Imagine a Currier and Ives picture postcard. You know the type: those vintage, hand-painted portraits of rosy-cheeked children enjoying a winter’s day outdoors, the ones that stir deep feelings of nostalgia and longing for a wholesome experience. Well, what if we told you that you can have that this Christmas?
In Hillsburgh, Elliott Tree Farm is one of our many YDH family-run tree farms. With fresh-cut and cut-your-own trees available, along with wholesome activities that deliver a hearty dose of festive merriment, you are sure to create some wonderful memories as you spend time outdoors on a crisp winter day, enjoying nature, tradition and the company of your friends and loved ones. Whether you’re new to live Christmas trees or you’ve been cutting your own for years, a trip to Elliott Tree Farm is always a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.
Experience an authentic tree farm
The farm has been owned for over three decades by the Elliott family, and was originally purchased by current farmer Derek Elliott’s father, Fred. “He grew trees on the farm then, but it wasn’t open to the public,” Derek recalls. “When I took over, I opened it up for the public to come and enjoy.” Since that time, Derek and his crew have been busy creating and expanding on experiences year after year. Now in its ninth year of public operation, Elliott Tree Farm has become a beloved destination for holiday fun.
Coming to Elliott Tree Farm is not just about getting your tree. There is a reason why people from all over make the hour drive north from the GTA to experience this wonderful, authentic farm. With an 1850s-built barn on the property and a cozy bonfire to welcome you, you may feel as though you’ve been transported to the set of a Hallmark holiday movie. Below the barn, Derek and his team recently created a tree garden for all of their beautiful fresh-cut trees, set in a stone-walled cellar decorated with Edison lights and filled with the alluring scents of Fraser and balsam fir. Unlike other pre-cut tree lots, these babies are unwrapped so you can pick out your perfect tree without any guesswork about what it might look like in your home. Once you’ve chosen your tree, Elliott Tree Farm will put it through the baler for you and wrap it in their special candy cane netting. If you would prefer to venture out into the fields and cut your own tree, you can choose from blue, white and Norway spruce, or Caanan Fir.
Your day at the farm is not done once you’ve chosen your tree, though, for there is plenty more to see and do. The horse barn has been turned into a canteen, so on weekends you can have delicious homemade smash burgers and fresh-cut fries, with a side of hot chocolate. During the week, enjoy baked-goods made fresh in-house. “We’ve created a whole experience,” Farmer Derek says proudly. “I think, with what we’ve all been through in the last few years, people are looking for family experiences. This is the perfect time to come and enjoy with your family.”
To extend your visit, or to enjoy the delights of rural life all year round, Elliott Tree Farm offers a bed and breakfast experience. “We have two buildings on the property,” Derek says. “There is the 1850s settler’s cabin which is deep in our maple sugar bush, and there is the rustic beach house which is on our private pond. Each one comes with a continental breakfast of fresh-baked croissants and a ton of authentic ambience!”
New this year: The Maple Syrup Museum of Ontario
There is no question about it: Nothing is more Canadian than ooey gooey maple syrup. With roughly 80% of the world’s supply coming from Ontario and Quebec, maple syrup season is a time-honoured tradition here in York Durham Headwaters. In addition to being a Christmas tree farm, Elliott Tree Farm is also a maple syrup farm with its own sugar bush. This past year or so, Derek Elliott purchased the artifacts of the Maple Syrup Museum of Ontario, which had previously been in operation in Elmira, and the 1850 heritage barn at the farm has been transformed into the museum’s new permanent location. “We’ve recreated the whole story of this time-honoured tradition,” he explains. “We’ve got easy-to-read placards up, and the Indigenous, Pioneer and early modern artifacts are all set up to bring the rich history of maple syrup production in Ontario to life.”
The museum will be open during the Christmas tree season, from November 18th to December 23rd, and will open again during the maple syrup season from Family Day weekend through to April 7th, 2024. Tickets to the maple syrup experience can be purchased at the farm or online. If you book your tickets before Christmas, you can save $5 per person. Derek even suggests that these tickets would make a great idea for stocking stuffers. He says, “Rather than buying people stuff that will just get thrown in the cupboard, families are buying tickets to our Maple Syrup Museum as a Christmas gift. It’s a perfect reason to all get together again at maple syrup time and come back to the farm.”
For the team at Elliott Tree Farm, the impressive growth they’ve seen over nearly a decade in operation as a public destination has been worth it. Derek says, “We’re in the experience business, and people can come out here and unwind and really enjoy the Christmas and maple seasons. We’ve grown with the great support of the community, and we have a tremendous following. There are people who come back every year for our Christmas and maple experience, and we also have new people. We’re very fortunate to be able to offer this to everyone.”
Make your holiday season memorable with a fresh-cut tree this year. Elliott Tree Farm and the Maple Syrup Museum of Ontario is located at 9467 Erin East Garafraxa Townline, Hillsburgh, and is open for the holiday season daily from 9am to 5pm, November 18th to December 23rd.