You'd never know Tim McLeod has only lived in Kamloops for five years. The Tranquille on the Lake project manager can rattle off family names, and dates, and facts about the property like a historian.
"Living here, why wouldn't you learn the history?" he said.
The property has been a farm, a tuberculosis sanatorium, an institution for the mentally ill, and even, briefly, the site of a rock concert.
Now it's being returned to its agricultural roots, at least in part, as the development project slowly moves forward to renew the long-neglected buildings and land.
This year, Tranquille's gates were opened to the public for farm-fresh produce sales and guided tours of the old buildings.
They rebuilt the barns and the people came, sometimes with stories or memories of Tranquille, often with kids in tow.
Selling vegetables and heritage wasn't enough. McLeod wanted to make it fun.
He watches market trends and had seen how farmers were building mazes to boost agri-tourism. Not just selling produce, but a little bit of production on the side.
"I was thinking about how we connect people to agriculture," he said.
McLeod has learned a lot about corn mazes in the past six months. Lessons he'll carry over into next year, when he plans his second maze.
He seeded a field with corn, five weeks late. He had no water system hooked up, but someone found an old fire hose and they drilled holes in it to make do.
The variety of corn he seeded on his two-hectare patch grew more than three metres high; he expected it to be two metres. He was supposed to cut the maze path when it was 15 centimetres high, not almost three metres high.
It required some inventiveness, like rigging a saw blade to a weed whacker to cut down the tall stalks, and using a road paver to pack down the path. By the way, road pavers don't corner well in corn mazes — another lesson learned.
It took hours to get the packing done, McLeod said.
What surprised him was how enthusiastic people were about the project. Land surveyors Underhill and Underhill, a company Tranquille on the Lake has been using for its development side, had volunteers step up to design and map out the actual maze.
As payback, McLeod insisted on incorporating the company's logo — a thick U shape — as the centre of the maze.
Diamond Lil's provided the road paver.
And if that generosity wasn't enough, McLeod went back to the companies he has been working with on the development project and asked them all to chip in money to cover the cost of busing so that groups of schoolchildren could visit.
All but one stepped up to the challenge, and 1,500 kids got to walk through the maze, he said.
The maze features posters with trivia questions that offer hints to the directions that should be followed. For example, one asks how many days the A Team movie was filmed at Tranquille. The answer is either 30 or 40 days — one response turns you to the right, the other to the left. Other questions give facts about corn.
There are two correct routes through the maze; one is 1.16 kilometres long, the other 1.56. The total length of the trails, for those who get lost, is 3.36 kilometres.
The design is based on a Roman maze, which usually has three or four segments that are connected to get through to the end. Even though he has been involved with the maze's creation, McLeod himself still gets lost inside.
Some people have made short cuts where the corn stalks have grown thin. McLeod said he'll be beefing up next year's maze so they can't do that.
And while the stalks do have full ears of corn still on them, he doesn't recommend eating them. The corn is a variety used for cow feed and frankly, it just doesn't taste that good.
McLeod never seems to stop planning. With the maze being such a hit this fall, he's looking at creating a Halloween themed event around it, probably on the weekend before Oct. 31.
He's also planning for next year. The maze location will move — the corn depletes the soil of nitrogen so much, it's best to find new fields every year — and it will be designed early. The path will be cut before the corn is knee high, not taller than the people cutting it.
He has heard of another farm that's planting a sunflower maze instead of corn. His eyes lit up at the thought of the possibilities of mixing it up on the planting side.
Kids aren't the only ones enjoying the maze. Adults have ventured in, some pushing babes in strollers, and seniors have checked it out, too.
McLeod is gratified to see people from Kamloops and beyond embracing Tranquille and everything he's trying to achieve there.
"This is a city asset," he said.
IF YOU GO
The corn maze at Tranquille on the Lake is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
There is also a plan to hold some Halloween themed events at the maze, so check out the Tranquille Farm Fresh web site at http://tranquillefarmfresh.ca/corn-maze/ for the latest updates.
Admission rates to the maze are: up to age 5, no charge; five to 12 or seniors, $6; 12 to adult, $8; family of four, $20.