Target Closing

Target To Leave 17,000 Canadians In the Cold

As published on (Jan. 15, 2015)
By Jennifer Schleich

In a move that comes as little surprise, Target announced Thursday morning that the company is closing its 133 Canadian stores, putting about 17,600 people out of work.

The decision comes on the heels of significant operating losses this year and an under-performing holiday season.

“We are unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021,” said Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell during his statement. That would put Target well beyond its 2017 goal for $6-billion in sales and 80 cents a share.

“This was a difficult decision but it was the right decision . . . we have determined that it is in the best interest of our business and our shareholders to exit the Canadian market,” added Cornell.

The decision was a unanimous one among Target’s board of directors and is expected to cost Target between $500 and $600 million dollars.

“The Target Canada team has worked tirelessly to improve the fundamentals, fix the operations and build a deeper relationship with our guests,” said Cornell. “We hoped these efforts in Canada would lead to a successful holiday season, but we did not see the required step-change in our holiday performance.”

Earlier this year CFO John Mulligan (Aug. 20) admitted the company had made a grave error in judgment when it jumped into the Canadian market with the large-scale opening of 124 stores, but had seemed committed to fixing the problem.

“We bit off way too much, too early,” said Mulligan…


Credit: Kate Beaton

Oh Henrietta – Google Celebrates Icon

Google Doodle Celebrates Canadian Icon
Art: Kate Beaton
Art: Kate Beaton
By Jennifer Schleich

December 18, 1849 was a bright day for Canadian women. At the time not so much, but certainly in retrospect; it was the day Henrietta Muir Edwards, a renowned Canadian women’s rights activist, was born.

If she were alive now she would be 165 years old. As such Google is showing props with a vintage-styled Google Doodle, designed by Nova Scotian comic strip artist Kate Beaton, about women’s rights and the suffrage movement, of which Edwards was an integral player.

She was a woman who made things happen for women, and who “fought for it all with unflappable conviction”, writes Beaton about her doodle.

If not for Edwards and her famous four companions, I might not be a person today – like they were not persons during much of their lives. Imagine that, not being a person. Some people don’t have to imagine: still in parts of our world today are huge disparities in human and civil rights.

“[She] deserves a wider recognition for her work,” adds Beaton. “She fought for women’s rights, women’s education, women’s work and women’s health, across the country and from a very young age… she allied herself with likeminded activists and founded a number of movements and societies to improve the lives of women.”

An accomplished writer, Edwards developed the first Canadian magazine for working women and was the author of several books on the legal status of women.

Thanks to the work of Edwards and her colleagues Canadian women were formally granted the right to vote, outside of wartime, in federal elections in 1919 and beginning in 1929 women were finally recognized as persons. However, if you were a first nations woman during the early 20th century you were dually deprived of rights and freedoms. Despite the 1929 Privy Council declaration of women as persons under the law, first nations women in Canada didn’t receive the unrestricted right to vote until 1960.

During her celebratory speech following the Privy Council’s decision to recognize women as persons, she is quoted as thanking all those who supported her and her fellow activists, women and men alike, except, “not perhaps the Judges on the Supreme Court of Canada, but certainly the Lords on the Privy Council!”

Emily Murphy, Nelly McClung, Irene Parlby and Louise McKinney were the other four women who were part of the group known as the “Famous 5”.

(Art by Kate Beaton)

SOS Anti-Nuclear Protest

As published in The Shoreline Beacon (Jul. 4, 2012). SOS On the March.

0710 protest 10

By Jennifer Schleich

Adorned in costume, “No Nuke Dump” t-shirts and protest signs, between approximately 200 and 300 Saugeen Shores residents and visitors gathered at the Southampton flag pole on Saturday morning to participate in a peaceful march in opposition to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s proposed high-level nuclear waste deep geological repository (DGR).

“Our message today is we want council to opt out of the process,” said Cherly Grace of Save Our Saugeen Shores (SOS), the group of 15-20 people behind the protest. “We want transparency, and we want to protect the region and the Great Lakes.”

0710 protest 1

Eight-year-old and nine-year-old Kyra and Emily Hagedorn of Durham, who turned out to support their grandmother and SOS member Pat Dobec, were not out of place at the protest, which welcomed people of all ages.

“We think the DGR is a little gross,” said the girls, about the potential construction of an underground storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.

Saugeen First Nations residents were also in attendance at the protest with their own view about the DGR’s impact on the community.

“We have to have a joint effort, this affects everybody,” said James and Lori Kewaquom. “This is our traditional territory and burying poison in the ground affects all life and the land.”

The pair brought an eagle staff with them to the march, a symbol of the sanctity of life.0710 protest 4

The protest was the latest in a series of efforts to put a stop to the NWMO’s process, which could eventually see a DGR constructed several decades down the road.

This week the group also erected a large billboard advertisement on Highway 21 in Southampton, decrying “No Nuke Dump: Take Action Now”, much to the displeasure of many residents who have written a string of letters complaining about the advertisement’s effect on tourism and the group’s presumption to speak for the community.

0710 protest 9

“We believe in freedom of speech and we have the right to express our dismay,” said Grace in defence of the billboard. “The long-term effects of the site selection process, the construction of a DGR and the ultimate stigma it would create, is much more harmful to tourism then a summer of signs and billboards.”

The group has also brought a series of deputations to Saugeen Shores council and has collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition opposing the DGR.

“A lot of people will be here this holiday weekend who don’t come to council, we wanted to continue to raise awareness and get people involved,” added Grace.

Saugeen Shores is but one community in the region, which has expressed an interest in learning more about hosting the NWMO’s facility.

RCMP Musical Ride Photography

As published in The Shoreline Beacon (Jun. 26, 2012).
Photography of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride by Jennifer Schleich

0626 RCMP 11 0626 RCMP 13 0626 RCMP 23 0626 RCMP 15 0626 RCMP 17 0626 RCMP 18 0626 RCMP 19 0626 RCMP 20 0626 RCMP 24

 0626 RCMP 22   0626 RCMP 25 0626 RCMP 21

Ontario Apple Crop Decimated By Late Frost

As published in The Shoreline Beacon (May 15, 2012). Photo credit: Smith’s Apples and Farm Market

Autumn won’t be as sweet in Saugeen Shores

By Jennifer Schleich

A few blossoms now dot Steve Smith’s apple orchard, clustered high on the tallest branches of the trees, but to the long-time farmer it still looks to be a year without apples.

“I said there wasn’t a single blossom but I’ve now seen some struggling blossoms out there,” said Smith. “I cut some of the best open, hoping to see green on the inside but they were just brown.”

Brown means no good to Smith. These blossoms might look pretty but they won’t be producing any apples, he explained.

Smiths’ Apples and Farm Market, just outside of Port Elgin, is one of many apple orchards in Ontario and the north-eastern United States, which have been adversely affected by unseasonably warm temperatures in March.

Apple trees in the region were coaxed out of dormancy early and then subjected to no less then 15 mornings of freezing temperatures in April -more then enough frost to kill the important reproductive parts of the delicate buds.

“I had a provincial representative from Agricrop, he’s an adjuster for crop insurance, at the farm this week and he said the news is not good.”

According to Smith it now looks as though some growers in the Georgian Bay area will have some crop, however farmers will need to wait another week for a better idea of what that crop will entail, unless they are like him and will have no crop at all.

The impact is clear on the farmer, but will be just as evident on the consumer and the workers.

“The big impact will be in the fall. I’ve had to cancel my two offshore workers who come. Those Mexican families, as well as local families, who depend on that income will be missing it,” said Smith.

He still expects to hire his summer student employees, however.

“There’s still lots to do, we’ll be having the corn maze and the tree care still has to go on to prepare the trees for next season.”

To please the locals and tourists who visit his farm Smith will be working as hard as ever on his annual corn maze, will be constructing a straw fort from his wheat crop and will still be selling frozen apple pies and crisps from last year.

“We’ll be hard at work in the bakery to produce things with other Ontario fruits,” added Smith. “And I’ll be keeping my ear to the apple industry for some quality crop. We’ve got to do something to celebrate the harvest.”

Smith feels the autumn apple

harvest is an essential part of Ontario’s culture and doesn’t think he’s going to be the only sad person missing it this year.

“The fall in Ontario is punctuated by the joy of picking apples and we’re all going to be missing that this year,” he said. “I’m already feeling that when I look out the window and know I should be doing something with the apples -but there’s nothing to do.”

According to Smith there’s just something “wonderful” about eating an apple that’s only hours off the tree, “It’s just not the same as when it’s shipped,” he said.

Although orchards further into the southern U.S. will be able to help fill the void in supermarkets, Smith expects consumers will notice the absence of the “beautiful and fresh locally grown Ontario varieties”.

There are 17 varieties of apples grown in Ontario, including the ever popular McIntosh, Empire, Northern Spy, Red Delicious and Gala, on more than 16,000 acres of farmland.

The Ontario Apple Growers (OAG) announced on Thursday that initial assessments still indicate up to 80 per cent of Southern Ontario’s apple crop will be lost. Outside of apples, 30-40 per cent of Ontario peaches have been adversely affected and “virtually complete devastation of the cherry and plum crops” is also expected.

“I know how much this loss means to the farmers involved, and not just in economic terms. I will continue to closely monitor the situation as we work to assess the damage and develop strategies that will best support the industry,” said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ted McMeekin on Thursday, after meeting with the OAG. Like many farmers, Smith invests in crop insurance in preparation for years like this one. Though it won’t make up for his huge losses in revenue, it still makes a difference.

“I always look at the cost of growing apples, which is large, plus the effort to do it, so I always buy crop and hail insurance,” he explained. “It will cover my input costs to maintain the trees and get them ready for next year.”

According to Smith he can’t remember a year like this but expects it’s natural.

“You can think of this as a 50 year event,” he said. “I’ve only been in the business 20 years – not that long, but the fellow who was here this week, his grandfather was an apple grower back into the 1920s and he said in the winter of 36 and 37 the temperatures in Ontario plummeted into the -30° range and destroyed the apple blossoms and trees.”

Smith has also heard of a similar loss in the 1940’s.

“It’s just part of a cycle.”

Apples account for approximately $63 million each year in Ontario and make up about 40% of Canada’s apple crop.

Friendship: Uniting Hockey Players for 40 Years

As published in The Shoreline Beacon (Mar. 20, 2012).

Friendship: Uniting Hockey Players for 40 Years

By Jennifer Schleich

When long-time hockey coach John Bieth boarded a plane in 1971 he didn’t know he was also embarking on a 40-year journey to create a wonderful and long-lasting hockey relationship between Ontario and Pennsylvania.

The Southampton retiree just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Friendship Exchange hockey program, an early spring exchange program which unites minor hockey players from Lancaster, Pennyslvania and Kitchener, Ontario for two weeks of hockey fun in February and March of every year.

“I think it’ll go another 40 years now, but I wouldn’t have imagined then that 40 years later it would still be going strong,” said Bieth.

The program was the brainchild of Bieth and Paul Pelland as a way of expanding the experience of young hockey enthusiasts in Lancaster.

“We were flying over Colorado and I was sitting beside him [Pelland]. We got talking about hockey and he said they were starting a team in Lancaster and asked me to bring my AAA All Star team down to play his boys,” explained Bieth.

Bieth knew if his team made the trip to Lancaster the game would just be for fun because their skill level was well beyond the first-time players in Lancaster.

“The boys’ parents said sure, why not, so we went there and played in the mall on a small rink because they didn’t even have an arena,” said Bieth. “They played most games in, essentially a barn with an ice surface, it was cold. Just 15 years ago they built a new arena.”

Bieth still remembers the first game between the two teams, with Kitchener out-scoring Lancaster 20-1, and 13 of those goals scored by a single player, Scott Fraser.

According to Bieth the exchange made a real difference in the quality of the hockey program in Lancaster over the years, although neither community took the idea very seriously at first.

“There’s no doubt it made a great difference in the hockey down there. Half of the people at the [40th anniversary] banquet were from Pennsylvania,” he said. “There was support to some degree but the community didn’t really get involved until the last few years. Even in Kitchener they didn’t take it seriously until a few years ago.”

Over the years the program has evolved. The original exchange of the two teams has expanded and now six to seven different teams from Kitchener visit Pennsylvania in February, and Lancaster reciprocates in March.

“Now we have teams from the little squints to the midgets, and its been like that for many years,” added Bieth. “I changed to coaching house league teams to keep the exchange competitive.”

The exchange has had its share of bumps in the road, said Bieth, but has been kept strong by volunteers. According to Bieth the commitment of current organizer Mike Aultman, who took over in 1994, has kept Kitchener moving full steam ahead with the exchange, as well as the work of Harold Hilsher of Pennsylvania who took up the reins when Pelland died in 1976.

“In the late 70s the bus from Pennsylvania crashed in New York and one of the boys died and 35 people were hurt,” he remembered. “It was a traumatic year and I thought, would they give up after but they didn’t -mostly because of Harold Hilsher.”

Bieth celebrated the milestone anniversary at a special banquet at Bingemans in Kitchener in February. Attending were 350 people, including players from the very first year of the exchange. Bieth began to tear up as he recalled the event.

“They got all the players up and marched the boys by me -it was something else,” he said. “The thing I think of most is how many kids have gone through and enjoyed the program and remember it for the rest of their lives.”

He said the emphasis of the program is on having fun, not winning games, and believes the most enjoyable part has been teaching all the kids about how to have fun on the rink.

“Advice I could give would be to just love the game of hockey, and you’ll become a good man,” said Bieth.

The thing Bieth misses most is the coaching and all the players.

“I miss it, but I get joy knowing there’s new players playing hockey and I had a part in that,” he added.

Bieth currently lives at Hampton Court in Southampton and has lived in the community for the past 12 years after retiring here with his wife. He coached minor hockey for approximately 15 years, his real passion, although he was a mechanic by trade and worked for GM all his life first as a mechanic then as a sales manager.

For more information about the history and ongoing programs run by the Friendship Hockey Exchange visit the organization’s website at

Wind turbine moratorium defeated

As published in The Shoreline Beacon, The Hanover Post & The Kincardine News.

Wind turbine moratorium defeated

Credit: Lisa Thompson
Credit: Lisa Thompson
By Jennifer Schleich

Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson’s hopes for a moratorium on all industrial wind turbines were dashed after the Liberal and NDP parties teamed up to defeat her private member’s bill, which she tabled during the Ontario Legislature on Thursday afternoon.

The motion appealed to MPPs to vote for a halt to wind turbine development in Ontario until further locally based third party studies have been conducted to examine the concerns brought forward by residents.

“Citizens living in … Huron, Bruce … Grey … just to name a few, have filed hundreds of complaints with the Ministry of the Environment,” said Thompson during her speech. “The tension in our communities has reached crisis proportions. Every fabric of our community is being impacted by these terribly expensive projects and ideals.”

210_Looking up up up

Thompson spoke on the need to focus on community-based development of renewable energy projects, in order to decrease animosity between neighbours.

“Projects are currently developed in a top-down approach instead of a bottom up approach, which would facilitate community buy-in,” she said.

She also referenced the soaring cost of electricity in the province as a serious concern and spoke to changing renewable energy policies in Europe, specifically Britain and       Spain.

“I had a constituent call my office this year concerned they wouldn’t be able to pay their energy bill,” said Thompson.

Thompson said the responses of the Liberal government to the ongoing situation are “shameful” and called out the party for only having 12 members in attendance at         Queen’s Park on Thursday.

“When I look throughout the chamber today it’s really disturbing to me that so many party members are not in their seats,” she said.

Before Thursday’s meeting of the legislature Thompson admitted she was not expecting a heartwarming reception from her opponents, but was hoping to impart on residents of rural Ontario that the Conservatives are not being discouraged.

“When I talk to individuals one-on-one they appreciate that people are having a tough time, but collectively as parties they continue to turn a deaf ear,” she said. “We are not being discouraged, we know it’s important to people.”

Although Thompson was not expecting a supportive reception from the Liberal party she was still saddened, she wrote in her press release.

“I am very disappointed that the Liberals and NDP voted against this motion,” said Thompson. “They are clearly not on the side of rural Ontario… It’s simply not fair.”

Thompson applauded her entire caucus for showing support for her bill and asked why the Liberal party did not allow any of its members in rural ridings to respond to her motion.

“To the MPPs who spoke from Richmond Hill, Toronto-Danforth, Mississauga Streetsville, I have to ask how many wind turbines they have in their riding,” she said. “Why were your members in rural ridings not allowed to speak today? I know the MPP for Guelph has constituents here in the gallery.”

The Liberal MPP from Richmond Hill, Reza Moridi, stated the party stands behind its 2009 policy decision to introduce green energy to Ontario and shut down coal plants. He countered Thompson’s claims of health concerns related to wind turbines with data on the pollution produce by coal-fired power plants.

New Democratic Party MPP Peter Tabuns also argued against the bill, stating, “now is not the time to slow down green energy or wind turbine development.”

However, he criticized Liberal policies on Green Energy, calling for the government to reduce tariffs to affordable levels, change c ommu n i t y cons u l t at i o n procedures and change the focus of development to community-owned projects.

Just recently at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association [ROMA] meeting Premier Dalton McGuinty and Energy Minister Chris Bentley made comments suggesting the Liberal government may move to restore some level of local planning authority to municipalities, which had been stripped with the introduction of the Green Energy Act.

“I’d like to think it was in response to the folks who walked out of ROMA showing their displeasure,” said Thompson. “Minister Bentley and Premier McGuinty did hint that during the media scrum.”

Thompson said the Liberals should support her motion for more health studies, considering the party’s investment of $1.5 million over five years through a health study on renewable energy with the University of Waterloo.

Thompson’s bill is certainly not the first motion to come before the Ontario Legislature requesting a moratorium on wind turbines, but she thinks its different from its predecessors.

“I believe my motion is different in the sense that I’m recognizing four areas of concern about environmental health, social heath, physical health and economic health,” she said. “All four of these elements impact how we need to address the issue.”

Former CFL player Bruce Beaton shares advice on sports and family

As published by Sun Media (Nov. 8, 2011).  / Photo Credit: Little Athletes Big Leaders

Bruce Beaton writes new book about raising young athletes

By Jennifer Schleich

Team sports fill a social niche, allowing a group to set a goal and work together to achieve it. Something which makes sports one of the most important opportunities for learning and growth in a child’s life, if framed in the right environment, according to former Canadian Football League player Bruce Beaton.

“Sports develop leadership skills and interpersonal skills. They help kids develop an ability to connect with people who they might not have much in common with. Everything in sports is a teachable moment and it doesn’t have to be about a win,” he said.

Beaton, who played in the CFL for 11 years for British Columbia, Saskatchewan Rough Riders, Edmonton Eskimos, Ottawa, Calgary and Montreal, recently wrote a book for parents of young athletes, Little Athletes Big Leaders -Effective Sports Parenting. He writes from a perspective that is perfectly familiar, that of the young family in a small town.

Beaton sees the sports environment as so important because it realistically represents the world children will live in when they are adults.

“School, which conditions us to work individually, and where it is often considered cheating to solicit the help of friends, is so unlike the outside world which mirrors the team aspect of sports,” he said.

The book is about how to effectively parent an athlete, how to avoid becoming just another coach, and how to frame the child’s experience in a way that focuses on the approach rather than on their results.

“I wrote the book because when I go to the rink or soccer field with my kids I see well meaning parents saying things to their kids that wouldn’t lead to the results they wanted. I knew they were missing the boat, not because they didn’t care or love their kids, but because they didn’t have the background and extensive experience in sports that I did,” he explained.

According to Beaton parents, especially fathers, have a tendency to become results driven because sports are such a visible facet of their child’s life, as opposed to other parts like school.

“The passion for sports comes from its visibility. Any time a parent watches a child in an endeavour with visible, instantaneous feedback, there is tendency to look at results. Think about school where parents are mostly detached from the process versus the kind of expectation in sports. Because sports are so visible parents want 100% engagement, 100% results,” he said.

Instead, sports should be about realizing there are no instantaneous results, they should be about setting long term goals about what you want to accomplish and figuring out if you are willing to accomplish them.

“It’s important to understand how damaging negative comments from loved ones can really be. For a relationship to thrive there should be a ratio of five positive comments to one negative comment because the negative ones really hurt,” he added.

According to Beaton parents should always find something positive to say about a game, and should never try to address something negative right after practice. If there are lots of positive comments in a child’s life, when it matters and a parent needs to address a negative behaviour the child will respond because it isn’t something they hear every day.

“It’s really about knowing what to praise. Praising the process instead of the results. The difference between the two type of children you can mold is enormous. The programming you have the opportunity to do as a sport parent can completely change what kind of adult you raise,” said Beaton.

It becomes so much easier for a coach to coach when parents realize their job isn’t to coach but to frame the experience. He calls for parents to evaluate situations and have conversations with their children instead of trying to coach.

“Not every situation needs to be a happy one, a winning one, and coaching experiences are the same. A negative coaching experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is all a learning experience. It’s no different than having a teacher for a subject who is weak, in the long run they are just one coach of many who make an impact,” he added.

Some children are exceptionally good at their sport, always drawing attention and landing their name in the local paper, a definite ego-boost and encouragement.

“If your child is a really good player and tends to get in the paper it’s really important to teach humility. Leaders share credit with their team mates, it’s important to teach kids how to do that,” he said.

So what if your child doesn’t like sports, or sports aren’t fun anymore?

“Parents shouldn’t push kids into sports, but they should try and show them there is value beyond fitness, wellness and fun, for instance leadership,” he said.

If sports have lost their spark, perhaps there is too much stress. Beaton says you have to know your kid and what they like to make those changes.

“My kids like spending time with me, for example. So when we are driving to and from practice we spend time together and make it fun in a million ways. Those things help, every time you choose to have fun with your kids you reinforce everything they are learning,” he added.

For Beaton, being a sport parent is one of the most fun things he’s ever done, they are the “good ol’ days”.

“I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the sport community in a small town. It’s been one of the most enjoyable experiences of our life and my wife and I have made so many friends,” he added.

The time he devotes to his children’s participation in sports are hours which are more than worth it, and there are a lot of hours involved.

He says, make sure those hours are spent productively encouraging your child to focus on their aspirations and their work practicing, not on how many goals they scored or how high they can jump.

“Nobody cares afterwords how well they did or what the score was during some game. Focus on the right things.”

Grey-Bruce losing slaughterhouses

As published in The Kincardine News (Aug. 23, 2011).

Grey-Bruce losing slaughterhouses at alarming rate | Kincardine News

Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre
Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre
By Jennifer Schleich

Abattoirs, or slaughterhouses, in Grey and Bruce counties are disappearing at an alarming rate, according to Freeman Boyd of Foodlink Grey and Bruce who visited Huron-Kinloss council on Monday evening (Aug. 15) to update the township about it’s continuing local food efforts in the region.

“We’ve lost 50% of Grey and Bruce abattoirs in the past 16 months. Without local abattoirs we can’t have local food,” said Boyd.

According to Boyd there are only 10 abattoirs left in Grey and Bruce. Three of those 10 are old facilities with old operators, which will likely close when those operators retire. At least two more are having difficulties.

“There hasn’t been any significant investment in local abattoirs in many years, within the next several years Grey and Bruce could only have five left,” he added.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that local livestock farmers aren’t using local abattoirs and local consumers aren’t purchasing local foods.

“I’ve been to farmer meetings and I’ve asked, ‘How many of you send your livestock to local abattoirs?’ and only a small number of hands go up,” he said.

According to Boyd, studies have determined that Grey and Bruce counties spend approximately $7.5 million per week on food. That’s everything from purchasing food at the grocery store, to restaurants, to entertainment.

“Of the $7.5 million spent per week, only 5% of that is spent on local food or goes to local food companies. That’s $1 for every $50,” said Boyd.

Furthermore, with the help of Bruce Community Futures Development Corporation, Foodlink is performing a survey of small town grocers, and has found many are in financial trouble.

“What does it mean for a family when the grocery store in their town closes and they have to drive 15 to 20 miles to the nearest store?” he asked.

Boyd views the situation as one with big chances for improvement. Foodlink would like to get the percentage of money spent in Grey and Bruce on local foods up to 30% from 5%.

“That is a lot of money. Even 30% spent on local food would have a huge economic impact on our region. I don’t know what it would look like realistically if we achieved that, but it would be good,” he said.

Foodlink has had two major studies done which both said there wasn’t a hope of attracting a food processing company to the region, because Grey and Bruce are too far off the 401 corridor.

The issue is complicated by stringent Ontario regulations governing abattoirs.

“There are all sorts of regulations written in doublespeak and departments, such as Public Health, only know about the regulations they are responsible for and nothing about other aspects,” said Boyd.

He added that the group, in conjunction with the Malcolm Women’s Institute, has been in dialogue with government officials to help make regulations more user friendly for new abattoirs.

The Foodlink program, which began in July 2007, receives funding from Bruce County, Grey County and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

This year Bruce and Grey upped their contributions to $60,000 each, from $40,000, which is matched by the Ontario Market Investment Fund (OMIF).

OMIF is a four-year provincial initiative to promote consumer awareness of Ontarioproduced foods and encourages Ontarians to eat locally.

“Last year the counties agreed to fund our wage stream separate from the project stream, $20,000 into wages and $40,000 into the project,” said Boyd . The change in funding allows the group to get straight to work each year instead of waiting for their OMIF funding to be approved in the early summer.

However, Boyd acknowledged that after this year there is no guarantee for government funding.

“Our OMAFRA funding will be on hold after this year, however I think the government will con-t inue to provide the funding following the election” added Boyd.

Foodlink has made significant progress towards establishing local foods in the region with the funding it receives.

There are now 351 local food businesses listed with their service, which includes everything from production to restaurants. Their website also has increased traffic, just last month it received over 3,500 hits compared to 1,000 from a year before.

“We’ve also worked to form a farmer’s market network over the past two years. When we started there were three farmers markets in Grey and Bruce, this year there are 12,” he said.

Foodlink is also collaborating with Georgian College to offer a certificate in agriculture.

“We are in the process of developing a six course certificate targeted at people with farming backgrounds,” said Boyd. The first course was offered this past January, with another this summer and plans for a third in the fall.

In the future, Foodlink would like to work with companies in the area which host cafeterias, for instance Bruce Power.

“We want to be able to take a company through what they currently have with their cafeterias and show them would they could do with local foods,” he added.

For more information on the Foodlink Grey and Bruce project or for information on where to purchase local foods visit:

Ontario mourns federal NDP leader Jack Layton

As published in The Kincardine News (Aug. 22, 2011).

Huron-Bruce NDP candidate, Grant Robertson, mourns Jack Layton

Credit: Jackman Chiu
Credit: Jackman Chiu – Nathan Phillips adorned with chalk memorials following Layton’s passing early this week.
By Jennifer Schleich

Paisley-area farmer and NDP candidate Grant Roberston is joining with his fellow party members in mourning the loss of federal NDP leader Jack Layton.

Layton passed away early Monday morning, Aug. 22 after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He stepped down as leader of the NDP to focus on his health at the end of July.

“We’ve known Jack a long time and the news hit us pretty hard. Jack called me at home many times over the years looking for advice on agricultural issues and to keep up with what was going on in Huron-Bruce,” said Roberston.

He found the topic difficult to talk about as Layton had been a long-time friend and mentor to the Huron-Bruce candidate.

“I remember, one of the first few times Jack called the house to talk to me, my nine-year-old daughter answered the phone. When my wife and I came in from the barn she said Jack Layton had called and we just thought she’d heard one of those recorded messages,” reminisced Robertson.

Not too long after he attended a political conference in Toronto where he ran into Jack in an elevator.

“Low and behold in comes Jack, who says, ‘I had just the greatest conversation with your daughter recently,’ and we all had a great laugh at my expense,” he added.

According to Robertson, that’s the kind of person Layton was: the same person in both private and public. There were many times over the years when Layton would call the Robertson home looking for Grant and end up involved in conversations with family members and friends.

Despite the loss, Roberston says he is more determined than ever to help change the country and province for the better.

“Jack has left us all marching orders in his letter to Canadians. It’s a call to pick up the torch to build a prosperous Canada for the future, which is more important than any one leader,” he added.

Robertson will be running under the NDP banner in the region after he received the nomination of his party at a meeting on Saturday, Aug. 20 in Brussels.

He recently finished second place in the Huron- Bruce riding during the May federal election to incumbent Conservative MP Ben Lobb. Robertson lost to Lobb’s 28,922 votes with 13,417 but outstripped Liberal candidate Charlie Bagnato, who received only 8,784 votes.

Robertson’s decision to run in the provincial election wasn’t the original plan at the close of the federal election.

“When the federal election was over it wasn’t part of the plan to run provincially, especially so soon. However, I spent a day in May at Queen’s Park as a concerned community member with the folks protesting the closure of the Walkerton Jail and I was shocked by the arrogance and our poor reception,” he said.

After the meeting in Toronto he headed to a meeting in Kincardine about Wind Turbines and met with the same feelings from the community.

“People were complaining that their government was not listening to them and I started putting it together in my head,” he added.

Robertson said he’s very comfortable with the decision to run this fall. He is also not worried about the stance of the NDP on nuclear power effecting his chances.

“We (the NDP) are definitely supporting refurbishment of nuclear, just not new builds. What is important in Huron-Bruce is refurbishment,” said Robertson in response to reports that NDP leader Andrea Horwath said the NDP won’t support the future of nuclear.

Robertson said the NDP strongly support the workers at Bruce Power, who are an important part of the community in Huron-Bruce.

“Bruce Power supplies a significant portion of our energy needs on a day to day basis, there is no doubt. I ‘ve got friends, neighbours and family that all work at Bruce Power,” he added.

Robertson has served on the board of the National Farmers Union and was the top elected official for that organization in Ontario.

He first ran provincially for the NDP in 2003 and also ran federally in 2006, making this his third attempt at a parliamentary seat.

Big beef farm support issued

As published in The Kincardine News (Aug. 9, 2011)

Big beef farm support issued | Kincardine News


By Jennifer Schleich

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs has announced it will add $50 million to its Ontario Feeder Cattle Co-operative Program this fall, bringing the total available money to $130 million.

“Cattle is the backbone of industry in Bruce County and the backbone of agriculture all over Ontario. We count on farmers to give us food so farmers can count on their government when times are hard,” said OMAFRA Minister and Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell at Steve Eby’s farm, JSE Farms, on Thursday, Aug. 4 in Kincardine.

The Ontario Feeder Cattle Co-operative Program (OFCCP) was formed in November 1990 and originally started with only $35 million in funding.

The program provides competitive loans to members of the 19 co-operatives in Ontario. The additional money for the program will be drawn from the existing OMAFRA budget, but is paid back over time by the farmers.

“The program helps new and young producers to build up a base, allowing young farmers to enter the sector,” said Mitchell.

“We are in our 21st year now and I think the co-operatives in all areas of the province should be recognized for their hard work. This program will help our sons and daughters to get established in the industry,” added Curtis Royal, President of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.

Approximately 25% of the program users are young farmers, well above the industry average. Members of the cooperatives can borrow up to a maximum of $250,000.

Ross Jeffray, Chair of the OFCCP was pleased to hear the announcement.

“We had to turn away a number of young farmers in the spring because we didn’t have the funding. It will be great to call them up and let them know we can help them out now,” he said.

Allan Dales, who lives in Greenock Township, is spending his summer working at the Eby farm. The 16-year-old was glad to hear there will be a greater number of loans available to young farmers from the government.

“It’s really hard for us young guys trying to get into farming, the money just isn’t there. I grew up around here and my dad has cattle, if it wasn’t for the help of my parents I wouldn’t be able to become a farmer. This new loan money is great news,” said Dales.

Dales will be entering Grade 12 this fall and intends to become a beef cattle farmer after he graduates.

Mitchell told the assembled crowd the new addition to the program is part of a number of packages which OMAFRA has worked to bring forward this year, including the new Risk Management Program announced earlier this summer. The Risk Management Program will work “hand in hand” with the OFCCP, according to Jeffray.

“The OMAFRA staff deserve a lot of credit, they’ve worked really hard to get a lot done,” said Mitchell.

Paris To London On A Penny-Farthing

As published by Sun Media (Jun. 21, 2011).

Paris to London on a Penny-farthing

Credit: Glen Norcliffe (
Credit: Glen Norcliffe (
By Jennifer Schleich

After a 500km bicycle ride called the Trail of Two Cities, from Paris to London on a penny-farthing, local Kincardine resident Glen Norcliffe has returned home.

Norcliffe is the Secretary for the International Veteran Cycle Association (IVCA) and Canada’s representative. There are approximately 25 other Canadian riders of penny-farthings involved in the association and each year the members converge for an annual three day meeting.

“I go to a different place every year and ride about a 1000km as part of the association,” said Norcliffe.

This year the IVCA meeting was held near Blois, France in a village called La Ferte Imbault. Norcliffe joined three Canadians and one Irish biker on a ride to the meeting from a Bicycle History Conference in Paris. The first day of the meet saw the members travel 100 miles between sunrise and sunset before a race on day two.

“I was brilliant during the race, I came in last,” joked Norcliffe. “Last year I participated in the World Championships in Denmark where I placed 2nd so I must be slowing down a bit,” he said.

If he is slowing down a bit it certainly didn’t keep him from joining five or six other penny-farthing riders on a five day ride back to London in the Trail of Two Cities bicycle adventure after the meeting.

Taking off to Europe for a journey on his penny-farthing bicycle is an annual event for Norcliffe.

“Next year the IVCA meeting is in Belgium so I think my wife will be joining me, as she loves chocolate,” he said. Norcliffe’s wife, Mary, who owns an interesting bike of her own called a 1993 Crypto Bantam, also knows how to ride penny-farthings.

Norcliffe started riding the bicycles 20 years ago after he broke his leg during a skiing accident.

“My doctor said I could swim or ride my bike. I went for the penny-farthing because they are interesting,” he said, adding, “You can see for miles when you’re on one, you can see over all the hedges in Ireland.”

He wouldn’t say how many penny-farthings he owns, as he was worried his wife would find out. However, he bought one of them here in Kincardine from a man who was moving away.

As for learning to ride one of the antique bicycles, it’s not that hard according to Norcliffe.

“You can either do it or you fall off and break your ankle, ” he said. There is a little step by the back wheel which you use to boost yourself onto the bike.

“It’s all about balance,” Norcliffe added.

In the recent past he has biked from Northern England to Denmark, up the Rhine Valley to Switzerland and from Kincardine to Indiana.

He also meets up with his fellow Canadian riders annually in September for a shoreline ride. In the past few years he has hosted a ride from Kincardine to Point Clark or Kincardine to Inverhuron, however this year he will be heading off to Turkey Point for a ride along Lake Erie.

Canadian Painter Recalls Tragic Shipwreck in Artwork

As published in The Kincardine News (May 24, 2011).

Patric Ryan at Victoria Park Gallery

By Jennifer Schleich

It started in Kincardine in 1978 with a freighter named Avalon Voyager II.

A ship no longer seaworthy, but being sailed to new owners with minimal patching, proved to be the inspiration to a body of artwork numbering over 600 paintings, etchings and drawings, as well as five novels, two screenplays and many short stories. Of that collection 11 works are on display at the Victoria Park Art Gallery for the rest of May.

“The paintings are just beautiful and the Avalon Voyager, which was from Kincardine, started everything,” said Colleen Jacob of the Victoria Park Art Gallery.

Patric Ryan, author of those works, was the Captain aboard the W.A. Spears on October 31, 1980 when the Avalon Voyager II sunk near Tobermory. She was originally built in Newfoundland in 1947 and christened Twillingate.

“In a full gale we rescued the crew of the Avalon Voyager from the rocks of Cape Hurd Channel near Tobermory and received the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery,” said Ryan.

The Avalon Voyager had belonged to Hank and Thelma Buitendyk who owned the Highland Cove Marina. The vessel had been the intended premises of a floating restaurant, which was later built upon the M.V. Clarenville.

To acquire the Clarenville in the wake of the disaster required a trip to Newfoundland, and the Buitendyks asked Ryan and his wife along for the ride, said Jacob.

The Clarenville was a 124-foot wooden-hulled Newfoundland schooner, which was built in 1944. She needed restoration work and to be outfitted with the requirements of a modern restaurant before being brought to the Owen Sound harbour, where she remained until a fire in 1989. She was the last remaining ship of the Splinter Fleet, which included the Avalon Voyager II.

Ryan did not return to Ontario with the newly renovated ship. Instead, along with his new bride, two sea dogs and a cat, they commenced their married life aboard a fishing schooner of their own.

“The artwork and writings I have produced are a happy consequence of our adventures in Newfoundland, the return voyage to Ontario and several trips back to The Rock,” said Ryan.

The boat became an art studio and home to their burgeoning family as they travelled up and down the Newfoundland coast, where Ryan produced a large amount of art.

“We were very much under the spell of the Newfoundland mystic,” he added.

He now works in a variety of mediums in his home on the Bruce Peninsula, including painting, drawing, sculpture, pottery, print making, writing and woodworking. He is a skilled craftsman and has built five wooden boats in the traditional art. Ryan is also a permanent artist at the Gallery de Boer in Owen Sound.

The current works on display at the Victoria Park Art Gallery are comprised of paintings in acrylic and oil, and three ink and watercolour drawings.

This fall will be the 30th anniversary of the Avalon Voyager II wreck, and Ryan plans to mark it with the release of a new book about the ship.

One of the ink and water col-our pieces on display at the Victoria Park Art Gallery is an illustration Ryan created for the new book.

Walkerton Jail Closure Sparks Protest

As published in The Kincardine News & Hanover Post 

By Jenn Schleich

A large group of protestors spent Friday (April 29) afternoon fighting back against the forthcoming closures of the Owen Sound and Walkerton jails, while protesting outside Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell’s office in Kincardine.

“We are here todaybecause of the huge impact these closures will have on the local people and economy,” said Paul Johnstone, President of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Chapter 235.

The Walkerton Jail has 45 employees and the Owen Sound Jail has 50 employees who will be transferred to other Ontario locations if the closure is finalized.

Approximately a dozen people, including NDP candidate Grant Robertson, gathered on the front lawn of Mitchell’s office before staking their signs in her garden and marching down Queen St. in protest.

“I’m here today as a citizen,” said Robertson, “We will all be paying more money if this goes through and I’m here to support the workers.”

Gerry Hope, President of OPSEU Chapter 225 met with Carol Mitchell on Friday morning in Clinton where they discussed concerns over the jail closures.

“It was somewhat frustrating, she was only willing to listen to some of what we had to say and what she told us was ministry officials have told her, this is the way it is,” said Hope. “She was very non-committal, and gave me the sense this is a done deal and unless enough pressure comes to bare, it won’t be reversed,” he added.

According to Hope the next step will be to get the community involved and start speaking directly to the ministries.

“We will win this,” he insisted.

The protesters had some inside information Carol Mitchell would be there at 1 p.m., said Johnstone. However, a representative from Mitchell’s office said it is typically closed on Fridays in Kincardine.

“I met with Carol in Clinton this morning and it was obvious to me her plans to be here today were a ruse,” said Hope.

If the jails closes employees will be transferred to other facilities, including the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetangushine.

“There are current and upcoming vacancies at other nearby   jails, such as Stratford, but transferring to these positions would be based on seniority,” said Hope.

According to Hope, if transferring to another location isn’t an option for an employee the Province isn’t offering any compensation aside from the severance package as per their current collective agreement.

“There is currently a hiring freeze until the current vacancies are filled by employees who will be affected by these closures,” Hope added.

The original decision to close the jails came down from the Minister of Finance in the 2011 Ontario budget.

“This has got to be the first time a finance minister has closed an institution, some people are wondering if it was Jim Bradley’s decision,” said Hope.

Ontario correctional institutions received no consultation or warning before the budget announcement about the closures.

“Bradley has no response on that either,” he added.


Organic Community Garden Gaining Popularity
As published in The Kincardine News, March 8, 2011
By Jenn Schleich

March 20 is right around the corner and heralds the first day of spring; with spring comes backyard gardens, and more recently, community gardens and organic gardening workshops.

“It’s part of eating locally and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Charmaine Jenkins of the Kincardine Public Library, regarding the annual Organic Growing Program.

Entering its fourth year, the Organic Growing Program runs every Tuesday evening in the month of March. The program’s 18 spaces are already filled up this year, said Jenkins. The program is so popular the library doesn’t even have to advertise and people start e-mailing in early January to get registered.

The program is essentially a discussion group led by Janice McKean, who may be familiar to readers from her position as one of the co-ordinators of the Kincardine Community Garden and her involvement with the Kincardine Farmer’s Market. The McKeans also run an organic farm just north of town.

The Organic Growing Program is designed for the average backyard gardener and covers all sorts of issues pertaining to growing organic crops, from preparing the soil all the way to harvesting the vegetables.

“Not only do they gain something from the program they also get a sense of community with other gardeners,” said Jenkins, adding it’s “incredibly successful.”

For residents who don’t have a yard suitable for a vegetable garden the Kincardine Community Garden is an opportunity to have an organic garden of their own.

“The garden is organic, there are no herbicides or pesticides allowed within the community garden space,” said Chrystel Murphy, one of the coordinators of the garden.

The community garden is located in Geddes Park and has 35 plots available this year, up from 25 last year.

“It was really successful, last year we had 25 families and a long waiting list,” said Murphy. There are still a few coveted plots available this year for interested residents.

For a $20 fee and some volunteer commitment to cutting grass in the park, families can have a 10 x 10 ft. plot for the entire growing season.

“Each individual or group gets to decide what they want to plant in their plot,” said Murphy. Adding that local farmers donated crop seeds to the garden last year.

Ontario Power Generation has also donated money for the purchase of gardening tools and wheelbarrows. All tools are for community use within the garden and are stored in the Public Works barn. Public Works has a vested interest in the project and provides the facilities for gardeners to water their plots and also provides mulch.

Last year was the first year of the program and it will “definitely remain a permanent fixture within the community,” said Murphy. The volunteers who run the labyrinth garden were “happy to have us as garden neighbours; it worked out really well,” she added.

“It was hardly any work at all, everyone pitched in,” Murphy said.

The gardeners all got together and cooked a community soup with the vegetables harvested from their plots at the end of last year. Alongside Murphy and McKean, Doug McTavish also helps coordinate the garden.