This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Once again, after a two year hiatus, the Orillia Public Library has it’s expansive Remembrance Day exhibit up. It has more artifacts and exhibitors than in the past.

This time the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 34 is involved and brought their Fairmile related pieces to view, including a scale replica of the one that blew up at the foot of Mississaga Street almost 80 years ago. They also have artist renderings of the monument to the explosion in 1943 which killed Stanley Peacock they hope to have installed at Veteran’s Park next year.

Base Borden has items on display for the first time, and the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Canada is on board with the exhibition for the first time as well.

There are also military uniforms on display spanning the years 1867 to present day. The Royal Regiment’s participation is special to the library’s organizer of the event, Jayne Poolton-Turvey.

“The Royal Regiment of Canada was my dad’s regiment, so Rick from the museum came up from Fort York Armory,” she said.

Her father was captured in the raid on Dieppe and spent almost three years as a prisoner of war in Stalag VIIIB (8B). The U.S. 9th Army liberated the camp and that was,

“after surviving a death march from January to April, 1500 km,” she said.

Rick Towey, director and curator of the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Canada said he brought along items he thought the public could relate to. Among the items is a brass cigarette case Princess Mary gave to troops as a Christmas gift in 1914; crude handcuffs, which Towey said the POWs figured out how to unlock fairly quickly and the guards pretended not to notice; and a French/English phrase book and a pullout display of some of the phrases soldiers would need, like ones used to pick up girls and the phonetic pronunciation is done with a British accent.

OPL Remembrance Day Exhibit - What Canadian Soldiers Saw Landing On The Beach At Dieppe

Image 1 of 9

“So you’ve got all these Canadians speaking bad French with a bad British accent,” Towey said. He also has a one of a kind poppy, dried and picked in Flanders Fields at the time the poem was written.

“I’m sure it was a coincidence, but nonetheless, that’s 107 years old,” he said.

So far this week 750 students from 5 elementary and 3 secondary schools have been to see the exhibit. Turvey said she’s met many people who have travelled some distance to see it too and many of those had relatives who landed on the beach at Dieppe. A utility room has been mocked up to show the view soldiers would have had as they landed on the beach.

The library is closed Friday and you can see the exhibit Saturday from 9 to 4 p.m.


There are a few once again. See my review of Mariposa Arts Theatre’s Rocky Horror Show at the Opera House here. I predict if you go over to the box office online ticket page and get tickets and then read the review, I think you’ll be surprised at how happy I know you are going to be you got tickets before the rush starts.

Sunday’s Cellar Singers concert at St. James’ Anglican Church was one of the better attended concerts of this fall season. The choir sounded better than the most recent times I’ve heard them and seems to have recovered from the disruption the pandemic caused.

Their main performance selection was Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem.  This piece was written as a prayer for peace. The six movements alternated between loud, almost angry arranging and delivery, to mellow, lyrical writing – war and peace.

I haven’t not heard this music before and said to Mitchell Pady, the Cellars’s music director and conductor, the arranging of the music to the borrowed words was exactly opposite to figure skating. Williams when faced with the words:

Beat! beat! drums! – Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows – through the doors burst like a ruthless force

went for the jugular. While skaters seem to miss every musical cue they skate to, Williams reinforced the literal and metaphorical cues of the text – the sentiment of following the leadership’s call to arms be met with an equal push back for peace – as a practical exercise in imagery.

The choir, singing quite easily and clearly through the masks they wore, presented a sound I haven’t heard from them for some time. And no one fainted or staggered, unable to get air afterward.

The contrasting movements almost seemed un-interesting to me in the face of the power the others showed. While I do enjoy greatly nuanced music, I can get down with people bringing everything to the stage and leaving it there.

The Williams piece cold-opened with soloist Jennifer Taverner singing the Angus Dei with the upper and lower voices of the choir filling in at the next stanza. This is not the usual way for choral music to start and my recollection is Taverner was right on pitch, not having the choir or piano accompaniment to help rely on centering her voice. Michael York was the baritone soloist and both have appeared with the Cellars before.

This piece was the entirety of the second half. The first half featured a musical setting of In Flanders Fields by Canadian composer Alexander Tilley. It also included a meditation set to music by Albert Greer and a piece by Stephen Chatman. All were short and if not for a presentation to Blair Bailey upon his retirement as accompanist for the Cellars for 35 years, the first half would have been over in 20 minutes.

The other choir, the Orillia Vocal Ensemble had another one of its fundraising concerts on Wednesday this week at St. Paul’s Centre. This time they raised over $6,800 for the Couchiching Conservancy. Conservancy executive director Mark Bissett was the emcee and pretty good with the ad libs.

Sam Johnston was their guest. She was also awarded the OVE’s Roger Andrews Memorial Scholarship Award. She did a couple tunes in each set. If you’ve been following along, you know she had a gig two weeks ago and I was saying good things. Well, here we go again. She just keeps getting better every time I see her. Maybe getting more confident on stage and more confident with the choices of tunes she performs. I don’t think I’ve heard her do a repeat of any song I’ve heard her do.

Sam Johnston

She tends to rework songs she does with a bit of a blues sensibility. This time she did What A Wonderful World and the blues chord progression, though subtle, was there. Next was Big Yellow Taxi, different from Joni Mitchell’s version, yet still the same. I think I figured out what’s going on. In Taxi, the phrasing and emphasis on particular words was where Sam departed.  I’m also sensing a pattern with the choice of tunes. They are unlikely in that most performers at her stage of development cover tunes the audience is well familiar with – as in relatively recently in the public eye. Sam’s choices are certainly familiar, but when’s the last time you heard someone cover Wonderful World or Taxi – or even Ozzy’s Dreamer? I think she has some kind of personal attachment to the lyrics, or experience milestone for songs as a whole. She’s bringing an insight to the music that is her own. Her guitar playing is basically just indicating some rhythm and laying chord change foundations, nothing fancy. It’s the way she sings the lyrics where her strength is.

The OVE repertoire was as usual, mostly stuff pulled from a choral catalogue most people have never heard before (except for Gord’s Pussy Willows…). They’re not as tight as the other choral group, but under Blair Bailey’s arm waving they sound a little more unified than in the past.

My favourite of the night was Lullaby From the Great Mother Whale For the Baby Seal Pups by Paul Winter. Originally a duet between alto sax and whale singing, there obviously are no lyrics and the trick is to mimic the whale song and bland with it. I thought the balance of sound between the humans and the whales was pretty good, sometimes making one wonder whether the music at any particular moment was coming from the choir or the recording.

Last Saturday afternoon’s Orillia and District Arts Council’s conceived and produced exhibition of A Visual Reconciliation – Part One at Creative Nomad Studios was not so well attended, but informative. Each of four artists Xavier Fernandes, Ted Fullerton, Dazaunggee (or as he says, his government name Paul Shilling) and Julie Tian spoke about their interpretation of the Seven Grandmother Teachings. This first of the series focused on Bravery – Aakwa’ode’ewin (represented by the bear).

Ted Fullerton, Dazaunggee, Julie Tian and Xavier Fernandes

What was really fascinating was hearing what Dazaunggee spoke of. Anytime I get to listen to him I always feel like something has changed when we part. Dazaunggee’s explanation of what his painting represented to him and his thought process about the theme is – real bravery is when we look inside ourselves, once we realize our problems aren’t necessarily with others, but with our thoughts, perceptions and beliefs; and when we figure it out, to change.

It sounds simple, but in the context of the rest of what he had to say, a great challenge. I think the smartest people in the room aren’t the ones with $44 billion to throw away, but the soft spoken, observant ones.

The rest of the exhibitions will be at other galleries in Simcoe County, with the finale back here in Orillia in the spring at a time and place to be determined.

In Memoriam
Phil Jackman

Philip Jackman died last month. I was surprised to learn of this. He was a valued volunteer with the Orillia Museum of Art and History helping to maintain and make functional their website and responsible for their newsletter. He also volunteered with the Mariposa Folk festival and the Orillia Heritage Centre. He retired to Orillia after years with the Globe and Mail as the opinion page and features section editor. He took some great photos too. Phil also had some great advice to give when SUNonline/Orillia was being created and a regular visitor to this website. His celebration of life has already taken place, but you can watch it online. He requested any donations in his memory be made to OMAH or Mariposa House Hospice. His willingness to lend a hand will be missed by many.

The Shorts

  •  The Orillia Santa Claus Parade is November 19 at 5 p.m. downtown
  • Sunday November 20 the Orillia Youth Centre has Juno Award winner William Prince performing at Fern Resort. Le Ren is opening and all proceeds go to Rama Youth Services and the Orillia Youth Centre. The last time he played here, I recall a big, linebacker type of guy who had a really good tenor voice and thoughtful songs to sing. Get Tickets online.
  • The Orillia Public Library has an event that’s right up my alley. November 26 at 5 p.m. they have Bad Art Night. This is what they say it’s about: “Do you have a passion for art but a complete lack of talent and skill? Then Bad Art Night is the program for you! Join us for a night of creative fun and pizza. Create one of a kind disasterpieces and earn prizes for your terribleness.”  This event is for those over 18. How much over, they don’t say, so I’m assuming it’s in ability. The cost is $5 and you need to be a library member in good standing. You can register to attend here.
  • The City of Orillia has a survey to get feedback on your experience with their See You On The Patio program of last summer. It doesn’t take long to do and you can find it here.
  • Keep November 23 open to attend the annual Orillia and District Arts Council/Orillia Museum of Art and History/City of Orillia Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards at the Opera House. Schmoozing starts at 6 p.m. with the ceremony at 7. Dress up and celebrate all our arts and artists; it’s free to attend.
  • The 8th annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party happens at Orillia Bowl December 16 from 6 to 11 p.m. Derick Lehman organizes this event which has raised $20,000 for the Sharing Place Food Bank. The format is a little different this year; there are only two time frames to choose from. Last year the earlier times slots sold out pretty quickly.  Register online.
  • OMAH’s annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition is up. Also up is Sylvia Tesori’s The Man Who Could Fly; The Girl Who Flies In Her Dreams solo show and The History Of Orillia In 50 Artefacts exhibit. OMAH also has Music and Mocktails every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. The history side has their monthly History Speaker’s Night November 17 with Douglas Hunter who will speak about the birth of the Group of Seven in the context of A.Y. Jackson’s World War I service. It’s online and you can get tickets by calling 705-326-2159… Hibernation Arts guest artist this month is Renee Van Der Putten and they are part of an Indoor Art Walk November 26 from noon to 5 p.m. in the Arts District; there will be artists on hand to meet… Peter Street Fine Arts is launching this year’s 6×6 show and the boards are ready to pick up at last year’s fee level; their guest this month is also Renee Van der Putten.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has the fantastic Steve Henry and Friends band in Saturday night; Bob Taylor is in November 18 and November 19 they have an after the Santa Claus Parade party… Will Davis and Chris Robinson are at Lot 88 Saturday night… 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 Burke Erwin in to play Friday afternoon; Ron Whitman palsy Saturday; Chris Lemay is in Sunday afternoon; Jojo plays November 17 and Cam Galloway plays November 18… the Hog N’ Penny has Jamie Drake playing Friday night; Terry Savage plays next Friday.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Jayne Poolton-Turvey. and Rick Towey of the the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Canada at the Orillia Public Library’s Remembrance Day exhibit.

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism