In 1951 our wonderful woodlot was certified by the Canadian and Ontario Forestry Association and became the very first "Tree Farm" in Ontario. Our founder, Reg Drysdale, was recognized and named to the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1967, as the pioneer of the Ontario Christmas tree industry. Drysdale's Tree Farms have supplied Christmas trees to Canada's Governor Generals eight times and have twice been honoured by being named Champion Christmas Tree Grower in all Canada by the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association.
The Drysdale Family is very proud to dedicate this beautiful Ballantrae area tree farm to perpetual public ownership and have it become part of the York Regional Forest through the Environment Canada Eco Gift Program. This donation will ensure that the thousands of families who have happy memories of coming here to cut their annual Christmas tree will always be able to walk the beautiful trails, observe the abundant wildlife, and enjoy the woodlands that four generations of Drysdale family members have worked hard to establish, nurture and care for.
The Drysdale Family, December 31, 2013
Cold winds blew snowy whispers, reminders of Saturday's blizzard, as the enchanted view at Drysdale's Tree Farm lay before us. This is quite simply my favourite of Mother Nature's canvasses. Balsam, spruce and scotch pine wore thick gloves of white insulation on their branches. Like the skirts that surround our Christmas trees at home, fluffy white drifts decorated the base of trees. Steam escaped from the Hot Chocolate Hut, hung in the air then lifted and swirled, caught in a gust of icy winds. Bundled up in multiple layers and wearing heavy gloves, warm snow boots, and big scarves as shields against the frgid winter air, we grabbed tree saws heading for the woods.
Four generations. Forty-five years of annual visits to Drysdale's Ballantrae Tree Farm. Memories are made of this. Sadly, today was to be our final visit and the last day "our" tree farm would be open for Christmas trees before it would become part of the public domain and the York Regional Forest. When traditions in life change shape, nostalgia, for me, automatically ensues. This morning was to be a nostalgic last visit. "A chance to savour" as Matthew announced. And Mother Nature could not have gifted us with a more appropriate or beautiful day. Did she somehow empathize with how we felt? Savour we did. A hike through fluffy knee deep snow drifts, snow angels made, a tractor ride to the far rear fields, trees cut, hot chocolate consumed, and special photos taken.
Thank you Drysdale family. Thank you for so many treasured Christmas memories. No matter how far in the future, whenever I watch the twinkling lights of our tree illuminate our family room, I will fondly remember our annual Christmas tree hunts in Ballantrae.