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Byvelds reflects on past year as Warden of SD&G Counties


“I will do my best to be the spokesman for Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry,” said South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds on December 10, 2010 when he was officially sworn in as the Warden for the United Counties of SD&G.

Byvelds’s year-long position came to an end on November 21st when he chaired his last Counties council meeting as Warden of SD&G. His replacement, South Glengarry Deputy-Mayor Ian McLeod will be sworn in on December 9th, 2011.

The Warden is the head of council and, as Byvelds explained, “in theory, the CEO of the municipality, in this case, the Counties.”

“You are expected to go to meetings and events to represent the Counties. The Warden puts the Counties first when considering issues. However, all Counties Councillors should do this when performing Counties business,” continued Byvelds.

“We need to be open to new ideas but in the end we need to work to improve and enhance the entire Counties, not just our own little part.”

At last year’s swearing in, Byvelds stated: “Our goal will be to make the United Counties of SD&G the best counties government in Ontario.”

When asked if he was successful in this goal, he said, “I do believe we at the Counties do a good job. We have the best counties road system in Ontario and Council, through the budget, decided to keep our road system well maintained.”

“Staff also do an excellent job in making sure things get done right.”

During the Warden’s Closing Address, Byvelds said, “someone asked me at the banquet what were the high and low point of the past year. The high point was easy as becoming the warden certainly was a peak. The position  is respected by many and the people of South Dundas appreciated having their mayor as warden.”

“The low point was council’s decision not to go to a two year term for warden.”

He later provided further comment on this issue: “I feel strongly that a two year term of warden is the way to go. It takes half a year to build the relationships a warden needs with Cornwall, our local member of parliament and member of provincial parliament, and especially at the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus (EOWC).”

“The EOWC lobbies Provincial and Federal issues and an important issue we worked on was the Farm Tax issue. We met with provincial ministers twice through the year and although things have changed with our new minority government, a warden with a longer term can establish the connections required to get things done.”

It would seem that Byvelds enjoyed his year as Warden for the United Counties of SD&G. He admitted that “if council had agreed in September to go forward with a two year term, I would have allowed myself to continue.”

“I  certainly enjoyed running meetings and making sure things got done at the counties level,” he said. “Counties Councillors worked well with me and I had a sense that the respect was mutual.”

“My advice to Deputy Warden McLeod is to be prepared and represent the Counties well. I have already offered my help and I feel confident that he is ready for the position.”

In the final words of his closing address, Byvelds said, “I believe we live in and operate one of the best county systems in Ontario.”

Byvelds’ promise: “I will resume being the councillor for South Dundas and I will continue to work for what is best for the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.”


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Santa star of Morrisburg Santa Claus Parade


“Well, Santa says he had such a good time during our Morrisburg Santa Claus parade that he promises he’ll be back for sure on December 24,” said George Davies, parade marshal of the 19th annual parade, held on Saturday, December 3. “We had a perfect day for our parade: couldn’t have asked for nicer.”

Five performing bands, over 50 floats and displays, dancers and beloved Christmas and fantasy figures took part in the parade.Service groups, clubs, businesses, churches and charitable organizations all joined in the celebration.

Large and very enthusiastic crowds filled the streets everywhere. 

“It was just wonderful to see this kind of community support,” said Davies, who put over nine kilometres on his ATV 4-wheeler, courtesy of Jimmy Primrose, as he whipped up and down the route ensuring that everything went well. “We had over 200 people taking part in the 2011 parade. I just can’t say enough about all the effort that went into this event, the hours volunteered by the organizers and participants. It was  cheerful, fantastic work by all.”

This year was the biggest parade yet, with several people coming from outside Morrisburg to enjoy or to take part in the festivities. 

Floats featured everything from Christmas wrapped heavy machinery to Grinchmobiles and  merry Christmas tableaux. “It was incredible to see how creative and interesting all the floats were,” Davies said. “Our mayor, Steven Byvelds and our MP Guy Lauzon and MPP Jim McDonell also came to take part in Morrisburg’s show.”

Davies says that the planning for the 2011 Christmas parade began the day following the 2010 parade. “I’m already at work on 2012,” he laughed.

After hot chocolate and hot dogs with little visitors at the civic centre, Santa and Mrs. Claus caught a Reindeer Express back to the North Pole. 

“I just want to say many, many thanks to everyone who helped along the way,” said George Davies. 


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Alight at Night lights up Eastern Ontario


The beauty of Christmas came alive at Upper Canada Village, Friday night, as the St. Lawrence Parks Commission opened its new gates in its new Discovery Centre to the 11th annual Alight at Night Festival.

Now recognized as one of the Top 100 events in Ontario by Festivals and Events, Ontario, Alight at Night has grown again with close to 1 million lights now lighting up the Eastern Ontario evening sky.

Visitors were welcomed to the official opening at Crysler Hall by Ron Eamer, Acting Chair of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, who claimed that snow has been ordered and is on its way.

“We owe a great amount of thanks to the staff,” said Eamer. “Their enthusiasm is what carries it off. This year, they have put up almost 1 million lights.”

Director of Marketing, Bryan Mercer highlighted the various additions to this year’s festival. They include new state-of-the-art LED wall washer lighting that sets the historic buildings aglow in colour, a new and convenient outdoor food court and more streamlined pricing to alleviate lineups and speed entry to the Village.

For one price, visitors now get admission to the festival, including a wagon and train ride.

Admission is $13 for adults (13 years plus), $10 for seniors (65 years plus) and $10 for youth (six to 12 years). Children five years of age and under will be admitted free. All admissions are subject to tax.

Returning to this year’s Alight at Night Festival is the very popular Sound and Light Spectacular which runs every half hour outside Crysler Hall. This year’s show is sponsored by Cruickshank Construction.

The third running of the Annual Canadian Gingerbread Competition was judged this past Saturday and the entries are on display at Crysler Hall and the carolling at nearby Christ Church has been expanded.

Mercer pointed out that the festival opened a few days later (than in the past) on Friday, December 2 but will operate through to January 7 this year.

Alight at Night is now open Thursday to Sunday until December 18 (closed Mondays to Wednesdays). From December 19 to January 7 it will be open nightly except for its closure on December 24 and 25.

“It’s our 11th year and Alight at Night has become the signature event for Eastern Ontario,” said Mercer. “It keeps growing and growing and getting better. Anyone who has been involved in it should congratulate yourself.”


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Upper Canada Playhouse announces blockbuster season of laughter and music


MORRISBURG – An hilarious golf show in late winter, a live country concert in the spring, a series of hysterical comedies in the summer, a fabulous Elvis concert in the fall and a wonderful holiday family show at Christmas, all beginning with CBC’s The Vinyl Café with Stuart McLean in January! 

It’s four seasons of great entertainment in 2012 at Upper Canada Playhouse.  People from far and wide have already tapped into the excitement with a flurry of activity at the theatre’s new box office, which has been filled with patrons booking their tickets for the longest season in memory. 

“Our audience has been booking their Flex Passes for the summer season as well as purchasing seats for our added shows in the spring and fall,” remarks Artistic Director Donnie Bowes. 

“We’ve already added another week of shows for Blue Suede Shoes, our Elvis show, in the Fall. Folks are really looking forward to coming to The Playhouse not only in the summer but all year. It’s great for them, great for us and great for our community,” he adds. In fact, some groups are purchasing whole performances for office parties and other functions.

 Bowes and staff laugh when they realize that there is really no such time as ‘off-season’ anymore when marketing and planning usually takes place at The Playhouse. “It’s go, go, go now,” he laughs. 

To kick off the Season, CBC and Stuart McLean are taping two episodes of The Vinyl Café on January 28 and 29. Tickets have been going quickly and there are only tickets left for the January 29 show. 

Starting off the regular Season will be Norm Foster’s popular golf comedy The Foursome, probably one of the comic playwright’s most popular shows ever. It’s about four pals who re-unite to catch up on their lives by playing a round of golf. Their hilarious stories, antics and surprises have been entertaining audiences for years now. The comedy runs March 16 to April 1 and is in response to audience requests for a show at this time of year to chase away the winter blues. 

The spring brings Country Jukebox, from May 2 to 13, a brand new country concert from popular singer Leisa Way and her Wayward Wind Band whose hit shows Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton were featured at The Playhouse in recent seasons. The show will showcase hit songs from the famous singing partners of country music from Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty to Tammy Wynette and George Jones and many more. 

Next up is the popular comedy series starting with Hotbed Hotel, running June 7 to July 1 and written by Michael Parker, the creator of last season’s hit The Sensuous Senator. It’s about a couple trying to sell their run-down hotel. 

Up next is Norm Foster’s comedy Here on the Flight Path playing from July 5 through 29. It’s set on two balconies of an apartment building where writer John Cummings deals with the hilarious antics caused by new ladies constantly moving in next door. 

The comedy Wife Begins at Forty by Arne Sultan, Earl Barret and Ray Cooney is next at bat from August 2 to 26. Friends, neighbours  and the family dog deal with the hilarious consequences of a couple trying to re-kindle their romance.  

The summer series finishes September 6 to 30 with A Nice Family Gathering by Phil Olson. It’s the first family reunion since Dad died, and the tension and hilarity increase when his ghost appears to one of the sons with a special favour. It all breaks lose when Mom’s date shows up for dinner. This show has it all—conflict, comedy and characters we all recognize. 

The fall will rock The Playhouse with a two-week run of Blue Suede Shoes, A Tribute to Elvis Presley. It plays October 10 to 21 and is an explosive, 45-song journey through the life of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. 

The Playhouse season wraps up with a brand new holiday family show, Everything I Always Loved About Christmas by Robert More and playing November 22 to December 16. It’s a wholesome, down-home story, told through the comical eyes of a granddad, about a family preparing for Christmas while their daughter is stranded in a bus stop far away. A joyous and entertaining Yuletide story filled with magic, music and the wonder of the season. 

The box office is open year round and, although tickets can be purchased anytime throughout the year, Flex Passes are only available until June 7. The Playhouse also has popular group and senior rates available. Sales have been brisk for this 2012 season and patrons are advised as usual to book early to get the dates, time and specific seats they want.


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A Christmas Carol supports WDM Hospital


Over 175 people come out to enjoy a very special dramatic reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on Sunday, December 4, a fund raiser to help Winchester Hospital with the purchase of new cardiac monitors. Lakeshore Drive United Church in collaboration with Upper Canada Playhouse sponsored the event, which raised close to $5,000, according to ecstatic organizer Gail McCooeye, with some funds still coming in.  Ticket sales are being matched by Scotiabank. “I couldn’t have chosen five better readers than the ones we had. They did an excellent job,” McCooeye said. “The Seaway Valley Singers added to the Yule spirit with Christmas carols and Margaret Whisselle sang a beautiful solo.” With the Seaway Singers in the background, the readers (l-r), in full Victorian costumes, are Joan Farlinger, Donnie Bowes, Paul Coolican (emcee), Wayne Domanko, Doug Grenkie and Wendy Gibb. 


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Basket Case holds crafts show


“This is something we look forward to doing,” said Hanne Rycroft, co-owner of the Basket Case in Morrisburg. “This is our second annual Christmas Craft show, and also the fourth anniversary of our business here in Morrisburg. This is a joint celebration.” The craft show on December 3 offered many delicious home baked goods and goodies to visitors as well as the opportunity to see many crafts, including a Christmas tree completely decked out in locally made decorations. The Basket Case also presented some new authors to the community and collected goods for the Dundas Food Bank. “People have been very generous,” Rycroft said. Above, Cynthia Foss (left) and Sue Jarvis pose with some of the colourful sock monkeys (created by Foss) up for “adoption” at the Basket Case this Christmas.


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Malawi: the warm heart of Africa


On November 27th, Pastor Duncan Perry of the Morrisburg Pentecostal Tabernacle, shared his life-changing experiences from his recent Mission Trip to Africa during a Sunday evening service.

Perry left for Africa this past October with his wife Sandra and 14 other like-minded individuals. They left Canada on October 12th, headed for the Village of Hope – Malawi, in Lilongwe, where they spent three weeks breathing in all things Africa through work, play, and prayer. 

The group of missionaries raised over $10,000, all of which went to the children in Malawi. The money was used to buy things like furniture for the dormitory they helped to complete.

In addition to personal items, each traveler was permitted one hockey-sized bag full of items on the airplane. The group carried along things like clothes, tools, food, Tim Horton’s coffee, and anything they thought might be needed by the village’s people.

In addition to finishing one of the dormitory buildings, including furnishing it, the group also did various repair jobs, painting, yard work, and other menial, but necessary, tasks.

Members of the group also helped in the schools, ministered, played with the children and socialized with the adults.

While Perry and his group accomplished much on the trip, there is still more to be done.

As for this article, he asked that the pictures focus on the children, not on him or his group because, as he said, “it’s about them.”

Listening to Perry talk about the children, about the village, and about the neighbouring towns causes a host of emotions to flow. While his appreciation and awe for the beauty of Africa shines through, it is also very clear that his heart has been deeply touched by the hardships and loss these young orphans face on a daily basis.

In September, prior to his trip to Malawi, Perry told the Leader that he expected his outlook on life to be drastically changed after the trip. As he will attest, he was right. 

Perry shared that knowing children are starving in another part of the world is different from seeing it first hand. He tears up each time he talks of the orphans who receive food only three days of the week.

He also spoke, in admiration, of their spirit, their love for God, and their unwavering belief in God despite the daily hardships they face. 

Perry encourages others to remember these children and to show compassion for their plight.


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Learning to respect power of electricity


“What uses electricity in your home?”

This was the first question, Brian Carter, a retired safety consultant for Electrical & Utilities Safety Association, asked the grade 3/4 class of St. Mary’s – St. Cecilia’s Catholic School in Morrisburg.

Carter was at the school on December 1st giving presentations on “electrical safety and conservation.”

Rideau St. Lawrence Utilities hires Carter to give the presentation to schools in their service area every three years. In the last two weeks, Carter has visited elementary schools in Cardinal, Iroquois, Morrisburg, Prescott, and Westport.

According to Carter, the presentation’s purpose is to give students “a basic knowledge and awareness of what could happen and what they should do if something does take place.”

Most importantly, he said, is to teach children to have respect for electricity: “It’s a wonderful thing  folks, as long as we respect it.”

Carter’s presentation included demonstrations, audience participation, hands-on activities, and a short film, “Power Line Safety the Buddy Way.”


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Help the House of Lazarus win cash


Due to its success the first time around, Kraft Food for Families will be running their program once again, giving people another opportunity to help their local food banks win money each and every week!

The second phase of the program began on December 2nd. It will last for 10 weeks, ending February 10th. To help your local registered food bank win, go to and add your name. Mountain’s House of Lazarus is the local food bank registered in the program for this area.  

Each name added will equal one vote for the House of Lazarus. Every week, the food bank that receives the most names of support for that week will receive a $1,000 donation from the Kraft Food for Families program.

Note that each week the totals reset to zero. So,  please remember to revisit the site, add your name, and help your local food bank win the money for that week.


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Ontario Power Generation gives to food bank


Ontario Power Generation Gives to Food Bank
On November 23rd, Linda Halliday, Public Affairs Officer of the Ontario Power Generation (OPG), met with Brenda Millard, Chair for the Dundas County Food Bank (DCFB), at their Morrisburg location. DCFB is one of many food banks that have received a $500 donation from OPG this season. According to Halliday, OPG gives to every food bank “everywhere in the province where we have generation.” If OPG has a nuclear thermal or a hydro electric generation in the area, then all local food banks will receive a $500 donation this year. Millard said the donations being received by DCFB from now through to December “helps us finance the winter. We depend on that support at the end of the year.”