Frontenac County is blessed with picturesque country views, untamed wilderness, rugged Canadian Shield, and a myriad of lakes, rivers, and creeks. No wonder it’s the ideal haven for people and animals alike, and Carla Moore from Happy Tales Animal Sanctuary knows this better than most.

In 2013, Carla and her husband Harold relocated from Kingston to Harrowsmith, a small village in South Frontenac County. They were drawn to the quiet, rural setting for two reasons: to return to a country lifestyle reminiscent of their childhood, and because they required enough land to adopt farm animals. You see, providing a home to working animals beyond their prime – especially those who experienced abuse and neglect – was always the plan for the Moores. 

After finding the perfect property, equipped with a barn and a charming farmhouse, the couple started their mission of rescuing animals. Word spread quickly, with farmers throughout South Eastern Ontario surrendering old or injured livestock and animals they refused to send to slaughter. This includes chickens and turkeys, sheep and goats, pigs, rabbits and even alpacas; of course, no farm is complete without a few barn cats and dogs.   

Flash-forward to 2017, Happy Tales had grown in popularity and acquired plenty of residents, so Carla made the decision to register the farm as a non-profit charity. Now, it’s recognized as a sanctuary and rehabilitation centre for all animals, along with being a safe and inclusive educational environment for children with special needs and ill or injured Veterans.

“They [Veterans and children] come out here to work with the animals, and with all of our animals being surrendered to us or rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment, there is a unique kinship between them. It’s people helping animals helping people.”

Happy Tales is dedicated to teaching others about the humane treatment of animals, the impacts of animal agriculture on the planet and the advantages of compassionate living. Their goal is to help the community understand the hardships of mistreated animals, while also improving the quality of life for their rescues and the people who visit the sanctuary. 

A Pivot To Online Learning

During the pandemic, Happy Tales was forced to alter their typical day-to-day operations. This meant no longer accepting school and community groups, limiting volunteers and putting a halt to on-farm events. But that didn’t stop the Moores from continuing their selfless work. 

In collaboration with a few business students from St. Lawrence College in Kingston, they revamped their website and added an online educational portal. The portal is a database of resources, tools, activities and videos, and it’s a free space for children and adults to learn about plant-based lifestyles (including yummy meal recipes), how to be more environmentally conscious, and of course, the importance of treating animals with respect and dignity.

Carla also took it upon herself to increase Happy Tales’ presence on social media. She updates the farm’s Facebook page regularly, sharing videos and pictures to keep nearly 15,750 followers informed and engaged. Happy Tales’ Instagram page is just as popular – if you’re in need of a smile, the cuteness on their feed is undeniable! 

Looking Forward To Seeing People’s (And Animal’s) Faces Again  

Carla is hopeful for a return to normalcy in 2022, especially with donations dropping significantly since the onset of COVID-19. About 70% of contributions came from on-farm events, like their annual pancake breakfast, which attracts over 500 people from the surrounding communities. These events also help drive the local economy, with guests supporting other small businesses in the area and visitors from cities like Toronto and Ottawa booking accommodations at Airbnbs and local inns. 

With a lack of income, and without student workers or volunteers, Carla and Harold have had to limit their intake of new animals, too. But it’s not all doom and gloom at Happy Tales Animal Sanctuary. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The Moore’s have doubled down on caring for their current residents and conducted the odd restoration to the farm when time and resources allow. 

They are also incredibly thankful for the support that continues to pour in from the local community. Positive messages and phone calls are plentiful, cars honking as they drive by are a signal of encouragement and people are still donating what they can. 

As you know, every little bit counts; if you’re interested in contributing to the farm, Carla suggests the following:

  • Purchasing a 2022 calendar on the Happy Tales website or providing a monetary donation online;
  • adding funds to their account at Willows Agriservices, a feed store in Harrowsmith;
  • adding funds to their account at Sydenham Pet and Farm Supply, a pet store in the nearby village of Sydenham;
  • donating farm supplies and materials to help with restorations and upkeep; and
  • local farms can drop off leftover or unused greens and vegetables or hay bales. 

Of course, the Moores and their animals are eager to see individuals from near and far return to Happy Tales in person. Reconnecting with the community is their top priority, along with bringing back students, volunteers and Veterans who have found and will find a form of healing at the sanctuary. 

Carla also wants to host a large welcome back celebration at the farm, where everybody will have the chance to interact with the animals and each other. 

“Everyone wants to get out. They want to come back. We have a very, very faithful group of people who support and follow us local and not so local – we’re excited to open our barn doors again!”   

Until then, Carla encourages everyone to get out and explore the beauty of South Eastern Ontario, especially within Frontenac County. There’s so much to see and do, and the sense of community is truly heartwarming. “People care about each other,” says Carla. “It’s really a special place. Everyone wants to help each other, and it’s full of people who want to keep this area beautiful.” 

It’s a beauty you have to see for yourself. So next time you’re passing through the region, take a drive down Wilton Road in Harrowsmith and honk your horn as you go by Happy Tales Animal Sanctuary.  

To learn more about Happy Tales, including when the farm will reopen to the public, follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Or visit their website at