Villager Jan-Feb 2020 • Issue 17
Central Elgin unlikely to fundwater taxi
The municipalities of Elgin County and Central Elgin are unlikely to share the cost of water taxi and bus shuttle services for residents, tourists and visitors inconvenienced by the $5.2 million rehabilitation of Port Stanley’s King George VI Lift Bridge. The rehabilitation project will close the historic span over Kettle Creek from March 2020 to May 2021, dividing the community in half and presenting a challenge for downtown business owners who have come to rely on upwards of 104,000 annual tourists, spending more than $9 million a year here. The detour route across the Warren Street bridge is expected to cause delays and frustrations for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Google Maps estimates a pedestrian on Bridge Street faces an 18-minute, 1.5 kilometre detour, hiking up Sunset Drive, toWarren, then an 18-minute, 1.5 kms detour down CarlowRoad, back to Bridge Street. That’s more than half an hour walking time from the west side of the village, to the east side. Optimistically, it’s a four-minute drive.
Both municipalities – wary of setting a precedent – have yet to commit financial support to two local entrepreneurs who have offered to provide water taxi and bus shuttle services. In fact, Elgin County has already voted down both proposals. Councilors’ dilemma is reminiscent of the situation faced in Port Bruce last year when the 1960s-era Imperial Road bridge collapsed. In that case, Elgin County spent $1.5 million for a single-lane temporary bridge across Catfish Creek. Merchants there reported business losses of up to 60 per cent in the six months it took to replace the bridge. Derek Niles has offered to leverage his expertise as proprietor at Orange Force Marine to launch a water taxi business. Jen and Scott Slack, proprietors at Erie Fun Tours, submitted a shuttle bus proposal. Crunching the numbers, however, Niles figures a busy weekend during the peak summer tourism season could attract up to 500 water taxi customers a day, at a cost to the taxi operator of about $97,000 for the weekend. He is still hoping for a “cost sharing” plan with one or both municipalities, similar to public transit funding offered elsewhere across the province, but “I’ve heard absolute radio silence. Everybody wants it, but nobody wants to pay for it. I’ve put the ball back in their court.” Jen Slack added: “We are in the same boat as Derek, no pun intended. We were going to do it only if fully subsidized and it doesn't look like that is going to happen thus far, unfortunately.” Brian Lima, director of engineering services for Elgin County, said tendering for the rehabilitation project will begin in January. A wide range of pedestrian and traffic calming measures are planned to minimize the impact, he added. “It was Council’s decision that it would not fund such a service,” said Lima, referring to the water taxi and bus shuttle proposals. “It would be precedent setting. It certainly was a difficult discussion to have.” Port Stanley Village Association President Dan Ross said: “Like everyone in the community, we were interested in Derek’s proposal, but it appears that risk management issues are a major concern and a significant potential expense. I believe that, with some extra effort, we can come together as a community and weather the storm. And at the end of it all, the bridge remains a unique and historic community asset.” Central Elgin Mayor Sally Martyn, and Councillor Colleen Row, did not immediately respond to Villager inquiries about the matter.
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Heritage Port Stanley: dedicated to the preservation and celebration of history By Brian Welsh www.heritageport.ca
Heritage Port Stanley has finally reached the information technology era with the arrival of the new online Heritage Port Stanley website at www. heritageport.ca. The website is based on a collection of historical files and documents stored in a closet in the basement of the Port Stanley Festival Theatre building on Bridge Street in Port Stanley.
The website was designed by members of Heritage Port Stanley, or more formally, the Port Stanley Historical Society. The group has been in existence for about 20 years, starting in the 1990s as the Port Stanley LACAC. We cooperatewith and have delegates onHeritage Central Elgin, the municipal heritage committee. The organization meets once a month, usually on the fourth Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. and usually in the Port Stanley Festival Theatre’s rehearsal hall. As well as some discussion about affairs in Port, we try at each meeting to have a short formal presentation dealing with some aspect of the history of our little village. On each of the website pages, you’ll find a page index down the left-hand side. Click on one of the boxes to go to the page described by the text. Two elements of the website which viewers are likely to find particularly interesting are a series of photographs showing images of Port Stanley through the ages – Pictures of Port Stanley – and a search engine which can be used to research the historical records from the Society’s collection Heritage Port Archives . So far, the photo collection contains some 20 pictures, with more to be scanned and added by a student hired during the summer break. The search engine allows a researcher to find information from the records collection by category, subject and description. By selecting category, a researcher can select documents from sets that include artifacts, books, newspaper clippings, documents, maps, newspapers, postcards and sketches. Most of the items have been donated by members or friends of the society. It’s easy, have fun, click away. See all the neat stuff we’ve gathered. Want more? Intrigued? Curious? Come and join us for livelydiscussions, programs toenhance theareashistorical footprint, interact with fellow history enthusiasts. You’ll be welcomed. The web site is just the beginning!
On the front page … The Port Stanley Business Improvement Area’s (BIA’s) Dickens Days re-boot on December 14, 2019 refused to be diminished by the weather and featured costumed Victorian carolers: (front) Frank Exley, (centre left) Jennifer Francis, (centre right) Kathy Taylor, and Larry Tillotson (back row).
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Port Stanley Villager • Jan-Feb 2020 • Page 3 170 Williams Street, Port Stanley (519) 782-7272
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Port connection to successful trout farming operation
A big grin flashes across Geoff Cole’s face when questioned about his origins in the trout farming and processing business. “My wife (Susan) always rolls her eyes when I tell this story,” Cole, 53, owner and president of Cole- Munro Foods Group Inc., of St. Thomas, said in a recent interview. Cole has built a $40 million-a- year trout farming and processing business, Ontario’s largest producer, claiming 80-to-90 per cent of the
Ontario-Quebec market, and 50 per cent of the Canadian market. He now owns or has partnership positions in seven of the nine large open-net trout farms in Ontario. What’s so funny to Susan is the irony in her husband’s re-telling of his humble beginnings. Originally from Owen Sound, Geoff got his start laboring over whitefish and chub harvested in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. It was a summer job throughout his high school days and into his first year at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo. He remembers cleaning fish, gutting them, and loading large, 90-pound wooden crates on trucks heading to market in New York. “My biggest take away was ‘I have to go to school to get out of this business’,” said Cole. “When I went off to school, I said ‘thank goodness I didn’t get into the fish business’.”
Pursuing a business degree at Laurier, Cole met Todd Munro, his eventual business partner. After graduating from a four-year finance and accounting program in 1990, Cole moved to Toronto and worked as a commercial property auditor, still hoping to become a chartered accountant. He was commuting from Kitchener-Waterloo until one day in 1991, Cole attended a job fair and noticed a posting for general manager at a trout co-operative. “Long story short, this whipper-stripper, straight out of school, was offered this job as a general manager,” Cole recalls. “It enabled me.” So, he returned to aquaculture with the Ontario Trout Producers Co-op and Aberfoyle Fisheries, near Guelph. “It was a learning experience.” He moved to Aberfoyle, but the business failed within a year. He found that land-based aquaculture could not compete with open-net pens: growing fish in the lake provides a “superior quality. With trout, you are what you swim in. “Things started changing then,” he added. Cole started thinking about going back to school, however, Munro suggested they start a new business. “Obviously, Todd wore me down.” It made sense: they already knew the growers, buyers and the process. “We needed to find an existing plant location where we could slice and dice fish without losing money,” he said. “We found a little gem in Port Stanley for $1,000 a month rent. That allowed us to get a small start-up going.” That building is now Papa Joe’s Pizzeria, at 174 Main Street, near Little Beach. “The amount of volume we did there … it’s astounding to people we could do it in such a small place.” He opened in Port Stanley in March 1994. Two years into it, Cole-Munro made its largest sale ever: 4,000 pounds was sold to a century-old business in Chicago. “We sold them on a Monday, and they went bankrupt on a Wednesday. “It was an awakening,” Cole recalls. “I invoked the shotgun a little bit. We had to walk away. We lost everything we made that year.”
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Cole-Munro has created 80 jobs in St. Thomas, 50 at its farms, 20 at the Little Current fish processing plant, and 40 at the company’s small hatchery. Looking forward, with the new plant working only at half capacity, Cole plans to grow more fish and expand the business, with “more value-added products, consumer ready packaging.
To advertise here, please contact Joe@villagerpublications.com “Growing up in Owen Sound, I had two mentors (a school buddy’s parents) who owned the fish company,” said Cole. “It was a fascinating business. I learned from him the importance of a nickel. In our business, a nickel is everything. Saving a nickel and getting a nickel on the other side. I thought ‘these guys have done really good for themselves, so could I’. Cole then incorporated the company and took over as sole proprietor. He immediately started selling to a company in Montreal, and in his first five years, Cole-Munro Foods Group grew 70 per cent per year. In 1999, the business moved to St. Thomas. “That’s where we got our start. Those are the tough years. They make you or they break you. “We were a processor and a marketer,” he said. “The industry was young. Selling aquaculture, you had to develop a market. There’s wasn’t a market back then. You really had to prove the quality was good and that you could service the retailer.” By 2013 “we became THE processor. We needed to grow the industry, so we started buying farms.” He bought a small hatchery, some growing sites. “We always tried to be out at the front of consolidation. I don’t know if it was by design early on, but the reality is, in the early days, you’re fighting it out with everyone, nobody is making any money. As any industry gets bigger, you get maturity and it helps you grow better.” Cole now supplies all the largest retailers and wholesalers in Canada. “We try to keep it to the big players because we don’t want to cannibalize our customers’ sales. We’re still exclusively trout. They’re sold as rainbow and steelhead.” Today, Ontario’s commercial aquaculture industry generates about 8,000 tonnes of trout, or 106 million meals, every year, according to the Ontario Aquaculture Association. (Susan is the president.) Seafood production has doubled in the province since 2011 and accounts for upwards of 550 direct and indirect jobs, contributing $110 million to Ontario’s economy.
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Port Stanley Villager • Jan-Feb 2020 • Page 5
ElginHiking Trail Club blazes a path across county
The things you see when you’re outdoors: flourishing flora and fauna, rare birds, dramatic natural landscapes. It’s enough to keep spirits high and boots crunching at the Elgin Hiking Trail Club. “Hiking clears the cobwebs in your head,” said Port Stanley’s Loretta Vaughan, a long-time club member and Hike Ontario hike leader. “You can walk the same section of trail 10 different times and each time, you see something different.” About 44 per cent of Canadians over 15 years old are hiking or backpacking, according to Statistics Canada’s 2017 census. Nearly seven-in-10 Canadians participate in outdoor or wilderness activities. Local enthusiast Brian Henson launched Elgin Hiking Trail Club in January 1975. Within nine months, 30 people joined and the first six kilometres (kms) of the Elgin Hiking Trail was opened. John Parsons was the first club president. Elgin Hiking Trail was gradually extended south to Port Stanley and north toPaynesMills, andwhilemembershipwaned in the early ‘80s, Vaughan, Lydia Driscoll and Dave Gibson revived the organization in 1989. Vaughan was president then and again in 2015. Eventually, the Elgin Hiking Trail reached 41 kms in length, connecting with the Thames Valleys Trail, and club membership has grown to 80 families. There’s now a continuous, 900 kms trail from Port Stanley to Tobermory, linking theElginHikingTrail –whichbeginsat thewooden figures in the sand near Mackie’s – with parts of the Thames Valley Trail, Avon Trail, Grand Valley Trail, and the Bruce Trail. There are also eight to 10 trails within an hour’s drive of Port: the Thames Valley Trail, near London; the Grand Valley Trail, near Cambridge; the trails at Springwater Conservation Area, near Aylmer; Dalewood Conservation Area, near St. Thomas; and John E. Pearse Provincial Park, south of Wallacetown. “Personally, I was looking for something to do, to get outside and be active,” said Brian King, club treasurer. “I’m not sure how I heard about Elgin Hiking Trail Club, but I’ve been here 20 years now. The comradery is terrific.” Five Elgin Hiking Trail Club members maintain the trail to Hike Ontario standards. They ensure the trail is clearly marked by “white blazes” on trees, always within sight of each other. They cut down saplings and clear brush. “Most people are appreciative of what we do,” said Al Sharpe, membership chair.
Some club members do the end-to-end, Port Stanley to Tobermory trek, at least once a year. Vaughan completed the end-to-end hike over a four-year period, with three other women, the late Pat Turo, Ann McGee and Ann Hoover. “We’d just do small segments at a time. We were younger then, but it wasn’t difficult.” A badge is available for successful completion. “It’s like birdwatching,” added Sharpe. “It will never go out of style.” Founded 45 years ago, Hike Ontario’s mission is to encourage walking, hiking and trail development in the province. It offers a range of hiking leadership courses.
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its most popular hikes has been held the first Saturday in December for more than 25 years at Catfish Creek Conservation Authority. The candle-lit forest walks with Santa Claus feature entertainment, cookies, hot chocolate, fire pits. From 600 to 800 people attend. A smaller scale favorite is the hike between Lynn Valley and Port Dover. “There’s the Bluebell Walk in May,” Vaughan added. “The carpet in the forest is all blue bells. It’s amazing (and) 99 per cent of people in Elgin don’t even know it’s there.” Added Sharpe: “We have a section that has a lot of tulip trees. They’re beautiful.” People of all ages are joining. “It’s people who like the outdoors and have fond memories of the trail,” said Sharpe. Some consideration should be given to specialized equipment like hiking boots and poles. “I’ll hike most of the year, as long as the weather is decent,” added King. “We’re not trekking. You don’t need a backpack or anything like that. We’re usually out for three to four hours at a time,” said King. However, it’s important to realize “It’s not a flat path. It’s up and down, through mud and across bridges,” added Richard Wright.
Hike Ontario’s Trail User’s Code is very straight forward: • Hike only along marked routes, especially on farmland. Do not take shortcuts; • Do not climb fences; use the stiles; • Respect the privacy of people living along the trail; • Leave the trail cleaner than you found it; carry out all litter; • Fires are not permitted along the trail, except in approved campsites; • Leave flowers and plants for others to enjoy; • Do not damage live trees by breaking branches or stripping bark; • Keep dogs on a leash, especially on or near farmland; and • Leave only your thanks and take nothing but photographs. “Many of the trails in Canada exist only with the generous consent of landowners,” Hike Ontario cautions. “If this trail privilege is abused, permission to hike can be revoked. We also have to be concerned to minimize our impact on the environment. Unless we care for the land, we will quickly degrade its riches.” Elgin Hiking Trail Club membership costs $20 per year, or $25 for family. A quarterly newsletter provides insights into the pastime and lists the weekly Hike-Ontario-certified hikes. Most are free, all ages are welcomed. Sharpe and Vaughan are hike leaders. Organized walks areWednesdays, Saturdays, or Sundays. The hikes are rated east to difficult. Light sports gear is recommended. One of
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Port Stanley Villager • Jan-Feb 2020 • Page 7
against development over four stories, the current plan will allow six stories in special circumstances. Specifically, Port Stanley would be improved if it became more of a four-season destination with a hotel-conference centre that came with some architectural excitement. The Harbour Plan has ‘modest ambitions.’ It will not please people who don’t want change. It will not please people who want to see Port Stanley’s harbour become the best it can be. Fortunately, Council is rightly concerned about the financial future. Their new harbour vision statement contains the bottom line: “The development of the Harbour lands will be planned with a range of uses to be financially self-sustaining with revenue generation as a focus for the long term.” Concerns have been expressed about money being available for dredging and for contingencies like the current flood risk on Lake Erie. Some people prefer to minimize this concern as in the Port Stanley Village Association report on the evening of November 14, 2019. When asked if future dredging may have to be paid from the CE tax base, the reply was: “If taxpayers were required to pay for dredging, the cost would be approximately $12.50 per taxpayer per year.” We should all take great exception to this attitude – no analysis, terrible mathematics, and a ‘it will be ok, someone else will look after it.’ Unlike fair taxes that depend upon income and an ability to pay, residential taxes only apply to property owners, who may not even live in the area. Furthermore, the new plan continues to speak to amenities like new marinas in the municipal harbour. This will never happen without a new $3 million breakwater at the harbour entrance. As reported in the September issue, Council approved $500,000 to urgently install a ‘mini-breakwater’ that likely would never get regulatory approvals this year (or next?). Where is the plan and the money for this essential infrastructure? We are all anticipating our safe, financially secure, harbour.
By Dan McNeil
Urban Planning in Port Stanley 2020 The Steering Committee has finished steering – let’s hope the ship is on course to bring it into a safe and financially secure harbour. The Central Elgin (CE) Council meeting of November 21, 2019 endorsed the final version of the Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan. After two years of controversy we finally have a plan supported by all of Council. The next step is, surprise, further ‘public engagement.’ Under the goal of “A Thriving Economy and a Sustainable Community,” CE’s objective is to “ … complete the planning for the future development of the harbour area” by 2020-21. The “plan” is on the CE website in Report CEP.72.19 (21 Nov). Dillon Consulting provided a presentation to the Steering Committee on November 14, 2019. Go to www.centralelgin. org , click on “Business and Development,” then click on “Port Stanley Harbour,” and click again on “Planning and Development.” Finally, you will see a box, “Previous Meetings/ Concepts.” After selecting this you will be given options to view presentations in April, July and November. The July presentation was a forum held at Port Stanley Arena and Community Centre to test the public reaction to a rather ambitious plan that included ‘highrises’ and some intense, mixed-use development. It includes a synopsis of public input on height proposals, transportation and parking. There are strong differences of opinion in the village and throughout the municipality. At one end of the spectrum are locals who think visitors should be forced to park outside the village and be shuttled in; only residents should get permits to drive and park in town. There should be limits on development to avoid traffic and parking problems. The people at the other end of the spectrum think taking over the harbour was a risky proposition. There is a level of appropriate development that must take place to mitigate the financial risks. They would support higher intensity of development if it moved towards reducing the high level of residential taxes in CE. The Harbour Plan is a high-level policy document that maps out potential land uses. Eventually it will guide development only when other circumstances dictate that the development should take place, including public support for individual projects. Thus, although many vocal Port Stanley residents are
Dan McNeil is a retired Royal Canadian Navy officer who served as Central Elgin Ward 1 Councillor from 2010 to 2018. An activist and environmentalist, he also helped establish the Port Stanley Village Association (PSVA) and served as its first president.
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Fit NRG weekly community events continue Port Stanley’s Brenda Murray needed to change her life. She was diagnosed with diabetes last December after a lengthy pre-diagnosis period. There was stress. She wanted to lose weight. Her energy level was low. “So, I studied and learned more, and set up some best
Murray maintains an upbeat environment throughout her sessions and also provides an opportunity to participate in a Mia exercise program – combining dance and yoga – as well as ageless grace chair exercises. Every third Wednesday, a dietician and registered nurse from West Elgin Community Health Centre attend, with presentations about diabetes, offering one-on-one health talks. “I’m not going to preach,” she adds. “You take what you can use.” For more information, contact Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Port Stanley Festival Theatre offers six shows for 2020 summer season By Simon Joynes, Artistic Director The Port Stanley Festival Theatre’s (PSFT’s) 2020 summer season
To advertise here, please contact Joe@villagerpublications.com Murray advocates the methods described by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an author and Ottawa-based obesity specialist, who wrote the national best seller, The Diet Fix. Murray’s St. Thomas family doctor Dr. Aric Sudicky – who worked and trained with Dr. Freehoff – recommended the book to her. practices for myself,” Murray said in a recent interview. Her ingenuity and determination led Murray to launch a not-for-profit, self-help group called Fit NRG. Her formula for success is simple: lifestyle change through exercise and nutrition = fitness, weight loss and energy. “This group getting together is partly for me,” she added. “Personally, I needed it. I needed more energy and I created it.” A retired registered nurse specializing in occupational health who moved to Port in 2005, Murray has been a resident at Kettle Creek Villa, 289 Frances Street, since 2013. “Diabetes started the kick,” she added. “So far, I’ve lost some weight and it has helped.” Participation in her pay-what-you-can program has grown to include nearly a dozen people per session. “I don’twant anyone to feel theycan’t come,”shesaid.She’sattracting mostly retired folks, but everyone is welcomed. “To stay healthy and get the support and encouragement, you can’t put a price on it. Most of the people who come are from outside the Villa. That’s part of the confusion for people. People thought it was just for the Villa.” Launched in September, Fit NRG’s meetings continue every Wednesday, at 10 a.m., in the main-floor common room at the Villa. E-mail communications are a big component of the program and lay the framework for each session. Murray’s introductory remarks generally feed on a question – such as ‘what does fit mean to you?’ – e-mailed to participants beforehand. “By the time we get around the room, there’s a nice representation of what that means.” There’s also a private weigh-in. Then there’s a presentation byMurray, or a guest speaker, followed by an activity, such as “laughter yoga.” The activity may also be a walk around the block, within the comfort levels of individuals. It could also be a trip to the East Road exercise park, or the Solitude park on Dexter Line. Her presentations typically direct people to adjust to the Canada Food Guide. “I’m finding that they dive right in.” She provides counsel on how much is too little, and how much is too much to eat. Lessons are provided on subjects, such as reading food labels. “A lot of people don’t read labels on foods, or when they do, they don’t understand.” A popular guest presenter recently recounted the experience of shedding 85 pounds.
launches on May 19, 2020 with the ‘perfect kick-off,’ as London’s own Rick Kish and LINK theatre bring their retro magic to the stage with “The Crooner Show,” a concert style show that celebrates the greatest crooners of all time. On May 26, 2020, comedian Chris Gibbs returns to the Port Stanley stage with “Chris Gibbs: A Legal Alien,” a family-friendly stand-up comedy that playfully explores what it truly means to be Canadian. “From England, the land of William Shakespeare, to Canada, the land of William Shatner, comes a stand-up comedy show about Canadians, by someone who isn’t one.” Opening on June 3, 2020, PSFT is thrilled to be producing a Norm Foster hit comedy starring Norm Foster himself. “Jonas and Barry in the Home” will take the stage for an extended four-week run. “Like oil and water, two seniors fight for love, friendship and happy endings in assisted living in this hilarious new buddy story.” Fourth up, the Port Stanley Festival Theatre is delighted to be presenting the world premiere of “Our House” by Murray Furrow starting July 1, 2020. “Retirement. It’s what you’ve worked for, it’s your golden years, it’s a life in the sunshine … or is it?” Rose and Brian are finding out that retirement might not be all it’s cracked up to be and take steps to find new interests in life. A comedy about the meaning of home. July 22, 2020 brings “Hurry Hard,” by up and coming playwright Kristen Da Silva. How’s it going to end? On the eve of demolition, the beleaguered Stayner Curling Club tries to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and triumph over arch nemesis, Meaford. Will romance, past hope and family ties win it all, or will history repeat itself in this truly Canadian comedy? Closing out the season, starting August 19, 2020, comes Dan Needles’ “The Perils of Persephone” by the playwright who brought us the Wingfield series and last season’s “Ed’s Garage.” A comedy about fossils, radioactive material, cows, toxic dumps and … damage control.” With a varied season, appealing to single ticket buyers, subscribers and tour groups alike, we look forward to providing another season of top-quality entertainment in 2020.
Port Stanley Villager • Jan-Feb 2020 • Page 9
1919: The year in review By Craig Cole 2019 was a good year for Port Stanley. The amount of new housing in the village is significant, and we have an impressive new cement walkway around the harbour, lined with heritage signs. New businesses have opened, and the idea of a Heritage Conservation District for the central core of the village is being re-examined. How about 100 years ago? 1919: that was a good year too. The First World War was over, and the servicemen from Port Stanley were starting to return, albeit slowly. TheSt. ThomasTimesJournal,which had started daily publication the year before, in 1918, reported that in 1919 the Port Stanley IODE (Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire) suggested that the Chapter undertake to "build a hall as a memorial to our boys who went overseas, five of whom have paid the supreme sacrifice." It would take the form of a community building around which the social life of the village would centre, and a plan was submitted which combined auditorium, reception hall, box ball alley and moving pictures. The first motion picture studios were introduced in the late 1800s, filming in black and white. Technicolor was not introduced until the 1920s, but perhaps any sort of movie would have been a novelty in Port Stanley. The accompanying photograph is from a postcard postmarked 1920, and illustrates what themajor street in our village, Bridge Street, would have looked like 100 years ago. The first automobile arrived in Port Stanley in 1910. Ten years later, as can be seen in the photograph, there are several automobiles on Bridge Street, but also a horse and buggy. F.R. Dales store on the southwest corner of Bridge and Main streets sold groceries, as did Finlaysons on the north side of the street. The bridge in the background preceded the current lift bridge. Perhaps sail boats could not reach the inner harbour in 1919, but at least pedestrians (and cars) could cross the creek.
planks they were soon brought out to solid ice again. This is the only place along the river where there is any danger, as it is where the water main was repaired. Mr. Countryman received a bad cut over the eye when he was accidentally thrown on the ice, but the wound is doing nicely." Another story talks about two horses which broke through the ice on the creek while they were hauling ice from the creek for the many ice storage houses which lined the harbour. The horses broke through the ice and were rescued "with great difficulty." It was tough being a horse 100 years ago. All those bloody cars on the road and when you tried to make an honest living harvesting ice, the ice collapsed. All events did not turn out well. Fire was a constant danger for the village in 1919.The boiling over of a quantity of oil that was being used on fishing corks caused the total demolition by fire of the H.A. Short and Company fish house. Fishing "corks" were used as floats on the gill fish nets which were in use at the time. The blaze spread rapidly. A large quantity of nets and other fishing tackle stored in the building were burned, the total loss being estimated at $5,000 to $6,000, partially covered by insurance. In 1919 fishing would have been a major industry in the village. The government patrol boat The Vigilant made her first visit to the village in May, with a crew which was made up mostly of returned soldiers. The Vigilant was 145 feet long and had a speed of 21 knots. She had been put into service in 1914, and, carried four guns to dissuade American poachers. Although summer crowds may not have been as great as they are today, Londoners who were visiting their cottages on Orchard Beach for the first time were surprised to see "the great damage done along this beach by the washing away of their property." The Port Stanley year-round residents were very sorry for this loss, since, we are told by the Times Journal, that "in time it will eventually become much worse, thus making it impossible for the owners to sell or build on lakefront lots." The government planned to put in piles which it was hoped would alleviate the problem. As summer progressed the casino dance hall on the main beach was in full swing. The building, originally built in 1910, had been thoroughly cleaned and the commodious dancing auditorium repainted and redecorated. The large electric lights Blocks of ice which have been cut from Kettle Creek were transported to one of the many ice houses which lined the east side of the outer harbour. Photo courtesy of Elgin County Archives.
As far as weather was concerned, the winter of 1919 seems to have been relatively mild. The Times Journal said, "The skating all along the river was never better than it is now and many of the older skaters here are enjoying this outdoor sport along with the young. A few from the cities are coming down in parties, as the ice in the rinks has not been up to the standard of other years for skating on there." I guess this means that the skating rinks in the cities, probably St. Thomas and London, were not in very good shape. The article goes on, "One of our young girls, while skating with a friend from St. Thomas, received a very cold winter’s bath when they skated over thin ice near the large icehouse on Friday, and both went through up to their necks. With the assistance of other skaters who used Bridge Street in the early 1900s. Note the combination of cars and buggies on the street. Postcard from the collection of Sam Vary. Photo courtesy of Elgin County Archives.
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were covered with pretty shades of a most pleasing colour scheme which were admired on the opening night by all the dancers. The orchestra, in 1919, was under the leadership of John Watson, and featured cathedral chimes, whose melodious tones, we are told, added a special enhancement to the waltz music being played. A kinder and gentler time for our little village? Perhaps, but let’s keep this vision inmind aswemove forward into the year 2020 and consider preserving some of the aspects which make our village unique. One writer’s opinion. Happy New Year to all my readers. Dr. Cole has been a summer resident of Port Stanley for the last 80 years. He was a medical researcher, teaching medicine and physiology at McGill University for many years. Twenty years ago, he and his wife retired to the old family summer cottage on Orchard Beach. He is the co-author, with Robert Burns, of a book entitled Port Stanley: The First Hundred Years.
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Hidden reserves under Lake Erie One of Lake Erie’s most enduring legacies was forged in the Paleozoic period. About 300 million to 545 million years ago, shallow seas covered what is now known as Port Stanley. Southern Ontario’s land mass was then situated some 20-to-35 degrees south of the equator. Organic matter from a prolific population of marine creatures gradually settled. Over time it was buried and compressed, transformed into oil and natural gas, embedded in sedimentary rock across the Appalachian Basin. North America's first commercial oil producer was James Miller Williams, in Oil Springs, Ontario, who in 1858 hand- dug a well, struck oil, refined it, then packaged and sold it as “illuminating oil” for lamps. Natural gas production in Ontario started in 1889 and has been produced from vertical wells on Lake Erie since 1913. The lake also produced oil, via horizontal wells from onshore, since 1998. Today, Lake Erie waves roll over more than 2,200 oil and natural gas wells and upwards of 1,900 kilometers of petroleum pipelines, crisscrossing the Canadian side of the lakebed. Besides periodic sightings of service tugs – running workmen to well sites for maintenance and upkeep – the reach of Ontario’s petroleum industry is largely out of sight, out of mind. Port Stanley once figured prominently in the industry. While “the majority of wells are in the western basin or just off Long Point … a number of factors, however, conspired to make Port Stanley a very important player in the underwater gas industry,” according to Frank and Nancy Prothero, authors of the book Lament for a Harbour: Port Stanley, published in 2015 byNan-Sea Publications. “Logistics was the key to the success of the harbour here,” the Protheros continue. Although other harbours were more convenient, the opportunity came to “ … Port Stanley with the nearest deep water harbour capable of hosting the growing fleet of vessels that serviced the underwater gas wells.” Although Port Stanley’s role in the industry has waned, as natural gas prices floundered and silt filled the harbour, there are still some 80 companies producing oil and natural gas in Southwestern Ontario, supplying homeowners, farmers and business owners. LakeHuron ONTARIO PRODUCTION OIL NATURAL GAS NORTH EAST AND OF THE
Black and white photograph used in St. Thomas Times-Journal article published June 4, 1959 with caption: “Floats, Has Stilts - Employing the above pictured new type of drill rig, the Place Gas and Oil Co. brought in a natural gas open flow of close to a million cubic feet a day in Lake Erie off the Port Dover-Selkirk shoreline on Wednesday. Casing was sunk to a depth of 2,600 feet. The new drilling platform is the largest of its type in Canadian waters and incorporates the catamaran principle of floatation. The platform deck is 40x50 feet and the retractable steel legs on which it stands in the lake bottom are 76 feet long. Installed on the rig is a diesel generator for operating the motors which raise and lower the legs, and to supply power for the lighting and communication systems on board. The company’s diesel tug Toni D, is seen at the left with a float plane used by company officials.”
PRODUCTION OIL NATURAL GAS NORTH EAST AND OFTHE
Black and white photograph used in St. Thomas Times-Journal article published May 9, 1969 with caption: “Oil Exploration on Lake Erie is being intensified this summer with the arrival of the 165-foot-long Atlantic Seal, registered to Galveston, Texas. The big vessel will search central Lake Erie from Long Point to Rondeau Bay for traces of oil and natural gas. Although Lake Erie is considered an important source of natural gas and oil is known to exist beneath the lake’s bottom off Port Burwell, the arrival of the Atlantic Seal is an indication that the emphasis of the continuing exploration of the lake’s resources is turning more than before towards petroleum. The Atlantic Seal will remain on the lake for up to two weeks at a time.”
NaturalGas Oil OilandNaturalGas (USA) NaturalGasStorage (CANADA) Basins Arches /OrogenFront
NaturalGas Oil OilandNaturalGas (USA) NaturalGasStorage (CANADA) Basins Arches /OrogenFront
UniversalTransverseMercatorZone17NNAD83 Productiondata forCanada fromOntarioMinistry ofNatural Resources andOntarioOil,GasandSaltResources Library Productiondata forUnitedStates fromU.S.GeologicalSurvey MapPrintedApril2014 UniversalTransverseMercatorZone17NNAD83 Productiondata forCanada fromOntarioMinistry ofNatural Resources andOntarioOil,GasandSaltResources Library Productiondata forUnitedStates fromU.S.GeologicalSurvey MapPrintedApril2014 0 50 100 25 0 30 60 15 Miles www.ogsrlibrary.com
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There are now about 27,000 oil and natural gas wells on record in Ontario, according to an Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Library account. That includes about 1,200 active oil wells, as well as 900 active natural gas wells on land and 500 active natural gas wells offshore. Ontario’s industry produces about $77 million in direct oil and natural gas product revenues annually, according to Hugh Moran, Executive
he added. “We have been trying to turn it around. Expenditure is required. The industry has to step up. It is a challenge.” The Ontario oil and natural gas industry is regulated by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry through the Ontario Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act. The U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is also responsible for protection and restoration of the lakes. In 2005, the U.S. imposed a permanent ban on oil and gas exploration under the Great Lakes, as part of the Energy Policy Act signed by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2005. “Large scale offshore natural gas drilling and production operations started in the 1960s and there have been no serious environmental safety incidents from these operations,” said Jolanta Kowalski, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Moran refers questions about the industry’s environmental sustainability to the OPI’s submission to the 2017 Ontario Long- Term Energy Plan (LTEP) http://www.ontariopetroleuminstitute. com/wp-content /uploads/2016/12/OPI-SUBMISSION- ONTARIO-LTEP-2.pdf. The submission sets out a range of environmental initiatives. “The Ontario oil and natural gas production industry can be an important contributor to the success of Ontario’s Climate Action Plan,” the OPI document states. “The industry has the expertise and experience to develop programs to assist the Government of Ontario reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. “Safely harvesting energy for 150 years, the Ontario industry is committed to sustainable oil and natural gas development,” the report continues. “There is an inherent responsibility to ensure the protection of the environment and water resources.”
Director, Ontario Petroleum Institute (OPI). The industry attracts investments of $25 million to $30 million a year in capital expenditures. The sector supports 700 full time jobs, plus 1,500 additional indirect jobs. It has also generated over $350 million in royalties for the Province and private landowners since 1990. Ontario oil production went from a high point in 1995 of 1.8 million barrels to 385,000 barrels in 2015, just as natural gas production went from a high in 1995 of 16 billion cubic feet, to 5.5 billion cubic feet in 2015. Even so, demand for oil and gas in Ontario is forecast to grow 15 per cent and 23 per cent respectively over the next two decades, said Moran. While domestic production met one per cent of Ontario’s demand in 1990, it meets about 0.25 per cent of provincial demand now. The balance of the supply comes from western or eastern Canada and abroad. Most commercial natural gas production in Ontario is sold to distributors like Union Gas and Enbridge. The Protheros’ book traces the industry’s impact on Port Stanley shores from 1913 – when Glenwood Natural Gas drilled North America’s first offshore gas well near Romney Township, west of Erieau – through the “halcyon days,” from 1990 to 2010. Port residents were accustomed to seeing names like Consolidated West Petroleum (C. West Pete), also known as Underwater Gas Developers, based here in the 1950s and 1960s. Then there was Telesis and later Pembina. “In time, the family owners of Pembina sold their holdings in one of the largest stock sales in Canadian history,” according to Lament for a Harbour. “The Great Lakes assets passed to Talisman in 1998.” Next, Dundee, formerly known as Eurogas, took the reins. Now the Lake Erie wells are owned by Lagasco Inc. Lagasco is part of the Lagasco Group, a third-generation, family-run oil and gas production and exploration group of businesses operating out of London and Bothwell since 1976. Lagasco’s Chief Financial Officer, Jen Lewis, refused to co-operate for this story unless she could read the article prior to publication. “The network of underwater wells and connecting pipes on the floor of Lake Erie does have a connection to Port Stanley”, according to the Protheros. “A gas line comes ashore in the Erie Rest area, crosses George Street and eventually finds its way to a pumping station north of the village on the Scotch Road … ”. A glimmer of the industry’s glory days may return to the Port Stanley Harbour this year if Lagasco embraces an OPI proposal to further develop Ontario’s oil and natural gas resources to meet a target of five per cent of the province’s annual supply. “Production has been declining in Ontario for the last 15 years,”
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Port Stanley Villager • Jan-Feb 2020 • Page 13
Port Matters by Frances Kennedy
In November I attended my first ever karaoke night at the Legion and oh, what a night. However awfully talented, it still takes courage to attempt a song sung by a rock star or a coal miner’s
restauranteurs, for some good old-fashioned fun. The “Port Stanley experience” is sure to win over any obstacles in 2020. The 2019 Ugly Christmas Sweater Hop was yet another auspicious occasion for celebrating Port at its best. Walking the bridge between “Mayberry” and “Margaritaville” alongside a knot of partyers prophesying on the pending closure was bittersweet. But it was a fun- filled and festive way to span the great divide in an eventful evening of camaraderie, good food, great music and hospitality, Port style. Further to that, since February is friends and lovers’ month and the advent of Lent why not make a date for another special event? On Saturday, February 22, 2020, at Port Stanley Festival Theatre, “Mardi Gras at the Stork Club” will celebrate the Club’s iconic music, and fabled stories of one of Canada’s most famous dance halls. The Uptown Dixieland Jazz Band will perform music from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, Louis Armstrong and early jazz. Participating restaurants and inns have Mardi Gras specials on offer and Erie Fun Tours has a dinner and tickets package. Tickets are available at PSFT online or the box office. Come out and blow off the blues with a razzle dazzle evening of swing and jazz. Recently, our MPP, Jeff Yurek acknowledged big wins for Belmont, New Sarum and Springfield when TVSB rescinded their school closures. He reminded us of “the power of community advocacy and the importance of rural perspectives.” We must speak as one voice. Only if we span what divides us do we have the power to make the best version of this community our legacy. When we practice our best future, we create it. Our Holiday Concerts demonstrated how our students were able to share their gifts and talents to make our community and world a better place, and we were completely thrilled to see all the friends and families who came out to watch. Thank you for taking the time to support our efforts. We were so proud of each and every student who made our evening so wonderful. 2020 will be exciting because we will be moving the back half of the school into their newly renovated classrooms and the front half of the school into the new library and portable holding zones. This may be a little chaotic, but we know it will be worthwhile when we are done, with all the upgrades. Our Grade 8 Grad Committee is also busy organizing the next fundraiser event which will be a Paint Nite at Debackere Farms on January 14, 2020. More information and a registration information can be found on our Facebook page or our website. As always, it is an absolute pleasure to work with such amazing families at Kettle Creek and we would like to thank you for your positive and ongoing support. We hope that 2020 is filled with great health, much laughter and peace. Kettle Creek Public School students
Kettle Creek Public School By Esther Wendel-Caraher daughter. When erratic Internet service threatened to foil the fun, folks rallied: long-timers and newcomers spanned age and gender, and soon we were all in. What ensued was triumph over the trials of technology. Without aid of words, music and sometimes even melody, truly great and true grit performers rocked an appreciative audience and we were all at once one. That, and a “we’re all here cuz we’re not all there doing something else with someone else” spirit kicked up a few newbies for an all-out all in evening of fun. If this is us, we’ve got all it takes to navigate the bridge closure and well, beyond. Well deserved accolades to Jen Slack of Erie Fun Tours, and Jade Rogers of TimberNook Elgin, both finalists in The Pitch, a Dragon’s Den style competition sponsored by Elgin Business Resource Centre (EBRC.) Congratulations to Jade Rogers for the second-place award, well done. That two of the six finalists in all Elgin County came from Port Stanley is noteworthy. Let’s support our vital rural economy by patronizing and recommending local businesses. Entrepreneurs truly are “progressive by nature.” By all accounts the Lions and Lioness clubs’ Dickens Days Night Paradeand theBIA’sDickensDaysWeekendwereeverythingeveryone hoped for. Despite the Sunday’s inclement weather, a very merry old- time bustling with Christmas spirit prevailed in the village. Thank you and congratulations to all those involved, including merchants and and I believe that we are the most fortunate people in the world because we get to be at Kettle Creek Public School, among these wonderful students and families. It is a tremendous honour and privilege. December was a whirlwind with the huge success of our Grade 8 Grad Online Auction starting the month in style. We were able to raise close to $6,000 to help cover the trip expense for our Grade 8 families and are so grateful to our parent volunteers who continue to work tirelessly to provide great opportunities for our students. We are also extremely thankful to our community sponsors who donated so generously toward this cause. Our students were also fortunate to receive a complimentary turkey dinner this month through the generous donations to our Snack Program. It was delicious and we were thrilled to have many community volunteers help serve this beautiful feast. December was also an opportunity for our school community to contribute to needs beyond our own. We collected cans for the Christmas Care at the Legion, and the Me to We Rafiki bracelet sales created awareness of challenges facing families in Kenya. Our Green Team members started a pop tab recycling program to help a little boy named Connor and launched our Waste Less Wednesdays campaign. Green Team members also spent time in each classroom, reviewing environmentally friendly options for the holidays so that our students’ families can enjoy the holidays without adding to the landfill. Principal, Kettle Creek Public School It’s the end of the year and what a year we’ve had. Looking back, we have somuch to celebrate
volunteered to clean up after the Lions and Lioness clubs’ Dickens Days Night Parade. (Left to right) Allyse Geurts, Kiana Sao, Quinn Fleming, Kaitlin Lale and Autumn Lucas.
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