By John Swartz
The list of nominees for the Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards is out. There are 20 nominees in 5 categories. This is the third year for the awards stickhandled by the Orillia & District Arts Council and the Orillia Museum of Art and History. Both groups previously had their own awards programs.
The Education in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award category has 2 nominees, Stacy Schat and Doug Ironside from the Old Dance Hall Players inprov group who also run improv classes, and Naomi Woodman and Travis Shilling who operate the Otter Art Club and teach various forms of art to children.
The Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication Award has 4 nominees. Carolyn Leclair of Elite Printing provides service for many historians and genealogists, Sarah Pickard directed and starred in 6 part video series called The Sawbones Society for the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum and the Coldwater Steampunk Festival. Marcel Rousseau searches out and publishes old photographs and postcards of Orillia scenes and started the popular Facebook group Orillia Past and Present, Ron and Ann Harrison work to preserve the history of the Underground Railroad in Canada and Simcoe County, and Dave Town has published a number of books about interesting historical figures from Orillia’s past.
The Event in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award has 3 nominees. Michael Martyn jumped right on the internet back in March to keep us entertained at home and he is nominated for creating the Essential Concert Series. Kevin Gangloff is the defacto producer of numerous benefit concerts for the Orillia Youth Centre and provides many opportunities for youth to participate in music and art programs. Dick Johnston’s Take a Vet To Dinner is not only a night to recognize area veterans, it’s also one of the few night’s out for entertainment for many of them.
The last category, the Qennefer Browne Achievement Award recognizes groups or individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to culture in Orillia. There are 6 nominees. Rusty Draper is nominated for his memoir, Put the Kettle on Honey I’m Coming Home. Molly Farquharson has become one of the prime instigators of Arts District events since opening up Hibernation Arts gallery. Roy Menagh has been behind of, and in front of, many things in the arts community, notably as conductor of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for area charities. Phil Jackman has done much to support the Orillia Museum of Art and History’s online presence and offerings. Gaia Orion is an artist who has shown her work in many area galleries, but doesn’t limit herself to the neighbourhood, county, or country having had many exhibits internationally. Will McGarvey has lent his talent to many groups and organizations in Orillia and served as a board/committee member for many community initiatives including establishing Lakehead University here.
Leacock Museum Redo
Further to understanding the Leacock Museum master plan Orillia council received in September from TCI Management Consultants, it’s time to take a look at what is recommended for the grounds and the house. One area I can get behind is parking. Right now, when something happens which draws a lot of people, cars park behind and to the south of the house. It works fine, if it hasn’t rained. It’s also not clearly defined how people should park and often space gets wasted.
Some landscaping, maybe some drainage work would go a long way to increasing the potential. The consultants suggest using something called turfstone pavers. Those are just like regular paving stones, but with no center to allow grass to grow through. They look terrible.
There is a better solution. Road and driveway construction companies have been using a plastic honeycomb layer, which is filled with gravel and then the road surface is laid on top. The plastic can support the weight of a truck. There is no reason, and it’s been done, why topsoil and grass can’t be the finishing layer. This would preserve the lawn aesthetic when the area is not used for parking. Lighting is also recommended, but not something that’s going to shine into Ted Emond’s livingroom every night, just when needed for parking.
On the list for new is a pavilion as a permanent structure. Right now, tents are used and the consultant thinks something capable of use year-round would be of benefit. I’m OK, with this, so long as the look fits with the house – unlike the wheelchair ramp which looks like it belongs on an office building.
There are a couple of stages that get used on the south side of the house. They are kind of portable. The recommendation is to fix them, up – and to a spot – and provide electrical service to them. This is a good idea.
They recommend a number of other improvements, like making the path to the boathouse accessible, putting up some signs to direct visitors around the grounds. They also recommend signs to direct people to the museum. This is a good idea, I’ll bet there are people here right now who don’t know where it is, even though they pass by on Atherley Road every day.
The gift shop was relocated to the house as an experiment, and the consultants say put it back into Swanmore Hall. If the interior space at Swanmore can be fixed up to better advantage, absolutely.
In the boathouse, the recommendation is to upgrade the washroom to accessible standards. It also recommended spending a few bucks to make the ground floor more serviceable for programming, which right now it is used for programming, but it could be a lot better with minimum expenditure and effort.
One thing I have mixed feelings about is the recommendation to close in the patio at Swanmore so dining can be year round. As I mentioned before, I used to spend some time on the patio warming up a beer in the afternoon watching the ducks. Closing in the patio is going to remove that pleasure. I suppose the city could get a hold of the folks who designed the Skydome and come up with a retractable wall system, but even if the money was available, that won’t happen, too visionary. I don’t know how it can be enclosed to any degree it will be serviceable on a frosty January afternoon for dining, unless they are going to winterize and heat the patio. Removable screen/storm windows of some kind might work to extend the dining potential by a few months, but I think anything else will ruin the experience and be too costly.
* The next installment of the Mariposa Virtual Stage is tonight at 8 p.m. It’s with Joni Mitchell and you can watch it here, or if you miss the first run, watch it later on their website. The online presentation was created to replace this year’s festival. The first one was with Gordon Lightfoot and Dala. Another is scheduled for November with Buffy Sainte-Marie and Celeigh Cardinal.
* The Stephen Leacock Associates have found a sponsor for the annual Medal for Humour. The Dunkley Charitable Foundation is sponsoring the award and the student writing competition for the next 5 years. Brad and Sara Dunkley are from Orillia and trustees of the foundation. Brad won the student award in 1993.
* MichaeL Martyn has a new video of his tune, Bad For You, from his Rude Mechanicals album. It’s fresh today right here.
* Zain Campbell’s music is used in this video.
* Brent Mayhew has some piano music, Court Stone’s Ottawa Valley Song here.
* Not music, but Northern Joinery (Makers Market) has a third installment in their video series you can watch later today here.
* Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Opera House has the Artist Life Stories Series, an evening of interview, music and Q&A from audiences in the same manner as when Rik Emmett was last here. In order its Luke McMaster, then Amy Sky and then Murdoch Mystery author Maureen Jennings. Tickets are available here.
* There are two youth center fundraisers happening to establish scholarship funds. One in memory of Jake Beers the Beers family calls hxmesweethxme. Check out their Facebook page for opportunities to contribute. Anitta Hamming also created an online raffle for two of the paintings created for the Metamorphosis project. You can get a ticket here, and you can also see, or buy, other art at that link.
* OMAH has a Carmichael Lecture discussion of Carmichael by Wil Kucey of Canadian Fine Arts you can watch online. Oct. 21 another online event happens; the 2020 Virtual Carmichael Art History Lecture with Jim and Sue Waddington, who travelled to the places painted by the Group of Seven; It’s $10 to participate and you sign up at 705-326-2159 to get a link to the event. OMAH also has another round of the QuarARTine, 6×6 pieces for auction here and the gallery is open by appointment, 705-326-2159.
* The Orillia branch of Dress For Success has a progressive, online, raffle called Toonie Tuesday. The next jackpot draw is Oct. 13. Tickets are $2 and you can buy as many as you like. Check their Facebook page frequently for updates on the jackpot and weekly winners.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia; Images Supplied)