Meet the Candidate: Deron Johnston

It’s election season and the municipal campaign is in full swing!  I am pleased to present my Q&A series with our local candidates, and I hope it gives you a sense of who they are and what they stand for.  New profiles will go up every Tuesday and Thursday!

Election Day is October 27, and you can vote online or by telephone any time between October 20 at 10:00am and October 27 at 8:00pm.  Check the North Grenville website for more details!

Mark your calendars – the NG Times All-Candidates Event is taking place on October 16th from 6:30pm – 9:30pm at the North Grenville Municipal Centre {285 County Road #44, Kemptville, ON}

Deron Johnston

Deron Johnston


52WeeksNG: What do you love about North Grenville?

Deron Johnston:  The people.  I lived in Ottawa for 17 years and it was very difficult to get to know your neighbours living there.  It’s a totally different environment here.  I know my neighbours by name and they have been very helpful and generous with my son and I. Even total strangers are polite and helpful when you meet them.  There is a very strong sense of community here and I’m always amazed how much people help each other. I love it here!

52WeeksNG: Can you share a hidden treasure in your corner of NG?

Deron Johnston: That’s a tough question, because there are many. However, I love going to Geronimo Coffee House on Prescott St.  I didn’t drink coffee before, but now I love sitting down with a cup of cappuccino and talking to whomever walks in.

52WeeksNG: What are 3 – 5 issues that you would tackle if you were elected?

Deron Johnston:

  1. I would tackle the lack of authentic communication between the municipality and residents. Giving people more information about what’s happening in the municipality and letting people know sooner about things that are happening in their area. Letting people know how things that are happening in their area will affect them and giving people more notice about when public meetings are happening and giving them more opportunities for input.
  2. I would attempt to help downtown Kemptville renew itself and attract more shops and stores. I would want to make sure better signage was put up telling people where downtown is, where parking is and to create a walking path from the rear parking lot at Riverside Park out to Prescott Street so people wouldn’t have to walk all the way around to get to Prescott St.
  3. I would do whatever I could to ensure the survival of Kemptville College. We need the college to be more accessible to residents so they can get the education and training they need to get better jobs, and to help attract more business to the area because we would have a well trained work force. We also need to maintain the agriculture programs and bring back research money. The college could also be very helpful in economic development.
  4. The hamlets of North Grenville need to be supported better than they are, and they need to have more input into decision making that affects them. We should encourage strong community associations and give them tools to help them make their communities more enjoyable for the residents there. Services have been removed from the hamlets and centralized in Kemptville. If we’re going to remove services, we need to come up with a transit strategy to be able to bring people to where the services are.
  5. We need to slow residential development down a bit so that we don’t become a suburb of Ottawa, like Barrhaven is. We need to maintain our small town feel. People have told me that they moved here because they wanted to live in a small town. That’s exactly why I moved here. We also need to slow it down because we need to make sure that the infrastructure that new development needs is actually in place when needed, not years later.
  6. I would absolutely not support the Energy East pipeline!
Deron Johnston 2

{Photo submitted by Deron Johnston} Enjoying NG’s Green Spaces!

52WeeksNG: Why is it important to vote in municipal elections?

Deron Johnston: I believe that it is important to vote in municipal elections because municipal government is the level of government that most affects the day to day lives of all Canadians.  Things like roads, water, sewer, recreational activities and local businesses are governed by municipal government. You want to make sure that the people running your municipal government are good people that are doing it for the right reasons.

52WeeksNG: How do you like to spend your spare time?

Deron Johnston:  Spare time? I’m a single parent of a hockey player, I work multiple jobs, I’m knocking on doors every chance I get and when I get home from that, I do the social media for my campaign. I’m also on the board of directors for two community organizations and volunteer at the Kemptville Youth Centre. If I have a spare second, I love to listen to live music, cook for friends, go to Ottawa Red Blacks games with my son and explore the area where I live. Someday, I’d like to travel and see more of Canada and the rest of the world, and maybe get back to golfing a little.

52WeeksNG: What is one thing the people of NG might be surprised to learn about you?

Deron Johnston:  I was in involved in community theatre in my early twenties. However, listening to me sing and seeing me dance was not a pretty picture. No one will ever accuse me of being graceful.

Deron Johnston 3

{Photo submitted by Deron Johnson} Peaceful Kemptville Creek.

52WeeksNG: What would you like to say to the people of NG?

Deron Johnston:  I want to hear what people have to say. I want residents to feel that they have someone on council who listens to them and respects their opinions. If you want to talk to me, stop me in the street or call me on the phone. I’ll talk to anyone who wants to make North Grenville a better place for all of us to live, work and play. I want to be a voice for all residents of North Grenville. Working hard and working together, we can make great things happen here.

For more information, you can visit Deron’s website or find him on Facebook!

Posted in Meet the Candidates 2014 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Candidate: Jim Bertram

 It’s election season and the municipal campaign is in full swing!  I am pleased to present my Q&A series with our local candidates, and I hope it gives you a sense of who they are and what they stand for.  New profiles will go up every Tuesday and Thursday!

Election Day is October 27, and you can vote online or by telephone any time between October 20 at 10:00am and October 27 at 8:00pm.  Check the North Grenville website for more details!

Mark your calendars – the NG Times All-Candidates Event is taking place on October 16th from 6:30pm – 9:30pm at the North Grenville Municipal Centre {285 County Road #44, Kemptville, ON}

Full disclosure: Today’s candidate, Jim Bertram, is my father.


Jim Bertram

52WeeksNG: What do you love about North Grenville?

Jim Bertram: I love North Grenville’s country atmosphere.  I love the people of this place, both town and country.  I love the trust, the generosity and the basic goodness of the people I meet.  I’m not a shy fellow, so I meet many people, even more now that I am campaigning.  North Grenville’s people are people who deserve to be heard and served with respect and attention.  I plan on making that happen.

52WeeksNG: Can you share a hidden treasure in your corner of NG?

Jim Bertram: On our property there is a stand of spruces which open up in a kind of archway high enough to stand in. I love to go into this little natural temple, meditate, enjoy the sight and smell of nature. I am especially happy to stand in there with Matteo, my wonderful little grandson. When he is in there, this little natural space is the greatest treasure in the world.

52WeeksNG: What are 3 – 5 issues that you would tackle if you were elected?

Jim Bertram:

  1. Council must communicate successfully with its electorate. I will work towards that important goal. If residents don’t know what is happening, they can’t form an opinion on how issues impact their interests.
  2. Council must revamp its methods of listening to the ideas and wishes of the community, both rural and urban. If it doesn’t, it can’t develop effective and representative policies. I’ll make sure Council’s “ears” are attuned to the people.
  3. A coordinated and focused policy must be further developed in close conjunction with local businesses in order to enhance the rate of business success and growth in ALL of North Grenville, rural and urban.  The status quo isn’t good enough .

    Photo submitted by Jim Bertram: Jim Bertram with Steve Clark

    Photo submitted by Jim Bertram: Presenting a petition to M.P.P. Steve Clark

  4. I would remove the development charges by-law and leave the responsibility for all infrastructure in the hands of the developer developing an area, subject to close and regular inspection to ensure conformity to standards of quality. This will ensure taxpayers are NOT on the hook for subsidizing development.
  5. I believe North Grenville needs to act seriously to protect residents from environmental and industrial hazards presented by provincially sanctioned projects such as aggregate pits, windmill farms, solar farms and pipelines. The health of our people and their financial well-being are at stake.  Leaving people in our rural area in the lurch with respect to such projects will no longer be an option if I have anything to say about it.

52WeeksNG: Why is it important to vote in municipal elections?

Jim Bertram: Voting is a central part of democratic life. Canadians can’t honestly say they are proud of living in a democratic country unless they inform themselves and vote. To do less is to let yourself down and to let your community down.
It has been said that, if you can read but choose not to, you are no better off than an illiterate. In the same way, if you live in a democracy and don’t vote, you may as well be living in a totalitarian dictatorship.

In addition, you should check to see if those you elect are doing a good job of representing YOU. Don’t be shy.  Stand up for yourself and others and be counted at all times.
So, my message is VOTE and PARTICIPATE.  If you are a taxpayer, you owe that to yourself as well as your neighbours.

52WeeksNG: How do you like to spend your spare time?

Jim Bertram:  I love to read and talk with my wife . If I could find anyone to play with, I’d play chess.  I like water activities and I love activities with my family.  I’m plodding through “War and Peace” in the original Russian which I enjoy greatly.

Jim Bertram 3

Photo submitted by Jim Bertram: At home in South Gower

52WeeksNG: What is one thing the people of NG might be surprised to learn about you?

Jim Bertram: They’d probably be surprised to learn that I speak fluent French and German since I have no accent in English.  They might also be surprised to learn that I am nervous before I give a speech , but most who know me WOULDN’T be surprised to know that I love to talk, especially about history, politics and economics.  Oh, and they wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I have the occasional strong opinion or two.

52WeeksNG: What would you like to say to the people of NG?

Jim Bertram: I would like to say, fellow citizens, that it would be an honour to serve the people of North Grenville at Council.  I wish to do my best to make sure that the local government offers clear and timely explanations of issues confronting North Grenville. I wish to do my best to ensure that the ideas, opinions and interests of NG residents are not only heard, but listened to and implemented in policies and By-Laws.

If we can have such government, no matter what the issue will be, it will be dealt with democratically and, ultimately, fairly.  That is not an empty ideal of interest only to philosophers. It is an ideal which thousands of our ancestors have worked and fought to give us. Let us not falter in this.  Help me hold the torch of freedom and democracy high in North Grenville.

For more information, you can visit Jim’s blog or find him on Facebook!

Posted in Meet the Candidates 2014 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Meet the Candidate: Barb Tobin

It’s election season and the municipal campaign is in full swing!  I am pleased to present my Q&A series with our local candidates, and I hope it gives you a sense of who they are and what they stand for.  New profiles will go up every Tuesday and Thursday!

Election Day is October 27, and you can vote online or by telephone any time between October 20 at 10:00am and October 27 at 8:00pm.  Check the North Grenville website for more details!

Mark your calendars – the Chamber of Commerce All-Candidates Night is taking place on October 7th {tonight!}  from 5:30pm – 10:00pm at the North Grenville Municipal Centre {285 County Road #44, Kemptville, ON}

Barb Tobin 1

Barb Tobin

52WeeksNG: What do you love about North Grenville?

Barb Tobin:  What I love about being a resident of the Municipality of North Grenville is the people.  Every community has many things to brag about in terms of amenities but without the connection to the people that one can develop there is just no warmth and pleasure in terms of feeling and living a full community experience. Here in North Grenville the giving nature and friendly people really make this a place I love calling home.

52WeeksNG: Can you share a hidden treasure in your corner of NG?

Barb Tobin: It may not be “hidden” but sometimes blends in with North Grenville and that is the Ferguson Forest Centre . It just really is our Central Park. It provides jobs and local grown forestry products. It provides beautiful trails for hiking and running and most recently an addition of a Kinder Trail to encourage the youngest residents to enjoy the outdoors. It has the wonderful Giving Garden that provides food and flowers for community members all tended by a caring group in the community. There is a dock and covered picnic area for residents to enjoy. The FFC is just a four season treasure in North Grenville.

Barb Tobin 3

Photo submitted by Barb Tobin: FFC Dock Site

52WeeksNG: What are 3 – 5 issues that you would tackle if you were re-elected?

Barb Tobin: The issues that I would like to continue to see developed are in communications, recreation and sustainable delivery of our programs and services.

In the area of communications we have entered a new era quickly in terms of ways to help engage residents in participating in local government topics. My current focus is expanding council meetings to include visuals for those sitting in the audience so they can participate in the information being discussed . I am also interested in using new social media in a responsible accurate way to provide residents with information. Having just attended a seminar on what other government agencies are doing to update communication there are several ideas that I hope staff will be able to implement.  I am also interested in developing a user-friendly communication system within council that can help us track our activities and work assignments.

Barb Tobin 2

Photo submitted by Barb Tobin: Fishers honoured for community commitment.

Having been assigned to the portfolio of Parks Culture and Recreation for the past two terms of Council I am interested in continue to develop what are key features of the community. With the help of the many community partners we can continue to improve our current assets and look forward to what areas we can expand. The refresh of Riverside Park will be a new feature to Old Town that partners well with the main street’s facelift and the central library. Several organisations like the Curling Club and Ball League have provided new life to facilities for sport in the community. Working with the staff and existing groups that are in our community we can continue to provide cultural, sport and leisure areas that fit our community.

Finally it is important that we can deliver all our services under a model that sustains programs and services at a reasonable cost. To date council has been mindful of the cost to the taxpayer . Continued growth also presents continued and expanded use, and it is in everyone’s best interest to always look ahead to the cost of existing and new facilities and services, not only in the present but in the long term life of that asset. Working with staff to secure solid grounding for projects is essential. Consulting and working with community experts is also a key factor. The existence of our first class central library would not have been possible without all of the factors above being put in play. The library currently monthly sees on average 7,000 residents in the facility. The efforts of securing funding and fundraising and implementing all the parts is a testament to the community and municipal staff preparing, projecting and understanding the costs and benefits for our community. We need to keep our focus on building while always being mindful of making sustainable progress.

Barb Tobin 4

Photo submitted by Barb Tobin: Farmers’ Market

52WeeksNG: Why is it important to vote in municipal elections?

Barb Tobin: Municipal government is the “reach out and quickly touch” government that taxpayers can access. For this reason it really important to exercise your vote to have your say. Those who fought for the rights to do so would expect no less from every citizen.

52WeeksNG: How do you like to spend your spare time?

Barb Tobin: I like to spend my spare time at home with friends and family and I love to read.

52WeeksNG: What is one thing the people of NG might be surprised to learn about you?

Barb Tobin: Although far from being an athlete I love to run every day. My favourite time to think and solve all the problems of the world is when I’m out on a 5K run.  I try to run 10K every month, just to say I did.

Barb Tobin 5

Photo submitted by Barb Tobin: NGHS murals

52WeeksNG: What would you like to say to the people of NG?

Barb Tobin: I would really like to encourage people to exercise their right to vote in the municipal election.  I would be appreciative of their vote and I will continue to work hard to represent the citizens of North Grenville in a positive and professional manner.

For more information, you can follow Barb on Twitter!

Posted in Meet the Candidates 2014 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Week 25: Earth’s Harvest Farm


Turkeys in their tractor {a moveable enclosure that allows the animals to enjoy fresh grass every day}. {Photo by Joe}


Hello North Grenville!


A view of the WWOOF-er accommodations from the garden. {For more information on World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, visit:}

How are you?  I hope all is well.  This space has been pretty quiet over the past month as I’ve had lots of writing work to keep me busy.  Between you and me, I was still able to sneak in some research throughout August and I’ve got some great new posts lined up!

Ok – let’s get straight to it!

Today I’d like to talk about Earth’s Harvest Farm, a grass-fed {non-certified} organic farm near Bishop’s Mills that is run by Luke and Liza Swale.  They raise animals that are, in Luke’s words, “as domestically wild as possible”.  Growing up in New Zealand, Luke learned to farm from his uncle.  Initially drawn to the farming world because of the motorcycles his uncle used to do chores, Luke had to learn about farming in order to keep playing with the motorcycles.  Before long, Luke found himself learning about pasture management and other New Zealand farming concepts and practices.


Fresh strawberries in the garden!

The idea behind pasture rotation is that animals enjoy a different patch of grass every day.  Earth’s Harvest chickens, turkeys, rabbits, sheep, and cows get fresh grass (and yummy bugs and weeds) and fertilize the area they leave behind.  This makes great pasture and, because the animals are constantly moving, there is no opportunity to be exposed to parasites and disease, which eliminates the need for antibiotics.  The animals have the healthiest diet and lots of exercise, which also means that the chickens lay more eggs.  Liza explains that the meat and eggs are more nutritious and flavourful than with animals raised using more conventional North American methods.


Beautiful sheep. {Photo by Joe}

Thirteen years ago, Luke and Liza met in a pub in England.  Liza, who grew up in a small farming town in Canada, was working as a lawyer and Luke as a dairy farmer.  Their romance bloomed and the two moved to Toronto {“I imported him!” jokes Liza}, where Liza continued her law career and Luke found work at a dairy farm.  Liza, who tackles Marketing, and making the value-added products {like soup and chicken jerky} that the couple sells at the Kemptville Farmer’s Market, keeps a fantastic blog, where you’ll discover the whole story here, here, and here.  {Hint: the origins story features the Self-Employment Benefit program.}

Before moving on, I have to say how much I love the Evolution of a Granola Girl blog.  There.  I said it!  Liza’s stream of consciousness writing is fast and furious.  She is honest and funny, and it was blog-love at first sight!


This sunflower is taller than I am!

Luke and Liza have two children – Finn and Forrest – who live and play at the farm.  “Forrest follows Luke everywhere,” says Liza.  “And Finn is interested in the math and science behind farming.”  From living on the farm, the children have an understanding of natural lifecycles as well as an appreciation for homegrown food and healthy cooking.  In fact, Luke says the best way to get a resistant toddler to eat something green is to grow your own together.  Not only is it a fun activity that offers something for kids to enjoy every step of the way, but the results are delicious!  Indeed, when our family visited the farm, Finn and Forrest were eager to share ground cherries and green beans from the massive kitchen garden with Matteo and Leona.

Earth’s Harvest Farm has a stand at the Kemptville Farmer’s Market, which is open until Thanksgiving.  You can also pre-order beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb, and buy fresh eggs at the farm.

Earth’s Harvest Farm


L-L-L-Llamas! {Photo by Joe – who says this one reminds him of Bowie.}

Posted in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Outdoor Adventure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Golden Retriever Club of Canada – National Specialty Event

Are you looking for something fun and different to do this long weekend?

The Golden Retriever Club of Canada is holding it’s National Speciality Event at the Kemptville Campus from now until August 3!

According to the event flyer, 250 Golden Retrievers from all across Canada will be competing in “events designed to showcase the adaptability and versatility of the breed”.  There will be agility trials and obedience trials for Golden Retrievers, but it sounds like all dog lovers will get something out of the seminars on canine health and the local vendor showcase.

For more information, please take a look at GRCC National Event Flyer (link will open a PDF in another window) or visit

Thank you to Darwin Boles for the tip!!



Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Week 24 – Kemptville Kinsmen Farmers’ Market


Farmer Luke of Earth’s Harvest Farm


View of the Market from Siam Kitchen

Every year around this time I turn into a Christmas bear. Despite the sunshine, blue skies, and blatant lack of snow, Christmas carols jingle their way into my head. I daydream about the hand-knit gifts that I want to make for everyone on my list. By the end of July I can practically taste the buttery cinnamon bread we bake for Christmas morning.

By August I’m firmly back in the present but for a few weeks in July, I’m bi-seasonal. Until recently, I thought I was alone.

I was wrong.


This super-friendly fellow at The Branch’s stall serves up a mean brisket!

On Sunday, July 27, the weekly Kemptville Kinsmen Farmers’ Market is holding its Christmas in July event. You can start your Christmas shopping, have a chat with Santa Claus (!!!), and stick around for a little lunch.

I was so excited by this idea that I couldn’t wait to do my research. On Sunday, I went to the Farmers’ Market armed with a fistful of dollars and a hankering for a hefty dose of local goodness. I spoke with some of the seasonal vendors and walked away with lunch for the fam.

This is what I discovered.

Purely Elemental


Purely Elemental sells handmade soaps, bath & beauty products, and jewellery.

My first stop was to visit Purely Elemental to check out the selection of handmade soaps and jewellery.  I asked Candice about the soap and, with sparkling eyes and a friendly smile, she explained that it’s made from natural goat’s milk and infused with essential oils so it’s gentle on the skin.  Candice had five soaps for sale and I bought the Dryad soap, which was wrapped in purple ribbon with a gray wax seal.

I tried the soap the next day.  The subtle scent evokes the forest — earthy and somewhat musky — and there’s also a mint-like undertone that keeps it light.  The soap left no residue, even with our hard water, which was a treat!  The bar did start to shrink when exposed to shower water over the week, but we fixed that by moving it so it is no longer in the direct shower stream

Earth’s Harvest Farm


Earth’s Harvest Farm’s 7-Herb Bouquet.

The Earth’s Harvest Farm uses the principles and philosophy of New Zealand and British farming practices to produce the most “domestically wild” grass-fed, {uncertified} organic meats and heirloom produce.

This farm is run by Luke and Liza, a team of dynamos that has a lot to offer at the Market, the farm, and on the web.  At the Farmers’ Market, they sell frozen chicken quarters, and you can pre-order whole chickens, lamb, and turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Liza makes a variety of farm-to-fork products like chicken jerky, mayonnaise, pesto, and seasonal soups.  She also writes an addictive, stream of consciousness blog!


Earth’s Harvest Farm’s chicken jerky.

I bought a beautiful bouquet of herbs, which comes with a helpful booklet that identifies each herb and makes suggestions for using them.  This week, I used the purple basil in a radiatore dish and the tarragon, garlic chives, and parsley in a frittata this week…with delicious results.  I also bought a cute sticker for Matteo and some amazing chicken jerky.

When Luke and I were talking, I asked him for tips on getting the most bang for your Farmers’ Market buck.  He recommends buying the most basic ingredients – like a whole chicken or a bunch of kale – fresh and preparing them at home, “like your grandparents did”.  For those, like me, who have never had farm-fresh chicken, Luke says once you taste it, you’ll notice the difference.  Mark Bittman’s idea of using meat as a condiment {or better yet: as a treasure}, came to mind as a strategy I’d like to explore more in order to stretch the budget while exploring the world of fresh and local ingredients.


Earth’s Harvest Farm has a variety of witty stickers for sale.

Siam Kitchen


It took Duan {above} about an hour to carve that cantaloupe

Who’s hungry?  I was ready to get serious about lunch so I popped in to Siam Kitchen, which is run by Duan and Rick Moore.  Duan makes an enticing array of fresh Thai food and provides meticulous ingredient labels for every dish.  She is also very skilled at carving fruit and crafted a lovely display at the stall.

It was difficult to narrow down my options.  So I didn’t.  I ordered a serving of pad thai, fresh and zingy mango salad, and a delicately-sweet fried banana.

While I was taking photos of the booth, a gentleman came and ordered 12 spring rolls.  A few minutes later when I was settling my bill, he returned to order more to take home with him.

A note on the pad thai – it may be the nicest version of the dish I’ve ever had!  Duan’s dish was light, faintly sweet and distinctly tangy…also, I suspect, highly addictive!  Next time, I’m going to try the spring rolls and samosas too!


Siam Kitchen’s spring rolls {left} and samosas {right}.

The Branch


The Branch’s Market menu.

To round out lunch, I stopped by The Branch, where I put Mark Bittman’s philosophy on hold.  The smoky smell of the brisket filled the Market air and is a popular draw for hungry shoppers and vendors alike.  Bruce explains that brisket needs 16 hours to cook, so it’s not something you can easily make at home.  At the Market, you can pick up brisket by the pound for a quick and easy Sunday dinner or order a sandwich.

I, like many others I saw, bought a brisket sandwich, that was hearty and smoky, and was served with coleslaw with a vinegar-based dressing.  A big hit with the family, next time I’m going to order two!!

Mister Lemonade


Getting started on those 2,260 lemons!

On may way out of the Market, I stopped in to the Mister Lemonade stall to buy a jug of their fresh lemonade.

The couple that run Mister Lemonade hand squeeze every lemon; for big events like the Spencerville Stampede, that means squeezing 2,260 lemons!

The lemonade was sweet and refreshing – just right served over ice.

The Grateful Bread


Denise of the Grateful Bread bakery, and her delicious treats.

My last stop was to see Denise at The Grateful Bread bakery to thank her for introducing me to the vendors for this post {thanks Denise!!}.

I was not expecting cookies.  But Denise gave me some to bring home to Matteo and Leona.  Wow…they were good!  Big, chewy, and not too sweet, those chocolate chip cookies will certainly have us coming back for more!

 So that’s it!

Now in its’ eight year of operation, the Kemptville Farmers’ Market is like having a festival in your backyard every Sunday.  There’s often live music, a sprinkler zone for the kids, and lots of local vendors to talk to.  While I was there, I bumped into some friends and neighbours and met some pretty sweet canine shoppers.  Maybe this week, I’ll see you!!

The Kemptville Kinsmen Farmers’ Market

200 Sanders St., Kemptville, ON K0G 1J0

Sundays: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

June – Thanksgiving






Purely Elemental’s bath, beauty, and jewellery.

Posted in Food & Drink, Free, Health & Wellness, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Week 23 – Community Connections Centre


The Centre’s comfy reception area.

{Updated on October 3, 2014: Note that the Community Connections Centre is moving!  Please visit the website or contact the CCC for more information}

Have you been curious about the Community Connections Centre since it opened this spring?  I have.  On my way home from buying a Panini press for my Mom’s birthday, I stopped in and met Beverly Illauq, the Executive Director of the Centre, and asked her what it’s all about.

“In a nutshell?” she laughed.  And I get why – Bev and her team cover a lot of bases.  “We keep people out of the vortex of medical and psychological intervention,” she says.  “It’s a place where people can come and develop health and wellness strategies and help others out too.”


Two very popular residents.

A teacher by trade, Beverly lived, worked, and raised her family on Baffin Island for 20 years.  While there, she started the Ilisaqsivik Family Resource Centre at the urging of community elders who were worried about the area youth.  “They wanted to change the dynamics in the community,” says Bev.  “So we worked together to connect people and possibilities.”  Four years into their mandate, the Centre had a $1million annual budget and ran 40 programs covering topics as diverse as parenting, sewing, and eco-therapy.  “Everybody has something to give and everybody needs something,” says Bev.  “The Centre gave people purpose and a chance to share what they know.”

Bev and her children moved to the Kemptville area in 2002 to be closer to their extended family.  Once settled, Bev realized that it’s not only up north where community programming is sorely needed.  As family members are spread further apart, people need more support, especially in rural communities.  And so she got to work.

The Community Connections Centre is also known as Nik’s Place, named for Nik Wellstein, a community leader and businessman who died in a motorcycle accident in Australia in 2011.  The Centre opened in early 2014 and Bev and her team of dedicated volunteers continue to add programs and services to meet community needs.


This rocking chair is covered in one of the Centres’ many hand-crocheted blankets.

One of the Centre’s most popular programs is the Arts Based Children (ABC) Sewing with Nokomis.  Boys and girls between the ages eight and 12 gather to learn how to sew from a local grandmother – for Mother’s Day they made heart shaped pin cushions.  This program covers a lot of bases and exemplifies what the Centre is all about: it teaches children new skills and fosters intergenerational learning.  “Seniors have so much to share,” says Bev.  “Hand skills, life skills, patience.  The Centre is a wonderful venue to pass on these skills and knowledge.”

As well as offering programming and free events (like Indigenous Peoples’ Awareness Week and Disney Karaoke), the CCC is also equipped to provide professional counselling and psychotherapy services, as well as screening for Irlen Syndrome, which Bev describes as a hypersensitivity to light that makes reading difficult, noting that it affects 15% of the population.

The CCC will reopen after summer holidays on Monday, July 21.  Why not pop in and see what they have to offer?

Community Connections Centre – Nik’s Place

113 Prescott St., Kemptville, ON K0G 1J0



Interested in volunteering? The Centre would love to hear from you!!

Posted in Art & Culture, Free, Health & Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments