The Grade 5-8 students from Granite Ridge Education Centre visited Prince Charles Public School in Verona Tuesday where Teilhard Frost performed a concert in the morning.

Frost also did a body percussion workshop in the afternoon for the PCPS Grade K-4 students.

During the day, the Grade 5-8 students from both schools rotated through music workshops including The History of Instruments, Bucket Drumming and Vocal Harmonies.

PCPS Grade 5-8 students will be visiting GREC in a few weeks for more workshops including using their wood shops.


Nikon ambassador Michelle Valberg was supposed to give a talk at GREC Saturday night, showing off her wildlife photographs.

However, with the weather calling for freezing rain and a flight scheduled for 6am to photograph Canada’s reindeer herd, Valberg had to beg off.

Luckily, the guy responsible for (almost) bringing her to Sharbot Lake has also taken quite a few wildlife photos, and it’s likely the insights he brought to the genre exceeded what a pure photographer might have had.

Gray Merriam, PhD, Dsc, Professor Emeritus, Landscape Ecologist, knows a thing or two about critters and the way they interact with their environment, and the audience didn’t seem to mind him filling in at the last minute.

“I used to do ecological research and live only 18 kilometers from Sharbot Lake,” he said.

Merriam’s lecture featured four photo shoots — polar bears in ‘Bear Town’ near Churchill, Manitoba, grizzly bears in Knight Inlet, B.C., ‘spirit’ bears in the Great Bear Rainforest in B.C. and painted hunting dogs in Botswana, Africa.

He began with polar bears.

“There are polar bear alert signs in the area,” he said. “A boulder covered in snow and a polar bear look quite similar but stepping on one gets very different results.”

He said the bears come ashore when the sea ice melts and they’re stuck there until it reforms, with very little to eat, so photographers have to load into a specialized ‘bear buggy’ to mingle with them.

“The time between the ice melting and reforming is getting longer and there’s not much food for the bears except seaweed,” he said. “It has very little nutritive value, except for something to chew on.”

He also had several shots of arctic foxes.

“They’re about the size of a large housecat,” he said. “The red foxes are moving north and are about twice the size of the arctic foxes.

“They prey on them.”

Next came the grizzlies of Knight Island.

“They’re having litters of three and four, which is the best indication that they’re doing well,” he said.

He said that “their ability to catch fish varies greatly” and the ones that are really good at it tend to eat only the “best parts — the roe and brains.” The bears that aren’t that good at fishing scoop up what’s left and drag them off into the woods.

“In this way they fertilize the forest,” he said.

Then came the highlight of the lecture — the Kermode bears, or spirit bears.

“These bears only exist on two islands,” he said. “They’re actually black bears with a genetic difference in that there’s no pigment in their hair.

“They’re not albinos as they do have pigment in their eyes.

“We were very lucky. Lots of people go there and never see a spirit bear. We got our fair share.”

Merriam finished up his talk with photos of the painted dogs of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

“They have various patterns,” he said. “No two are ever alike.

“They’re about the size of a German shepherd, but with no body fat because they run all day, every day.”

He showed pictures of pups nipping at adults’ lips to make them regurgitate food for the pups as well as a number of other species in the area including leopards, crocodiles, lions, a serval, hippos, a bush baby and elephants.

Wednesday, 03 April 2019 13:14

GREC hosts archery championships

The GREC gym somewhat resembled a mediaeval competition last Thursday as the Gryphons hosted teams from Holy Cross Secondary in Kingston, the North Addington Education Centre in Cloyne and Percy Centennial Public School in Warkworth for a National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) championship.

“The program was designed in Kentucky and now we have 18 million kids participating worldwide,” said Tim Watts, who helps run the program in Ontario. “And not one insurance claim.”

Safety is paramount for obvious reasons. The participants are regulated and told when to approach the shooting line, when to shoot and when to retrieve their arrows.

Watts said all shooters use the same Mathews compound bows.

“That’s so a Grade 4 can hand the bow to a grade 12 and not have to adjust anything,” he said.

There are 125 schools in Ontario active in the program and more than 500 teachers trained, he said.

“The schools purchase the equipment (at 65 per cent of retail) and we train their teachers,” he said.

Shawn Lavender and Jamie McCullough run the program at GREC.

“This is our 4th year participating in the tournament,” said McCullough. “This is our second live and we’ve been in two virtual tournaments.

“When we found out they were looking for a host site, we offered ours.”

“Archery addresses students that don’t normally participate in group sports,” said Lavender. “It’s a bit of a niche in that you’re competing for a personal best all the time.

“And there’s a lot of camaraderie.”

He said they had six archers when they began and have 15 now, including students in the community program members.

“We’re trying to offer a variety of sports,” said McCullough. “Including ultimate frisbee and we even have a fishing team.”

They even lured retired teacher, Tom Corneil, out of retirement to help out with the younger members.

“I enjoy archery,” he said. “You can do it anywhere.

“And giving people an opportunity to participate is what teaching is all about.

“I like watching the kids participate, smile and improve.”

Senior student Tyee Davis is one of those participants.

“I’ve been shooting since I was three years old with a little plastic bow,” he said. “Archery is just really fun in general but it also connects me to my Native ancestors.

“And it’s good practice for hunting.”


A broomball tournament Saturday in Mountain Grove raised $350 to go towards a portable pitching mound for the baseball (yes, hardball) team at GREC.

The baseball club isn’t the highest profile squad at the school, in fact they don’t even have a real baseball diamond or pitching mound to practice on and have to play all their games in Kingston.

But what they lack in facilities, they make up for with enthusiasm, said coach Jamie McCullough.

“We’re going into our second year and it’s a co-ed team with 15 players,” he said. “We play in Kingston but our pitching suffers without a real mound to throw off of and so that’s why we’re raising money — to get a portable pitching mound so we don’t have to go to Kingston to practice.”

So, McCullough approached the District 2 Rec Committee and the rink was free last Saturday.

“We have four teams, two from the high school, one team with some staff and one with just parents,” McCullough said. “The final game was staff vs. students.

“Although the students beat the staff team 2-1 during round robin play, the staff played some shutdown broomball beating the students 5-0 in the final game.”

You can support the baseball team by dropping a donation off at GREC and telling the staff it’s for the pitching mound.


The 12th Annual Frontenac Heritage Festival is set to go Feb. 16-19 and one of its regular features, the local talent show, is once again the big draw on opening night (6:30 p.m. at the Granite Ridge Education Centre).

Once again it will follow the Frontenacs Got Talent format with guest judges determining an overall winner.

“Last year’s winner, Zack Teal, will be opening the show as per tradition,” said emcee Rob Moore at last Wednesday night’s audition/rehearsal. “A new winner will be crowned that evening.”

Once again there will be a variety of acts ranging from musical offerings to the demonstration team from Sharbot Lake Karate to poi juggler Eric Zwier to the Sharbot Lake Line Dancing group.

“And Mike Procter will be doing a magic show,” Moore said.

Following the opening gala Friday night, there will be a range of events and activities all weekend including skating at the Tichborne Rink on Saturday, breakfast at Oso Hall, bucket drumming at the Child Centre, bonfire warming station at the C.F. Train museum and a host of events including empty bowls, log-splitting, hay rides and pioneer village in Arden.

On Sunday, there’s the ever-popular Polar Plunge at the Sharbot Lake Marina followed an open mike with chilli at the Sharbot Lake Legion.


North Frontenac will be revisiting how it handles planning following a discussion at its regular meeting last Friday in Ompah.

Currently, planning work (subdivisions, condominiums, severances, minor variances, etc) is handled by Frontenac County on behalf of the Township.

But a recent report from director of planning and economic development Joe Gallivan says that the current workload leads to an unacceptable amount of overtime and therefore justifies the hiring of a junior planner with a salary in the range of $90,000 per year.

Gallivan’s report suggests that salary should come out of the County levy but also acknowledges that that might not be approved by County Council as the services provided would only be applicable to Central Frontenac, North Frontenac and Frontenac Islands. South Frontenac has its own planning department.

Mayor Ron Higgins agreed in a report to Council that the position should be covered by the County levy and also that that might not be approved by County Council.

“For North Frontenac, the priority today is an updated Zoning Bylaw (the current one is from 2004) which we wanted to have completed this past spring,” Higgins said. “I recommend we issue an RFP and hire a consultant to update our Zoning Bylaw to ensure that we have a Zoning Bylaw that meets the Building Code, other legislation and Official Plan requirements by spring 2018.”

“I don’t think a County planner should be making field trips on every application,” said Coun. Gerry Martin. “Our committee of adjustment is quite capable of making site visits.

“The County planner is wasting its resources (and) there’s a real deficit in management.”

“We should have a discussion on whether to stay with County planning or hire a contract planner,” said Higgins.

Central Frontenac Council had a similar discussion at a recent meeting.

• • •

North Frontenac will continue to review its strategic plan in the new year.

“This is a big document and I don’t think we’ve had the time to review it adequately,” said Coun. John Inglis. “I’d like to see it accepted provisionally.”

“We need it for the budget,” said Mayor Ron Higgins.

“I’m glad to see something about seniors housing in there (but) I feel it’s mainly your document,” said Inglis. “We haven’t had much discussion and I have something about the budget I’d like to get in there.”

“The main thing is affordable seniors housing (which was added by amendment),” said Higgins. “We’ll continue to review it in the new year.”


• • •

Following a public meeting on the subject, Council approved changes to the Fees and Charges Bylaw.

The fee for a Private Lane Name Sign increases to $400 from $250.

The Entrance Permit fee changes to $70 from $40.

The Blue Box Recycling Bin fee changes to $10 from $7.

The Composter fee changes to $40 from $30.

Township ball caps are $8.85.


• • •

After Council considered some funding requests, Coun. Gerry Martin wondered aloud: “how come we never see any requests from GREC (Granite Ridge Education Centre in Sharbot Lake that many North Frontenac residents attend)? Are they not aware that we give out grants?”

“They will be as of Thursday,” said Mayor Ron Vandewal, while watching The Frontenac News reporter scribbling down Martin’s words.

Thursday, 12 October 2017 10:25

Canada 150 Coffee House at GREC

One of the final Canada 150 events in this sesquicentennial year will feature the music of Canada.
The Covering Canada 150 Coffee House is set to go this Friday night (Oct. 13) in the Granite Ridge Education Centre auditorium at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 and includes free coffee and snacks. Proceeds will go to a special fund being set up to pay for music lessons and/or music camp for deserving local students.
“There have been so many 150 celebrations this year,” said Jim MacPherson, who along with fellow musician Gary Giller organized the event. “We wanted to do something to show the Canadian music scene and the many avenues that entails. And we wanted to highlight the Canadian singer/songwriters and artists we’ve been influenced by.”

The two-set show was in the process of being finalized at press time but in addition to MacPherson and Giller, locals Pete MacPherson, Julia Schall, Martina Field-Green, Dave Limber, Dennis and Donna Larocque and others are scheduled to perform a variety of Canadian tunes, covering such artists as Neil Young, The Guess Who, Ron Hynes, The Barenaked Ladies and Fred Eaglesmith.

MacPherson said they also wanted to give back by raising funds to help kids who might not otherwise have access to music lessons and the musical experience.
“Essentially, we’re just folks who enjoy music,” he said.

Although not directly connected to the Canada 150 project whereby several local musicians met at Oso Beach on Wednesday nights to cover 150 Canadian songs, many of the same musicians are involved, and most of the material being presented Friday night was also part of that project.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017 10:06

Canada Day Walk/Run Event

The extremely damp weather didn’t deter some resilient participants of the Canada Day Walk/Run event.  Approximately 60 walkers and runners came out for a mild but very wet outing along the trail.  The route had to be modified due to some flooding, but other areas could not be avoided.  Large puddles covered sections of the trail, causing some to weave and avoid and others to run right through them.  

Dedicated volunteers assisted with registration, route set up, and water stations and cheered on the participants along the way.

Overall the event was a success and it was great to see young and old out enjoying our trail no matter the weather.  Close to four-hundred dollars was raised which will be donated to the Granite Ridge Education Centre to assist with transportation for youth to athletic events.


It’s taken about a year and a half, 40 pages of applications and a lot of research and learning, but this fall, the Granite Ridge Education Centre will be offering a unique class to its Grade 11 students — an introduction to GIS, which includes certification in the operation and use of drones.

“We believe we’re the first school in Ontario with this kind of program,” said Wade Leonard, who’s been the driving force behind it and will be the teacher. “There may be another somewhere but we’re the only ones signed up for the software.”

The ‘drone’ in this case is a Phantom 4, which is about the size of a large snare drum, complete with a state-of-the-art camera and software. It has four propellers and it’s no toy — especially not to the federal government.

“The permitting process has taken about 11 months to get this thing off the ground,” Leonard said. “We’re in the final stage now and we’ll be able to fly Class G, which is anywhere outside of restricted airspace (primarily around airports).”

Leonard got the idea after watching some Queen’s personnel flying one around his farm in Hartington. Little did he know what was involved.

“It has taken some time, but we’re taking the Mike Holmes approach,” he said. “Do it right.”

They got a Limestone Learning Foundation grant to get a subscription to software that will aid in GIS mapping, 3D modelling and several other applications including overlays and panoramas.

“We’ll be able to do some very highly detailed maps,” he said. “But there are many applications.

“Real estate, land surveying, construction — you can even count trees, which will be useful to many groups for species identification.”

They’ve already approached a variety of groups and local governments for possible partnerships and literally, the sky’s the limit.

But for Leonard, it seems the biggest attraction is the opportunity to give his students a useful and unique learning opportunity.

“I think it will be highly enjoyable and interesting for students,” he said. “And they’ll be certified going out the door.”

The GREC student body assembled on the soccer pitch for this 150th shot from the school’s drone. The 7 ½ ft. X 12’ Canadian Flag in the background came courtesy of student Claudia Thompson’s grandfather Stephen McCullough. “It’s from the Peace Tower,” she said. “He ordered it 12 years ago and he just got it.” Photo/courtesy of the GREC drone photography program.
Thursday, 22 June 2017 14:04

Granite Ridge: Special Olympic Recap

Most sports season here at GREC run Fall, Winter or Spring, not the Special Olympics! We started preparing for competition way back in October, which just shows the commitment these athletes have to their sport - and boy did it pay off!

Recently, a group of School to Community athletes traveled all the way to Brock University where they competed at the Special Olympic Provincial Championship.

There were over 800 athletes at the event competing in Basketball, Soccer, Bocce Ball and Track and Field. GREC competed in the soccer competition against 11 other teams from across Ontario and Canada.

During Day 1 of competition GREC tied two games and lost 1 game placing them into the B Division for the following day of competition. Day 2 the team really came together and played like superstars! Despite some jitters and a loss early in the day, our athletes overcame this and posted two 5-0 wins that involved incredible ball handling, constant passing, great communication and many shots on net. This put GREC in first place and on their way to the semi-final game where they beat NDSS 3-0, which secured their place in the gold medal game. In the end, GREC won the GOLD with a 1-0 win over Dennis Morris, a local favourite from St. Catherine's, Ontario.

I hope the memories you made this week will last a lifetime and encourage you to try your best in every situation that life may throw at you!

A special thank you to all the athletes, Ms. Steele and Mr. McCullough for the tremendous efforts over the last three days! We are so very proud of all you have accomplished.

The Gryphons look forward to next years Special Olympic competition, which will be held in Peterborough, Ontario from May 29th - May 31st, 2018.

Page 1 of 7