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Jan 2015 Snow Photo
"January 2015 started off with plenty of snow!"

Discovering the Past…


by Gary McWilliams (aka The Festival Nomad)

At the beginning of each year Judi and I discuss what we would like to do and see in the upcoming year. It’s not a detailed discussion, just a look to see what’s new and interesting. This past year, for instance, we decided to concentrate on meeting the people who run events and manage facilities. We did not discuss how many events, fairs, communities, etc. that we would visit throughout the year. Even during our visits, we never thought about how many “adventures” we had enjoyed. We were just always “in the moment”. It wasn’t until year’s end that we started to do a recount of our activities. Much to our surprise, we discovered that we had visited over 70 of these “adventures”! The photos that line the sides of this month’s newsletter plus the “Ontario Festivals Visited 2015 Visits in Review” You Tube video, both will give you a sense of where Judi and I have traveled this past year. What a wonderful, exciting year! Here’s to an adventurous 2016!

 Willie 2

"Our 2015 journey began when we met Wiarton Willie!"


Festival Nomad’s Report…

Ontario Festivals Visited ~ 2015 Ontario Visited in Review (Part One)

As I mention in my “Discovering the Past” article,Judi and I traveled many miles this past year. In this month’s Festival Nomad’s Report, I like to give you a brief summary of where went … a taste of our Adventures & Discoveries!

It all started out in the Spring (April). That’s when we decided to “tour” communities in our area. In our area meant within a 2 hour drive! Our community tours included Wiarton to see where “Wiarton Willie” lived and to explore the many limestone cliffs that surround the town. Ice was still clinging to the face of the cliffs. Touring the Wasaga Beach area was next. As we stood on the broad sandy Wasaga beach, we looked across Georgian Bay to see our own Georgian Peaks. The scene was very surreal. After Wasaga Beach, we visited the breath taking Walter’s Falls, located north of Meaford. Continuing our spring tours, we traveled to Southampton. Frankly this brought back memories of my childhood. My parents and their family had been long time cottagers in Southampton, however, they gradually stopped going there, in preference to Haliburton. My older brother and sister occasionally reminded me that they had tried to push me off the pier. Fortunately some thoughtful neighbour prevented this from happening. From Southampton we wound our way along the shores of Lake Huron, through Port Elgin and eventually to Kincardine. It was interesting to tour Kincardine, as I had lived there for three years in the 70’s. My most vivid memories of the entire area were the lake effect snow storms and being caught in a number of “white-outs” while traveling from Port Elgin to Kincardine, VERY scary! Our spring tours ended in May with trips southward and eastward. Our southward trip included visits to Markdale (home of Chapman’s Ice Cream [WOW]), Shelburne and Creemore. One eastward tour included Orillia (home of the Mariposa Market [YUM]), Midland and Penetanguishene.

Our final spring trip sent us all the way to Prince Edward County and their memorable 5 Museums tour. The tour started early in the morning at the “living historyAmeliasburgh Heritage Village. We then traveled to Wellington to the Wellington Heritage Museum. After exploring the museum, we met up with our festival friends, Laurence and Barbara Stephenson. With them behind us, we wound our way along the Loyalist Parkway to Picton. Here we visited the Macaulay Heritage Park. Inside the historic Macaulay heritage home, re-enactor interpreters told us the story of this fascinating part of Ontario life in the early 1800’s. From the park we visited the Rose House Museum, where 7 generations of Rose families had lived and the Mariners Heritage Park, which displayed artifacts showing how area residents “earned their living from the surrounding waters”.

Throughout the spring months, in addition to the tours, Judi and I visited a number of events. These included Magic of Children’s Art Show (Judi helped judge the art), the Great Northern Ex Trivia Nights (our team placed a respectable “middle of the pack” score!), Artfest Port Credit, a new Artfest Ontario event (Judi experimented with our newly acquired “Sony Action camera” ~ to moderate success), the Port Credit Boat Show (I “envied” over the many awesome boats on display) and finally, Salsa at Blue (Blue Mountain), where dancers twisted and turned their bodies in time with the music (how do they do that?!).

And then the Summer happened, or I say, Canada Day happened! This year we decided to stay close to home. Early Canada Day morning we drove the mile+ to Clarksburg. This was where the Canada Day Parade was to start. We joined in on the community pancake breakfast and the walked to the main street to witness the start of the parade. We had parked our car on a side street so that we could make a quick get-away to travel back to Thornbury. That was our plan! After a long wait, the parade was underway. Judi and I watch for a while and then headed for our car. We wanted to get back to Thornbury to watch the Canada Day Parade enter downtown Thornbury. Just as we got to the car, one of the horses who was being hitched to a wagon decided to “rebel”! Our car was “hemmed” in! So much for a “quick” get away! Eventually the horse calmed down and we were able to race our way through the back roads to Thornbury! Yes, we were in time (just) to witness the parade come down the hill towards downtown and eventually the harbour! What a wonder sight and experience! Two Canada Day Parade, in one! The rest of Canada Day we spent in Thornbury, where we explored an antique and classic car show and experienced a fantastic aerobatic air show performed by a local business owner. The next few days after Canada Day were a whirl. On July 2nd, we headed for Lang Pioneer Village Museum (Keene) for post Dominion Day celebrations. On the 3rd, we were in Owen Sound to visit both the Grey Roots Museum & Archivesand the Moreston Heritage Village. We had a fabulous time at both facilities (See the below video).

In the middle of July our “Great Summer Adventure” began! Our first stop was Prescott and St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival’sgrand opening of their “Comedy of Errors” play. What a fun production and a wonderful way to start our “Great Adventure”! From Prescott, it was Ottawa and the Byward Market. We stayed at a quinte boutique hotel, Byward Blue Inn, located in the heart of the Byward Market area, close to the action of restaurants, shops and the market, itself. While in Ottawa, we were treated to tours of both the Canada Aviation & Space Museumand the Canadian Museum of Nature. My favourite was the Aviation & Space Museum, while Judi’s was the Museum of Nature. Either way, both are a “must see” while in the Ottawa area! After Ottawa, we pushed our way through North Bay and Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie. We had never be to the “Soo”, but knew a number of people there.

Our first stop was at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. Our friend and the Centre’s Marketing and Promotion’s Co-ordinator, Edie Suriano, gave us a terrific tour of the facility. The centre is steeped in the history of Bushplanes and their role in opening the north and in helping to fight forest fires. The next we were at the Ermatinger.Clergue National Historic Site. The site and its “Discovery Centre” is managed by our friend Kathy Fisher. Kathy generously took the time to show us the new “Heritage Discovery Centre”, the “Ermatinger Old Stone House” and the “Clergue Blockhouse”. It’s hard to realize all the history packed into these 3 buildings. While we were at the Site, Kathy’s son, Benn, an amazing “re-enactor” and two of his re-enactor friends put on a display of how re-enactors use rifles and muskets in their re-enactments. Having visited a number of re-enactments over the years, it was fascinating to learn more about how these implements worked! Later that afternoon we toured the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site. This historic canal sits adjacent to the Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan) Canal Locks. It was amazing to watch the huge freighters make their way down the St. Marys River, on their way from Lake Huron to Lake Superior. On the third and final day of our visit to the “Soo”, we toured both the Art Gallery of Algomaand the Sault Ste. Marie Museum. These were a fitting tribute to our Sault Ste. Marie adventure! At the Art Gallery of Algoma we were thrilled to see several “Group of Seven’ originals, while at the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, we were able explore the past of this wonderful city and its surrounding area.

See Part Two ~ 2015 Ontario Visited in Review ~ in our February 2016 INSIDER


"Ontario Festivals Visited 2015 Ontario Visited in Review Video."

Oh Canada Eh! Game Answers…

In June, we started to play the Oh Canada Eh! Game. In December 2015, four Questions about Canada have been asked. The following are the Questions with the Answers.

  1. December 6th, 2015~ (City of Sault Ste. Marie Question)
    QUESTION: “What were the four venues that we visited during our trip to Sault Ste. Marie?
    ANSWER: “Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Ermatinger.Clergue National Historic Site, Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie Museum.
  2. December 13th, 2015~ (Town of Simcoe Question)
    QUESTION: “What event, celebrating its 175 birthday, took place in 2015 in the Town of Simcoe?
    ANSWER: “Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show”
  3. December 20th, 2015~ (Town of Thornbury Question)
    QUESTION: “What year did the Town of Thornbury become independent from the Town of Collingwood?
    ANSWER: “1887.
  4. December 27th, 2015~ (Ice Sculpturing from the Town of Collingwood Question)
    QUESTION: “What ice sculpting company created the Canadian Tire ICE TRUCK?
    ANSWER: iceculture inc.

I hope that you enjoy playing the Oh Canada Eh! Game. I’m sure that you knew all the answers. Remember, all of them can be found on the Internet. I’ll let you know the correct answers to all the January 2016 questions in our February 2016 INSIDER Newsletter.

NOTE ~ All future Oh Canada Eh! Gamevideos will give you a “choice” of “four” possible answers, one of which is correct! Good luck and have fun! At many of the events and communities we visited this past year, we took the time create an “Oh Canada Eh! Game” video. If you haven’t played yet, we hope that you will now and enjoy the trivia questions. All answers can be found on the internet. Events and communities highlighted in “RED” have an “Oh Canada Eh! Game video. To view the videos, please visit our Oh Canada Eh! Game website (http://www.ohcanadaehgame.ca/)

"Grey Roots Museum & Archives and the Moreston Heritage Village (Owen Sound) Video."

“The People” … “The Stars” … “The Reason”! (Part One)


by Judi “Scoop” McWilliams

During 2015 Gary and I were determined to not only embrace a year of FABULOUS ADVENTURES & DISCOVERIES, but we looked forward to meeting “THE PEOPLE” along the way!

Some of the people we hoped to meet were customers and supporters of Ontario Visited websites, many of whom we have not met in person. Unfortunately I cannot mention them all within this short 2015 “re-cap”.  However, here are a few memorable highlights. (In no particular order).

“My job is my Passion”!

At the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, our host and guide for the day was Christina Lucas. Christina, who was extremely passionate about the Museum, gave us an amazing tour! Christina told us that the Museum “is not theirs, its all of ours!”

At the Canadian Museum of Nature, Dan Smythe’s journalistic background helps him keep up with the demands of “thirsty reporters” hoping to get “The Scoop”. He tells us working at the Canadian Museum of Nature is a very interesting place to work…he enjoys working with the public, then he gets to work with research scientist who travel around the world. All the stories they share contribute to not only Dan’s wealth of knowledge, but to his passion. This passion became contagious as the day went on.

Caroline Lanthier, Senior Content Developer and Exhibition Project Manager, was gracious with her time and passion, delighting us with her extensive knowledge as she gave us a “Behind the Scenes” Tour.

 “Special Demonstrations & a Pioneer Meal” …

Ermatinger.Clergue National Historic Site

Our friend and colleague Kathy Fisher hosted us for a day of adventure at the Ermatinger Old Stone House and the Clergue Blockhouse, all part of the Ermatinger.Clergue National Historic Site. Her son, Benn Fisher, and his re-enactment friends went out of their way to present a special demonstration of drills and drumming! What a treat!

We were honoured to be invited to join in a special “Group of Seven” evening. The evening included a play about Group of Seven co-founder, Lawren Harris and heritage meal, typical of the kind enjoyed by Group of Seven artists as they camped and painted in the Algoma region!

Watch for more “The People” … “The Stars” … “The Reason”! (Part Two) in the February 2016 INSIDER.


December 2015 Snow Photo

"2015 started with snow and then ended with SNOW! YIKES!"