Canada Day

Amherstburg celebrates Canada’s 151st birthday


By Jonathan Martin


A sea of red and white swarmed Amherstburg’s downtown core last Sunday to take part in the town’s annual Canada Day festivities.

The celebration was split between Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada and the Treats N’ Eats festival at Austin “Toddy” Jones Park.

The day kicked off with more than 2,000 runners streaming through the streets in the Canada D’Eh five kilometre run and concluded with a shoreline packed with onlookers enjoying the annual fireworks display.

In an address to festivalgoers at the start of the day, Amherstburg mayor Aldo DiCarlo thanked some of those responsible for putting on the massive festival.

Fireworks explode over the Detroit River as thousands watch from the shoreline during Canada Day celebrations
Sunday night in Amherstburg.

“First, I’d like to recognize the members of council here today,” he said.  “I’d like to thank all the town employees who worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure the day goes off without a hitch.  Primarily, but not entirely, these are the people in the tourism department, the parks department and, this year, to keep things cool, even the fire department joined in to spray down the runners this morning.  This event wouldn’t even get started without their dedication.

“Second, I’d like to thank the staff of Fort Malden for providing us with the most beautiful backdrop in the region.

“Third, I’d like to thank Chris and Debbie Uszynski and their team at RunningFlat for kicking off the day’s festivities.  Year after year they spend the day before setting up and then spend most of Canada Day tearing down.  We are very fortunate that they have kept this event in Amherstburg, as I can’t imagine Canada Day without the Canada D’Eh Run.

“Of course, we also have to thank the day’s volunteers.  It takes a great many people to put on this event and many of them are doing it for nothing.  At least, nothing but knowing they are doing their community a great service, which is the biggest reason we are so grateful.”

DiCarlo went on to name a long list of people involved in the day’s events by name, lauded the spirit of the town and expressed his best wishes for Amherstburg’s visitors before handing the mic over to Essex Member of Parliament Tracey Ramsey.

Ramsey took a different note in her address.

Stefan Coutu of Windsor plays Quidditch with his grandmother, Beth Dubeault.

She began by recounting her attendance at a citizenship ceremony earlier in the day.

“I stood proudly beside them and took that oath,” she said.  “Take a chance today as a family or by yourself to say that oath, to reaffirm your oath to Canada and the commitment that we have to our beautiful country.”

Ramsey went on to ask her listeners to “show (their) patriotism” through their purchasing power.  Canada returned fire last week in the so-called trade war the United States began by slapping duties on Canadian goods such as aluminum and steel.  Ottawa announced financial aid packages for affected Canadian industries and put its own tariffs in place amounting to $16.6 billion.

Rebecca Mickle sings as part of the Canada Day celebrations held at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

The dispute has brought out increasingly nationalist tones in Canada’s politicians, as well as declarations of solidarity with Canadian industry.  On the same day Ramsey spoke at Fort Malden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Leamington.

Southwestern Ontario is an area that will be particularly affected by the ongoing trade dispute, since its industries use and manufacture items that are being heavily taxed.

Ramsey said the Canada Day celebrations mark an opportunity for Canadians to make a change.

“Over this next year, I challenge us all to support one another and buy Canadian,” she said.



More than 2,000 participants participate in Canada D’Eh Run


By Jonathan Martin


More than 2,000 runners braved the blistering heat this past Sunday to compete in the nation’s largest five kilometre Canada Day (or Canada D’Eh) run.

The heat soared to 43 degrees with humidex, which earned a warning from Environment Canada and the declaration of an “extreme heat event.”

Runners were sprayed down by Amherstburg firefighters as they passed and 1,700 free bottles of water were available, according to race director Chris Uszynski.

Over 2,000 people participated in the Canada D’Eh 5K run/walk. Runners return to the finish line down Laird Ave.

The Canada D’Eh Run/Walk was broken up into four divisions: the kids’ 500 metre race, the kids’ one kilometre race, the five kilometre walk and the five kilometre run.  Each participant who finished their respective race earned themselves a finishers’ medal depicting an influential Canadian chosen by participant vote.  This year, the medal featured the Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie.

Uszynski said he conceived of the race as a Canadian response to the American Independence Day run. His company, RunningFlat, also organizes runs across the border and in multiple cities throughout Canada.

“When I first came up with the idea, it was sort of like the fourth of July without the blue,” he said.  “It was supposed to be red and white and all patriotic, because as Canadians, we’re really (bad) at that.”

As a show of his Canuck patriotism, Uszynski also organized what he says Costco Wholesale Corporation described as “the largest and most patriotic purchase of the day in Canada,” by providing 4,000 maple leaf cookies and 1,700 butter tarts to Canada D’Eh runners.

The Canada D’Eh kids dash makes its way through Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

Uszynski said both Amherstburg residents and municipal employees also showed their love of the country.  Several town councilors and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo himself handed out the runners’ medals and Uszynski thanked residents who live by Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada, where the race kicked off and ended, for being so accepting of the noise level.

“We started blasting music pretty early on a holiday,” Uszynski joked.  The town’s bylaw governing noise levels was lifted for the day.

In all, Uszynski said the day was “a great success,” though he added that he wishes Amherstburg had more hotels.

“Hotels! Hotels! Hotels!” he chanted.







Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival coming to Toddy Jones Park



There will still be a festival going on in Toddy Jones Park on Canada Day, but it will have a different name than in past years.

Now known as the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival, it will be taking over Toddy Jones Park from July 1. Event organizer Kim Hamilton said the former Ice Cream Festival is back with a name change to accompany it.

“Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I know you’ve heard of the exciting events going on in Amherstburg for Canada Day over the last few years,” said Hamilton. “We’re kicking off the summer of 2018 with the ‘Canada Day Treats N’ Eats Festival’ brought to you by Glitterfly Entertainment, coinciding with the Canada Day festivities at Fort Malden! The day kicks off with the town’s annual Canada D’Eh Run (presented by Running Flat). Our festival runs from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. at Toddy Jones Park, in conjunction with the Font Malden outdoor concert, BBQ and activities across the street. All of this is followed up by an extraordinary fireworks display at sunset, put on by the Town of Amherstburg!”

Various different characters will be available to visit with at the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival at Toddy Jones Park. (Photo from the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival Facebook page)

There will be a number of events at the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Festival at Toddy Jones Park.

“This year the Canada Day Treats N’ Eats Festival is bringing you a boatload of family-friendly new and exciting activities including bouncy castles galore. There will be bounce-all-day passes available,” said Hamilton. “We will also have free mini-putt golf by Party Putt sponsored by Glitterfly Entertainment. There will be ice cream trucks (of course, it’s tradition!).”

Hamilton added there will be food trucks, merchant vendors (local artisans, businesses and not-for-profits), character visits with characters from “Fantastic Fathers,” face painting and glitter tattoos by Glitterfly Entertainment and Funky Faces, a princess meet and greet with a photobooth keepsake and “of course the use of Amherstburg beautiful park, playground and splash pad!  Don’t forget your bathing suits and towels.”

Hamilton asks people to remember that the festival is bike and pet-friendly “but please, pick up after yourself.”

“We’ve spent the last few months planning another amazing event for this year, and we are so excited to celebrate Canada Day with you all!” she said. “Please note a portion of funds raised each year, goes right back into the community, benefitting local charity organizations. You do not want to miss this amazing event!”

Canada Day festivities ramping up as holiday approaches



By Ron Giofu


Canada’s 151st birthday is coming up and there are a number of festivities planned again this year to celebrate.

The Canada Day activities return to Fort Malden National Historic Site with a number of new and familiar events for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Jennifer Ibrahim, tourism co-ordinator with the Town of Amherstburg, said this year’s Canada Day will feature a lot of the same family-friendly activities as in previous years.

“It starts at 9 a.m. with the most patriotic run in our nation,” said Ibrahim, in reference to the Canada D’Eh run/walk that is presented by Running Flat. “I hope our community comes out and cheers on the Canada D’Eh runners. It’s so much fun.”

Opening ceremonies for the Canada Day festivities is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Fireworks annually thrill the thousands of people that attended the Canada Day event at Fort Malden. This is an image of “stacked” photos of several fireworks. (PHOTO BY ADRIAN HARTE)

Ibrahim said St. Peter’s ACHS College School will be joining the Amherstburg Admirals in field hockey games all day with a kids’ activity centre also to be featured throughout that Sunday.

Among the entertainment will be performers from the Kerri Brown Vocal Studio and the Rivertown Dance Academy with singers and bands to include Red and the Barron, Kerri & Joseph and Fresh Breath.

“Our headliners this year are Ashley Lynn & the Spurs,” said Ibrahim. “They are a crowd favourite.”

Ashley Lynn & the Spurs take the stage at 8 p.m.

There will also be children’s robotics activities featuring A-Team Robotics, pony rides courtesy of Sarah Parks Horsemanship and Zumba, the latter scheduled for 7 p.m.

Fort Malden National Historic Site will also offer its own programming throughout the day.

“Not to be missed is the fireworks finale,” added Ibrahim.


Tourism department highlights trio of events for the coming season



By Ron Giofu


The town’s tourism department has highlighted a trio of upcoming events it is planning, including two new ones that have joined the schedule.

Tourism co-ordinators Sarah Van Grinsven and Anna Cabrera met with business owners at the Libro Centre last Tuesday and went over what is in the works. Roughly ten people attended the afternoon session with slightly more reported to have attended the morning session.

The first of the new events will be the Rhododendron Garden Tea Party, with Cabrera explaining that they want to showcase the town using one of the more popular assets, which is the rhododendron gardens in King’s Navy Yard Park.

The Rhododendron Garden Tea Party is planned for May 27 with the event having a “Downton Abbey”-type feel, Cabrera added. There will be two sittings – one at 11:30 a.m. and the other at 3 p.m. – in Navy Yard Park.

Van Grinsven said a similar event was held in 2012 for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and that went well, with people asking for more of those type of events in the future.

“It’s giving people what they want,” said Van Grinsven.

That event is being held in conjunction with the Belle Vue Conservancy.

There will be a Downton Abbey inspired costume contest for women, men and children as well.

“The rhododendron gardens are one of the focal points of the King’s Navy Yard Park each spring,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We will be honoured to welcome visitors with the added garden tea program. When the gardens are in full bloom, it’s an amazing spectacle for the region.”

The second new event will be the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival, planned for Aug. 3-5. The event, which is proposed as an annual festival, will combine Harry Potter with steampunk, the latter being described by Cabrera as “Victorian-era science fiction.”

“Think of what the past might have looked like if we had today’s technology,” she said.

Cabrera stated that millennials “spend money on experiences rather than material goods” and that there is a hope that photos and videos of the event will “live forever” if put online.

“We didn’t pick this at random,” she said of the theme for Amherstburg Uncommon. “There is a rhyme and reason.”

Sarah Van Grinsven, one of the town’s tourism co-ordinators, goes over a map of the downtown core detailing proposed road closures for the Aug. 3-5 Amherstburg Uncommon Festival.

The bulk of the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival will be free with roads in the downtown core closed off. Van Grinsven indicated the only ticketed event will be a magic show under the “big top” tent that will be set up in Toddy Jones Park. Also proposed for the three-day festival will be aerial demonstrations from the Canadian Historical Aircraft Museum, rickshaws, live entertainment, craftsmen, a “quidditch” ball throwing activity, children’s games and entertainment and other attractions.

Many of the activities will focus on science, technology, engineering and math, Van Grinsven stated.

“We want the town to be transformed,” she said. “It’s all about the look. It’s all about the feel.”

Vendors will be screened to ensure they fit the theme, added Cabrera, and organizers hope to work with restaurants for themed menus and food items re-named to fit the steampunk or Harry Potter eras.

The Park House Museum will also be partnering with the tourism department for the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival.

Van Grinsven told business owners that “we want to bring business to you” and that Amherstburg Uncommon will be a family-friendly event.

“There is definitely no alcohol,” she said.

Restaurants and businesses may be able to expand patios but that has to be done in conjunction with the town’s licensing department.

“We want to facilitate the success of the businesses,” she said.

Some business owners voiced concerns with road closures and the ability to get back and forth to their businesses while others didn’t want to bring in products that organizers or vendors will be selling.

“We’re creating fun,” said Van Grinsven. “We’re creating a fabulous atmosphere for people.”

The third event highlighted at the meetings was the Canada Day event. That is scheduled to return to the grounds of Fort Malden National Historic Site July 1. Events like the Canada D’Eh run, which is presented by Running Flat, and the Ice Cream Festival for Toddy Jones Park are also planned for Canada’s 151st birthday.

For more information, call 519-730-1309.