On September 30, October 1 & 2, 2011 Canadians are invited to participate in Culture Days
, a three day cross-Canada collaborative volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.
Culture Days events feature free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate “behind the scenes,” to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, and designers at work in their community.
Most of us would acknowledge the importance of arts and culture although its role in invigorating our lives sometimes gets forgotten in the bustle of day to day living. In designing the present Canadian $20 bill, someone must have thought that the value of art was profound, as they chose to have imprinted upon the bill a quote from celebrated Canadian author Gabrielle Roy: “Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?”
The Elgin-born economist and author John Kenneth Galbraith recognized arts intangible and perhaps more tangible benefits when he noted: “Those communities that are richest in their artistic tradition are also those that are the most progressive in their economic performance and most resilient and secure in their economic structure.”
You will find plenty of evidence of a rich artistic tradition in Elgin County with several organizations having registered their events with Culture Days 2011.
The Arts & Cookery Bank
will be celebrating local culture and community through food and photos with several different events occurring over the weekend, such as a Heritage Photo Crawl, Photo Quilt Workshop and a “Canada-U-Cook” breakfast featuring local growers cooking their produce. The Photo Quilt Workshop, it should be noted, will result in an 8’ x 8’ “quilt” of photographs being mounted on the outside of the stunning 1883 timber frame barn that houses The Bank’s cookery. For event details and times, visit The Arts & Cookery Bank’s website: http://www.theartsandcookerybank.com
or call 519-768-9986.Elgin County Library
presents a book signing and discussion with Giller-prize winning author Bonnie Burnard
at Aylmer Town Hall Library, 38 John St S in Aylmer, Fri Sept 30th from 7:30pm – 9:30pm. Discussion will draw on material from Burnard’s Giller-prize winning novel, A Good House
and her most recent novel Suddenly
. This event is free, but a ticket is required – contact your local Elgin County Library branch.
Doors Open St. Thomas
(Saturday & Sunday) and Doors Open Port Stanley/Sparta
(Saturday) are also taking part in Culture Days with a wide range of interesting sites offering glimpses behind usually closed doors, special activities or experts on hand. The Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area
, a 200 acre property featuring many special and threatened Carolinian species will have Ed Pietrzak
, native plant and animal specialist, available to conduct tours (Port Stanley/Sparta). The St. Thomas Doors Open includes Canadian Woodenware
, a company founded in 1916, which once made 18,000 washboards a year – and still manufactures them. On Sunday, from 2-4pm St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre
invites you to hear a talk by Eric Atkinson, "I Brought My Culture & Legends in My Haversack". Atkinson was the founding Dean of the Applied Arts Faculty at Fanshawe College in London. His exhibit, now on display in the Main Gallery is bold and intriguing and his talk is sure to be an interesting one. Visit www.doorsopenontario.on.ca
to find out more.
A brand new trail of fine arts attractions launches on Thursday September 29th and will be ready for visitors as part of Culture Days. Elgin-St. Thomas tourism invites you to pick up the Elgin Arts Trail Discovery Guide
for an unforgettable journey of original paintings, pottery, fibre art, candles and more. The guides will be available at 187 Main Street, Port Stanley (9am – 5pm Friday and Saturday, 9am – 4pm on Sunday). Visit www.elginartstrail.ca
for more info.
Elgin County is within the apple-growing region that stretches in a band along the north side of Lakes Ontario and Erie. The soils, moderate temperatures and warm sunny days with cool nights provide perfect conditions for growing an abundance of apples.
Baskets and bushels of apples are featured now at the Horton Farmers Market. The bounty was celebrated on Sat Sept 24 with an Autumn Apple Breakfast.
St. Thomas Horton Farmers' Market
St. Thomas Horton Farmers' Market
Controlled atmosphere storage keeps apples fresh, firm and sweet months after harvest – they are available year-round with the exception of July. Ontario produces about 42% of the Canadian crop.Selecting Apples
- Perfect Pies: Spy, McIntosh, Spartan, Crispin, Cortland, Russet
- Scrumptious Sauces: Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Crispin, Cortland, Empire, Russet
- Fantastic Fruit Plates: Red Delicious, Cortland, Honeycrisp
Renee Saarloos from Berry Hill Fruit Farm
shared some information about Honeycrisp apples
in the September 24 Horton Market Newsletter. She notes that consumer enthusiasm has driven the popularity of this apple quicker than most. Crisp and juicy with a nice balance of acids and sugar Honeycrisps can be used for cooking or eaten out of hand, and tend not to brown readily. They are a bit more expensive due to their popularity and greater care needed to pick them at the right maturity. But once you try one, you will likely decide to include Honeycrisps on your list of fall flavour treats.
Buying tips, storage information and apple recipes from appetizers to soups, main dishes and desserts can be found at www.foodland.gov.on.ca
Why not try a delectable-sounding Roasted Ontario Apple and Sweet Potato Soup with Spiced Walnut.
Photographer Mark Girdauskas recently toured three local apple growers, taking pictures of fall and apple scenes along the way. Check them out in the slideshow below.
Finding Local Apples
Some of these locations also offer apple specialties and fall family fun (check Great Lakes Farms & Talbotville Berry Farm for special activities and events.)
Some farms that grow apples and have farm gate sales:
- Berry Hill Fruit Farm, 48937 Glencolin Line, Aylmer; http://www.berryhillfruitfarm.com/
- Great Lakes Farms, 5111 Union Road, Port Stanley; http://www.greatlakesfarms.ca/
- Gredig’s Orchards 45976 Ron McNeil Line, St. Thomas; 519-633-8885
- Rokeby Orchards, 11766 Imperial Road, Aylmer; 519-773-2318
- Sutton Orchard, 24249 Silver Clay Line, West Lorne; 519-768-3557
- VanBrenk’s Fruit Farms & Nursery Ltd, 31760 Erin Line, Fingal; 519-762-2768
Some markets offering apples from local farms:
- Briwood Farm Market, 1030 Talbot St, St. Thomas; 519-633-9691
- Empire Valley Farm Market, 27983 Talbot Line, Wallacetown; http://www.empirevalleyfarms.com/
- Salt Creek Farm Market, 11143 Highbury Ave, St. Thomas; 519-631-9338
- Talbotville Berry Farm, 11054 Sunset Rd, Talbotville; http://www.talbotvilleberryfarm.com/
- St. Thomas Horton Farmers’ Market, Saturdays 8am to noon
Catherine Elliot Shaw
Artist Connie Greger presented her recent work from Fri Sept 23rd to Sun Sept 25th with her exhibit at St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre. After the Snow: Boisterous Botanicals opened Fri Sept 23rd and was introduced with remarks from Catherine Elliot Shaw, Curator of McIntosh Gallery, UWO. She congratulated Connie on her on-going efforts to grow as an artist and share her insights into what she sees, and on her generous community support – all proceeds from sales of Connie’s paintings will be used to offer art instruction and materials for youth at the St. Thomas Teen Centre.
Artist Connie Greger with some of her recent works.
The Friends of Portside Show and Sale brings to the Portside Gallery a wonderful selection of original art from regional guest artists. In preparation for the opening reception on Fri Sept 23rd, gallery members hung over 57 paintings by artists from across Southwestern Ontario. These were intermixed with a selection of pieces from the gallery’s associate members. The show continues to Sun Oct 2nd. (Portside Gallery; 187 ½ Main Street, Port Stanley; open 11am-5pm daily; 519-782-7066)
Portside Gallery Members, Betty Burrell & Kit Cutting (left); Susan Shurish & S’ine Maule (bottom right).
In past years, Port Stanley area artists have presented a Studio Art Tour in September. This year, they instead showcased their work in a big tent on the front lawn of the Port Stanley Legion. Sat Sept 23rd and Sun Sept 24th brought sunny skies and opportunity for visitors to the Port Stanley Art Fair to enjoy outdoor jazz from Andy Lusher and John Culjak of London Jazz Scene and art from more than sixteen Port Stanley and regional artists.
Port Stanley Art Fair, including Andy Lusher & John Culjak of London Jazz Scene (top left); artists Margo Osborne (top right), Heather Keating (bottom left) and Rosemary Nagel (bottom right). Photos by Mark Girdauskas.
Port Stanley was also busy on Saturday with Taste of Port Stanley passport holders, enjoying a culinary excursion at six of Port's restaurants, plus a community-wide yard and side-walk sale.
Scenes from Port Stanley on Sat Sept 24, including entertainer Joe Fournier and a slow-cooker demo with butcher Ray Coddington of Farmgate Markets. Photos by Mark Girdauskas.
Doors opened throughout Aylmer, Municipality of Bayham and Township of Malahide for Doors Open East Elgin on Sat Sept 24th. Twenty-three sites offered opportunity to glimpse behind usually-closed doors, take part in a special Doors Open activity or chat with an expert. Below are scenes from just a few of Saturdays host organizations.
Rush Creek Wines' 15th Annual Harvest Festival drew families to the country for horse drawn wagon rides, craft show, corn maze, wine & cheese tasting and entertainment on Sat Sept 24th and Sun Sept 25th.
Rush Creek Wines Harvest Festival.
Rush Creek Wines Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch.
Photos by Mark Girdauskas
Men gathered to step out in high-heels on Sun Sept 25th for the Second Annual St. Thomas Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, in support of Violence Against Women, Services Elgin County (VAWSEC).
"Walk A Mile in Her Shoes" was started in 2001 by Frank Baird and a small group of men. It has since grown to become an international movement raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs.
Last year, thirty-three men tottered the route around Pinafore Park. The goal this Sunday was to line up more participants and raise $10,000. VAWSEC administrative assistant, Ramona Smith, noted that the funds raised at the St. Thomas Walk are specifically for transportation to the shelter in St. Thomas.
Violence Against Women, Services Elgin County provides a safe place to stay (open 24 hours a day), drop in counselling with a professional counsellor, and legal consultation for women across Elgin County. To learn more about this organization, visit www.vawsec.on.ca
Sunday’s event in Pinafore Park was abuzz with both men and women event volunteers and attendees, lots of information, music, fun and humour as the many men registered to walk, found their perfect fitting heels, and helped to raise money for this important service.
Check out photos from the event by Mark Girdauskas in the slideshow below.
The former Wellington Street School may soon be the site of higher learning as a campus of Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie. The University is interested in using the second and possibly third floors of the school to offer the first two years of its Bachelor of Arts program. Final approval will be reliant upon associated project costs to renovate the school. The exciting initiative would be made possible, in part, by a generous contribution for capital funding from The Dorothy Palmer Estate. The combined efforts of the City, Algoma University and the Estate of Dorothy Palmer may bring students to university in St. Thomas as early as the fall of 2012.
The full press release from The City of St. Thomas, Algoma University and The Dorothy Fay Palmer Estate follows:
September 12, 2011
ALGOMA UNIVERSITY LOOKS TO OFFER PROGRAMS AT WELLINGTON STREET SCHOOL
The City of St. Thomas, Algoma University, and the Estate of Dorothy Fay Palmer are very pleased to announce that Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie, has expressed an interest in offering the first two years of its Bachelor of Arts program in St. Thomas at the former Wellington Street School site. While the City acquired the property earlier in 2011 as part of the parking strategy for the Consolidated Court facility project, this proposed use of the actual heritage building would be of benefit to the entire community and an excellent use of the former school.
In order to accommodate Algoma University, the City is currently seeking architectural services which would design and cost out renovation elements including an elevator for the school, the installation of accessible washrooms and the replacement of the heating system. At this very early stage in the project, the University has expressed an interest in using the second and possibly third floors. The City in turn would seek suitable tenants for the first floor of the school. The final approval for the project will be reliant upon the associated project costs. The Dorothy Palmer Estate would generously provide a contribution of capital funding.
Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman states, “I along with the entire City Council are very pleased with Algoma’s interest in the City and the possibility of this wonderful reuse of Wellington Street School made possible in part through the Dorothy Palmer Estate”.
Andrew Gunn, Trustee of the Estate of Dorothy Palmer, remarked on the project this way: “When Algoma University begins to offer programming in St. Thomas, the impact will be tremendous. A lively student population will contribute greatly to our local economy and culture. Given that Dorothy Palmer was a teacher and had a lifelong interest in education, I feel that this is a terrific initiative for the Estate to support. It has been inspiring to witness the enthusiasm for this proposal demonstrated by our political leaders in St. Thomas and by Dr. Myers and others at Algoma University.”
Dr. Richard Myers, President of Algoma University, noted that "for students from a city like St. Thomas, the most expensive part of getting a university education is not the tuition fees; it's the cost of living in residence or of maintaining an apartment. Thanks to the leadership shown by the City, and by Mr. Gunn, students from the St. Thomas area will now have an opportunity to complete two years of university study while living at home."
In order to accommodate students in the fall of 2012, the combined efforts of the City, Algoma University and the Estate of Dorothy Palmer will see the design and planning of this project unfold quickly with further decisions to be made later this fall based on forthcoming cost estimates.
For further information contact:
The City of St. Thomas
Mayor H. Jackson-Chapman, firstname.lastname@example.org
(519) 631-1680 X4131
Dr. Richard Myers, Presidentpresident@algomau.ca
The Dorothy Fay Palmer Estate,
Mr. Andrew Gunn, Trustee
Wellington Street Public School 2011 (R.E.)
Photos by Mark Girdauskas
The harvest began Tuesday at Quai du Vin Estate winery, with picking of their Aurore grapes and the start of what winemaker Jamie Quai calls Crush 2011.
Juice from this particular batch may very well be destined for a special vintage, a sparkling wine to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the winery in 2015. Jamie notes, that will give enough time for the development of a great sparkling wine.
The winery’s ½ ton press was being fine tuned for its first day of operation of this season. Approximately 1 ½ tons of Aurore grapes were expected to be pressed Tuesday. Fifty-two tons or so of a variety of other grapes will be processed as they ripen in upcoming weeks.
Nice, typically autumn weather made it a perfect day to take in the vineyard vistas and stroll out to the ¾-acres of Aurore vines to check out the harvest.
Roberto Quai and wife Lisa opened the winery in 1990. Rob was busy in the vineyard Tuesday helping with the harvest. He noted that all of the grapes used in Quai du Vin wines are hand-picked. Their wines are produced from a combination of grapes, approximately 50% from Quai du Vin vines and 50% from other Ontario growers.
Check out the slide show photos below taken by Mark Girdauskas from the first day of Crush 2011 at Quai du Vin.
Find out more about Quai du Vin at www.quaiduvin.com
Photos by Mark Girdauskas
The 29th annual St. Thomas Fire Muster attracted crowds to Pinafore Park on September 3rd and 4th for firefighting displays and competitions as well as car show and live entertainment. Mark Girdauskas was on hand to photograph the shiny trucks and cars and other activities throughout the two days – check out some of his photos in the slideshow below.
Having opened just this past July, Kenny Iguana’s Night Club & Restaurant is still evolving to find a delicious mix of music and food which will please customers in St. Thomas and nearby.
The music focus has been on Tribute Bands, although a recent venture into Friday evening dinner hour jazz brought requests for more that are being given serious consideration.
Recently, Chef Jeff Ryersee and Rebekah Ryersee took on the management of the restaurant portion of Kenny Iguana’s. They are working to make Kenny’s a restaurant destination. Jeff is originally from Union, and for the past few years has been in Niagara as Chef du Partie at the Hilton Watermark Restaurant. While there, he devoted some serious time and energy to learning wines and, says Rebekah, “found his wife”. Rebekah’s background is in Hotel Management so they make a formidable restaurant management team.
The past few Wednesdays have found a growing group of wine fans joining Chef Jeff for WineTastic Wednesdays from 7 to 10pm in the wine lounge. For $20 they have enjoyed select wine tastings, delicious hor deurves and wine discussion.
Chef Jeff Ryersee
On Wednesday August 31st, Argentine Malbecs were featured. Jeff presented a nice selection for tasting, accompanied by stuffed mushrooms, empanada and fresh salsa. The wine discussion was casual, and the atmosphere relaxed (the funky décor and big coffee-table help with that) – a nice reward for making it half-way through the work week.
The Wednesday September 7th session will feature wines from Chile. WineTastic Wednesday will ramp it up on Wednesday September 28th with a Winemaker’s Dinner.
Find out more at Kenny Iguana’s Facebook Group Page. http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/204453076263903/ KENNY IGUANA'S - RESTAURANT668 Talbot StreetSt. Thomas, ON519-207-4520