The Village Idiot: The bird feeder

The Village Idiot: The bird feeder

By John Hopkins - You hear all sorts of isolated creaks and groans in the country during winter nights -- ice cracking on the river, trees slowly shifting under the weight of snow, a large man in red landing a sleigh on your roof. But the sound that woke me up very early one morning was different. Rather than a single crack or creak this was a steady tapping sound, as if someone was throwing pebbles at a window pane. Or worse, as if water was steadily dripping from a leaky pipe. And it wasn’t stopping. Obviously I was going to have to investigate and hope for the best.

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Just Saying: Responses less travelled

Just Saying:  Responses less travelled

By Shelley Wildgen - “I should have said…” is a much said line. Maybe it’s because what we should have said has far more value than what we did say. Should-have-saids are sparkling and witty and always turn our conversations in the direction we wish they had gone. Those should-have-saids are conversational rock stars. Shiny and unattainable. We’ve all gone places we didn’t want to go, okayed plans we didn’t want to make, spoken our mind blindly, engaged in long conversations we didn’t want to have, alienated someone with an unnecessarily sarcastic...

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The Next Chapter: Winter words with Noah Zacharin

The Next Chapter: Winter words with Noah Zacharin

Story and photos by Sarah Vance - It is in the woods north of Slabtown that Canadian singer and songwriter Noah Zacharin has been producing his latest music. A vintage typewriter sits atop his desk, a guitar is within reach, and his studio window overlooks the York River’s icy refracting shoreline... Zacharin finds Carlow Mayo’s tranquility absorbing as he gradually closes one chapter in his life as a dentist in Toronto’s busy inner city to pursue his parallel career as a singer, songwriter and poet northwest of Bancroft.

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Worlds Apart? Swiss region and Stirling share some traits

Worlds Apart? Swiss region and Stirling share some traits

By Angela Hawn - Step out the door of our temporary new digs in the lovely rural town of Switzerland’s Farvagny le Grand and savour the rustic sounds of cows lowing in the distance, frequently accompanied by that homey whiff of manure associated with cows everywhere. Ah, so much like our former surroundings back in beautiful Stirling, Hastings County. Except here, the cows generally sport bells, and on special occasions, flowers and even hats!When my family decided late last March to move abroad for a year courtesy of a job exchange for dad, we eagerly anticipated all the differences encountered when living in a new culture. And, to our delight, there have been many.

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Working Class Dogs: Trials all business for this crew

Working Class Dogs: Trials all business for this crew

By Susan Shipton - “First it was one dog and a small car. Then two dogs and a bigger car. Then more dogs and another move up in car size. A camper for going to trials and clinics followed.” This is how Tara Dier describes the progression of her sheep dogging hobby.Dier was settled into a career as a lawyer in Toronto when she decided to get her first dog. She had a friend with a Border Collie so she chose that breed due to what she describes with a laugh as “no great amount of imagination”. She went to her friend’s breeder and got a puppy. She called him ‘Doug’.

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Sterling Silver: Exercise group gets fit and raises funds

Sterling Silver: Exercise group gets fit and raises funds

Story and photos by Lorraine Gibson-Alcock - As I woke up the other day after my first exercise class in over 30 years, with my body aching in unfamiliar places, the old expression came to mind, “In for a penny, in for a pound!” A pound of flesh, that is!A neighbour of mine talked to me about this exercise club, ‘The Silver Foxes’, she was starting up a few years ago, but as I was still working full time I did not research it further. But as I got older and worried about the formidable aches and pains of getting older, plus the additional pounds going on my frame, I decided now was the time!

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Circle of Hope: Talking about the land between

Circle of Hope: Talking about the land between

Story and photos by Michelle Annette Tremblay - The Land Between is the only area in the province with exposed rock barrens, and also has the highest concentration of lakes. We have an abundance of lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands; swamps, fens, bogs, and marshes. With all this water and plant diversity comes an explosion of animal and insect diversity. The Land Between hosts flora and fauna from both the north and the south, living side by side. There are also species living here that you won't find anywhere else in the world, including the five-lined skink, Ontario's only native lizard. 

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Still Swinging: Commodores Orchestra celebrates 90 years

Still Swinging: Commodores Orchestra celebrates 90 years

By John Hopkins
It seems like these days longevity in the music business is measured in years, perhaps months, but certainly not decades. Yet in 2018 Belleville’s own Commodores Orchestra will celebrate nine decades of swinging. It is an impressive achievement for any musical collection, but especially for a group that not only grew and thrived through the big band era of the 1940s, but has also managed to keep the music alive through the lean years as well.

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Remembering Vimy Ridge: Preserving Our Military Past

Remembering Vimy Ridge: Preserving Our Military Past

By Barry Penhale
Guardians of Canada’s history warrant a big vote of appreciation for the countless ways our war dead have been remembered. Honouring those men and women in the armed forces who gave their all is evident in the built memorials across Hastings County and by the annual November 11 Remembrance Day services.

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The Village Idiot: Laughing in your face

The Village Idiot: Laughing in your face

By John Hopkins

In his book ‘Sajo and her Beaver People’ the author Grey Owl – widely acknowledged for his appreciation of our First Nations – remarks on the industriousness and intelligence of the beaver. He describes them as “the very wisest” among the creatures of the forest, and “especially respected” by the native Canadians.I find I must also pay them a grudging respect, following the events of last autumn, although I might choose to use words like conniving and devious in my assessment.

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Just Saying: Jumping Jack-o’-lanterns, Fa La La La La

Just Saying: Jumping Jack-o’-lanterns, Fa La La La La

By Shelley Wildgen

I don’t get it. No one loves a seasonal holiday more than me but something has taken a rather wicked turn. The whole Halloween hoopla seems less about trick or treating and more about, well, I’m not sure. Orange light strings deceptively decorate front porches as bodies hang from apple trees, makeshift cemeteries pop up where friendly front yards used to be. I can feel my very soul adjusting uncomfortably while catching a quick glimpse from the corner of my eye as I blithely drive to the grocery store. Last year, the day after Halloween, I spied a girl I went to high school with gathering skulls off her front lawn. Jeepers!

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The Sounds of Stirling: Village Ready to Host Fall Musical Feast

The Sounds of Stirling: Village Ready to Host Fall Musical Feast

By John Hopkins
So picture this. You’ve stepped out on a limb and organized a classical and jazz music festival in the village of Stirling, and during a break in the action Guido Basso appears backstage and asks if he can sit-in with the jazz band, the John Sherwood Trio. Yup, that Guido Basso, internationally-acclaimed horn player and recipient of the Order of Canada.

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Solar’s Bright Future: North Hastings’ Gallo Charts Innovative Energy Path

Solar’s Bright Future: North Hastings’ Gallo Charts Innovative Energy Path

Story and photos by Michelle Annette Tremblay
Through his company, Gallo-Teck, the entrepreneur designs and installs automated renewable energy systems and collaborates with some of the biggest names in the industry. What does all that mean in layman's terms? Basically, Michele got into renewable energy right at the cusp 18 years ago and has been on the cutting edge ever since, constantly upping his game with new skills, knowledge and groovy innovations.Like his solar-powered pontoon boat. As far as he knows, it’s the only one like it in the world.

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Rural Renewal: Live Edge Milling Revives Lumber Trade

Rural Renewal: Live Edge Milling Revives Lumber Trade

Story and photos by Sarah Vance
During live edge milling the bark is left intact and the natural lines of the tree are preserved. Then the wood is sanded and hand polished, so as to highlight every knot and ligament in the cut. Each live edge slab is a unique and artisanal ‘slice in a tree’s life’ - which is then manufactured into functional art and furniture."I can build several tables from the same tree, but no two tables will be the same," says Hennessey.

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Still Standing: Had a Great Time; Wish You’d Been Here

Still Standing: Had a Great Time; Wish You’d Been Here

By Lindi Pierce
In Hastings County communities there are dozens of commercial, civic, religious and residential buildings that were standing on the very day of Confederation. Some are designated heritage structures, carefully preserved as museums. Others are maintained by dedicated volunteers or owners. Yet others are buried under subsequent additions, humble old workhorses who still serve their communities. Perhaps your favourite is on this list...

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The Hermit of Lake St. Peter: “Ol Joe” Goulah Lived on his own Terms

The Hermit of Lake St. Peter: “Ol Joe” Goulah Lived on his own Terms

By Barry Penhale
Established in 1956 and situated on a point of land dividing upper and lower Lake St. Peter Lake, a scenic park whose name is shared with a birch-lined lake and a long-established community has charmed travelers exploring Ontario for many years. Though limited in size, the park’s almost primitive beauty lures many repeat campers back to their favourite location among the inviting campsites.

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