John Schlarbaum

Thousands attend Art by the River


By Ron Giofu


The 52nd annual Art by the River got off to a wet start but recovered nicely as the weekend went on.

The show, the largest fundraiser of the year for the Gibson Gallery, reported to have about 2,000 fewer people than last year due to early weather woes.

Saturday morning wasn’t ideal for Art by the River due to rain and wind, but things turned around by afternoon with crowds coming through to enjoy the over 150 artists and crafters that turned out to Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

However, according to Gibson Gallery board member and office administrator Bonnie Deslippe, the foul weather early on still didn’t stop some from attending.

“We had people lining up to come in,” said Deslippe.

People were coming through with umbrellas, she added, even though some crafters and artists were still in their tents.

Maria Jose paints a portrait during Art by the River last Saturday.

“I think there are people who really look forward to this every year,” she said.

The venue and the fact there are some one-of-a-kind items lends to the success of Art by the River, Deslippe added.

The only damage from the Saturday morning storm was pottery that was broken at one of the tents while another tent at the “Little Artists Workshop” blew away.

“We are still tired but very happy with the way the weekend turned out and are already planning next year,” said Deslippe. “A huge thankyou to all our dedicated volunteers. The event would not be possible without them and the support of the town and staff of Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.”

Local author John Schlarbaum was attending again this year, in what is the tenth anniversary of the release of his book “Barry Jones’ Cold Dinner.” He had many of his other titles marked down to either $5 or $10 to mark the occasion.

“Unfortunately, it’s the one book that’s sold out,” he said.

Schlarbaum said he has been working to record a song that he wrote several years ago and is also trying to get his novella “Aging Gracefully Together” in production as a play.

“My hope is to get a local theatre group to put it on in the future,” he said.

Calista Papaefthimiou compete in the live art competition.

Schlarbaum states he is also in the early stages of a new book project involving his P.I Steve Cassidy character.

Art by the River is enjoyable, Schlarbaum added, as he said he meets people that he has seen there and at other shows.

“I end up meeting a lot of fans and new readers who hopefully enjoy the books,” he said.

Ross Stuart of Kingston entertained on the ukuleles he made. He said it was either his third or fourth year at Art by the River.

“It’s a great place to be,” he said. “The people are fabulous. The town is great.

The 52nd annual Art by the River was held Aug. 25-26 at Fort Malden National Historic Site. Char Pare of Amherstburg shows some of her work.


Stuart said he has been making his instruments for 12 years. He travels to this part of Ontario twice per year with the other stop being Art in the Park in Windsor.  He said it makes sense to do the same shows as people who thought about it or tried his instruments often come back to buy the next time they see him.

“Each piece is unique,” he said.

Stuart added he makes his instruments in groups and calls it “a labour of love.”

Dan St. Pierre and wife Carol of Amherstburg attended and created some of their “Miracle Magnets” magnetic therapy jewellery.

“We’ve been doing this since 2004,” said Dan. “When we got started, friends of ours picked up the methods in Texas and brought it up here.”

Dan explained that they make the jewellery themselves and that they ship as far as Kincardine and Ohio.

“We enjoy doing it. We love it,” he said, adding that people drop by their booth at Art by the River “just to say hello.” They have made friends at craft shows and renew old friendships.

Dan added that they’ve noticed that Art by the River doesn’t let just anyone in as a vendor.

Crowds go through Fort Malden National Historic Site during Art by the River.

“They want the best and it shows,” he said.

Char Pare of Amherstburg said it was her seventh Art by the River and she doesn’t do any other show.

“I think the quality of the show is extremely high,” she said. There is talent when going from tent-to-tent and “I think it’s encouraging to people.”

Calista Papaefthimiou and Trinity Hallett were two of the students competing against other students in a live art competition even during the storm. The duo, representing Sandwich Secondary School, came in third place behind Kaitie Lessard and Sallma Majthoub of St. Clair College and Wayne State University respectively and Sophia Fallea and Mandy Brunet of St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School Emily Roe and Laura Fontaine of the University of Windsor were honorable mentions.

“It’s cool,” said Papa, “to paint in those conditions.”

For additional photos, view our photo album.

Local author launches latest mystery novel



By Ron Giofu


“Don’t let them kill me.”

John Schlarbaum was told that by a patient at Windsor Regional Hospital during his job as a patient transporter and Schlarbaum, also the author of several mystery novels incorporated that into the opening chapter of his latest book. That book – “Abandoned” – centres on the character Jennifer Malone and was launched last Thursday night at the Gibson Gallery.

“I just wanted to do something after working on the book for two-and-a-quarter years,” said Schlarbaum, of the launch. “I wanted to launch it in Amherstburg.”

Schlarbaum has worked part-time as a patient transporter at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Metropolitan Campus for three years and attributes his sometimes brief contact with people from all walks of life, as well as the staff, for making him a better writer.

“I could never have written ‘Abandoned’ without my experience at the hospital. I wouldn’t have known the procedures required of transporters, nurses, E.R., O.R. and I.C.U. staff, as well as housekeeping personnel duties,” he said. “Even the physical layout of Met Hospital assisted me in visualizing where the action would take place. My goal is to get the reader involved with the plot, its characters and the environment in a way that feels real and believable.”

When the patient uttered the line “don’t let them kill me,” Schlarbaum knew he had the opening chapter to his latest novel.

“To lend a high level of authenticity in my characters and their actions as the plot unfolds, I always incorporate my job experiences into my novels,” Schlarbaum stated. ”In previous mysteries, my 20-plus year career as a private investigator, as well as working in the television industry, helped my readers understand fields they may not have been acquainted with in their lives. I suppose I really do follow the edict: write what you know.”

Amherstburg author John Schlarbaum stands with the cover photo of his new book “Abandoned” during his book launch Oct. 26 at the Gibson Gallery.

Schlarbaum has written three mysteries centering on the Steve Cassidy character and another thriller entitled “Lasting Impressions” but decided to bring back the Malone character after a six-year absence. The last book with the Jennifer Malone character was “A Memorable Murder.”

“Abandoned” was the subject of a recent online funding campaign through Kickstarter, with it surpassing the $3,000 goal. It was 101 per cent funded, Schlarbaum reported, and that allowed people to pre-order the book and allow him to recoup some costs and the same time.

“For me as an author, it is very gratifying that people are pre-ordering the book before it is actually available to sell to the public,” he said.

People from Amherstburg, LaSalle and Windsor came to the book launch and Schlarbaum noted the pre-orders came in from as far as Hawaii.

The photo on the book’s cover also has an interesting story behind it, as Schlarbaum found it in a random online search and, after some digging, found the photographer’s Flickr page. The photographer – Miguel Ángel Avi García – lives in Spain and allowed him to use it for the cover.

Schlarbaum added that the book will be available through his website – – as well as area bookstores. He was selling it for $20 last Thursday and plans on appearing at craft shows around Windsor-Essex County over the next several months, including the Holiday Gift Shop at the Gibson Gallery Nov. 23-Dec. 10.

The new book also contains 16 discussion questions at the back of it that book clubs can use when talking about Schlarbaum’s latest novel.

Local author donates to Little Free Library, raising funds for new book


By Ron Giofu

A “Little Free Library” location that started in front of a Hainer Cr. home is continuing to promote reading and literacy with a local author now contributing to those efforts.

The “Little Free Library” (LFL) that was brought to Amherstburg in 2015 by Carolyn Dopson and Carol Owen has now received a donation from author John Schlarbaum. Schlarbaum explained that he was approached by Owen at Art by the River in August and they agreed the donation of his first book “The Doctor’s Bag” and his three of his mystery novels – “When Angels Fail to Fly,” “Barry Jones’ Cold Dinner” and “Off the Beaten Path” – would be made to the LFL.

The “Little Free Library” that sits in front of the home of Carolyn Dopson (left) received a donation of four books written by local author John Schlarbaum (right), including three “Steve Cassidy” mystery novels. Schlarbaum is also fundraising for his next book, the latest mystery involving the Jennifer Malone character.

“I really like to support anyone in our community who is doing such a great job,” said Dopson, who hosts the LFL in front of her home at 14 Hainer Cr.

The “Little Free Library” adds to a “sense of community” and Dopson said there have been people from as far as Paris, Ontario that have come and exchanged books. The LFL movement was founded in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 by Todd Bol as a tribute to Bol’s mother, who was a school teacher who loved to read. It was established as a non-profit organization in 2012 with Bol and Rick Brooks being co-founders.

Dopson added the concept is to leave a book or take a book but “there’s no obligation to do so.” She added she screens all books to ensure they are appropriate.

Schlarbaum believed having a book in hand is a “completely different reading experience” and that while all of his books are available on e-book, there are many who prefer hard copies.

The Amherstburg author is also set to officially release “Abandoned” in November, the second mystery novel based around the character Jennifer Malone. While the three mystery novels Schlarbaum donated to the LFL are based around the Steve Cassidy character, the new book is a return to Malone’s character.

The four new books donated by local author John Schlarbaum are seen in the Little Free Library at 14 Hainer Cr.

The other book featuring Jennifer Malone was “A Memorable Murder” and that was released six years ago.

“To me, this has been a two-year project,” Schlarbaum said of his new book “Abandoned.”

His previous release was “Lasting Impressions” and Schlarbaum noted he did a Kickstarter campaign for that book to assist with printing costs. It also served as a way for people to buy the novel so that is why he is currently doing it again for “Abandoned.”

Schlarbaum said he needs to raise $3,000 by Oct. 19 at 11:59 p.m. and has raised over $1,400 to this point.

“They are pre-ordering the book,” he said. “They are actually getting something for their pledges.”

If a person or a book club wants to order multiple copies of “Abandoned,” the cost of the book starts coming down, he added. A pledge of $15 gets the person an e-book while $20 or more gets a paperback copy. There are other incentives if people are interested and they can visit, search John Schlarbaum and click on the link for “Abandoned” for more information.

The direct link to Schlarbaum’s current Kickstarter site is

“The best gift you can give, I think, is a good book you can pass to a good friend,” added Dopson.

Local author part of anthology published by Sarnia-based writer



By Ron Giofu


A new “invitational anthology” published by a Sarnia author has involved other area authors, including one from Amherstburg.

Margaret Bird – a long-time author, poet, editor, reviewer and publisher – has launched the anthology “From This Day Forward” with 27 authors from across southwestern Ontario. One of those authors is Amherstburg’s John Schlarbaum.

“About a year ago, I was contacted by Margaret Bird, a publisher from Sarnia, about submitting a prose poem for a book to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday,” explained Schlarbaum. “Her idea was to approach 27 writers, authors and poets in southwestern Ontario from specific regions. She first spoke with Christine Reichert at the library, who suggested me to represent Amherstburg.”

The unique aspect of this project is each entry highlights a historical event in Canada and uses a word that is no longer used today

“My entry, titled, ‘A Thirst for Adventure 1917–1921’ covers prohibition in British Columbia,” said Schlarbaum. “My forgotten word was ‘Ecstasiate v 1823-1857’; to go into ecstasy; to cause to become ecstatic.”

Delving into a new style of writing was of interest to Schlarbaum.

“I was very intrigued by the idea of composing a prose poem, as I am known mainly for mystery and thriller novels. This, however, was one of the project’s main objectives – to have creative authors from all backgrounds write something out of their comfort zone. I was also very honoured to have been selected to represent Amherstburg – a community specifically picked by the publisher due to its important role in this country’s 150 year history.”

John Schlarbaum holds a copy of “From This Day Forward,” an anthology put together by Margaret Bird of Sarnia. Schlarbaum is one of 27 authors from southwestern Ontario that contributed to the project and attended the recent book launch. (Submitted photo)

John Schlarbaum holds a copy of “From This Day Forward,” an anthology put together by Margaret Bird of Sarnia. Schlarbaum is one of 27 authors from southwestern Ontario that contributed to the project and attended the recent book launch. (Submitted photo)

Schlarbaum traveled to Sarnia for the launch earlier this month. For his entry, he said he was offered historic events that took place in three different provinces.

“I chose to write about prohibition in British Columbia from 1917-1921, as the themes and actions of rumrunners and entrepreneurs mirror much of Amherstburg’s colourful past,” he said. “After researching the period, learning about the important places and people involved, as well as the political climate at the time, it took about a month to write the poem. Thankfully, I have a very good friend who edits poetry books and she was able to assist me in making the poem look and feel authentic.”

Schlarbaum said he had never worked on a project like that before but “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope readers are taken back in time with my retelling of an era that is part of Canada’s rich history.”

As it is a milestone year for Canada, Bird said she wanted to be involved.

“I knew that I wanted to publish a very special anthology in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday and, because I am always involved with anything that presents an opportunity of ‘building community bridges’,” she said. “I decided that an invitational anthology would be just what I needed for this special occasion. Also, three of my contributing authors are First Nations authors, so through my ideas and connections, the plan was borne to have my big launch event at the beautiful First Nations Aamjiwnaang Community Centre in Sarnia.”

Bird said all of the contributing authors were just as excited as she was about this publication. She said many of the authors travelled a long distance to be at the launch and some of them stayed overnight.

“I knew many of the authors, already, but also contacted major libraries in Ontario, to enquire about any authors living in their areas. There were a few humourous grumbles in the beginning as I challenged all the authors’ normal writing genres, and gave them their topics and province or territory. However, the results were all amazing and I’m so excited to have made all these new connections in the literary world,” she said. “I researched every place very carefully and decided we needed a poem and a short story about each province and territory. Some of the topics I chose were perhaps lesser known, to bring a curiosity to all the readers, and a whetting of their appetites that will encourage them all to want to know more! “

Bird said she has always been intrigued by old words no longer used and has always wondered, “why did people let them go?” She asked the 27 authors to incorporate some of these words into their poem or short story.

“Three of the main languages of Canada – Ojibwe, French and English – are acknowledged, by the words of the national anthem, on the pages of this anthology,” she added.

When readers arrive at the final page of this anthology, “I hope you are all feeling thoroughly exhausted from all the travelling you have experienced, within these pages, taking you across this great land but, at the same time, feeling full of optimism, motivation and inspiration for a future that will fulfill all our dreams of one nation working together, inclusive of all our cultures and traditions.”

Bird added she is very proud of the anthology and all the authors who so willingly contributed to this challenging publication.

“This celebratory year will be remembered by us all and the legacy of which will be passed on to our future generations,” said Bird. “We cannot change history but all those who are now Canadians, whether born here, or immigrants, can contribute to building ‘community bridges’ to help connect all people, no matter where they live or from whence they came.”

The anthology is $20 and is available through Bird either by e-mailing her at or messaging her on Facebook with the shipping details. Total cost, including packaging and mailing is $26 within Canada and $31 to the United States.

Schlarbaum is continuing to write as well, as his next book is currently in the works. His next novel “Abandoned – A Jennifer Malone Mystery” is scheduled to be released later this year.

Local author makes donation to The House youth centre


By RTT Staff


A local author has given back to The House youth centre.

John Schlarbaum was selling his books in front of the Waterfront Ice Cream Parlour on Canada Day and, soon after, at an arts and crafts show in Blenheim. From every book sold, he donated $1 to The House.

Schlarbaum ended up raising $50 but he decided to match the donations to bring the total to $100. He presented the cheque to House program co-ordinator Michelle Laframboise last Friday morning.

“The House can always use the money for its programs,” said Schlarbaum. “This is a way of giving back to the community.”

Author John Schlarbaum presents a cheque to The House program  co-ordinator Michelle Laframboise.

Author John Schlarbaum presents a cheque to The House program
co-ordinator Michelle Laframboise.

Schlarbaum said a friend of his works at The House – formerly known as The House of Shalom – and he became familiar with the work that is done there for local youth.

Laframboise said the donation will go into a general account for programming.

“It will always go for something good,” she said. “We are always grateful for any donation.”

While programming at The House has adjourned for the summer, Laframboise said members are still quite active as they volunteer at area festivals and events as well as do other volunteer work within the Amherstburg community.

“Our regular programming is out for the summer but we’re just as busy during the summer,” she said.