Archive for Clarington – Page 2

Durham’s Royal Ascot

When it comes to fundraising for a good cause, the people at Graymatter Marketing Solutions leave everyone else at the starting gate. Vice president Vanessa Blue had an idea on how to help Joanne’s House, which is a part of Durham youth housing and support services. Memories of her years in England included attending the Royal Ascot, Britain’s most valuable race meeting which attracts many of the world’s finest thoroughbred racehorses. Much like our own Canadian “royal races” like the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales,  the Royal Ascot is highly anticipated and is also seen as a spectacle of fashion and style on the social scene. An inspired Vanessa approached Durham’s local race track, Ajax Downs. Ontario’s premier Quarter Horse facility. Soon, both the racetrack and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) were on board and Durham’s Royal Ascot was off and running with a twilight feature event scheduled for August 11th, 2016.


There is no spectacle of fashion without lovely hats and fascinators. KvH Fashions in Pickering was named the official milliner for the event. On August 4th, 2016, Graymatter hosted a Ladies Night, a private haute couture event showcasing beautiful, unique and hand-made fascinators and head pieces. They were also on hand on race day for anyone needing to top off their outfit.


The Royal Ascot signature cocktail was the drink of the day. Other features included a “Royal Enclosure” for Platinum sponsors, a Specialty Cigar Lounge, a $10 casino voucher included with your ticket and an exquisite Royal Ascot menu for dinner.

Race six was the much anticipated feature. At 6:00 pm, the horses were in the gate then off and racing in the First Annual Durham Royal Ascot. Ice N Snow was first to the wire with Grabin Awards second while Mad About Speed garnered the show spot to fill out the Triactor.



Fun, fashion and the thrill of the race made for a wonderful day for all who were lucky enough to attend.

Katie, Karen and Vanessa from Graymatter Marketing Solutions

Katie, Karen and Vanessa from Graymatter Marketing Solutions





Delani Davis, Board of Director Chair of Joanne's House and her Husband Tim

Delani Davis, Board of Director Chair of Joanne’s House and her Husband Tim

The day ended with an outdoor concert highlighting a top Fleetwood Mac cover band.

Over $15,000 in sponsorship, gifts in kind and ticket sales was raised this inaugural year.  Thanks to the amazing sponsors: Veridian , CB Law, Gervais Rentals, Pattison Outdoor, Snapd Pickering, Move Media, Rockburne Movers, CVH Fashions, Victory Cigars, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, MacAskill Chiropractor, Rotary Club Ajax as well as Ajax Downs, ticket sales and the OLG.

This year “Joanne’s House”, part of Durham Youth Housing & Support Services, will be the recipient of the funds raised. Joanne’s House provides much-needed shelter, housing and support services for at-risk youth in the Durham Region. Up to 13 youths (both male & female–ages 16-24) can find a home here for as long as 30 days. During their stay, each person is counseled on how to move forward with their lives, a process which begins as soon as they arrive. A case worker is assigned and a plan of action devised. This includes help finding permanent, appropriate housing, jobs or continuing their education. A full time teacher is on hand and runs Grove School right in the home. There is an arrangement with the Ajax Community Centre for participants to work out and to earn their gym credits. But this is not just a crash pad. There are rules to follow and all residents pitch in with chores and responsibilities.  Shelter Manager Adrianna Vanderneut tells us:

“There are many reasons for someone to come here. There is no “typical” case. There may have been family breakdowns, mental issues or abuse, to name a few. They all need the same thing: somewhere they can feel safe so they can figure out what to do. We can give them that and add some structure and guidance along the way.”

Adrianna Vanderneut Shelter Manager

Adrianna Vanderneut, Shelter Manager

Recently, Durham Youth opened Jacky’s Place, providing transitional housing for up to a year for those having finished their 30 days at Joanne’s House. Jacky’s Place and Joanne’s House are in the same neighbourhood and gratefully receive a lot of support from the surrounding community. Adrianna tells us that neighbors often drop by with food and offers of help with maintenance, etc. for the house. In return, the kids can often be seen cutting lawns or shoveling snow for their neighbors. If you are interested in helping at-risk youth in the Durham Region, please consider donating clothes, socks and underwear, which are always needed, as well as supplies for setting up their own households. Mops, brooms, utensils, sheets, towels, pots and pans and basic tools. A cooking lesson is always welcome.  There is so much we can do to help!


Open Doors

Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes another door opens…”, and people have been quoting these words ever since. Often, those “open doors” lead to interesting and exciting opportunities or adventures. Such is the case across Ontario this season. Doors Open Ontario 2016 offers you the opportunity to discover the story behind every door.


Each year from April to October, the Ontario Heritage Trust invites you to explore Ontario’s heritage treasures at  free public events across the province.

“For 15 years, the Ontario Heritage Trust and its partners have provided opportunities for Ontarians to learn about their rich history and diverse cultures by experiencing our heritage at Doors Open Ontario events. This year, we are shedding light on places associated with medical science and innovation. Hospitals, universities, laboratories, medical schools and museums are participating in Doors Open Ontario and telling the story that medicine has played in our lives. We invite you to explore these and other engaging aspects of our history, identity and cultural heritage at events across the province!” – Thomas H.B. Symons, Chair, Ontario Heritage Trust

“Since it began, Doors Open Ontario has allowed millions of people to glimpse into some of our province’s most fascinating cultural sites. Not only does the program boost local economies, but it also raises awareness of and interest in heritage conservation. I encourage Ontarians and visitors to get out and discover the unique story and experience waiting behind every door.” – Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

This year we are fortunate that four of the 43 free events happen right here in the Durham Region.

Saturday May 7th, 2016 found Whitby opening doors to sixteen historical sites including The Carnegie Library Building, Intrepid Park – Camp X Memorial  and Station Gallery. You may recall that even Trafalgar Castle School allowed Mincom Jo access to its hallowed halls.

Trafalgar Castle

Clarington opened its doors on June 11, 2016 to fifteen diverse locations. The Massey Building, Ebor House and the Durham Masonic Lodge were all part of the event.  Mincom Jo was able to take in three locations – Richard Varcoe House, St. George’s Anglican Church and Rosemary’s Gardens. Contrary to what one might have expected, no ill came of Jo entering the church. It was worth the risk to see the two Tiffany of New York windows, at each end of the church.


Mincom Jo & Her Aunt Pat Were Moved To Tears By The Tiffany Windows In St. George’s Anglican Church

Rosemary’s Gardens was perhaps our Jo’s favourite stop. Located at 215 Mill St. South in Newcastle, it would be easy to pass by and comment on what a lovely home and garden this is without really knowing the secret beauty hidden behind the gate. These gardens have twice won top recognition for Ward 4 in the Clarington Blooms contest.

Rosemarys Garden 1

Rosemarys Garden 2

Rosemarys Garden 3

It’s not too late to cross over some mysterious thresholds in the Durham Region. Both Ajax and Oshawa will be unlocking doors on Saturday, October 1st, 2016. Click on the town names to find out what is available and make a day of it. Go behind doors that may normally be closed to the public and satisfy your curiosity. Doors Open Ontario is letting you in!




Bowmanville knows how to throw a good “Fest”. A big part of their success is because of the people who live there. It is a community that loves its town and supports the activities that happen there. The recent “MapleFest” was a perfect example. They came in droves…young and old, families and couples, friends hanging out and even some four legged ones.


It was a perfect day. The weather was not too hot and not too cold. The sun shone brightly. Mincom Jo, Anna Stinson, her grandson Jack and Chris Cleaver couldn’t resist the call of the maple syrup.  Of course, there is only one way to start the day at Maplefest —  pancakes & sausages covered in maple syrup.

pancake anticipation

“Outa my way!”

The anticipation was almost unbearable as they moved through the line and found a table with their mouths watering the whole time.

eating pancakes

“Never mind the picture! We’re hungry.”

You can bet that maple syrup was the star of the show and there were plenty of sources.

Maple Syrup

Pancakes may not be your favourite conduit for the golden nectar. Fear not! There was an abundance of ways to satisfy the craving for all that is maple – Maple Bean & Bacon Soup, Maple Sugar Pie, Maple Sugar Tarts, Maple Donuts, Maple Fudge, Maple Peach Bourbon Pie, Maple Blue Berry Crumble, Maple Walnut Pie, Maple Taffy on Snow, Maple Cinnamon Latte – to name a just few.

Maple Fudge

Maple Taffy

If maple syrup isn’t your thing there was plenty of non-maple syrup vendors to make sure no one went hungry. Jamaican, Hawaiian and barbecue food trucks along with chip wagons and Italian sausage makers made sure of it.

Duffers Chip Wagon

Toasted Walnut

Tornado Potatos

Italian Sausage

Not for the faint of heart, there were some pretty exciting rides for the kiddies.

roller coaster


crazy ride

The Bowmanville Zoo provided camel rides. The camel just grinned when Mincom Jo asked to have a turn.



Janet Lange was on hand to bring face painting to a whole new spectacular level. Her creations were nothing short of magical!

Janet Lange Face Painting

The boys opted for something a little more masculine.

Joker and Hulk facepainting

Some folks got a good head start on their (dare I say it?)…Christmas shopping, with all the creative vendors displaying their wares.







After all the eating, riding and shopping, the best way to take a breather is to enjoy some of the music provided. From one end of the main street to the other there were talented musicians serenading you along the way.




As we said, Bowmanville really knows how to enjoy their community. You won’t want to miss their next “Fest”.


It’s not always just fun and festivals for the people of the Durham Region. Some things we take quite seriously. One of those things is sustainability.


Wikipedia defines sustainability in general terms…

“Sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.”

Pickering did their best to bring together all four aspects of sustainability for the day, to encourage the community in fun and inspiring ways to get involved and do their part. The City itself contributes in many ways. You can find “Dogi Pots” provided by the city at many parks in the area. These stations provide biodegradable bags for you to use when stooping and scooping. They are then collected  and disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. On Friday, April 22, 2016, you and your school, community group or neighbourhood association can join forces and participate in the 12th Annual 20-Minute Pickering Makeover. The city will provide the supplies and you supply the elbow grease and at least 20 minutes of your time. You can find more ways to help out by visiting Sustainable Pickering.



Amy Dunslow, Regional Dairy Educator of the Durham Region, was on hand with Maple the cow to provide information and answer questions on how the Dairy Farmers of Ontario respond to consumer demands about food safety, animal care, environmental sustainability and more. The kids were treated to a yummy cup of chocolate milk and Maple let them have a hands-on experience with milking. The Dairy Farmers of Ontario also provide a free interactive program for the classroom providing some unique insight into the Dairy Industry. You can check that out here.


Amy Duslow, OCT & Maple The Cow Show Us How It Is Done

The Pickering Public Library was there with some fun for the kids. They even had a 3D printer creating tools to engage the kids to learn about their involvement in bringing Atlantic Salmon back to Lake Ontario. The Central Library is even housing  a Salmon Hatchery.

There were lots of other experts on hand to explain things. You could learn about all the plants native to the Durham Region, non-invasive plants for your garden and about Pollinators from Native Plants in Claremount.
Durham Master Gardeners offered insight and advice to home gardeners from certified horticultural experts, providing in depth sustainable gardening information. You would be shocked to learn how many different kinds of trees exist in Durham! Trees Ontario has a very good handle on all of them and on several tree planting subsidies available including “Durham Region 5 Million Tree Program“. The “Toronto and Region Conservation for The Living City” has a Stewardship program here in the Durham Region.

“TRCA Stewardship offers opportunities for people who want to get their hands dirty looking after the environment in their own communities. When you join us, you’ll connect with people like yourself who share an interest in taking action. From hands-on demonstrations and workshops, to tree plantings and community clean-ups, your efforts will have an immediate and positive impact on the environment.”



On day is not enough to learn everything that you can do to help make your community sustainable. If you really want to know what is available, please click on the links provided here and contribute to the Durham Region’s sustainability.

March Madness

March can get a little crazy in the Durham Region.  When it comes to weather one might even say it is bi-polar. One day you are getting emergency weather winter storm warnings, with “polar” temperatures and record snowfalls. The next day the sun is shining and you are tempted to walk about in your shorts. We won’t mention any names (Mincom Jo). Let’s face it, we are Canadians — there was a lot of shorts-wearing going on.

If the weather didn’t have you confused, there is always the calamity that goes with changing our clocks to Daylight Saving Time. Some people will always be confused. Try to remember we “Spring” forward and “Fall” back. That’s right. We lost an hour of precious sleep on the 14th.

spring forwarc

There were “Snow Days” with the kids home from school, then “March Break” let them off school for an entire week: not a problem if you live in the Durham Region where there was a lot going on for kids and their families. Ontario Power sponsored a whole week of events including hiking, crafts, skating and swimming. Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival launched March 12, 2016 just in time


Anna & Family At the Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival

for the break and can still be enjoyed over the next couple of weekends. The Oshawa Airport hosted Girls Flying Girls, giving young girls one of the most exciting adventures of their life.  The Bowmanville Tackle Swap and Fishing Show was in full swing.  Both the Pickering Town Centre and the Oshawa Centre had activities for the kids and March break camps were offered through the City of Oshawa, City of Pickering, Town of Whitby, Town of Ajax, Municipality of Clarington, Township of Scugog, Township of Uxbridge or Township of Brock. This list goes on.

Things are always a little whacky on the 17th. The “Wearin’ of the Green” can make for some strange outfits on St. Patrick’s Day. You can pretty much find anything and everything coloured green…your food, your drinks, buildings and even bodies of water. One thing we don’t colour green is our Anna’s (Stinson) mouthwatering homemade shortbread. You can’t get more Irish than Anna and her shortbread. We are also fortunate that we have the number one ranked Irish restaurant in all of Ontario here in the Durham Region. The Snug, in Newcastle, brings authentic Irish fare right to your table. We recommend you save room for the Sticky Toffee Pudding.


The Snug

Walsh’s The Snug In Newcastle, ON

The kids are back in school for a short week. This weekend is Easter weekend giving them the day off on Good Friday. There will be an Easter Parade in Pickering and an Easter Egg Hunt in Ajax, both on Saturday. The Oshawa Airport is hosting an Easter Egg-stravaganza on Sunday.

Easter Parade In Pickering

Easter Parade In Pickering

In case we haven’t mentioned it, we also officially welcomed the March Equinox whose dual identity is called Spring, on Sunday, March 20th, 2016.  Yes, Spring has definitely sprung. Enjoy it folks!