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Cruisin’ for a cause


Fundraising for the Galop Canal Revitalization Project is moving full steam ahead this June beginning with a sightseeing cruise aboard the Sea Fox II on June 10th.

The two hour cruise, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. will depart from Morrisburg and cruise along the St. Lawrence River. Passengers will be treated to dinner from the Basket Case Café as well as a live auction, live entertainment, a cash bar and prize draws. 

 Owners of the Basket Case Café, Carl McIntyre and Hanna Rycroft, “try to set an example for the community to get involved,” said McIntyre. “I believe the whole community should benefit.”

Rycroft said she gets involved “because it’s a really good cause. It’s important that we do something to get the tourism.”

“It’s a great way to have two fun-filled hours and to do something good,” she said. “Our goal is to raise at least $4,000.” 


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Terrific Trio ends St. Lawrence Stage season


The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage finished off its 2011-2012 season in a big way on Saturday, May 26, at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre.

Not only was the Stage the recipient of a Canadian Heritage grant, presented by MP Guy Lauzon earlier in the week, but three outstanding artists rang down the concert series curtain on a very special high note.

Ambre McLean, Fraser Anderson and Tara Holloway  did not know each other before they shared the stage Saturday night. 

“We were a little mean about this,” board member Sandra Whitworth laughed, just before welcoming the trio to the stage. “We threw these three artists together, performers who had never met each other, just to see what would happen. However, the singers assure me that they are going to enjoy this.”

So did the audience at Saturday’s concert.

It was, as Tara Holloway had suggested in an earlier interview, “some sort of combustion, a magical moment when these song writers (came) together to sing.”

The individuality of each of the performers’ vocal styles made the on stage mix a very interesting  and unexpected one.  

While none of the artists can be pigeon-holed into a particular genre, Ambre McLean’s soaring, beautiful voice has a  rich, jazz/blues flavour colouring it. Fraser Anderson, a slight Scottish burr underlying his wonderful,  seemingly effortless vocals, might, in another era be described as a balladeer, a romantic. Tara Holloway is a powerhouse on stage, her vocals strong and uninhibited and daring.

Anderson, born in Scotland, but now living in France, often prefaced his music with anecdotes. (“My son is attending school in France. He came home shortly after he started classes and announced, “Dad, I learned to say something in French!”  “Wonderful son, what is it?” “I can say sit down and be quiet.”)  

It led to an Anderson number, an hilarious musical blending of French and English lyrics (“I just can’t choose ce soir…is it masculin ou feminin?”) and brought Tara and Ambre in on the chorus, creating a truly spontaneous magical moment.

To considerable audience approval, McLean performed her beautiful award winning song, “Me, Myself and the Moon.” 

“I got the idea for this song when I overheard a woman in a restaurant say that she knew she was in love, because she felt it ‘with her whole body,’” Ambre explained. “Doesn’t that make you weak? When you fall in love, it is the simplest, most amazing time in the world.”

Tara Holloway, who creates some very unusual harmonies, powerfully delivered on “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and was joined, again spontaneously, by Fraser and Amber, on  “The Heart Goes” from her newly reissued CD Sins to Confess

Throughout the evening, I was repeatedly impressed with the lyrics of the songs I was hearing. Anderson, Holloway and McLean are genuine originals. Their  individual themes, their plays on words, their ability to express even traditional ideas in the most unexpected of ways, was a source of real pleasure.

At the end of the evening, Fraser Anderson, Tara Holloway and Ambre McLean united their voices in a beautiful ballad by Anderson. Music really does bring strangers close together. 

We all saw that on Saturday evening.

Look for the upcoming 2012-2013 concert series at the St. Lawrence Stage this September.


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Adrian Harewood addresses Canadian Club


Adrian Harewood arrived a little late for his speaking engagement with the Canadian Club of Morrisburg and District on Wednesday, May 16.

However, this was understandable. 

He was still on air when the banquet began, anchoring CBC News Ottawa, before thousands of viewers. 

A renowned journalist, radio host (All in a Day) and respected news commentator, Harewood was the final speaker of the Club’s 2011-2012 series. A large crowd of members and guests was on hand to hear Harewood speak on topic about which he clearly has deep feelings, “Volunteers in the Community.”

Personable, outgoing and a gifted speaker, Harewood quickly won over the audience, with his sense of humour. However, there was a serious point to his address.

Canada, like the rest of the world, has changed, he explained, with traditional communities often lost in the new on-line ‘digital’ societies. This is a world made up of hundreds of “friends” that people have never met, will never meet.

“The digital world is, of course, a great creativity source,” Harwood said, “but one effect of this change is that we are in danger of losing the human touch in our lives. Research has found that more people feel disconnected from society than ever before. People seem to be craving the sense of community life,  of simple conversations,  of recognition. They share a wish that they actually knew their neighbours. Without reminders of what community can be, we may lose parts of our humanity.”

Harewood grew up in Ottawa, a member of a close-knit family where both parents were community activists. They instilled in their son the strong belief that he had a responsibility to people, even to people he would never know. Other people’s lives needed to matter to him. 

“Our home was a place where everyone was welcome. I remember my mother bringing  home a Tunisian woman, a woman struggling to gain an education and to leave behind the desperate circumstances of her old life. She was Tunisian, Arabic, a francophone, a Muslim, and a Canadian. She became part of our lives. She was a member of our community.”

Harewood’s parents emphasized the need to be involved with the people in one’s community, to work for justice and freedom. They always stressed that everyone has a responsibility to the community.

Years later, Harewood was interviewing former United States president Bill Clinton, and asked him what he saw as the biggest problem of the 21st century.

“The problem, Clinton told me, lies in the struggle to overcome the differences that divide us as a global community.”

Volunteering, actively and personally getting involved in the life of a community, is vital, Harewood stressed.

“The act of volunteering is the connective tissue that ties our communities together. Volunteers are the civil engineers who build a healthy community. They weave the webs of solidarity and compassion. We cannot survive without the support of others because we are the products of our communities.”

Harewood illustrated how  the power of volunteering can bring even the most unlikely people together. 

He cited the example, a few months ago, of a drought fund raising concert, arranged by young, educated Somalian activists at the Centre Point Theatre. 

“They asked me to volunteer to work with them. But what utterly surprized me, when I saw the entertainment bill, was the  highly unlikely presence on it of a country and western band made up of middle-aged, conservative, white men.  That’s when I came to understand that those young African men and those middle-aged white men shared in common a profound belief in a cause: they were determined to help their community.”

Volunteering, Harewood said, is a gift to our neighbours, and a gift to ourselves.  Volunteers often get back far more than they give in terms of new possibilities,  of new ways of looking at the world.

Caring about the community, and doing what one can to help and to work with neighbours, makes all of us “more ‘human,’ human beings.”

Adrian Harewood chose words from the reverend Martin Luther King to conclude his address.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


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‘Feather in our cap’ for South Dundas


“Council should recognize that their fire service has achieved significant progress under the guidance of Chief (Chris) McDonough,” wrote program specialist Chad Brown of the Office of the Fire Marshal in the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service.

Early in May, South Dundas chief administrative officer Stephen McDonald received Brown’s letter confirming “that there are no outstanding items from the 2009 OFM Review and no further follow-up activities required.”

Brown advised that “as the South Dundas Fire Service continues to mature under a single fire department, continued success should include activities such as implementing a Fire Safety Inspection Program, Fire Response Pre-Planning, obtaining a Tanker Shuttle Accreditation, and finalizing Fire Protection Agreements with neighbouring municipalities.”

In reaction to the letter, councillor Jim Graham said, “this demonstrates that not only did we make the right decision to get a fire chief to look after all three stations, but that we chose the right man.”

“As far as I’m concerned,” he continued, “that’s a real feather in our cap.”

McDonough offered that “it’s really been a group effort. I didn’t do it on my own.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds said, “we do appreciate what he does along with the volunteers and everybody that’s connected with the fire service.”

“There is a list here that he still has to work on,” added Byvelds.


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Council addresses late requests from festival


During the May 15th South Dundas council meeting, councillor Evonne Delegarde submitted three requests from the Bluegrass Festival Committee.

The requests included the borrowing or renting of chairs as well as the use of the Iroquois Campsite showers and dumping station.

It was estimated that there would be 70 to 80 campers ‘rough camping’ at the Bluegrass Festival, which takes place June 15th to the 17th at the Iroquois Locks.

 Mayor Steven Byvelds reminded council that the committee had submitted a request at budget time for $10,000 and were granted $3,000 from the township.

He also pointed out that “we had this request last year and denied it.”

Chief administrative officer Stephen McDonald pointed out that there is a grants policy and “I don’t think this group just thought of this request today. I think it was purposefully not given to staff.”

In terms of the shower request, Councillor Jim Graham said, “people pay to camp there. It’s not fair.”

Delegarde suggested there might be a fee for showering.

Deputy-mayor Jim Locke said, “I don’t think we’re supporting our tourism by not allowing dumping. You’re not going to have them lined up.”

Clerk Brenda Brunt pointed out that there is no staff working on Sunday afternoons.

“I do see a line up,” said Byvelds. “I don’t like getting last minute requests. It’s not fair to council and it’s not fair to staff.”

As for the paying campers at the Iroquois Campsite, Byvelds said, “it’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for them.”

In the end, it was decided that there weren’t any chairs sufficient to the task. It was also decided that allowing the showers to be used would be too much of an inconvenience to campers at the Iroquois Campsite. The request to allow dumping, however, was approved.


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Festival building on 2011’s success


“This is our second annual Bluegrass Festival,” said Geraldine Fitzsimmons, “and we’re very excited about building on the success of last year.”

This year’s Bluegrass Festival will be held on the weekend of June 15th, 16th, and 17th at the Iroquois Locks. 

“It’s so thoughtful that the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation allows us to go on their property,” said Fitzsimmons.

This year’s line-up includes: Dave Nichols & Spare Change; Grassland; Northwind; Hard Ryde; The Dusty Drifters; Grassy Fiddle Time; Concession 23; and Darwin & Gilles.

Asked how the idea for the Bluegrass Festival originated, Fitzsimmons said, “I’ve always wanted to do a festival and I thought it would be a good fundraiser for the Galop-Canal project.”

“So, I went to see Mike Anderson to see if he would help me with it.” Given the option between Country and Western versus Bluegrass, Fitzsimmons went with Bluegrass.

“He assured me that this festival will grow, but only if we can bring in bigger name bands.” As an example, she suggested Ricky Skaggs might be a future option.

Mike Anderson is the owner of the Bluegrass Connection in South Dundas.

The weekend event will be emceed by master of ceremonies, Terry Joe Banjo who, as Fitzsimmons pointed out, is “a young man with a lot of energy. He’s funny. He goes along to a lot of the festivals.”

The sound system will be professionally manned by Shawn Markell of MK Music Solutions.

In addition to Bluegrass music, the event also offers instructional workshops on Saturday in the art of playing the guitar, the madolin, the banjo, or the dobro. 

An assortment of vendors, organized by Sharon Piche, will be showcasing their wares while the Iroquois and Matilda Lions Club will provide sustenance in the form of a barbecue.

While camping out for the weekend isn’t necessary, it is an option and Fitzsimmons pointed out that the campers are “bluegrass followers from all over” and “all of them last year had never been to our area before and just loved it.” Barb and Jerry Gurnhill are in charge of the campground detail.

As the committee learns and grows year to year, Fitzsimmons said, “we’re still going through growing pains, but we have an outstanding committee.”

“We’re hoping the weather will be like last year,” she continued. “It’s just bringing lots of people into our community.” 

The Galop-Canal Revitalization project focuses on restoring the history of the area, keeping the shorelines clean, utilizing the beautiful waterfront, and welcoming tourists into the area. 

Located in Iroquois and complete with a marina, the Galop-Canal is a great place for locals and tourists, with or without boats, to enjoy the waterfront along the St. Lawrence River. 


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St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage receives Heritage grant


MP Guy Lauzon was on hand on Thursday, May 24, at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre to formally present the board of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage an $8,000 grant through the Canada Arts Presentation Fund of the Department of the Canadian Heritage. “This is the best part of my job,” Lauzon said, “giving a worthy organization a bit of help financially. I am proud of our government’s commitment to supporting the Arts in Canada. The Stage actively encourages professional and amateur musicians, and generates economic growth in this area.” “We really appreciate how much the Stage does for our community,” said Charles “Chuck” Barkley, president of the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce. “We encourage everyone to support their shows.” “This grant was very good news for us,” said board member Sandra Whitworth. “It allows us to book artists in advance, and set up attractive packages for our next season. We really appreciate the support of the government and of our community.” Left to right are Sandra Whitworth, MP Guy Lauzon, Jeanne Ward, Bill Carriere, board members, and president Chuck Barkley.


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Bike-a-thon: having fun and raising money


“It was a wonderful day. It certainly was perfect for walking and biking,” said Dough Grenkie, in reference to the Children’s Treatment Centre Bike-a-thon Plus held on May 26th in South Dundas.

This is the second year that Dough Grenkie and Lyle Van Allen volunteered to organize and run the South Dundas portion of the  Bike-a-thon Plus. The event is held concurrently with the treatment centre’s Cornwall event. Next year, according to Grenkie, they hope to expand to include North Dundas.

The Bike-a-thon Plus trail in South Dundas ran between the Docksyde in Morrisburg and Iroquois Point with two checkpoints in between where volunteers were on hand to provide bottled water and fresh fruit.

“I feel as though participation was low,” admitted Van Allen, however, “I’m happy with what we did accomplish. You always wish for better. Maybe another year will be better yet.”

Van Allen’s granddaughter, Cassandra Thompson, participated in the charity event, biking on her own  from Morrisburg to Iroquois.

“We’re making people aware that this agency is there to help children and there is no financial aid from government,” said Van Allen, pointing out that the treatment centre is run solely on donations. 

According to Grenkie, the South Dundas portion of the event raised “well over $5,000.” Donations are still trickling in and, therefore, exact numbers are not yet available.

“Anybody can give money any time of the year and it will be gratefully accepted.”

“The support of the Bank of Montreal managers and staff was phenomenal from all branches,” said Grenkie. Iroquois, Morrisburg, Finch, Winchester and Ingleside branches were all involved. “It will be a record donation for Dundas County.”

Cathy Osborne and her daughter Samantha, part of the Iroquois BMO group, made it all the way to the first checkpoint from the Docksyde. According to Cathy, her BMO group raised over $1,400.

In addition to the Osborne mother-daughter team,  a couple of energetic Morrisburg and District Lions Club Leos also made it to the first checkpoint and beyond. Chase Dunkley and Dean Mark biked the entire circuit from Morrisburg to Iroquois and back again. The Morrisburg Lions Club raised $840 for the Bike-a-thon.

“It really helps to have the Lions Clubs and the Leos,” said Grenkie. Both Iroquois-Matilda Lions Club and the Morrisburg and District Lions Club were active volunteers and participants for the May 26th event.

“There were a lot more walkers than bikers,” continued Grenkie. “I was a little disappointed that the participation was down.” Grenkie biked from the Docksyde in Morrisburg to Iroquois Point.

Next year, with a hopeful expansion to include North Dundas, Grenkie said he hopes to “get the whole community involved” as the Children’s Treatment Centre services all of Dundas County. 

The Children’s Treatment Centre, stationed in Cornwall, services the United Counties and Akwesasne. There are psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors on staff ready to treat children aged 5 through 17 affected by physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

The centre doesn’t require professional referrals and there aren’t any lengthy waiting periods.

“The publicity from the Bank of Montreal and The Leader was phenomenal,” said Grenkie. “More people have learned about this facility that has been here for about 15 years.”

Van Allen agreed, saying that “more people know about the Children’s Treatment Centre today than three years ago, so that’s a good thing.” 

For more information on the Children’s Treatment Centre,  phone 613-933-4400 or go to their website at


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Golden Gears Car Club holds first public event


From all accounts the inaugural event of the Golden Gears Car Club was a great success. On Friday evening, May 25, the Club held a Show and Shine beside Canadian Tire in Morrisburg. Members came out to show off 33 cars, drawing large numbers of car enthusiasts among the public.

“We are trying to get established, trying to let people know we are here, and who we are,” said Henry Swank, president of the newly re-formed club. “We held this event as a way for the public to see the cars, and to chat with the owners. We also had memorabilia, including the original club charter, for visitors to see. There was a great turn-out of club members (currently 55, with room for more). We know there is a lot of interest out there, and the club has a number of events planned, including the Canada Day Car show in Iroquois and a July 29 Golden Gears own car show.”

Tony Byvelds shows off his 1974 Triumph Spitfire 1500.  Braden Lewis already has the “cruisin’ look” down, as he stands by his grandfather’s ‘62 Chrysler New Yorker. Garry Tracey displays his custom 2001 PT Cruiser Hemi.


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Morrisburg Dock: unfit and unsafe


“Over the past week or so it’s come to our attention that the Morrisburg Dock is unfit,” said councillor Evonne Delegarde at the May 15th South Dundas council meeting.

“As a second part to this,” she continued, “there’s a boat tour that’s scheduled several different dates throughout the summer starting mid-June.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds acknowledged the situation, saying that chief administrative officer Stephen McDonald had already been in contact with the captain of the boat cruise.

“I made him aware that although it’s a public dock,” said McDonald, “it’s under the township and he shouldn’t be promoting its use without permission.”

“Captain Andy went on his own,” said Byvelds. “He didn’t inform anybody. The dock is now unsafe and there’s nothing to be done.”

“They need to realize it isn’t a free dock. We’re not here to stop commercial ventures, but they need to come work with us.”

Councillor Jim Graham said, “I think we should work with them. It’s a very good draw for tourism. I’d certainly support anything we could do.”

As for dock repairs, council is waiting on an engineer’s report before moving forward.