Explore the Shore brings thousands down County Road 50



By Jolene Perron


A strategic alliance of neighbors along County Road 50 started something big eight years ago, and it’s since grown to be an incredible tourism driven event.

In 2010, County Road 50 businesses came together and put on the Explore the Shore event in just nine weeks. Ann Wilson, who is in charge of the communications for Explore the Shore, and also owns Oxley Estate Winery, said she was astounded when they were nominated for the best Ontario Tourism Marketing Campaign in their first year, coming out as the runner up to the Stratford Festival.

“Our real goal for this, besides having fun, is to create a very vibrant business community along County Road 50,” explained Wilson. “We think that we’re special, I guess every community does in some way, but we have a lot of small businesses. Even the wineries are considered a small business. We have a lot of entrepreneurial people, we have a lot of people with ideas and one of the things that’s developed over the last eight years, is that we have a network now. We know each other, we know what the other business does, we refer people up and down the road, we work together on events.”

Wilson said the road has come to be much busier over the last eight years, and she believes they are on the right path.

Each year the Explore the Shore festival has a theme – this year’s theme was Canada’s 150th. As it turns out, it was also the Village of Colchester’s 225th birthday as well, so the town of Essex also celebrated their birthday during Explore the Shore, which brought new evening events to the festival such as entertainment and fireworks on the beach.

Old fashioned games were part of the day at John R. Park Homestead as part of the “Explore the Shore” weekend.

Old fashioned games were part of the day at John R. Park Homestead as part of the “Explore the Shore” weekend.

Wilson said a synergy has developed in the town, and so many businesses want to be involved. This year alone they expanded by 13 businesses, giving them a total of 38 stops on their route.

“We encourage everybody to make sure people have fun, if they have fun here, they will come back,” said Wilson. “They see how close we are to each other and how we work together and they find their way down the road. The first year it was so difficult. They would pull in and they would ask ‘where is the lake from here?’. They would ask if this was the old 18-A, which it was, the road has changed names a couple of times which was confusing, but they came, and we regularly draw an excess of 5,000 visitors over the two days.”

Stop number one on the map was Ure’s Country Kitchen, where patrons were welcomed to breakfast or lunch. The 29-year-old business, owned by Laurie Ure and her family, is all about fun, family and local.

“It’s really wonderful the way all the businesses get together to showcase everybody’s business and we’re always happy to be involved in this,” said Ure. “We’re on the map, marked number one, and a lot of people will start here for breakfast, and then head down along County Road 50.”

From lawn dice, to bocce ball, to ice cream, to bouncy castles and even beach volleyball, there was something for everyone at this year’s Explore the Shore event. Wilson said the support they receive from the community is incredible, and they look forward to continuing to bring people down County Road 50, and not just for the festival.


Town looking for 150 nominees for “CANdo 150 Award of Distinction”


By Ron Giofu


As part of Canada 150 celebrations, the town is looking to recognize those who have given back.

The “CANdo 150 Award of Distinction” has been developed with nominations now open in the categories of community service, leadership and legacy. The awards will be presented on Canada Day at 2 p.m. as part of the annual festivities at Fort Malden National Historic Site.

“What the town of Amherstburg wanted to do is recognize 150 citizens of the town for their outstanding contributions,” explained manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota.

The town wanted to not only celebrate the 150th birthday of the country, but “the people who have contributed their time and talents to make Canada what it is today.”

The community service category recognizes those whose volunteer service benefits his or her community.


“We know Amherstburg has a very active volunteer base,” said Rota. “I believe that’s what sets Amherstburg apart. I hear it time and time again from my colleagues.”

The leadership category encompasses a person who guides or directs a group to achieve outstanding goals and inspires others to be the best they can be. Rota said that can include those who are “visionary thinkers” who make Amherstburg a better place to live or work.

“This could be a business person or a professional who has shown deep caring for their employees and the residents,” she said.

The legacy category is for those past or present who have “gifted a talent or special project” for the betterment of Amherstburg. Those who have been philanthropic or those who have given in other ways over the years may fall into this category.

People are not allowed to nominate themselves and can only choose one category when nominating someone. A committee of five people will be assembled and they will judge the nominees with nominators eligible to write a justification of up to 250 words on why they nominated the person they did.

Nomination forms can be picked up either at Amherstburg town hall or can be downloaded from the town’s website by going to Forms must be returned in full by June 9 at 4 p.m. and they can be done online, dropped off at town hall or mailed to town hall with the town hall address being 271 Sandwich St. S. and postal code N9V 2E5.

Winners will be contacted by June 16.

“People have a little over a month to think about it and get their nomination forms in,” said Rota.

The town’s eligibility requirements call for nominees to be at least 15-years-old as of January 1, 2017 and living. Current residents or those who have previously resided in Amherstburg can be considered.

Warden promotes collaboration at recent luncheon



By Ron Giofu


The tenth annual Warden’s Luncheon was held recently with collaboration being a major focus.

Warden Tom Bain addressed the crowd at the Ciociaro Club with the event being presented by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Bain, also the mayor of Lakeshore, noted that he was moved after hearing a presentation at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association Conference.

“The presenter was Doug Griffiths, a former elected official at the municipal and provincial levels in Alberta, who now specializes in providing strategic community development advice to governments, not-for-profit organizations and even private sector companies. The name of his presentation was ‘Thirteen Ways to Kill Your Community.’”

Bain said that Griffiths “provided inspiration” on how communities can work both independently and together to build stronger, more resilient communities.

“We cannot, or should not, depend solely upon senior levels of government to make our community successful,” said Bain. “Governments will change, priorities will change, philosophies will change and programs and funding will change. What remains constant? What we have to offer locally remains constant — our people, our assets and our resources.”

The warden said that the people of Essex County continually show the ability to deliver “world class solutions” to opportunities or adversity that the region has faced.

“It remains our collective responsibility, working collaboratively, and even on occasion in competition with each other, to make Essex County a pre-eminent destination to live, learn, work, play, invest and visit,” said Bain. “Ideas must continue to be exchanged and nurtured for norms to be poked at and success achieved.”

Essex County will spend $40 million this year to expand and/or maintain the county’s road network, Bain stated. The county is also contributing towards the proposed new mega-hospital project and is working on the SWIFT project, the latter being one to bring fibreoptic Internet service to the region. The county is also committed to helping the most vulnerable in each of the seven communities, providing resources to ensure Essex-Windsor EMS can meet their needs, and supporting physician recruitment.

Bain also highlighted “strategic investments” that either have or will be made to “improve the lives of residents.” He picked out at least one for every county municipality with the warden mentioning Amherstburg’s purchase of both the Duffy’s and Belle Vue properties. Bain said the “key strategic acquisitions of the Belle Vue House and the former Duffy’s Tavern will allow Amherstburg to continue to showcase and commemorate its rich history and sense of place.”

“The role of government is to develop the foundations for communities to build upon. However, we need to be keenly aware that constructing these foundations is not accomplished in a sprint,” the warden continued. “Some will say it is a marathon. I tend to liken it to a relay race in which the baton is constantly passed along.”

Teamwork is “essential” to the prosperity of every community, Bain stated.


“This may sound silly, but to preserve the status quo, that is keeping what we cherish as a community, we must be prepared to allow and embrace change,” said Bain. “Without change, our status quo is at risk. We must be truthful to ourselves by ‘connecting the dots,’ by trying to understand and appreciate how decisions and actions of today will affect the aspirations of tomorrow.”

Retaining youth is important, he believed, but said today’s young people are convinced by deeds, and not words.

“If our community advertises it is prepared to train, encourage, mentor and connect, we best be

prepared to deliver. Actions will speak far louder than words,” said Bain. “As change permeates our community, one of the most important changes we can collectively make is one of attitude. New ideas, new approaches and new paradigms are likely to make us uncomfortable. We will need to welcome and support the new found creativity and innovation our youth are sure to bring.”

Furthering his theme of collaboration, Bain said that “borders shouldn’t be used to keep us apart” and that “we live in a regional economy with many sub-components.” He noted Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) is working to highlight the area and its attractions and the the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) also has several projects on the go for 2017, including the official opening of the Cypher Systems Greenway that connects Essex and Amherstburg.

Bain did see “storm clouds” on the horizon, due to positions taken by U.S. President Donald Trump that include a border tax on imports into the U.S., an impending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an “America First” policy, particularly with respect to the auto industry and “a general thickening of the Canada/U.S. border, slowing the flow of goods and creating confusion for local residents working in the U.S.”

“Changes to our trading relationship with the U.S. are no doubt coming, with the nature, extent and timing yet to be determined,” said Bain. “Both the Canadian and Ontario governments continue to work closely with their U.S. counterparts to demonstrate the substantial mutual benefits and value that accrue from Canada/U.S. trade. The impact upon our local economy remains to be seen.”

Windsor-Essex has “sturdy foundations” and said the area’s business community is innovative, adaptive and creative.

“If I know anything about Essex County and its residents, it is that what at first may appear to be a problem will quickly be converted into a new opportunity,” said Bain. “Through teamwork, embracing our youth, and welcoming fresh, new ideas, I have every confidence that Essex County determination, attitude and passion will turn challenges into silver linings, and not allow silver linings to become problems. The biggest misstep we can make is to allow possibility and potential to slip through our grasp.”



Amherstburg grows over the last five years


By Ron Giofu

While not a huge jump, there has been growth in Amherstburg over the last five years.

Results of the 2016 census were released last Wednesday and shows that the town grew 1.8 per cent since the 2011 census. The town’s population is now 21,936, an increase of 380 people since the census was taken in 2011. The 2011 population was 21,556.

Total private dwellings in Amherstburg total 8,951 with private dwellings occupied by “usual residents” being 8,522. Amherstburg’s population density per square kilometre is 118.2 while the land area, in square kilometres, is 185.61 km.

The Essex County municipality with the largest population increase is also the municipality with the largest population. Lakeshore grew six per cent from 2011-16 with their population growing from 34,546 to 36,611.

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LaSalle experienced a 5.4 per cent level of growth. Amherstburg’s neighbours to the north now has a population of 30,180. By comparison, LaSalle’s population in 2011 was 28,643.

The town of Essex grew 4.2 per cent during the five-years. In 2011, the population of Essex was 19,100 and it now sits at 20,427.

The other municipality within Essex County to experience growth between 2011 and 2016 was Kingsville. Kingsville grew 0.9 per cent as that town’s population went from 21,362 in 2011 to 21,552 in 2016.

Two municipalities within Essex County saw population decreases over the five-year period. Tecumseh’s population fell 1.6 per cent with the 2011 population being 23,610 as opposed to the 2016 population of 23,229.

Leamington’s population dropped 2.8 per cent. The municipality of Leamington dipped from 28,403 to 27,595 in the last five years.

Combined, it means Essex County has a population of 181,530. Windsor’s population is 217,188, meaning the region has grown 2.6 per cent.

About 500 from Windsor-Essex County attend Holiday House Tours


By Ron Giofu


People from Amherstburg and surrounding municipalities streamed through the ten houses that were decorated and on display for the Holiday House Tours.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

The house tours, a part of the ongoing River Lights Winter Festival, saw ten houses on display with nine of them being private homes and the tenth being the Park House Museum. Monica Bunde, who helped co-ordinate the tours and was a decorator of one of the homes, said the Park House was the “tea room” stop on the tour with the other homes being clustered around the municipality.

The homes were decorated either by local businesses, by decorators or the homeowners themselves.

“We’ve expanded the footprint this year,” said Bunde. “We’ve expanded outside of the downtown core so people get the feel for all of Amherstburg.”

The homes were concentrated in different areas of the town with four, counting the Park House, being within walking distance in the Dalhousie St./Rankin Ave. area, three more within Amherst Pointe, one at the corner of Alma and Victoria St. S. and the other two in the former Anderdon Township.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

“It made it easier,” explained Bunde. “You can park and walk to see three or four homes then go to the next section.”

Bunde said they not only wanted visitors to see the homes themselves, but visit the boutiques and restaurants in Amherstburg as well.

“People have been booking lunch or dinner,” added Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture. “It’s a package. It’s not just looking at the homes. It’s an economic stimulus for the town.”

Homes that were considered somewhat “iconic” were featured on this year’s Holiday House Tour. Bunde said many of the homes have been the subject of people wondering what they looked like on the inside and the house tours gave people that glimpse.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

Not only did people willingly open their homes this year, but Rota said there are already six requests from homeowners to be on the Holiday House Tours in 2017. She remarked there could soon be a waiting list for homes.

Rota added that early estimates had about 50 per cent of the attendees be from outside of Amherstburg as a lot of people from the Windsor-Essex County area converged on the town for the tours.

Carolyn Davies and Merv Richards had their home, the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast, as one of the stops on the tour. Davies, the current president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC), agreed that it was a great event that brought hundreds of people to town. She said not only did it bring the people, but it strengthened the local economy in the process.

“It’s an event, it’s an experience,” added Bunde. “It’s for everyone.”

It is estimated that 500 people turned out for this year’s Holiday House Tours.