Canada Day

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.

Seasons chips in with donation to Belle Vue



By RTT Staff


Seasons Amherstburg has done its part to try and restore the 200-year-old Belle Vue property.

The local retirement home presented the Belle Vue Conservancy a cheque for $811 last Friday afternoon. Linda Jackson, chair of the conservancy’s corporate outreach, said it is a national historic site that is two centuries old and that Seasons has helped out in the past.

Jackson pointed out that Robert and Debra Honor, also conservancy members, have presented information sessions at Seasons regarding the Belle Vue property. She added Seasons is a silver sponsor for the Sept. 24 “Puttin’ on the Ritz” gala being held for Belle Vue at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Staff and residents from Seasons present a cheque for $811 to the Belle Vue Conservancy and Amherstburg Community Foundation last Friday afternoon.

Staff and residents from Seasons present a cheque for $811 to the Belle Vue Conservancy and Amherstburg Community Foundation last Friday afternoon.

“We can’t thank you enough for all of your help,” Jackson told Seasons staff.

Rick Daly, manager of programming and development with the town of Amherstburg, represented the Amherstburg Community Foundation and thanked Seasons staff and residents for their generosity as well.

Heather Vandenham, leasing manager at Seasons Amherstburg, said the money was raised at the retirement community’s Canada Day festivities.

“There were raffles and donations made through that event,” said Vandenham.

Many Seasons residents remember Belle Vue from some of its former uses and they would like to see it used again.

“They grew up here,” she said. “They love this community as much as we do.”

Seasons also tries to keep history alive through its residents, Vandenham added, and that residents want to keep history alive in Amherstburg.

To make a donation, people can visit

New spin on photo booth at Canada Day festival to benefit patrons, businesses alike



By Jolene Perron


During this year’s Canada Day celebration, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for a new photo opportunity.
PhotoFLAIR will be making their Amherstburg event debut during the July 1st Canada Day festivities, and will also be returning for the Canuck It Up Festival Aug. 5-6.

“Our vision and use of PhotoFLAIR is meant to market and advertise events and organizations of all types,” explained Paul Boeykens, Lead Systems Analyst at Conceive-IT Corp, the parent company of PhotoFLAIR. “From fundraising awareness, weddings, festivals and sports organizations, the PhotoFLAIR podium’s versatility is exceptional. We create custom 4×6 printouts with the events logo and contact information or any other relevant information they want to share with people. Podiums can also record and collect data.”

Layout 1
This won’t be a traditional photobooth however, with a staged backdrop and fun props. Instead, the backdrop is the scenery behind the subject. Boeykens explained it gives an opportunity to have friends or family photo-bomb the photo an make the experience much more fun and spontaneous. He added however, there are retakes available for those with unexpected guests in their photo.

When the subject receives their photo, a QR code will appear at the bottom which can be scanned with any QR reading app, and it will redirect the patron to a website filled with local businesses.

“We have taken part with numerous charitable events in Windsor-Essex, and the idea of fundraising or awareness made it difficult for us to ask for a fee from the organizers,” said Boeykens. “So in the beginning we donated our time to help out. However, business as it is, we have costs on our end we have to meet. So the idea of adding a QR code on each printout, which leads to local service providers was a way we could cover our costs while still promoting charitable events at no cost. For a minimal fee, we promote local businesses through the QR code. When scanned by visitors they are brought to a webpage noting businesses within the area, and it is here as well that those businesses may offer specials, coupons, promotions or discounts. So, not only does the event still get advertisement, guests receive a keepsake souvenir and now businesses can get an opportunity to create business.”

Unlike other companies, PhotoFLAIR doesn’t ask for a phone number or e-mail, which Boeykens explains protects their guests’ privacy.

Once the photo is taken, guests have it in seconds. Boeykens said it’s a win-win for everyone, guests, businesses, and the event.

“Last year at one event we attended, the organizer said it best by saying ‘you guys deal in emotion, and creating memories,’” said Boeykens. “It is true when you see how happy families or friends are when they have a memory in hand.”

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.

Amherstburg celebrates Canada’s 149th birthday in style


By Ron Giofu


Canada’s 149th birthday was celebrated in grand fashion Friday as the town hosted its annual Canada Day celebration.

The town’s celebration was held at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada with the Ice Cream Festival occurring next door at Toddy Jones Park. The festivities began in front of the fort and along Dalhousie St. with the Canada D’Eh run/walk.

Canada Day fireworks explode over the Detroit River.

Canada Day fireworks explode over the Detroit River. (Photo by Jolene Perr0n)

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey pointed out it was her first Canada Day as the Member of Parliament and said she thought of what makes Canada special as she was preparing her remarks.

“To me, what makes us unique is the diversity of our country,” said Ramsey.

Canada Day fireworks explode over the Detroit River.

Canada Day fireworks explode over the Detroit River.

Ramsey said people should think of who they are as a country and the values they share as Canadians.

“We stand united in the true north, strong and free,” she said, prior to leaving the stage and firing off a cannon.

Calling it a wonderful day, Essex MPP Taras Natyshak noted that Canada shares the longest unguarded border in the world with the United States but added there are a number of things that make Canada unique. He pointed out that Canada has strong partnerships with other countries such as the United States and also shares democracy and the rule of law.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey fires the cannon during the opening ceremonies of the Canada Day festivities at Fort Malden National Historic Site.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey fires the cannon during the opening ceremonies of the Canada Day festivities at Fort Malden National Historic Site.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, joined on stage by councillors Diane Pouget and Leo Meloche, said when he thinks of all that is going on in the world, he is happy to be living in “the greatest country in the world.

“We are free to assemble like we are today,” he added.

DiCarlo also thanked Parks Canada for allowing the celebration to be at Fort Malden and also thanked the MP and MPPs for always coming out to Amherstburg’s Canada Day celebration.

For more photos from Amherstburg’s Canada Day celebrations, please visit our Facebook album.