The House

Fort Malden Heritage Fair a combination of recent events



By Ron Giofu


Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada presented its first “Heritage Fair” last weekend, but it was a combination of events that people have experienced before.

The event saw military re-enactors and encampments, a “trade zone” with blacksmiths and potters, cannon firings, entertainment and more with interpretation officer Alex Dale noting they tried to fit in a cultural theme as well.

Dale noted that Fort Malden has held Military Heritage Days for over two decades and there was an aspect of that in the two-day Heritage Fair. There was also a display from Mark McGuire and his antique bicycles and a steam engine from the Essex County Steam & Gas Engine Museum.

Joelle and Brynn Goegebeur from the Canadian Great War Society were at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada’s Heritage Fair the weekend of Sept. 29-30.

“What we decided to do is to expand it to include culture and heritage,” he said. “We’ve invited several museums and cultural organizations.”

Many Amherstburg museums were invited along with the local cadet corps and United Empire Loyalists with other museums and organizations from around Essex County also invited. Dale said that was a hit with teachers, as there was an education day last Friday with over 200 students. The teachers enjoyed the fact that students could experience a number of different museums all in one place, Dale added.

Dale explained that they usually do these events in August but when the “Rendezvouz” event was held last year, Fort Malden decided to keep it in September as part of the Culture Days weekend.

“It’s an event where we’ve taken a number of events and kind of combined them,” Dale said of the Heritage Fair. “It is a good opportunity to bring local heritage groups together.”

A number of Fort Malden programs were also offered from the cookhouse to the barracks, he noted, but added they are always looking to do new projects and events. He noted the Escape Room Festival as an example of a new way of attracting the public to Fort Malden.

Tina Ferrari takes aim during an archery demonstration as part of Fort Malden’s Heritage Fair Sept. 29.

The next event at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada is the Candlelight Tours. That event is scheduled for Oct. 13 with tours running at 6 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. Advance registration is required.  For tickets, please call Fort Malden at 519-736-5416, or e-mail Cost is $12.10 per person.

The House Youth Centre is bringing its “Haunted House” back to Fort Malden Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27 from 6:30-10 p.m. each night with the last admission being 9:40 p.m. That event features spooky scenes by local students and is a fundraiser for the House Youth Centre. No pre-registration is required for the House Youth Centre “Haunted House” as tickets are sold at the door. Tickets are $9.80 with half of the proceeds going to The House.

For more information on Fort Malden or its programming, visit



House Youth Centre hosting event for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month



By Ron Giofu


The House Youth Centre is hosting an event this Friday as part of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The House is teaming with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for Friday night’s event, which sees doors open at 5:30 p.m. Program director Jessica Jarvis said between 6-7 p.m., there will be guest speakers talking about warning signs, how to get help and the impacts of suicide. There will also be an opportunity for people to ask questions and obtain resource material.

From 7-8 p.m., there will be speakers discussing how to navigate the emergency response process. Jarvis said speakers will include representatives from the Amherstburg Police Service, CMHA and Teen Health Centre among others.

There will also be additional resources and wellness and affirmation exercises throughout the night.

“This is an open, community event,” said Jarvis. “It’s for everyone.”

Jarvis said The House wanted to team with the CMHA for such an event due to issues centring around mental health seemingly escalating in recent years. She said “it’s a very worthy cause” and that mental health issues are more prevalent than many people realize.

“It affects more people than you know,” said Jarvis.

The evening is also to let people know that suicide impacts more than just the person considering it or actually carrying it out. It also impacts families and first responders as well, she said.

“Knowledge is power,” she said. “It’s a scary, uncomfortable conversation to have but it’s a conversation that needs to be had. A lot of people suffer in silence.”

The House Youth Centre is located at 247 Brock St., at the corner of Gore St., in Amherstburg. For more information, visit or call 519-736-6811.


House Youth Centre welcomes new program co-ordinator



By Ron Giofu


The new program director at the House Youth Centre is new to the position but certainly not new to the House.

Jessica Jarvis has succeeded Michelle Laframboise as the new program director, starting her new duties July 30. However, she has 13 years of involvement with the local youth centre including being a leader and a head leader.

“I started volunteering because my husband went through as a member and a leader,” said Jarvis. “I got asked to become a leader a got hooked. It’s an amazing place.”

Jarvis believes the House allows the youth that go through it to be their “genuine, authentic selves” and the leaders learn from them just as much as the youth learn from the leaders. She said her husband Kevin still has a lot of friends from his days at the House and she has made many friends herself.

“When the (program co-ordinator) position came up, I wanted to be part of something unique and awesome,” said Jarvis.

The House sees groups from Grades 9-12 go through it on weeknights during the school year with various topics discussed that impact youth of that age. Jarvis said they do a lot of work around affirmation and building trust with the youth and also have yearly trips to Oxley Retreat House. Youth and their leaders stick together throughout their high school years, she stated.

Jessica Jarvis is the new program co-ordinator at The House Youth Centre. She began her new duties July 30.

“It’s been going on for 47 years so something is going right,” she said.

Among the newer programs is the LGBTQ Connect program with Jarvis stating the House wants to bring in mental health professionals for a suicide prevention night, including workshops and speakers.

“I’m hoping to continue to grow the work all of the people did previous to me,” she said. “(The House) is a diamond in the rough. There’s no other program like it. You build great bonds with leaders and other members. We have access to resources here people might not know about. We can build up (a young person’s) confidence. It’s a safe place to come.”

Approximately 50-60 youth participate during the school year with 10-12 leaders per group. Jarvis said more people are always welcome. The youth come from all different backgrounds and there are also a number of fun activities as well.

“We also volunteer heavily within the town,” said Jarvis, with one of the upcoming events being the “Haunted Fort” at Fort Malden National Historic Site later this fall.

Jarvis added she is excited to be in her new role, but acknowledges “I have big shoes to fill.”

“I’m grateful I got the job,” she said. “I hope to do the House proud. I’m here for anybody.”

The House Youth Centre can be reached through its website at or by calling 519-736-6811. The House is located at 247 Brock St., at the corner of Brock St. and Gore St.

House Youth Centre kicks off second annual grocery giveaway


By Jolene Perron


“Who wouldn’t love tearing out a years worth of groceries from their budget?”

Member of The House Youth Centre fundraising committee, Wes Thrasher, was intrigued by a concept of a shopping spree, an idea which was tabled in a board meeting at The House. He ran with the thought, and brought it to Sobeys owner Rennie Rota who brought forth a similar idea, which took away the possible burdens and mishaps that a shopping spree may bring. They came up with The Great Grocery Giveaway, which is a raffle for a year’s worth of groceries.

The idea of The Great Grocery Giveaway, is people are able to purchase raffle tickets for the chance to win free groceries for a year. The prize is awarded as 52 $100 Sobeys gift cards, which can be used at any Sobeys, Fresh Co., or Foodland or associated grocery store in Ontario, for a total prize of $5,200.

All proceeds raised through the raffle go directly to The House Youth Centre.

­Ashley Marchand (left), activities coordinator for The House Youth Centre, stands out front of Sobeys Amherstburg with assistant store manager
Chris Boufford (center) and House Youth Centre board member
Wes Thrasher (right) with their sign, which will be on display at their table during ticket sales, on now until November 18.

“Last year we printed 4,000 tickets, we sold out well in advance of our deadline. It was a tremendous success,” said Thrasher. “Not only that but myself and many others fielded questions like ‘What is the House?’ ‘What does the House do?’ It was an opportunity for many of us involved to speak to the positive impact the House has on our local youth. My recollection is monies raised from last years event exceeded $10,500.”

This year, there are 4,500 tickets available for $5 each or three tickets for $10. Volunteers will be selling the tickets at a booth location in the Amherstburg Sobeys until November 18. The winner will be drawn at The River Lights Festival Nov. 18 at 6 p.m.

“My hope is for this year’s raffle to be another huge success,” said House Youth Centre activities coordinator, Ashley Marchand. “Not only does this raffle help support The House, but it spreads awareness of who we are and what we do to members of the community. We received tremendous support from the community last year. I feel this is a great fundraiser to start with as the new activities coordinator. We have a great prize and it is supporting a great cause. The Great Grocery Giveaway has been off to a great start so far and I have a wonderful fundraising committee as well as amazing volunteers who have really helped get this year’s event up and running.”

House Youth Centre calling all alumni for reunion BBQ



By Jolene Perron


“Tracking down 40+ years of people is a very tricky and overwhelming task. Especially since all of the contact information we have for these alumni are the contact information they listed as teenagers.”

House Youth Centre activities coordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart explained since they only have two full-time staff members, the idea for the get-together has taken well over a decade and it’s often been something that’s been put on the back burner but they have finally just decided to go for it. By contacting a few alumni from the 70s and 80s that live in the area, they were able to start a bit of a domino effect and word of mouth has helped them to reach more.

“A lot of our program revolves around the idea of history, tradition and community,” said Vander Vaart. “I think it’s important that our current students get to see that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, they’re part of a ‘family’ that expands across decades.”

It is also equally important, she said, for the alumni to know The House is still around and doing mentoring youth in the exact same fashion they did when they were teenagers. While many things have changed since The House was founded in 1971, the fundamental needs of the youth have not.


The very first Family Reunion BBQ is being hosted at The House September 23 for anyone who was involved in The House during the 70s. Vander Vaart said they are putting together a bunch of fun ways to show off some memories from the 70s, and a portion of the evening will even be dedicated to sitting down together for a traditional House meeting.

“This reunion is the first, but not the last,” said Vander Vaart. “In September 2018 our reunion will be for the alumni from the 80s, in September of 2019 it will be for the 90s alumni, September 2020 for those involved from 2000 t0 2010, and in 2021 everyone will be invited for a massive reunion to celebrate out 50th anniversary.”

Coinciding with these reunions, a couple of The House’s volunteers are kick starting a “senior group” this fall, which will be open to anyone who has ever been involved in The House, may they have graduated in 1971 or 2016. Vader Vaart explained the group will be meeting on the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. for about three or four hours.

“These nights will host a traditional House meeting for anyone looking to reconnect,” said Vander Vaart. “It’s basically an adult version of our youth programs. Our youth program is based on social and emotional health, identity development, and community engagement. The need for thought provoking conversation on these things doesn’t stop when we hit 18.”
Vander Vaart said the goal for both of these initiatives is to reach The House alumni and let them know The House is still here, and everyone is still welcome.

Anyone who is interested in gathering more information about the reunions or the senior group can call The House at 519-736-6811, or e-mail
“At The House, we like to call ourselves a family,” said Vander Vaart. “That family isn’t just your grade level group. It’s 40+ years worth of people who have had their life changed for the better in this building.”