Tender for new Belle Vue roof approved



By Ron Giofu


A new roof is coming to the historic Belle Vue house.

Town council approved a tender from Robertson Restoration to repair the roof on the 200-year-old Dalhousie St. mansion. It is the first in many steps to restore the home, with members of the Belle Vue Conservancy believing it will spur future fundraising.

“The Belle Vue Conservancy has spent a little over a year collecting funds,” said conservancy treasurer Michael Prue.

Prue said they collected – between what they have on hand and what has been promised – about “a third of a million (dollars).” By restoring the roof and having action at the site, Prue believed that will spark fundraising efforts as the public will see something is being done.

“It has been a little more difficult than in the beginning to raise funds,” Prue admitted. “People want to see action.”

Prue said the current roof continues to leak and that has led to additional water damage in the home. Such water damage can lead to even more “enormous” repairs, he believed, as he urged council to accept the tender. The tender is valued at $258,400 plus HST.

“This is not going to open Belle Vue,” Prue added, but he said roof repairs will show people in Amherstburg and beyond that the town is serious about preserving the historic property.

“There are some naysayers,” Prue noted, but believed seeing scaffolding go up will help silence doubters.

“People will say ‘look at Amherstburg’,” he said.

A look at Belle Vue, as seen July 2017. (Photo by Paul Hertel)

The Belle Vue Conservancy has applied for federal grants to assist in its fundraising efforts and is hopeful of positive results.

“When the building is complete, it will be a tourist draw,” Prue predicted.

Prue added he hopes Belle Vue will be used as a conference centre but that decision is up to town council.

“We think we can raise a lot more when council decides what purpose it is going to have,” added Prue.

CAO John Miceli added the next step will be to replace the windows.

“This is one of the greatest sites any small town will have,” Miceli said of Belle Vue.

In his written report to town council, Miceli stated: “The 2018 Capital Budget includes $325,000 for the Belle Vue Restoration project. Project funding is based on receipt of $250,000 from donations and the balance from the general tax levy.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreed that this was only the first step in restoring the building but was optimistic.

“This is a very important first step in stopping the deterioration,” said DiCarlo.

Prue also pointed out a pair of upcoming fundraisers, including the May 1 “Music for Belle Vue’s Renaissance” event held at Christ Anglican Church, in partnership with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. There is also the May 27 “Amherstburg Rhododendron Garden Tea Party” to be held in King’s Navy Yard Park.

For more information on the Belle Vue Conservancy, including its upcoming events, visit To donate, people can also visit

Local church gets new roof as part of ongoing restoration



By Ron Giofu


A historic church is undergoing more restoration work with more work planned for the future.

Lighthouse Church has a new roof thanks to donations and the work of a roofing company that is comprised of members of the pastor’s family.

The pastor – Dr. Adrian Ninaber – said the church received funding from the Baptist Building Fund to help with the new metal roof. Lighthouse Church received a grant of $12,200, half of which they have to pay back. They also raised $38,000 through fundraising.

“When I came here, I think we had $10-11,000 in the roof fund,” said Ninaber.

Ninaber said they have been receiving help from the entire community, including an anonymous $5,000 donation.

“That kind of blew us away,” he said.

A Leamington church also donated $1,000 and other donations have been collected from people simply walking up and agreeing to help.

“It’s just amazing the money that is coming in,” said Ninaber.

The church, which was built in 1875, still has its original cedar shake roof on it and the new roof will go over that. A previous metal roof that had been repeatedly patched has been removed.

“It’s good to get things done and show the community we’re not dying,” said Ninaber, who said a recent service had 60 people in attendance. “We went from a church with a ‘For Sale’ sign up and a dilapidated roof to a church that is growing with a new roof.”

Dr. Adrian Ninaber, pastor at Lighthouse Church, stands outside the church as a new roof was being put on. The new roof is part of ongoing restoration work being performed.

Lighthouse Church is attracting enough people, he said, that alternative measures have had to be used to find more parking for parishioners.

“It’s a nice problem to have,” said Ninaber.

The church, which offers Sunday services at 10:30 a.m., has also replaced two doors on the building and will soon be installing new windows to replace some that sustained damage several years ago.

“We’re going to have them replaced in the next few weeks,” Ninaber said of the windows.

Lights on the steeple were also recently replaced and painting will take place around the steeple once better weather hits. The community room was also renovated as were washrooms.

“Little by little, bit by bit, we’re getting it up to speed,” Ninaber said of the church building.

Once building upgrades are completed, Ninaber said the church wants to take a greater look at community projects. He said he wants Lighthouse Church to be an integral part of the community.

“I want to focus on what the needs of the community are so we can get behind it and help out,” said Ninaber. “We want to reach out to the community and help with its needs.”

Lighthouse Church is located at 266 King St., at the corner of Gore St. To reach them, call 519-962-9525, e-mail or visit

St. John the Baptist Church holds Christmas concert to raise funds for new roof



By Jolene Perron


After spending $150,000 on a new roof for the church and the rectory, St. John the Baptist Parish was looking for a way to help ease the weight of the cost when a local group of artists approached them.

Titled, “A Joyful Christmas,” the concert has been played at a number of churches in the area. Daniela Marentette, organizer with Alex Leigh, said they have been trying to help out churches in the area bring in money for a number of reasons.

“We approached Father (Brian Jane), and Father was very open to it so that’s why we are here,” explained Marentette. “We are trying to help out as many churches as we can because they are in need. I am blessed with a gift God gave me, so I’m hoping I can give back to the community.”

Christine Baribeau (right) sings “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” with Dave Banwell during their Christmas concert, “A Joyful Christmas” Dec. 17 at St. John the Baptist Parish.

The group consisted of Lillian Scheirich as concertmaster with WSO, Leigh as a baritone, Marentette as a spinto soprano, Dave Banwell as a tenor, Christine Baribeau as a soprano and Anna Zaidman as a pianist. The group performed an array of songs, from classic Christmas tunes such as “O Holy Night,” “Mary Did You Know,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” to more eclectic songs such as “Gesu Bambino,” and “Adeste Fidelis.”

“Usually we have the Windsor Symphony Orchestra come in this time but they aren’t coming in this year for the first time in many years, so this seemed to fit since it’s a Christmas concert,” explained Father Brian Jane. “I think it’s a good opportunity for us to experience their particular skills and music. We haven’t heard them before, I haven’t heard them as a group, I have been looking forward to it.”

Daniela Marentette sings “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” during her group’s Christmas concert, “A Joyful Christmas” Dec. 17 at St. John the Baptist Parish.

Father Jane said the new steel roof has already been installed on the church, while they are currently working on installing it on the rectory. This is the first fundraiser they have had to specifically offset the cost of the roof. He said the parish has been looking forward to the concert.

“I feel like it’s great because it’s not only helping these churches that are in need of the funds but also it helps bring music back into the community which is something I think has been kind of deteriorating over the last few generations or so,” said Leigh. “It seems like the arts are being considered less and less important and it’s very nice to see an opportunity to bring it back to life in the community, so to speak.”