Life's Like That?
Last month I talked about the past. Now it's time to look into the future. Although no-one can accurately predict the future, it's fun to contemplate it! For example, weather forecasters predict future weather or weather patterns, but how often as they truly accurate? Sometimes it's just their best "educated" guess! So that's how it is with Judi and me, we look to see what events and communities are available to visit in the future and then plan to go to them. However, sometimes unforeseen circumstances cause our plans to be altered or even cancelled. I can remember a number of events that we planned on visiting, but did not, and a number of events that we had no thought of visiting, but we did! Life is kind of like that, isn't it. Maybe that's what makes living so interesting! I like planning, but I also like it when "life" takes an unexpected "left turn", rather then the expected "right turn". When I left my previous business, I planned on being an "event consultant". In order to "get known" in the "business", I attended the annual "FEO Convention" (Festivals & Events Ontario). At FEO Conventions they hold informational seminars. At the 2007 convention they held a "Blogging" seminar. I had no idea what a "Blog" was, so I decided to attend. As a result, my whole "life plan" was turned upside down! Instead of becoming a consultant, I became a "Blogger"! Fortunately, Judi seemed to think that the change was okay (or at least she said that she did), and agreed to accompany me on my first "Blogging" adventure, the 2007 Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. The truth is, we loved going to the event and experiencing the excitement that we felt. When we returned home, I started writing daily Blogs about our experiences. I prepared and posted a short Blog each day. I loved it! Apparently I was a "closet" writer! I told my friends and family about the Blog and they told me that they really liked it and that I should continue producing the articles. I was running out of material to write about, so a few weeks after our Elmvale visit, Judi and I traveled to the Toronto Zoo and the "Spring Toad Festival". We took my daughter and her family with us for moral support. We all had a "blast"! I was now in "Blog Heaven". This is where I decided that this was the direction that I wanted to follow. Judi and I continued to travel to a few more events, and I kept Blogging. One day, I was talking to my friend who had set up my "consulting" website. I told her about my Blogs and she asked me if I wanted to turn them into a website. I hadn't a clue about setting up or managing a website! My friend told me not to worry, that she would take care of setting up the new website and to teaching how to manage it. Her first question was what I wanted to call the website. I had no idea. Then she asked me a simple question, "What are you going to put on the website?" I told her that Judi and I were going to visit Ontario festivals. and write about our experiences. That's when the "light bulb" came on... let's call it Ontario Festivals Visited! Fortunately the "Domain Name" was available and my friend registered it for me. That was nearly 9 years ago and Judi and I are still as enthusiastic as the day we started! It has been an exciting 8 years and we can't wait to see what the next 8 years will bring. Lots of TWISTS and TURNS, I hope. "Life's like that!"
"Festival Nomad Correpondents for 2014"
We Are Not Alone…
No successful venture can operate alone. Ontario Visited Websites are no exception… from the people we meet as we travel across Ontario; to our generous Festival Nomad Correspondents; and to our wonderful and trusting Advertisers. They all help make Judi and my job more rewarding and pleasurable. As a “thank you” to our advertisers, we have placed last year’s banner ads in the outside columns of this month’s INSIDER Newsletter. Each as is linked to the advertiser’s website. We hope that you will take a moment to visit our advertisers’ websites to discover their plans for 2015. We have also placed a composite photo of many of our Festival Nomad Correspondents. Each year these and other correspondents travel across Ontario to search for and visit communities and their events. These visits result in Ontario Visited articles that tell our readers what the correspondents have experienced. Anyone who has a love of festivals and events is invited to join our ranks! Last, but not least, Judi and I would like to thank the thousands of Festival Web Visitors who discover and use our websites each year. They make all our efforts worthwhile and meaningful. Here’s to many more exciting adventures in 2015!
"Having fun a Cobourg's Winter Weekend Activities!"
Festival Nomad’s Report…
In January the snow finally came to the “north”. Ski resorts opened their hills and enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders took to the hills. Other great activities took place. There were the Junior Hockey Championships in Toronto. Canada played with their hearts and prevailed over the competition, beating Russia in the final game. My friend, Frank Gardiner (or as he likes to be called, “grampy Frank”) predicted the win. I am sure that everyone on his street heard him yell “GO CANADA”! Curling Bonspiels were also in full swing. Clubs from all over Ontario were competing in local and provincial Bonspiels. And, Judi and I took the time to use our new “Winterman” (and Winterwomen) outfits! The cold and snow seems so much more agreeable when you’re not freezing your “fingers” off!
As for February, there’s a lot to look forward to. Of course, skiing, curling and snowboarding will continue. The month starts off with Ottawa’s Winterlude. If you love skating long distances, then skating on the Rideau Canal is for you! While you are on the Rideau, don’t forget savour a “BeaverTail”! For those of us who like to look into the future, there’s Ground Hog Day. This is Wiarton Willies day to shine (or NOT to shine… that is the question). If the weather is fair, perhaps Judi and I will take the drive to Wiarton. If not, there is always Bill Murray’s movie, Ground Hog Day. Much to Judi’s dismay, I love that movie! For Fair volunteers and organizers there is the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies Convention, held at the Royal York Hotel. Unfortunately, Judi and I will not be attending this year. It’s too bad, because it is a lot of fun and you meet great people! For lovers, who’s not a lover, there’s Valentine’s Day. This is your reminder! Don’t blame me if you forget! Ontario’s Family Day falls in the middle of the month. A great time to have fun with the family and forget about “the weather and long dark days”. I shouldn’t mentioned that, should I! Oh well, have fun anyway. February is also Black History Month. The Toronto Harbourfront Centre celebrates the month through its Kuumba event. Our friends, George and Sher St. Kitts (Newmarket jazz+ Festival), host the Love Train Revue on February 14th. This event is held in honour of Black History Month and for “Lovers”. In February, there other ways of shaking off the “Winter Blues”. For sportsmen, there is the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show held at Exhibition Place. For golfers, there is the Toronto Golf & Travel Show held at the International Centre in Mississauga. And for the recreational enthusiast, there’s the International Toronto RV Show, also held at the International Centre. I am sure that there other great events that I have not mentioned, but these are some of the few that I know about. You might want to check out either our Ontario Event Calendar or our Ontario Event Finder (search engine). Whatever you do in February, have a great time.
"Make sure you try a BeaverTail at this year's Winterlude"
Ontario Festivals Visited Embraces You Tube...
We are pleased to announce the addition of our NEW “You Tube Channel” to our “GET IN TOUCH” Social Media line up. There are now several great Ontario Festivals Visited videos available, including Redpath Waterfront Festival which includes a Flyboarding demonstration (see video below), footage from our visit to the Quinte RAM Rodeo and highlights from the Doug Leahy Family and Friends Concert held this past summer at the Westben Arts Festival Theatre in Campbellford. In total there are over 35 videos ready for viewing. In addition to our NEW You Tube Channel, we (Judi) have been very active in Tweeting out our own “Tweets” and we are “Retweeting” many more. If you have information you’d like to let our Festivals Visitors know about, please send us an e-mail with details, or use our “ADD Information” submission forms located, for News Releases, on the Ontario Event News page and for Festival and Event Listings, on the Ontario Event Finder page. These are FREE Services to event and community organizers.
I don’t know about you, but I love today’s technology! I love it, but I don’t necessarily understand it! It’s hard to believe that just over a 100 years ago, most of the technology that we enjoy today didn’t exist back then… automobiles, planes, electricity, computers, cell phone and the internet. The list goes on and on! Can you image how our children and grandchildren would cope without all the gadgets available today? If they didn’t know that they existed, they’d be okay. But if they did know they existed, probably??? My father was born in 1907. Eighty-eight years later he passed away. However, during those 88 years, imagine how he must have marvelled at so many new inventions and products! Like me, my father loved new technology. As such he purchased as many new products as possible. His greatest love (other than my mother and his 4 “fabulous” children) were his numerous cameras, still and movie. Every chance he got, he would take photos of his family and the city he lived and grew up in, Toronto. Today I have reels and reels of “Super 8” film. I hope to create a website featuring these Super 8 movies and movies from others who want to share their history of Toronto. The films, I know, contain amazing shots of the Toronto Yonge Subway being build, as well as time shots of the CN Tower being built. I too had taken my fair share of photos and videos. Not so much of Toronto, but of the many communities and events we have visited. Fortunately, unlike the past, where “history” was saved on film and negatives, our “memories”, photos and videos, are saved digitally and are easy to maintain and access!
Looking back over my lifetime, I too have seen many new and exciting technologies. I remember when I first started working at my Dad’s insurance agency, all correspondence was typed on manual Underwood typewriters! Fortunately, shortly after I started, IBM introduced their “Selectric” typewriter. Not only was it electric and easy to use, it came with “Correcto” tape! My father, wanting the most up-to-date equipment, bought several of them for the office. Another innovation that he purchased was a photocopier! This was a lot better than messy “carbon paper”! As time products became available, he would update the office with them! My own favourite memory of “new technology” was my purchase of a “handheld” battery operated calculator. This amazing “new technology” added, subtracted, multiple and divided, and it only cost me $300.00! Believe it or not, I kept and used that wonderful invention for many years! Today you can purchase a multi-functional calculator that does everything but “comb your hair” for less than a dollar! Technology is like that, isn’t it! New today… obsolete tomorrow (or sooner)! Still, I don’t think that I would like to live “without” my gadgets, obsolete or not!
That’s why Judi and I are continually trying to improve our websites! Even today, we are investigating new technology, new ways of doing old things. Technology such as action video cameras, aerial photographing equipment, faster and better computers, and mobile communication systems that will allow us to upload photos, videos and articles to our websites from anywhere in Ontario or Canada! We are also looking to make better use os Social Media, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Newsletters and You Tube. Let’s face it, “the world is not enough” (James Bond movie), tomorrow we may even create a new website… the “Universe Visited”… “From the past, into the future”!
"Checking out new technology at the Exposure Show."
Doug Leahy & Family ~ The Next Generation
by Judi "Scoop" McWilliams
The following is an excerpt from an upcoming The Inside Scoop article. Click HERE to visit The Inside Scoop Blog.
This past summer we had the privilege of enjoying a fabulous evening of music, dance, laughter and fun at the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Our gracious hosts, Donna Bennett and Brian Finley had a “full barn” and “full meadow” with a very appreciative audience, who clapped their hands, stomped their feet, walked the beautiful grounds at Westben and enjoyed the sounds of the Leahy Family, with their special guest, Tom Leadbeater.
We witnessed a magical evening of live performances, filled with the high-energy and infectious smiles of the children. The family performed the Celtic-based music usually associated with the Leahy heritage; fiddle, cello, French accordion, singing, piano, and French-Canadian step-dancing. Over three generations of Leahy musicianship, Doug Leahy, together with his wife Jennifer and their children, are keeping those traditions alive through music, song, and dance. The "Leahy's" left the audiences in awe with several “standing ovations”!
A few weeks after their Westben performance, we were about to meet with Doug Leahy and his family at their homestead farm in Lakefield for a “family interview”.
At the root of most families, there is the “mom”! Leading into a conversation with “Mom”, I asked Jennifer if she had an overall “plan” for the family. I was surprised to learn that Jennifer Leahy said she does “not necessarily have a plan”. The children naturally enjoy music of their own "free will". Jennifer says it's the “gift” the family has inherited ~“Talent” is appreciated by all the children and they and love to share!
Jennifer tells us that they feel it is important to give back what they have been given.
As Doug Leahy grew up travelling with his family, he experienced first hand some of the challenges and joys as well. Music has given Doug many opportunities. Doug shares that the “Education” the children learn alone through their music, provides a great advantage for life and in life. They do not call themselves “Stars”, or for that matter think of themselves as “Famous”. This family and children, as we experienced as the afternoon moved along, echoed their genuine nature!
Although the children are learning, this is a time to inspire them and encourage them as well. Doug and Jennifer said they do not underestimate the abilities their children have and do encourage them and try to inspire them.
The Children ~ Sharing Insight and Talent!
~ 12 year old Adele enjoys the classical piano and from that she has learned to be extremely disciplined. She shares with us that the “magic happens” during the creative collaboration. Adele learns by “ear training” and enjoys composing. She tells us that she likes to tell her own story, with uniqueness emphasized; she says she “just knows”. She is extremely talented playing the cello, piano, step dancing, vocals, enjoys baking, like the Toronto Maple Leafs; and in school, embraces math.
We asked Adele, being the oldest child, if she felt a responsibility to inspire the younger kids. She does feel the need to protective them and tells us that it isn’t easy ~ you just can not stand there on the side-lines. She likes to “engage” with the other kids. She is excited to show, embrace the nature of fun and likes to join in with the younger siblings! Adele started playing the cello at a very young age, as Mom tells us, Adele used to use steak knives to practice.
~ 11 year old Gregory loves to build and fix just about anything with his hands. He enjoys playing the fiddle, accordion, piano, step dancing and vocals. Gregory shares with us that he learned to play on the “internet”, through “Skype”. Playing the French Accordion takes a great deal of concentration, but, Gregory practices a lot and is very talented. He now is teaching other children and sharing in what he has learned, through “Skype” and on-line internet. Gregory likes the farm work, ride horses, cattle and looking after them.
~ 9 year old Angus loves to play any sports and playing the fiddle, piano, step dancing, and vocals.
~ 7 year old Cecilia is quite the card shark! I would have to think that entertaining an audience might be the catalyst for this skill. She too loves playing the fiddle, piano, step dancing, and vocals.
~ 6 year old Joseph is found farming with his Dad (24/7), except when he too is playing the fiddle, piano, step dancing, and singing. Joseph also enjoys soccer and sports in general. They were keen to show off their “golf swings” in the front yard just before we left.
~ 4 year old Evelyn loves to create new dance steps and “tunes” on the piano. At the Westben Arts Festival Theatre she “stole the show” with her sweet smile, great charm and humour! The young entertainer did not “miss a beat”!
Doug Leahy is one of eleven children who grew up playing the fiddle and dancing. Living on the farm in Lakefield makes his studies from the University of Guelph in Agriculture come to great use. He enjoys offering his Belgian horses, during the winter months on the farm, for logging and sleigh rides. I would imagine “Carol Singing” leading up to Christmas is a great joy on the farm. Sports still play a large part of Doug’s life, as he continues to play in a men’s hockey league.
Jennifer is used to a large family also, especially being the youngest of thirteen children. She, herself, is fabulous at playing the piano and singing. Her Bachelor or Arts degree from University of Guelph and a teaching degree at Brock University has gone a long way in her endeavours to home school the children. She too loves to play sports, joining in with the Peterborough Women’s soccer league.
Together, this great team, operates a cow/calf beef farm at the Leahy Homestead Farm in Lakefield.
“Get in the Game”! ~ “Practice, Practice, Practice”!
Regarding the children, Doug and Jennifer believe to some degree, they should just “let them be and see what evolves”. Both parents share with us that all kids and families, need to “Get in the Game”! That “Practice ~ Practice ~ Practice and the Reward will be there in the end”.
As a family “Balance” and having a “Schedule” is very important. Jennifer says the children practice before each meal and gathers in the evenings for fun!
"Interview with the Doug Leahy Family ~ Doug, Jennifer, Adele, Gregory, Angus, Cecilia, Joseph and Evelyn."
Reflections of the Past ~ Across Canada Visited
A few years, I wrote several Blog articles describing a trip that Judi and I took across Western Canada. 2015 will mark the 25th anniversary since we took that trip. Although we didn’t know it then, it was the start of our “love affair” with exploring and discovering Canada’s great “Adventures”. As we enter our 9h year of reporting on Ontario communities and events, I thought that I would share another of our “Across Canada Visited” adventures.
ACROSS CANADA … Back into Calgary, The Stampede and Much More!
Once again we were back in Calgary. It was now time for work! Before leaving on our western trip, we had arranged to have a booth at the inaugural "Queen's Cup" being held at the world class equestrian centre, Spruce Meadows. We were excited to be there because Ian Miller and his fabulous horse, Big Ben were competing! We had also been told that Queen Elizabeth II would be in attendance! We had shipped a number of framed limited edition prints to Spruce Meadows in advance of our arriving. Judi and I went to the Centre to check on the condition of the shipped prints. After we open up the boxes, we discovered that two of the prints had been damaged in transit. We loaded the two into our van and went off to find a framing gallery to have them repaired. Fortunately a great gallery, Avenida, was nearby and they agreed to repair the frames quickly and at a reasonable price! That accomplished, we headed out for a great meal and then back to Dick and Melody for a good nights rest. We were about to face a very exciting day! We arrived early at Spruce Meadows and opened our booth. Part way through the day each of us was able to sneak away for a short time to watch some of the jumping. I even got to see Ian Miller and Big Ben perform! Amazing! The highlight of the day, however, was when Queen Elizabeth, in her landau, stopped within a few feet of our booth! Everyone from all of the neighboring booths crowded forward to get a closer look! The whole scene was very surreal! I can't remember how well we did in sales. I think we broke even. But it didn't really matter, we had been part of history!
After attending the inaugural Queen’s Cup at Spruce Meadows and being that close to the Queen, the next week/days seemed anti-climatic! However, we still had work to do and Red Deer and Edmonton were calling. Red Deer is approximately halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. From Red Deer we traveled to Jasper National Park. As I have mentioned previously, part of the reason for our trip was to promote Michael Dumas and Buckhorn Publishing, but the other part was to visit Canada’s National Parks and to talk to their volunteers. It is always interested us to see these people in action and to see the different ways they raised money for their organizations. In Jasper we visited the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and talked to the volunteers there. As we drove to the Town of Jasper we saw a number of wonderful sights. Of course, there were the mountains, but there was also “Blue Ice” glaciers to gaze at and animals to “watch” out for. A Big Horned sheep ran right in front of our van, while a Moose in a field looked lazily up at us while we passed it by! Jasper is a mountain park town, but its streets tend to be more open and the downtown less commercial then Banff. When we parked our van, Elk wondering all over the streets and in people yards! Jasper was fun to explore and we reluctantly left it to journey to Edmonton. We had a lot more people to see!
To Edmonton and Back!
The trip from Jasper to Edmonton was uneventful. I can’t say the same about our time at Elk Island National Park. After passing through the City of Edmonton, we traveled north east to Elk Island National Park. This is where we were going to stay for the night, plus we wanted to visit the Friends of Elk Island park store. It was a dreary day when we reached the park. It had been raining for some time. Before we settled down, we wanted to explore the park to find the best place to park the van. As you can imagine, in a park such as this, animals roamed freely! Birds and small animals were there on mass! We even had to stop for a beaver that was crossing the road in front of us! One animal that we didn’t expect to encounter was a very large bison! Actually, he was very docile the first time we passed him. I’m not sure if he even looked up! The second time we passed he took a little more interest. He raised his large head to see who or what was invading his territory! That was the extent of his interest! The third time that we passed was a whole lot different. He definitely did not like us nor did he want us in his territory! We were driving slowly by, as we had before. This time the large bison lowered his head and started snorting. I’m sure I saw “fire” coming from his nostrils! He then came charging at the van! Judi yelled and I stomped on the acceleration! I’m sure we could smell the beasts breath as he just missed our vehicle! I know I saw his “red eyes” glaring at me! Needless to say we made a hasty retreat and parked quite some distance away! It was exciting, but not something I would want to do everyday! In the morning, still in one piece, we met with the “Friends” and then left for Edmonton. After a number of meetings in the city, we drove the long road back to Calgary. There was a “Stampede” to tame!
Lots of Fun in Calgary
We had planned our trip so that we could visit “The Greatest Show on Earth”, the Calgary Stampede. As it happened, Melody and Dick were both on the Stampede committee. This gave us a number of advantages. We could help their committee “Hot Air Balloon Races”, we could see the "Stampede Parade" from a really good vantage point and we could attend many of the Stampede activities, especially the very exciting “Chuck wagon Races”! When we got back from Edmonton, we were immediately commandeered to help with the Hot Air Balloons. We attended the “Strategy” meeting that was to go over the final preparations for the big race. The amount of planning and strategy was amazing. The committee had been running the race for some time, so they really knew what they were doing! Judi and I felt a little lost and out of place! The committee, however, was very friendly and welcomed us as one of them! The day after the “Hot Air Balloon” strategy meeting was the Calgary Stampede Parade. If you have never witnessed the parade in person, you have missed a wonderful treat! I have seen it a number of times and it never becomes “old”. We were also back in Calgary, at this time, to participate in our second event at Spruce Meadows, the International Cup. This is where world class equestrians compete. It is one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the World. Ian Miller and Big Ben were competing again! After the Stampede Parade, we drove to Spruce Meadows to set up our booth and then, hopefully to sell some art. Unfortunately it was a rainy and cool evening and not much happened! The next day was a little better, but not much! Fortunately it became much warmer in the afternoon. This brightened our mood, just in time for the “Great Hot Air Balloon Race”! In the early evening we traveled with Melody and Dick to “Balloon Hill”! The “take-off” of the Balloons was spectacular! The people in the Stampede Grandstands had a wonderful view! We “chased” our assigned Balloon and then helped “pack up” once it had landed! After the “chase”, we came back to the Stampede grounds to witness the “Chuck Wagon Races" and then to walk the Stampede grounds! The next day was to be our final day at Spruce Meadows. I must admit that I did “sneak” off once or twice to watch the jumping. It was very special, to say the least, especially when I saw Miller and Big Ben perform!
The Surrounding Area
There are lots to do in Calgary, but there is even more to do in the surrounding areas. The trip from Calgary to the Rockies is spectacular. As you leave the city, you soon reach the foothills. From there, you slowly encounter the Rockies. The majesty of these magnificent wonders of nature is awe inspiring! Today we were headed for “beauty” and “charm”. The “beauty” was Lake Louise. If you travel in western Canada by car, this is a “must” visit. Lake Louise, a mountain fed lake, is framed by high mountains on three sides. On a clear still day you can see the reflections of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the water. A postcard makers dream! The “charm” of this trip was Banff. Banff is a quaint village, set amongst the Rocky Mountains. In the winter, it is a skier’s paradise. We were there to visit the Friends of Banff National Park store and tell them about Michael Dumas's National Park program. Also, while we were in Banff, we had lunch at Joe Btfsplk's Diner. This, if you are not aware, is a name taken from the Al Capp comic strip “Pogo”. Unfortunately, I understand that this great restaurant is now closed! The trip back to Calgary was just as exciting, especially if you keep your eyes open for wildlife. Along the way we saw Prong Horn Sheep grazing at the side of the road and a mule deer running through the tall grass! Like I mentioned, the surrounding area has much to see and experience. On another side trip from Calgary, we traveled south east towards Lethbridge. We were there to visit and meet with the volunteers at several historic sites. First there was “Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump”. We visited the Interpretive Centre which tells the story of the "Jump" and its long and varied history. From there we traveled to Fort MacLeod and then on to Fort Whoop-up National Historic Site. It was originally called "Fort Hamilton" but later became known as "Fort Whoop-Up". The Fort is an interesting place to visit and learn about our country's wild history! Our next visited was the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. This was the site of the 2003 Frank Slide rockslide-avalanche. After visiting these historic locations, we were off to Waterton Lakes National Park!
Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park is one of our most favourite places to visit! Waterton Lakes is one of the lesser known National Parks in Alberta and is the most southern. It actually borders Montana's Glacier National Park. To me, it is the most beautiful and peaceful of Alberta's parks. Both Banff and Jasper draw more visitors and both are certainly more "commercial". Waterton has managed to maintained its rustic appeal. Judi and I loved visiting this wonderful park. When we first arrived, we stopped to view the lake that is located in the middle of Waterton Village. As we walked along the water's edge, we all of a sudden noticed two mule deers standing close-by motionless with their heads down sipping water! Even when they saw us, they didn't move until they had finished drinking. Then they moved off in a slow pace! It was all surreal and something we will never forget! Our stay in Waterton Lakes National Park was all too short. It was time to return to Calgary and have some fun at the Calgary Stampede!
"Judi at the Calgary Stampede (1990)... no, she is not a participant!"