This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The 172nd Orillia and District Fall Fair happens Saturday September 10 at ODAS Park. The first thing to note about the fair is a slight addition to the name of the event. It has been changed to the Severn, Orillia and District Fall Fair.

The next thing to notice is you don’t have the rest of the weekend to take it in. Like last year, the fair has been reduced to a one day affair.

The two main spectator attractions are the Demolition Derby starting at 1 p.m. and the Tractor Pull starting at 5 p.m.

Last year, the demo derby had a crowd of at least 1,000, if not more to watch an exhibition of bad driving – or just regular driving if we’re talking about the northbound lanes at the 400/11 split.

A Portion of the typical fall fair event/competitions are dedicated to young people, with many of the same categories. Something I did not notice from previous years, so maybe it’s a new thing, is there is a contest for penmanship and one for photography. The prize money isn’t fantastic, if you win, you’ll likely have to ask mom or dad for a couple bucks to cover the celebratory hotdog, or hamburger, but the idea the art of communicating is being promoted . I like.

There’s even a mini tractor pull for kids starting at 3 p.m. This follows the noontime Children’s Farm Olympics. I like to think of this as having the typical kinds of games one would have at any community event like all kinds of kooky races. I also like to think there’s an event called the run for your life race. This would be where you get a long stick, called a switch back in the day, and you smack a bull on the south end, and then run like Hades. That’s how they said it back in the day when Sunday church was ritual, and swearing only happened in the case of actually getting caught by a bull.

The fair opens at 10 a.m., Admission is $10 (free for pre-schoolers) and parking is free.


The culture we have, which evolved from the foundation Canada, is organized around a monarchy. You may not be aware it is, but many traditions and norms are as old as the first beaver pelt.

Many people have forgotten the prime minister is not the head of state, the office holder is a servant of the King just like the rest of us. I found it amusing the CBC had to insert the phrase, head of the Canadian government, in a headline about Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, assuming most people would not know that fact. This reinforces the tradition of not knowing basic things.

Queen Elizabeth II Visiting The Goddard Space Flight Center In Maryland, May 2007

I’m not sure how I feel about the death of QE2. I know how I feel about the monarchy, but as an individual, that’s different.

I have not known life without her as Queen, and being Canadian this figured into my existence in many subtle ways.

She became Queen when the norm was for there to be great people of substance as elected leaders; Louis St. Laurent here, Eisenhower in the U.S. and Churchill in the U.K. She went out with what Monty Python might accurately describe as an upper class twit, Elizabeth Truss, as the U.K. prime minister, we face the prospect of having our own at the next election (maybe not upper class, but certainly a twit), and the U.S. still isn’t over Jabba the Putt (aka, Lord of Mara Lardo).

As one online commenter said, “she came in with We shall never surrender and out with we import two thirds of our cheese”.

It must have been quite an experience being so close to the rise of economic prosperity for all, only to watch it being squandered by the likes of Thatcher, Reagan, Mulroney and their successors and not being able to do a thing about it despite being Queen.

I have long held the opinion that those who eat the same food as me, breath the same air, walk the same streets, and use the commode are not better than me. Yet, most of our society considers the royal family to be different, better. To me this is an abomination. Hell, they have a summer home that’s a castle – not to mention several other homes of immense proportion, while people are living in tents in City parks. They have servants for Pete’s sake.

And U.K. taxpayers pay for it. The annual income in the hundreds of millions of pounds isn’t the end of the pick pocketing, there’s millions more income the family gets from profits on their vast land holdings. Nobody is in need of that kind of largess. Not the Queen, anyone in her family, Bezos, Musk, Gates or anybody else.

Canadians don’t contribute directly to the upkeep of these underwear wearing mortals, but we do spend more than $58 million annually to maintain the monarchy’s representatives (governor general and lieutenant governors) in a style almost on par, minus some of the frills. We also foot the entire bill every time someone from the monarchy decides they need a vacation in Canada. Why? Nobody is being that generous with you or me?

I can’t, and I suspect no one else can, point to a single thing any of the royal family has done that affected one person’s life. Not one of them contributed a single concrete thing to the betterment of humanity. No inventions, no actions, not one law or regulation, nothing.

Yet, many weep at the Queen’s passing. It is a loss, but not a great loss. The shear amount of energy expended to generate the hours of coverage around this event and pipe into your TV or computer would be better spent providing food for those who don’t have any.

And don’t confuse what I am saying. To this point I am not disparaging the person known as the Queen, but the institution and our treatment of it.

The Queen, in my experience, seems to have been a wonderful person. Someone I’d like to have as a neighbour. I’d probably shovel her walk in winter and check in once in a while to see if there is something I could help with. I would very likely play with her dogs from time to time. There is nothing dislikeable about her. I think we liked the person we saw on TV, and that we saw her on TV so much was the reason. Had she not been a media construct, we probably wouldn’t care so much.

But, she could have been more. She could have used her position to be a moral compass for all of us, a voice of reason in the chamber of shouting.

Words spoken and written do have effect. While tradition and law prohibited her from interfering in government, she could certainly have remembered she actively participated in fighting Nazis in her youth, and I’m quite sure a word or two from a grandmotherly figure about certain movements and the people dominating the turmoil of today would have gone a long way.

Back in February, she could have said, “You’re being fools, its bloody cold out there, go home – at least put a coat on.” Who doesn’t listen to their grandmother? A sharp, ‘we don’t do that anywhere’ to the land whale who ignorantly waltzed along in front of a woman might have been heeded. What am I thinking? It wouldn’t have made a difference in that case. She could have spoken out about many things, but didn’t.

A case in point about behaviour are comments from some people about the prime ministers speech on Thursday. While many praised what he said, it is the case many saw an opportunity to denigrate him. They said things like, oh the cameras are on so he has to steal the limelight, and generally crapped all over him. Those people would have benefited a long time ago with admonishment from her about their public behaviour. I remember being told something about time and place.

She also could have spoken out about the treatment during her reign of Natives here in Canada. But she didn’t. She could have shamed world leaders decades ago to take action to save us from climate disaster now. But she didn’t. She could have been a little more courageous. We liked her for her composure and nice hats, when we could have loved her for her outspokenness.

She passively perpetuated the dominance of an upper class over the rest of us. I am not like many others, quick to dismiss a person’s good qualities over their shortcomings. We all have them and I think it would do our culture good to recognize the duality of everyone and not focus only on the negative. We should not dismiss the negative, but balance the greatness of action of some alongside things like drinking or bedroom practices, and blindness or ignorance of conditions.

Her passing certainly marks the closing of a chapter and the beginning of another. I do feel a sense of loss, but I’m not sure loss of what? Many love the sweet old lady for different reasons, and that will likely continue to be the case. At least Queen Elizabeth was not a Mother Teresa who showed us one face, and lived an opposite life.

She affected our culture is many intangible ways, most of it good. We are not a brash, in your face society. We are more measured (though that seems to be changing). We’re the polite ones. Was that because of her? Maybe.

I’m sure when I’m a doddering old fool (for the record, I’m a long way in time from that stage of life) I’ll still remember Queen Elizabeth II with some fondness.

The Shorts

Michael Jones
  • Judy Archer donated Michael Jones’s Bosendorfer piano to St. Paul’s Centre and Lance Anderson, Blair Bailey, Doreen Uren Simmons, Louis Lefaive, Terry Therien, Marta Solek. Ray Dillard, Nicole Lefaive, and Cassandra Rutherford will make some music with it September 10 at 7:30 p.m. An instrument of that kind of quality can create magic when played by accomplished hands, and make everyone else just sound better. You can make donations online In lieu of a ticket.
  • Last week I wrote about a public art opportunity the City is running. One artist I spoke with was already in designer mode for a few of the 7 installation sites. There is a nice chunk of change available for artists selected to do the work. You can check out the details here.
  • The annual Roots North fundraising concert for the Orillia Youth Centre happening September 17 at Fern Resort has a great lineup with  Reay,  Billy Pettinger and Ron Hawkins (Lowest of the Low) performing. As in the past Dapper Depot is a major sponsor of this event and 100% of the proceeds go to the youth center. Get tickets online.
  • Arts Orillia (formerly the Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture) has an event at the Leacock Museum happening September 22 at noon. It’s the premier of Heirloom by choreographers Zack Martel and Santiago River. It features new music played by a trio from the Royal Conservatory and mixes dance, circus and juggling into the performance. Tickets are pay what you can and you can order those online. I think most of you know I don’t get excited about dance, but I have enjoyed each of the dance programs the Orillia Centre has put on here.
  • Mariposa Folk Festival’s An Autum Paradse concert happening October 1 at Bayview Memorial Park in Oro-Medonte and at the Opera House got better this week. Treasa Levasseur has been added to the lineup which included  Aleksi Campagne, Union Duke and Irish Mythen. This is kind of a come for the Aleksi, Treasa and Union Duke, stay for the Irish Mythen. Dala has been added to the Opera House gig with Julian Taylor. Tickets are available online, or at the Opera House box office.
Cockpit By Sylvia Tesori
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Jeff Young playing tonight, Saturday at 8 p.m.; Will Davis and Chris Robinson play jazz Sunday at 1 p.m.; Wilverine’s Vinyl Night happens September 15 at 7 p.m.; Madison Mueller is in September 17 and Couch is planning a three week Oktoberfest extravaganza with Ronnie Douglas, Jeff Young, Run With The Kittnes, Bob Taylor and Steve Henry booked to play…  Jamie Drake, along with Jakob Pearce and Alex Golovchenko host a jam at the Grape and Olive Thursday nights starting at 6 p.m. … Quayle’s Brewery has Cat Chabot in to play Sunday at 3:30 p.m.; Jakob Pearce is in September 15 and Evan Farrell September 16… the Kensington has an open mic night hosted by Tim Kehoe on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m. … the Hog N’ Penny has trivia night every Thursday.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Demo Derby At The 2021 Orillia And District Fall Fair

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