Growing up in the Northwest Territories, every year my brother and I enviously beheld CBC TV specials that divulged what Thanksgiving was really supposed to look like. Pumpkin patches, tractor rides and fantastic fields of corn. T’was all a remarkable fantasy equal to living in Candyland in our opinion. During the seven years that I lived on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, I wasn’t in mommy-ville yet, and a visit to a pumpkin patch just never happened. Once I did start poppin out the bambinos, we were back up north again. Well, north enough to not have any corn tall enough for me to get lost in anyway.
Last year when I heard about McNab’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch , I immediately planned a day there for my kids. Lies, lies, lies! It was all for me! To fufill my lifelong Charlie Brown inspired fall fantasy of wandering blissfully through fields of corn twice my height, then meandering over to a field brimming with pumpkins of every shape and size. Hey, everybody has a dream. What I’ve discovered is, I am not alone.
Although many of you lucky ducks grew up with orange-hazed memories of pumpkin picking pleasures, there are just as many people like me! Murray McNab hit on a winning combination when he came up with the idea to turn the family farm into such a splendid destination. Realizing that people were traveling up to Comox or down to Victoria just so their kids could go on a hayride, run through the corn and hand-pick their pumpkins, he decided to bring the experience closer to home. A short 20 minute drive from Nanaimo out to the pastoral perfection that is Cedar, you’ll find the jewel of the autumn season.
Raised on a farm, the six McNab sibs realize they took for granted how cool it was to ride a tractor, harvest your own snacks and muck about in the mud with piglets. Those experiences are often denied to “city kids”, Bruce McNab shared. He feels the ‘magic’ is really in the pumpkin patch. Remembering the lengths he went to for his own to young daughters to see a pumpkin field, he loves watching the pleasure that kids get from hauling their pick home!
The farm has been in the family since 1962, but it wasn’t until 2000 that they turned it into the Corn Maze. It is still a family business, with all six siblings sharing in various responsibilities related to the operation. Each of them busy with “real jobs”, they have made a significant commitment to bring the experience to Island families every season. After you visit, you realize that it’s a labour of love. The maze alone is crazy fun; searching for stations, climbing up the tower for a birds-eye view, feeling completely discombobulated! The wagon ride to the huge pumpkin patch is filled with anticipation. I was with two university students, two teens and three little’s last year and it took them FOREVER to decide, but it was great fun. The whole atmosphere is filled with fall fun and cider scented good things.
We are headed there again this afternoon, not sure who is more excited…me or the kids. Aaahhhhh, yah, it’s me. Not sure if I am brave enough to take in the Night maze that they offer from October 28th-31st, but I have a feeling a few of my older children might be tempted. If you are not sure where to find them, just follow the Yellowpoint road to 4659! They are open 10am to dusk, seven days a week up until Hallowe’en. Call 250-245-0666 for any additional information, they’ll be happy to answer your questions. You can find their Facebook page here, with lots of great info! One thing they did request is your patience with parking. The maze has increased in popularity so quickly…they haven’t been able to meet the demand for parking, but never fear, they are working on it! My tip is definitely bring your rubber boots, with so many people trampling through the paths…it can get pretty mucky out there! Of course the kids LOVE it!
Once you have your pumpkins picked out Sigrid McNab even shared the ‘Official Pumpkin Pie’ recipe with me, yowza! You didn’t think I’d do an interview without a recipe did you? It may be too late for your Thanksgiving dinner, but there is no reason you can’t enjoy more pie while the pumpkins are sweet 🙂
McNab Corn Maze Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients: (yields two pies)
- 4 eggs
- 2½ cups cooked ‘sugar pie’ pumpkin
- 1½ cans evaporated milk
- 1 cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp each: allspice, ground cloves, cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 425°
- Blend all ingredients together in a blender
- Pour into a pie shell
- Bake 15 minutes at 425°, then 30 minutes at 350°
- Pie is done when knife comes out of centre cleanly
If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you may never be found. ~Author Unknown