Having the railway come through your town was usually the best thing that could happen to most villages in central Ontario during the latter half of the 19th century. However, for one small town, it proved to be the catalyst that started its decline into obscurity. Thompsonvillewas located on what is the now the 13th Line of New Tecumseth and straddled the Nottawasaga River. When ThomasThompson arrived in the area from Ireland in 1850, he was faced with a lot of hard labour to clear what was then a heavily wooded area so he could build a farm. Along with his sons, James and Martin, he cleared the land and created a farm.He eventually built a saw mill, a flour mill, gristmill, and a woolen mill – all powered by the Nottawasaga. He also named the newly built town after himself and it becameThompsonville. The town quickly attracted more settlers, including early pioneer families named Reynolds and English. Thompson was an enterprising man and confident that more people would come to the area, he surveyed the land into 26 lots. During this time, Tecumseth Township was seeing a lot of growth as people moved into the region. By 1850, a census showed the township population to be around 3,600 souls. The village continued to grow as more settlers arrived. 1851, a church was established with a building erected sometime between 1855 and 1860. Built as a log structure it wasn’t too long before it showed its age. new Canada Methodist church was built and opened on the 13th Line in 1880. A post office was opened in 1865 with John Schmietendorf as postmaster. Most of the immigrants were Irish and they made that known with the establish-ment of an Orange Lodge in 1875.In 1868, a new immigrant named William Train arrived in town. He established a new business just north ofThompsonville and built homes for his workers. Mr. Train called this collection of houses – you guessed it – Trainville. A rivalry developed between the two towns. That rivalry was taken up a notch when the Hamilton and Northewestern Railroad started laying tracks in 1877. For some unknown reason, the railway decided to create a flag station at Trainville rather than the much larger Thompsonville. The railway built a passenger platform and a siding to accommodate the mill. The railway realized their mistake just a few years later when Train’s milling business collapsed and the railway had to move its station toThompsonville. By 1880,Thompsonvillehad grown to a population of around 300 with 30 businesses operating in the town. Unfortunately, the railway that usually brought prosperity to a small town did the opposite forThompsonville. The railway helped the trend of large factories being created in bigger centres. Unable to compete with these larger factories, the village factory started to run into trouble. Craftsmen started to look for work elsewhere and other business people started to migrate to other towns. The final nail in the coffin was a fire that destroyedThompson’s mill in 1880. Within just a few years, the town had pretty much disappeared. There are a few of the original houses still standing and are private residences, as is the town’s hotel. Train St. is still there but is now flanked by modern homes. The Methodist church is long gone but the cemetery holding the remains of many of the original settlers is still cared for and is on the east side of where the town was. The sites where the mills once stood have been reclaimed by the land. Thompsonville remains as a nice rural setting with comfortable modern homes and the ghosts of long ago residents who once lived, worked, and played in a frontier town Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
MONTREAL — With spring just around the corner, people will soon be able to return to outdoor workouts, and with government restrictions beginning to lift in some provinces, they might even be able to go back to their usual gym routines. But for those who prefer guided workouts or aren’t ready to face the health risks of visiting a gym, there are ways to get many of the same benefits while keeping a tight budget. Throughout the pandemic, options for at-home workouts and other solo fitness offerings have proliferated. They include free, pre-recorded home workouts that require limited or no equipment, exercise bike rental programs at gyms and spin studios, and even private workout space available for rent. In many cases, these offerings are cheaper and provide more variety for your money than a traditional gym membership. Econofitness, for example, a major gym chain in Quebec, offers free at-home workout videos on its YouTube channel, many of which require no equipment. For people with paid memberships, which range from $10 to $34 a month, it also offers varying tiers of specialized programming, from pre-recorded workouts to live classes held over Zoom. “With the YouTube channel, you get very good at-home workouts,” said Renaud Beaudry, vice president of development for Econofitness. “It’s good to start if you’ve never worked out in a gym before.” Some online platforms cater to people with more experience with workout classes. Amanda Zweig, a Montreal-based personal trainer and spin instructor, co-founded a platform called FitFomo with other local trainers, selling pre-recorded workouts for $29.99 a month. The platform now regularly publishes content from five trainers and covers a variety of workouts, Zweig said, including videos for Pilates, barre, high-intensity interval training and strength training, which are uploaded twice a week. For people who are wondering how to choose from the many fitness platforms that are out there, Zweig recommended sampling different ones. Other subscription-based online workout platforms include YYoga at Home, by the Vancouver-based yoga chain YYoga, and virtual classes from R Studios, which has locations in Halifax and Dartmouth, N.S. “The best thing to do is to try out the free trial,” Zweig said, noting that most platforms offer customers the option of testing the service for one or two weeks. “You have to just try and see what works.” Lyndsay Schneidman, who subscribed to FitFomo after having worked with Zweig and another trainer on the platform before the pandemic, said she appreciated being able to do the workouts on her own schedule. She had sampled other platforms but liked having the variety of different classes from multiple trainers on FitFomo, she said. Some classes may require more equipment than others. Still, Zweig said that for under $100, people can purchase two sets of weights — one lighter, between one and five pounds, and the other between five and thirty — as well as a set of resistance bands, which should offer enough equipment for a variety of home strength workouts. Many gyms and spin studios have also been renting out cardio equipment on a monthly basis throughout the pandemic, for people who are looking for flexibility. The gym at Concordia University in Montreal, for example, had been offering spin bike rentals for $45 per month, its website says, but the program is currently sold out. For more equipment-intensive workouts, Silofit, a Montreal-based startup, offers its customers the ability to rent out a small gym space, fully stocked with weights and cardio equipment, where people can work out in private. Before the pandemic, the app was mostly used by trainers looking for space to work with clients, but now, around half of the people making bookings are just looking for a place to work out, said Wilfred Valenta, the company’s CEO and co-founder. Gym spaces range from 500 to 1,000 square feet and cost between $20 and $45 per hour, depending on the size of the space. Each of them is professionally cleaned in between sessions, Valenta said. The company will have 12 locations in Toronto and three in Montreal by the end of March, Valenta added. Even once lockdown restrictions are completely lifted, Valenta sees fitness continuing in what he called a hybrid model. That model consists of people doing some workouts at home and only going to gyms for specialized classes, personal training sessions, or workouts that require additional equipment. Schneidman said she is unlikely to buy another gym membership after the pandemic, saying that she was happy with her home workouts. Still, she may add in-person training sessions to her routine once it becomes an option, she said. “I was someone before COVID that absolutely hated home workouts,” she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
The company has built a pipeline of Korean original content including sci-fi thriller "The Silent Sea", reality series Baik's Spirit and sitcom "So Not Worth It", Netflix said in a blog post. Netflix, which had 3.8 million paid subscribers in the country at the end of 2020, has already invested nearly $700 million, feeding off the global popularity of the pop culture machine of South Korea. It has created more than 70 Korean-made shows, including the hit zombie thriller "Kingdom" and documentary series "Black Pink: Light Up the Sky" about the highest charted female K-Pop act.
NEW YORK — Robert Irwin has long acted as a voice for animals. Now he's actually voicing an animal. The 17-year-old son of the late conservationist Steve Irwin is lending his voice to a character on the popular animated children's TV show “Bluey.” “I’ve had so many hilarious and awesome and scary and fun and exciting adventures with animals. But I’ve never gotten to actually be an animal before or be the voice of an animal,” he tells The Associated Press from his native Australia. The Brisbane-produced “Bluey,” which centres on an eponymous 6-year-old Blue Heeler pup, her sister Bingo and their parents, Chilli and Bandit, has in just a few years grown into a worldwide phenomenon. The show has been praised for its ability to speak honestly about parenting and childhood, with realistic dialogue and creative games. It won an International Emmy Kids Award for best preschool program. It's available on Disney Channel, Disney Junior and DisneyNOW. In the upcoming season two episode called “The Quiet Game,” Irwin voices a clerk named Alfie on his first day at work in a toy store when Bluey, Bingo and Bandit come in looking for a birthday gift for a friend of the kids. The trouble is that dad has earlier persuaded his kids to play silently and their fierce commitment has now backfired, forcing him to use charades to figure out which toy to buy. That's when Alfie comes it, expertly translating the kids' clues. “Alfie, you rock star!” says dad after the right toy is picked. Irwin, who works at Australia Zoo, a 700-acre facility on the continent's Sunshine Coast established by his “Crocodile Hunter” dad, tapped into his knowledge of dingoes at the zoo and his own pet pug to get into character. “I feel like I have a lot to draw from,” he said. “I definitely know the mind of a dog quite well. And it was fun to sort of step into those shoes.” Irwin says Blue Heelers — also know as Australian Cattle Dogs — are an iconic breed from the outback who are smart and natural herders. “They’re really these amazing, intelligent, loyal working dogs,” he said. “If you’re going to adopt a Blue Heeler, you definitely want to be ready for for a very energetic dog.” Irwin, who was only 2 when his father died in 2006, has continued Steve Irwin's work protecting wildlife and education efforts about the environment, together with his mom, Terri, and sister, Bindi. He usually makes documentaries, but leapt at the chance to reach a different audience with “Bluey” and expand his family's voice. “For me, it feels like an immense honour and and a responsibility in a way, but not a burden in any sense. It feels like a privilege to be able to continue this legacy,” he said. “It feels like the most amazing honour every day to make sure that the incredible work that my mum and dad started continues, especially after we lost dad. I know that for us, our biggest priority was to make sure that everything that he lived and died for continues.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Snow caused havoc for drivers across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley this morning. Jennifer Palma has more on the criticism road crews are facing.
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
People 95 and older, as well as First Nations people 75 and older, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. "I’m personally very excited to be announcing that we’re expanding into general population, and I’m looking forward to decrease the age of eligibility continually over time," said Dr. Joss Reimer at Wednesday’s news conference. Calls for the newly eligible can be made beginning this week, with vaccines beginning next week. The vaccine call centre, at 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222) now has 2,000 lines, with more than 370 trained agents. The online booking self-serve tool is in its pilot phase, but will not replace the call centre. "We do know it’s possible the call centre will receive an overwhelming number of calls. We know Manitobans have been eager for this moment, and many of you are going to want to call right away," said Reimer. She asked that only eligible people, or the people calling for an elderly person, ensure they fit the criteria. These days, the wait time is less than a minute on the booking line, with a call-back option. If the wait time does increase, people can opt to have their call returned rather than waiting on the phone. Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead for the First Nation Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, explained that in the coming weeks, people who call to make an appointment and self-identify as First Nations would be transferred to a member of a specialized team. "These specialists will have additional training and cultural safety to ensure that they support callers and facilitate access to an appointment for those who are eligible," Anderson said. At first, self-identification will be the method by which First Nations can access the vaccine. But, in the future, because some people do falsely identify as First Nations — called "pretendians" — the system will be tightened up over time. "This is a phenomenon that I have been aware of and had to work through in multiple different contexts, but I never imagined that one of the harmful ripple effects would be that non-registered or non-status First Nation people would face the risk of not being able to get a vaccine at a time when they rightly should be able to," said Anderson. In the future, First Nations people in Manitoba will be asked to verify their identity, she added. "We want to make sure that this is done in a way that is safe for people and does not exclude our First Nations relatives, that because of the complicated and various processes of colonization, do not have Indian status cards," she said. If a First Nations person does not have a status card under the Indian Act, there will be an escalation process to deal with the more complex cases in a trauma-informed and culturally safe way. Anderson reported that, as of last Friday, 7,023 doses of vaccine have been administered on-reserve — four per cent of the eligible population received first doses, while .08 per cent are fully vaccinated. Off-reserve, 2.96 per cent of the population have received one dose and .07 per cent are fully vaccinated. Of Manitoba’s eligible population, 2.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. As Anderson explained, First Nations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — making up 54 per cent of new cases in the overall Manitoba population and 70 per cent of active cases, and the virus does affect them more harshly, as demonstrated by hospitalization rates. The median age of death in Manitoba is 83, while in First Nations it is 66. Meanwhile, full two-dose vaccination at personal care homes is set to wrap up this week. "This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Reimer, adding results are already showing. "While we are seeing decreases in rates in the community overall, and we know that there are strong public health measures still taking place in personal care homes, we’re also seeing quite a sharp drop in the number of outbreaks happening in personal care homes." Additionally, the focused immunization teams began first doses at congregate living sites in Brandon and Winnipeg on Feb. 19, with regional health authorities scheduling high-priority congregate living sites starting this week. There are 1,400 congregate living sites in the province. A list of those sites can be found at bit.ly/2P9KaWX The vaccination task force has looked ahead in terms of doses coming to Manitoba to the end of March — which Johanu Botha, co-lead for the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said will be 15,000 Pfizer doses weekly, up slightly from the roughly 12,000 doses it is receiving currently. "These are not large quantities," said Botha, adding all Pfizer doses go to supersites due to the storage requirements. There are currently two supersites — in Winnipeg and Brandon — with two more scheduled to open. The plan is to open Selkirk’s site in early March and Morden/Winkler’s in mid-March. Apart from the doses received from Moderna this week, next shipments of that vaccine are unknown. "We have just over 8,000 doses on hand remaining," said Botha, who added that those are tagged to complete vaccinations at personal care homes and support the congregate living campaign. Moderna is the vaccine of choice for First Nations, due to its less stringent storage requirement. That’s concerning, said Anderson. "We certainly want to respond to the data and have everybody — First Nations people living both on and off reserve — vaccinated as quickly as possible, especially as we start to think about heading into flood season, fire season, and what a large-scale evacuation at the same time as we’re dealing with the pandemic would mean," she said. But Anderson referenced Reimer’s news that Pfizer is looking into changing some of its shipping and storage restrictions. That may mean Pfizer can be used at First Nations in the future. "And I would say my experience has been both our provincial and federal counterparts are very willing to have that dialogue," she said. Anderson said it’s hard to calculate First Nation uptake of the vaccine at this time. "In general, in 61 of the 63, the anecdotal feedback that we got was that uptake was very high among those who were eligible. In one community, some further communication was needed, and support. Then uptake improved," she said. Anderson said the experience is much more in line with H1N1, which was higher than usual vaccine uptake. "We’re very encouraged by this progress." It was also revealed at the news conference that the Manitoba Metis Federation continues to be in conversation with the province for a vaccine program targeting vulnerable Métis populations. Reimer suggested Manitobans monitor the eligibility criteria website. The eligibility criteria will expand — sometimes quickly — by decreasing age, and can be found at bit.ly/3ssXBQb Additionally, 213 pharmacies and doctors across the province have signed up to deliver vaccines when more, with less stringent storage needs, are approved. The Wednesday technical briefing for media, which preceded the news conference, can be found at bit.ly/37LRuhP Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
TORONTO — A new report says Canada’s small businesses now collectively owe more than $135 billion as they struggle to survive the pandemic, a staggering amount experts say could hurt the country's economic recovery. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the average small business owner has accrued $170,000 in debt, with businesses in the hospitality, recreation and service sectors most indebted. Laura Jones, CFIB's executive vice-president, says the amount of debt being racked up by businesses has grown significantly over the last six months. She says the second wave of COVID-19 and the restrictions that came with it are putting a massive wrench in an already slow recovery for small businesses. The CFIB report says that three-quarters of business owners who have taken on debt say it will take them more than a year to repay loans, with 11 per cent expressing concern that they may not be able to repay their COVID-19 related debt at all. Taylor Matchett, a research analyst at CFIB and the lead author of the report, says businesses are more fragile now than at the beginning of the pandemic, and that every effort should be made to keep businesses open while managing the health implications of the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb, 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Almost one year later, there has been little progress in the case against a man accused of holding a girl against her will at a remote northern Saskatchewan cabin. There have been numerous adjournments and delays in the case against Aaron Gardiner, 42, since his arrest in April 2020 because he has gone through about five lawyers. Gardiner has either fired the lawyers or they have withdrawn from representing him. He had another appearance scheduled in Meadow Lake Provincial Court Feb. 22 and the matter was adjourned to March 1. Gardiner remains in custody and is charged with unlawful confinement, assault, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, proceeds of crime, and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Gardiner allegedly held a girl captive for four days at a remote cabin across from Île-à-la-Crosse Lake. A specialized RCMP tactical unit was flown to the isolated cabin by two military CH-146 Griffon helicopters to rescue the girl and arrest Gardiner. Three months after his arrest, police added more charges after more alleged victims came forward. In July 2020, police additionally charged Gardiner with four counts of sexual assault, three counts of forcible confinement, uttering threats, assault, reckless discharge of a firearm, use of a firearm in commission of an offence, obstruction and breach of an undertaking. The charges against Gardiner haven't been proven in court. Île-à-la-Crosse is about 380 kilometres north of Prince Albert. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
LONDON — Police in eastern England say they have received a long-delayed letter from an Emirati princess asking them to investigate the disappearance of her sister 20 years ago. The letter is the latest episode in the long-running family drama of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the hereditary ruler of Dubai and a horse-racing acquaintance of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. One of his daughters, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, made headlines last week when the BBC broadcast video diaries she said were recorded inside a Dubai villa where she claimed she was being held against her will. Sheikha Latifa was detained by commandos in 2018 after she tried to flee Dubai in a yacht. Now Sheikha Latifa’s friends have given police in Cambridgeshire a letter from the princess asking authorities to look into the abduction of her sister Shamsa, now 38, who was snatched from Cambridge on Aug. 19, 2000, and hasn’t been seen since, the BBC reported Thursday. “We can confirm officers have recently received a letter, dated February 2018, in relation to this case which will be looked at as part of the ongoing review,” Cambridgeshire police said in a statement. “In addition to this, we are also looking at the contents of the recent BBC Panorama documentary to identify whether it includes anything of significance to our case.” Police declined to release further information, saying this is a “complex and serious” case that would be “inappropriate to discuss publicly.” The BBC reported that friends of the princess turned the letter over to police on Wednesday. It was written in 2019 after Latifa had been detained, but she dated it February 2018 so that her captors wouldn’t know she had a way of communicating with the outside world, the BBC said. “All I ask of you is to please give attention on her case because it could get her her freedom,” Latifa, 35, wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the BBC. “Your help and attention on her case could free her.” Shamsa was staying at her father’s estate in the village of Longcross, west of London, in the summer of 2000 when she tried to escape. She later disappeared from a hotel in Cambridge and was spirited back to Dubai. The cases are particularly sensitive in Britain because of economic and historic links to Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates that has built hotels and resorts to diversify an economy once based on exploiting large energy reserves. Sheikh Mohammed is the founder of the successful Godolphin horse-racing stable and is on friendly terms with Queen Elizabeth II. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last week called Latifa’s videos “very distressing” but suggested there was little the government could do because she is not a U.K. national. The United Nations human rights office on Feb. 19 said it had raised concerns about Latifa’s treatment with the UAE and asked it to provide evidence that the princess was still alive. In response, the UAE’s embassy in London issued a statement saying the princess was being cared for by her family and medical professionals. The sheikh’s family life was thrust into the news in 2019, when his estranged wife, Princess Haya, fled to London and sought custody of her two children through the British courts. Last year, the judge hearing that case ruled that Sheikh Mohammed had conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against Princess Haya and had ordered the abduction of Shamsa and Latifa. The sheikh had told the the court he was relieved at having found his “vulnerable” daughter Shamsa after she went missing. Latifa’s supporters last week urged Joe Biden to pressure Sheikh Mohammed to release her, saying the U.S. president is one of the few world leaders with the stature to win her freedom. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Some talents come naturally, whether that is sports, singing, helping others, or in Cher Pruys’ case, hyperrealism painting. If you have ever seen Pruys’ paintings, you are sure to have done a double take, easily mistaking it for a photograph. Cher Pruys was born in Regina and has lived in many places across Canada from Saskatoon to Ottawa, Fort Frances and now Devlin where she lives with her husband, four dogs and two cats. She is also a musician, playing both the piano and guitar, and has been teaching music for 35 years. Pruys began drawing when she was three. Over the years she has worked with pencil, charcoal and ink but it wasn’t until she was 35 that she began painting. “I just decided to pick up some paints one day and see what the difference was between them and drawing and it was just great,” Pruys said. “It just came natural and it was even nicer than drawing everything out.” Pruys started out with oil paints but she said it gave her a headache and with a tendency to lick her paint brushes to get a precise point, oil paints did not taste great either. Pruys found her chosen mediums in acrylic, water colour and gouache. Diving into the world of hyperrealism art was a gradual process for Pruys. She's dabbled in abstract art, but found that she enjoyed painting what was in front of her more. Hyperrealism is an art form that resembles high resolution photography. This art form includes sculptures and paintings that focus on detail to look like real life. Looking at Pruys’ work you would have expected her to have taken years of classes, but she is self-taught. Her work has been juried into 132 international exhibits as well as numerous non juried shows and has earned her 115 awards for her work at the International Juried Exhibits. Included in these awards, the first recipient of a major Canadian National Award, The Mary Pratt Crystal Award of Excellence at the 2014 SCA Open Juried Exhibition and The Gold Medal recipient for Figurative Painting in The Mondial Art Academia’s International 2018 Competition. Pruys has had 14 solo exhibits and her work has adorned the covers of three books, 21 magazines, and has been featured in over 84 international publications. Her works have found a permanent home in private and public collections worldwide. Hyperrealism is not for the impatient. Pruys said the least number of hours she’s spent on a painting was 60 and some can take up to 250 hours, but the end result is worth every tiny brush stroke. “I’m a stickler for detail but it’s just a whole lot of time and patience,” Pruys said. “You can’t rush it, it’s just layer on layer and also you have to be able to draw to do realism in order to the perspective and everything right.” Pruys said the process before painting can require a lot of research. “If I’m doing a portrait, even if there’s a particular photo that somebody wants me to paint, I like to have a number of photos so I can get a feeling of their personality,” Pruys said. “It goes beyond just making it look like the person, is has to capture some of the person’s personality in there.” Pruys said now that she is semi-retired, she has more time to paint and has been enjoying the process more. Pruys said she loves to paint reflections and shiny surfaces, which can be the most difficult details to paint. Pruys said she likes a challenge and what others might dread painting, she enjoys the most. Painting makes it possible to recapture the magic of a memory or a feeling, Pruys said, adding that it is her motivation and reason for being. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Municipalities across Muskoka have waived permit costs and streamlined the application process for establishments to build temporary patios in an effort to aid in the economic recovery from COVID-19. The provincial government gave restaurants and other food establishments the green light to reopen to guests for dining in, as part of its Phase 2 reopening. However, it has stipulated service can only take place outdoors to minimize the spread of coronavirus. Noting the challenges that were presented for establishments with small patios, or none at all, the province also passed an order adjusting the process typical for building such structures. No longer do businesses have to pay for building permits — a fee of up to $360 — or apply for new liquor licenses (which are based on occupancy numbers). “To boost the economy, this is one way we can speed it up and get rid of some of the red tape,” said Steve Watson, director of building and bylaw services for Lake of Bays Township. The province waived the typical requirements on the premise that local municipalities would also waive them, Watson explained, noting the timeline for such a request can normally take up to six months. The deadline for applications is Dec. 31, 2020 and will provide exemptions for zoning regulations and site plan approvals to expand an existing patio, or construct a new one, in order to adhere to social distancing measures. Watson noted the primary concern for the township is making sure that no patios are built on septic systems, and that washrooms and exits are in compliance. Marty McDonald manages The Moose Cafe in Dwight where the existing patio will be extended into the grass to accommodate more tables. The café has been offering curbside pickup for takeout and frozen meals during lockdown and customers have been supportive, he said, which has been a big help because the financial impact of COVID-19 has been “huge.” “We already have a good-sized patio,” he said, but with social distancing measures increasing the space between tables the café lost roughly 12 patio seats in addition to the 60 seats inside. Taking the Township up on its offer, MacDonald said, “will bring our patio number back to what it was before.” “We’re trying to make this easy and simple for the businesses so they can get some business to their door,” Watson said, noting coffee shops are other businesses that are not licensed are also eligible. “All the municipalities are doing this,” he added. For the businesses impacted by COVID-19 this option is necessary, “to keep everybody alive,” said Natalie Archer, operations manager at Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst. “I think it’s great that communities have done what they’ve done and the province has given us the opportunity to increase our capacity to rival that of what it was prior,” Archer said. At Sawdust the patio has been extended with picnic tables behind the building giving the brewery and saloon a total of 65 seats. Typically the patio and dining room each have seating for 100 guests. “We’re still below capacity,” she noted. “[COVID-19] has impacted us greatly. It’s more important than ever that people shop local.” At press time, a spokesperson from the Township of Muskoka Lakes confirmed it would also offer a similar application process to businesses for temporary patio extensions. STORY BEHIND THE STORY In its newsletter, the Township of Lake of Bays included its plans to help assist restaurants and other food establishments in economic recovery from COVID-19. Our reporter took a look at which other municipalities are offering similar help, as well as who might apply for temporary patio extensions and how that would impact businesses, many of whom are struggling with a significant decline in revenue. Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
(Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit) It was a stern test for Quebec's new COVID-19 vaccination booking platform, with bookings between 8 a.m. and noon sometimes reaching rates of 12.5 per second, but Health Minister Christian Dubé says it passed. There were glitches along the way, as one might expect, and Dubé said they'll be fixed in short order. For example, some people booking appointments for relatives who were born in 1936 or earlier, and who themselves qualify for a vaccine because they are at least 70 and spend at least three days a week in the company of their elder, couldn't reserve the same day. The issue, he continued, is ensuring the vaccine supply matches the number of appointments. So if a person accompanying an elder has an appointment booked, the dose has already been set aside even if their own appointment is a day or two later. Dubé also said the problem in the reservation system will be fixed overnight. "As long as you have an appointment, we will be able to vaccinate you at the same time," Dubé said. By day's end, the ministry reported having booked just over 98,000 appointments. The health minister also announced the government signed a deal with major pharmacy chains on Thursday morning. They will help expand the vaccination effort in the coming weeks using a similar system to the influenza vaccine last fall, the first time Quebec turned to local pharmacies on a large scale. That program distributed roughly 1.2 million vaccines between the end of September and the beginning of December. "It was very successful … so that's good news," Dubé said. In addition, he said, the province is in the midst of concluding agreements with large employers in sectors such as manufacturing and import/export so that vaccination programs can be established in-house. "That way companies with 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 employees can vaccinate them, and not just employees but the family of those employees and, in some regions, the general public," he said. The challenge is to get 12 million doses into the arms of Quebecers over the next 15 to 20 weeks, he said. The province also plans to introduce so-called "immunity passports" at some point, which will allow people to prove they've been vaccinated and make it simpler to travel and perhaps even open some sectors of the economy. Though the program is still in the planning stages, Dubé likened it to a similar effort in 2009, when the province issued a paper record of vaccination against the H1N1 avian influenza. Only this time, it will be digital. "Many [companies] would like to be the first to open their doors to people who have proof of vaccination," he said. Dubé jokingly suggested "I probably went too far" in discussing an idea that isn't yet fully formed, and the opposition Québec Solidaire MNA Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois quickly agreed with him. "I'm surprised at the casualness with which the Health Minister is launching a debate on such an ethically sensitive subject … it's not trivial or insignificant. The potentially discriminatory effects of a vaccine passport are considerable," he said. "It's not just about taking a plane or eating in a restaurant, it raises serious questions about access to housing or the ability to work." Dubé said that with larger-than-expected deliveries slated for the coming weeks, the province should be able to vaccinate 700,000 people in the month of March. That includes providing second doses for those who have been vaccinated between December and February beginning the week of March 15. He also urged Quebecers to exercise caution during next week's March break, and to observe public health measures. "We are one month away from having a large number of people vaccinated … so let's be prudent," he said. Most Quebecers eligible to get the vaccine will have to wait until at least Monday to get the vaccine, but the regional health board in Laval was ready to go having set up sites like one in the Quartier Laval shopping centre in the Chomedey district, so they began booking appointments as of noon Thursday. "We were eager to start as soon as possible," Laval Public Health Director Jean-Pierre Trépanier told CBC Montreal Daybreak host Sean Henry. "All these shopping centres have been rented for a while, workers were hired and then we were waiting for the vaccines, and now they're available." Trépanier expected about 400 people to get their shots today, with the daily total expected to go up with more time slots becoming available. Up until now, vaccine doses have only been given out to residents in long-term care homes, private seniors' residences and health-care workers. More than three months have passed since the first doses were given out. "We've been working very hard for the last year," Trépanier. "We are going to recall every event that happened in that period, and so of course, this is [very meaningful] for me and, of course, for all of my colleagues, and probably a lot more in the population." For now, only Quebecers born in 1936 or before are eligible, and although they can book their appointments by phone at 1-877-644-4545, the government is strongly encouraging them to reserve their spot online at quebec.ca/covidvaccine. Some exceptions are being made: people born no later than 1951 to get the vaccine if they live with someone who's already eligible, or if they are their primary caregiver. Since the province began administering COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 14, about 380,000 Quebecers have gotten shots, accounting for about four per cent of the population.
BERLIN — The head of the German Bishops' Conference said Thursday that the country's Roman Catholic church is suffering from a “scandalous image” amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop's handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy, but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. He has commissioned a new report, which is supposed to be published March 18. There has been criticism within the German church of Woelki. The head of the German Bishops' Conference, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, has described the crisis management in Cologne as a “disaster” but said earlier this week that the conference has no “sovereignty” to intervene. After a regular meeting of the country's bishops, Baetzing said Thursday that they take the effects on the church “very seriously.” A Cologne court this month announced that it was raising the number of appointments available for people seeking to formally leave the church to 1,500 from 1,000 starting in March, amid strong demand. “Every person who leaves the church hurts, and we perceive it as a reaction to a scandalous image of the church that we are currently delivering,” Baetzing said at a news conference. “Certainly, there are things in the Cologne archdiocese that need to be cleared up,” he said. “But focusing solely on the archbishop of Cologne would be short-sighted.” Baetzing said he can say “with a good conscience” that Germany's bishops stand by their pledge to get to the bottom of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. “A lot of good things have already happened,” he said, with successful investigation efforts taking place “in the shadow of Cologne.” Revelations about past sexual abuse have dogged the church in Germany and elsewhere for years. In 2018, a church-commissioned report concluded that at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. More than half of the victims were 13 or younger when the abuse took place, and nearly a third of them were altar boys. In January, a new system drawn up by the church to compensate abuse survivors took effect. It provides for payments of up to about 50,000 euros ($60,760) to each victim. Under a previous system in place since 2011, payments averaged about 5,000 euros ($6111.) The Associated Press
Calls for family violence continue to rise in Hinton after Hinton’s RCMP responded to 234 calls of family violence in 2020, a five-year record high. Hinton Staff Sgt Chris Murphy told council during the standing committee meeting on Feb. 2 that the RCMP is concerned about the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on people who are stuck at home without outlets and resources to help them. Family violence calls shot up drastically at the end of the summer, following three or four months of surprisingly low numbers, said Murphy. He noted that the RCMP responded to 183 calls of family violence in 2016, 176 calls in 2017, 196 calls in 2018, and 172 calls in 2019. The definition of family violence is fairly broad, Murphy explained. The call can include arguments, threats, assault, and even siblings fighting. The majority of these calls come from within the family unit. “As we respond, they’re not translating to more criminal charges thankfully, but it does show us the need of working together with other community groups,” Murphy said. The RCMP is part of a domestic violence committee, through which they work with other local agencies to provide support to struggling families. Murphy anticipates that family violence calls will continue to climb as the restrictions continue to lock down the community. Usually there are underlying factors that come into play with these types of calls, Murphy explained, such as addictions, mental health, or unemployment. “My preference is of course that the individuals receive the support and guidance and help that they need so hopefully it doesn’t escalate to a point where we are coming in, arresting somebody, and putting them in jail and before the courts,” Murphy said. During his report to council, Murphy also touched on several other crime trends and statistics, including missing persons and the mental health act. In 2020, the Hinton RCMP recorded 26 investigations for missing persons, all of which were located. The RCMP responded to 138 mental health calls in 2020, but Murphy anticipates an increase of this number further into the pandemic. Based on input from the community last year, the RCMP focused on crime reduction and community consultation. In 2019, Hinton saw a record high break and enters, which was followed by a 61 per cent decrease in 2020. That translates to 76 fewer break and enter incidents. The clearance rate of break and enters, which means solving the crimes, was at 35 per cent in 2020. Compared to 2019, there was an overall reduction in crime in 2020. These reductions include a one per cent decrease in person crimes, a 35 per cent decrease in property crime, a 31 per cent decrease in other criminal code offences, a 47 per cent decrease in motor vehicle theft, and a 46 per cent decrease in theft under $5000. The RCMP also managed to record a five-year low in traffic collisions within Hinton last year. It investigated a total of 187 traffic collisions in 2020, compared to 358 collisions in 2016, 326 in 2017, 286 in 2018, and 281 in 2019. Community consultation was challenging for the detachment throughout the pandemic, but they adapted and came up with different ways to interact and engage with the community, Murphy noted. They held two RCMP Town halls, one in-person town hall prior to the pandemic and one virtual town hall in the fall. The next town hall is planned for March 4. Murphy reported that two repeat offenders stopped committing offences after going through the habitual offender management program, while two others either moved away or are continuing with their lifestyle. The two successful individuals haven’t committed a new offence in the last year, and Murphy added that these are people who had been committing offences on a monthly basis. In addition, the RCMP has continued their aggressive prolific offender management program. This includes conducting bail release, probation checks, apprehending people on warrants, and holding people accountable. Hotpots is another initiative that the RCMP continues to update based on crime data. Strategically sending resources to certain areas in town has resulted in far more foot patrols, bike patrols, and interactions between police and the community, Murphy said. A traffic safety committee was created in 2020, partnered with numerous agencies including Hinton Peace Officers, Commercial Vehicles, Fish and Wildlife, and Parks. The traffic safety group conducted numerous joint force operations, usually over long weekends. Murphy briefly addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and explained how this changed the way RCMP respond to calls for service. “It’s not lost on all of us that we still have a very important job to do. It just may look a little bit differently and how we go about doing that,” Murphy said. A few RCMP members were recently trained for search management and will be doing training hazards and assessments in the area, Murphy said. He noted that all three municipal positions at the Hinton detachment are full, as well as all 19 regular member positions. He anticipates several transfers in 2021 and identified some replacements in March and in the summer. Murphy is also moving on to a new position in the Western Alberta District this year. The next RCMP town hall is planned for March 4 at 7pm, where Hinton and Yellowhead County residents will have an opportunity to share comments and suggestions regarding policing priorities in 2021/2022. RCMP welcomes residents to send their questions in advance to email@example.com. Questions and comments will also be monitored through the YouTube live chat during the livestream. For more information, visit hinton.ca/RCMPTownHall. Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
Out on a walk with his dog Taiga, Dorset resident Ryan Morin took the path he regularly does along Kawagama Lake Road and up toward the Nordic Inn. Morin, an ecologist, likes to explore the area there, where he often finds rare plants. It was on his way up Nordic Inn Road where he found hogweed, an uncommon but growing sight along the border where the Township of Lake of Bays meets the Algonquin Highlands. “This one is just getting humungous and almost coming out to the road,” said Morin, who counts this as the third location he has spotted the plant currently growing. Hogweed is a common name used for multiple kinds of the genus, Heracleum. The plant can grow up to 14 feet in height and, in late summer, blooms a white flower. However, its stems are home to prickly red particles and full of toxic sap because they contain chemical compounds called, furanocoumarins. When exposed to UV rays, Phytophotodermatitis occurs — an inflammation of the skin that leads to blistering, burns and in extreme cases, blindness. “It’s obviously a big human safety issue if you happen to not know what it is,” Morin said. Complicating matters further is that hogweed is often mistaken for cow parsnip and vice versa, because of their similar appearance. “It takes a bit of a plant eye to be able to tell the difference,” he said. From an ecological perspective, Morin said the hogweed doesn’t seem to be invading the habitat, despite spotting it in multiple locations. It’s kind of a unique thing, at least to me, to have in Dorset,” he said, because to his knowledge, it is more prevalent in southern Ontario. “Obviously, there is something that’s brought it here.” The Township of Lake of Bays does keep an eye out for hogweed, said public works superintendent Steve Peace. If found in the road allowance, the municipality takes care of removing or treating it, but also encourages people to report it directly. “We see the odd little bit in Lake of Bays,” Peace said. Between the township, the district and the Ministry of Natural Resources, he said, “everybody is doing what they can to stay on top of it.” Morin said he has warned his neighbours and made phone calls to both townships to report the hogweed and some has been removed as a result. At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Facebook Inc on Thursday launched a campaign to explain to users how small businesses depend on personalized advertising, ahead of upcoming plans by Apple Inc to prompt iPhone users to allow apps to use their data for ads. The campaign called "Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found" highlights several advertisers that have grown their business on Facebook and Instagram, such as Houston-based fashion brand House of Takura. A commercial will air on TV, including during the Golden Globe Awards this Sunday, Facebook said.
The proposed development for Langmaid’s Island, a 147-acre island in Lake of Bays, continues to be a point of contention, and the parties involved have scheduled a hearing to pursue public mediation. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal is slated to hold the hearing Feb. 1, 2021 at the municipal office of the Township of Lake of Bays. The hearing will take place between Langmaid’s Island Corporation, the entity planning to develop waterfront residences on the island and the Township of Lake of Bays, the Town of Huntsville and the District of Muskoka. he Lake of Bays Association and Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation, both opposed to the development, were also granted party status for the proceedings. JUST THE FACTS • Langmaid’s Island was owned by the Adamson family for decades until its 2017 sale to Langmaid’s Island Corp. for $9 million following the death of Henry Adamson. • LPAT, formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board, is an adjudicative tribunal that hears cases pertaining to land use matters, heritage conservation and municipal governance. • Langmaid’s Island is listed in the Lake of Bays Official Plan as a natural heritage area, meaning it has some development restrictions. • In order to develop the property, Langmaid’s Island Corp. filed requests for amendments to zoning bylaws in Huntsville, amendments to Lake of Bays Official Plan and development permit bylaw and to the District of Muskoka for a draft plan of subdivision. • Langmaid’s Island Corp. filed three appeals in 2018 on the basis that each of the three councils failed to adopt the requested amendments within the allotted deadlines. • What makes this development unique (and complicated) is that it crosses two municipalities — Lake of Bays, where the island is, and Huntsville, where mainland access is — as well as the District. Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
The new head of the Canadian armed forces has stepped aside from his job after allegations of misconduct surfaced, the defence minister said, in the latest blow to the nation's military. Admiral Art McDonald is the second chief of defence staff in a row to step down over misconduct accusations. Defence Minister Harjjit Sajjan said accusations should be investigated regardless of rank.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press