BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: The Scugog Township Action Committee, a group of involved citizens who share concers regarding increasing taxes in the Township, held a meet and greet for local municipal candidates on Sunday, July 27.
The backyard event, hosted by Cheryl Helm at her Castle Harbour Dr. home, attracted the attendance of numerous curious and likeminded residents, as well as two prospective Ward Councillors and hopeful mayoral candidate Tom Rowett.
“The STAC is just a group of Scugog residents who feel there is a need for change in our community,” explained Ms. Helm. “We formed a research group to look into financial issues in the Township, and wanted to share ideas and information.”
Ms. Helms stated that her concern began when the property tax on her lakefront home increased by 52.5 per cent over the last eight years, and that her questions to the current council have been met with concerning responses.
“After we did some research and went to Council meetings, we realized it’s time to put some new choices into the coming municipal elections,” said Ms. Helm. “Each candidate doesn’t share the same agenda, but we have the same goals in mind - the betterment of our community.”
Don Kett, running alongside Bill McKee to replace incumbent Ward 3 Councillor Jim Howard - had this to say.
“I am a 40 year resident of Scugog Township, and have spent the last 27 years living on Scugog Island - if elected, I plan to advocate for the rights of the people living on Scugog Island.
Some of my first steps have been setting up a buyer’s group for propane and fuel oil, in order to get energy and heating prices down.
Islanders have some of the highest taxes in the Township, and we don’t recieve the luxuries or benefits we deserve.
Scugog Island is different than anywhere else in the Township, and has its own special needs and requirements - I’m running as an Islander, for the Islanders.”
Jennifer Back, who is challenging incumbent Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson for his seat, voiced the following opinion.
“Raising a family in Port Perry has been wonderful, but I am growing increasingly concerned about the decisions made by our current Mayor and Council.
I would like to work on improving roads, sidewalks and infrastructure, and bringing taxes in-line with inflation. We’re looking at another major increase next year, unless we can find efficiencies and save more money more effectively.
In Ward 5, the current Council is planning on building a park and recreation area, but they haven’t accepted input from any of the local residents. We don’t have many children in this area, and spending thousands of dollars on concept drawings for a park that was deemed ‘too expensive’ is a waste.
I am a wife, mother, community volunteer and business owner - looking to lower taxes and stop spending what we don’t have.”
Tom Rowett, hopeful candidate for Mayor of Scugog Township, is running against incumbent Mayor Chuck Mercier - at the event, he expressed his ideals of action for Scugog.
“Right now, local businesses and residents are being driven away by high taxes. We have to make it affordable for residents to live and businesses to operate in Scugog and Durham Region.
We need efficiency, accountability and respect for the taxpayers and their hard-earned money. We need to encourage businesses to grow by cutting red tape and thinking outside the box.
Our residents, business owners and farmers have some great ideas - I think the Township needs to build a platform that supports open and honest communication of ideas. If elected, I want to change policy so that Council can more easily take suggestions, and put them into action faster.
I am the co-owner of 1st Financial Centre, and last year my wife and I bought Homestead Furniture and Appliances, which has been in this community since 1976. I will bring my knowledge as a financial planner and a small business owner to the table to address the concerns of the residents of Scugog.”
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: The Blackstock Recreation Centre and Arena, a longstanding heritage symbol and gathering place for the residents of Blackstock, was given an update and some TLC in recent months - along with a promise to retain and showcase it’s 101-year-old heritage as a troop billett and armory.
During the official re-opening on Thursday, July 24, a crowd of local residents and dignitaries enjoyed a tour of the facility.
Scugog Township’s Manager of Recreation and Culture Craig Belfry conducted a short ceremony, which included greetings from MP Erin O’Toole, a speech by a Trilium Fund representative, Mayor Chuck Mercier, Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten, and Scugog Accessibility Advisory Committee Chair Edie Forsyth who presented a Tip of the Hat to the Blackstock Fair Board. Paul Arculus, local historian and author, gave a brief presentation about Richard Cartwright for whom the Township was named after.
New features include a new back-up generator which gives the hall capacity as an emergency shelter for over 200 people in times of flooding, fires or power outage, and a multi-purpose room which can be rented as meeting or presentation space, bringing increased revenue to the Township. As well, all doorways and washrooms in the building have been made accessible in both the arena and the main hall.
One major problem which sparked the renovation was the lack of a proper ventilation hood in the Blackstock Hall’s kitchen, which made the cooking or preperation of grease-laden foods (such as friers, griddles and pans) dangerous, limiting its use for banquet events.
The previous kitchen also lacked fire suppression equipment, which further increased the danger of grease fires and violated the Ontario Fire Code.
“We’ve installed a brand new line of ranges, ovens and coolers, including a new ventilation hood to bring everything up to code,” said Mr. Belfry. “People who use the hall can pretty well cook or prepare anything they would like to - I’d say that Blackstock has the nicest kitchen in Scugog Township!”
The updated venue now features a bright, clean and white astetic, with brick wall accents inside the entrance and main hall. The location is now much more versatile for decorations or events, and has brought the hall up to modern stylings, while retaining a nod to its heritage uses.
The original building began its life in 1913 as the Blackstock Armories, it has since taken life as a rifle range, the gym for Cartwright High School, a municipal office and the home of the Blackstock Fair.
The renovation project began with an estimated budget of $420,000, which was expanded by $60,000 last year for the purchase of the back-up generator.
“Along the way, we ran into a lot of challenges and problems that we didn’t know about, like several layers of lead paint on the original brick, and asbestos in the ceiling,” said Mr. Belfry. “It’s expected that a century-old building like this would have some issues, and we dealt with them safely and carefully.”
Due to the toxic substances used in the Blackstock Recreation Centre’s original construction and numerous updates through the decades, the majority of the interior had to be gutted. Unfortunately, Mr. Belfry explained, this included the original brick work.
“We tried several chemical peels and manual labour to clean the bricks up - but the contamination risk remained,” said Mr. Belfry.
The interior walls have been resurfaced with drywall and accents of reproduction brick, displaying the brass chandeliers that have hung from the tiered cieling since the early 1990s.
“We’re looking forward to a longevity of at least 30 years with this building,” said Mr. belfry. “The Blackstock Hall and Arena will continue to serve the residents of Scugog Township for many years after I retire.”
Mr. Belfry said that the next step for Blackstock will be replacing the out-of-date ice plant for the Blackstock Arena’s ice pad - noting that the freon coolant which the rink currently relies on will cease to be produced in 2020.
Meetings and a steering committee will be set up to bring in a modern ice plant, such as the one in Scugog Arena.
“This project will be good for community. I live here and my kids use the arena and hall, so I’m glad we’ve made it safer and given it a much needed refresh,” added Mr. Belfry. “It’s important to remember our heritage and keep it visible. We didn’t want to tear the building down, and I’m glad that we can continue to embrace the structure and keep it in-use.”
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
SCUGOG: For the 86th year, the Caesarea Regatta returns to the shores of Lake Scugog this weekend, bringing fun and games for all ages to the lakeside community.
The event takes place from Friday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 3 in Caesarea, with a full slate of activities at the Beacon Marnia and in Putsey Park.
The event kicks off on Friday at 6 p.m. with a surf or turf dinner and dance at Beacon Marina aboard the Woodman, with seatings at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for this 19+ event are $35 (advance sales only) and can be purchased by contacting Shari at 905-447-3865.
As well, on Friday at 6:30 p.m., is the annual Township vs. Firefighters volleyball competion at Putsey Park.
The fun continues on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. with the costume parade from the Fire Hall to Putsey Park, with this year’s theme being Best Decorated Bed.
A dog show, dunk tank, feats of strength, races and a wide assortment of games for all ages round out the slate of activities for Saturday.
Sunday begins with a pancake breakfast at the Fire Hall, running from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.
The fishing derby follows at 10 a.m. at Beacon Marina, with canoe and kayak races getting underway at 11 a.m.
The Lake Scugog Championship Sailboat Race sets sail at 2 p.m., and sailboats must pre-register at the Marina at noon, and pay a $10 entry fee.
Throughout the weekend, donation bottles will be at Sunnyside Market and the Lakeside Restaurant. As well, tickets for the Toonie Table will be available until 4 p.m., on Saturday.
For a full listing of all of the events at the 86th annual Regatta, please visit www.facebook.com/LakeScugogRegatta.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Oyez, Oyez, Oyez! M’lords, M’ladys, Port Perry’s waterfront and downtown will be home to the 30th annual Ontario Provincial Town Crier Champsionships on Saturday, August 9 and Sunday, August 10.
Held in conjunction with the Scugog Farmers’ Market and the Brits on the Lake car show, residents and visitors are invited out for a full day of fun and revelry amidst ringing of bells and delightful cries of an age-old tradition.
Featuring 17 Town Criers from across Ontario, and North Durham’s own back-to-back-to-back champion Bill McKee, two full days of competition will be a sight to see and hear.
“This year, I decided on three themes to compliment Scugog,” said Mr. McKee. “We’ll each be writing a cry about farmers’ markets, microbreweries like our Old Flame Brewery, and something to do with British culture for our car show.”
To kick off the events, there will be a small parade into Palmer Park at 10 a.m. on August 9, with the competition concluding inside the tasting room of Old Flame Brewery at 2 p.m. On Sunday, August 10, the third and final cry will take place in front of the Port Perry Post Office on Queen St., at 11 a.m. - with an award ceremony afterwards.
“I’m very fortunate to represent both Scugog and Uxbridge Townships,” said Mr. McKee. “We have a very close-knit community in North Durham, and I’m proud to showcase it to fellow Town Criers from across the province.”
Often sighted wearing his signature tri-cone hat and swinging a large brass bell, reigning champ Mr. McKee will deliver the first benchmark cry at the competition, which all other Criers will be measured against - but he wasn’t always top dog of Ontario’s Town Criers, as Mr. McKee has played many roles in life.Until retiring in 2010, Mr. McKee was a 31-year veteran Constable in the Toronto Police Service, but sought a less stressful career after decades of service.
Indeed, Mr. McKee owes, or blames, his career as a Town Crier to his brother David McKee - a veteran of the competition circuit and current crier for the City of Brantford.
“I watched him cry for years and years, and I had a strong voice from doing some work with the Canadian Opera Company. He got me interested, and I say how much fun he had,” explained Mr. McKee. “One day, at the Uxbridge Art in the Park festival, I started doing cries and announcing the names of all of the businesses and artists there - it just kind of stuck.”
Mr. McKee bested his brother in his first competition in Plimpton - David didn’t let Bill win for another two years - but now that they both have some chops, they retain a healthy competitive spirit.
Uxbridge Township took on Mr. McKee as their official Town Crier in 1999, and Scugog Township followed suit in 2002 - utilizing his special services in Township events year-round.
“People often ask me what makes a good Town Crier. The truth is, it’s all based on the clarity and quality of one’s voice, and the words they choose to use to represent themselves,” said Mr. McKee. “The fancy clothes and friendly personality help as well - anyone can hold a scroll and yell, but it’s the passion that makes people smile.”
In competition, each Town Crier is also judged on their deportment while entering and exiting the stage, and whether or not they fit within the required 100 to 125 words. The cry must be fanciful and enjoyable, but not overly complicated - short, sweet, and to the point.
“Crying is a lot of fun, and you can’t let it stress you out. When I pen the cry, I just try to have fun with it and the words flow naturally,” said Mr. McKee “The best part is the children, they always run up to me to get their picture taken with ‘the pirate,’ I just laugh and tell them that I don’t dress like a pirate, pirates dress like Town Criers!”
The term ‘Oyez’ which begins many of Mr. McKee’s cries can trace its roots to French word ‘Ecoutez’ or ‘Listen.’ The Town Crier was often emplyed by local government or royalty, to issue edicts and notices. Announcements of tax hikes in Europe stemmed the phrase ‘don’t shoot the messenger,’ as it was a federal offence to harm a Town Crier, an agent of the Crown.
“Oyez is not so much asking if people can hear me, it comes from an older practice when many people weren’t able to read the newspaper - the Town Crier would instruct everyone within ear shot to stop and listen to the annoucnement,” said Mr. McKee.
“It takes a lot of Fisherman’s Friend to be a Town Crier - if you think you’re going to get sick, you don’t! All of the Town Criers across the world are a little bit nuts, just like me,” said Mr. McKee, whose favourite closing passage is a loud cry of ‘God Save the Queen, and God bless single malt!’
The Ontario Guild of Town Criers and Mr. McKee would like to recognize the support of a few choice local supporters, including the Baagwating Community Association, Township of Scugog, Ontario Guild of Town Criers, Vos’ Your Independented Grocer for their reception room, Old Flame Brewery, Parkwood Lodge No. 695, Meta 4 Gallery, Scugog Historical Society, Port Perry BIA, Scugog Chamber of Commerce and, Ocala Winery.
Mr. McKee would like to invite men, women and children of all ages to enjoy a day out in Port Perry on Saturday, August 9 and Sunday, August 10 - and hopes that they have as much fun as he does. Ear plugs recommended, but not required.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Stock up on napkins, because Ribfest is returning to Elgin Park this weekend for three days of mouth-watering barbeque.
The event runs through the weekend, with gates opening at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 19. On Saturday, the festivities continue from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., with the event wrapping up on Sunday, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
This year, attendees can chose from four great ribbers offering an array of barbeque styles: Horndogs, Crabbys, Texas Rangers and Sticky Fingers.
In addition to the great food, there will also be entertainment throughout the weekend at the Rotary Bandshell, along with a beer garden. As well, Astro Amusements will be on hand to provide activities for children throughout the weekend.
New this year is an out of this world attraction as Ben Davidson brings his mobile observatory to Elgin Park. This interactive display offers interactive education on the solar system and the science behind how the sun affects our weather – from hurricanes to power outages!
Admission to Ribfest is free, and attendees can visit www.uxbridgeribfest.com for more information.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: After more than a year of debate on the subject, the new firearms by-law was passed by Uxbridge councillors this week with a vote of 6-1.
The matter, which had consumed a great deal of council's attention over the past year, sought to alter the hours of operation at Uxbridge Shooting Sports, located on Conc. 4, as well as limit the amount of noise coming from the property.
The matter was to be dealt with at council's meeting on June 23, but Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger was successful in his bid for additional time to investigate the matter before it was brought back before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, July 14.
"I must admit that it is noisy," commented Councillor Ballinger. "It's a lot noisier than I every thought. I was hung up on the decibel levels and licensing."
Throughout the debate on the matter, Councillor Ballinger frequently commented about wanting to keep Uxbridge Shooting Sports viable and functional as it has been since being established on Conc. 4 in 1965.
""If the club will survive another 50 years, they'll have to do their due diligence," added Councillor Ballinger. "I would not want to live there with that noise. I hope that by next year that are safeguards in place to reduce the noise."
Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy also thought that the club will be able to meet the goal of 60 decibels emanating from the site by the deadline of Aug. 31 of next year. Another sound study will be done at the site next year to ensure compliance with the by-law, paid for by Uxbridge Shooting Sports. Township staff will review the situation next year to ensure its meeting all of the requirements of the by-law as well as reviewing any work done on sound buffering.
"There's no doubt in my mind that the gun club can achieve those goals," said Councillor Molloy. "I hope they can stay and prosper at that location for another 50 years."
In a recorded vote, all councillors except for Ward 4's Jacob Mantle voted in favour of the by-law. Councillor Mantle would later take to Twitter to voice his frustrations with what he saw as a far-reaching by-law.
"Voted against insane Shooting Range By-Law. Only one to vote no, interesting that I am the only councillor not running again... #election," Councillor Mantle said on the social networking web site.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor noted that the by-law process had been long and left many feeling frustrated at times, but thanked everyone involved once the by-law was finally passed.
"This was a long and arduous process, and I would personally like to offer my thanks to all that took part," commented Mayor O'Connor.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Air Marshal Landing are a group of best friends with common interests and a shared passion for music, and their own uncomprimising creative license - "We play what we play, because we want to play it."
Cory Adrian, Matt Simmonds and Graham Drummond are not necessarily a band, but rather, friends who happen to make music together.
This trio never ceases to amaze with their heartfelt and relatable lyrics, upbeat and uplifting melodies, and uncanny ability to sound like a stage full of musicians on different instruments.
Air Marshal Landing is absolutely infectious. Halfway through any song, you'll find yourself humming along to the music, and finding your own meaning and lessons from their stories.
When Cory, Graham and Matt were asked to explain just 'who are Air Marshal Landing?' they responded with - "There's three of us - we're either a very debilitated octopus with three hands, or we could make up half of an ant."
This off-the-wall answer set the mood for the rest of the interview, and gave insight to how this band operates.
Air Marshal Landing don't strive to make hit-single pop albums or fit into a genre for radio play, they create and shape music for the sake of it - trying to reflect their own thoughts, memories and feelings. It's always fun and there's never a dull moment.
The product which comes out at the end is pure, unadulterated nostalgia with a feel-good centre - halcyon days and lonely nights packed full of metaphors, which every single listener can relate to. In their songs, day dreams and realities become one - and lessons are learned with a bitterweet twinge that says 'It'll all be okay.'
The band admits that, when asked about their formation, they like to tell interesting and sometimes scary stories to explain their trio - including the tale of Mountain Man Graham snatching his bandmates from a hiking trail, and enslaving them as travelling musicians.
In reality - they met, made some music together, and thought it sounded great.
"Cory and myself [Matt] grew up in Uxbridge, we both played instruments together a few times in church and high school," said Matt. "After I went off to University of Western Ontario, I met Graham. Then, Cory and I needed a drummer, so we drafted this mountain man from Waterdown, Ontario and thought he was awesome. It was just synergy."
Matt described the coming together of Air Marshal Landing as a sort of merging of two worlds - his days growing up carefree in Uxbridge with his close friend Cory, and the brave new world he saw and felt while away at school.
Graham explained that all three musicians grew up playing in a smattering of very different bands and are all well-versed in music. At their outset, each musicians would often play in basements, in churches, at high school dances, and really anywhere that would give them a musical outlet.
Graham's first band was a hardcore group known as 'Cheery Rainbow Sunshine Fish' - he supplied the screaming and death growls. In Air Marshal Landing, he likes to play drums, melodica and synths and is billed as 'Lead Hummer'.
At the core of it all, becoming musicians was never a concious decision for these three - it was simply an obvious outlet for their creativity, a destiny that couldn't be avoided.
Whether jamming in a garage or crammed in a van on tour, Air Marshal Landing enjoys playing a simple game.
The rules of 'The Word Game' dictate one point for a well-spoken or properly utilized large word, and lose a point for the incorrect use of a word, or when one is just made up.
"Words are very interesting and important to us," said Matt. "In our songs and at our shows - it's not uncommon to hear us spout awesome sounding words in songs, just because they sound right."
Cory and Matt are usually tied for the lead, and Graham mostly has a negative score. Graham is not a big fan of The Word Game, but tries his best.
"I think our overarching event as a band was recording our new album 'You Used to Be Me' at The Farm recording studio in the wilderness of British Columbia," said Cory. "We spent a month in the woods, surrounded by nothing but ourselves and our music - we worked hard and grew closer to the music."
Until recently, Matt spent his entire life in Uxbridge. He remarked that while most young people want to leave the town as soon as they come of age - he was always comfortable in his hometown.
"We have an amazing sense of community and great musicians - everyone is very supportive of artistic endeavors," said Matt. "I moved to Toronto when I got married because the music scene is much larger there - it's the place to make it as a full-time musician and keep busy."
Air Marshal Landing unanimously agreed that their favourite local band to play with is Juice, one of the many who took the stage at the Uxbridge Music and Arts Festival this past weekend.
"They're really nice guys, and very high energy," agreed Graham and Cory. "It's more fun to work with musicians who are just humble, regular and nice guys - Juice is on the level."
For a group of friends, all three members of Air Marshal Landing like to keep very different company. When asked who they would bring to a desert island, the answers were anything but similiar.
Graham chose his fiancee Kristin, Cory would like to be regailed with tales by J. R. R. Tolkein, the author of Lord of The Rings, and Matt would be carefree - as long as he had the company of a professional nacho chip and cheese maker.
The conversation quickly degraded to arguing whether or not they could drink the saltwater, and if dopplegangers were allowed.
The band says that their greatest roadblock to the artistic pursuit seems to be a lack of free time to write lyrics, record melodies, and explore their own creativity.
The musical muse isn't something that can be switched on or switched off at will - it strikes suddenly and without warning, often when a guitar and notepad are nowhere in sight.
"We write our songs with personal metaphors - othertimes they aren't based on anything but what comes out of our mouths," explained Matt. "We'll start with something like 'a Spaghetti Western in Space' and then it just gets away from us - the music takes on a life of its own," added Cory.
As a whole, Air Marshal Landing's favourite pastime is admittedly watching Downton Abbey - they have no tattoos, don't sleep in, and are the exact opposite of stereotypical rockstars - they create honest music for honest people.
"We don't classify the people at our shows as just fans," said Matt. "They aren't faceless crowds. Every single person who claps and sings along are our friends - and we appreciate the support given over the years. There are too many to list, but you know who you are."
Air Marshal Landing will be performing in the upcoming Uxbridge Celebration of the Arts, this September.
To hear Air Marshal Landing's new album, EPs or singles, to get in touch with the band, or to check out their entertaining music videos, please visit them on-line at www.AirMarshalLanding.com, or www.youtube.com/user/AirMarshalLanding.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: For most, retirement offers the chance to relax, but for Uxbridge's Conrad Boyce it has brought a flurry of activity over the past year that is showing no signs of slowing down in the months ahead.
A mainstay of the local arts community for almost two decades, Conrad has been involved in many projects as an actor, director, producer, teacher, playwright, conductor, singer, set designer/builder, lighting/sound technician, editor, publisher and writer.
With four theatre projects either on the go or upcoming, Conrad has further broadened his portfolio by recently declaring as a candidate for Ward 4 Councillor in this fall's municipal election.
Originally from Edmonton, Conrad moved to the area from the Yukon in 1995, and it didn't take long for him to establish connections in the Uxbridge community.
"I had just moved from the Yukon with a friend. We were living over near Sutton and our landlord mentioned that if we wanted a true taste of small-town, rural Ontario, we should check out the Uxbridge Fall Fair," Conrad recalled sitting on the sun-drenched deck behind his home in Uxbridge. "In the fair book, there were audition notices for the Uxbridge Chamber Choir and a play with the Uxbridge Players, so I auditioned for both and got in the following week. Then, Donna van Veghel mentioned that she was looking to take a year off from conducting the youth choir, so I took that on as well. So, within two weeks of arriving, I was in a play, in a choir and conducting a choir."
In the summer of 1997, Conrad married his wife Lisa. That year, Conrad also founded the Uxbridge Musical Theatre Company, which would later merge with the Uxbridge Players to form OnStage Uxbridge, the premier community theatre company in the township. Since arriving in Uxbridge, Conrad has been involved in some capacity with more than 60 different stage productions.
In 1998, Conrad expanded his theatrical endeavours, and took on the job of putting together a summer theatre program at the Academy Theatre in Lindsay.
"I basically lost my shirt on that one, so I spent the next two-and-a-half years working in the communication department for the Ontario College of Nurses in Toronto until my debts were paid off from the summer theatre. And by that point, I'd had enough of the big city, so for the next four years I worked as a supply teacher and freelance journalist."
Then, in 2005, Conrad was at the forefront of the group that brought the Uxbridge Cosmos to the community, drawing inspiration from The Standard in launching the community newspaper.
"The Standard was definitely an inspiration for the Cosmos, and it started with a lot of help. Myself and others felt that the Times-Journal had become estranged from the community and was no longer a community newspaper. We knew right from the start that we would only distribute in Uxbridge and our stories would only focus on Uxbridge and its residents," Conrad explained.
After eight years of sharing Uxbridge stories with the community, Conrad sold the paper to its current publisher last year and embarked on a new literary venture as he penned his first book: Jewel on the Hill, the story of Uxbridge's Foster Memorial.
"Retiring from the Cosmos let me explore a lot of things I'd had on the back burner such as my book on the Foster," said Conrad. "I learned an awful lot and it was a great pleasure to work on."
Over the past year, Conrad has performed two different one-man plays based on the works of Robert Service - 'El Dorado' in the fall of 2013, and 'The Bohemian' which began its run at the Firth Line Church at the Uxbridge Historical Centre on Friday, July 11.
Based on "Ballads of a Bohemian" by Robert Service, the play was written by Conrad in 1980 while living in the Yukon in collaboration with Bonnie Lawrence, who contributed the music. The play tells the story of a fictional American poet named Stephen Poore, struggling to make a living in Paris in the years 1913 and 1914, who joins up as an ambulance driver when the First World War breaks out, and will run alongside the 'Uxbridge at War' display at the museum on select weekends throughout the summer.
Performances of 'The Bohemian' are scheduled for July 18, 19, 22, 26 and 29, continuing the next month with shows on Aug. 5, 12, 16, 22, 23, 26 and 29. Tickets for the show are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at Blue Heron Books, which is located at 62 Brock St. West in downtown Uxbridge.
"The show kind of went to the bottom of my desk drawer for more than three decades," Conrad admitted, "since Bonnie left the Yukon shortly after we wrote it. But now a couple of factors - the centennial of the Great War, and the availability of a collaborator as excellent as she was - seem to make it an ideal time for its revival."
While Conrad admits that many of the plays he has written were for him to perform, one notable exception is 'Maud of Leaskdale' which he penned in 2011 specifically for the centennial conference in Leaskdale to commemorate Lucy Maud Montgomery's arrival in the community, and stars Jennifer Carroll as the beloved Canadian author.
The show, which runs on Thursday evenings at the Historic Leaskdale Church throughout July and August is now in its third season, and has been performed in Toronto and Charlottetown.
"Nobody tells Maud's stories like Maud herself, so I decided to make it a one-woman show," Conrad explained. "It's wonderful to be able to bring it back for a third season and have it performed outside of the community. Local heritage is the thing that drives me. In fact, most of the shows I've written have been history-based"
Rounding out Conrad's impressive list of current theatre projects, he is slated to direct the play 'Miracle Worker' at the Oshawa Little Theatre in February of 2015.
A passionate supporter of all things Uxbridge, Conrad recently decided to take on another challenge when he declared as a candidate for the job of Ward 4 Councillor. Conrad does have past experience on municipal council, as he served on City Council in Whitehorse from 1982 to 1983. As well, he feels that his experience covering council as a member of the press will give him a head start should be elected in October.
Bringing additional tourism to the municipality is one of the key issues he would like to address if he is successful in defeating current challengers Fred Bryan and Dave Granic in the election on Oct. 27.
"I want to correct the impression that Uxbridge is just the Trail Capital of Canada, because it's so much more. We've got so much to offer in Uxbridge Township to the travelling public, but no one seems to know about it. I'm really passionate about this community and want to give back."
BEJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: One of Port Perry's busiest traffic lights could see pressure taken off as early as next year, as the Ministry of Transportation takes a closer look at the Hwy. 7A and Simcoe St. intersection.
"The Ministry has confirmed that they are hiring a consultant to assess Hwy. 7A, in an effort to increase capacity," reads an e-mail from the MTO to Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew. "This is part of their planned rehabilitation project between the limits of Queen St. and Island Rd."
The rehabilitation project, formally proposed for the 2016 budget, is also on a contingency schedule for 2015- if tender prices come in below estimates.
Regional staff report that they are currently reviewing the traffic signal timings, and that monitoring will be underway as soon as the labour disruption at the Region is resolved.
After corresponding with the MTO and Region on the matter, Regional Councillor Drew said that she is "happy that after a number of years working on this issue, the Ministry has taken some action."
She reports that things don't move very fast at the Ministry level - but is glad that the issue is now on their radar.
"It appears from their latest update that the MTO will not extend the turning lanes from the Simcoe St. and Hwy. 7A intersection to Water St.," said Regional Councillor Drew - referring to early plans of painting new lines to tide over drivers, until construction could begin.
"I continue to work on the signaling at the 7A and Simcoe St. intersection and I have a meeting next week at the Region on this issue," added Regional Councillor Drew.
UXBRIDGE: The township recently announced that Main St. North will be undergoing extensive repairs next year.