October 29, 2016
Located on Heart Lake Road north of Brampton is a 215-acre farm that has been operated by the Downey Family since 1920. At the time of the county atlas in 1877 the property was still in the hands of the Campbell family. Seven brothers from this family took 1000 acres of land in Chingacousy Township for settlement in part as compensation for their service during the war of 1812. The Campbells fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights as well as Lundy’s Lane and Stoney Creek. By the mid-1800’s the town of Campbell’s Cross had an eighteen room hotel and three general stores.
Until 1987 it was much like any other country farm in Southern Ontario. That was the year that they decided to set up a roadside stand where the children could sell sweet corn to make money to buy hockey equipment. Selling things on the roadside proved profitable and soon the family renovated the dairy barn so that they could house a farmers market and sell other produce from the farm. All farmer’s markets need baked goodies and so an in-house bakery was added. They also sell homemade jams and jellies as well as what proved to be very good butter tarts and fudge. This family operated business extends over multiple generations.
Pumpkinfest was going on but concludes at the end of the month when the farm will switch into Christmas mode. Pumpkinfest includes unlimited wagon rides around the farm, live entertainment, puppet shows and the boo barn. Thousands of pumpkins are sold each year.
The property has been turned into a playground for children aged 2 to 92 as they say. There are a couple of old tractors as well as a tractor tire sandbox. The tractor below had steel wheels with large spikes on them. There is a trike track as well as go-carts to keep you entertained. Giant jumping pillows are one of the newer attractions.
One of the driving sheds is converted into the “Boo Barn” where a short walk takes you around some themed displays.
These two were chatting up a storm and making bad puns. Other displays include skeletons and ghosts as well as a vampire.
This handsome fellow jumps up out of the dark and rises as if to attack.
Every year they cut a maze through their corn patch. There is a shorter path that can be followed, marked out in yellow caution tape, and it can be seen in the background of the picture below. This year there is a theme on the importance of bees. There are stations throughout the field where you can learn bee facts like the point that it takes two million flowers to make a pound of honey. There are also a number of stations where you can get a different colour of paint which you are encouraged to put on your right-hand fingers. If you paint all five fingers you can check the colour pattern when you get out of the maze and it will match a silly activity that you have to do. These activities could include making farm animal noises are doing comical dances.
The 2016 corn maze has the theme “Bees Feed The World”. The pattern of the maze is seen below in this picture taken from their website. The entrance is in the lower left corner and altogether there are 10 kilometers of trails cut through the 8-acre corn field.
Downey’s Farm has lots of farm animals for the children to enjoy. The goats have an elevated boardwalk that they can climb up to get to food that is placed at the top. They also have a petting zoo where you can get to see the sheep, goats, calves, llama, and chickens up close. It is a great place for children who grow up in the city to get connected to farm life. The goat in the picture below was providing great entertainment to a little girl that he was performing for.
Every year they catch a few people trying to steal their pumpkin instead of buying it. Apparently, you only do that once.
The Downeys have taken the front few acres of their farm and turned it into a playground for children and adults alike. This is a great example of country entrepreneurial spirit. They sell much of their produce direct to the consumer but they also attract school tours and children’s birthday parties.
The community of Campbell’s Cross has changed a lot over the years with new development all around it. The Anglican Church was built in 1899 although a new entrance was added at a later date. The date stone on the lower reads May 30, 1899.
Downey’s Farm may be a little on the expensive side as far as entry fee goes ($14 for adults) but with over 20 free attractions once you get in its actually pretty fair. The gift shop, bakery, and farmer’s market are all free to enter and full of great treats.
Google Maps Link: Downey’s Farm
Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta
Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com