PLUS... Meet the entrepreneurs behind Simply Bath Bombs

Tillsonburg’s building boom hits Broadway

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Come see us at our new location!

149 Broadway - Tillsonburg, ON - 519.688.0777

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The Woodsman Meet the master of the charcuterie board

Simply Bath Bombs A sweet smelling startup Bright Lights on Broadway Tillsonburg’s building boom

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Holiday Shopping Guide You’ll be amazed at what you can buy locally Pumped up Tillsonburg’s new pump track is a labour of love Tillsonburg Twisters Ringette develops teamwork and strong skating Christmasfest Find festive fun at Tillsonburg’s Christmas festival By the Numbers Digits that will make you do a double-take

Discover Tillsonburg Magazine is published twice a year by the Town of Tillsonburg, in partnership with local builders and other community partners.

Editorial & Design Colleen Pepper Advertising Shelley Imbeault 519.688.3009 ext. 3231


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THE WO O D S M A N Dave Schonberger’s charcuterie boards bring the beauty of nature to the table

W hen 28-year-old Dave Schon- berger made his first charcute- rie board three years ago, the young carpenter wasn’t trying to be hip and trendy; he just wanted to give something nice to his mom. “It was Mother’s Day,” he recalls, “and I needed a gift.” Remembering the breads, cheeses and dried meats he enjoyed as a kid at his Oma and Opa’s house, he de- cided to make her a wooden serving board. The gift was an instant hit. Every- one who saw the piece loved it and soon Dave found himself swamped with requests from family and friends. When the owners of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Norwich ex- pressed an interest in ordering hun- dreds of boards for their popular gift baskets, Dave began to see the po- tential of his hobby. “I’d been working as a profession- al carpenter for several years at that point,” says Dave, who studied car- pentry at Fanshawe College in Lon- don. “And yet there were days when I felt like I was hardly even work- ing with wood anymore. Instead, I was installing drywall and laying


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tile and working with all these toxic products. I felt myself growing rest- less with the direction of my trade.” Though it was a leap of faith, Dave decided to follow his heart. He gave up being an onsite carpenter and decided to become a full time wood- worker and master of the wooden charcuterie board. “People look at me sometimes and say, ‘So you make cheeseboards for a living?’ and the answer is yes. It’s crazy how that one board has turned into a couple thousand a year. But it’s never boring. Every piece has a story and I love being able to show- case the beauty of our local woods.” This past summer Dave found himself on the shores of Lake Lis- gar as two 200-year old maples—or “dinosaurs” as he calls them—were

removed for safety reasons. “It was sad to watch them come down, but I’m looking forward to giving them new life in the future,” he says. “Hopefully by this time next year, people will be eating off those trees and sharing a bit of Till- sonburg’s rich natural history with their dinner guests.” For Dave, the chance to salvage urban trees that might otherwise be lost to the wood chipper or reclaim wood that’s been relegated to the scrap heap is a noble calling indeed. “To me, the natural imperfections of our local hardwoods are some- thing to be celebrated,” he says. “The knots, holes and cracks add beauty and character. No two pieces of wood are ever the same and it’s my job to bring out those differences

and show that wood can be strik- ingly beautiful all on its own.” Each of Dave’s boards goes through an 18-step process from concept to completion. His wife Mi- chelle, an art teacher, helps with the design of the handles as well as the photography of the final product. “Sometimes people think I stain the boards, but I actually just give them a generous coat of mineral oil and then seal them with a thin coat of beeswax paste,” he explains. Once the paste is massaged into the wood, it is buffed to a medium shine for a result that is simple, food-safe and naturally beautiful. “The boards we get from Dave are made in the same way our cheeses are produced—locally with love, care and artistic perfection,” says


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Shep Ysselstein, the award-winning cheesemaker and owner of Gunn’s Hill. “Our customers love them.” However, these days it’s not just Tillsonburg and Oxford County folks who’ve taken a shine to Dave’s work; people in Ontario’s biggest city are discovering him as well. “We’ve been selling product at Collected Joy in Toronto for a while now and this fall we’re going to be at the One-of-a-Kind Craft Show,” says Dave. “We’ve also been gener- ating a lot of business through our Facebook and Instagram accounts.” Dave notes that he’s even received inquiries from people in Australia. “It’s crazy how people find me,” he says with a smile. Still, he’s not one to let success go to his head. “I’m not a city boy,” he says. “I never have been. When I lived in London, I couldn’t wait to get back to Tillsonburg. There’s such a strong sense of community here.” At present, Dave and Michelle

live on Michelle’s parents rose farm in Burgessville. However they re- cently bought a farm property just outside of Tillsonburg. “The business has grown to the point that I need more space,” he says. “The new property has an old barn and that’s going to be my shop. It’s got such a great sense of history about it--and of course, lots of wood.” Although the charcuterie craze may not last forever, Dave isn’t wor- ried about his future. “I read somewhere that people are outgrowing lack of character,” he says. “They want to buy things that have meaning, and a story, and are made in a sustainable way. That’s very good news for someone like me--and our planet.” You can purchase Dave’s work locally at Pedlar’s Quay on Ridout Street. Learn more at www.ottercreekwoodworks.com

SIMPLY BATH BOMBS Darwin and Cindy Davies have come up with their own recipe for a sweet smelling startup

Tillsonburg residents Darwin and Cindy Davies have always had an entrepreneurial streak so when they decided to start a new business last year, no one was too surprised. “We own two other businesses, JiffyMaid and SnapPod, so we know what it’s like to be self-employed, but moving into scented products was something completely new for us,” explains Darwin. “We thought about candle making for a while, but when we stumbled upon bath bombs, we saw a lot more potential for success.” And while their company may be

called Simply Bath Bombs, this hus- band and wife duo soon discovered that making the perfect bath bomb was anything but simple. “We did a full year of research and testing before we launched,” says Darwin. “Every time we’d see bath bombs for sale somewhere, we’d buy a few and test them out, mak- ing notes on what we liked. We also started obsessively working on de- veloping our own formulations.” This trial and error process went on for months. Some products stained the tub. Some were too oily or crumbly. Others fizzled out or

didn’t have enough scent or colour. “We made a lot of duds before getting our recipe down,” says Cin- dy, admitting that there were sev- eral times they seriously considered abandoning the whole concept. “There’s so much that can go wrong,” adds Darwin, a self-con- fessed perfectionist. “From the pre- cise mixing time of the ingredients down to the humidity level and temperature of the room. Every- thing has to be just right for a qual- ity product.” In short, it seems making bath bombs is as much art as science. And


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for Darwin, a former pastor, a little prayer never hurts either. “For us, the perfect bath bomb should leave your skin feeling soft and silky,” says Cindy. “It should float on the surface of the water, and be foamy more than fizzy.” “Our bombs spin in the water and are active for about 15 minutes be- fore they dissolve. They also have

in-beds that create an extra burst of colour at the end,” she says. In their first six months of public sales, Darwin and Cindy have sold more than 1000 units—a number they anticipate could double or tri- ple during the upcoming Christmas shopping season. “We’re going to be at some big craft shows in London and Kitch-

ener over the next few weeks so we expect to sell a lot at those,” he says. Simply Bath Bombs come in 20 different scents and retail for $7.95 each. They currently sell at four area stores, including Trinkets Gift Shop- pe and Cottage Garden s . “We have merchants approaching us now wanting to sell the product so we’re pretty excited about where this is all going,” says Darwin, who hopes to expand into 20-30 stores over the next three years. In the meantime, he and Cindy are empty-nesters living their entrepre- neurial dream. They’ve turned their son’s old upstairs bedroom into a production room and are confident that once people try their product, they’ll become, “ Simply addicted.”



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BROADWAY B R I G H T L I G H T S O N Good things are happening in Tillsonburg

M ost towns and cities have at least a few “challenging properties” in their commercial core. Some buildings seem to be black holes of business, while others sit idle year after year. But if you think downtown re- newal isn’t possible, think again. “Tillsonburg is definitely in the midst of a building boom right now,” says Chief Building Officer Geno Vanhaelewyn. “Our residen- tial housing starts are higher than they’ve been in five years, and we’re seeing an influx of commercial in- vestment on top of it.” “If you drive south into Tillson- burg on Broadway, you’ll pass three major construction sites on your way into the downtown,” says De- velopment Commissioner Cephas Panschow. “And they’re all proper- ties that have struggled to attract in- terest in the past.” Two of the sites on Broadway will soon house optometry practices (Dr. Springer and Dr. Nelles), while the third will be a large dental office (Drs. Minielly, Jarycki, Jones, Mattan and McDonald). “A lot of professional offices are relocating right now in an effort to make their premises more acces- sible,” says Panschow. “People are

looking for barrier-free entrances and more open floor plans.” But it isn’t just service-oriented businesses that are investing in Tillsonburg; the retail sector is also growing. “We’ve had several new retail businesses open in the past few months including Roka Billiards, The Anchor Shoppe and No Dice Games,” says Virginia Armstrong, Executive Director of the Tillsonburg Business Improvement Association (BIA). “It’s good news for shoppers,

and great news for the BIA.” Kitchener’s Carolyn Closs, own- er of The Anchor Shoppe, says she considered communities all over Ontario including Port Colborne, Grimsby, Goderich, Port Hope and Barrie before deciding to establish her new and renewed furniture business at 18 Oxford Street in Till- sonburg. Though her store has only been open a few weeks, she’s con- vinced she’s made the right choice. “The people have been amazing so far,” she says. “Everyone is so


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(Right Top) The Anchor Shoppe special- izes in new, renewed and consignment furniture. The store also carries Fusion Mineral Paint and offers custom paint- ing services, as well as workshops. (Right Bottom) 138 Broadway will soon be home to Dr. Dale Springer’s optom- etry practice. (Left Bottom) Carrianne Hall, owner of Trinkets Gift Shoppe, is loving her new larger location at 149 Broadway (Left Top) The new office of optometrist Dr. Gary Nelles at 519 Broadway

friendly and the sales so far have been great. I’ve never been in a community that felt like ‘home’ so quickly.” Meanwhile, some of Tillsonburg’s more established retailers are also finding reasons to smile. On November 1, Carrianne Hall moved her family’s 14-year-old gift and home décor business, Trinkets Gift Shoppe, from its cozy home at 148 Broadway to a newly renovated location at 149 Broadway. “So many people have been com-

ing in to see the transformation,” says Hall. “I can’t thank building owners John and Wendy Cameron and Dean Franklin Construction enough for all they’ve done to make this all possible.” The newly expanded Trinkets fea- tures a restored tin ceiling, ten chan- deliers and walls that have been sandblasted to reveal the original yellow brick. The new space pro- vides a perfect backdrop for Hall’s impressive collection of gift and decor items, including works by lo-

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(Bottom) Tillsonburg Dental Centre (Drs. Ort, Bamford, Puente and Bossy) will be an anchor tenant in the extensively renovated Lisgar Heights Plaza. department or stop by the Tillsonburg Customer Service Centre located at 10 Lisgar Ave. To apply for the Facade Improvement Grant Program, contact the Town of Tillsonburg Building Services rate heritage design elements back into their properties,” says Tomico. “Things like gooseneck lighting and window mullions, for instance. They’re little details that cost a bit more but add charm and character to the streetscape.” While there’s still more work to be done, Closs is convinced the town is on the right track. “Tillsonburg’s downtown is in- credibly vibrant relative to other communities,” says Closs. “And be- lieve me, I’ve lived in a lot of places. What you have here is amazing.”

cal potters, painters and photogra- phers. “Good things are definitely hap- pening in Tillsonburg right now,” says Carrianne. “As a business owner, I feel really hopeful about the future.” No doubt one of the most wel- come changes to the downtown area has been the addition of the Facade Improvement Grant Program. “Basically, we’ve been working with the Town of Tillsonburg to pro- vide grants to business and property owners to improve the front of their premises,” explains Cedric Tomico, BIA president. To date, 16 properties have ben- efited from the program. “It’s been exciting to see so much restoration work happening in the downtown core,” adds Armstrong, noting that more than $176,000 in grant money has been awarded since the program began. “The facade program provides an incentive for businesses to incorpo-

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HOLIDAYS H O M E F O R T H E Fabulous gifts you can find in Tillsonburg T hink you need to go out of town to do your holiday shopping? You might be surprised at what you can find right here at home. Here are some trendy gifts that are guaranteed to sparkle under any tree. So come on, don’t be shy. Head downtown and wish your Downtown Tillsonburg merchants a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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A. Warm up on a blustery day with this Cotton Country sweater and scarf set from Bennett Mens & Ladies Wear . ($$$) B. Scurry over to Trinkets for a Saxon Chocolates’ Night Before Christmas gift set. Hurry, they won’t last long! ($) C. Adult colouring books are all the rage! Check out these inspired choices from Gospel Lighthouse. ($) D. Send her to dinner in style with a wine clutch chiller bag from The Prime Ingredient . Just zip and go! ($$) E. Stream music to any room in the house with a Sonos Wireless Speaker from Ronsons Audio Video ($$$). F. Hit the mark for him with this Winmau dart board from Roka Billiards and Games . ($$$) G. Put a little bling in her stocking with a choker from Escapes Salon & Spa . ($$) H. Give the gift of comfort when you wrap up a box of “Saxx—The World’s Underwear.” Available at Bennett Mens & Ladies Wear. ($$) I. The Damsel in D-Stress Travel Essentials Kit is a great choice for the traveller in your family. Or how about a cork wallet from Pixie Mood? Available at Escapes Salon & Spa . ($) K. Dutch Blitz is a fast-paced card game the whole family will love. Available at No Dice Games . ($)








Tranquilty Spa staff show off their stylish leather goods and versatile ponchos (right).



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PUMPED UP G E T R E A D Y T O B E Tillsonburg’s new pump track is a labour of love

W hen 23-year-old Kolin Smith was killed in a motor vehi- cle accident outside Springford on December 20, 2014, his family and friends were devastated. How could a young man who was so full of life be gone? But over the past two years, those closest to Kolin have sought to work through their grief by pouring their heart and soul into a place he loved more than any other: the Tillsonburg Skate Park. “It’s so great to see this place packed with kids,” says Kolin’s fa- ther, Terry, watching as riders test out the brand new pump track he helped design and create. The track, which welcomed its first bike and scooter riders in October, is only the third such facility in Ontario. Com- prised of asphalt trails, rolls, hills, steep corners and ramps, the track is designed to require minimal ped- dling and is suitable for riders of all ages. “Pump tracks are just starting to catch on in North America,” says Terry, noting that he saw his first while visiting New Zealand last year. “They’re a really nice comple- ment to concrete skateparks and something even adults can enjoy.” “Kolin was one of the kids that pe- titioned Council to build the skate-

park back in 2001, and once it was built, it became a second home for him—a sanctuary,” Terry recalls. “He spent hours there, even in the winter. After he died, Kolin’s friends approached the Town and asked if the park could be renamed in his honour.” Moved by the stories of how Kolin

had been mentor and inspiration to dozens of young riders, Council ap- proved the request and in 2015, the park became officially known as the Kolin Smith Memorial Skatepark. “We were all so grateful to the Town for working with us on that project, that we started dreaming about ways the park could be made

Terry Smith (second from left) with some of Kolin’s friends

Photo: Big Bear Imaging


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Kolin Smith 1991 - 2014

that much better,” explains Terry. “In the end, we pitched the idea of a pump track and people started get- ting really excited about it.” Buoyed by the initial enthusiasm, Terry took on the responsibility of fundraising for the $50,000 project. Supported by Council and the Me- morial Park Revitalization Commit- tee, he began sharing his vision with anyone who would listen. He also donated $15,000 of his own money to help get the project off the ground. “I approached Dirtsculpt with a rough design and they started work- ing with me to fine tune the details,” says Terry. “In the end, they agreed to build the track at cost. We were also able to repurpose some of the materials from the old horse track so we saved some money there too.” Once the track’s basic structure was complete, Terry worked with some of Kolin’s friends to landscape

the circumference of the track with load after load of natural mulch. They also installed river rock in places to discourage off-track riding and facilitate proper drainage. “So many people and companies have helped out along the way,” says Terry, including a lot of non- Tillsonburg businesses. “And we had a skate and bike competition at Turtlefest this year that raised some funds as well.” All in all, Terry is incredibly pleased with how the pump track project has come together. So pleased, in fact, that the 57-year-old recently bought a bike and helmet so he can join the kids and enjoy the track as well. “It’s like riding a roller coaster,” he laughs. “And I’m telling you, it’s a great workout.” Still, Terry says nothing compares with seeing how much enjoyment

the kids are getting out of the track. “Say what you will, but this is one place where kids put their phones away and get some physical activity. They talk to each other, encourage one another and there’s this sense of comradery that develops. It’s really heart-warming to see.” Since the track opened, Terry has been busy checking in daily to see how it’s holding up. “I run an oil and gas service com- pany so I’ve got a lot of time on my hands right now,” he winks. As for Kolin’s friends, they’re thrilled to see all the improvements that have been made to the park. “They’ve been so great and I’m so thankful to them for all the sup- port they’ve given our family,” says Terry. “It really has been an amazing journey.”


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TWISTERS T I L L S O N B U R G Ringette emphasizes strong skating and teamwork

V isit the Tillsonburg Commu- nity Centre on any given week- end, and you’ll likely see dozens of young people packing gear in and out of the arena. While most of the kids undoubtedly dream of becom- ing the next Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, some have their eyes fixed on a different prize: a ring. “Thirty years ago there was no such thing as girls’ hockey,” says Tillsonburg Ringette Association President, Jenny Ratter. “If you were a girl and wanted to be on the ice, you either signed up for figure skat- ing or you played ringette. Those were your options.” Today, the gender divide has largely been erased, prompting some people to predict the demise of the 53-year old sport. “We’ve lost a few kids to the hock- ey program in recent years,” admits Ratter. “But with more than 30,000 ringette players in Canada, I think there’s still a lot of passion for the game in our region.” At first blush, ringette looks like hockey played with bladeless sticks and rings in lieu of traditional pucks. However, unlike hockey, there is no intentional body contact and play- ers cannot carry the ring across the blue lines. Instead, they must pass

the ring to a teammate, or shoot it into the zone. At the higher levels, a shot clock ensures that players think and act quickly. The result is a sport that emphasizes teamwork over in- dividual stardom. “I think the focus on team play is really important,” says Kristen Cadotte, whose two daughters play on the U7 Bunny Team. “Learning to work with other people is an essential life skill,” says Cadotte. “I also think playing a team sport like ringette helps keep kids out of trouble as they navigate the teen years.”

Cadotte, who was among the first skaters in Tillsonburg to try the game back in the 1980s, recalls fondly the sense of accomplishment she felt when she went on to win a provincial A championship with Waterloo in 2008. And while she admits her age may be catching up with her, she’s determined to keep playing ringette as long as she can. “I’m an old lady player now,” she laughs. “But we have a great time and it’s a good workout.” For Kristen, the decision to put her children in ringette was an easy one.

Photo: Darwin Kent


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“We have an excellent program here and the kids get tons of one- on-one attention as they move up through the levels,” she says. Becky Turrill, instructor for the Learn to Skate program, is a near- legend on the ice. She first got in- volved with the association 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. “I love working with the girls,” she says. “Even though my little girl is in university now, it’s still a lot of fun to get out there. It’s so reward- ing to see the progress each player makes over the course of a season. To watch them go from Bambi legs to cross-cuts in just a few months is incredible.” “This is our first year as ringette parents and we’re really enjoying it,” says Krystal West. “Both our son and daughter played minor hockey last year, but this fall, Lainey really wanted to give ringette a try. I think she’s really enjoying playing on an all-girl team and the coaches have

been fantastic with her.” To learn more about Tillsonburg Twisters ringette visit them online at www.tillsonburgringette.com.

Becky Turrill leads drills in the popular Learn to Skate program.

Five-year-old Hadley Anderson is in her second year with the Twisters.


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Enjoy the best the holiday season has to offer

W arm up that apple cider and hot chocolate, be- cause it’s Christmas time in Tillsonburg! The Christmasfest Committee has been hard at work planning all kinds of activities to help make your holiday season mer- ry and bright. So come on, bundle up and come join in the fun! Santa Claus Parade Celebrate the official arrival of Santa in Tillsonburg when the Optimist Santa Claus Parade rolls along Broadway north to the Community Centre. Enjoy floats, bands and of course, candy. Parade starts at 2:00 PM. ( November 19 ) Christmas at Annandale* During this annual event, the halls at Annandale National Historic Site are decked by community volun- teers using items from their personal collections. Each year the decorators and themes change, making for a truly unique holiday experience. ( November 25 - January 8 )

A Quilted Christmas* Warm up in the Pratt Gallery over the holidays as Annandale National Historic Site presents “A Quilted Christmas.” This limited time ex- hibit will showcase quilts from the museum’s permanent collection. ( November 25 - January 8 )

Down Home Christmas Craft Show* Find one-of-a-kind and hand-craft- ed gifts for everyone on your list during the legendary Down Home Christmas Craft Show. Find jewelry, woolen goods, pottery, glassware, and more. Open 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. ( November 26 - 27 )

Find more events at www.christmasfest.ca


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Tree Lighting What could be more festive than gathering round the Town’s giant Christmas tree (beside the library) and helping the mayor count down to the annual lighting of the lights at 7:00 PM? Plus, stay and join in Christmas Crawl for a chance to be an instant winner. ( December 2 ) Victoria Gydov In Concert* Don’t miss acclaimed soprano Victoria Gydov (top left) as she per- forms “Share the Hope of Christ- mas” in the sanctuary of the stun- ning St. Paul’s United Church from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. ( December 10 ) Back to the 50s Concert & Dance* Slick back your hair and enjoy some festive fun with Jim Foris and his beloved Back to the 50s band. A staple of the Annandale National Historic Site summer concert se- ries, this group is guaranteed to have your saddle shoes tapping and your poodle skirt swinging. At the Tillsonburg Legion from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM. ( December 16 ) * Ticketed event. Visit christmasfest.ca for more admission details.

Alleluia Bell Choir* Enjoy the sounds of traditional Christmas carols played on hand- bells as Peggy David conducts the ever-popular Alleluia Bell Choir. Hosted by St. John’s Anglican Church. Concert begins at 7:30 PM. ( November 28 ) Christmas Crawl Back for another year, this spirited romp through Downtown Tillson- burg will have you shopping, laugh- ing and making merry all night long (5:00 PM to 9:00 PM). Visit with Santa and his live reindeer, enjoy free wagon rides, street games and more. Plus, new this year, take part in the Vintage Toy Joy Scavenger Hunt. Find all the items on Santa’s list for your chance to win a week’s free groceries and other fabulous prizes. ( December 2 ) Breakfast with Santa* Fill up on pancakes and sausages when the Tillsonburg Kinettes host their annual Breakfast with Santa event from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Community Centre. Check out the Christmas photo booth and, of course, spend some time with the big guy himself! (December 3)


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Ostrander’s Funeral Home, a family business since 1920, is grateful and proud that their family business remains a vital and trusted part of the community. Ostrander’s offers a forward-looking and creative range of services From the most traditional to the unique and highly personalized requests. A commitment to ensure each family is provided with the exact service they wish Dignified facilities that have been tastefully adapted to offer modern amenities Preplanning, cremation and many other options are available, with a staff that will gladly take the time to help you explore all your choices and reach informed decisions. The comfortable Chapel can accommodate 185 and when demand for space exceeds that, high quality audio and video equipment can carry the service to more than 100 others seated in other areas of the building.

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NUMBERS B Y T H E Digits that will make you do a double-take E.D. Tillson, had Today, you can enjoy dinner at his pea and barley mill —now known as Mill Tales Inn. Learn more at www.milltales.com mills in Tillsonburg during the 1870s. 150 pieces of art from the Hevenor Collection of Canadian Art will be on display at Annandale National Historic Site this spring. Entitled Plein Air to Abstraction, the show (May 26 - July 16) features works collected by Tillsonburg physician, Dr. Robert Hevenor . 6


is the number of calories you can burn per hour while cycling in the water. Thanks to the pressure provided by the water, blood circulation speeds up, promoting increased fat elimination. Want to give it a try? Check out the new aqua bikes at the Tillsonburg Community Centre.

$24,379,209 is the total construction value of projects registered with the Town of Tillson- burg Building Services Department during the first nine months of 2016--a 93% increase over last year’s figures.


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