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.



Campaign underway to educate rural landowners about fireworks



By Ron Giofu


A pair of local residents are trying to educate people about safe and considerate usage of fireworks.

Rosemary O’Connell, the former owner of Nova Equestrian Centre, and Randy Fasan, who owns horses at his Concession 6 North home as well as operator of Back ‘n’ Time horse drawn vehicle service, have teamed up to try and encourage people to be careful and courteous when setting off fireworks.

“We’re trying to educate people to be careful around fireworks,” said O’Connell.

O’Connell said horses and other animals can be startled by the noise. She added that a potential fire hazard can be created as sparks can fly through the air and land near dry grass, crops, hay and barns.

“It just takes a spark near a barn,” said O’Connell.

Fasan, a retired Windsor firefighter, said of the campaign said that they are trying to simply let people know some safety tips and that people around them could be impacted.

 Rosemary O’Connell and Randy Fasan are asking that people be safe and be courteous if they are setting off fireworks.

“It’s basically trying to make the public aware and to be considerate of people who have livestock,” said Fasan. “It doesn’t have to be next door. It can be half a kilometre away.”

Fasan agreed with O’Connell that errant sparks can potentially land in dry grass and fields or near old sheds or barns.

“If you are going to do fireworks, just be considerate and go talk to the neighbours,” he said. “All it takes is one spark to land in a dry pile of hay.”

Not only can horses and livestock be scared by loud fireworks, dogs can also act abnormally when fireworks are being set off, he added.

Tips that O’Connell and Fasan are sharing include making sure people have a large, clear space to set up fireworks, check the wind direction and speed before setting off fireworks near farms or stables, follow the safety distance directions printed on the fireworks prior to lighting them and to notify barn owners and neighbours beforehand so animals can be safely secured before the noises start.

O’Connell said she was inspired to start the campaign after the barn fire that killed 16 horses at Sunnybrook Stables near Toronto in May. Fireworks had been a suspected cause but was has not officially determined as such.

“We’re not against fireworks and the fun of it,” she said, adding they are trying to be positive and simply conduct a public awareness campaign.

There were cards printed with fireworks safety tips on them that have been dropped off at veterinarian offices, horse barns, dog groomers and have even gone as far as London and Guelph.

Fasan added animals can be startled by the simplest things and that they are encouraging people to simply let their neighbours know if they plan on having a fireworks display.

“Be aware, be considerate, be knowledge and be safe,” he said.

Amherstburg celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday with awards, cake and fireworks



By Jolene Perron


The celebrations at Amherstburg’s Fort Malden National Park are always very much anticipated, however this year the addition of 150 CanDo Awards of Distinction attracted even more people to the waterfront to help celebrate Canada and all of the amazing people in our town who do greatness every day.

To kick off the opening ceremonies and awards portion of the celebration, Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo read a letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Dear Friends, I would like to congratulate everyone who is being presented with the CanDo 150 Award of Distinction. Volunteers are at the heart of healthy and resilient communities. They are ordinary people who every day accomplish extraordinary things. I would like to commend the 150 volunteers of Amherstburg who are being honored today for their valuable contributions. You are all remarkable individuals who have taken the time, energy and skill to supporting the health and well-being of your fellow citizens. You can take pride in knowing that your efforts have helped to build a better society for us all. Please accept my best wishes, Sincerely Justin Trudeau.”

The Canada 150 CanDo Medals of Distinction hang prior to the start of the July 1 ceremony.

The Canada 150 CanDo Medals of Distinction hang prior to the start of the July 1 ceremony.

DiCarlo explained how this anniversary marked a very special occasion, in that they are able to honor 150 volunteers and residents of Amherstburg with the CanDo Canada 150 Award of Distinction, which was broken down into three categories – Service, Leadership and Legacy.

“Each and every one of you have made a significant contribution for your fellow citizens and to your community,” said DiCarlo. “You exemplify our community values and you have made a definite difference in the town of Amherstburg.”

Fireworks erupt over the Detroit River at the conclusion of the Canada Day festivities.

Fireworks erupt over the Detroit River at the conclusion of the Canada Day festivities.

Special events support coordinator for the town of Amherstburg, Sarah Van Grinsven said the Canada D’eh run kicked off the day with record numbers, and they even estimated an additional nearly 5,000 people coming to Fort Malden July 1. Top that all off with gorgeous weather, despite a couple drops of rain, and it turned out to be a “gorgeous day to celebrate a gorgeous country.”

“It’s all work that is because we love this country and we love to help the town celebrate,” said Van Grinsven. “Reading the nominations and learning all the greatness that is in our community was just heartwarming and half the time when I was at my desk reading them I had tears in my eyes about how great people are. There is nothing better than this, it is crazy rewarding.”

Canada Day-25

Canada Day activities in Amherstburg proved to be a family affair for many in the area.

Amongst the award recipients was The House Youth Centre’s activities coordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart. She said as a peer support mentor, she believes in the program and the people who looked out for her as a teenager, so she has always wanted to be able to do that for other people.

“I think that leadership is sometimes getting your hands dirty, and helping out in the community,” said Vander Vaart. “It’s really exciting and I am just very honored to be sitting here with all of these other people that I admire and I look up to who are just movers and shakers in Amherstburg, and I’m excited that some people think I belong there.”

Canada Day festivities gearing up for another year



By Ron Giofu


The town is gearing up once again to celebrate Canada’s birthday.

Canada Day is this Friday and the town is readying itself once more for the festivities. Visitor information centre manager Jen Ibrahim said there will be new things offered this year as well as some traditional entertainment.

The day gets underway with the Canada D’Eh 5K run. More information on that can be found at with the race to start and end in front of Fort Malden National Historic Site as it has been in previous years. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky will be feature on this year’s medal.

Fort Malden will be the site of the bulk of the activities, as it has been in previous years, with a kids craft tent, activities and trivia, activities with both the Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association and the Amherstburg Minor Soccer Association.

“They’ll be contributing to the day’s activities,” said Ibrahim.

2016 Canada Day Itinerary June 24

New this year is the addition of animal and bird-themed demonstrations and displays. At 10 a.m., the Kingsport Environmental falconry meet and greet and a birds of prey demonstration will be featured while Canadian Specialty Exotics will be on the Fort grounds.

“We have several talented entertainers performing,” said Ibrahim.

Entertainment this year will include musicians from the Kerri Brown Vocal Studio, the Catz Meow Dance Education Centre, Rebecca Mickle, Fresh Breath, Red and the Barron, Huttch with the featured act being the band Buck Twenty. The latter was formerly known as the Mike Ure Band.

The day is also scheduled to have an opening ceremony at noon, pony rides offered by Sarah Parks Horsemanship and superhero and princess appearances.

The day, as is tradition, will be capped off by fireworks over the Detroit River.

The Ice Cream Festival will also return Canada Day, with that coming back to neighbouring Toddy Jones Park.

“It’s a really nice complement to what we are doing,” explained Ibrahim. “It’s a family-oriented event and what kid doesn’t like ice cream?”

There will also be opportunities for people to find out what Fort Malden National Historic Site is all about, as the Fort will be offering a cookhouse soldiers’ stew from 12 noon-2 p.m.

“The Fort will be providing the opportunity for guests to fire a soldier’s musket,” added Ibrahim. “There is a nominal fee associated with that.”

Ibrahim said the Fort Malden mascot “Parka” could also make some appearances.

The River Lights Food Court will be selling food to the guests at Fort Malden.

“All the proceeds from the food court will go to the River Lights Winter Festival, another family-oriented event in our community,” said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim said the annual Canada Day festivities are not just something that whole families can take part in but it is an event that won’t break the bank either.

“It’s economical fun for the whole family,” she said.