much of the continent) considered evergreen magical symbols of long life and immortality because they remained green and vibrant year round. Other early European peoples had similar beliefs. The Teutonic tribes of Germany believed god-like spirits resided within evergreens, while Romans exchanged evergreen boughs as tokens of goodwill during holy periods.
Early Christianity borrowed these beliefs, and as centuries passed people began decorating evergreens, then bringing the tree into their homes. The tradition has been in North America since 1781 when Lady Freiderike von Riedesel, homesickness for her native Germany, insisted that a Christmas tree be erected within the parlour of her home in Sorel, Quebec.
Today, some 35 million Christmas trees are sold annually, some at cut-your-own tree farms like Drysdale's. But Drysdale's Tree Farm has set itself apart by truly embracing the holiday season in a way few have, making it one of the premier Christmas destinations in Ontario.
The farm turns into a magical winter wonderland in late November. Doug and the entire Drysdale family encourage everyone to come and be their guest for a day to enjoy all the festivities and experience a dose of festive joy. A visit to the farm may just become a yearly tradition.
“We have lots of families that return year after year, who consider coming here a family tradition,” Doug enthuses. “One family that used to live in Ontario drives up from Cincinnati every December and stops to get a tree on the way to their cottage in Muskoka. Another family drives seven hours from Ottawa for that perfect Christmas tree. We even have a group of families who live on the same street in Mississauga who rent a bus and come up together every year. That's really special for us, it's a reward for all the hard work that goes into growing trees throughout the year.”
And it is hard work. A Christmas tree business is low cost at the beginning but becomes high maintenance and labour intensive as the trees grow. Trees, for example, have to be painstakingly pruned for shape during the summer months and efforts made to ward off damage from insect infestation. It's definitely a labour of love, and for Doug the payoff comes in December once exuberant families descend upon the farm to select a tree.
“I love this time of year,” he says, “and I love catching up with clientele who return year-after-year.”
It's not hard to see why people return every Christmas. This is the kind of place sure to make spirits bright.
The 400-acre plantation can be explored from atop a wagon pulled by one of the farm's six teams of horses. While leisurely riding among rows of snow-draped evergreens, the sounds of sleigh bells take you back to the simple Christmases of long ago. It's a magical experience, the kind that might have inspired Jingle Bells.
Drysdale's has an extensive selection, literally hundreds of acres, of premium Fraser firs to choose from. The quality here is unmatched and widely renowned; their trees are displayed every year at Queen's Park and have been featured on television shows such as Canada AM and the Rick Mercer Report.
Once you descend from the wagon ride, little ones will want to head over to the red roofed home belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. In the presence of Santa and his equally jolly wife, Christmas truly comes alive for children. They can sit on Santa's knee, and will once again be asked if they've been naughty or nice. Of course, all children plead their case for being put on the good list. After informing Santa of new additions to their ever-growing wish list, kids can get a sparkle or two added to their smiles with a face painting.
But this wouldn't be a perfect day for the entire family without a place where mom can do a little last minute shopping. The Evergreen Store carries a wide selection of home accents, holiday décor and gifts. Christmas trees light up like twinkling stars, bushy wreaths dressed up with bows, and sparkling ornaments all bring out the spirit of the season. The Evergreen Store is sure to inspire some ideas for decorating, and offers unique treasures that will be part of Christmas traditions for years to come
“It's funny, but there's so much here you could easily spend a few hours doing it all. We've had people so preoccupied by our attractions that before they knew it the sun was setting and they hadn't picked a tree yet,” chuckles Doug. “You can't go home without a tree, so we've got in the habit of having some pre-cut trees available, just in case.”
From humble roots as a simple cut-your-own tree farm, Drysdale's has developed into a magical realm that embraces the warmth and nostalgia of Christmas through a range of attractions for adults and children alike.

Selecting the Perfect Christmas Tree

The most important is to decide what kind of tree you want. Is there a particular look or colour you desire? How will you decorate it? Heavy ornaments, for example, need strong branches to rest upon, while sparser tree varieties need more ornamentation to appear full. How long will the tree be indoors? The following guide will help you make the ideal choice for your particular needs and interests:

Scotch Pine: By a large margin the most popular tree in Canada and for good reason. It is extremely dense and full, often so much so that you have to fight your way in to find the trunk. As a result, you won't have to decorate as vigorously as you would with some of the more sparser trees to achieve the full look. The needles are long, blue-green in colouration, and will be retained for three to four weeks.

Balsam fir: The second most common Christmas tree in Canada, the balsam fir is a more elegant choice than the Scotch pine. Whereas the Scotch pine has rounded needles, those of the Balsam fir are short and flat, and dark green in colour. One of the more attractive qualities is the needles' silvery underside, which reflect the light of Christmas lights beautifully. The widely spaced branches make it easy to hang ornaments, but results in a less full look. Leaves will be retained for a month without difficulty.

Douglas fir: This tree is pyramidal in shape, with strong upward sweeping branches that are ideal for hanging ornaments. Needles are short (2-3 cm), dark-blue, and soft, lasting for a month. The Douglas fir is arguably the most elegant of the varieties.

Blue spruce: With a dense, nearly symmetrical form and its stunning blue/grey-green foliage, the blue spruce makes a real statement in any home. But you pay for this quality with the average tree costing three or four times that of the more common varieties. The needles will last over a month.

Norway spruce: The Norway spruce looks dandy, with its dense branches gracefully reaching upward as if pointing towards the heavens. However, buyers beware. Needles begin dropping in as little as two weeks! Because of its denseness and fine shape, the Norway spruce requires little ornamentation to be attractive.


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