Archive for Mincom Jo

All Aboard!

These are busy times. The world just seems to be going faster and faster. Maybe not faster than a speeding bullet, but while we all try to get through our lives as Superman/Superwoman, one of the hardest feats to accomplish is being able to spend time with family. What’s more powerful than a locomotive? Spending time with family on a locomotive!

We may not be able to leap tall buildings at a single bound but we can certainly share the “Adventures of Mincom Jo and her Dad” on the York-Durham Heritage Railway.

The York-Durham Heritage Railway train is a heritage coach diesel locomotive from the 1950s that travels between Uxbridge and Stouffville through the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine. The current Stouffville-Uxbridge line was built in the 1860’s by William Gooderham, a well-known distiller from Toronto.

There is always on-board entertainment, a snack bar, souvenir stand and a wealth of knowledge about the heritage of Canadian railways of South Central Ontario available. During various times of year there are also specially themed adventures like “A Day Out With Thomas“, the “Teddy Bear Train“, “Halloween Train” and “Santa Train“, to name a few. Jo and her Dad, Yosh, opted for “Boxcars and Beer – The Cheese Train” to spend some time together.

Yosh and Jo

Boxcars and Beer – The Cheese Train, is a unique “taste of Ontario” experience, featuring artisan cheeses from across Ontario paired with handcrafted beer from The Second Wedge Brewing Company of Uxbridge. Fromager Cecilia Smith and brewery owner Joanne Richter hosted the trip and guided our duo through five amazing beer and cheese pairings. It was quite an enjoyable education. To make things even sweeter, Desbarres Chocola provided a tasting square featuring organic beans from the Dominican Republic which produce a quality cacao with deep chocolate and red fruit notes.

Upon reaching historic downtown Uxbridge, our delighted duo, Jo and Yosh, were able to deboard the train and make a beeline to The Passionate Cook’s Essentials where they stocked up on some of the cheese and chocolate they had tasted on the train. There was also an option to visit the brewery or the Uxbridge Farmers’ Market. Jo was really pleased with the day…

“I really enjoyed being able to walk around Uxbridge and being able to support the local cheese, chocolate and beer makers was a big plus. Finding out that Uxbridge is considered the “Walking Trail Capital” of Canada was cool. I also met some friends that happened to be on the Family car with their son. They had musicians and balloon artists to entertain the kids and said it was wonderful. Luckily the rain stopped and we had lovely weather when we got to Uxbridge”

Yosh was so impressed with the beer samples he went back to Uxbridge the following Friday to visit the brewery…

“I was able to do some more sampling and bought some great beer. I liked that it’s all local businesses, and they make delicious beer. It’s really a great idea to have the sampling on the train.”

From what we can see, there are enough options for everyone to get on board with a ride on the York-Durham Heritage Railway and have themselves a super day!

 

Seeing Red

Canada has officially marked the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation. “What does that mean?” you might ask. Well, it means we are officially 150 years old and it’s time to party!  There was, of course, no lack of celebrating in the Durham Region. Everywhere you looked you could see red!

Mincom Jo chose to spend the afternoon at the festivities in Port Perry. Historic downtown Port Perry is one of Jo’s favourite parts of the Durham Region. She loves the quaint  shopping area with its unique boutiques, and can spend countless hours just watching the sparkling waters of Lake Scugog from Palmer Park or the Marina.

Downtown Port Perry

 

Mincom Jo celebrating with her Aunt Pat

There was music and dancing

and all kinds of treats, from Maple Leaf Cookies to Poutine.

Red shirts, red dresses, red hats, red jackets, red bags and even red pants were part of the dress code. Guitars and picnic tables wouldn’t be left out.

Canada is now officially 150 years old and although the partying may have started on July 1st you can count on there being celebrations well into the fall for everyone to enjoy. And what kind of celebration would it be without fireworks? Jo watch the fireworks closer to home in Pickering. Oh, yes, there were fireworks.

Empty Bowls

There is nothing like a bowl of hot soup to fend off the November chills. Even when the temperature turns unseasonably warm and perhaps soup isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, it warms your heart to be a part of the Annual Durham’s Empty Bowls. This is the third year that Feed The Need, the regional food distribution warehouse serving Durham Region, has participated in Empty Bowls.  As a long time supporter, Mincom Jo looked forward to spending the afternoon at the Oshawa Golf & Curling Club, where the event was hosted. The setting was really quite spectacular.

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The concept of Empty Bowls is used worldwide to recognize and raise support to combat hunger by emphasizing that many people simply do not have enough to eat.

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Unique, beautifully hand-crafted bowls were created and donated by local artisans from Durham Potters Guild  to signify the many thousands of empty bowls in our communities. Choosing the bowl you will use for the day and eventually take home may be one of the toughest choices you will make. There are big ones and small ones, round ones and square ones, bright and subtle, patterned and plain…so many choices.

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It took some time and a lot of flipping back and forth but our Jo eventually settled on a very chic blue-toned bowl, which, by the way, matched her outfit.

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Some of Durham Region’s finest chefs provided signature soups and desserts to be sampled and enjoyed.

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Jo’s first sampling was Curried Pumpkin and Apple Soup.

There were two sessions for sampling, one at 11:am and the second at 1:30 pm. Each session also featured door prizes and a silent auction. Between sessions, attendees were entertained by renowned Canadian jockey, Durham Region’s own Sandy Hawley, a four time Queen’s Plate winner and Order of Canada recipient. Long admired by Mincom Jo, Sandy had her mesmerized as he shared stories of big wins, nasty falls, tennis with Farrah Fawcett and golf with Dean Martin.

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Sandy Hawley & Mincom Jo

 

It was a wonderful afternoon, with good food, good people, a lot of fun and much needed support for Feed The Need in Durham. Many thanks to all the people that made the day possible.

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Storming The Castle

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (we’ll call it the Durham Region), there lived a wee Princess named Mincom Jo. Now Princess Jo was a very happy Princess, but she longed to spend her time whiling away the hours wandering around a beautiful castle while her faithful subjects brought her food, mail and the remote. This little Princess knew all about castles and came from a very long line of castle experts who had handed down the knowledge for generations: a person’s home was their castle no matter what the size or curb appeal. So, although visions of turrets and moats danced in her head, she was not above enjoying a good “bouncy” castle.

I am a Princess. My Mother is the Queen. This is my Castle.

I am a Princess. My Mother is the Queen. This is my Castle.

Fortunately for Princess Jo, there actually exists a real castle in the Durham Region. The castle, in Whitby, has been a school for many a young maiden for over 140 years and although Princess Jo did not study there, Trafalgar Castle School “allows” her to visit a couple of times a year.

Trafalgar Castle

The Castle was built in 1859 by the Sheriff of Ontario County, Nelson Gilbert “Iron” Reynolds , as his private residence.  Joseph Sheard, the Toronto architect, designed the castle in an Elizabethan style built with limestone, stone and 15 towers. Remarkably, the castle cost $70,000 to build.

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Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, Reynolds had to sell his castle in 1874, receiving only half of what it cost to build. For the price of $35,000, the Methodist Church of Canada purchased the castle including the land and turned it into Ontario Ladies’ College. In 1979 the school was renamed Trafalgar Castle School.

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There have been many upgrades and state of the art improvements over the years, but the integrity of the original castle has always been kept intact. The attention to detail is evident when you venture inside during an open house.

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When the school first opened it had 25 residential students. It now has over 200 students including 70 boarders. It boasts the “World-Best Curricula” including Latin, Mandarin, the highly regarded Singapore Science & Math, Robotics, English Writing and I-Think. “Since 1874, well before the world openly accepted educated women, we’ve been inspiring our students to think progressively and innovate in the face of social challenges…Girls at Trafalgar excel in every discipline.” In fact 100% of the school’s graduates are accepted by the universities of their choice.

Princess Jo’s favourite time to visit Trafalgar Castle School is when they hold their annual May Court Festival. This year marked their 109th traditional dance around the May Pole.

Trafalgar Castle School Photo

Trafalgar Castle School Photo

The festival marks the official arrival of spring. Traditionally, graduating students who best exemplify the School’s motto of truth, virtue and loveliness are elected as the May Queen and her Counselors.

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Trafalgar Castle School Photo

This year’s formal ceremony included words from local dignitaries to mark the sense of tradition and history passed on year after year. Alumnae and locals from the community enjoyed the celebration including many cultural dances performed by boarding students from China and Mexico. When the formalities were finished it was time to enjoy some of the other activities available including Castle Art tours, dunk tanks and a Strawberry Social.

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Local vendors offered fun-fair food and freshly squeezed lemonade.

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LemonadePrincess Jo has yet to be invited to dance ’round the May Pole. It could be that she arrives after that part is over.

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That’s OK, she spotted a squirrel horses.It must be her Royal Horse Drawn Carriage arriving to take her for a spin.

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1 Mayday 1 Horse Drawn Carriage

She found a perfect spot to pick up a few new Princess dresses…

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and some royal jewelry.
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Our special little Princess was even able to connect with some of her loyal subjects. She had this lizard laughing his head off.

Laughing Lizards

It was a good day for everyone and Princess Jo was content to go home to her own castle to dream of next year’s visit, leaving everyone to…live happily ever after.

The End

Maplelicious!

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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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

swings

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

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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.

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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.

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