Thursday, November 8, 2018

McLean Berry Farm

Every once in a while you meet someone who you consider extraordinary! Sam McLean is one of those people! It’s not that he is an outwardly figure. Actually, he’s not. If fact, he seems to be low key and unassuming (at least to me) However, he exudes a quiet confidence, especially when he talks about his farm and his family.
Sam was a cabinet maker, but not anymore. Now he is a “full-fledged” farmer and a successful entrepreneur!  Although Sam wasn’t raised as a farmer, he has farming in his blood. Both his grandfather and father were farmers, but not the young Sam. Sam was raised in Peterborough, but moved to Alberta as a young man. He and his wife Jane live there for a number of years. Sam liked it there, but Jane “convinced” him to move back home, Ontario and Peterborough. Once they had settled back in the area, Sam traded his cabinet making tools for farm implements. The McLean Berry Farm and the climb for survival were born! Sam and Jane purchased a neglected berry farm located between Lakefield and Buckhorn. There with their two children, daughter Erin and son Ben, they started to build their future. A mere mortal would have been happy just building a successful berry farm, but not our “hero” Sam! Yes, it all started with berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), but then it grew! More varieties of produce were added, sweet corn, peas, beans, potatoes. Eventually he out grew his own 25 acres and started to look for more. Today he now farms 100 acres (75 acres leased). They all contain everything from berries to corn and potatoes to tomatoes! You would think that this would be enough! Remember, this was all happening with two growing children and he and Jane were doing this all on their own! I can only imagine the long days and nights Sam spent building his dream! As the business grew other components were added, “Pick Your Own Berries”, a “Produce Store”, participation in “Farmers Markets” (3 of them, 2 in Peterborough and 1 in Toronto) and they host and run two festivals (one in the spring and the other in the summer)! And, I forgot to mention, they own a larger grove of Maple Trees. In the spring they tap the trees. They do it the old fashion way. They collect the sap with buckets. Sam feels it’s less intrusive. The two festivals I mentioned before are the Buckhorn Maple Syrup Festival and the McLean’s own Strawberry Festival. On top of all this, Sam sells a lot of his produce to local wholesale customers! Fortunately Sam and Jane’s children have grown up appreciating and loving farm life. His son, Ben, is now Sam’s “right hand man” and his helping his parents in their “golden years”! Erin, who has taken a year off to work and travel Europe will be back home mid-summer, to once again “crack the whip” at the Farmers Markets and to look after the McLean’s Country Store. With all this happening Jane will be looking after the family garden and making sure that Sam behaves himself! The dictionary defines “extraordinary” as “exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree, etc.; noteworthy; remarkable: extraordinary speed; an extraordinary man”. This certainly describes Sam and his family perfectly! The McLean’s and the McLean Berry Farm are a wonderful example of what drive, imagination and determination can do! If you love fresh produce, it certainly is worth the drive to Buckhorn and the McLean Berry Farm! You will be glad you did! To find out more about the McLean’s, check out their website at http://www.mcleanberryfarm.com/.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Artist’s Series – Susan Caron


This is the ninth in a series about Canadian artists I have known, and worked with.
Susan Caron’s artistic talents run in her family! Her Father was a graphic artist. Her mother was a gifted crafter as is her older sister. Her younger sister, actually her twin, is also a talented artist. As a matter of fact, I know her sister intimately! No, I am not having an affair! Sue and my Judi are twin sisters! Sue has dabbled in art for years. She initially started out creating architectural pencil sketches. From there she graduated to watercolours, mainly of local buildings. Then, a few years ago she was involved in an industrial accident that crushed her hand. After a long period of rehabilitation and absence from painting, she re-emerged. She had retrained herself to use her other hand and, her art was different! She had started painting with acrylics. Her art wasn’t as ridged as it had been before the accident. It now had flare, imagination and passion, and, she is now experimenting! One of her latest creations is of a line of music, the first few notes of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. On top of the stretched canvas and the painting, Sue has added blocks of clear glue. The effect is amazing! She calls the painting “Beethoven on Ice”!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Festival and Event News


What’s new? How many times have you asked that question of a friend or an acquaintance? A lot, I’ll bet! In the festival and event world this is a hard question to answer, for both visitors and organizers alike! That is why we have the Ontario Event Visited website (Ontario Event News). 
This website offers website visitors up-to-date community festival and event news. The news is mainly about Ontario community festivals and events and is gathered from a variety of sources. News items are added daily. The Event News section contains topical festival and event articles and opinions. 
We are hoping that readers will help us out by letting us know of anything news worthy. Simply e-mail the Event News to gary@ontariovisited.ca. Event organizers are welcome to send us information to keep us and our readers up-to-date! We hope that you will visit the Ontario Event News website often and that you will let us know “what’s new” with you!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Artists’ Series – James Lumbers


This is the eight in a series about Canadian artists I have known, and worked with.
We all have memories of “Days Gone By”! Some of my most vivid memories are from my childhood, both at our home in Thorncrest Village, Etobicoke and during the summer at the Matabanick Inn near Minden.
Canadian artist, James Lumbers has taken history and memories and made them into a series of wonderful “ghost” paintings. His unique style of painting shows today’s images while “ghosting” the past. For many years we featured James’ work in our fine art galleries. I was always touched by how people reacted to his paintings. Some of his most popular works included sports figures. They included Joe Montana, “Mr. Hockey – Gordie Howe” and “The Great One - Wayne Gretzky”. Everyone who came into our galleries had a favourite James Lumbers painting. My favourite was “As Time Goes By”. This painting depicted a Grandfather giving his Grandson his pocket watch.
Even though James Lumbers lived in close by Grafton, I never formally met him until I attended a Gallery Owners Advisory meeting at his offices in Toronto.  I must admit that my first meeting with such a famous and talented artist was quite intimidating. However, once the meeting began Jim made everyone welcome and at ease. Since that first meeting I have seen Jim and his wife Dalma at a number of art shows. The show we visit most frequently is at the Bayside Boutique and Gallery summer show near Buckhorn. Jim and several other artists, including our friend Mary Kendrick, showed their work at the Gallery during the Buckhorn Fine Art Show in August. This was a great time and place to meet James Lumbers and view his works.
For me, every time I see one of Jim’s paintings, I am taken back in time and a lump forms in my throat as I remember my past!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Toronto Harbourfront Centre


If you have never been to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, you have missed a lot of fun and entertainment! I first remember visiting the harbour front area when I was a young man working for my father. My family owned a successful insurance agency (now brokerage) in Toronto and one of our commercial customers had their offices in the old “Terminal Building” (now known as the Queen’s Quay Terminal). One of my assignments was to deliver papers to our customer. Although the building was built in 1926 and was used mainly as a “Cold Storage” facility, it was very impressive! It was also one of the main buildings along the waterfront! The area had yet to be developed. That came in the 1980’s when the different levels of government decided it was time for change. One of the first projects was the conversion of the Terminal Building to upscale stores and condominiums. This, along with the development of the Harbourfront Centre started the harbour front “revolution”! Other condos and hotels quickly started to appear. Now the area is alive with “lots to do” and the Harbourfront Centre leads the way! So far I have visited two of their events, the Toronto International Circus Festival (with my grandson Tyler) and the International Festival of Authors (with my friend Paul). Both were great events and I look forward to visiting many more. As a matter of fact, Judi and I have also visited Toronto’s waterfront, twice, for the amazing Redpath Waterfront Festival (it’s actually coming up in a few weeks). These are only one of the many fantastic activities that take place all year long! Check out their website for more information. (http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/)


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Free Stuff…


I haven’t seen too much “free stuff” at festivals lately! I guess I’m not surprised given the economy. I can remember years ago going to The Ex (Canadian National Exhibition) and bringing home lots of “free stuff”. It seemed like a lot back then, but I was just a kid, so anything “free” would have looked good to me!
However, the food court “goodies” were a different story, large cups of pop, candy bars and Tiny Tom donuts! Back then, that was how the food and drink companies promoted themselves. And, if they didn’t give their products away for free, the price was much lower then normal!
Of course, today, companies at industry shows do hand out some promotional items, but most aren’t that appealing! Well, I guess I should qualify that! Judi collects pens, so anyone who offers her a “free” pen, wins her heart! I like the more interesting promotions. I guess that is why I enjoyed the “business card” I received at the Lindsay Model Railway Show! We were just finishing our explorations when we came to a vendor who was selling model trains and train supplies. The store was called Hobbies and Beyond, from Lindsay. I stopped to say hello and to introduce myself. I do this when I find something interesting and I want to take their photo. We talked for a few moments and then I handed the lady my business card. In return I asked for one of hers. I need cards to remember who I talk with and to get their contact information. The lady came back with a small package sealed in a clear bag. Inside were three pieces of wood with instructions on how to put the wood together! It was a balsam wood glider! On the main wing of the glider was the store’s contact information! I was hooked! I thought if this is their business card, it must be a great hobby store to visit. The next time I am in Lindsay I am going to make sure I visit it!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Festivaling with Kids (Continued)


Last week I talked about how to prepare for going to a festival or event with your kid(s). In that article I discussed Preparing for a Festival. This week I want to talk about what to do at the festival or event.
Part Three – Being There
You have now arrived at your festival or event. How do you stay sane and enjoy yourselves? Good question, so here are a few suggestions that I hope will help!
·         Parking - With many festivals or events parking can be a problem. Thankfully a lot of larger festivals have off sight parking and a shuttle service. I would encourage you to take advantage of this service. The other alternative is to arrive at the event before it actually opens. By doing this you will likely find a good parking spot.
·         Boredom – Since kids generally get bored fairly easily, a little preliminary planning goes a long way! This goes for the trip to the festival and the wait time before some events. Bringing portable games, such as a game boy, cards, a colouring book or a ball, can help kids pass the time and keep them from become too bored.
·         Site Planning – Unfortunately many festivals don’t have great site maps or event schedules on their website, so some or all of your planning will have to take place at the event itself. What to look for? First, I think, where are the washrooms located? (A good suggestion for youngsters and “oldsters”!) Next find out where all the “kid’s” events and activities are taking place. Determine which of the events “time sensitive” is and which you and your family want to see. That way you can plan to leave enough time to arrive at each event early. Like the parking, getting to an event early will usually mean good seating. This will likely mean some “wait time”, but you have already thought of that (see above) because you have brought along something to keep the kids occupied!
·         Emergency Plan – Having an emergency plan in place is important. Once you get to the festival you should have a predetermined meeting spot in case you get separated. Everyone should know where it’s located and what the timing should be if separation occurs. In the case of younger children, a cellular phone number should be sewn or pinned to the youngsters clothing. This way if they get lost, someone can reach you by telephone. (Make sure you bring the phone with you!)
I am sure that there is a lot more that could be thought of. If you can think of any more suggestions, please let me know and I will include them in the next issue. Happy festivaling!