Thursday, June 17, 2021

Live and Learn!

It is always interesting to visit a festival or event and to learn something new! That's what happened during our visit to a community show. One of the demonstrations featured at the show was a "Dog Show". Judi and I stopped to watch. The moderator was talking and demonstrating "canine obedience". Listening to the speaker made me start to think about our cute and cuddly English Springer Spaniel, Dusty and her obedience or, should I say her "lack of obedience"! What really hit home were the two puppies that were brought onto the stage. They were NOT very old! I couldn't believe how well trained and "obedient" they already were! I looked at Judi to say "I told you so..." She looked back at me and raised her eyebrows and casually said "Yes, dear, but ours has personality"! That was the end of our "dog" discussion! How does one argue with that kind of logic? And, who said "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"? I DID! 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Port Perry)

 During the past 14+ years Judi and I have visited almost 300 Ontario community festivals and events. The majority have been planned and managed by dedicated community volunteers. As a salute to these wonderful communities and their hard-working residents, I will be writing a series of blogs entitled “Great Ontario Communities”. These blogs describe the communities we have visited and will tell you about some of the interesting things we have experienced and the people we have met. The twenty second article is about Port Perry which is located north of Oshawa and about an hour drive from Toronto.

PORT PERRY - Located northeast of Toronto, Port Perry lies on the bank of Lake Scugog. Scugog is a man-made lake and is the result artificial flooding. As a result of the flooding, Scugog Island was formed. The island is now the home of the Mississauga First Nations. On the island are the Blue Heron Casino and the Scugog Shores Historical Museum and Archives. There is also a small but well-preserved Pioneer Village at the Museum. Judi and I visited the Museum a few years ago, for their Pioneer Fall Fair, and had a great time! The town of Port Perry itself is a major attraction destination for Greater Toronto Area visitors. It’s 350 plus merchants and stores offer visitors a wide variety of products. The main street of Port Perry radiates the charm of a "country village". Beautiful retail stores act as a magnet for tourists. Port Perry boasts some very fine restaurants for both visitors and residents to enjoy. Lake Scugog is the closest entry point from Toronto to the Trent-Severn Waterway. Navigating the Scugog River can be a harrowing adventure. Judi and I have traveled that route a number of times and can tell you, from first hand experience, that you have to be VERY careful! One time, when we were motoring up the river to Lindsay, we hit a “deadhead” that severely damaged our transom and propeller. The humiliation was further enhanced when we had to be pulled back to the marina by a small motor boat!

Port Perry’s most famous son is Daniel David Palmer, founder of Chiropractic. Palmer’s statue dominates Port Perry’s municipal park. Other famous Port Perry alumni include John Ross Roach and Frederick Whitecroft (NHL stars), Craig Russell (famous impersonator) and actress Emily Van Camp. If you are ever near the area, Port Perry is definitely worth visiting and exploring!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Port Hope) ~ Part Two

 Port Hope was also the home of The Great Farini (William Leonard Hunt) and Joseph Scriven. Joseph Scriven is best known for penning the hymn “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”. This is as a result of a letter he sent his mother. Scriven was born in Ireland and eventually immigrated to Canada. He lived and died in the Municipality of Port Hope.

William Leonard Hunt lived in the mid 1800’s and was one of Canada’s and perhaps the world’s most interesting characters. Hunt, or as he became better known as "The Great Farini", was everything from a "tight rope walker", to a "trapezes artist" and  to a "Circus performer trainer and manager". He managed people and businesses. He was a botanist and produced several new plants. He was an explorer, "discovering" the Lost City of the Kalahari Desert He was an inventor and is credited with inventing the "human cannonball", "folding theatre seats" and much more! And, he was a land owner. He once owned most land in Hope Township (now part of the municipality of Port Hope). In his later years he lived and died in Port Hope and is now buried in Port Hope’s Union Cemetery. You can learn more about “The Great Farini” by going to www.shanepeacock.ca  and about Joseph Scriven by going to www.josephscriven.org . Other famous Port Hope residents include Baseball pitcher and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, Paul Quantrill, artists, David Blackwood and writer, Farley Mowat. Port Hope is a great place to work and live and a special place to visit.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Port Hope) ~ Part One

 During the past 14+years Judi and I have visited over 300 Ontario community festivals and events. The majority have been planned and managed by dedicated community volunteers. As a salute to these wonderful communities and their hard-working residents, I will be writing a series of blogs entitled “Great Ontario Communities”. These blogs describe the communities we have visited and will tell you about some of the interesting things we have experienced and the people we have met. The twenty first article is about Port Hope which is located about an hour east of Toronto along Highway 401.

PORT HOPE - If you love antiquing, Port Hope is the town to visit! Known for having the "Best Preserved Main Street in Ontario", Port Hope boasts over 20% of Ontario’s Canadian Antique Dealers offering unique antique shops and a flourishing Architecture Conservancy. Port Hope is also home of the Capitol Theatre, Canada’s only surviving “atmospheric theatre”. Many of Canada’s best-known stars have performed there. Port Hope, located on the shores of Lake Ontario offers an idyllic way of life. Many seniors have escaped from Toronto and now call Port Hope their home. For many years Judi and I worked in Port Hope and enjoyed it immensely. Port Hope offers its residents and visitors great amenities including 2 golf courses, Ganaraska Forest and the Jack Burger Recreation Centre. Port hosts numerous festivals and events.

(To be continued in Part Two)

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Port Credit) ~ Part Two

 Port Credit...

On a lighter note, I spent many years enjoying all that the beautiful harbor, river and parks offered to Port Credit residents. We sailed out of the Port Credit Yacht Club for over 10 years, kayaked from the Mississauga Canoe Club, rowed with the Don Rowing Club, played organized baseball in Memorial Park, canoed up the Port Credit river to the Mississauga Golf course to collect golf balls from the river bed. (we sold them to the players for 25 cents each, A fortune at the time!), and we spent many wonderful winters cross country skiing on the river and skating on it till our hearts content.

In 1968 Port Credit amalgamated and became part of Mississauga. On its 10th anniversary Mayor Hazel McCallion, was presented with a “45 vinyl record”. On it was a song written about and dedicated to Mississauga by the famous country singer Tommy Hunter. Although I can’t play the record (no equipment) the tune is engrained in my mind. A while ago, the Festival Nomad and I visited the Mississauga Waterfront Festival held in Memorial Park located in the heart of Port Credit.  Port Credit” still hosts many wonderful festivals and events.


Friday, May 14, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Port Credit) ~ Part One

 

By Festival Nomad "Sidekick" and Partner, Judi McWilliams

During the past few years, the Nomad and I have visited almost 150 Ontario community festivals and events. The majority have been planned and managed by dedicated community volunteers. As a salute to these wonderful communities and their hard-working residents, we will be writing a series of blogs entitled “Great Ontario Communities”. These blogs describe the communities we have visited and will tell you about some of the interesting things we have experienced and the people we have met. The twentieth article is about Port Credit which now forms part of Mississauga.

PORT CREDIT - It is with many fond memories that I can write about the beautiful Ontario community of Port Credit. This is where I spent the majority of my childhood and where I “met up with” the Festival Nomad. Port Credit is located at the mouth of the Credit River on the north shore of Lake Ontario and is in the south-central area of the City of Mississauga. Earliest references to Port Credit date back to 1757 where it was once a fishing port and the regional trading centre for grain.  1882 saw its lighthouse built and it served mariners until 1918. It was destroyed by fire in 1936. The village, itself, was planned in 1834 and was a “police village” in 1909. It didn't become a “town” until 1961.

I have lived through two interesting stories. The first occurred with the Texaco Oil Refinery (1932-1985) tank “blow-up”! Talk about “Déjà vu"!  My memories of this are vague, although the massive number of flames and billowing black clouds remain vivid.  In my teenage years we lived in a high-rise condominium directly beside the train tracks.  It was a Sunday evening and our family were just sitting down to my mother's famous “roast beef dinners”.  The loud speakers from the fire trucks were bellowing out “leave immediately, get out now, evacuate now!.  My mother insisted that we finish our “dinner”, then we began to panic.  More and more police and fire vehicles came by, insisting we leave the area and evacuate immediately. This second "interesting story"! The "great Port Credit train derailment" had just occurred and there was a major chemical spill. At that point we tried to collect our two cats. With bleeding arms (on all of us) and the two terrified cats had "completely disappeared" and could not be collected. We hastily left the condo in tears and without our cats! We did not think to “pack” anything. We had zero provisions!  We had no idea that we would be “evacuated” for over 2 weeks!  We were eventually compensated for clothing and general expenses but it was a great stain anyway.  Fortunately, the humane society were able to obtain access to our unit and “checked on the cats” to ensure their well being. The cats were okay, but sadly, my mothers (over 200) plants had all died.  This happened not from lack of water but from the toxic odor that filled our unit.

(To be continued in Part Two)

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Great Ontario Communities Series (St. Jacobs)

 During the past 14+ years Judi and I have visited over 300 Ontario community festivals and events. The majority have been planned and managed by dedicated community volunteers. As a salute to these wonderful communities and their hard-working residents, I will be writing a series of blogs entitled “Great Ontario Communities”. These blogs describe the communities we have visited and will tell you about some of the interesting things we have experienced and the people we have met. The twentieth article is about St. Jacobs, located in the heart of Mennonite country.

ST. JACOBS - St. Jacobs is a quaint village located just north of Kitchener-Waterloo. It is a place that Judi and I love to visit whenever we are in the area. To me, the present-day St. Jacobs, although very interesting and still quite quaint, does not have the same feel as the St. Jacobs I visited so many years ago. The first time I visited St. Jacobs (about 1975), I was dazzled by the uniqueness of the village. St. Jacobs sits in a hollow, with both ends of the village slopping down towards the thriving village centre. Picturesque shops and restaurants line both sides of the main street. I first discovered St. Jacobs when I was living in Waterloo. A number of the people I worked with liked to go to St. Jacobs for lunch at the Stone Crock Restaurant. Back then it was visibly run by the Mennonites and the food was always fresh and lots of it! It wasn’t unusual to see Mennonite horse drawn carriages sauntering down the main street or tied up at one of the many hitching posts. The products, back then, seemed to be a little different in the types that they offered now. Most then, seemed to be hand made. Over the years I have continued to visit St. Jacobs and have noted the subtle changes. The Stone Crock became more commercial and I believe it is now owned by a corporation. The facility has been expanded and renovated, and the atmosphere and food remain warm and inviting. Judi particularly loves the restaurants fresh home-made raspberry pie, thick veggie soup and newly made sandwiches. St. Jacobs still is the home of picturesque older buildings. The Old Gristmill has had its silos converted into interesting shops offering a large variety of unique products. We were fortunate, years ago to acquire hand made pottery coffee mugs. We still use them today after all these years. Another addition to the village is the Benjamin Inn. Judi and I had the pleasure of staying there one weekend and enjoyed it immensely. South of the town, closer to Waterloo, is the fabulous St. Jacobs Farmers' Market. When I started visiting St. Jacobs, the Market was quite small and not that well attended. Now it has now grown and become one of the premiere attractions for the area. The Market grounds include not only the Farmers' Market but Factory Outlet stores as well. Close by a Best Western Hotel was built and now offers luxury accommodations for St. Jacob and Farmers' Market visitors. Other new businesses have come to the community and it is always fun and interesting to discover them. St. Jacobs is one of the many communities in Waterloo county and plays an integral part in attracting visitors to the area.