Archive for John Martin

The Most Wonderful Time

This is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time when almost everyone can believe in the magic of Christmas. Whether you are five and just starting to make those magical memories, or 85, and thinking back over the years, everyone has at least one special memory of Christmas. This year, we would like to share some of ours with you.

Jo likes to keep things simple.

“Christmas memories…traditional family gatherings, lots of food, people and prezzies. Caroling as kids, snow angels, snow ball fights and sledding down some pretty big hills. Then, as adults, it was Christmas parties and winter events. All were wonderful, but some of my most favourite rememberings were going up to the barn at midnight to see if the horses talked…and enjoying a few Christmas’s on my own (by choice), not having to travel, buy gifts or overeat…just me in my PJ’s with some great movies. This year I’ll be alone at the lake enjoying some Peace on Earth so I can continue to have Good Will towards Everyone.” Jo Ann Rucinski, Sales Person, Administrator


Family and food provide the Christmas magic for Kathy.

“Christmas for us is always about just slowing down and spending time together, because life is such a rush. I think my favorite part of Christmas is having my family together…and the food. I love cooking and my family loves eating! We traditionally do a French ‘Night before Christmas’ dinner— an homage to my husband Paul’s background— with home-made Tourtier, chicken liver pate flavoured with Courvoisier, cold seafood like salmon Gravlax, arugula salad with figs, and the best pumpkin pie, made by my son. Then, for Christmas dinner, we always have a turkey. We give it a name, like Fredrick or Henry, and the boys roast it on the BBQ. Santa usually gets us a new board game so there’s always lots of passionate competition. And of course, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” Kathy Lapointe, Sales Person

Anna shares one of her favourite memories of Christmas.
“My grandfather would set up the Nativity Scene (with the exception of baby Jesus) and he would tell us kids the Christmas Story. Then, on Christmas morning we would rush downstairs to see baby Jesus lying in the manger. Even after all these years I can still see him waiting for us on Christmas morning.” Anna Stinson, Sales Person

John would like the Christmas magic to last all year long.

“I think of Christmas as a very special time of year. It is a time when special things happen. People put aside their differences and are actually nice to each other. Perfect strangers will wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. People are also more aware of those less fortunate. Countries at war have even stopped fighting to celebrate the day or a portion thereof. It is truly sad that this spirit only lasts for a very short time. Then, on Boxing day, it’s “Get out of my way, there’s a deal somewhere!” John Martin, Salesperson

Attending the recent Christmas party for the Durham Contact Business Exchange at the Waterfront Bistro had Judy reminiscing about Christmas past.


Overlooking Lake Ontario and Frenchman’s Bay at the end of Liverpool Rd, the Waterfront Bistro holds many warm memories for me. MinCom’s Christmas party was the first function ever held at the Waterfront when they opened in ’96. The owners, George and his family told us that they were not quite open for business but if we were game so were they. And so we did! Construction was ongoing and the kitchen was still under renovation, so the food had to be prepared and then transported from Lord Byron’s Restaurant to the Bistro for our party. There were at least 30 to 40 people in attendance, all dancing and enjoying the festivities. Wayne sang his ‘Night Before Christmas’ (in Rap) song. It was such a great hit that it became a tradition and Wayne did it at our parties for years. We had many wonderful times at the Waterfront, singing Karaoke led by Garth Riley or dancing to the live tunes of ‘The Johnny Max Blues Band’ just to mention a few. Garth always had such fun in store for us. I wish I could find the pictures of a game we played. Garth had the men wear white long johns and the women had to stuff as many full balloons inside to win a prize. We all laughed until we had tears in our eyes. Many years have come and gone, but there is one thing we can all agree on. MinCom had some of the best Christmas parties ever!

The Waterfront Bistro has evolved over the years and so have we, but it will always have a special place in my heart, especially around Christmas.” Judy Stacee-Cleaver, Broker of Record


From The Stacee-Free Team and everyone at Mincom New Choice Realty Ltd. , have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



2016 • Rose Quartz, Serenity and Monkeys

2015 has come and gone and in its place comes a whole new year of possibilities. Things will most certainly look different. Are you ready to make some changes?

According to the Chinese calendar the new year begins February 8th and it will be the year of the Red Monkey. The monkey is quite clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth. They are also a naughty, wily and vigilant animal so be prepared to be kept on your toes.

Pantone has already surprised us this year by choosing two colours to represent the colour of the year.

“For the first time Pantone introduces two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity as the PANTONE Color of the Year 2016. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.”

colour of the year 2016

Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer and embracing warm tone and cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

Our Stacee-Free Team enjoys starting fresh in a new year by setting themselves some goals. They aren’t all the same. In fact most of them are quite different.  Let’s hear what they have planned for 2016.

Judy Stacee-Cleaver

Judy Stacee-Cleaver
Team Leader/Broker of Record

Stacee-Free Team Leader, Judy Stacee-Cleaver, has set a few goals for the year. Balance between her personal and professional life seems to be the focus.

“It was very busy last year, with major changes everywhere. In 2016 I would like to have a little more time to: have fun; get some exercise; complete important projects that have been sitting on the back burner; connect with more of my clients who have become friends; complete our new web site; grow our Networking group who has supported us all these years; and join our local Board of Trade.”
Board of Trade
Kathy Lapoint Sales Representative

Kathy Lapointe
Sales Representative



Kathy Lapointe has a solid plan to increase her Real Estate skills.

“I plan on attending more Real Estate seminars, courses and conferences to network. I would like to treat myself with a new Dell Tablet to update my efficiency dealing with Sellers and Buyers, and I’m looking forward to another successful year with Mincom New Choice Realty.”
Dell tablet
Jo-Ann Rucinski Licensed Assistant & Photographer

Jo-Ann Rucinski
Sales Representative & Administrator



Mincom Jo has done some reflecting and has big plans if she gets lucky.

“The years are going by quickly, but the last one was especially fast.  I’m always striving to be kinder to myself and others, especially on the roads. To send out thoughts of Peace for the World and given the past year, we need more people to think on Peace. I would love to win 5 million dollars, take some friends on a cruise and book suites with balconies, then give most of the money away. On the professional side, I plan on completing the Broker course this year. ”

cruise ship
John Martin

John Martin
Sales Representative

John Martin has a plan for 2016 and has set some very specific goals.

“Some of my goals are as follows:

  1. Grow my Real Estate Business by at least 100% by doing these: advertise in my farm area at least once a month • attend the free “Lunch and Learns” at the Ajax Pickering Board of Trade and at least six “Networking After 5” events at the APBOT • polish my listing presentation skills • try to be a better listener • collect email addresses and include them in a monthly news letter • take more real estate courses
  2.  Get more active, do more cycling, swimming and walking. More activity with the wife would also be good
  3. Start renovating the house
  4. Get the dog well-trained.
 These are just some of the things I’ve been thinking about. The phrase “Planning for Success” is better than doing nothing and planning to fail.”
Anna Stinson

Anna Stinson
Sales Representative



Anna Stinson isn’t one for making resolutions. She does, however, have a good idea of what she hopes to accomplish this year.

“I’m looking forward to helping my clients achieve their Real Estate goals for 2016. I hope to grow spiritually, continue being involved with my community and look forward to spending quality time with my family at home and abroad.”

Yes, The Stacee-Free Team is tackling the New Year full force. What changes are you planning on making? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? We would love to hear about them!New Year

How Do We Love Thee? Let Us Count The Ways

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This Valentine’s Day we thought it only fitting to share with you what we love most about The Durham Region. It’s no secret how much The Stacee-Free Team loves this area. In fact, most of the time we are shouting about it. We even dedicated our blog to it – this blog, Discovering Durham. Here is an “I love Durham because…” from each of us.

Judy Stacee-Cleaver

Judy Stacee-Cleaver
Team Leader/Broker of Record

Stacee-Free Team Leader,  Judy Stacee-Cleaver, sees The Durham Region as the future. “Aside from being one of the most beautiful areas in Ontario it is positioned to be the place with the most potential for growth. “Situated just east of Toronto the availability of affordable housing is very attractive to young families.  “As people leave the city to raise their families in homes they can actually own because of that affordability, they add to the growth of the area. “Businesses move into the area to serve the people of Durham and more jobs are created. “The Durham Region is fast becoming “the” place to live. “Not to mention, there is nothing like a sunset on Lake Scugog.”

Sunset on Lake Scugog

Sunset on Lake Scugog

Don Carter Sales Representative

Don Carter
Sales Representative

Don Carter spends a lot of his free time on the water. Usually in a sail boat. His favourite spot is Frenchman’s Bay located in South Pickering. Don has spent many years boating out of Frenchman’s Bay and in the surrounding water on Lake Ontario. “I love that whole area”, Don says enthusiastically. The Boardwalk is beautiful and some of my favourite eateries are there. The Port, The Big “M” and Massey’s are all places I enjoy a good meal.  “When standing there looking out over the water at Frenchman’s Bay, you feel like the world is at your gate.”

Frenchman's Bay

Frenchman’s Bay

Kathy Lapoint Sales Representative

Kathy Lapointe
Sales Representative

Kathy Lapointe believes there is no better place to bring up children than right here in The Durham Region. “We have everything we need right here without having to go into “the city”. “There is a slower, more comfortable pace here for raising kids. “There are great schools and some wonderful community centers. “We are just minutes from cottage country by car and just a short “Go Train” ride from downtown Toronto. “It’s the best of both worlds!”

Cottage Country

Cottage Country

Jo-Ann Rucinski  Licensed Assistant & Photographer

Jo-Ann Rucinski
Licensed Assistant & Photographer

Mincom Jo is quick to respond, when asked what she loves most about Durham,

“Rob Ford is not our Mayor!”.

All kidding aside, Jo loves the landscape of the region. “There are not a lot of huge highrises blocking the view. “You can actually see the sky and the land and the waterfront. “I just love the view.” Jo takes full advantage of how accessible the natural beauty is and spends a lot of time walking the amazing trail system.

Durham Region Trails

Durham Region Trails

John Martin

John Martin
Sales Representative

John Martin is very proud to live in The Durham Region. He feels it has all the amenities of Toronto without the stress. There are lots of ways to participate and be part of the community.”We have some incredible recreational facilities,” he points out. “The new Abilities Centre really is amazing and has something for everyone. “If you are looking for a group to join they are all here. Kiwanis Club, The Legion, The Lions Club, The Masons, Toastmaster and the list goes on. “There is also room for growth and some amazing business opportunities.” John sums it up, “Living here you get that small town feeling without feeling like you live in a small town.”

Abilities Centre

Abilities Centre                                                                                                                          Photo Credit:Waymark via Google

Anna Stinson

Anna Stinson
Sales Representative

There is no hesitation from Anna Stinson when asked her favourite thing about the area. She loves the waterfront.  Anna spends a lot of time with her grandchildren walking and playing along the waterfront. “There is a family atmosphere in the area,” she says. “You will always run into other people and their children enjoying the fresh air, the beautiful scenery and each others company. “It’s hard to believe how close we are to the city when are surrounded by so much natural beauty. “I absolutely love, love, love the waterfront!”

Durham Region Waterfront

Durham Region Waterfront

Paul Turney Sales Representative

Paul Turney
Sales Representative

Paul Turney, the newest member of the team, tends to obsess on comfort food. “The Durham Region is like heaven to me. “It’s like being in downtown Toronto but without the traffic or the high price of housing. “You can find the best fresh-cut french fries without using your GPS and that goes for fantastic Mexican, American and Chinese food too. “You name it, we’ve got it! “But, if you want to go into Toronto, there are two major highways (401/407) and several arteries that will get you there.” The Durham Region is a no brainer.”

Nachos at Los Cabos

Nachos at Los Cabos

This was a lot of fun for us to share some of the things we love the most about The Durham Region. Talking about our favourites made us fall in love all over again. From all of us at the Stacee-Free Team have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

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All Aboard!

As you prepare for the Christmas season it’s easy to get lost in memories of Christmases gone by.  Photos of little ones on Santa’s knee that have since had little ones of their own, an ornament that has been handed down from generation to generation or perhaps watching “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” on TV can trigger a flood of memories. We all have memories of that one special gift we just had to have – like Ralphie and his rifle in “A Christmas Story“. For many, that gift was a train. Trains and Christmas do seem to go hand in hand.

Christmas Train

It seems the Durham Region believes in Christmas Trains. We are very fortunate in our area that we have access to some real Christmas trains.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train makes two stops in the Durham Region as it makes its way across the country.


The CP Holiday train visits over 150 communities across the railroad network including stops in Bowmanville and Oshawa. Each stop features a boxcar stage, a lineup of great musical talent and a contribution to the local food bank.  The goal of the Holiday Train is to raise awareness in the fight against hunger. Everyone who attends is encouraged to donate food and money which stays in their community. Since the program’s inception back in 1999 , more than $7.4 million  and over 3 million pounds of food has been collected in Canada and the U.S.

John Martin, Sales Representative at Mincom New Choice Realty Ltd. and member of The Stacee-Free Team, went to the Bowmanville stop with his wife Melanie and their grandchildren. John says,

“Last year we went to the Oshawa stop and we had a lot of fun with the kids. This year we decided to try the Bowmanville stop and really enjoyed ourselves. It’s a great evening out with the grandchildren. The train itself is pretty exciting for all of us. The music is good, the hot chocolate will warm you and the Christmas spirit is high. This year the entertainment was Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame. He had everyone moving and singing along. We make sure that the kids are aware we are there to support the food bank and make a donation so they know there are kids out there that aren’t as fortunate as they are.  The Holiday Train has definitely become a family tradition for us.”

Jim Cuddy

Jim Cuddy on The Holiday Train Boxcar Stage • 2013

There was a great turnout at both locations. People were there to greet the train, with a good portion of the adults toting their children on their shoulders. It’s a lot of fun watching the little ones having a ball, twisting and bouncing, and singing Christmas carols along with the entertainers.

The Holiday Train in Bowmanville

If you were not lucky enough to catch The Holiday train in Bowmanville or Oshawa you still have time to catch the Santa Train in Uxbridge.  You and your family can board the train in Uxbridge this weekend for a one hour round trip on the York-Durham Heritage Railway, Greater Toronto Region’s only family tourist train, that also includes a visit from Santa for the little ones.

Santa Train

Christmas lights

Merry Christmas


Men In Kilts

How was your summer? It’s hard to believe but that really was the past tense used there. Labour Day has come and gone, the kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter and the evenings are getting cooler. This summer was a particularly busy one for the Stacee-Free Team at MinCom New Choice Realty Inc. and we’re not just talking about selling real estate, although this summer was one of the strongest we’ve had.

Judy’s summer was filled with racing meets and hosting company from England; MinCom Jo and Anna spent a few weeks where the grass is always greener ? in Northern Ireland; and Don had the honour of walking his daughter down the aisle.

Activities in the Durham Region were plentiful. If you follow us on Facebook then you know there was always something going on. If you don’t you should because you would be surprised at the stuff you are missing. There was AutoFest,  Water Festivals On The Lake, the Sandcastle Festival, the Circus was in town, there were Ribfests all summer, Garden Tours, there was even a Caribbean Festival and the Highland Games.

This was the 18th Annual Highlands of Durham Games at Elgin Park in Uxbridge but it was the first time Judy Stacee-Cleaver attended along with her husband Chris and her trusty sidekick, Mincom Jo.   Our fearless leader was pleasantly surprised.


Please Note: Uncle Tom, Chris Cleaver and Mincom Jo are not in kilts.

According to the program…

“The origins of the present day highland games go so far back into the mists of time that no one knows when the men of the highlands first began to compete in various tests of strength, the playing of highland music and of highland dancing. It is known that Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland in the 11th century, organized games in Braemar…using the contests of speed and endurance to choose the best amongst the men for his service.”

The Durham Games have been recognized internationally and offer some of the best Highland games in North America. From piping, drumming and dancing to the caber toss and live animal showings, the games have events for the entire family.

Judy confessed…

“Uncle Tom was visiting from England and we were trying to show him how wonderful our little corner of the world (Durham Region) is. We took him to all our favourite spots and some of the the events we attend every year throughout the summer. His visit gave us the opportunity to try a few other things we hadn’t done in the past. Like the Highland Games in Uxbridge.

The second you walk onto the grounds you know you are in for an adventure when you are greeted by a Pipe Band”

Pipers Piping

Welcome To The Highlands of Durham Games

If you are of Celtic descent, even if it is from your half-cousin twice removed, you could find out what clan you belong to along the “Avenue of the Clans and Heritage Way”. There were plaids and souvenirs a plenty for those who love a good shop.


For animal lovers there were dogs, horses, sheep and all manner of livestock not always seen in these parts.

THE WILD BEASTSThere was uplifting music…


and dancers who lifted up.


DANCING 2 copy

There was food to be had, a beer tent and The Whisky Bar where you could could sample a wee dram of three different whiskies. Now if that doesn’t put a smile on your face and warm you to your toes nothing will.


A good time was had by all, especially our Judy…

“It was so much fun. The music was wonderful and the dancers were absolutely beautiful. Did we mention the whisky tasting? Seriously, it was a wonderful experience. There was such a feeling of heritage and history. You could see where they came from and the pride they carried with them. The intimate setting of the smaller venue as opposed to having it in a big city really contributed to this.”

One thing we did discover without a doubt. There really isn’t much that can not be lifted by men in kilts!

Weight over bar