The Arts & Cookery Bank celebrated their First Anniversary on Saturday, July 16, 2011, during the Cactus, Cattle and Cowboys event in West Lorne. One year ago, The Bank officially opened to ooohhhs and aaahhhs, in a stunning heritage barn transformed into a chef’s dream kitchen, and adjoined to an exquisite multi-purpose heritage hall.
The Bank has accomplished much in its first year in fulfilling its purpose to showcase the surrounding communities (Dutton-Dunwich, Newbury, Southwest Middlesex and West Elgin), largely via photos and cooking.
The photo lab has hosted 8 photography classes. The state of the art, yet welcoming “cookery” has been the centre for a culinary boot camp, 7 days of community Christmas Celebration, 9 imaginative Wednesday classes/feasts, 3 Sunday classic classes, 4 lost arts classes, and 4 fest-a-months celebrating the cuisines of Portugal, Thailand, Netherlands and Caribbean. The Bank has also welcomed visitors to more than 23 events for community based organizations.
People have travelled from London, St. Thomas and further afield, but 47.9% of visitors have come from the four surrounding communities. All had reason to celebrate the first anniversary. They did just that with a Cake Walk, Photo Shoot-Out and Cake Social for those who were taking part in the annual Cactus, Cattle and Cowboys festivities.
Above - The Arts & Cookery Bank Board of Directors cutting the cake; L-R: Anne Kenny, Jerry Galbraith, Mary Simpson, Duncan Morrison, Grace McGartland; photo by Sharon Little (top left). Cake Walk participants holding up their numbers, waiting for the chance to win the final cake; photo by The Arts & Cookery Bank (top right). Cake Walk participants line up on Graham Road in West Lorne, waiting for the event to start; photo by The Arts & Cookery Bank (bottom).
Above - Jackson Stanley, one of The Arts & Cookery Bank’s digital photography assistants, poses for the Photo Shoot-Out; photo by The Arts & Cookery Bank (left). Terri-Lynne (L) and sister Paige Wardell (R) of Rodney had their photo taken for The Bank’s Photo Shoot-Out competition; photo by Sharon Little (bottom right). Cake Walk winner Sahra de Wit won a cake baked my Karen Carrol (R); photo by The Arts & Cookery Bank (top right).
“It was really a wonderful day,” says Grace McGartland, the Arts & Cookery Bank Chair. “We were so happy with the 200+ visitors we had who came out to help us celebrate our special day.”
A whole lot of celebrating, learning, savouring and socializing has occurred at The Bank over the past year. There will be lots more to watch for in the upcoming months. Check www.theartsandcookerybank.com
or join The Bank’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date with all the great events, recipes and updates.
Hot weather makes the bees a little cranky, but the beekeepers were able to coax them into helping with their bee beards at the annual Bee Beard Competition Sat July 23. The crowd appreciated the efforts of both bees, and bearded (and also the lovely lines of cooling misters stretched across the Adventure Farm).
This year, Chris & Christy Hiemstra, owners of Clovermead Bees & Honey
watched their youngest son, Jordan, take part in the competition for the first time. He had practised, he said, with smaller beards and appeared to be quite elated with his accomplishment, and happy to have suffered only a couple of stings.
The annual event attracts crowds who are captivated by the bee beard formation, as well as all the other things to see and do at The Adventure Farm. This year’s attendees included a “bee girl” and a reporter from the Korean Broadcasting System, sending the Bee Beard happenings back to Korea for their world news show.
Above: Bee Beard Competitors.
Above: This year's champion, Daryl Haney (top left & middle); Jordan Hiemstra competes for the first time (top right and middle right); champion Haney picks up a deserved refreshment served up by Caitlyn at the snack shack.
Above: Beautifully bedecked in bee attire, is Lauren (top middle and chatting with Chris & Christy Hiemstra bottom left); Jong Sang Lee from KBS talks to Chris Hiemstra about the event (top right).
The “play’s the thing” for the members and actors of the Elgin Theatre Guild; the guild's playhouse has also been an important thing since their purchase of the historic St. Thomas building in 1987.
Maintaining the Princess Avenue Playhouse has taken considerable effort, fund-raising and patience as upgrades have taken place over time, largely funded by performance revenues. Now, the estate of a community-minded citizen will be working to further enhance the building and the lives of people in Elgin County. The pace of renovations at the playhouse has recently accelerated thanks to a generous donation of $200,000 from the Estate of Dorothy Palmer.
The aim of community theatre is to entertain and build community and the Elgin Theatre Guild succeeds superbly in doing just that, giving experienced and fledgling actors a chance to shine in an intimate theatre setting. The Playhouse is also the venue for musical performances by local artists and occasionally ones from further afield, including an energizing performance this past spring by Jimmy Rankin.
“When we’re done, this building will be beautiful,” said David McCormick, building and facilities co-ordinator on the board of the non-profit theatre guild.
Peter Leack, guild president and veteran community theatre actor tried his hand at directing for the last play of the 2010/2011 season. He notes how proud he was of his cast, who provided a laugh a minute performance. Leack says that the gift means the board can focus on its creative pursuits.
The Princess Avenue Playhouse was designed by architect Neil Darrach, and erected in 1907 by the Church of Disciples. The building has three outstanding facades framed by two distinctively different towers. Notable are three large circular stained glass windows.
Currently the windows are undergoing re-leading and painters are working in the auditorium. Other renovations made possible by the Dorothy Palmer Estate include new roof; paving of parking lot; curtains for windows and stage; patching of auditorium plaster; lobby recarpeting; refinishing of the original church entrance and turret; new sound and light boards; electrical system upgrade and establishment of a performer trust fund.
The grant came about after Andrew Gunn, trustee of the Dorothy Palmer Estate, attended an event at the theatre, and recognized it as a vibrant and viable organization that served the community well. “I am confident, knowing how much Dorothy enjoyed live music and theatre, that this is a very appropriate project for the Estate to support.”
Dorothy Palmer taught elementary school in Eden, Sparta, and at Myrtle Street School in St. Thomas. An accomplished pianist and singer, she particularly enjoyed her role as a music instructor in the schools and as a member of the church and community choirs. Mrs. Palmer lived her whole life as a resident of Elgin County. She died in June 2010.
More photos by Mark Girdauskas in the slide show below.
Photos and Story by Mark Girdauskas
I spent this past Friday & Saturday at Springwater Conservation Area, the venue for Culinary Camping. What's that you ask? Take camping - one of Canada's favorite forms of vacation relaxation & add culinary cooking. As much as you fry eggs and grill burgers, there shouldn't be any reason you cannot cook quality meals at your camp site. This event was created by Michelle Fournier and partner Glen Graham. Michelle operates CentrePiece Marketing
. CentrePiece Marketing feeds the needs of both bands and venues providing professional music pairing, talent booking, consulting, and event planning services.
Oh ya, there were a couple of other people that showed up. You might have heard of them: Joe Fournier
, Lynn Miles
, Keith Glass
, Stephen Fearing
, Tom Wilson
, Anne Lindsay
, and one Barney Bentall
. So lets just say the live music was stellar.
I show up Friday to see the venue and scout the area. Me being a foodie, I get out of my car to be tantalized by the smell of pork. Friday had a pig roast sponsored by Me & Suzies
and for the first time I heard Joe Fournier
play. I'm now a new fan. The stage was then ready for Lynn Miles
. As she played, her guitarist played along without being introduced. A song went by... then Keith Glass
's, (Guitarist for Prairie Oyster) was named. For those that didn't know he was going to be there, the cheers and shout outs were great.
Saturday morning started with a Farmer's Market tent providing campers with local produce. The Whole Pig
was there as the main culinary sponsor. The cooking demo's kicked off with Chef Michael P Clive
. His partner for the food demo was Emm Gryner
. The crowd was laughing as they made their pulled pork sliders. Then Chef Suki Kaur-Cosier
was paried with Stephen Fearing
. They made pork kabobs. Chef Ellen Lacroix
and Chef Michael P Clive made a salad using President Choice
products to accompany the kabobs. The final pairing was Chef James Meadows
with Barney Bentall
making a stuffed pork fillet.
As the cooking demo's finished the 'Glamping' contest opened. This was a contest to show off your camp site. Make it unique and win a prize.
Starting at three the music began, with a line-up that included Joe Fournier
; Emm Gryner
; Stephen Fearing
; Lee Harvey Osmond featuring Tom Wilson
and Barry Bentall
with special guest Anne Lindsay
By the time Barney Bentall and Anne Lindsay started, so did the rain. That didn't stop the crowd from getting closer to the stage and it turned into an acoustic jam session.
Everyone I talked with was happy to be there, and excited on meeting the musicians and chefs. As the first event ended the people were saying "Can't wait for the next one!" Culinary Camping has a great concept, and great people that pulled it off.
Michelle Fournier loves great Canadian music and bringing it live to local audiences. It's her business (Centrepiece Marketing) and her passion. She and partner Glen Graham also enjoy the outdoors and well-prepared, down-to-earth, good food. It was only natural that, together, they dreamed up an event to include a smorgasbord of Canadian talent, both musical and culinary.
Both chefs and musicians gave bountifully of their talents and enthusiasm, obviously loving the idea and supportive of Michelle Fournier and her fledgling event venture. There weren't big crowds, but the people in attendance were appreciative of the fun provided by the cooking demonstrations and the truly stellar music line-up.
Just before the last performance of Saturday evening was about to begin, the rain started to fall. That little weather glitch prompted a truly memorable musical happening for those in attendance.
Barney Bentall coaxed the scattered audience up to the edge of, and on the stage for an acoustic performance. His is not a booming voice, and you sometimes had to almost lean forward to catch the words he sang. He was joined by Anne Lindsay, violinist for Blue Rodeo, easier to hear, but still giving reason to lean in with the rest of those gathered to catch every musical nuance of her gifted playing, as the notes ranged from lively to haunting. Stephen Fearing came back on stage and lent his talents to what became a jam session, led along by Bentall's gentle singing, story-telling and joking.
Those in attendance at Culinary Camping were enthusiastic before the last performance of the evening - this unexpected, intimate musical ending to the weekend was one that left them very likely to invite friends to support a second annual Culinary Camping event.
Article & Photos by Mark Girdauskas
Sunday July 17, the FCSSC
(Forest City Sport and Social Club) RugRat BackPack Beach Volleyball Tournament took place in Port Stanley. The group is proud to support the United Way's
GenNext. The tournament
helped raise awareness, funds and effort to beat poverty and promote education for children in London and area. The goal is to help children start the new school year right, with a new backpack and essential school supplies. One in four children in London begins the school year unprepared to learn. They say that children are our future, and with out the proper start they already have a strike against them.
GenNext is United Way of London & Middlesex's initiative to engage the 20-30 year-old demographic to become actively involved in shaping their community.
As I walked the beach towards the courts it was a beautiful summer day, families enjoyed soaking up the sun, and playing in the water. The courts where all groomed and ready for battle lol. People playing were all having a fun time and enjoying the day, the teams were all great sports and enjoying the game. You could tell the experienced players-they kept their socks on - the hot sand was little distracting for some. (Left are Kyla Woodcock and Sarah Carmichael from the Forest City Sport & Social Club.)
As the matches played on, so did the live music from GT's
. The duo called Toast and Jam
played covers and kept the crowd jumping.
One of the sponsors was FM 96
- Jaynel is the radio station's Director of Summer and was there cheering on the teams and helping out. Between the smiles and diving for the volleyball, good times were had by all.
Article & Photos by Mark Girdauskas
Today, I was a 5-year-old and loved it. I spent a Day Out with Thomas where the smiles and laughs were contagious. St. Thomas is proud to have Thomas the Tank Engine
from July 15,16,17 and 22,23,24. This event is located at St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Centre 80 Wilson Ave.
Thomas has been making children smile for 65 years now in 45 cities in Canada and the U.S. I talked with Bill Watson from the Elgin County Railway Museum
and he is so happy that the museum is able to have this event in St. Thomas. This is one of the few local events for children ages 1-6. Around 300 people help out and are all excited to make sure there are smiles aplenty on both children and parents.
As you walk in and see the Bubble Truck, you can't help but want to make a giant bubble. The Imagination Station is a world of fun with bouncy Thomas & castle, arts & crafts, play tables, models, and the Thomas & Friends Gift Shop. Another great attraction is the daily live entertainment. Don't forget to get a photo taken with the one and only Sir Topham Hatt or have a balloon made by Dotsy the Clown
When its time for a bite or a drink, there is a great choice of vendors, including Rotary Club of St. Thomas, Pretzel Wagon, Candy Zone, Why Not Cookies and Shaw's Ice-Cream.
Inside, there is also a story telling & video viewing section where you can sit down for a while in air-conditioned comfort.
It was a fun sight to see the little ones run around the Island of Sodor Hay Bale Maze. I saw two very excited guys just as they completed the maze with their grandma. (Left: Nolan & Cole with Grandma Nell)
New this year was the Petting Zoo where you can grab some feed, and make new friends.
As you make your way past the animals you reach the tracks and the star of the event, Thomas himself. Don't forget your tickets for a 25 minute ride with Thomas the Tank Engine.
It really is a day of family fun!
Article & Photos by Mark Girdauskas
On the first day of summer vacation in 1984, James Meadow's Dad came into his room and informed him that he had a job interview at Cowison's Butcher Shop in Toronto at 11am. The was offered a job stripping chickens and washing dishes. After watching the cook make meat pies all summer, James declared that he could do it better, and was promptly told to prove it. He did. That weekend the cooks were off and James was in charge of making all the meat pies for the store. Over the next three years he went on to make scotch eggs, chicken Kiev, and cheese bread. He began to chart the path that would allow him to develop his cooking talents into a career.
After receiving his culinary training at George Brown, James opened a café at Yonge and Lawrence, which he owned and operated until an opportunity came up in El Paso Texas. He worked as a demo chef there before returning to Toronto.
Working at the Royal York, Senses, Kit Kat and Urban Restaurant and Event Catering, James sharpened his culinary skills. He then came to London to work as head chef at the Grosvenor Club. He also began to teach classes at Loblaws locations around London. When the position of Cooking School Co-ordinator came up in St. Thomas, James applied and was offered the job.
James became well known in the community through teaching both adult and children's classes, the weekly What's For Dinner demonstration and through his involvement in the donation program at the Real Canadian Superstore.
James and wife Mary were was so impressed with St. Thomas's friendliness and sense of community that they sold their home in London and chose to raise their daughter in St. Thomas.
After forging relationships within the community for two years, and with his expanding reputation for outstanding cuisine, James was encouraged by others to open his own restaurant in St. Thomas. He had long dreamed of operating a catering business. With tremendous support from friends, family and the community, Catering by James Meadows opened on April 11, 2011 in the heart of St. Thomas.
James describes his cooking style as "simple fresh" and quips "I am inspired by the President of Catering by James Meadows, as I continually endeavour to impress her. The president also happens to be my wife!" While Mary works behind the scenes, James is the face of the business.
James particularly enjoys making soups, noting that "it requires knowledge of a great many aspects, such as making stocks, cooking meats, vegetables and starch properly. When soup is done well, it is heavenly. Soup allows a chef to really play with flavours and flavour combinations."
The partners are committed to excellence, driven by passion and the desire to make catering affordable to everyone. James notes that they customize the menu to each individual's preferences. They don't have lists to choose from, don't have minimum orders and cater to all budgets. "When you hire James Meadows to cook your food, James Meadows will be cooking your food."James and Mary are happy to have made their home and work in St. Thomas and, in turn are deeply commited to the community, supporting local charities and community events.
James provides this quick and easy recipe for a traditional Salsa – perfect for enjoyment on the summer patio.
Pico de Gallo (A more traditional Salsa)
Yield 2 cups
5 plum tomatoes, small dice
1/2 small red onion, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (remove seeds and white rib for a milder version)
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp cilantro, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients in a bowl, adjust seasoning to taste.
To contact James and Mary at Catering by James Meadows, call 226-448-8466 or visit
The sun shone without being too hot, and participants in the Senior’s Picnic filled Pinafore Park on Wednesday July 13. Information, entertainment and sociability draw crowds from across Elgin to the park each summer for the event.
Above: Scenes from the picnic, including Marie Nancarrow from Elgin County Museum chatting with Dan & Patty Calder.
Above: Linda & Al Oatman enjoy shade and music from under their umbrella. They have attended the the picnic for several years.
The Annual St. Thomas Horticultural Society Garden Tour on Sunday July 10th featured seven gardens of varying sizes and styles. Gardeners opened their yards (6 in St. Thomas, 1 near Sparta) to share with the public on a beautiful summer day.
Above: Linda Bolton's has developed a shady, winding garden oasis in her back yard on Wellington Street. Sections of the garden create a private oasis, while sections at the back of the garden can be enjoyed by both the Bolton's and their neighbours.
Above: More of Bolton's gardens overflowing with interesting plants, including the front entranceway.
Above: Volunteers Nancy Baker and Cheryl Jermyn (top left) greeted visitors to a Metcalfe Street "outdoor room" garden. The smaller rear garden is a classic example of using flowers and furniture to create an intimate outdoor living space
Above: The unique front garden of this Isabel Street home welcomes, while backyard dining and bar areas invite visitors to stay awhile.
Above: A Cottonwood Drive garden wraps around the house leading to backyard sitting and garden areas which have worked composting, rain barrel, and space for vegetables attractively amongst flower beds (top three photos). Owners of a Havenridge Court home have used stone and paving to enhance their plantings (bottom left). A smaller garden on Woodworth offers example of including what enchants the gardener in a small site with the fairies throughout (two photos on bottom right).
Above: One of the tour gardens was located on Yarmouth Centre Road (between Sparta Line and Fruit Ridge Line). Extensive gardens surround the house in the country location, setting off the home and offering beautiful spots to dine, sit or wander.
Above: Scenes from the Yarmouth Centre Rd garden. Gardener Dave Greaves and one of the tour organizers, Diane Vaughan (top right).
The St. Thomas District Horticultural Society holds public meetings featuring informative speakers and interesting demonstrations, 7:30pm on the fourth Wednesday of the month from September to November and January to May at the Monsignor Morrison Catholic School, 10 South Edgeward Road, St. Thomas. An Annual Plant Sale is held in May at the Horton Farmers' Market and The Annual June Flower Show features roses, perennials, and floral designs.
The 4th annual Ultimate Tribute rocked Quai du Vin in support of the Easter Seals of Ontario on Sunday. Frankie Valli, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Elton John, The Bee Gees and Abbamania appeared via tribute artists throughout the afternoon. The weather was hot but the energy of entertainers and dancers continued till the last performance of the day.
For information about Quai du Vin Estate Winery, their wines and events, visit www.quaiduvin.com