Homeless for a night

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Dovercourt’s Mark Bond will be sleeping outdoors at Westboro Kiwanis Park on November 22. He’s hoping the rink boards will provide shelter from prevailing winds. Photos by Andrea Tomkins.

Dovercourt Recreation Association is hosting their first annual SleepOut for Youth, a new event that will raise funds for the Youth Services Bureau and homeless youth living in Ottawa.

SleepOut will take place outdoors at Westboro Kiwanis Park (behind Dovercourt Recreation Centre) on November 22.  It’s a fundraising sleepover, and about fifty people will layer up for what is sure to be a very long and restless night.

Dovercourt invited local high school students and local community members to join staff for this special fundraiser.

“It’s going to be good, but it’s going to be cold,” says Mark Bond, one of the staff members who is helping co-ordinate the event.

“I think people are going to have a tough night sleeping, but it’s all for a good cause.”

Dovercourt staff will start setting up between 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. After that, they hope to engage the participants in some activities that will distract them from the cold.

“We’ll throw a movie on the big screen and we’ll watch that for a bit,” explains Bond. “We’ll have a bonfire going the whole night and play various games to stay warm. Something to get the heart rate going.”

Participants have been asked to come equipped with anything that will help them spend the night outdoors.

“Sleeping bags, sleeping mats, loves, mitts, hats, anything that will help them stay warm,” says Bond. Participants are also allowed to bring a tent.

Bond plans to hang out by the fire as long as he can. He’s also bringing a regular sleeping bag (“nothing extravagant”), a wool sweater, gloves, and “lots of layers.”

Bedtime will be at 11:00 p.m. as per city bylaw. Participants will be sleeping inside the area defined by the hockey rink. In the morning they’ll be treated to breakfast and a hot beverage.

Fundraising has been as brisk as the fall weather.

“Our original goal was $1000 but we got that so fast, within a week,” says Bond.

They decided to double their goal and are just short of meeting it.

Have they been obsessively checking the Weather Network as they get closer to the big night?

“Right now it’s going to be cold, but you just have to troop it out and spend the night outside, because if you were a homeless youth you might not have a shelter to go to, or any other options,” says Bond.

“The whole point is to spend a night in their shoes, rain or shine.”

If you would like to pledge your support go to Dovercourt.org. More information about YSB is available online at www.ysb.on.ca.

The Dovercourt SleepOut is a fundraiser for the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa (YSB), which provides a range of programs and services for young people such as:

  • Emergency shelters, transitional housing, and supportive housing
  • 24‑hour regional crisis line and mobile response team
  • Assistance in situations of family conflict and dysfunction
  • Addictions counselling and harm‑reduction programs
  • Support for issues related to poverty, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and/or abuse
  • Health and dental clinic, including HIV prevention services
  • Intensive short- and long-term counselling for youth and families
  • School-based mental health services
  • Job find programs
  • Youth justice programs
  • Youth advisory committees to foster leadership
  • Youth Mental Health Walk-in Clinic

 

 

A force to be reckoned with

By Andrea Tomkins –

When Kitchissippi resident, veteran broadcast journalist and communications strategist Anna-Karina Tabuñar saw the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan she knew she had to do something, but she felt that writing a cheque just wasn’t going to be enough.

“I saw all those images, and I thought, what do I do? I realized that a cheque is a drop in the bucket. The need is enormous,” says Tabuñar. She considered hosting a fundraising dinner, but after she did the math she figured it was “still just a drop in the bucket.”

Anna-Karina Tabuñar says “this is going to be the biggest and baddest event of the season. It’s going to show how loving the Kitchissippi community really is.” Photo by Andrea Tomkins.
Anna-Karina Tabuñar says “this is going to be the biggest and baddest event of the season. It’s going to show how loving the Kitchissippi community really is.” Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

A few phone calls later, she quickly found herself with a team. They decided the answer was a big neighborhood party.

Tabuñar took it upon herself to find the venue. It didn’t take long for that part of the puzzle to be solved.

“The Orange Art Gallery was happy to accommodate us,” says Tabuñar. “While I was doing this, Daphne Guerrero – who lives in Hintonburg  – was contacting local businesses. She told them we don’t have a date, we don’t have a place, but we’re collecting money for the Philippines.”

That’s when their modest outreach really started to gather momentum.

“People in the neighbourhood offered up services to auction. For instance, $500 of personal fitness training from Modus Vivendi Crossfit. And we had nothing to show except our good will. And so now we’re at the point we have a venue, a date, and a time. And I’ve got about a dozen volunteers, just like that. I’m in awe.”

Tabuñar has family in the Philippines – not in the affected areas – but friends of family are there. Watching the news has been an impossible task.

“You can’t get away from the images,” says Tabuñar. “I haven’t watched television since Monday (November 11). For me, this is almost therapeutic. It’s better for me to be channeling my energy into something that energizes me and makes me happy and restores my faith, and makes me so proud to live in this neighbourhood.”

Her fundraising event has been dubbed the Holiday Block Party for the Philippines, and it will be taking place on Tuesday, December 3 from 4:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at the Orange Art Gallery at 23 Armstrong Street.

“This will be the holiday party, to get everyone in the spirit of giving,” says Tabuñar. “It’s going to be a fantastic holiday block party, because it’s really the whole block, the whole neighbourhood coming together.”

“This is one of the best communities in the world,” says Tabuñar. “We truly are neighbours. We are a community, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s people helping people, families helping other families. We really are this tiny army, with huge vision and heart. It has attracted so much energy and good will.”

Everything for the event has been donated, right down to graphic design (Butter and Honey Graphics) and poster printing (Gilmore Printing Services). Tabuñar is thrilled that local businesses have responded so warmly to her requests.

“Businesses have told us they’re happy to Tweet it out and share it on Facebook,” says Tabuñar. “So my simple request is going to get magnified a thousandfold because of these businesses with big hearts.”

She’s hoping to raise $25,000 at the event, a sum that will be matched by Unicef and the Government of Canada.

Tickets are $25 each and include Filipino-style nibbles, live music, surprise door prizes, and a silent auction. Items for auction include hotel stays, self-pampering treats, and original art. Local artist Andrew King has donated a sketch of the Elmdale Tavern, and one local chef is auctioning off a four-course gourmet meal – with food – for ten people. (You’ll have to come out and see who it is.)

It’s been an incredible amount of work, but Tabuñar has had no problem staying motivated.

“As tired as I am from working the phones and having to juggle all these balls in the air, I am energized,” she laughs. Her little “army” of volunteers feel the same way.

“They’re super charged. Right now all of the sadness, the devastation and the feelings of helplessness are pushed aside by this amazing event.”

Despite the magnitude of the devastating typhoon, the outpouring of support and the desire to help has restored Tabuñar’s faith in humanity.

“I’ve never done anything like this before. I am just astounded. When you have the intention to do something good, people will help you,” says Tabuñar.

“There’s no limit to human kindness. And that’s what I’ve seen.”

For tickets and more information go to www.blocklove.ca.

Going out

Looking for something to do in the coming weeks? Here are a few of our top picks:

Shakespeare with a twist

The Great Canadian Theatre Company is presenting Goodnight Desdemona, (Good Morning Juliet) from November 26 till December 15.

Prolific Canadian writer Ann-Marie Macdonald spins Shakespeare’s classic story lines into a modern comedy in this live theatre production. A Canadian English professor is transported into the world of Othello and Romeo and Juliet, where the classic tragedies are re-imagined in a comedic light.

Enjoy a little Shakespeare without the tears and going light on ye olde dialogue.

Evening performances at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, with afternoon shows Saturday and Sunday. (www.gctc.ca)

New York jazz on Gladstone

Gigspace Ottawa brings guitarist Eric Divito and his jazz trio straight from New York City to their Hintonburg theatre.

The Divito Trio offer up a range of classic jazz numbers and original compositions with influences ranging from the golden age of the 30’s and 40’s up to modern jazz.

The Gigspace theatre is located in Gladstone Plaza inside Alcorn Music. The now fully licensed and intimate venue offers up some great acoustics and a unique lineup of performers.

The show is November 29 at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $20. (www.gigspaceottawa.com)

Christmas shopping at Cube Gallery

Cube Gallery is kicking off their annual Great BIG Smalls Show with a vernissage on November 28.

The idea here is a collection of small and reasonably priced pieces of art from over 60 different artists. Find that one-of-a-kind gift for the art lover in your life, or take the opportunity to grab an affordable piece for your own collection. Also, there will be cookies.

Opening night runs from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. so make sure you get to the good stuff before your neighbour gets it first. (www.cubegallery.ca)

Poetry night at The Carleton

The Factory Reading Series returns to The Carleton Tavern on November 29.

The night of poetry and stories is hosted by Brecken Hancock, and will feature readings from three diverse Canadian poets: Ottawa-based JM Francheteau, East coaster Danny Jacobs and CBC Poetry Prize winner Sadiqa de Meijer.

The event is taking place upstairs at The Carleton and readings begin at 7:30 p.m. And it’s free!

Outsmart your neighbours at the HPH

Who is the smartest Hintonburger of them all? Find out November 24 as the Hintonburg Public House presents their first ever Trivia Challenge.

Grab two or three of your smartest friends and get down to the HPH to square off against your neighbours in an epic battle of knowledge and wit. Just take it easy on the craft beer until after the competition.

Challenge starts at 9:00 p.m., admission is a donation to the Parkdale Food Bank. Shampoos and soaps are the preferred donation of the week. (www.hintonburgpublichouse.ca)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praise the music

By Judith van Berkom –

All Saint’s Anglican Church, at 347 Richmond Road near Churchill Avenue, hosts Jazz Vespers – or evening song – every first Sunday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, an intimate setting with excellent acoustics.

Jazz Vespers with Wesley Warren conductor, choir of St.Barnaba, and Billy Boulet on sax. Photo by Al Goyette.
Jazz Vespers with Wesley Warren conductor, choir of St.Barnaba, and Billy Boulet on sax. Photo by Al Goyette.

The Chapel, designed by Thomas Fuller, who also designed the Parliament Buildings and other churches in the region, was built in 1895 in the Gothic Revival style and serviced a community of people who operated saw mills on the Ottawa River. The larger church and parish hall were added in the 1950s as the congregation grew. In 1998, the parish of All Saints spent a significant amount to restore the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and make the space available to the community at large as a place of renewal and spiritual nurture. Jazz Vespers grew out of this and has been in existence for about 15 years.

“What I love about Jazz Vespers the most is that it’s accessible to the average person coming in off the street – there is no communion, and Anglicans always have communion, no statement of faith, you can just come in,” says Barbara Robertson, member of All Saints who has been involved with Jazz Vespers from the beginning.

Concerts normally take place in the Chapel, however, on November 3, the concert was held in the newly renovated larger church, mainly to accommodate a bigger audience.

Billy Boulet, just recently relocated from Ottawa to Toronto, improvised on saxophone with the choir of St. Barnabas from Ottawa centre. Music included pieces by Palestrina, Tallis, William Byrd as well as more contemporary music by Healey Willan, Billy Boulet (solo) and Stephanie Martin.

Boulet has been involved with Jazz Vespers for quite a number of years. His repertoire includes sacred and jazz, classical and Celtic music.

St. Barnabas Choir, a group of 22 singers directed by Wesley Warren, organist and choirmaster, won first prize in the National Competition for Amateur Choirs in 2010, selections of which were broadcast on the CBC Radio programs Choral Concert and Espace Musique.

The audience varies but there are definitely regulars, both attendees and performers at Jazz Vespers. A theme is chosen for the month and the music, readings, personal reflection, closing prayer and communal hymns reflect the theme. November’s theme was All Saints Day, November 1.

Westboro’s Jennifer Skuce is a regular and comes often with her aunt and godmother. Skuce’s mother attended All Saints and she has good memories of the place.

“It’s a nice place to see each other and spend time together,” says Skuce.

“It has a community feel.”

Were you at the Westboro Cenotaph for Remembrance Day?

… if so we’d be grateful if you shared your experience with us. Leave your comment below or tweet it to @kitchissippi.

 

Remembering Adelina

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John Duggan’s 93 year-old hands slide easily across his piano’s ivory keys.

He looks focused on playing the tune, and only stops to fondly remember the days of playing music for an audience. While his memory is fading, he’ll never forget playing with a band on stage at a bar in the early 1940s.

And, performing for an audience with war buddies on the streets of London.

“I can say that I had been a busker on the streets of London,” he says with a smile from his piano bench, which is situated in his Westboro dining room.

While playing the piano brings back memories of entertaining others, it also brings back warm thoughts of playing for his late wife, Adelina.

The couple met during the Second World War. He was in Canada’s air force, and she was an adjutant (or a military officer who was an administrative assistant to a senior officer) in the British Air Force.

She was a Scottish woman, Duggan says, and no more than five feet tall – but intelligent, quick, and sharp-minded.

On Remembrance Day, he says he doesn’t think much about his own service to his country. Instead, he often thinks about Adelina, and her service during the Second World War.

“I understand war is like hell,” Duggan says, adding that he believes Adelina endured more danger in the Second World War than he did.

“My wife had a bullet bounce off her tin hat, she endured bombing, she was caught in a burning building. She was prepared to die and be roasted to death. She had a very interesting war.”

He says the Holocaust, and the treatment of Jewish people in Europe, was a brutality that stuck with his wife before, during and after the war.

Duggan says her father was a gas company executive, and had taken her on a visit to Germany before the war started.

What she saw was permanently ingrained in her memory.

“She saw Jews brushing the cobblestone roads with toothbrushes, wearing the star,” Duggan says. “She was very sympathetic towards the Jews.”

However, he begins to smile slightly as he thinks about how his wife – who had learned to speak German – also played a role in interrogating German prisoners.

“My wife was five-foot-nothing, so these big, honking German prisoners figured this would be a snap,” Duggan says. “But they didn’t know my wife. She had a mind like a steel trap, and when she started asking she would go on, asking the same question in a dozen different ways. She tied these guys in knots. Oh, she had fun.”

Memories of his wife are still alive in his living room – including her custom-made chair, which has a straight upright back so the feet on her short frame could touch the floor when she sat.

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Westboro resident John Duggan holds his and his wife’s family crests. Photos by Kristy Strauss.

A visitor to Duggan’s home is also welcomed by two plaques that hang on the wall, showing he and his wife’s family crests – one for Duggan, and one for his wife’s maiden name, Stewart.

The stories she told Duggan at their kitchen table also remain with him, especially on Remembrance Day.

“I think of her quite often,” he says.

 

New bakery opens in West Wellington

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Jacqui Okum and Claire Tomchishen. Photo by Derek deLouche.

Strawberry Blonde Bakery at 114B Grange Avenue is a dedicated vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free bakery founded by pastry chefs Claire Tomchishen and Jacqui Okum.

The bakery started out as a small stand at the Ottawa Farmer’s Christmas Market. Building on their success, Tomchishen and Okum moved into a kitchen at Rainbow Foods, and have been baking up custom orders and selling their treats to Rainbow Natural Foods, Herb & Spice and The Daily Grind Art Cafe.

The new storefront opened on November 2.

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The menu includes cupcakes, cookies, squares, and bars, which are all baked with an eye towards individuals with special diets (although we’ve been assured that anyone would find them delicious).

SBB is just arriving at the tail end of a Kickstarter campaign too. For more information about the campaign or the bakery, check out their website at strawberryblondebakery.com.

Feed your brain: Innovative classes on non-traditional subjects

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Steve Nason and Billy Russell are the brains behind the Brainery. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to build a fire? Or write a song? Or learn the basics of rock climbing? And do it in a single afternoon?

The Dovercourt Recreation Association has launched the Westboro Brainery, a series of short inexpensive workshops on a variety of topics that aren’t usually found in a course calendar.

The idea was actually an American import. Steve Nason, Program Director at Dovercourt, learned about a project called the Brooklyn Brainery a few years ago.

Part education, part community building, Nason saw it as a way for Dovercourt to offer a diverse new range of adult programming and help bring people together at the same time.

“To me, the Brainery isn’t so much about a product line, it really comes down to how much can we help the community engage with each other,” says Nason.

“What really struck me about the Brooklyn Brainery is that they aren’t coming up with all the courses and finding the instructors, it’s that the community is coming forward, and bringing their friends and neighbours,” he says. It’s community crowdsourcing at its finest.

Although Dovercourt has populated the initial run with some of their own instructors, they’re counting on members of the wider community to come forward and teach classes as well. Subject matter experts are encouraged to fill out a form on the website if they want to share their ideas and expertise with an audience.

So far, course selections have included an eclectic mix of workshops, most of which cost $8-$15 and run between 1-3 hours. The most popular workshop has been Primitive Fire Making.

“This goes to what this is actually about. It’s not going to be about mainstream programming,” says Nason. “This is about something that you just can’t get elsewhere.”

“What I like about this idea is that it gives us the opportunity to offer a wide variety and let people try different things out,” says Billy Russell, Program Manager (who also happens to be teaching the fire making class).

“It’s a small time commitment, and the price is really low, it’s about the price of a movie. Committing to a 10 week course, for something you’re not sure if you want to pursue, can be really hard,” he says.

Initial response to the Westboro Brainery has been enthusiastic. They’ve already had local residents offer to teach homebrew classes, chess strategy, and geneology.

Eventually Nason would like to see 20-30 classes offered every month, with 8-12 participants in each class.

“We’re a not-for profit charity with a commitment to community building,” says Nason. “Our mission is about having a healthy, active and engaged community in what we’re doing. This is just one more piece that allows us to do this.”

For more information about the Westboro Brainery go to www.westborobrainery.ca. You can also follow the Brainery on Twitter at @WestboroBrain.

All’s Well in the West End: Excitement builds for community co-operative

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A shared vision: Bill Shields, Catherine Shields, Kirsten Brouse, Agnès Revenu and Myriam Hebabi (left to right) are some of the volunteers behind the West End Well Co-op. Photo by Denise Deby.

A new community-owned café and organic grocery will be part of the streetscape on Wellington St. West next spring. The West End Well Co-op will also offer a coffeehouse-type performance space, cooking, yoga and other classes, and even a library, say the co-operative’s co-founders, a group of residents who decided the time was right to create a place for people interested in environmental sustainability to connect with and support their community.

The centre will operate as a social enterprise, using a business model to achieve social objectives, explained West End Well co-founder Bill Shields at one of the co-op’s information sessions in October. “We wanted it to have its own self-sustaining economic engine; we didn’t want to be relying on grants that came and went.”

As a for-profit co-operative, the Well will be owned by members, with surpluses reinvested in the business.

The co-op’s two-storey building at 969 Wellington St. W. near Somerset St. will be home to an 800-square-foot grocery store featuring local food, a 30-seat café serving breakfast, lunch, and prepared meals, a 60-seat venue for music, poetry and storytelling events, and an outdoor patio. Jacqueline Jolliffe, owner of Stone Soup Foodworks, will run the café.

Co-op membership is open to anyone for a $50 one-time fee, as well as to co-op workers and food producers. Members each have a vote and guide direction and policies, but non-members can still shop there.

The Well is also looking for people to invest in the co-op through preference shares. So far, says Shields, they’ve had pre-commitments for about a third of the funds needed for start-up and initial operations.

The organizers are confident about the Well’s viability. They raised community financing through a holding company that’s covering the purchase and renovation of the building, and charging the co-op a manageable rent until it can buy back the property.

“It took us less than a month to surface most of that money,” says Shields.

He also anticipates an increase in pedestrian traffic over the next few years with the construction of the Bayview Light Rail Transit station and other nearby developments.

Organizers are also connecting with nearby service providers, businesses and residents to ensure the co-op meets the community’s needs.

Currently led by an interim board of directors, the co-op will hold its first annual general meeting early next year, and will open six days a week starting March 2014.

Information sessions will be held November 20 and 26 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Hintonburg Community Centre.

For more information about the West End Well Co-op check out their website at westendwell.ca.

Near West Review options laid out

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Photo by Kristy Strauss

Overcrowding in Kitchissippi schools has left parents with four options that would determine where they could send their children starting in the 2014-15 school year.

Parents came together at the Fisher Park Public School auditorium on October 24 to hear these options, presented by a working group made up of parents and school board representatives, and to give feedback on each one.

“We’ve done a lot of work as a group and it’s been a tough process,” says Hintonburg resident Stefan Matiation, who’s also a member of the working group.

“I think in the end, the board is committed to making any of these options work.”

The choices presented to parents were divided by Option A, C, C1, and G. There were also boundary changes in each option.

Drawing from Elmdale and Devonshire catchments, Option A would see new junior kindergarten to Grade 6 early French immersion students attend Fisher Park starting in the 2014-15 school year – while retaining its current Grades 7-8 programs. Also as part of this option, Elmdale Public School’s junior kindergarten to Grade 6 English program would be relocated to Connaught Public School and Hilson Public School.

Option C would see a new junior kindergarten to Grade 6 early French immersion program at Connaught Public School – offering a dual track junior kindergarten to Grade 6 English and early French immersion program. Elmdale’s junior kindergarten to Grade 6 early French immersion program would remain, and the Elmdale junior kindergarten to Grade 6 English program would be re-directed to Connaught and Hilson. Option C1 offers the same choice, except students in Grade 6 would be re-directed to Fisher Park Public School for Grades 6-8.

The working group then presented Option G, which includes Elmdale and Devonshire schools offering junior kindergarten to Grade 3 early French immersion and Fisher Park offering Grades 4-8 early French immersion. Elmdale’s junior kindergarten to Grade 6 English programs would be re-directed to Connaught and Hilson, while Fisher Park’s Grade 7 and 8 programs would remain the same.

Matiation said the choices came from the public meetings the working group have been holding since March.

He added that careful thought was put into each choice, and the working group weighed factors such as reasonable boundaries, walkability for students, and ensuring that there would be one extra classroom available in each school.

“We also thought we needed one more factor, which was equity,” Matiation said. “We wanted to make sure there was reasonable access across the near west to all programs, and there was no unbalanced impact on one school, community or program.”

At the meeting, parents also had a chance to voice their concerns about the options.

Shannon Watt had some air quality concerns about Option A – a weakness that the working group also included in their report.

“There was a study out from UBC (University of British Columbia) looking at air pollution . . . and they said we should be careful about putting elementary schools near highways,” Watt said, referring to Fisher Park, which is located beside the Queensway.

Other parents had concerns about the new boundaries, child care options, and the possibility of their older children being separated from a younger sibling.

Civic Hospital resident Amanda Farris, who is a member of the working group, encourages residents to make their voices heard.

“We still don’t have a perfect solution, but we’re  hoping to find one with enough positives,” Farris said, adding that each comment will be taken into account when the group makes its final recommendations to the board.

Jennifer McKenzie, the school board trustee for Somerset/Kitchissippi, said the board will discuss the issue at a December 10 meeting.

“When we started this, we developed our mandate: strive to achieve a set of recommendations that support alleviating the capacity issues of Devonshire and Elmdale,” McKenzie said. “We’ve tried to use that as the basis for some of our decision-making.”

Parents had a chance to submit their comments to the working group until November 1. The group will then submit their recommendations to the board by November 15, and board staff will submit their report. School board trustees will review the recommendations at a December 10 meeting, where members of the public will have one more chance to comment.

For more information visit ocdsb.ca/sch/as/Pages/NearWest.aspx.

Champlain Park resident digs into history of “Captain Dan”

By Debra Huron –

The family names that Christine Jackson has researched and written about since February dominate a map of the neighbourhood she lives in, including the street she has called home for 25 years.

Christine Jackson author of The Cowley Family Saga: from Sherwood Forest to the NHL–Part 1. Photo by Kate Settle
Christine Jackson author of The Cowley Family Saga: from Sherwood Forest to the NHL–Part 1. Photo by Kate Settle

Jackson lives on Cowley Avenue in Champlain Park. Nearby streets carry the names Daniel and Keyworth Avenues, named in honour of a riverboat captain, Daniel Keyworth Cowley, who settled with his wife and 11 children in a Manor House just west of Island Park Drive and Richmond Road in the 1860s. In 1903, one of the captain’s sons honoured his father by naming streets after him in the Riverside Park subdivision he was creating. The area was later renamed Champlain Park.

Smirle Avenue? Mailes Avenue? Pontiac Street? These also have links to the Cowley family, something Jackson reveals in her article The Cowley Family Saga: from Sherwood Forest to the NHL–Part 1, which was published this fall in a local genealogy journal called Anglo-Celtic Roots.

The retired civil servant readily admits to what she calls an “ongoing obsession” with the Cowley family’s beginnings. The first part of the saga focuses on the years in Canada after Mailes Cowley arrived in Montreal from England in 1831 with his wife and two children—one of whom grew up to be Captain Cowley. The Cowley family’s roots in England’s Sherwood Forest will feature in Part 2, to be published in 2014 in the same journal.

“Initially, I was researching the whole family history (in England and Canada),” said Jackson, who describes herself as tenacious when she begins a project.

“By mid-summer, I realized I had acquired so much information, and that I wanted to get something written in 2013 to mark the 400th anniversary of Champlain going up the (Ottawa) River, that I had to divide the story in two!”

Captain Cowley’s temporary possession of Samuel de Champlain’s astrolabe after the metal artifact was discovered near Cobden, Ontario in 1867 helped spur Jackson’s interest in the Cowley family. That kind of historical tidbit was included in a history project launched in January 2013 by a neighbourhood group, the Champlain Oaks Project.

What completely hooked Jackson into writing her saga was a question posed by the Champlain Oaks Project: why did records show that Captain Cowley was buried in North Bay, Ontario, when he had lived and worked all his adult life in the Ottawa Valley?

Jackson’s journal article provides the answer, which had less to do with imagined intrigue and more to do with poor note taking by a distracted clerk. (You’ll have to read her 4,700 word article to get the full story!)

What about the connection to the NHL featured in the title of her journal article? It turns out that one of the Captain’s great-grandsons, Bill “Cowboy” Cowley, was the Wayne Gretzky of his time, which earned him a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.  After his NHL career ended, he owned the Elmdale Tavern, and was a founder and co-owner of the Ottawa 67s.

Jackson was thrilled to interview Jane Cowley Egan, (daughter of the hockey player) and her cousin, Robert H. Cowley, this summer in Norway Bay, Quebec, where they both live.

“They’ve been so trusting; they’ve loaned me everything [historical] they’ve got,” said Jackson. “Jane just keeps telling me she’s so happy to have somebody write about the family. She knows that the family is quite special but she’s never done anything herself.”

For Jackson, who came early to her interest in genealogy, a folder filled with raw material speaks of treasure. Born in Brighton, England, Jackson arrived in Canada at 22 and has lived here since. She began chronicling her family’s roots, based almost exclusively in the county of Sussex, England when she was 30.

Earlier this year, as she immersed herself in the Cowley history project, Jackson realized she was calling her main subject “Captain Dan.”

“I started to call him Captain Dan because I felt like I was getting to know him a bit,” she said. “It became clear to me that he was a real character, and very well-known in the Ottawa Valley.”

Jackson believes that in later life, the Captain (who died at age 80 in 1897) was highly regarded for his integrity and decency.

“I think he probably had a jolly personality and told a lot of stories,” said Jackson.

To obtain a PDF of part 1 of the Cowley saga, contact Christine Jackson at 613-729-8021. 

 

Knitting for good: The “one skein wonder” helps people in need

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West Wellington resident Mimi Golding makes brown paper packages, tied up with string.

Mimi Golding is an operations manager for an international organization and community activist. She’s also a knitter, who decided to put her hobby to charitable use by making Clean Kits, small packages of personal care items she donates to people in need.

Each one contains a knitted washcloth, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and soap. In 2012, Golding made 50 Clean Kits. This year she’s made over 100, and she’s still going strong.

Golding calls herself a “one skein wonder.” She started making washcloths out of lighter cotton when it was too hot to knit with wool, and she didn’t stop.

“It was getting ridiculous. I had so many,” laughs Golding. “What could I do with them?”

It was around this time that she found the  direction she needed: a great sale on bars of soap and a funding drive hosted by the Shepherds of Good Hope. The idea came together quickly at that point.

“I just packaged them all up, handed them to my husband, and sent him to drop them off.”

It takes about two hours to knit each washcloth and she works in batches of 25 because it’s easier to track.

Although Golding enlists her kids to help her on occasion, she can’t do it entirely alone. Golding relies heavily on donations of products that fit the theme behind Clean Kits.

“Toothbrushes and toothpaste are the number one item at any emergency food centre,” says Golding.

Other items on her wishlist include soap, razors, dental floss, and travel-sized shampoo and conditioner. Donations of soft craft cotton are also welcome.

Everything is packaged with care, and she tucks a note into each one as well.

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“Everyone gets a message, just to let them know that they’re special to somebody,” says Golding. “It’s a welcoming thing, a loving thing. It’s their very own, and not just shoved in a bag with their groceries.”

Golding dropped off 50 kits to Parkdale Food Centre recently, all of which went to children. She points out a recent news item about children’s dental care being on the decline.

“People cannot necessarily afford this,” says Golding. “Sometimes a choice has to be made between housing, good food, and dental care.”

These kinds of  items – staples of basic hygiene – are not as cheap as most people think.

“Typically a toothbrush lasts about six months,” says Golding. “Toothpaste you can go through much faster. These things add up. Toothbrushes are not cheap anymore, and plain toothpaste is harder to find. It’s a challenge.”

Her latest batch of Clean Kits are packaged in brown paper bags, not because they’re inexpensive, but because “brown paper packages, tied up with string” are reminiscent of a gift that’s worth giving, and receiving.

A number of different organizations have received Clean Kits, including local homeless shelters and emergency food centres.

“They’re always in need of things like this,” says Golding. “There are always people who arrive at those places without anything.”

More information about the Clean Kits is available right here.

 

Westboro kids get snappy

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Budding photographer Olivia O’Donnell, age 7. Photo by Kate Settle.

How does our neighbourhood look when you are two and a half feet tall? What’s important about your community when you are eight years old? (Hint: check out this web gallery.)

Ten families from Churchill Alternative School picked up their cameras and set off to explore the streets of Westboro through the lens, as part of the Kate Settle’s CLIC Children’s Photography Program.

KT had the opportunity to ask Settle, a Churchill parent and professional photographer, a bit about the photo walk.

KT: Where did you go? What kinds of things did you photograph during your walkabout? 

KS: We met at Churchill School, and walked down the Ravenhill stairs, and made our way down the Byron Pathway and over to Maplelawn Garden. We had scheduled an hour, but many families stayed longer and continued photographing until we lost the light. We had an extended route planned if we had needed (ending at Bridgehead!) but the children were so absorbed in creating their photos that we moved quite slowly, wanting to give them all the space they needed.

There was no limit put on subject matter for this walk, and the families were encouraged to photograph whatever inspired them.

What kind of instruction, if any, did you give the kids? What kind of subject matter interested them the most?

Many of the children have participated in the CLIC Photography program through Churchill school, and had some photography instruction leading up to the walk. Before we set off that evening we chatted about basic principals like focusing your camera. The group was also encouraged to think about composition and changing their position, and to try using the macro settings on their cameras to get some nice close-ups with a shallower depth of field. As we walked we talked about what was interesting and important to them, and how they could capture that to tell a story.

The kids were drawn to anything that seemed remotely strange or out of place, as well as bright colours. Fall leaves and trees were a popular subject, and as we walked we spotted many of our kids looking up towering trees, or crouching down near piles of bright leaves. The boys in particular were interested in the oddities, such as a mitten on a fence, parents and friends making funny faces, the journeys of a Lego man in a big world.

Why is it important for kids to do this kind of activity? And how is working with kids different from working with adults? 

I am a working photographer, which I love, but when something you love becomes the way to pay the bills, an element of the recreational “fun” aspect of that activity shifts. I don’t get out to play with my camera as much as I’d like, so last year I signed up for my first group photo walk. It took a while for the inspiration to start flowing, but once I let go of my preconceived limits I produced some of my very favourite images.

A photo walk is a fun, low pressure, and low cost way to spend some creative family time. It seemed like a logical step to involve families in some of thephotography work the children are doing at school, and the neighbourhood makes a great canvas for that. Children generally don’t feel the same limits I did on my first photo walk, and it’s often the kids who inspire the adults to let their creativity out of the box and to see things differently.

I see photography as a great equalizer. It’s completely accessible to anyone with any kind of camera in hand, regardless of abilities in other areas. For many children who, for reason of age, language, shyness, or diverse abilities are not able to express themselves in an adult world, a camera can provide a valuable communication tool, and a real window into their thoughts. Having something tangible, in the form of a photograph that you are proud of, that is a testament to your place in the world can be very powerful. I’m very passionate about providing tools to make this happen!

 If you would like more information on CLIC please visit www.katesettlephotography.com

How do you raise snap happy kids?

In this digital age it’s relatively easy to spend an hour with a child, camera in hand, and ask them to simply capture what’s important to them. The results will be enlightening to you, exciting and empowering to them, and a keepsake for when you are both feeling nostalgic.

If you want to take things up a notch, consider talking to your kids about:

  • Perspective: What happens if you take a photo lying on the ground?
  • Composition: What’s the subject of your photo, and how could you frame that creatively?
  • Depth: Try experimenting with a narrower depth of field by using the macro setting on your camera.

You could pick a theme for your own photo walk. Look for people, colours, food, whatever catches the eye and imagination. The possibilities are endless, and each photo walk you take will help you see the everyday in a new light.

The pharmacist is “in”

Getting a flu shot has never been easier. It’s as simple as dropping by your neighbourhood pharmacy.

Last year was the first year pharmacists were able to administer immunizations in Ontario and easier access to vaccinations at pharmacies, including evenings and weekends, will have a significant impact on the health and well-being of residents in the coming flu season.

According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the flu and its complications result in up to 1,000 hospitalizations and 1,600 deaths in Ontario each year.

“A lot of our senior customers are the most concerned about receiving it,” says Brandon Lecours, manager at the Westboro Village Pharmasave. He says a lot of local residents are gettng  their flu shot at the pharmacy, even kids as young as five.

Pharmacists receive specialized training prior to being authorized to provide flu shots. In addition to completing a certified first aid and CPR course, pharmacists complete injection and immunization training, and register their training with the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

Receiving the flu shot at the local pharmacy means avoiding long lines or waiting times at a doctor’s office. It also means that patients can use the time to ask questions about their medications while they fill a prescription.

The Westboro Village Pharmasave is offering flu shots Monday-Friday from 12:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.

What to do about Byron

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New lighting, crosswalks among ideas for renewed Byron Park. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

A map showing a strip of the Byron Linear Park was filled with suggestions at a public meeting that took place at the Churchill Seniors’ Recreation Centre on October 7 – including play structures, a natural sitting area and a “Welcome to Westboro” sign.

Councillor Katherine Hobbs invited residents out to the meeting, where they could give feedback on improvements they would like to see on the Byron Linear Park west of Golden Avenue.

The funding comes from cash-in-lieu of parkland from developments in the area.

Hobbs said this would be the first meeting of many consultations with the community.

“We’re hoping to get as many recommendations as possible to contribute ideas to the parks people,” said Hobbs. “They will develop the plan, and that will start the consultation process. It’s an important park for people, and has become a really critical place for the Westboro Farmers’ Market.”

Hobbs said the meeting focused on that particular part of the park because of community feedback in Westboro, Westboro Beach and McKellar Heights.

But in addition to offering their park suggestions at the meeting, residents also voiced their concerns over the nearby Westboro Farmers’ Market that is run on the piece of land.

Many said they would like the new improvements to be related to the market.

“My eight-year-old was woken up by trucks at five in the morning,” said Westboro resident Emma Hancock, who lives very close to the cenotaph.

“There are trucks pulling up to unload under trees and damaging them, they are destroying the grass… kids can’t ride bikes or play in the street, and they can’t play in the Byron Linear Park.”

Other residents voiced their opinions about city planning procedures.

“I’m a bit surprised about this discussion, and perturbed by the very short notice that was given for this consultation,” said Westboro resident Charles Ficner. “I’m very troubled by what’s going on.”
Ficner added that he was tired of seeing plans being forced upon the community – using the example of the Byron Linear Park that runs behind the former convent development which developers are using as an access way.

Some residents also suggested crosswalks on Byron – particularly because the street has gotten much busier, and cars are driving faster.

Westboro resident Brian Seymour said he walked to the evening meeting through the park, and noticed there was no lighting.

“I’d like to see lighting,” Seymour said. “I find that it’s very dark when walking down the park at night.”

The Byron Linear Park, west of Golden Avenue, was up for discussion at a public meeting that took place at the Churchill Seniors’ Recreation Centre on October 7. Photo by Andrea Tomkins