When the sun went down and the stars started to come out, at least 40 people were treated to a spectacular view of Saturn and its rings at the North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve near Plevna Saturday night. Also in the frame was the likelihood of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, but there was some discussion as to whether this was actually a star in the background and couldn’t be confirmed by press time.
Saturday night was the third star party at the observation pad this summer (subsequent parties include (Aug. 11, 12 and 13, the Perseid meteor showers), Sept.1, seven planets, Oct. 6 featuring the autumn constellations) and also featured Jupiter and its four Galilean moons. The banding on Jupiter was also visible.
While many of the stargazers were locals and regulars, a considerable number were from out of town and first-timers.
“I wanted my family to see how pure the sky is,” said Rong Hui Yang from Ottawa. “In Ottawa, there is too much light pollution.”
Paul Thiel of the North Frontenac Economic Development Task Force said that the Yang family are typical visitors to the sky pad, coming in for the evening. But, he said, they do get a lot of inquires from people who would like to come and stay longer. The problem is that the lodges and campgrounds are pretty much booked solid with seasonals and there’s no place for would be stargazers to stay.
That almost happened to Lloyd and Francine Kresic from Rockford, ON, but they managed to luck out.
“We wanted to come down for this when we found out about it, but we phoned around and nothing was available,” said Lloyd while setting up his telescope. “Luckily, Ferleigh Lodge had a cancellation and we found out about it Wednesday.
“It’s our first time and we’d like to come back.”
Thiel said accommodation (or lack thereof) is something the task force has been looking at in detail.
“The campgrounds and lodges are booked full-time from mid-June,” he said. “We just finished a survey to see that’s changed since six years ago.
Thiel said he’d like to see the property to the west of the pad purchased and turned into a campground, but with the caveat of a seven-day maximum stay.
That could be especially important once the campaign to build an observatory to house the donation of a 16-inch telescope from the Ottawa branch of the Canadian Astronomical Society becomes a reality.
And speaking of the observatory, there’s a Go-Fund-Me page dedicated to the project if you’d like to contribute.
Verona’s Tim Trentadue, a frequent visitor, said he’s met people from all over at the pad and many have expressed the same frustration with finding a place to stay.
“I’m here on most clear nights and I’m rarely alone,” he said. “One night in April, a moose came through.”
“All eight turtle species in Ontario are at risk,” said Julia Garro, while painting turtles on kids’ cheeks at Bon Echo Provincial Park Saturday. “And three of those species are here in the park — Blanding’s, snapping and midland painted turtles.”
Garro, who’s on the board of the Friends of Bon Echo, was one of the organizers of TurtleFest, one of two events this year designed to raise awareness of the plight of the shelled reptilians. “Last year, we did the five-lined skink.”
“There are lots of things people can do to help turtles, like making covers to protect nests,” she said.
There were also lots of games and activities to promote such things such as a coloring contest and turtle-tac-toe, a game where predators are much more numerous than turtles illustrating the dangers eggs and hatchlings face.
“A lot of turtles in Ontario get taken by poachers,” she said. “And only about seven of 10,000 snapping turtle eggs make it to maturity.”
A highlight of Turtlefest was a presentation from the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, which sprung from the Kids-4-Turtles program in Peterborough County, who also provided posters featuring numerous facts about Ontario’s turtles.
Through the ’90s and into the 2000s, Inverary’s Jeff Williams managed to make a living racing motorcycles.
But things change and in 2006, he walked away from the sport he loved.
These days, he makes a living with his own paving company — Williams Paving.
But, old habits die hard and on Aug. 10-12, Williams will be at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville for the CTMP Superbike Doubleheader, the series’ final races of the season. Williams is currently fifth in the Pro Superbike points standings (he was seventh last year) and has a legitimate shot at the championship title.
At age 45, Williams is one of three top-five racers this year over the age of 38. But even he admits racing motorcycles is essentially a younger man’s game given the physical and mental toll the sport demands.
There have to be less taxing ways to make living, right?
“You can make money at it, but you can’t make a living,” Williams said in between paving jobs Monday. “For much of the ’90s and into the 2000s, you could make a living but now . . .
“My bike (a BMW S1000RR) is in the $65,000 range as are all of the top five riders’ bikes.”
One aspect of 21st Century motorcycle racing that adds to the expense is the electronics built into these new machines.
“We have traction control, wheelie controls and a lot of other electronics,” he said. “Current bikes are a lot closer to Formula 1 cars than most motorcycles and your engineer is probably the most important guy on the team.
“But, electronics certainly helps old guys.”
It’s still a grueling circuit though. A season includes two stops in Ontario, one in Quebec, and a doubleheader in Nova Scotia before returning to Bowmanville for the finale.
But once the competitive juices get flowing again . . .
“It’s a bad bug to get in your system,” Williams said, chuckling a little bit. “I got back into it after doing some ice racing in the winter in Madoc.
“It didn’t take long to get me back into it and now it’s back to ‘nothing else matters when you put that helmet on.’”
He said these days, he feels the mental strain more than the physical, given the speeds they travel (300 to 320 kph) and how close the bikes are together, especially when drafting. But strangely enough, there’s an almost zen-like therapeutic effect there.
“It gets me away from the stress of work,” he said. “I’ll definitely be doing another three years of racing.”
Inverary’s Jeff Williams takes the checkered flag at a recent CSBK event. Photo/Don Empey.
While there’s likely nothing the Township can do about it, Council did express concerns about a planned new boat launch on Palmerston Lake in Ompah at its regular meeting last Friday.
At the very least, they won’t be supporting Michael Widmeyer’s request for financial assistance for upgrades to accommodate larger boats and trailers to the private boat launch at the Palmerston Lake Marina.
In fact, they’re not convinced it’s a good idea at all.
“The problem I have with it is it’s a limited space,” said Public Works Manager Darwyn Sproule to Council. “The way the sketch is, the area is square and I’m concerned about pontoon boats attached to a half-ton encroaching on a busy highway.”
“I’m also concerned about safety but how do we provide comments on something we don’t control?” said Mayor Ron Higgins.
Since there already is an entrance to Road 509 at the sight, the Township really has no avenue to pursue. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority has some regulatory authority but as MVCA rep Coun. Gerry Martin said: “Mississippi Valley is not concerned with traffic, just water.”
Council resolved to have Sproule meet with the owner to discuss the Township’s concerns and to send a copy of the resolution to the MVCA.
• • •
It looks like from now on, the Township of North Frontenac will provide its own traffic control in the form of public works employees..
Public works employees performed the task for the Canada Day fireworks display after a request to the OPP turned out that there were no OPP officers available to provide traffic control.
“Even with short notice, and it being the long weekend, we were able to book two public works employees and two public works vehicles (not fire department volunteers or vehicles as legislation does not permit the fire department to provide traffic control) to provide traffic control at this year’s event,” said CAO Cheryl Robson in her report.
“I think it would be a good idea to do this in the future,” said Coun. Wayne Good. “It’s cheaper.”
• • •
North Frontenac Township Council is asking for the public’s help.
It seems not enough people are calling the TIPS line to report poaching and other wildlife/fishing violations.
This is important because, believe it or not, the number of conservation officers and resources allocated to an area is dependent on the number of TIPS calls the area generates.
“We’ll take this up when we meet with the Minister of Natural Resources,” said Mayor Ron Higgins.
“Pretty much our anglers and hunters have given up calling TIPS because of little response,” said Coun. Gerry Martin. “The bureaucrats have decided the conservation officers’ budgets are dependent on TIPS calls.
“We have three trucks and four conservation officers.”
“We were told the Minden area has more conservation officers but we have more area to cover,” said Dep. Mayor Fred Perry. “Minden does have more population.”
“It’s not just calling, but people have to include information like licence plates and color of boats,” said Higgins.
• • •
North Frontenac Township appointed former Building Inspector Dan Halladay as its Chief Building Official by bylaw at its Friday meeting following the resignation of Shawn Merriman.
Since North has an agreement with Central Frontenac regarding CBOs, Council appointed Alan Revill as Deputy CBO in accordance with the Shared Building Department Services joint agreement.
Central has appointed Revill as its interim CBO until such time as they hire a permanent person.
Revill is the former CBO of South Frontenac Township.
If you’re looking for a little light reading this summer with a definitively local flavour, you could do a lot worse than The Skootamatta Ozone Ball by summer Cloyne area resident J.E. (Jeff) McBee.
This is McBee’s third offering in the Riverton Trilogy, which also includes Fugitive Dust and Key North.
It’s being sold at the Cloyne Pioneer Museum as a fundraiser and also at Hook’s Building Centre.
It starts out with a mysterious death on the river near Riverton, New York, which really only serves to provide a reason for the moods of some of the protagonists in this particular chapter of the trilogy.
After the death of their friend on the river, several guys around the age of 20 decide to make the trek to Skootamatta Lake for the Labour Day weekend. Tom Martin’s family has owned a cottage on the lake since Tom was a kid, and this is the first time he’s been allowed to use it without his parents being around.
So, what does he do? He invites a bunch of his buddies along for the kind of long weekend that will be all too familiar to area baby boomers who’ve been to more than one of these weekends.
It’s about what you’d expect.
There’s more beer than food. There’s plenty of marijuana. There’s waterskiing, there’s a dance at the Cloyne Hall and amateur night at the Hotel Northbrook, where the boys display typical inadequacies in attracting the opposite sex.
And there’s boys being boys.
What makes this particular novel fun for area residents is all the local references starting from St. Catherines, up the QEW, 427, 401, 41 and finally to Addington Highlands cottage country.
This is Labour Day, 1972.
The novel is full of historical references, including the Watergate Scandal breaking and the Summit Series with the Russian Hockey Federation.
But there’s also plenty of small references to local culture, including Brador and poutine (could you really get poutine at the Hotel Northbrook in 1972?)
It’s essentially a romp. Think Hunter S. Thompson comes to Cloyne for the weekend.
There’s the obligatory stereo system complete with Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead as well as Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Cockburn for Canadian content.
It’s a good bet most of us in our 60s now have had weekends like this (probably more than one), and it’s interesting to see a Florida writer’s take on it, through the eyes of a bunch of young Yankees.
You’ll recognize just about everything and be saying to yourself, “Yeah, it was pretty much like that.”
One of the more “celestial” fundraisers in the area for the past several years has been the Maberly Fair’s Pie in the Sky event.
It’s a rather simple concept, really. First, you go and buy a pie to support the Fair, and then you get your reward — a look at the Sun, courtesy of local astronomers Fred Barrett (also Frontenac News columnist) and Bob Hillier.
(There’s also a farmer’s market for plants, seedlings and produce.)
Once you’ve decided on apple, strawberry or rhubarb, it’s time to see what Sol is up to for the day.
This is actually more difficult than it sounds, because looking at the sun through a regular telescope is simply not a good idea. For that, you need a specialized scope that won’t burn out your retinas.
“This telescope blocks out 99.99 per cent of the light,” said Hillier, who jointly purchased it back it the late ’90s with Barrett. “It’s like a #14 arc welding mask.”
Hillier, who lives in Ottawa, has an observatory adjacent to Barrett’s down the road towards Westport.
“We split the cost of the telescope and share joint custody,” he said.
What you see through the scope is a red disk. Because the Sun is at the end of its 11-year activity cycle, there wasn’t that much going on, ie no Sun spots. However, there were a couple of solar flares that made the trip worthwhile (that and an excellent strawberry pie that actually made it to the end of Canada Day).
“Look close, the Sun’s surface is not smooth, it’s textured,” said Hillier, who admitted to being more of a night-time observer. “This is what observers do when they go to the light side.
“Right now, we’re past the solar max, so there’s not much activity. What we’re looking at now is to see if it’s consistent with what we expect to see.”
“The Sun is a fascinating object,” said Barrett. “Particularly when the face has the black sun spots that are moving around like amoebas.”
“During a solar max period, the solar poles flip and the result is maximum sun spots at the equator.”
“It’s not really predictable (how much sun spot activity there will be) and it’s not really fully understood.”
Barrett said he plans to get back to regular column-writing next month after some family matters led to missing a couple of months.
“There’s a minor meteor shower coming,” he said. “Neptune and Uranus will be visible but they’ll take some specialized equipment.”
On Sunday, more than 250 athletes ranging in ages from little kids to 80 years old suited up for the 10th annual Somersault Series of races in Sydenham.
The series got underway at 8am to avoid the heat of the date and to accommodate many participants who travelled considerable distances, said race director Maryanne Takala. Sydenham’s Takala is no stranger to triathlon as her son, Scott, has competed in World’s.
Competitors signed up for eight events ranging from Olympic triathlon to kids’ fun runs as varying race courses dominated downtown Sydenham and The Point Park.
Here are the results for the top events:
Top Male – Michael Casista – 2:06:27
Top FM – Maia Idzikowski – 2:27:12
Olympic Tri Relay
Solitutes (John, Jack and Tom Glassco from Sydenham) 2:15:47
Male – Clive Morgan – 1:07:53
Female – Heather Low – 1:09:43
Jack Kilislian – 1:54:36
Marigold Edwards – 2:28:10
Top Female and Winner of the 2 Km race – Avery Blanch Hinch 9 years old - 10:42
Top Male and youngest runner , David Owen 5 years old – 22:15
Male - Cody Harding – 20:5
Female - Val Hopkins – 24:43
Male – Jim Townsend - 42:06
Female – Tania Storms - 52:04
The Reggae Band was a couple hours late showing up, but otherwise, spirits were high as Back Forty Artisan Cheese opened up for the season on Saturday at its Mississippi Station location. The home-base for the popular sheep cheese shop is open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm from now until “sometime around the end of September,” said owner/cheesemaker Jeff Fenwick.
For the past three years, they’ve held a summer kick-off event featuring other unique area food experiences including Stalwart Brewery, Deep Fried Battered Curds, Chocolates by Ludwig Ratzinger and a barbecue from Seed to Sausage.
“This is my vacation,” said Mike McKenzie of Seed to Sausage. “It’s the least I could do for such wonderful people.”
For those unfamiliar with the Back Forty story, Jeff and Jenna Fenwick bought a small farm near Mississippi Station back in 2000 and proceeded to turn it into a small cheese factory using sheep milk. Since then, they’ve been opening the shop on Saturdays during the summer, and they’ve been supplying restaurants and stores all over with their unique brands.
This year, that will be significant if you want to try Fenwick’s latest endeavor, water buffalo milk cheese, because it’ll only be available at the shop and the Almonte Farmers Market.
To go along with his regular brands, Madawaska, Highland Blue, Bonnechere, Flower Station and Ompah, Fenwick has added a Queso Almonte, Calabogie Blue and Shanklish for this year. (The Calabogie Blue is especially good.)
“Water buffalo cheeses are particularly popular in Italy,” he said. “It’s what they use in mozzarella.”
“The Queso is more like a Spanish mozzarella, and it’s a nice melting cheese.”
But it won’t be available anywhere other than the store or Almonte Farmers Market.
“I’ve always liked to try something different,” he said. “I like the water buffalo cheeses, but they are labor-intensive and you don’t get that much for a lot of work.”
However, he does expect they’ll have plenty left for the fall studio tour, where they plan to have charcouterie and grilled cheese.
Upcoming work on Crow Lake Road is “still in the design phase,” Kevin Hawley of Greer Galloway told an open house in Sharbot Lake’s Oso Hall last Thursday, held to get public feedback.
“Construction could be in the late fall (or August) or next spring,” he said. “We can’t do it in winter because cold weather paving can be a problem.”
The plans are to address several specific issues that have been noted by residents, including speeding and drainage, he said.
“This will only pertain to the hamlet,” he said. “From the Crossroad to the train tracks.
“There are several options for the rest of Crow Lake Road to Road 38 but that will have to wait for grants.”
“And we are applying for grants all the time,” said Mayor Frances Smith.
Hawley said they’re well aware of the issues and have made them part of every grant application.
“When applying for grants, you tell the saddest story possible,” he said.
Currently, he said, they are looking at putting in curbs (no sidewalks), some ditching, new asphalt and new signage.
“We don’t want to widen it too much because that would encourage people to speed through there,” he said.
Also, they’re looking at speed bumps, which would be in place from May to October.
“We can’t put in permanent speed bumps because of issues with snow plows,” he said.
They’re also looking at eliminating a drain that goes through a concrete dock.
But there will be measures undertaken to “hopefully eliminate road water.”
Hawley said he didn’t expect there to be major traffic disruptions during construction but “there could be the odd daily 10-3 closure.”
Normally, a contractor defaulting on a contract with a township isn’t a good thing. But in the case of Dilawri Chrysler not being able to fulfill an order for three ½ ton pickups, it’s worked out rather well, at least from the standpoint of saving money.
Acting public works manager David Armstrong told Central Frontenac Council at its regular meeting Tuesday in Arden that the Township solicitor had reviewed the contract and considered the non-compliance a breach.
“We weren’t the only ones,” said Clerk Cathy MacMunn. “They had some 300 deals they made that they couldn’t fulfill, including four municipalities.”
Armstrong said that with the opportunity to review the Township’s needs, they would be better served by buying two 4 X 4 ¾ ton crew cabs.
And that’s the good news. The two ¾ tons come in at a price of $62,692, whereas the three ½ tons would have cost $97,000. Council had budgeted $120,000 for new vehicles in this year’s budget.
“Upon review, we thought the ¾ tons would suit our needs better as we can get more guys to the job in them, attach a plow to them and hook up trailers to them,” Armstrong said.
Coun. John Purdon said he wondered if the matter shouldn’t have come back to council when the breach was discovered but Clerk/Administrator Cathy MacMunn said the vehicles are needed now and will definitely be needed before winter, so they went ahead and called for tenders.
“With only one meeting in July and one in August, we felt the need for the equipment meant we should go ahead and call for tenders,” she said.
Coun. Phillip Smith and Brent Cameron had another concern.
“I’m having difficulties supporting the ¾ tons,” Smith said. “We have two ¾ tons at the fire substations and I think this would have been a good opportunity for fire and public works to get together on how to use those trucks.”
“It is something that’s been discussed,” said Cameron.
“There is an issue of time here,” said Coun. Vic Heese. “We can’t really reassign those trucks until after the fire plan is done.”
“My recollection is that the trucks in the fire stations wouldn’t work for your needs right now,” said Fire Chief Greg Robinson. “They might work next year.”
Council approved the acquisition of the two ¾ tons. Smith and Cameron voted against.
Kennebec Wilderness Trails
Following a presentation by Gord Brown and Kevin Laporte, Council approved several requests regarding the Kennebec Shores Parkland Trails including naming it Kennebec Wilderness Trails.
Designating it as Wilderness Trails under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act so that the rather rugged trails won’t have to be accessible to those with disabilities, an expensive, and in this case a near-impossible proposition.
Coun. Bill MacDonald pointed out that under the Act, ATVs and snowmobiles would be allowed to use the trails but Brown said they plan to install farm gates at trail entrances.
Council also approved $7,500 for said gates, signage, footbridges and parking facilities. The $7,500 was to have come from Parkland Reserves and is the same amount Mark Snider paid for two additional lots when he acquired the Kennebec Shores Waterfront Community.
However, Cathy MacMunn told Council that the current amount of funds in Parkland Reserves is “none,” and it would have to come out of general revenues.
Council also authorized the use of a 220 metre section of unopened road allowance to extend the yellow trail to Nordic Road as the existing part of the trail was flooded by beaver activity.
Dep. Mayor Tom Dewey chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Frances Smith who is recovering from eye surgery.
“I talked to the Mayor this morning and she is doing well — considering,” he said.
Following an email from CP Rail, Council approved $87,500 for its part in installing a new warning (gate) system at the Wagarville Road crossing in Parham.
There was no word on when the new system would be installed.