Wednesday, 10 April 2019 13:11

Tay Valley Community Choir Spring Concert

We all talk about the weather – here is your chance to sing about it! An eclectic mix of music loosely based on the theme of weather will be presented by the popular Tay Valley Community Choir. Under the ever-patient direction of Rebecca Worden and accompanied by the talented Mary Lou Carroll, the choir will sing selections ranging from musicals to pop songs to folk tunes. As is the custom at Tay Valley Choir concerts, there will be plenty of fun as well as opportunities to sing along (words provided) with familiar tunes.

Featured guests at this concert will be 'Three Guitars in Spring'. David Ramsden and Rob Rainer, both former Tay Valley Choir members, play guitar and sing with Mike Erion playing archtop guitar. Together, the trio has explored jazz standards of yesteryear and other popular music with jazz interpretations. They will share some of their favourites. Several vocal sections of the choir have also prepared familiar songs to perform.

The Spring concert will be held at the Maberly Hall on Friday, April 12 at 7:00. Admission is $10 at the door. Food Bank donations are welcomed. Refreshments will follow the concert, allowing time to chat with neighbours and friends. Come for the music, and stay for the food.

Published in Lanark County

They had their dancin’ boots on at the Hall in Maberly Saturday night as a packed house do-se-doed and balanced their way around the room to some rousin’ fiddle tunes.

This is a semi-regular event but a lack of regular schedule doesn’t seem to bother anybody.

“It’s more of a Sort-erly Quarterly,” said Maike Polano, one of the organizers (at least she seemed in charge of the coconut crème). “It doesn’t always happen and there’s nothing official.

“But when we can pull it together, we do. I’m away for awhile but we’ll probably have another one in the summer.

“We usually have one in the fall . . . around Halloween, . . . and one in winter.”

The band is usually a one-off collection often organized by Teilhard Frost, perhaps better known as Sheesham of Sheesham and Lotus and Son and this was no exception.

They billed themselves as Bees and Flowers after an old Newfoundland fiddle tune by Rufus Guinchard (they made the name up on the spot but we’ll give it to them).

Besides Frost, the band included fiddler Doug Dorward (who hails from Dundee, Scotland originally), CBC Q radio host/Dardanelle Tom Power on guitar and his Dardanelles bandmate Eilia Bartellas also on fiddle.

Frost met Power when they were both playing at the Summer Folk Fest in Owen Sound and they’ve be collaborating ever since.

“I love this,” said Power. “It’s important for me to play some music and this is a nice chance to play for dancers, which I used to do all the time.”

As for Frost, his recent forays with Power et al don’t mean there will be no more Sheesham and Lotus and Son projects.

“Actually, we’ve got a tour of the Netherlands, Ireland and Wales coming up,” he said.

And, Frost said he’s just putting the finishing touches on a solo album, which should be completed sometime this week.





Caller Sarah Vannorstrand goes over her notes while the band — Doug Dorward, Emilia Bartellas, Teilhard Frost and Tom Power warms up at the Maberly Quarterly last Saturday night in Maberly. Photo/Craig Bakay

Published in Lanark County

Mich Cota is a two-spirit Algonquin woman living in Montreal but her roots run deep in this area. Two-Spirit comes from an Ojibwe phrase niizh manidoowag and has become an umbrella term for many Indigenous people across Turtle Island to verbalize fluid sexual orientations and gender identities. When asked about her relation to two-spirit identity, Mich recalled meeting someone at the Silver Lake Pow Wow when she was 13 or so.

“He was really forward and asked me a lot of questions that I didn’t really understand at the time but he explained to me what two-spirit meant. In Montreal and online I’ve met more two-spirit folks. It can mean that someone is both masculine, feminine or neither, or traditionally, one can be different creatures.

"The most visible concepts of two-spirit peoples are queer, transgender, and non-binary aboriginal people. But it also pushes the colonial concept of gender, encompassing intuition, empathy, respect and love for all genders, paying attention to our bodies and our emotions. In my way, I hold myself and express myself. I’ve always been sensitive, and now I see that as an asset. And it’s a quality of being a two-spirit woman."

Mich’s family has been on these lands for generations, but she grew up in Maberly. She graced the stage of the former Sharbot Lake High School Auditorium, in coffee houses, and productions with the North Frontenac Little Theatre. She moved to Perth as a teenager and then went on to pursue a creative career in Montreal, where she has been releasing solo works and albums with her former band Archery Guild.

Kijà / Care is a beautiful journey of self expression. Switching back and forth between Algonquin and English with an electronic tapestry of synthesizers, strings, drums and ethereal voices, this album has the power to transcend not only gender but also time and space. The opening song Kijà / Care is infectious, with the line “Do you see, if we don’t act now, we will lose everything” becoming a mantra. This album serves both as a departure from her earlier work, and also as a natural evolution.

“I’m feeling like I’ve finally tapped into a place in myself that is honest and joyful. I have always wanted to express myself through my ethnicity, and it took me a while to figure out how to navigate that. I first started to write in Algonquin using nature mythologies and applying them to my own life. But I was having trouble overcoming my own victimhood. I wasn’t paying attention to the beauty of Algonquin Culture. I was just looking at the darkness.

“For this album, I started writing in English. I started with the second song on the album Takokì /  Step, singing about how comfortable I felt wearing a dress; How strange it was to be hidden as a young kid. I had named myself Michelle and I told people I was a little girl. But that was overshadowed by people telling me that I lived in a fantasy. I did live in other fantasies, but this one was a reality. Now that I feel the strength of being myself, being a woman, I am also feeling more of the strength and pride in being Algonquin simultaneously.

 “I had a lot of help translating English to Algonquin from Paula Sherman and using some online resources. My method for making Algonquin poetry was not by writing sentences. Instead I put words together and let the spaces between them remain ambiguous for people, both Algonquin speakers and not, to relate to and interpret. I hope these songs will be used like incantations, like prayers, like tools for empowerment, for peaceful moments.”

Mich has been playing many shows, including a performance as part of the First People’s Festival in Montreal this summer. She played an album release show in Montreal around Halloween, and came onto the stage being held up by six white men in a dive bar with low ceilings. The room acted as a container for her expression. She stood on a table in a dance portion of her piece and pushed up against the ceiling with her head, symbolising being held captive by the room, bursting boundaries of what a concert can look like.

“My friend and collaborator Pamela Hart has suggested that I should be playing in art spaces. Performing in a concert setting isn’t difficult, but the audience doesn’t know how to react. My piece is like a meditation, a performance, exhibitionism, what kind of body do you see? What is this body allowed to do?”.

 You can listen and buy the digital download of Mich Cota’s album Kijà / Care online at Kijà / Care - or go to the  following youtube videos from the record Madjashin/Goodbye or Kija/Care

 This week is Transgender Awareness Week. It started with Monday’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to mourn and honour the countless deaths by acts of anti-transgender violence.

On the subject of being Trans in Canada, Mich commented “In Canada, things are very scary, but we are fortunate that our existence is legal and not punishable by death. But the impact of ignorance through verbal and emotional abuse can really stunt trans people’s growth and lives. Everyone deserves to live and be themselves. Let’s listen and believe each other. We know who we are.”

Photo by Joel Moyer taken just outside Sharbot Lake


For those unfamiliar with 4H programs, the rearing and caring for of farm animals like sheep constitutes a big part of their programs.
This year, 4H found a willing partner in the Maberly Fair, which became became the final piece for 4Hers to finish their achievement.

“There is a requirement for the achievement to show their sheep,” said 4H leader Melissa Ferguson-Renaud. “And this is the first time we’ve been at the Maberly Fair for their final show.”
The lambs are all born after Jan. 1, she said. In April, the students begin caring for them and spend three days a week practising for the show. If they kids (ages 9-21) don’t have sheep of their own, 4H will arrange for them to ‘borrow’ one to look after.

She said the Maberly Fair is a good match for her dozen or so kids in Lanark County.
“I like supporting the small fairs and this is a fun little fair,” she said. “They’ve go the space and they bring in the people and animals.
“The kids enjoy it and we’ll definitely do it again.”

Paul Pospisil, one of the Fair Coordinators, said the fair board is good with that and will be happy to welcome the 4Hers back.
“This is the first time we’ve had this activity,” he said. “And it’s been a real boost.
“Animals are a big drawing card, especially for young people.

“Young farmers are the future because without them, and 4H, you’re not going to keep farming alive, so I think this is great.”
Pospisil said the Fair has also experienced a growth in the number of cattle being shown, and takes that as an encouraging sign.
“Fairs have had to change over the years but we’ve always been an agricultural fair and it’s good to see the tradition continue,” he said. “That’s not to say we won’t try new things like, for example, this year we’re having an all-day barbecue instead of the evening meal.

“And we’re pleased that Parham isn’t having its fair on the same days as ours.”


The small straw bale building in the parking lot of the Fall River Pub and Grill at Hwy. 7 and the Elphin-Maberly Road is back in business. In past summers a coffee shop has been open at that location, and now it is the home of  the new Maberly Bakery.

Bonnie and Ross Palmer recently purchased the former Maberly United Church and were planning to build  bake shop on their property over the next year or two.

“But when the opportunity to lease the coffee shop came up we changed our plans,” Bonnie said early this week when interviewed at the shop.

While the shop is small Bonnie is baking bread, cinnamon buns, lemon squares, and hundreds of butter tarts each day on site.

They opened over the Canada Day weekend as a test run and Bonnie says “we were overwhelmed. Everything sold.”

They spent the next two weeks preparing, celebrating their anniversary and opening a few days before the official launch of their business last Saturday morning (July 15) at 6:30am. From now until at least Labour Day they will be open from 6:30am – 5pm but it pays to go to the shop early in the day because by mid-afternoon the selection gets pretty thin. I visited on Monday at 2pm for an interview but had to return on Tuesday morning to get a photo because there were only 3 lonely butter tarts in the display case.

It is early days for the business, and hot dogs on homemade buns are available now, but the plan is to put on a breakfast sandwich, prepare homemade sausage rolls and Jamaica patties for lunch as well as a daily sandwich. All this will complement an increasing line of classic Ontario baked treats.

“We do catering, special orders, and are planning to run a year round business,” Bonnie said. Hours will shorten in the fall, but the hope is that even in winter the shop will be open at least on Wednesdays and Saturdays for local and regional food lovers to pick up home baking.

The shop also serves brewed and espresso based coffee drinks and teas, and Kawartha Dairy Frozen Yogourt with a selection of frozen fruit. Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream is available in the Fall River Pub.

The Palmer's have long term business ambitions.

“I love business, the challenge of it, and I love this area, Frontenac and Lanark County, as well. There is a lot of potential here, and in this location,” Bonnie said.

But for now, the focus is more on smaller issues, such as making enough butter tarts each morning in a small oven to get through the day.

Published in Lanark County

For its 10th edition, the Fieldworks installation ‘gallery’ on Old Brooke Road southeast of Maberly decided to explore the world of sound, adding six new interactive installations by artists Jesse Stewart & Matt Edwards, Hilary Martin & Ranjit Bhatnagar, Annette Hegel & Deborah Margo, Matt Rogalsky & Laura Cameron, Doug Van Nort and Nicola Oddy.

“We’d like to begin by acknowledging that this is on traditional Algonquin land,” said Susie Osler, one of the original four collective members in her opening remarks. “And we pay homage to one of the four Algonquin elements, the air, with sonic representations.”

As such, this year’s edition is entitled Soundwork — An exploration of sound in art.

For those unfamiliar with the Fieldworks concept, it’s essentially an ‘art walk’ consisting of various ‘permanent’ installations, augmented with yearly theme shows such as this year’s Soundwork.

It was begun 10 years ago by Osler, her brother Chris Osler, Erin Robertson and Chris Grosset and since 2008 it has been funded by the Ontario Arts Council and donations “of any size” by visitors and supporters. They’ve also received support from businesses in the area including Tackaberry Construction, who donated stone for one of this year’s installations. It’s open to the public all year round free of charge.

“It’s important that it’s free and generally accessible so that people can wander around and be surprised,” Osler said. “We’re not looking to grow and grow and grow.

“It’s a gift to the public that grew out of the ’70s land art movement . . . only different.”

They encourage people to come and have a picnic with their family.

“It’s an interesting public space that happens to be on private property,” she said.

Osler is particularly pleased to have attracted “artists who are highly regarded in their field” this year and for the unique pieces they’ve designed as “site specific” just for this venue.

For example, Hegel and Margo, inspired by the “1,200 kinds of bees in Ontario” created an interactive walk through bumble bee nectar pods while solar powered audio players generate a variety of bee sounds.

“It’s based on the flight path of these bees and features local bee sounds,” Hegel said. “It will change through the summer as we collect sounds from bees visiting the installation.

And then there’s Singwalk!, a project designed by music therapist Nicola Oddy to express her love of interacting with the environment through her voice. Participants are invited to stroll along a predetermined path stopping at various points to listen to the sounds around them and interact with the environment by singing suggested notes like an octave (like some-where [over the rainbow]) and a perfect fifth (twinkle-twinkle [little star]).

Published in General Interest
Thursday, 06 April 2017 10:35

“Something to Sing About”

The Tay Valley Community Choir is pleased to once again stage a spring concert, this year with an all-Canadian twist.  “Something to Sing About,” the title of the show on Saturday, April 8th at 7:00pm at the Maberly Community Hall, is themed in the spirit of Canada’s 150th year since Confederation.

All songs chosen by the choir were written by Canadians including David Francey, Bruce Cockburn, and Stan Rogers, and range from folk to swing to light rock. Compositions by noted regional musicians Tom Lipps and Tony Turner will also be on offer.
“There are so many great Canadian composers,” says conductor Rebecca Worden, “from the famous to the largely unknown and from our own region to right across Canada.  Choosing a small selection of songs from them all is a real challenge but I’m really happy with our mix.  Our choir is so looking forward to a lovely evening of music and community to help celebrate Canada’s 150th.”  To fit in with the evening you are invited to bring along your Canada flags and wear your Canada t-shirt.

Accompanying the choir once again will be skilled pianist, Mary Lou Carroll. Several choir members will have solo singing opportunities and joining as special guests will be Ms. Worden’s own musical group, the Backyard Blenders.

Admission to “Something to Sing About” is $10 per person. Refreshments will be on hand following the concert and food or other donations to The Table can be made that evening and will be most welcome.

Something to Sing About is made possible thanks to Tay Valley Township and Blue Skies in the Community.

Published in General Interest
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 13:37

Little Christmas concert

Prepare yourselves for a delightful afternoon of fiddles, friends, and Chnstmas cheer! Join the Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra for their 17th annual "Little Christmas Concert' on Sunday January 8 at the Maberly Hall from 2-5pm.

The concert will feature the joint talents of the Prep Orchestra (who have only been playing together since October), the Intermediate Orchestra, the BSFO, and the always anticipated Lanark Fiddler`s Guild. The Unspoken Rests, a talented youth ensemble group representing the BSFO, will also play a lively set of tunes.

Admission is $10 and refreshments are available. Be sure to arrive early. It's always a full house! Bring your family and friends to enjoy the Christmas spirit through music.

Published in General Interest
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 23:57

Storytelling performance at Fieldwork:

The four storytellers that performed at Fieldwork in Mabery last Saturday, thought carefully about which story to bring. Earlier in the year Fieldwork and 2 women productions from Ottawa walked the land and felt the history of both the land and the people. They brought four magnificent stories to enchant their audience with.

Storytelling is one of the oldest crafts of humankind, a transmitter of history and wisdom. It can be a friendly reminder of values and morals or a roadmap to overcoming obstacles and reaching one’s goals. The stories we heard spoke of living close to the land when life was simpler yet more difficult, when it took all of a person’s strength and wit to stay alive and magic was accepted, respected and often expected.

Once the audience had settled around the small tables in the comfortable barn loft at Fieldwork lit by strings of tiny lights that spanned the rafters, Jennifer Cayley of 2wp, curator of this show, introduced the concept and the individual performers.

Katherine Grier, a storyteller for 30 years, took her listeners on a journey following Grace. Fleeing hunger and a desperate future in their old country, Grace came to Canada on a boat with her parents and several other families. Life in the new country is not easy. The families have come on the calling of a rich landowner who needed cheap labor in this as yet untamed land. Grace learns about the tale of the boy with the hedgehog face. A woodling had put a spell on the pregnant woman, just for a lark, and the boy grows to look more and more like a hedgehog. Called the Hedgehurst, he goes off deep into the woods to make his own life. Finally, a king finds him, a princess marries him and this princess manages to break the spell and return the Hedgehurst to his true human form. Grace is relieved to hear that a person can make a living in those dark woods that have no paths or roads.

Daniel Kletke experienced his first storytelling event at Rasputin’s in Ottawa and has been an avid listener and teller since then. He enchanted us with the story of three brothers who set out together to find their future. The youngest, Fargo, is as good-hearted as he is beautiful, which makes his two older brothers angry and jealous. They plot against him. Stealing his bread while he sleeps, they use his hunger on the following day to trick him into letting them blind him and break his legs. Then they leave him broken. The youth never loses heart and magic water heals his eyes as well as his legs. In turn he collects some of the water to heal the paw of a wolf, the arm of a field mouse and the wing of a honey bee. All three of these animals bring their entire tribe to his rescue later, when a cruel king challenges him against impossible tasks. Fargo’s steadfast goodness and the magic of the healing waters wins him the heart of the lovely princess and the kingdom, where he reigns with wisdom and care for the rest of his days.

A widely known author and storyteller, Jan Andrews brought to us the tale of Ti-Jean who, on his mother’s wish, follows his two brothers who have gone to seek the hand of a rich man’s daughter. All they need to do is say something so important or clever to her, that she would be silenced. The two men ride on, while their young brother follows, undetected by them. On his way the clever (and hard working) young brother earns a magic napkin, a magic bottle and a magic violin. Of course in the end he frees all the men who tried in vain to silence the young woman, he also gets to marry her himself and they lived happily ever after. Jan loves stories that have magic in them, deep meaning and solid teachings.

Last but definitely not least we heard the story of Hansel and Gretel, told by Marta Singh. In this story Gretel and Hansel were real children who were told the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel by their mother, as long as they could remember. When times get tough and the parents have to send the children away to work at the next village, Gretel begins to understand how the book reflects their own lives and teaches the children the way to continue. The lives of the children in the tale and the children in the book mirror each other, weaving back and forth between history and present until they are set free into the future.

Stories have messages for us all, especially for growing up minds: messages to be connected to the earth and how to live with it, learning the trades and carving out a living.

At the Q+A someone asked how one becomes a storyteller. The answer: by telling stories. Like any craft or trade, one has to start; skill will follow.

Fieldwork, at 2501 Old Brooke Rd., shows site-specific artwork in and around a field and invites visitors to enjoy the exhibitions year-round. If you are interested in upcoming events and exhibitions, please visit

Published in Lanark County
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 16:10

Festival of Small Halls – Breabach in Maberly

On September 18, Maberly Hall hosted an afternoon of music as part of the Festival of Small Halls, which started on September 14 and runs until October 2. The festival was inspired by the spirit of small hall festivals in PEI and Australia and is now in its third year. It has grown from three shows in 2014 to 24 venues and over 35 artists this year. Top-rate performers like Breabach, Elliot BROOD, Jim Bryson, Devin Cuddy Band, and Sherman Downy will take a break from the big stages and perform in small towns from Pembroke to Maxville to Gananoque, thus fulfilling the organizers’ vision of bringing Big Music to Little Places.

Sunday was no exception and fantastic performances were brought to the audience by the Lanark Fiddlers Guild, Change of Step, and Breabach, a Scottish five-piece folk band.

The Lanark Fiddlers Guild opened the show with their unique mix of traditional Celtic music with a bit of a Lanark accent - a sound they have become known for over the past 15 years. Cindy McCall, who took over the reins as conductor from Carolyn Stewart, proudly showed off the group's talents and introduced the two newest members of the group, Natalie and Lukas Reynolds.

Change of Step, a group of world-class dancers from Nova Scotia and Ontario, shared the stage with Breabach for many of the faster-paced numbers. They performed powerful and graceful original choreography of traditional Highland dancing with a modern twist. They have won international titles and have performed at such prestigious events as the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill and the Vancouver Olympics.

When Breabach took to the stage, they did not disappoint with their high-energy, unique brand of contemporary folk music, which has earned them international recognition in the music scene. Their awards include Best Live Act 2013 and Best Folk Band 2012 at the Scots Trad Music Awards. Breabach consists of Calum MacCrimmon (pipes/whistles/bouzouki/vocals); Ewan Robertson (guitar/vocals); James Mackenzie (pipes/flute/whistles); Megan Henderson (fiddle/vocals/step-dance); and James Lindsay (double bass). The traditional sounds of bagpipes with beautiful vocals, whistles, fiddle and guitar were often layered by James Lindsay, using loop pedals for both the double bass and the fiddle. This created a warm, swelling feel to their music and brought the crowd to their stomping feet.

They have recently released a new album titled Astar and performed three times for the Festival of Small Halls. They have three more shows coming up, including in London, Peterborough and Saint John, NB to wrap up the Canadian leg of their tour.

The Festival of Small Halls will continue to bring big music to the small halls in the area for the next two weeks, including Jim Bryson with Melwood Cutlery on Friday, Sept. 30 at McDonalds Corners Agricultural Hall, and Devin Cuddy Band with Keegan Carr on Sunday, Oct. 2 at ABC Hall in Bolingbroke.

Not only can you enjoy the incredible music, but if you go the festival website, you can find information about community dinners being hosted prior to many of the shows. For more information and tickets visit or call 613-791-3476.

Published in Lanark County
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