Nearly seven years ago we “built our nest” in beautiful Almonte, Ontario – town with a rich history of former (and current) residents including the inventor of basketball; Dr. James Naismith.

Outside of the attraction of the friendly atmosphere and its historic qualities, we chose Almonte and Mississippi Mills also for the wonderful outdoor spaces and opportunities that abound to connect with nature.

One such location that is not far from our flagship store on Mill Street is the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area. In addition to the wonderful birding opportunities around the town of Almonte, the Mill of Kintail offers that and so much more just minutes from our small town.

Last week, Bob took a drive to this historic site, had a chance to head out on the trails and look for some warblers and chat with some of the staff of this wonderful site.

 

A Brief History

For most of us, especially in the Almonte area, the story of Dr. James Naismith is a familiar one. The story of his childhood friend Robert Tait McKenzie is one that is not told nearly enough.

Born in Ramsey Township (now Mississippi Mills), Tait attended McGill University as a medical student before moving on to teaching at McGill and later at the University of Pennsylvania.

Following his illustrious career as a physician and educator (among other things), he returned to his hometown and received The Freedom of Almonte award of recognition and eventually came across the former site of Baird’s Mill.

After evaluating the property for his place of retirement, he and his wife purchased the then abandoned property. Over time, Tait renamed the property and eventually passed it down to the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority where it remains under management today.

The Birding Opportunities of the Mill of Kintail

Today, the Mill of Kintail operates as both a historical site/museum and a place to enjoy outdoor recreation such as hiking, snowshoeing and birding. In addition to the museum inside the former mill, the outdoor space encompasses over 150 acres of trails and outdoor spaces for the enjoyment of all. With space for weddings, an outdoor fitness trail, a playground and more, it is a wonderful place to spend the day with your family and friends.

The property is primarily mixed forest with trails traipsing through, offering birders the chance to spot phoebes, goldfinches, nuthatches, cardinals and early season warblers. In addition to the wooded areas, there are also some open spaces and a picturesque stream that rolls through the property, offering birders the chance to spot water birds such as herons and the like.