On July 1st of this year our 15 year old nephew became a soldier! No, he did not join the Canadian Armed Forces! He did, however, join his fellow students and their history teacher in a re-enactment demonstration at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival. Seeing him and the other young people becoming involved in re-enacting Canada’s past made me think of the thousands of men and women and their families who dawn period costumes each summer and fall weekend to become “living history”! As David Brunelle, one of the organizers of Wasaga under Siege (July 24-26), said to me, “It’s like taking your family on an ‘old fashioned’ camping trip!”, old canvas tents, open fires, boiled coffee, toasted marshmallows and spending quality time with people who have similar interests. Besides, who doesn’t want to play make believe, shoot muskets and wear neat clothing! All that being said, re-enactments and re-enactors play an important part in Canadian society. With the great number of new comers immigrating to our marvelous country, it gives them the opportunity to learn about
Canada’s history and why it is such a great country to live in. Re-enactments also help show how Canada and the United States became separate countries and how we eventually learned to live in peace together. Even if you are not a history buff, re-enactments are exciting and entertaining! The pageantry, colour and action all add up to a wonderful experience! Whether or not our nephew and his friends become further involved in re-enacting, at least they will have had a chance to experience “first-hand” a part of Canada’s history! My hat is off to his history teacher and all of those other adults who encourage our young people to take an active interest in living Canada’s past!
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
So here I was, standing on the bare deck of the Peerless II, as Randy described what he had already done, what was left to do and what it was going to be like when he was finished. Back on the Idyllwood, Randy showed me photographs of the restoration so far. As I said before, I couldn’t believe my own eyes! The work that had been done was incredible, and to think Randy was working alone during most of the restoration!
After a number of unforeseen delays, the PEERLESS II was launched and the “new” history of this unique ship began.
Several years have passed since the “restored” Peerless II’s first maiden voyage. Judi and I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a few Peerless II cruises on the Muskoka Lakes. As always, Captain Randy regaled passengers with endless tales of “Muskoka Lake facts and legends”.
It will be fun and inspiring to see what’s next for this amazing Muskoka Lakes pioneer!
Saturday, November 17, 2018
I would not have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes! A number of years ago, I drove to Bracebridge to meet Captain Randy Potts. Randy owns Sunset Cruises and the M.V. Idyllwood. The Idyllwood is a 40 foot 1920’s era yacht that was faithfully restored by Randy. He has the photographs and scares to prove it! It took Potts several years to complete the restoration, but the end result is a boat that any owner would be proud of! The Idyllwood, under the capable hands of Captain Randy cruises the Muskoka Lakes. Don’t let his youthful looks deceive you, he has been a licensed Captain for over 20 years and has been at the helm of some mighty impressive ships, including the famous R.M.S. Segwun. The Idyllwood accommodates 12 guests in refined luxury. When I traveled all the way to Gravenhurst, I did want to see the M.V. Idyllwood, but, frankly I was more interested in Randy’s restoration project, the Peerless II. For 49 years the Peerless II roamed the Muskoka Lakes, delivering gasoline and home heating fuel to the cottagers and residents of the lakes. In 1994 the Peerless II was taken out of service and sold to become a private vessel. Then in September of 2003, Captain Randy Potts and Sunset Cruises purchased the Peerless II. You would have thought that Potts’ experiences of restoring the Idyllwood would have made him think twice about taking on a project of this magnitude, but obviously that was not the case!
Thursday, November 8, 2018
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
Thursday, November 1, 2018
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
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
. 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. Toronto
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
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
and one of our commercial customers had their offices in the old “ ” (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
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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
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!
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Last week I started talking about going to a festival or event with your kid(s). In that article I discussed Choosing a Festival. This week I want to talk about preparing for your visit to the event.
Part Two – Preparing to Visit a Festival
How much preparation and what you need to know and do will depend on the age of your children and the type of event you are going to attend. So, many of the following ideas may or may not apply. Here is my “Kid Friendly Tips” checklist (in no particular order of importance):
· Stroller or Wagon – if you have a younger child or children, a stroller is a must. Carrying a tired child around a festival is not fun! For you or the child! Plus strollers can be used to carry other things, like a big stuffed panda bear you just won!
· Meal – most festivals offer the standard festival fair, hotdogs, hamburgers, sausages, French fries, cotton candy, etc. Plus it can be expensive. If you and you family are not into that type of food, prepare a picnic lunch that the whole family can enjoy. If bringing food is not an option, check out the areas for family restaurant before you enter the festival grounds.
· Water – bring bottled water (in a reusable bottle) is important in the hot summer months. Becoming dehydrated is not fun and can be dangerous to yours and your children’s health.
· Snacks – Many times you may have to wait for an event to start or your lunch is delayed. Having a few healthy snacks available will keep the children “at bay” and save you a ton of money!
· Entertainment – Again since there may be some periods of waiting between events, bringing a few toys for entertainment purposes might ward off some of the boredom. What you bring will depend on the interests of your child.
· Comfort – If you are going to a parade or an event where you will be sitting for a while, you might want to bring a cushion or folding chairs. A blanket would also be useful, either for warmth or for covering the ground. Bringing an extra empty fold up bag might come in handy to carry purchases or winnings.
· Extra Clothing – Packing extra clothing or layering is always a good idea. Accidents happen and changes of clothing are needed. The younger the child the more likely the “accident”. Also, weather can change in an instant. Cold weather can become warm. Warm weather to cold and sunshine into rain. I have learned this through bitter experience.
· Sun – Bring along sun protection, hats, sun block, sun glassed, lip cream, etc. even if it’s a cloudy day. Sun created illnesses are not fun and can be very dangerous!
· First Aid – You might want to take a small first aid kit with you, Band-Aids, Gravel, aspirin, Lysol wipes, etc.
· Festival/Events Information – If the festival’s website has a site map or a schedule of event or list of activities, you should print it off and bring it with you. (To be continued – see the June issue for Part Three, Being There)
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
With the economic times as they are, many families will exchange their expensive “away holidays” for less expensive “local excursions”. Many of these “local excursions” will be to festivals or events that are located close by. Because of this idea, I thought now would be a good time to write about kids and festivals. Most parents know how to “travel with kids” plus there are lots of articles about the subject. So, I won’t talk about “getting there”. Instead I’d like to discuss choosing “kid friendly” festivals and events, how to prepare for them and what to do when you get there. Because this is a fairly lengthy subject, I am dividing it into three parts, “Choosing”, “Preparing” and “Being There”.
Part One – Choosing a Festival
The best way that I know of, to find a “kid friendly” festival or event is through research. I think that the Internet provides the best tools for this research. Most festivals and events have websites. If they don’t, I feel sorry for them. Each website should show you what the festival/event is offering, things such as theme, activities, events, etc. This information should give you a good idea as to how “kid friendly” the event will be. For example, if the event is mainly arts and crafts, it may appeal to you but not to your kids! On the other hand, if it has a midway, music, animals and puppet shows, it likely will appeal to them. Price could also be a big factor, so check out the festival’s admission fees. Most festivals have reduced children’s rates. The distance you need to travel could affect your decision. If your children don’t travel well, long distances may eliminate some events. The festival website will hopefully give you a schedule of events and their times. This information will allow you to plan when to leave home so that you won’t miss any of the events you really want to see. If you don’t find all of the information you want from the website and you still want to go to the event, contact the event organizers by telephone or e-mail and get them to answer any questions you might have. If they don’t respond, it probably isn’t a festival you want to attend. After you have decided on which festival or event you are going to visit, preparation comes next. (To be continued – Part Two, Preparing to Visit a Festival)
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Going to a festival or event is very personal. Where you decide to go will depend on many factors, interests, location, costs, dates, etc. Finding out about festivals and events can be frustrating. Most people want to get value for money spent. Word of month is probably the best way to find out about an event. It’s also a great way to evaluate an event, especially if you trust the person who makes the recommendation. We hope that you use Ontario Festivals Visited as a source. We are always glad to share our experiences. Unfortunately we can’t visit every festival or event in
(we wish we could), but there are over 3,000 of them! So, to help you choose, I
am going to give you some tips. These are some of the techniques Judi and I use
to make our choices. Ontario
- Event Calendars – There are a number of event directories available on the internet. Here is where you can find three of them: Ontario Visited (http://www.ontariofestivalsvisited.ca/); Festivals and Events Ontario (http://www.festivalsandeventsontario.ca/) and Ontario Tourism (http://www.ontariotravel.net/). We check these first to find festivals or events that we might be interested in visiting.
- Festival/Event Websites – Most of these calendars have direct links to the different festivals/events that are displayed. So if you find an event that you are interested in, you can go and check out their website.
- Review Website – Most website will give you enough details to tell what kind of festival or event it is. Information like costs, location, dates and activities. One note of caution, make sure that you are looking at a current site. Many festivals don’t keep their sites up-to-date or have a different site for each year. Some festivals cancel their event but don’t delete their website. Believe me, it can become very confusing if you don’t pay attention to what you are reading.
- Bad Weather – Check the website to see what there weather policy is. If it is an outdoor event, does it run, rain or shine? Many festivals include this information on their website. If not, you might want to check with the organizers. This was especially true last year with all the awful weather we experienced.
- Contact Organizers – Where you have any doubt, contact the organizers. Most websites include contact information, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, etc. If they don’t include this information, I would be very leery of going to the event. There many be nothing wrong, but!
- Internet Articles – Using the Search Engine, “Google” (http://www.google.com/), can be very helpful. If you go to “Google” and type in the name of the festival or event you are interested in, the list that Google gives you should not only include the festivals/events website, but will likely include a list of people who have visited the event and have written about it. These articles will give lots of information, good and bad, about the event you are researching. I always read the articles, especially the negative ones, with a “grain of salt”. Anyway, they will at least give you a sense of the event.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
You know how when you first meet someone, you instinctively know whether or not you are going to become friends! Shawn King was one of those people I instantly knew was going to become a friend. It started like any other meeting. A company had purchased the hosting company I was working with and Shawn work for the takeover company. He was in charge of servicing (and calming) the acquired customers. I was one of those who needed calming and Shawn met the challenge! This all happened when I was first establishing my Ontario Festivals Visited website. Frankly, during those first shaky days he went far beyond normal customer service!
Since those first days he has helped me wind my way through the maze called the internet! Shawn’s expertise is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. He has made a study of how best to optimize websites to obtain maximum results! He has taught me what to look for and how to overcome obstacles. This has helped the Ontario Festivals Visited website become one of the top 3 – 4 websites for the keywords,
Ontario festivals and festivals and
events, on all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN). Our traffic
count has also gone up steadily. Ontario
And over this time, Shawn and I have become friends, so much so that we are now partnering on several projects. Judi’s fine art website (http://judimcwilliamsfineart.com/) was one of them, but the one closest to my heart is the restructuring of the Ontario Visited Websites. We are working, right now, to make the site the best festival and event website in the world! A tall and daunting task I know, but one I feel worthwhile and, better yet, achievable! The next few years will tell the tale, but with friends like Shawn, who can miss!
Thursday, April 12, 2018
This is the sixth in a series about Canadian artists I have know, and worked with.
Many years ago, friends introduced Judi and me to the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival (now known as the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival) (website: http://www.buckhornfineart.com/) and to the Gallery-on-the-Lake (website: http://www.galleryonthelake.com/). Judi and I were living in
at the time. Little did I know then how closely we would become linked to the
Festival and Gallery and Edwin Matthews. Edwin was the founder of the festival
and owner/creator of Gallery-on-the-Lake. Our relationship started as visitors
to both the festival and gallery. It quickly grew to purchasers/art collectors
and then, ultimately to representatives of Edwin’s fine art publishing company,
Buckhorn Publishing. Edwin was not only a fine artist, but an astute
businessman! He built both the art gallery and the publishing company from the
ground up. Both became very successful businesses. The energy around the art
business to the early to mid-1980 was electrifying and Ed made the most of it. Anytime
we visited Ed and the Gallery, the Gallery was a “beehive” of activity! During
the years, the Gallery-on-the-Lake was a destination attraction and seemed to
be always teeming with enthusiastic visitors! Barbara Matthews (Ed’s wife) and
her staff ran the gallery with quite efficiency. At the back of the Gallery
were the Buckhorn Publishing offices. Edwin’s own office overlooked scenic Mississauga . Whenever I visited
the offices, I was with a friendly greeting from Ed’s longtime assistant, Penny
Beliveau. The publishing company represented many great artist, including
Michael Dumas, Edwin himself, Terrence Andrews, Mary Kendrick and, later, in Lower Buckhorn
Lake , Terry
Redlin. One of my favourite memories of Edwin, was taking an art class from
him. Ed convinced Judi and I to join one of his art classes and take a lesson
from him. Ed was an excellent teacher and walked us through the different
stages of developing a painting, from preparation to framing the finished
piece, he taught us all phases. This even included going out to a field
location and sketching a scene. Most of his class, Judi included, had painted
before, but this was my first (and last) attempt. Ed patiently helped me and I
ultimately completed my painting. It may not have been a masterpiece, but it
was mine and I hung it proudly in my home for many years. What the lessons
really gave me were a greater appreciation of art and artists. Something that
has given me a great deal of pleasure for over 25 years! Unfortunately, over
the years, circumstances change. Edwin and Barbara eventually decided to retire
and they sold both businesses. Edwin has stayed close to the art business since
his retirement but now, due to age and ill health he has slowed down from the
art scene. His legacy, however, lives on. In 2007, the 30th
anniversary of the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival. Edwin was honoured for his
contribution to both the festival and the community of Buckhorn. A tribute
fitting for a man dedicated to promoting and improving his craft! Canada
NOTE: Since this article was written, Edwin has passed away. We will miss him.
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
My earliest memory of the Stratford Festival was when I was a kid in public school! Just getting there was a big adventure! My school friends and I excitedly boarded the school bus and then we were off! Back then it seemed like a really long trip, but in reality it was only a few hours. I don’t remember much about the play we saw. I am sure it was one of Shakespeare’s. I do, however, remember the box lunch we were served! I know that all the kids really liked it. I had never experienced anything like it. Over the years I have been back to
and the Stratford Festival many times. Stratford
is one of my favourite places to visit. The downtown area is very quaint and
the Stratford area is beautiful. Festival Park forms the centre of the park with
the Festival Theatre overlooking it. The white swans floating effortlessly
across the water add to the park’s peace and majesty. There are plenty of
options if you decide to stay overnight, from Bed and Breakfasts to Quaint Inns
and everything in between. Of course, staying overnight means “going to the
theatre”! The Festival was founded by Tom Patterson in 1953 and has had some of
Victoria Lake North America’s finest actors perform there. While
the Festival’s primary mandate is to present productions of William
Shakespeare’s plays, it also products a wide variety of other types of plays.
This year’s (2009) plays include A
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth,
Westside Story and The Importance of Being Ernest. There
are some 14 plays in all. A far cry from when the Festival first started. The number
of theatres has increased, as have the number and types of plays. If you enjoy
traveling to interesting places and want to experience one of North America’s
and the Stratford Festival is a must! To find out more, visit the Festivals
Website at http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
This is the fifth in a series about Canadian artists I have know, and worked with.
Glen was sitting at the kitchen window of a friend’s home. The window overlooked a large backyard. There were a number of mature trees in the backyard with one fairly close to the window. The owners of the home were very generous with tossing out bird seed. As a result the backyard had become aGlen has been painting as long as he can remember, a child prodigy. Glen has always been an innovator. He was one of the first artists to offer limited edition prints. As a pioneer in this area, he opened the doors for many artists to prosper. Even President Ronald Reagan benefited from Glen’s talents. As a thank you from Canadians, Glen presented the President Reagan with a wonderful painting of a Bald Eagle. While President Reagan was in office, the painting hung proudly in the White House. Today it hangs in the Reagan Presidential Library in
for song birds! As we sat at the window a bright red Cardinal flew onto a
branch close by. Glen already had pencil and paper in hand and was quickly
sketching the morning guest. The details and animation of the bird were
incredible. I watched with a new appreciation of Glen’s talents! This is likely
my most vivid memory of my time with Wildlife Artist, Glen Loates. To me Glen
is the epitome of a true renaissance man! He not only draws and paints to
perfection. He writes novels and screenplays. He is a talented sculptor. He is
an avid collector of many things and he is an explorer of some note. His
knowledge of the world is child-like in that he needs to know everything. He
has an insatiable curiosity of the world around him. Perhaps that is why he
jumped at the chance to join the search for the “Giant Squid”! He is one of the
few people who have traveled to the depths of the ocean. His account and renderings
of the wondrous creatures he saw leave one breathless! In their ugliness, he
sees beauty! In their bizarreness, he sees humour! In their world, he sees
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
This is the forth in a series about Canadian artists I have known, and worked with.
Mary Kendrick, like her art, is timeless! Judi and I have known and admired Mary for over 20 years. Over that period of time, Mary has remained the same, talented, modest and, most importantly, our friend. Over the years we have visited Mary at her home in
Essex, hosted her at our home in Cobourg, purchased a
number of her originals and taken art lessons from her! I guess what I am
trying to say is that Mary has been an important part of our lives for many
years. We really got to know Mary best when we convinced her to participate and
exhibit at the first Cobourg Waterfront Festival. We lured her by promising to
host her while she was in Cobourg. That was the start of a tradition that
lasted over 15 years. I can’t remember how many good laughs we had during those
stays! For many years Judi’s Cobourg Festival booth was next to Mary’s. The
wisdom and friendship just kept on building! To say that Mary is modest would
be an understatement. I believe that she is one of ’s best floral artists. Her
works are collected by people from all over the world. While she was exhibiting
at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival, she was consistently in the top 5 for
sales. The same applied while she exhibited at the Buckhorn Fine (Wildlife) Art
Festival. Mary has slowed down a little now, but her work is still as wonderful
as ever and, I might add, much sought after. Canada
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
This is the third in a series about Canadian artists I have known, and in this case, married.
Judi McWilliams is one of those artists whose art triggers the imagination. As a result, collectors from around the world have purchased her paintings! Judi has had a love and flare for art ever since she was a little girl. As a matter of fact, her father was a graphic artist and her mother and sisters were very crafty! Her twin sister, Sue Caron, exhibits her acrylic paintings locally. Judi’s and my first real foray into the world of art was our visit, so many years ago, to the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival! We met so many wonderful artists at the festival and I am sure that many of these artists inspired Judi and caused her artistic passions to flow! A few years after our first art show, we entered the art world ourselves by becoming sales agents for Edwin Matthews and Buckhorn Fine Art Publishing. Eventually this led to our owning two fine art galleries and a wholesale custom framing business. By immersing herself in the art world, Judi discovered the infinite opportunities to pursue her own artist talents. Although Judi has tried several mediums and styles, she always comes back to free flowing watercolours! She likes the immediacy of the watercolours and by using her unique techniques, they seem to have a mind of their own! The images and subjects she paints come from reality, but are translated onto paper through her imagination. Over the years Judi has participated in many fine art events and festivals. She is always amazed and appreciative of how people enjoy her creations!
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Several years ago Judi and I were involved with the founding and organizing of a new festival in Port Hope. We wanted to create a festival theme that would be specific to Port Hope. We found that theme in the form of William Leonard Hunt or, as he became known worldwide, the Great Farini!
Hunt, or Farini, was a larger than life character who roamed the world in the mid to late 1800’s. From tightrope walking over the Niagara Falls to inventing the Human Cannonball and beyond, Farini’s career was nothing short of spectacular! In order to find out more about Farini and his life and feats, we turned to Canadian author and Port Hope native, Shane Peacock! Shane’s book, “The Great Farini”, is the definitive reference book when it comes to William Leonard Hunt. The Farini Festival only ran for 3 years, but Shane’s input allowed us and the whole community to celebrate the extraordinary life of one of Port Hope’s favourite, but largely forgotten, sons!
Over the years I have gotten to know and appreciate Shane’s many talents. His ability to “spin a yarn” is second to know one! The Farini biography could have been staid and stuffy, but that’s not Shane’s style, nor was it Farini’s! Instead the book was a wonderful tail of mystery, intrigue and adventure. Shane’s attention to accuracy and detail is amazing. Since writing the Farini book in 1995, Shane has taken on many other challenges. His play about another Port Hope native, Joseph Scriven who wrote the Hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” played for two seasons at the 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook. Other works have included several children’s novels. His newest are sure to become classis. They are about the “Boy Sherlock Holmes” and are rich in detail and mystery. Although I purchased the first two in the series for my Grandson, I couldn’t miss that opportunity of reading them first myself! They were both a great read and I can’t wait until Shane brings out the next book! It’s great to know that Canada breeds such amazing authors!
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
This is the second in a series about Canadian artists I have known and, in some cases, have worked with.
Michael Dumas, too many, is known as an “artist’s artist”. The first time a saw Michael’s art was at the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival (now the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival). Back then I didn’t know much about art or Canadian artists. Judi and I had been invited to visit the festival with friends who lived in
and it was our first “ART FESTIVAL”! Little did I know
then how involved we would become in the “World of Art”! But that is another
story! At the time I was working in Peterborough
for a real estate relocation company. Judi and I went back to the festival in
subsequent years and got to meet many of the participating artists along the
way. One of the artists we got to know a little was Michael Dumas. Years
later I contracted to work for Buckhorn Publishing, Michael’s publisher! It was
there that I got to work with and know Michael much better. At first I was very
intimidated, but as I got to talk with Michael, I began to realize that he was
not only a fabulous artist, but a wonderful and caring person. The number of
organizations that have benefited from his generosity is immeasurable! Toronto
I guess the time I got to know Michael best was when we were promoting a fundraising program for Canada Parks. Buckhorn Publishing and Michael developed a print program for the “Friends” of Canadian Parks, through their association, the “Canadian Parks Partnership”. Several of Michael’s art originals had been reproduced into “art print packages”. These packages were going to be sold
wide and featured in Park gift stores. The proceeds were going to be donated to
the Park Partnership. Since I had been involved with the promotion of the
program, I was asked to accompany Michael to Canada
for the “Grand Unveiling” by the then
Minister of Natural Resources. Because of airline pricing rules, Michael and I
had stay in Banff, Alberta
a few extra days (a real hardship!). During that time I really got to know
Michael and how he functioned as an artist. I can remember taking our rental
car on some of the areas back roads. While I was driving, Michael was observing
and pointing out various animals and their habitat! He instinctively knew where
to look and what to look for! Occasionally he would ask me to stop the car. He
would jump out of the car with his camera and take many photos. A number of
times he showed me animals tracks that were near invisible to me but obvious to
him! The trip certainly made me realize that the creation of a wildlife image
was much more than just sitting down to draw! For Michael it has always been
much more than that! Observation is second nature to him and his attention to
detail is a legendary! Banff
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Some time ago I wrote a Blog article called “Attention Animal Lovers”. In the article I described how well animals and festivals went together. Very few animal attractions create the attention that the Ken Jen Animal Stars and Petting Zoo does! Owner Ken LaSalle and his wife have put together a magical mix of lovable animals. The animals are hand raised from babies and are completely tame for children to freed and pet. Each animal has its own name and personality! In addition to petting zoo animals, Ken has a full “stable” of animal stars! His friends (the animal stars) have appeared in many movies, commercials and TV programs. Here’s a short list. “Sassy” the Zebra starred in the MacGyver series. “Tony” the “Kissing Llama” is world renowned for kissing the Duchess of York. I wonder if Ken also tried to get in on the action?! These are just two of Ken’s long list of “Animal Stars”! I can remember meeting Ken some 15 years ago. We were holding the Great Farini Festival in Port Hope and the Ken Jen Petting Zoo was participating. Ken’s truck rolled up, on time, to our location in Port Hope. Ken and his staff quickly set-up the Petting Zoo. Their attention to detail and their professionalism was amazing! He delivered what he promised and more, and once the festival was over and Ken had left, the area where the Petting Zoo had been was spotless! Animals certainly do go well together with festivals and so does Ken LaSalle and his wonderful Ken Jen Petting Zoo!
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Many of the festivals Judi and I visit feature the art of
fabulous artists. We have had the pleasure of knowing and working with many of
them. They are all different and yet, they all have one thing in common, their
passion for their art! To honour our art community, I am going to write about
some of the artists I have known and relate a few personal anecdotes about
them. I am calling it the “Artists Series”
and it will run frequently over the next several months. The first artist to be
featured is portrait artist, Eddie
LePage. Although Eddie is known he his wildlife portraits, his native
portraits are outstanding and grace the homes of many collectors. I am starting
with Eddie simply because I know him the best. We have been friends for over 20
years! When I was in the custom framing business he was the first artist to
trust me with his framing. This was a big step considering I had just started
my own framing company and was a real rookie at it! He liked my ideas and
instincts and we formed a great team for many years. With Eddie you always know
when spring has arrived because Eddie became hard to reach during the daytime.
He was working on his other passion, golf! Eddie starts golfing in the spring
and finishes in the fall. He only lets up in August to prepare for the Buckhorn
Fine Art Festival. Only once have I been able to reach him on the golf course
by cell phone and I am pretty sure that was a mistake! I too love golf, but not
to the same extent as Eddie. We have golfed together in a few tournaments and
when we partner, we almost always win a prize! Believe me this is his doing,
not mine! Eddie has a natural talent for both golf and art. The only difference
is that he earns his living as an artist! Eddie’s animal and native portrayals
are timeless. He captures the essence of each subject he paints. That is why he
is one of Bradford Exchange’s bestselling artists and why so many wildlife
conservation groups choose his art to use in their fundraising programs. Canada
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Over the last 11 years, we have had the privilege of visiting the Lang Pioneer Village Museum a number of times. It would have been more, but for a flat tire that was caused by a safety pin stuck through the inside sidewall of our back tire! I quickly discovered that you can’t repair a tire with a hole in the sidewall, but that is another story! Every time that we have visited the village I have discovered something new! During our first visit to Lang’s Christmas by Candlelight, we saw Christmas gifts being made at the Fitzpatrick House and how pioneer Christmas was spent in the Fife Log Cabin. At the Keene Hotel we tasted hot chocolate and homemade cookies. At the
we sang old time Christmas Carols. At the South Lake Schoolhouse my grandson
made a homemade “Cracker”! We experienced a horse drawn sleigh ride, wandering
carolers and gingerbread man cookie face decorating. On another visit, Judi and
I learned about the fur trade in Canada at the Lang Pioneer Village’s Fur Trade
Re-enactment. While we were there we heard some great music played by “Hardtack
and Harmony”. At the re-enactment we also learned how to paddle a
canoe, build a Tipi and smoke a goose! We saw many pioneer crafts including
jewelry making, rock collecting, ironworks, knitting and more. And, I got to
explore the village in the daylight! At another event, Dine and Shine, we
tasted fabulous steaks prepared by 8 of the area’s best chefs. During dinner we
heard the old time music of Sheesham and Lotus. Their playful approach to old
time music was captivating. After dinner, rifle and cannon shots sounded the
start of the Shine portion of the event. Once again I was able to experience
the village by candlelight. As we walked through the village buildings, we felt
the warmth and charm of the village and its volunteers. Lang Pioneer Village Museum
is a magical place, where “history comes alive”! Douro Town Hall