News

Communities in Bloom judges tour Amherstburg

 

By Jolene Perron

 

For the second straight year, Amherstburg made the list of qualifying towns for Communities in Bloom with national judges touring the community for three days.

From Sunday through Tuesday, Lorna McIlroy from Alberta and Normand Fleury from Quebec stayed at The Bondy House and saw a number of key areas in Amherstburg.

Communities in Bloom judges Normand Fleury and Lorna McIlroy were in town Monday and Tuesday with one of the stops being Holiday Beach Conservation Area. Top row (from left): Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society president Dr. Allan Halowski, Councillor Leo Meloche, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, CAO John Miceli, Paulette Drouillard and Maxine Iler of the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society, tourism co-ordinator Jen Ibrahim. Bottom row (from left): manager of parks Annette Zahaluk, ERCA director of conservation services Kevin Money, Fleury, McIlroy, Councillor Diane Pouget, director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu and manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota.

Communities in Bloom judges Normand Fleury and Lorna McIlroy were in town Monday and Tuesday with one of the stops being Holiday Beach Conservation Area. Top row (from left): Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society president Dr. Allan Halowski, Councillor Leo Meloche, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, CAO John Miceli, Paulette Drouillard and Maxine Iler of the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society, tourism co-ordinator Jen Ibrahim. Bottom row (from left): manager of parks Annette Zahaluk, ERCA director of conservation services Kevin Money, Fleury, McIlroy, Councillor Diane Pouget, director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu and manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota.

“We’re excited to be here,” said McIlroy. “This is a beautiful, beautiful community and we have met so many people who are proud of their community and they’re volunteering and making it a better place. We look at tidiness, we look at environmental awareness, we look at heritage conservation and we look at the urban forestry, the trees, we look at the floral displays and the landscape, and through it all the community involvement.”

“It’s not only dealing with flowers but much more,” added Fleury. “It’s about how the cities are involved. It’s much more than just horticulture.”

Communities in Bloom judge Normand Fleury (left) chats with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo on the judges tour of Amherstburg July 17.

Communities in Bloom judge Normand Fleury (left) chats with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo on the judges tour of Amherstburg July 17.

McIlroy, who has been a judge with Communities in Bloom for 13 years, said this year is particularly special because the six cities she is visiting are all ones she has never seen before. Fleury on the other hand is experiencing his first year as a judge.

“It’s very exciting again,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “I think most people know, we did quite well last year, but did not take first place, but that’s OK. We lost to Niagara On The Lake, so we’re here doing it again and I hope we take the first prize this year. It is another nice opportunity, that is one of my jobs, selling the town and for this particular event it’s not selling it to have them move here, but just to show all of the amenities and attributes that make us the Town of Amherstburg and a great place to be.”

Communities in Bloom judge Lorna McIlroy takes a photo from atop the hawk tower at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

Communities in Bloom judge Lorna McIlroy takes a photo at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

Some of the stops on their tour included the historic Belle Vue site, the old Duffy’s site where the judges learned about the town’s plans to reconstruct the area, Fort Malden National Historic Site, Walker Aggregates, Holiday Beach and much more.

Amherstburg’s manager of tourism and culture, Anne Rota, said she along with the other residents of the town are incredibly thrilled to have the judges in attendance, and it shows.

“They seem to be very impressed,” said Rota. “It’s a team effort, and last night we walked along the Dalhousie street and we noticed that even the residents have really put their best foot forward and come out on top, the town looks amazing and I think we have a lot to offer. I think Amherstburg might just be very fortunate in their efforts to take home the gold this year.”

Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy returns to downtown streets July 30

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Classic cars, trucks and motorcycles will be returning to the downtown streets of Amherstburg July 30.

The annual Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy show runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. that Sunday with hundreds of vintage vehicles to line Dalhousie St., North St., Richmond St. and Rankin Ave., weather permitting.

Town council agreed to have the Amherstburg's Gone Car Crazy show classified as a "town event," as it has been in the past. There had been some concerns raised by administration.

The Amherstburg’s Gone Car Show returns to the streets of Amherstburg Sunday, July 30.

“This is our 12th annual,” said Eleanor Renaud, who heads the organizing committee. “I can’t believe this is our 12th year but I couldn’t have done this without my awesome team of family, friends and volunteers who have truly stepped up and taken on this even with me. They continue to work so hard.”

Renaud noted that “it’s a lot of work but it’s a fun day” with gates opening at 7 a.m. on North St. She thanked all sponsors of the event, including platinum sponsor Muscle Cars & Classics. Xcentrick Autosports from Oldcastle and Napa from Windsor are new exhibitors this year, she added.

“We’ve also got a vintage motorcycle club coming back this year,” Renaud stated, with all of those motorcycles being at least 30-years-old. “We also have a couple of vintage police cars coming.”

Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering will be the show’s main food vendor this year. Rick Rock and the Throwback Kings will be performing in Toddy Jones Park with the Johnny Cash tribute band Paying Cash performing on the downtown stage at Richmond St. and Dalhousie St.

Renaud said they try and keep the show fun, including awarding roughly 20 trophies in such categories as best original, “Nifty 50,” “Sweet 70,” favourite interior, special interest and participants’ choice. The best in show, won last year by Ken and Gail Reder of Amherstburg, is named the “Paulie Award” with that being in honour of the late Paul Renaud, Eleanor’s husband and the show’s co-founder.

Who will win the Paulie Award this year for the best in show. The 12th annual Amherstburg's Gone Car Crazy show is July 30.

Who will win the Paulie Award this year for the best in show. The 12th annual Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy show is July 30.

The highest amount of vehicles ever at the tournament topped 600, she added, and attendance is determined a lot by the weather.

“We’ve got the same layout as before,” she said. “It works very well.”

The organizing committee is also seeking some new volunteers as well, Renaud stated.

“Our team has been together for 12 years and they need some relief,” she said. “It’s a fun day and the time really does fly by.”

Pre-registration is encouraged and people can register online at www.amherstburgsgonecarcrazy.com, by picking up a form at Rags to Riches Upholstery at 41 Sandwich St. S. or by calling Renaud at 519-736-4020.

Shuttle buses to allow people easier way of getting to Canuck It Up Festival

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Canuck It Up Festival is fast approaching and there is a new way of getting downtown should people not wish to look for a parking space.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture with the town, said there will be four shuttle buses that will be transporting people free of charge to the Aug. 5-6 festival. The drop-off and pick-up point will be the intersection of Park St. and Dalhousie St., Rota said, with people able to park and catch one of the buses at the former Honeywell property or the Libro Centre.

“The buses will do a continuous loop downtown,” said Rota. “We’re encouraging people to hop on the buses. It will help relieve parking and traffic.”

An enormous rubber duck will be coming to Amherstburg as part of the Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival that will be held Aug. 5-6. (Special to the RTT)

An enormous rubber duck will be coming to Amherstburg as part of the Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival that will be held Aug. 5-6. (Special to the RTT)

If they don’t take the bus, Rota said the public is encourage to walk or carpool.

One of the major draws is expected to be the huge rubber duck that will be parked off Navy Yard Park near the intersection of Dalhousie St. and Richmond St.

The large rubber duck is part of the Ontario 150 Tour that is travelling to six Ontario ports. It started in Toronto and Owen Sound with other stops being Sault Ste. Marie, Midland, Amherstburg and Brockville.

“We’re the second last stop for the duck. We’ve had weekly conference calls with Toronto and Owen Sound. They had record-breaking crowds. We’re trying to get ready as much as we can,” said Rota.

Many of the events run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days with those events including deck tours of the tall ship Appledore V, a Park House 150 fashion exhibit, stilt performers, horse and carriage rides, the farmers market and food court and daily 4 p.m. performances by the Greater Windsor Essex Concert Band.

Those attractions are in addition to the West Coast Lumberjack shows at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily and three daily performances by Rhythm of the Nation in Navy Yard Park. The Diplomats Drum & Bugle Corps will also be presenting a special performance Aug. 5 at noon in Toddy Jones Park.

The West Coast Lumberjack show is heading to Amherstburg as part of the Aug. 5-6 Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival. (Special to the RTT)

The West Coast Lumberjack show is heading to Amherstburg as part of the Aug. 5-6 Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival. (Special to the RTT)

“They’ve been preparing for Canada 150 for about one year,” said Rota. “They’ve been traveling across North America for competitions with the Canada 150 show.”

Canada 150 celebrations are “once in a lifetime,” Rota added, and that the town hopes people come to Amherstburg to enjoy the Canuck It Up Festival in the town’s downtown area.

“For Amherstburg, we are looking at Canada 150 as a year-long celebration,” said Rota. “The Civic Holiday weekend is the perfect time to hold this festival.”

In terms of planning and logistics, Rota believes it is as big as the Roots to Boots Festival that was held in 2012.

For more information, call the town’s tourism office at 519-730-1309, visit www.amherstburg.ca/canuckitup or www.facebook.com/AmherstburgConnection.

Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats coming to Fort Malden Aug. 5-6

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Canuck It Up Festival isn’t the only event happening Aug. 5-6.

Fort Malden National Historic Site will be hosting “Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats” that weekend with re-enactments and activities based around the Rebellions of 1837. Alex Dale, interpretive officer at Fort Malden, noted it is a “rebellion site” as the original fort was burned during the War of 1812. He said concentrating on the rebellion period was appropriate and also allows them to rejuvenate what Fort Malden offers during the Civic Holiday weekend.

Fort Malden usually offers Military Heritage Days that weekend and while they feel it is still a good event, the Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats event will put some new excitement into that weekend.

“We thought it might be a neat way to rejuvenate the event,” Dale stated.

The tall ship Appledore V will be docked off Navy Yard Park, he said, but it will also participate in battle re-enactments. Battles will be re-enacted daily, including a major battle at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 complete with pyrotechnics and rebels “firing” at the shore.

Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats coming to Fort Malden Aug. 5-6. (RTT File Photo)

Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats coming to Fort Malden Aug. 5-6. (RTT File Photo)

“We’re basically going to recreate the Schooner Anne incident,” said Dale.

Dale said it was the first time shots were actually fired at Fort Amherstburg, noting it was a big moment in the Fort’s history.

While Parks Canada sites are free for Canada 150, Dale pointed out there will be a minimal fee to come in for the Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats event. He said $1.90 will be charged so Fort Malden can recoup costs but wristbands will be given to attendees so that they may re-enter free of charge if going to the neighbouring Canuck It Up Festival.

A Tavern on the River Saturday night, complete with a Celtic band, will carry a $5 cover charge, added Dale.

“I think it’s going to be pretty cool,” he said. “It’s going to be a neat event. There could be as many as 100 tents in the Fort.”

Whether it becomes an annual event remains to be seen, but Dale added Fort Malden can offer a diversity of events.

“I think it’s time for a bit of a change to show we can offer so much more,” he said. “Our students are super-excited. They’ve heard of re-enactments at distant places and to have a fairly large scale battle re-enacted here is an exciting thing for them.”

Dale envisions re-enactors hitting the downtown streets that weekend during the Canuck It Up Festival as part of some cross-promotion initiatives.

Hours will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Aug. 5, with the gates re-opening at 6:30 p.m. for the battle followed by the Tavern on the River. Hours on Aug. 6 will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Uncle’s love of history, roots at Belle Vue led to $100,000 donation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The contracts have been officially signed and the cheque has been officially turned over.

The $100,000 cheque presentation from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy took place on the front porch of Belle Vue last Friday morning. The donation was made by brothers John and Joe Gatfield, nephews of the late Father Ted Gatfield, and trustee with the BMO trust Lisa Mazurek with a main floor dining room to be named for the foundation.

It was originally announced last week.

“This is something that meant a lot to our uncle,” said John.

John added that one of the missions of the foundation is to preserve Amherstburg’s history, adding there is also a family connection to Belle Vue through Father Ted’s great-great grandfather.

The Gatfield Family Foundation made its $100,000  donation official last Friday morning. From left: CAO John Miceli, trustee with BMO Lisa Mazurek, John Gatfield, Belle Vue Conservancy director of  corporate outreach Linda Jackson and Joe Gatfield.

The Gatfield Family Foundation made its $100,000
donation official last Friday morning. From left: CAO John Miceli, trustee with BMO Lisa Mazurek, John Gatfield, Belle Vue Conservancy director of
corporate outreach Linda Jackson and Joe Gatfield.

“The Gatfield family has been in Amherstburg forever, so it seems,” he said. “We, as a family, are very pleased to help out.”
Noting that Father Ted would tell stories of playing as a child at Belle Vue, John said “we think he’d be very pleased that we are doing this.”

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy and town administration were smiling before, during and after the presentation and John said their uncle would be pleased with that.

“He’d be happy to see the smiles on everyone’s faces here,” said John. “He’s smiling as well.”

John said they heard about Belle Vue and the goal of restoring it and the foundation discussed helping out. That led to a meeting with conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue, treasurer Michael Prue and corporate outreach chair Linda Jackson. That meeting led to the Gatfield Family Foundation wanting “to do our part” to help save the 200-year-old town-owned Dalhousie St. mansion.

John Miceli, Amherstburg’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said that town council adopted a community strategic plan in the summer of 2016 which provided strategic direction for the town based on a community shared vision.

“Belle Vue was a key consideration identified by our residents in developing that shared vision,” said Miceli. “The historical and cultural significance of this tremendous property was recognized by our community and identified as a pillar of investment going forward.

The CAO stated that Belle Vue is “part of our past, our present and our future” and expressed thanks to the Gatfield family for the $100,000 donation.

John Gatfield, Joe Gatfield and trustee Lisa Mazurek sign the contracts which officially transferred $100,000 from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy. The conservancy raises funds on behalf of the town of Amherstburg to restore Belle Vue, the historic home at 525 Dalhousie St.

John Gatfield, Joe Gatfield and trustee Lisa Mazurek sign the contracts which officially transferred $100,000 from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy. The conservancy raises funds on behalf of the town of Amherstburg to restore Belle Vue, the historic home at 525 Dalhousie St.

“We are writing a new chapter in the story of Amherstburg and Belle Vue will play an important part in this novel to come,” said Miceli. “This partnership between the Gatfield Family Foundation, the Belle Vue Conservancy and the town of Amherstburg is just the beginning. This partnership emphasizes that. I am extremely excited as together, we continue to write the story of how this once endangered significantly historical property in Amherstburg was saved by a community that was unwilling to let it go and how we came together with the help of groups such as the Gatfield Family Foundation to restore this national treasure for the benefit of generations to come.”

The hope is that the $100,000 donation will lead to more donations with Michael Prue stating the town is doing well in the “This Place Matters” competition. Donations are also being accepted at www.amherstburg.ca/donate. Prue added they continue to seek donations from organizations and businesses.

A gala is also being planned as a major fundraiser Sept. 24.

The Belle Vue Conservancy, which is raising money on the town’s behalf for Belle Vue, is awaiting word whether the federal government will give them a grant for up to $1 million, a figure that would have to be matched.

“All of us together can do it!” Prue stated.