Park House Museum gearing up for 2019 season



By Ron Giofu


The Park House Museum is gearing up for the 2019 season and will be busy right off the bat.

There are two events this weekend at the Park House, with the first being Friday night and another event Saturday evening.

“We thought for the season opener, we’d have a paranormal investigation on the 15th,” said curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak, “and then a St. Patrick’s Eve event on the 16th.”

The paranormal investigation Friday night will once again be run by PO3 Paranormal and run in two sessions. The first runs from 7-9 p.m. and the second runs from 9-11 a.m. Tickets are $20 and people are asked to call 519-736-2511 or message them on Facebook to check for availability.

The St. Patrick’s Eve event Saturday night is the second time the Park House Museum has presented such an event, with Pouget-Papak stating the first time “was really successful.” That event sees regular admission charges waived but the museum will be accepting donations.

The St. Patrick’s Eve event will feature Irish storytelling and music, the former from Olwyn Coughlin, whom Pouget-Papak states is “a fabulous storyteller.” The music will be performed by Phil Kasurak, Matthew Kulbacki and Joe Perry. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Spring and fall events have been announced but the Park House Museum is awaiting word on their grants before announcing any summer programming. One of the bigger events they’ve announced thus far is their “A Day in Outlander” event planned for June 30. While there is a basic program outlined for that, Pouget-Papak said the public will be able to vote on specific concepts and components that event will offer. People are encouraged to monitor the Park House’s website at and their Facebook and Twitter sites for more information in the coming weeks.

A St. Patrick’s Eve event is planned for this Saturday night at the Park House Museum.

“I’m really excited about the Outlander event,” she said, noting the printing press will be running, soldiers will be on hand and more will be available.

The public is also encouraged to monitor the Park House’s website and social media channels for updates on a fundraising dinner coming up in the spring as well as for updates on the return of the “Music off the Back Porch” series.

The Park House Museum is also planning the summer exhibit entitled “The History of Photography: Amherstburg Then & Now.” That is scheduled to run from July 2-Sept. 26 with the exhibit to include comparisons of photos from years ago to what the area looks like now.

Fall events that are currently planned include four nights of ghost tours and those nights will be Sept. 27-28 and Oct. 18-19. Registration and details will be available as the event gets closer. The annual “All Hallow’s Eve” event returns Oct. 20 with “Freaky Friday” movie nights with horror movies shown in the museum planned for every Friday night in October.

Other events planned for the fall include “Dickens’ Christmas Traditions” Nov. 24, “Dickens by Candleight” Nov. 29 and other events such as their “Witches tea” and “Edgar Allan Poe by Candlelight” for which the dates haven’t been confirmed as of yet.

Pouget-Papak also noted the tinsmith shop not only sells lanterns, candleholders and other items to benefit the museum’s programming, but also sells custom-made items as well.

“Our tinsmiths do a great job,” she said, noting there are classes and workshops possible for this year as well.

The Park House Museum is located at 214 Dalhousie St. Regular admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2.50 for children 5-16 with children four and under free. The family rate is $12 while school groups are $5 per student.

An annual membership for senior or a student is $30, a single membership is $35, a family membership is $40 while a lifetime membership is $250.

“Exploring Kenya” by Brad Goldring now on exhibit at the Gibson Gallery

By Pat Bailey


Brad Goldring is totally focused on his first exhibition—at least for the moment.It’s amazing he finds the time to pursue his hobby—turned side hustle, into a beautiful exhibit at the Gibson Gallery.

At 33, Goldring has spent nearly two decades honing his craft—-one that began when he was just 14 and assisting his mom capturing her subjects on film. An artist in her own right, Debbie Goldring would turn the images captured by her son into commissioned portraits of her subjects—generally, dogs, cats and horses.

Debbie admits anyone can take a picture of a beloved pet but said at a young age Brad’s photos showed he definitely had a special gift. And Goldring credits his mom with encouraging his beginnings as a shutterbug.

“I still have my first original roll of film,” said Goldring, “of my cat in the backyard.”

Last Sunday, at a special reception at the gallery, Debbie, beaming with pride, was on hand to support her son in his first showing.

Goldring’s amazing photos feature his works from around the globe. But it’s the sheer strength and emotion captured while on safari in Kenya that steals the show.

African lions, giraffes and elephants grace the walls of the gallery, showcasing some of his finest works.

Despite being sidetracked by a little thing called university, the LaSalle resident, formerly of Milton, has managed to continue as a photographer while pursuing his career as an attorney/computer engineer for Ford Motor Company. In fact, it was law school that lured Goldring to the Essex County area, graduating from the dual American/Canadian law program between the University of Windsor and the University of Detroit Mercy.

While busy commuting between LaSalle and his Detroit-area job, Goldring still makes time to run a couple other businesses on the side, including photography.

Brad Goldring stands with some of his equipment and his work that is featured as part of his “Exploring Kenya” exhibit at the Gibson Gallery. His work is displayed through March 24. (RTT Photo by Pat Bailey)

While he says he failed to inherit any of his mother’s artistic ability, he said photography allows him a passion that also provides a creative outlet.How does someone possibly have time for so many pursuits? The secret said Goldring — “I don’t sleep.”

Instead he spends about 18 hours a day, working on the many facets of his careers.

In fact he had spent the morning driving from a business weekend in Chicago to the Amherstburg gallery for the reception.

While most would crumble under such a demanding schedule, Goldring flourishes.

He really couldn’t imagine his life any other way. But he is thinking ahead to his next ‘vacation’ — be it a working vacation.  For Goldring, whose goal one day is to have a photo published in a national wildlife magazine, he hopes a three-week trip to Africa will pay off.

In the meantime, he’s enjoying showcasing his works to a new audience and allowing others to go on safari vicariously through his works.
In his “spare” time, he will continue to show off his talent by shooting weddings, concerts and drag racing.

His photography has allowed him many opportunities he might not have otherwise enjoyed—including trips to Kenya, Tanzania, Jamaica, Cuba and Florida.

The exhibit, “Exploring Kenya: Brad Goldring”, will continue through March 24 and features Kenyan wildlife, but also includes a glimpse into his other photographic subjects–an album containing photos from the wedding of the son of the Governor General of Jamaica, drag races and concerts adorns the podium in front.

Goldring admits he enjoys seeing the reaction of others to the photos of his wildlife in particular, but said that all that really matters is that it makes him happy.

The Gibson Gallery is located at 140 Richmond St. and is open Thursday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

For further information on the Gibson Gallery, call 519-736-2826 or visit their website at Their Twitter account can be found at while their Facebook account is found at


Villanova gearing up for production of “Mamma Mia!”



By Ron Giofu


The actors, singers and backstage crew at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School are getting ready for their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!”

Opening night is Feb. 22 with six performances scheduled overall. Regan White, a Grade 11 student from Amherstburg who plays “Donna” in the show, said they are excited.

“We’ve been working really hard for a few months,” said White. “It’s going to be a great show.”

St. Thomas of Villanova will soon present “Mamma Mia!” with (from left) Alexa Monacco, Regan White and Nicole Gyorgi part of the show.

White noted they have been working since last fall on their dancing, acting and singing, the latter involving five vocal instructors. She plays in a lead role and said that there is a lot of responsibility but that is something she enjoys.

“It’s fun,” said White. “It’s a lot of work, though.”

Auditions were last October, she added, and that she sought out that role. The role of “Donna” is one that a lot of people could relate to, White added.

This isn’t the first time White has been in a lead role with a Villanova production as she was one of the stars of “We Will Rock You” and “Rock of Ages” in previous years. White also performs musical theatre with Cardinal Music Productions in Windsor.

“I’d like to do this professionally,” she said. “I’d like to do this on Broadway.”

White added the cast and crew are grateful to the teachers assisting on “Mamma Mia!” including director Mary Jo Grado and musical director Ann Marie Brunet.

“All of the teachers are really hard at work and we really want to thank them for that,” said White.

Players in the upcoming St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School production of “Mamma Mia!” rehearse a scene.

Justin Bobbie plays “Sam” and also said “it’s really exciting” especially with opening night closing in.

“It’s so exciting being a lead. It’s good to have so many responsibilities. It makes you feel like you are doing something,” said Bobbie. “It’s a lot of work. I almost feel like I’m 50, I get tired so fast.”

Bobbie said he is confident in his own abilities and that of his cast mates.

“When those lights hit you, there’s nothing else like it,” he said.

Bobbie has been a lead before but pointed out that he doesn’t have as much on his plate as previous years. He added he feels he is fully prepared for the show.

As for his future plans, Bobbie said he is keeping his options open.

“Honestly, guys like me are a dime a dozen,” he said, adding “it’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

Players in the upcoming St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School production of “Mamma Mia!” rehearse a scene.

Grado said there are about 75-80 students in total that are involved with the production of “Mamma Mia!” including about 57 on stage.

“It takes this amount of kids to put on a show like this,” she said. “The dedication level is high and it’s a demanding show.”

Andy Paling’s construction class also helps to literally put the show together as they build sets. It was Paling who decided to present “Mamma Mia!” this year as he is retiring after spending 30 years teaching at Villanova.

“This really is his baby,” said Grado. “We decided, as his retirement gift, that he got to pick the last show of his career.”

Shows are Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., Feb. 24 at 1 p.m., and there are also 7 p.m. shows Feb. 28, March 1 and March 2. Tickets are $15 for adults and students, $10 for seniors and children 6-12 and free for children under six, except for Feb. 24 and Feb. 28 when all seats are $10. They are available at the school or at the door the night of the show.

Amherstburg Freedom Museum features “Rarely Seen” temporary exhibit



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is celebrating Black History Month with an exhibit of materials not usually seen as part of their regular tours.

“Recently Seen” features rare artifacts and recently acquired items and the stories behind them, noted museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan. Whelan said like many museums, the Amherstburg Freedom Museum can display only a fraction of its collection.

“We’re inviting the public to view rarely seen artifacts from the collection,” she stated.

Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan stands with part of the “Rarely Seen” exhibit that is featured for Black History Month.

The temporary exhibit, located on the upper floor of the main museum building, displays paintings, photographs, scrapbooks and artifacts. A three-page petition from 1921 to Amherstburg town council regarding small pox and a Board of Health order advising a theatre to “exclude all coloured people”  is on exhibit as is an accompanying article from The Amherstburg Echo is also on hand. Manacles are also on exhibit, with those coming from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

There are also signs from the southern United States pointing African Americans the direction of the washrooms they must use with the signage coming from the Jim Crow era.

Photographs of museum co-founder Mac Simpson are also part of the “Rarely Seen” exhibit.

“I wanted to include a variety of things people don’t usually get to see. Hopefully people come and connect with it in some way,” said Whelan.

The museum is welcoming school tours and adults will come out to view the temporary and permanent exhibits.

“There are so many pieces we have in our collection,” said Whelan. “It’s fun to bring them out and show the material we have in the collection.”

A sample of what is displayed as part of the temporary “Rarely Seen” exhibit is photographed here.

Admission to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and students and $30 for a family of five. People can get $1 off admission this month if they can name the year the Nazrey AME Church was built (1848) and by whom (people escaping slavery in the U.S.).

The museum is located at 277 King St. and is open Tuesday-Friday from 12-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

Whelan also invited the public to check out Black History Month events on their website, There is a Black History Month events calendar there that Whelan said can be downloaded. The calendar is run in conjunction with the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.

For more information, call 519-736-5433 or 1-800-713-6336.