Wednesday, 13 December 2017 12:09

Community Foundation of Kingston and Area grants

Frontenac County did well by the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area this week. 5 of the 15 grants announced at a ceremony at Sydenham Street United Church in Kingston are going to projects that are located in Frontenac County.

They include a $13,104 grant to the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre’s Winter Ecology Education Centre. The grant is intended to provide the opportunity for youth to actively learn and research about winter. The grant will go towards new equipment and a bus subsidy.

“Youth and new Canadians will access and study winter ecology first hand. They will learn what is happening above and below the snow and ice. This will inspire local youth to feel connected with the environment around them and be empowered to become environmental stewards,” said the release accompanying the grant announcement.

Southern Frontenac Community Services is receiving $3,658 for a professional 10 quart mixer to go in the commercial kitchen at the Grace Centre. The mixer will be used for the meals on wheels program that delivers 150 hot meals a week to seniors in the community, as well as to broaden the meal variety for Adult Day Program clients. SFCS is also considering expanding their Meals on Wheels program and the mixer will help them move closer to doing that,.

The group that has been working to develop a community recreation and cultural centre at the former Hinchinbrooke School in Parham, received a grant from the foundation last year to help them fund a feasibility study for the project. This year they are receiving a grant of $2,597 to recruit new partners to develop a multi-stage business plan for the project.

Finally, Rural Frontenac Community Services is receiving $8825 for the popular “Let’s Get Drumming” youth program. The project is active in North, Central and South Frontenac, “addressing the need for free, fun musical activities that encourages rural youth to learn an instrument, be active and connect with a group in their own community in a fun environment that promotes inclusion,” according to the release.

The total dollar value of the 5 grants, $28,184, represents about 20% of the $150,000 that was handed out by the CFGK this week.

Details on the Foundation’s Community Grants program and the projects they have funded can be found on their website at


You know Christmas is coming when you can smell a variety of flavours coming out of the Grace Centre in Sydenham on a Saturday afternoon in late November.

And this year is no exception as Leslie Reade and Josey Steel once again organized Vision Soup, a community fundraiser which is a joint project for the Christmas Food Basket, Loughborough Emergency Relief Fun and Southern Frontenac Community Services.

This year was the 12th annual and very little has changed from the first one Reade and Steel organized.

For $20, you choose a handmade bowl donated by local potters and fill it with a variety of soups. When you’ve had your fill, you get to keep the bowl.

“Well, the one thing that’s changed a little is that I think we get a little more support every year,” said Reade. “I think this is the most variety of soups we’ve had, 21, everything from spicy Thai soup to chicken Noodle (and in between there were things like Italian wedding and coconut curry lentil).”

The weather wasn’t especially great but there was a lineup into the parking lot when the doors opened and every seat was filled within minutes.

“People are such good sports,” Reade said. “No, it’s not a nice day but we appreciate everyone coming out, including the volunteers, who are mostly friends and family.”

Reade said this is a strong community but there are some who need a little help at Christmas time.

“That’s why we started this in the first place,” she said. “And we’re very thankful for the community’s support.”


Craig Beattie, of Edgewater Stonemasons in Kingston, loves working on restoration projects involving heritage buildings. He took the Heritage Masonry course, along with his colleagues at Edgewater, at Algonquin College and has worked on projects on government and other heritage buildings over the years.

These days, Beattie and his crew are at the Grace Centre in Sydenham, restoring the Grace Centre to the condition it was in when it was first constructed in 1861.  He said he is pleased with the condition of the building.

“You can see that the stone work is intact, nothing is really coming apart,” he said, pointing to the building. All we have to do is take out what is there and replace it with something that is as close to the original mortar as we can use nowadays.

He explained that the idea behind the original limestone based mortar was that the mortar would absorb moisture in the wet and cold seasons, and would dry out in the hot summer weather, maintaining the stone cladding in good condition. Later on, the thinking was that the buildings would be better off if they were sealed against moisture completely, so a layer of Portland cement was applied over the original mortar.

“The problem that resulted for these heritage building is that any moisture that got in, even through cracks in the rock, was trapped inside and can do damage over time,” he said.

So in recent times many buildings, including the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and Queen’s Park, are having the Portland cement removed and replaced so the buildings can function the way they were first intended to, and can live on for another 150 or more years in good condition.

The Grace Centre re-pointing project is being supported to the tune of $38,000 from the Ontario150 Community Capital grants program, with the funds being administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Last Wednesday, (June 7), at the Grace Centre, scaffolding was already covering the south wall of the building and a three member crew was hard at work when they took a break to allow for MPP Randy Hillier, Ontario Trillium Foundation Rep John Blake, and Southern Frontenac Community Services Executive Director David Townsend to conduct a ceremony announcing the grant.

Hillier took the opportunity to don a hard hat and chip off the old mortar from the front of the building, under strict supervision from Craig Beattie.

“These kinds of non-partisan projects, and the work of the Trillium Foundation, are what government is really about, beyond all the politics at Queen’s Park,” said Hillier.

“The Centre is delighted to receive the funding to ensure it will continue to be a place where seniors and others in the community can gather to benefit from programs and events that reduce social isolation and contribute to their quality of life,” said David Townsend.

The politicians, officials, SFCS Board members and the public then went into the building for coffee and treats at the Grace cafe. Soon after, all the officials drove off, the SFCS staff returned to work, and the masons climbed back up the scaffolding to continue working.

The project is expected to be completed by the fall.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 13:41

Melodia Monday Sings at Grace Hall

“If you had any illusions about us being a high-brow choir, that should have dispelled them,” smiled Doug Routledge of Melodia Monday, to a laughing, clapping crowd at the finish of the Arrogant Worms’ “Cow Song”. (You can look up the lyrics if you don’t remember them.)

Rutledge is conductor of this 24-member choir which draws singers from a wide area between Napanee and Brockville. All are passionate about music and love to sing together; their repertoire is broad, running from sacred to profane, classical to folk. The name comes from their always practising on Monday evenings.

Last Friday Grace Hall had a full house to hear Melodia Monday perform a concert of all-Canadian songs. They opened withBreathe on Us, a piece the group had commissioned Mark Sirett to compose for them, using the words of a poem by Archibald Lampman. They also sang Sirett’s arrangement ofUn Canadian Errant.

Farewell Nancy, adapted from a traditional Newfoundland lament and set to music by Stephen Chatman, is full of exquisite, haunting harmonies, as is Frobisher Bay, which was sung by the men of the choir, and tells of a whaling crew whose ship has been caught by freeze-up and is doomed to spend a winter in the ice of Frobisher Bay. Overall, the evening had a distinctively Eastern Canadian flavour, with Song for the Mira, Wood River and Log Driver’s Waltz.

The choir praised Grace Hall’s acoustics, and enjoyed using the new stage risers, recently designed and constructed by Frank York of Verona. The audience showed their appreciation of the evening with a standing ovation.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 13:23

Artist talk at the Grace Centre

Something about fibre art is particularly enticing: Phillida Hargreaves, some of whose work is on display at Grace Hall from now until the end of summer, says texture was what first drew her to fabric as an art medium.

Hargreaves spoke Sunday afternoon to a fascinated audience of over thirty people who came to see her work and hear her talk to them about it.

“With fibre art,” she said, “you learn to use a multitude of techniques: stitching, dyeing, knitting, cutting, drawing, printing, felting and painting, to name a few.” She described how the very thing some thought of as daunting — the huge amount of time and stitching required to create some of her pictures — could be soothing and relaxing with its calm repetition that freed up the mind to daydream. “And if you don’t like what you’ve done, fibre art can always be changed. You can pick out a line of stitching and start over with another colour. Or cut it up and use bits in something else!”

Much of Hargreaves’ work is landscape based, inspired by travels in the Arctic, New Zealand and Morocco. It features textures of rocks, buildings, trees and water, and the lure of light shining through narrow spaces. One small narrative piece recalls the daily letters her grandfather wrote to her grandmother when he was on the battlefield in WWI, every letter beginning with the words, “My dear old girl”, seldom mentioning the horrors he was living through.

The pictures can be viewed Monday - Friday, whenever the hall is not in use: either phone SFCSC (613 376-6477) or drop by, using the side door. 4295 Stage Coach Road, Sydenham: just up the hill from the flashing light.

Thursday, 27 April 2017 11:28

Melodia Monday

Melodia Monday brings a lively celebration of music by and about Canadians to Sydenham in mid-May.

“Funny, toe-tapping and haunting, this program of Canadian songs is a great way to welcome spring, and celebrate our complicated country,” says the Grace Arts Committee; “ The group’s repertoire ranges from Newfoundland to Leonard Cohen, to The Arrogant Worms.”

Melodia Monday is an a cappella choir of local and area singers, well known for their performances in many communities in the Kingston area.

Concert-goers will also have an opportunity to enjoy the show of fibre art works by Kingston artist Phillida Hargreaves, which will be on display from May 1st at Grace Hall.

Grace Arts, which is bringing the group to Sydenham, is a committee of Southern Frontenac Community Services (SFCSC), an agency that provides health and social services to seniors and vulnerable families in rural South Frontenac, and which supports the expression of the arts from our region and beyond. Revenue from the tickets will be divided between the choir (to buy music and pay royalties,) and SFCSC, to go toward upgrading the sound and light systems of Grace Hall.

Tickets are $15 each and are available online at:, or at the door. Refreshments will be available.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:56

Valdy Fills Grace Hall

Valdy indeed filled Grace Hall last Saturday night, with both his music and an enthusiastic audience. Beginning with his classic, ‘Play me a Rock & Roll Song’, he went on to show us just how satisfying an evening of real folk singing can be.

An accomplished musician, Valdy’s guitar playing was rich and complex, with wonderful rhythms. His songs were full of warmth, humour and great stories. He related to his listeners with a comfortable familiarity.

Some came with armloads of well-loved Valdy records for him to sign, which he did as if he had all the time in the world, although some of us knew he had a three-hour drive still ahead of him that night, and a short sleep before an afternoon gig in Halliburton.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 21:10

Food Matters event in Sydenham Oct. 22

More than 8% of households in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington area live with food insecurity. That's one in 12 households who do not know if there will be enough food next week or next month (from the 2016 Vital Signs report of the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area).

To address this issue, a “Food matters” event will be held at the Grace Centre, 4295 Stage Coach Road, Sydenham, from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday, October 22. People are invited to arrive between 12:30 and 1 pm, to meet and network with others. There is no charge and light refreshments will be served.

"Statistics about personal or family food insecurity in our region show the urgency for us to improve the food security situation here," says Dianne Dowling, a member of the Food Policy Council (FPC) for KFL&A. "That's why the FPC is holding Food Matters -- Connecting the Roots of Food Security in KFL&A, to bring people together to develop ideas for programs and policies to increase food security. Food security includes personal or family food security, as well as community food security -- the ability of the region to grow, process, store and distribute its own food. We want to help create networks of people involved in activities that relate to food and farming in KFL&A. Everyone is welcome to attend -- including community members, staff and volunteers in community organizations, elected officials, municipal staff members."

There will be panel presentations by Ayla Fenton, a young farmer; Toni Pickard from the Kingston Action Group for the Basic Income Guarantee; and David Townsend, executive director of Southern Frontenac Community Services, followed by group discussions on topics chosen by the participants. Recommendations for steps to increase food security will be collected from the groups and shared in the community.

Sponsors for Food Matters include: the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area, City of Kingston, County of Frontenac, Kingston Community Health Centres, Loving Spoonful, National Farmers Union Local 316, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, and Southern Frontenac Community Services.

The Food Policy Council for KFL&A formed in 2012 to work toward the creation of a more secure, accessible and sustainable food system in our region.

For more information about the FPC and about the Food Matters event, and to register for the event, go to

Thursday, 25 February 2016 08:00

The Kenya Initiative

From Street to School- photography show at Sydenham's Grace Hall

Anyone wanting a look at what has inspired two Kingstonians to turn their attention and fundraising efforts to the beauty and promise of Africa, specifically Kenya and its street children, should visit the Grace Centre in Sydenham for a show of photography titled “The Kenya Initiative: From Street to School”.

The purpose of the initiative is to assist young Kenyans with the funds they need to attend school and 100% of the proceeds of the show will be going towards that goal.

The Kenya Initiative was born out of a trip to Kenya by Irwin Streight and his family and on February 21, Streight and friend Raymond Vos gave a slide show and talk about the project at the Grace Centre.

In 2009 on their trip to Kenya, Streight and his family befriended two recent high school graduates, Caleb and Isaac Machira, who were working and making $1 /day with the hopes of attending university. They also met another Kenyan, John Nijane, who volunteers his time making monthly deliveries of food to local households in need and supporting a number of children living on the streets, for whom he was hoping to find housing and school funding.

Back in Kingston Streight had a conversation with his good friend Raymond Vos, owner of the Raymond Gallery, and the two dreamed up the The Kenya Initiative: From Street to School.

Vos recalled, “My heart broke when I heard Irwin’s stories and it was then that I realized that I had some resources, art pieces that I have tucked away, and that the money from their sales could be used to help meet the needs of the Kenyans that Irwin had met.”

The project was started out of that conversation and just six and a half years later, $100,000 has been raised to assist young Kenyans to attend school.

Together Vos and Streight traveled to Kenya in June 2013, meeting face to face with the people they are helping, not only to see how their fundraising dollars were being spent but to also to gather artwork made by Kenyan students to raise more funds in Kingston.

Raymond Vos said the main message he wants to get across to those who see the show is “how a small act of kindness can have enormous results and that when you invest in the lives of others, primarily through education, it will not only change one person's life but their entire family and extended family’s lives.”

The show is comprised of many gorgeous photographs that Vos took in Kenya back in 2013 and they include the Kenyan people and a wide variety of the animals they came across while on safari there. There are zebras, birds, hippos, lions, and much more, but most notable are the smiling faces of the youngsters, many of whom are now students thanks to the work of these two gentlemen and many generous donors over the years.

The show is not only an eye opener to life in Kenya but an opportunity for lovers of photography to support young Kenyans through this educational initiative. For more information visit

For visiting hours at the Grace hall go to


Widely known for his aviation art, 84-year-old Canadian artist Don Connolly demonstrates that he is an artist who has covered a wide range of styles and subject matter during his close to four-decade-long career as a professional painter.

Connolly, who has been drawing and painting since he can remember, served as a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 1950s during the Korean Air Lift and later became a squadron leader in the Defense Research Board before resigning from the RCAF in 1966.

Following a second career as a partner in a bookstore/picture framing chain in Ottawa, Don then chose the life of a freelance artist and quickly began to focus on aviation art, a subject close to his heart and mind. These works, totaling over 2000 in his long and illustrious career, have made up 50% of his output; one hundred of them are currently included in museum collections throughout Canada and the United States. Many are also front and center at the Grace Centre show in Sydenham.

One such work titled “Flight: Dream, Myth and Realization” demonstrates Don's fascination with the history of aviation. It is a collage of images highlighting numerous early attempts at aviation through the ages, beginning with the myth of Icarus and his waxed and feathered wings and including a depiction of the Montgolfier brothers' hot air balloon as well as Sir George Cayley's and Clement Ader's early flying machines.

Other works focus on more modern aircraft, which Don paints in highly realistic detail. One work depicts two Sea Furies of the Royal Canadian Navy, and a second a Norseman flying over the Hood River in Canada's Northwest Territories. Another large work, more autobiographical in nature, shows Connolly as a young man visiting what was then the earliest version of the National Canadian Aviation Museum in Rockcliffe, Ontario. He is shown with his in-laws and Don painted himself looking out at the viewer, camera in hand as the family inspects a Junkers bush plane on display.

Not surprisingly, Connolly has always had a fascination with space travel and the most recent work in the show titled “International Space Station - Approaching Toronto” is a precise depiction of the space station while in orbit on a south-easterly course approaching Toronto.

While aviation art is what Connolly is most celebrated for, his curious mind and hands have led him to explore other styles, many of which are included in this show. As an experienced wood worker who has tackled both home and boat building, plywood became the chosen material for some of his more abstract works. These works, often created from carved and painted plywood, demonstrate Don's interest in abstract ideas, but also show his practical need to make work that would appeal to a wider range of art buyers, especially those less interested in the art of aviation. The results are works like “Abstract in Blue and White”, a work that deals more with formal design concerns and ideas. These works show an artist who has a knack for creating eye-pleasing abstractions where colour and shape taken together create stimulating forms and relationships that allow the mind to wander and the eye to delight, unconsumed by any particular subject.

“Planetary Gothic”, another wooden piece painted in shiny gold, merely suggests planetary forms, and its earthiness makes a nice contrast to his more realistic pieces.

Don has no fear of breaking long-standing traditional molds, specifically the typical rectangular canvas format and he made a number of circular works like “Rock” OCO. This work uses curvilinear pieces of particle board laid out in a pleasing decorative pattern and is painted in iridescent colour.

Connolly possesses a wide-ranging knowledge of his subject matter and loves to share that information with his viewers. The show, at the Grace Centre until December 4, is open every Sunday and Don himself will be present on those days from 2 - 4pm. It is a fascinating show and well worth the trip to Sydenham. The Grace Centre is located at 4295 Stage Coach Road in Sydenham.

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