Thursday, December 31, 2020

Nomad’s Top Ten Festival Tips (Part 1)

 Over the years Judi and I have discovered a number of festival tips. Many of these have been learned through the “School of Hard Knocks”! Although I have mentioned a number of these in various articles, I thought I would present them again in this “Top Ten” list.

  1. CHECK THE FESTIVAL’S WEBSITE – Most festivals and events now maintain a website. If you are planning on visiting a festival or event, this is the best place to start. On the festival’s website you should be able to find out important information such as festival dates and times, exact location, costs and activities.
  2. PRE-PLAN YOUR ROUTE – Nothing can be more frustrating then getting held up on the highway because of a traffic jam! Having an alternative route plan can help eliminate or minimize “traffic frustration”. The “Google Map” is the festival visitors’ best friend. Judi and I use it all the time. By using their “Get Directions” feature, you can find and print plenty of alternative routes. And, who knows, the alternative route will likely be a lot more adventuresome and fun then the direct route!
  3. DEVELOP A CHECKLIST – Having a festival/event checklist can make visiting an event more enjoyable, especially if the visit includes children! Forgetting something important can be quite bothersome, if not downright annoying! No-one likes to have to turn back the retrieve an important item! Planning what you need, in advance, cuts down the chance of this happening. Once you have created your initial list, you can use it for all the festivals and events you plan to visit!
  4. BRING A FRIEND - If you enjoy visiting festivals and events as much as Judi and I do, you’ll likely want to share the experience with your family and friends! When you are deciding what festival or event you plan to visit, ask around to see who else would like to go with you. If not your family or friends, consider asking a “senior” to go with you. “Spread the festival joy and fun!”
  5. PACK A PICNIC LUNCH – Not all festivals and events have a wide selection of nutritious food. If you are concerned about this, pack a picnic lunch. This way you can choose food that is appealing to the whole family and you’ll likely save a little money in the process! As Judi keeps reminding me, “Don’t forget the sanitary wipes to clean your hands!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Campbellford)


During the past few years Judi and I have visited over 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, 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 fifth article will be about Campbellford, located along the banks of the Trent River.

CAMPBELLFORD – This is one of the most picturesque towns along the Trent-Severn Waterway. As you enter Campbellford from the south on County Road 30, you encounter a long park strip that is nestled between the county road and the waterway. Follow the park (Old Mill Park) far enough and you come to the downtown area plus you will be greeted a giant replica of the Canadian “Toonie” (two-dollar coin). Campbellford is the hometown of the Toonie’s creator, internationally collected artist, Brent Townsend. In the summer, the park is a beautiful place to stop and have a picnic lunch! Judi and I try to do this a least twice a year. As you can probably tell from my enthusiasm, Campbellford is a wonderful place to visit (and live)! There are lots of interesting shops in the downtown area including Bennett’s Furnishings and a “to die for” bakery! I can still feel the “sugar rush” from their decadent donuts! Nearby, “must see” attractions include Westben Arts Festival Theatre and Ferris Provincial Park. Westben Arts Festival Theatre is renown for its “World Class Music and its Wide Open Countryside”. The following is an excerpt from their website. “Bringing culture and nature together in perfect harmony, the magnificent 400-seat timber-frame barn opens onto a lush meadow, surrounded by the gently rolling hills of Northumberland County.” and The stage hosts an incredible array of renowned Canadian and international artists, from full symphony orchestras & choruses to chamber music and soloists.Ferris Provincial Park is located just outside of Campbellford. Its trails are open summer and winter. The 300-foot-long suspension bridge, 30 feet over the Ranney Gorge, gives all its visitors an adventure to remember! So, whether it’s picnicking along the waterfront, shopping in the downtown or visiting on of the town’s terrific festivals or attractions, Campbellford is a “must” visit!

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Buckhorn)


During the past few years Judi and I have visited over 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, 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 fourth article will be about Buckhorn, the home of the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival.

BUCKHORN – I have written about Buckhorn before. It was one of four communities featured in my recent “Friendly Places” Blog. Judi and I love Buckhorn. In fact, we lived for a few years about 10 km south of Buckhorn on Chemung Lake. During that time, we became very familiar with the community of Buckhorn and its people. Buckhorn is a 20-minute drive north of Peterborough and is located at Lock 31 on the Trent-Severn Waterway. I think Buckhorn may be best known for it annual Fine Art Festival. From this wonderful festival many other events have sprung, especially ones that are held at the Buckhorn Community Centre! Here is a list of some of them: Dinner Theatre (held in the spring and fall), Spring Craft Show (held in May), Canada Celebrations (held July 1), Fiesta Buckhorn (held in July), Buckhorn Fine Art Festival (held in August), Harvest Craft Show (held Thanksgiving Weekend) and In the ‘Nick’ of Time (held in late November). Other great events are held in the region and add to the popularity of the area. A few include the Buckhorn Maplefest held at the McLean Berry Farm in March. It’s hard to believe that so many great events can be run by a community of so few people. But then again, that’s the charm of this community, dedication and enthusiasm! It never ceases to amaze me, when I talk to one of the many volunteers, of just how much energy they possess! People and events is not all that Buckhorn offers. Not surprising there are several great art galleries located in the area, including Bayside Boutique and Art Gallery, the Whetung Ojibwa Centre and Gallery-on-the-Lake. The area is also home of several well-known artists, including internationally recognized and collected, Michael Dumas. If it’s fishing or boating that you are interested in, Buckhorn is located between two fabulous lakes, Lower Buckhorn to the east and Upper Buckhorn to the west. These two lakes are great because they form part of the Trent-Severn Waterway. This versatile area has a lot of other things to see and do. There is the City of Peterborough 35 km to the south and Bobcaygeon 24 km to the west. No matter what time of year you choose to visit Buckhorn, you will never be at a loss for something to do.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Brockville)

 During the past few years Judi 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, 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 third article will be about Brockville, located in the along the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

BROCKVILLE – Whenever Judi and I drive to eastern Ontario, we try to include the City of Brockville in our itinerary. We love exploring Brockville’s unique picturesque waterfront downtown and its rich historic architecture. Brockville is known as the “City of the 1000 Islands” and is located along the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The city, named after the British General Sir Isaac Brock, is one of the oldest cities in Ontario. This “loyalist” area was first settled in 1785 by hundreds of American refugees. They later became known as “United Empire Loyalists”.  To find out more about this historic city, I would recommend that you visit the Wikipedia website/Brockville (Link:

Brockville has a wonderful main street full of interesting and attractive shops to investigate. Judi and I love to have dinner at the “New York Restaurant”. This is an established “Chinese cuisine” restaurant with great food and attentive service. To get to Brockville from Cobourg, Judi and I normally travel the 401 Highway to Gananoque and then take the 1000 Island Parkway to Brockville. This scenic route runs parallel to the St. Lawrence and overlooks the many fabulous island homes and cottages. On clear summer days the river is teaming with pleasure boats! Once you leave the Parkway, the road that leads to the historic downtown is lined with gracious century homes. There is plenty to do in Brockville with its great parks, interesting attractions and wonderful special events. Their parks include the St. Lawrence Park, Centeen Park and Hardy Park; attractions include 1000 Island and Seaway Cruises, the Brockville Museum and Canada’s Oldest Railway Tunnel. Brockville festivals and events include the 1000 Island Jazz Festival (held in May/June), the Brockville Riverfest (held in July), the Brockville Ribfest (held in August) and the Thousand Island Writers Festival (held in October). To find out more about Brockville, visit the city’s website. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Bracebridge)

 During the 15 years Judi and I have visited over 200 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 second article will be about Bracebridge, located in the Muskokas.

BRACEBRIDGE – Like Bobcaygeon, I have been visiting Bracebridge for many years. First when we had a cottage in Baysville and now because our friends Ross and Cathy have a cottage nearby. Although Judi and I haven’t been to a festival or event (yet) in Bracebridge, I thought I would include it for two reasons. The first is likely obvious if you have small children and have traveled to Santa’s Village. Santa’s Village has been Santa’s summer home for over 50 years. Children of all ages love to visit the Village to enjoy their amusement park and Sportsland. My other reason for including Bracebridge is that this is the home base of Sunset Cruises and the M.V. IDYLLWOOD. If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that Sunset Cruises is owned and operated by Captain Randy Potts and that he currently has one boat in service, the Idyllwood. You will also know that he is in the process of restoring the historic PEERLESS II. This boat roamed the Muskoka Lakes for many years delivering gas and oil to the area’s cottagers. Randy is now turning the Peerless II into his second cruise ship. I will be writing more about Randy and his restoration this coming spring! The Town of Bracebridge is located in the “Heart of the Muskoka”. The Muskoka River runs through the town and flows into Lake Muskoka. This leads into cottage country and a lot of summer fun! Bracebridge is the “hub” for summer cottagers. This is where they meet, eat and buy groceries and other supplies. The town caters, not only to the needs of its 16,000 permanent residents, but to its 1000’s of transient cottagers and visitors. The downtown shops that line the main street are plentiful and fun to explore. The side streets hide many interesting attractions, including the Woodchester Villa (an Octagonal House Museum) and the Muskoka Rails Museum. Special events also add to the town’s charm. Festivals and events include Summerfest (held in early July), Art in the Heart (held on summer weekends), Bracebridge Highland Games (held in mid-August) and Santafest at Santa’s Village (held in mid-December).

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Great Ontario Communities Series (Bobcaygeon)


Over the years I have been able to travel throughout North America. During these travels I have visited many fascinating places! I believe that very few of the places I have visited rival Ontario’s great communities! During the past few years Judi and I have visited almost 200 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 first article will be about Bobcaygeon, the picturesque town located in the heart of the Kawartha Lakes.

BOBCAYGEON – We visited this community this summer to attend their Wine and Food Festival. The Festival was held at the Kawartha Settlers’ Village. Although this was our first “festival” visit to Bobcaygeon, it certainly wasn’t our first visit to the town or area. To be truthful, Judi and I are very familiar with the town as we have visited it many, many times both for pleasure and for business. That is why this is such a great place to start our new series! Bobcaygeon is located along the Trent-Severn Waterways, north east of Lindsay. National Historic Lock 32 sits in the middle of the downtown area. Two Kawartha Lakes border the town, Pigeon Lake to the east and Sturgeon Lake to the west. Judi and I have spent many restful days by this beautiful lock. The downtown is full of delightful retail shops and restaurants. Bobcaygeon is also the home of many retirees. It seems to be the perfect mix of cottage country charm and “big city” appeal. The city of Peterborough is less than an hour’s drive away while Toronto can be reached in two hours. There is plenty to do into the area, especially during the summer and fall months. In addition to lots of fishing and boating, there are many special events, including the Bobcaygeon Wine and Food Festival, the Victoria County Studio Tour and the Bobcaygeon Festival of Trees. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Should I Tell You?


Did you ever do one of those “bone-headed” things that make you want to “crawl” into a deep dark “cave” and not come out for a year or so? One of those “things” happened to me a few months ago when Judi and I visited Prescott and their St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival! If you have read any of my other articles about this Festival, you will know that the play, “The Taming of the Shrew” was moved from its normal outdoor venue to an indoor venue. The reason given was that there were thunderstorms on the distant horizon! I found this difficult to believe because it was sunny and bright in Prescott! However, in the “bright” sun we drove to the Church where the play was now to take place. I parked our car and we walked to the church to join the waiting line. Eventually we were ushered into the church and the play began. We became entrenched in the play! Part way through, however, I looked up at the high windows of the church and saw flashes of lightning! The STORM was upon us and I was humbled! By the time the play was over and we were exiting the church, the storm was over and the rain had stopped. Our walk back to the car was dry and uneventful. I remotely unlocked the car door and opened it. The door felt too light! I wondered why until I looked inside and realized that I had left my window OPEN! The whole driver’s side was drenched! I now had the prospect of a 3 ½ hours drive home on a soaking wet seat! I want to tell you that my “behind” and other parts were cold and “wrinkled” by the time we reached home!

P.S. My new address is at the “Bat Cave” … I’ll see you in a year or so!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Why Not Share?

 Festivals and events are great fun and present a wonderful opportunity to share! It’s simple really, make sure when you decide to go to an event that you share your experience with someone else! This includes telling your friends and family about a great festival or events that you have visited or, better still, invite someone to go with you. Festivals and events can be much more enjoyable when shared with loved ones or friends! Because Judi and I visit so many events through the year, it’s impossible to take people with us all the time. However, when we do it always makes the event seem more memorable! Over the years we’ve gone with a number of different friends and family. I think the first was to the Toronto Zoo’s Spring Toad Festival. We went to this one with my daughter and her family. The fun that the grandchildren had was awesome! Since then we have visited the Bala Cranberry Festival with our friends Ross and Cathy and their young daughter, the Polar Bear Festival in Campbellford with my brother Chuck and his wife, Flo and their friends, Wilf and Win, the Beaches Jazz Festival with my son, Travis and his wife Ina and to the Canadian International Military Tattoo in Hamilton with my sister Barb. There were more times, but you get the idea. Sharing these events with our family and friends was a wonderful experience! So, if you are going to go to a festival or event I urge you to invite someone else to go with you! If not family or friends, invite a senior in your community. Most seniors love outings like this and make wonderful companions. They will have a great time and you will be rewarded by having a more memorable visit!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Making the Most… (Part 2)


Here are a few ideas.

  • See if there is a fun park close by or an interesting attraction close by and then check it out
  • Try taking a unique route home. One that you haven’t traveled before. There may be interesting towns and landscapes along the way.
  •  Stop along the way and visit unique and fun shops
  • Depending on the time of year and the region you are traveling, there may be other things to interest you. For example, if you are traveling in the Niagara region or Prince Edward County there are lots of vineyards to explore. If you are in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, there are many beautiful farms and quaint hamlets to investigate
  • If you’ve planned ahead like Judi and I do, you will have packed a picnic lunch. Find a scenic place to stop, relax and eat. If you have also packed some games for the kids, this would be a good time and place for them to “blow off steam” and have some fun
  • Make arrangements to visit friends or family along the way back home

Some of the ideas outlined above may take a little pre-planning, but I think you will be glad that you took my advice! It’s not that you are looking for a “bad” festival or event. It’s just that you are aware of the possibility! Whatever you decide to do, make the most of your day!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Making the Most… (Part 1)


Sometimes you may go to an event that does not meet your expectations. What do you do? Do you turn around and go home or do you make the most of it? Judi and I feel that you should stay and try to “make the most of it”. Who knows, you might just be surprised! There may be something you missed at first look, an exciting ride, an interesting exhibit or, perhaps a later event. Having an open mind and looking a little harder may reveal a real “gem”. The big thing is to find a schedule of events or to approach an event organizer to find out what “things of interest” are happening later in the day. If after checking things out there is still nothing of interest, don’t let the disappointment ruin your entire outing! Look for other forms of entertainment.

(To be continued in Part 2)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

How Not to Pack!


In order to save on the cost of going to festivals and events and to eat healthier meals, Judi has been making and packing picnic lunches for us to take to the festivals and events we visit! We’ve been doing this since the beginning of August and it’s been going very well, until now! Each time Judi carefully thinks through what we are going to eat and what she needs to pack. She includes such things as forks, knives, spoons, salt, napkins, etc., all of this along with our food and beverages. To preserve the food in the hot weather and to keep our drinks cool, we have a thermal lined picnic bag. 

As I said, all was well until last week! Judi prepared and packed the food as usual. Our recyclable water bottles were freshly filled and also packed. We loaded everything into our car and then headed for our destination! We were going to visit the event in the morning and then head to Wellington to visit my brother Chuck and his wife, Flo. After the festival visit we went back to the car, ready to have our picnic lunch. We wanted to eat before we headed out to Chuck and Flo’s. Judi opened the thermal bag and let out a loud scream and then a low moan! This was followed by a few well chosen words! I can’t repeat them here! The bottom of the bag was completely filled with WATER! We had just purchased new water bottles and had not tested them out! The contents of the water bottles had leaked! Everything was soaked and the water bottles were empty! Even though the sandwiches had been carefully wrapped, the water had managed to seep in! They were just nicely soggy! I was hungry and needed eat, so I suck in a big breath and bit into the soggy sandwich! Needless to say, the lunch was not quite what we had in mind when we started out that morning! 

So, here is my NOMAD advice for the day… “Check out your new water bottles for leaks BEFORE you pack them with your lunch!”  Also, take your mother’s advice, “Never eat a soggy sandwich!”

Friday, October 16, 2020

Participation… (Part 2)


We arrived at the Village on time for the pre-show information meeting. There we others, like us, who had never “dressed up” before, so we didn’t feel alone. Once the meeting was over and the instructions given, we walked to the dressing area, Judi to the women’s and me to the men’s area. Everything had been laid out perfectly. Each outfit was labeled with the participants name and a volunteer “helper” (the outfitters husband!) was there to lend a hand! A good thing for me as the boots I was given were VERY snug! After I was completely dressed, I decided that my look was “interesting”! With the transformation complete I walked downstairs or should I say, I nearly slipped downstairs. The shoes had hardly been used and were VERY slippery! Many of the other participants were dressed and waiting outside for further instructions. It was great to see so many wonderful period fashions! I found Judi amongst the crowd and went to her. She looked fantastic! I little too fashionable for me and my outfit! Eventually we were all lined up and ready to play our part in the Festival of Textiles period fashion show. One by one we were summoned to the stage and posed while the commentator described our ensemble. From there we left the stage and walked on the “catwalk” to the applause of the audience. It was all great fun and most enjoyable. As a matter of fact, I am not sure who had more fun, the audience or the participants. My monies on the participants! 

Judi and I both enjoyed our experience and we thank Laurie and the Village staff for making us feel part of their big family!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Participation… (Part 1)

 Every once in a while, Judi and I get to participate in one of the events we visit. Sometimes it’s by chance and other times it’s by choice. Whatever the circumstances, we always have fun and feel privileged that we were asked. 

The Festival of Textiles at Lang Pioneer Village is a good example. It all started with a simple e-mail from Lang’s Special Events co-coordinato.  Her e-mail simply said “Are you still coming to our Festival of Textiles and if you are, would you and Judi like to be one of our period fashion models?” The answer to the first part of the question was “yes”. The answer to the second part of the question wasn’t quite as simple! If I was going to participate, I wanted Judi to do it too. Judi doesn’t like too much limelight! She likes to stay in the background! This was going to be a big “leap” for her! Finally, after much hesitation, Judi agreed to participate with me. 

The next hurdle was finding out if they had clothes to fit us. It would be no problem fitting Judi, but for me, that’s another story! We sent our measurements to Laurie and eventually received a message that we were both in. Fortunately, the women who had made and was supplying the outfits had a relative with a similar size and shape to mine! We were now committed! Soon the Festival date arrived and we made our way to the Village. We had never participated in anything like this before, so we didn’t know what to expect. As I have said before, at most festivals and events Judi and I like to fade into the background and not be up front and central! Actually, there were going to be some 44 models, including us, participating, so our “spotlight” was going to be fairly short and sweet! Still, we did have to dress up and become something we weren’t use to. 

(Continued in Part 2)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

What To Do? What To Do?


With COVID-19 still with us, and caution still important, communities and facilities are trying to figure out how to celebrate two significant events ~ Halloween. I’ve got a few ideas to consider.


First, I’ll give you a little background to the idea.

·         Each year the community of Waterford Ontario hosts the Waterford Pumpkinfest. When Judi and I have visited this event, we were impressed by how involved community residents were. Many homes had fun carved pumpkins and Halloween decorations. (NOTE: This event has been modified because of COVID-19)

·         Each year the community of Meaford Ontario hosts the Meaford Scarecrow Invasion. The main street and some of the side streets are “alive” with scarecrows! Scarecrows can be seen on the street, store fronts, hillside park and even from the town’s lamp posts. (NOTE: This year’s event has been cancelled due to COVID-19)

·         The community of Buckhorn, held, a few years ago, an event called Colours and Crows. Members of the community would create different scarecrows and scarecrow scenes. A list of scarecrow locations was prepared, and visitors and residents were invited to try to find each location. This was like a fun, scarecrow “scavenger” hunt! While searching for the scarecrows, participants were treated to the areas spectacular fall colours.

I am sure that many other communities hold Halloween events, but do they allow for COVID-19 and “social distancing”?

So, here’s my concept ~ hold a combination of each of the above events, keeping the current challenges in mind.

·         Develop a Halloween theme for the whole community

·         Encourage all downtown businesses to decorate their premises

·         Encourage all residents to participate by decoration their home or balconies

·         Hold a contest for the best decorated businesses (perhaps the best 2 or 3)

·         Hold a contest for the best decorated homes (perhaps the best in different categories – kids, adults, etc.)

·         Create a fun “Halloween Scavenger Hunt”, one that both residents and visitors can participate in, as they “drive” through the community

·         Based on the community’s Halloween theme, have selected individuals or families create “secret displays” and then make up a “Halloween Scavenger Hunt” list

·         Have fun prizes that people can win if they find all the “secret displays

·         Tie all 3 programs together in one event

·         It would be great if the town would decorate some of their facilities

·         The event could run two or three weeks

If you’d like further information about these concepts, please e-mail me at

Thursday, September 24, 2020

When New Meets Old…


Anyone who thinks that new can’t compliment old and still maintain the integrity of old, has never been to Fanshawe Pioneer Village! Fanshawe is a wonderful heritage village that honors the “old” while conforming to modern realities! You will be able to read about our visit to the Fanshawe Harvest Fest in a few weeks, but until then I thought I would tell you about some of the ways they have handled difficult challenges.
Challenge #1 – Disability Access: It’s not likely that our pioneer ancestors were too concerned with wheelchairs and disability access. So how does a “heritage settlement” handle this modern challenge? Since wheel chair ramps are a must in today’s society, especially for a public facility, not having ramps was not an option! But what about the “modern” look? Fanshawe’s solution was simply to use old distressed wood. As a result the ramps look like they not only belong there, but that they have been there forever!

Challenge #2 – Recycling and Litter: Blue Boxes and metal garbage cans don’t blend in with heritage buildings and gardens! Fanshawe handled this beautifully. They build old rustic “miniature sheds” and then placed them in strategic locations throughout the village. They have been made so well that they just blend into the “heritage atmosphere”. Judi and I had explored most of the village by the time we realized how Fanshawe had disguised their litter and recycling receptacles!

It is amazing that simple solutions like these aren’t used by all heritage facilities. A little imagination goes a long way. If you are in the London area, Fanshawe Pioneer Village is certainly worth the visit! The village, now 50 years old, is located in the Fanshawe Conservation Area. Their next big special event is their “1812 Invasion of Upper Canada” re-enactment on October 3-4, 2009. To find out more about this event and Fanshawe Pioneer Village, visit their website at If you do visit the village, tell them the “Festival Nomad” sent you!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Living History…


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, 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 newcomers 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!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Sunset Cruises – Captain Randy Potts (Part Two)


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!

At that point last year, Randy had hoped that the restorations would be far enough along in the fall of 2009 that he would be able to take the restored Peerless II on its maiden voyage. However, time and circumstances have delayed the launch date. The fall of 2010 was the planned launch target. Judi and I have already taken a number of cruises on this wonderful cruise ship!

So, if you want to see and learn more about Muskoka and the Muskoka Lakes, don’t miss a cruise on the Peerless II! Randy knows more stories about the lakes then anyone I know and he is glad to share them with his passengers! Rain or shine, cool or warm, the Idyllwood is equipped to handle all climates! Well, perhaps not ice or snow! Find out more about Captain Randy, his boats and the 2009 cruising schedule by visiting the Sunset Cruises website at

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Sunset Cruises – Captain Randy Potts (Part One)


I would not have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes! One day, I drove to Gravenhurst 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 latest 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!

(To be continued in Part Two)

Monday, August 24, 2020

McLean Berry Farm (Part 2)


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

Thursday, August 20, 2020

McLean Berry Farm (Part 1)

 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).

(To be continued in part 2) 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Artists’ Series – James Lumbers


This is 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 had 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, show their work at the Gallery during the Buckhorn Fine Art Show in August. This is 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!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

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. Check out their website for more information. (

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Free Stuff…

I haven’t seen too much “free stuff” at festivals lately! I guess I’m not surprised give 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” was 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 than 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, July 23, 2020

Festivaling with Kids (Part Four)

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 is “time sensitive” 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!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Festivaling with Kids (Part Three)

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):

·         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 in Part Four)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Festivaling with Kids (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.

(To be continued in Part Three)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Festivaling with Kids (Part One)

Festivaling with Kids
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, June 25, 2020

Artists’ Series – Marg Lamendeau (Part 2)

It had rained heavily just before the Match started and the fields were pure mud! Marg told me that vendors tried to get through the mud to set up their booths but couldn’t. Festival organizers had to arrange tractor pulled wagons to help. She described the day that she and Kenny had arrived. “We tried walking to our booth area, but every step became harder and harder. We were sinking down into the mud so low that it kept sucking our booths off as we tried to take our steps. Kenny finally had to carry me back to hard ground!” When I met them at the Match, the ground had hardened. The weather, however, had taken its toll! Both Marg and Kenny, when they greeted me, look like they had been competing in a mud wrestling tournament! Fortunately, not too many shows were like that! During the helicon days of print sales, I spent a great deal of time either driving to and from their home in Arnprior or sitting in their kitchen drinking hot tea and munching on a goodie or two! I miss trips to Arnprior and sitting and talking with Marg and Kenny! However, times change and so do our lives. Marg eventually tired of the nomad life and moved off in other directions, while Judi and I left the art and framing business altogether.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Artists’ Series – Marg Lamendeau (Part 1)

This is a series about Canadian artists I have know, and worked with.

I can’t remember the exact circumstances of meeting Marg and Kenny Lamendeau. I think Marg had enquired about becoming an exhibitor at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival in the Lions/Lioness Art Show and Sale. Whatever the circumstances, we formed a closed bond shortly thereafter. Marg became a valued customer and Marg and Kenny became close friends! Marg was one of the top selling artists at the Cobourg Show and was always in the top 5 in sales. Cobourg wasn’t the only show she exhibited at. AS a matter of fact, I think they were at one show or another almost every weekend during the summer and fall months. It was a very tough schedule and one that they tired of after several years on the road. I think the funniest moment in our relationship came when I was delivering a load of freshly framed prints to her at one of the International Plowing Matches.

To be continued in Part 2