The Green Party is the first national party to name a candidate to attempt to unseat 5-time incumbent Conservative Lanark Frontenac Kingston MP, Scott Reid, in the coming federal election.

The candidate is Stephen Kotze, who operates In Balance, an accounting company specialising in small business and not-for profit corporations out of his home in the tiny hamlet of Elphin. He has a long history in social and environmental activism.

Kotze was one of three Lanark County residents vying for the nomination, and won the nomination in the first round of counting the ranked ballots, at a meeting last Thursday (April 11), at McMartin House in Perth.

The other nominees were Doug Barr, a Tay Valley Township musician and advocate of sustainable living, and Kelvin Hodges, a resident of Perth who owns and runs a solar energy and storage business.

In a telephone interview this week, Kotze said that the other two candidates gave very strong presentations at the meeting.

“They were both very good candidates. I did not feel that confident coming into the vote.”

Kotze was born in South Africa, where his parents were prominent anti-apartheid activists. He moved to Europe when he was a young man and eventually made his way to The Farm, an intentional community in Tennessee.

With his wife Rosemary, he moved to the Elphin-McDonald’s Corners area in the early 1980’s to work at Plenty Canada. The Kotzes worked on a project in Lesotho, a country surrounded by South Africa, in the mid 1980’s.

In 1994, Stephen became a Canadian citizen. He worked at the Canadian Environmental Network in the mid 1990’s, eventually serving as the Executive Director. He established In Balance in 1998. The Kotzes have 7 children and two grandchildren.

In a telephone interview this week, he said that the Green Party is ready to take a larger role in Canadian politics.

“[Party leader] Elizabeth May has done an incredible job, but she can’t do it all on her own. We need more Green Party members in parliament to help influence policy.”

As to his motivation to seek the party nomination this time around, he pointed to the urgency surrounding climate change.

“We are in a crisis, people realise that and they also realise that our leaders are not responding appropriately,” he said. “The Liberals are floundering. Trudeau has signed the Paris accord, saying thathe takes climate change seriously, but not really, in my opinion, doing very much.”

As a long-time Lanark County resident, Kotze is certainly aware of how entrenched the Conservative Party is in the riding, but sees an opening this time around.

“There are a lot of people who don’t support the Conservatives in this riding, and I want to give them a voice. Scott Reid does a good job representing his constituency but not representing all of the people in this riding. It’s time to get people into power who will represent the broader public.”

He also argues that the greening of the Canadian economy does not mean the end to economic prosperity.

“As Greens, we don’t want our economy to lose jobs just because we are getting rid of fossil fuels. We are interested in maintaining a strong economy. There are things we can do that are concrete and are based in reality. Other countries have led the way in this area, and we need to make changes in order to catch up.”

(Editor’s note – Stephen Kotze provides accounting services for the Frontenac News)

Published in Lanark County
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 10:06

MERA’s Annual Christmas Fair November 18th

The 15th Annual MERA Christmas Fair is the perfect place to shop locally, support local artists and artisans and to support Community Arts at MERA (McDonalds Corners/Elphin Recreation and Arts) which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. This event is a major fundraiser for MERA. Vendors give MERA 20% of their gross sales, which for some of the larger vendors means they pay more to be in the MERA Christmas Fair than they do in larger fairs in Perth or Almonte. Come and support the vendors who support MERA!

This popular juried show features original one-of-a-kind creations: Hand Weaving (MERA Heritage Weavers & Heather Sherratt Handwoven clothing), woodcraft items, organic Chocolate by Ludwig, Strawberry Cottage beeswax candles & natural soaps, Beth Girdler’s natural honey, paintings, felted creations, soup kits, hand sewn items and preserves, Gift Bag Raffle, Bake Table, the Wizard’s Café, and hand-painted Christmas cards and much more!

Don't miss MERA's Christmas Fair on Saturday, November 18th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For details about MERA, vendors and directions to MERA in McDonalds Corners go to

Published in Lanark County

Every couple of years, Elphin’s Jenny Whiteley seemed to put out a record. They were all different, all expressions of the things she was thinking about, the music she was making at the time. Then, after her fifth solo record, she stopped releasing records. She did not stop making music or even recording some music, but did not release a record for several years.

“I never planned to stop putting out records just as I never really planned any part of my musical carreer,” she said this week over the phone as she was preparing to enter a clothing store in an outlet mall in Kanata in search of suitable clothes to wear to the Juno Gala this weekend. After shopping she was headed to the CBC studios to be interviewed by Alan Neil of the CBC Ottawa afternoon show.

The Original Jenny Whiteley is both a departure and a re-visiting of the songs Jenny learned when she was a kid, performing with her brother Dan in the Junior Jug Band,  and with her father Chris and Uncle Ken of the Original Sloth Band.
It features Old timey classics; In the Pines, Oxford Town, Groundhog, modern classics such as Chris Coole’s $100 and Banjo Girl, which she wrote with her husband Joey Wright, and a French tune of her own called ‘Malade’.

It is also the first album that she has recorded “off the floor” after working on the songs with her friends Sam Allison and Teillhard Frost of the band ‘Sheesham and Lotus’. Sam Allison, who has an old timey bent to his own music, produced the record.

It was recorded within a strict time constraint in 2015, because she was off to live in France with her family for nine months and wanted to get the record done before leaving.

“I contacted Chris Brown to see if he could find time for us in his studio, and he did, which turned out well because he became key to the sound of the record because he was mixing it live as we were playing the songs. For me it was more like the way I always make music, playing with friends and family, than how I have recorded in the past,” she said.

Teillard Frost lives on Wolfe Island, which is where Chris Brown has his home and studio, so the record is a Lanark-Frontenac hybrid, with a Kawartha influence via Sam Allison, who lives in Peterborough.

The record sat and waited until Jenny came back from France, and ended up being released in September of last year.

“I was really pleased with the response. Critics liked it and people bought it and are enjoying it, and when they called to ask me to come to Toronto for the announcement of Juno nominees I was pretty happy about it.

If the record wins this weekend, it will tie Jenny with David Francey as the Juno award winningest resident of Elphin.

Francey has won 3 Junos, and Jenny has 2 so far, and all five of them have been in the same category, Traditional roots (aka the Elphin category).

The category has been split this time around, into traditional folk and contemporary folk, and the Original Jenny Whitely is nominated in the traditional folk category.

The awards will be given out at the Juno Gala on Saturday Night in Ottawa.

Published in Lanark County
Thursday, 17 July 2014 14:01

Elphin Public School reunion

A reunion of the Elphin Public School will be held on Saturday July 26, 11:30am at the Elphin Presbyterian Church hall. Everyone is welcome and there will be a potluck lunch. The cost is $5 and music will be provided by former students.

This circa 1910 photo of a class in front of the school is part of the Izatt photo collection, which was found in the landfill at the McDonalds Corners municipal dump. The photos are now in the Lanark County Archives. The two girls sitting in front of the teacher are Emma and Christina (Tina) Balfour; tallest girl in back row is possibly Laura McIntyre; fourth boy from left in the back row is George Gordon, who was born in 1899. The first girl from front left is Dorothy Duncan. George Gordon's 1899 birth year has helped to date this photo to about 1910. Based on the fact that this photo is part of the Izatt family collection, it makes sense that one or more Izatt children are in this photo. Most likely candidates are Edith Izatt (born 1898) and Thomas Izatt (born 1901).

Thanks to Charles Dobie for providing the photo and for all his help. For more information and interesting photos from many different areas, please visit his informative website:


Published in Lanark County
Thursday, 21 June 2007 06:20


Feature Article - March 8, 2007

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Feature Article - June 21, 2007

2nd Annual Elphin Roots festival

by Jeff Green

Jenny Whiteley describes it as a compulsion.

“When I see certain kinds of spaces, I think somebody should put on a show there.”

This compulsion has led her to organize a series of shows in venues such as the Maberly Hall and the McDonalds Corners Agricultural Hall. One day a couple of years ago when she was out for a walk near her home in Elphin, she came upon a site she thought would be perfect for a small festival. It turned out the site was owned by Rick Killingbeck, who uses it for an annual rock festival.

Jenny met Rick, and they talked a bit about putting on an acoustic based festival, and the Elphin Roots Festival was born. The second annual Elphin Roots Festival is slated for Saturday June 30.

When she’s not being drawn towards organizing shows at perfect venues in tiny villages, Jenny Whiteley spends a lot of time travelling across Canada performing as an alt country/roots singer songwriter. This winter as she was travelling in support of her 2006 recording, Dear, she had plenty of opportunity to talk up the festival to some fine musicians from across the country.

The line up this year includes: Jim Bryson, Sheesham and Lotus (old time fiddle and banjo), Leavin' Train (bluegrass), Chris Brown, Melwood Cutlery, Luther Wright and the Wrongs, Kyra and Tully, Emily Fennel, Dan Whiteley, Joey Wright, Butterfingers (kids’ music), and some very special guests!!

There will be many other performers as well, but because many of the performers at the Roots Festival play at some even larger venues in the summer, such as the Ottawa Bluesfest and the like, contractual obligations make it impossible to publicize that they will be performing in Elphin. Last year, one of the special guests was David Francey, and this year a couple of excellent singer-songwriters will be coming as well, but you have to come out to the festival to find out who they are.

“I think that’s going to be part of the appeal of the festival in the coming years, people will have to attend to find out who the special guests are.”

Jenny Whiteley is not officially on the entertainers’ schedule, since not only does she have an organizing role, she is also getting into late pregnancy with her second child, but she’ll be sure to get on stage a few times during the day.

This year’s festival includes expanded activities for kids, including a performance by the band Butterfingers, and possibly a soccer game.

Tickets to the Elphin Roots Festival are $20, and are available for order through Shadowfax at 1-800-518-2729 or at the gate. To get to the Elphin Roots Festival take county road 36 north from Maberly, drive to Elphin, and turn left at the flashing amber light. The festival grounds are on the right.

Published in 2007 Archives
Thursday, 30 October 2008 07:13


Oct 30/08 - Inside North Sherbrooke

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Feature Article - October 30, 2008 "Inside North Sherbrooke" Book Launch in ElphinBy Jeff Green

Isobel Graham, Barbara Howell, Beryl Stott

The North Sherbrooke Historical Society was formed three years ago, and last weekend at the Elphin Presbyterian Church, the society marked the occasion of its greatest accomplishment thus far, the publication of a book, “Inside North Sherbrooke, Volume 1”.

To celebrate the book launch and foster further research, the descendants of the families referenced in the book were asked to bring a story or an artifact for a show and tell event.

Inside North Sherbrooke is organized into 14 chapters. Some of them are about specific buildings, such as the McConnochie and Weir houses, and the Elphin Presbyterian Church itself, while others are about families and individuals, such as the Love family, and Elizabeth “Granny” Miller, who was born in Scotland in 1818, emigrated to North Sherbrooke in 1822, and lived a long and productive life, eventually having 43 grandchildren. She died in 1903.

Many of the settlers who built homesteads in the McDonalds Corners and Elphin areas, and towards what became Snow Road and Mississippi Station, arrived in Canada in 1821 on a ship called “The Commerce”.

They were given land grants, and although they were expected to pay the government for the land, the amount of effort required to clear land, build homes and survive in the harsh climate, left little extra money. In 1836 all of the settlers were granted the lands they had been working for 15 years.

Using old photographs, scraps of family history, and genealogical records, “Inside North Sherbrooke” paints a picture of how local, national, and international events shaped the way communities developed over the first 150 years of settlement in the former North Sherbrooke and Palmerston townships. North Sherbrooke is now part of Lanark Highlands and Palmerston is now in North Frontenac.

A gathering of the Wilson clan of Elphin, circa 1900.

At the book launch/show and tell, there were people connected to most of the 14 chapters in the book, and their stories added an additional context.

One of these people was Heather Gordon, whose great grandfather Samuel Gordon obtained the recipe for what is reportedly an old native salve from a local doctor. Samuel Gordon refined the salve and began producing it, and he eventually got a patent for it in the 1930s.

Although Gordon's Salve is no longer a commercial product, the secret family recipe for it remains intact, and Heather Gordon brought with her a small jar that the family made this past summer.

Mona Winterburn is descended from Solomon Benedict, an Abenaki from the Trois Rivies region of Quebec who moved to Robertsville Road partly because of the abundance of ash trees there. Making ash splint baskets was the family vocation. Mona, who lives between Elphin and Snow Road, brought examples of family-made baskets that were sold for many years in the Muskoka region.

Barbara Griffith brought a thick volume that is all about the Love family, who are the subject of a chapter in Inside North Sherbrooke, and Jim Brownlee had a family bible that was brought over from Scotland.

Other stories, such as the relationship between the McDougall and McDougalds, including the existence of Dougall McDougald, brought to the fore the strong Scottish Presbyterian roots of North Sherbrooke that persist to this day.

After the show and tell, the host of the book launch, Beryl Stott, introduced Barbara Howell and Isabel Graham, two other key members of the historical society who have played key roles in the publication of the book.

Inside North Sherbrooke is available at Wheeler's Pancake House. Through the photographic work of photographer and book designer Mary Ferguson, it includes many contemporary photos of log and stone farmhouses and barns that have survived to this day or been refurbished.

In researching the book, Beryl Stott came up with many historical photos that are reproduced in its covers, and the text includes a lot of detail that paints its own picture of how people lived their lives in the pioneering days of North Sherbrooke and Palmerston townships.

The book has been purchased by the Kingston Frontenac Public Library and will be available from the Sharbot Lake branch.

Published in 2008 Archives
Thursday, 10 September 2009 09:08


Back to HomeLetters - September 10, 2009Letters: September 10

Elphin rocks!, Jen Robertson

Elphin rocks!

"If the price is right, they will come", and the weather co-operates. A perfect decision by Rick Killingbeck for the 9th Annual Elphinfest. The 10 bands were super and the music was varied so everyone could enjoy. The Master of Ceremonies "Tip Romain" not only announced the various bands by microphone but added a personal touch by mingling with the crowd, playing his guitar while the bands set up. As usual the acoustics by "Raul" were excellent. Surprise artist "Brandon Bones" played captivating music on his drums. You are to be congratulated, once again, Rick, for your dedication each year and organization of this Fest, so the community can enjoy it. Last but not least, the take-out food was superb. As the sun set and dusk fell, the bonfire was lit and all was well.

Jen Robertson, Ompah summer resident

Published in 2009 Archives

After receiving the go-ahead from Central Frontenac Council, a 10-vendor farmers’ market is scheduled to run on Saturday mornings in the parking lot next to the Lions’ picnic shelter at the Sharbot Lake Beach. The market will run on Saturday mornings until Thanksgiving weekend, with the exception of July 16, when the beach area is booked for a large Algonquin gathering.

In approving the use of the space for a market, the township had a number of concerns, ranging from crowding at the site, parking, etc. One unresolved issue is the cost to the township of covering their liability and the township is still waiting for information on that score from their insurance company.

Mayor Janet Gutowski expressed support for the proposal. “I think we should go forward and embrace the opportunity to encourage local vendors,” she said, “Let's re-address this in the fall.”

The approval is for 2011 as a trial period. Vendors will have to sign a waiver form to take full responsibility for the products they sell.

Pat Furlong, who runs a mixed farm with her husband Laurie Brownlee in Elphin, is the president of the fledgling market. She said that a set of rules is being developed for vendors, and the main focus of the market will be locally grown and/or processed food.

The market is an offshoot of the Hand On Harvest Initiative, which has produced a brochure for the past four years listing local producers. This year’s brochure will be available in a couple of weeks.

Details about what will be available at the Sharbot Lake market, which joins successful markets in Verona and McDonalds Corners, will be available in the coming weeks.

Thursday, 18 February 2010 09:27

Historic plaque unveiled in Elphin

Councillor Brian Stewart and Beryl Stott with the North Sherbrooke Plaque

In Celebration of Ontario Heritage Week the North Sherbrooke Historical Society unveiled the North Sherbrooke plaque on Feb. 16 at the Elphin Church Hall. The plaque chronicles the history of that settlement, which began in 1821.Among other interesting facts the plaque names North Sherbrooke as the birth place of Jane Sym, the second wife of Canada’s second prime minister, Alexander Mackenzie; the place where John Wilson grew up and the centre for manufacturing the ”life saving” Gordon’s Salve.

The plaque was composed and funded by the North Sherbrooke Historical Society, which was formed in 2005.

Beryl Stott, one of the founding members of the society, spoke and introduced other speakers at the event, who included Frances Rathwell of Archives Lanark, Edith Beaulieu of the Snow Road Women’s Institute and Rev. Doctor Stan Errett, each of whom spoke of the importance of preserving history in the community. Beryl Stott explained the importance of the plaque as a “way of bringing local history to the wider community and reminding us of our settlement roots.”

The plaque will be situated at the junction of Lanark County Roads #36 and #12 in the proximity of the Elphin Presbyterian Church Hall.


Published in General Interest
Thursday, 18 November 2010 05:38

Joey Wright Releases Third CD: Hatch

Hatch is Elphinite Joey Wright's third CD. I was taken by how different it sounds from either of his two earlier ones, Camp, and Jalopy. Camp, a sure-fire antidote to depression, is a collection of moving bluegrass, jazz and country influenced original instrumentals with a few vocal covers in the mix. Jalopy is an all original, instrumental, introspective and experimental jazz-grass album.

Hatch is such a surprise partly because of the heightened role of the vocals in the album and because of the sound of Joey’s voice. He sings on eight of the eleven songs, often with the help of understated background vocals from Jenny Whiteley, Amy Millan, and Sarah Harmer.

Each song is a story told simply. They convey much with few words. I love the opening lines of the song 'Sunrise': “Lost like a wager - You found me like a coin - Love felt like danger - Now it plays like a little boy.”

The singing pace throughout “Hatch” is quite slow and dreamlike, as if the storyteller is singing to us from another dimension ... from a dream perhaps or maybe even from some other place.

A prime example is 'Hives', a lullabye where the voice takes us on a journey from the bliss of being under the eiderdown into the world of honeybees and the nectar of flowers then back again into the intimacy of the family night bed.

Although the themes of these songs sung and stories told are quite diverse, it is the music and Joey's voice that are the glue that hold this album together. From the first song, 'Genius' it feels as if we are entering a new musical land.

The intermittent bowed bass strokes in the song make it feel like we're being hastened into this world, travelling somewhere, on a train perhaps, that leads us in to what is waiting for us in the rest of the album. And it is a world filled with characters, including the Queen of Hearts who lives “in a house of cards” in 'Expectations Are The Killer'. This song and others make us feel like we too have fallen into the rabbit hole where another world exists in half-time.

It feels like the voices are so ephemeral at times, they might float away if not for the emotion in the music that grounds them. And although the voices are dreamlike, the words are filled insightful and ring true.

There are three instrumental pieces on the album. 'Big Baby', originally produced on Camp, is an interplay between two mandolins (Joey Wright and Dan Whiteley). It is so playful it brings to my mind the image of a waterfall leading a canoe down through a river with rapids, passing by sunlit dappled forests, and carrying the world of joys and sorrow with each stroke of the paddle. It fits in beautifully with all of the new sound-scapes created on this album. One of the other instrumental pieces, 'Strollin', is reminiscent of the work of Mali's late, great, guitar legend, Ali Farka Toure. And yet there are other rhythms in this tune, maybe even a hint of calypso music, all played through Joey's filter and turned into something new.

The musicianship on this album is of a uniformly high calibre. From the haunting sounds of Christine Bougie's lap steel and electric guitars to the spare percussion of Pat McGee. I must mention the quiet beauty of John Showman's violin and of course Joey Wright's own certitude of emotion, which he brings to every instrument he plays and which anchors the entire album.

This album is definitely a surprise, a very happy one.

Joey Wright will be performing at his CD release concert at The Myriad Centre for the Arts on Saturday November 27 at 8:00 p.m. He will be accompanied by his touring band of Christine Bougie, Dan Whiteley and Jesse Zubot, with backing vocals by Jenny Whiteley. For information call 613 278 - 0689

Published in General Interest
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