Archive for The Stacee-Free Team – Page 2

Beautiful Places To Hold A Memorial Service In The Durham Region

Death is a part of life. It is something that we all have to deal with at one point or another. The funeral industry itself has changed over the years to accommodate modern culture and emerging trends, cremation being one of them. In the last decade or so, cremation has skyrocketed in popularity, in part due to its flexibility. Memorial services featuring cremated remains can be customized to accommodate a range of needs and tailored to truly honour the person they’re celebrating.

Durham Region plays host to plenty of stunning outdoor spaces that are perfectly suited for hosting a memorial. From leafy enclaves suited for small gatherings to open spaces made for a crowd, we cover them all in our guide to Durham Region’s most beautiful memorial sites.

Greenwood Conservation Area

Greenwood is an obvious choice. It offers guests a chance to escape the city traffic and enjoy the beautiful nature preserves along the banks of Duffins Creek. There are many hiking trails that allow you to explore the forest and river valleys and provide you with the opportunity to find your own unique spot to celebrate a life. Greenwood is especially beautiful in the fall when it’s surrounded by a mosaic of warm colours.

Paradise Park
Paradise Park looks like a scene from a movie with its brilliantly sandy shores. It is a great place to spend an afternoon as well as celebrate a loved one. For generations, residents of Ajax have visited this park as a popular city getaway. It features an expansive shoreline and boasts picturesque outcroppings of trees, bushes, and flowers.

Heber Down Conservation Area
The Heber Down Conservation Area offers guests over 700 acres of recreational land. It is ideal or fishing, hiking, and picnicking. The nature valley of Lynde Creek intersects with a section of the conservation area and provides guests with a variety of unbelievably scenic landscapes.

Countryside Preserve
This beautiful space is perfect for those who love the great outdoors. The massive green landscape is filled with grass, trees, and bushes as far as the eye can see. It is one of Uxbridge’s best kept secrets. The idyllic forest is a fantastic spot to celebrate a recently departed friend or family member.

Ganaraska Forest
The largest forest in southern Ontario, Ganaraska offers guests an unmatched outdoor experience. The forest features hundreds of kilometers of trails that play host to activities like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and nature appreciation. It offers guests an immersive wildlife experience and is the ideal place to host a memorial for any nature lover.

Many thanks to our Guest Blogger, Basic Funerals,  for providing this thoughtful post.

“Basic Funerals is a licensed funeral home in Ontario, Canada, offering simple, cost-effective services that can be arranged online, over the phone, or in person. Our goal is to create a fresh perspective in funeral services.”


A Brand New Year

It’s 2017. Day one. It’s a glorious day! The sun is shining, the temperature is springlike and it actually feels like a fresh start.

What can we say about 2016? It was challenging in many ways. We witnessed, from what some might say was too short a distance one of the craziest Presidential races in history. Indeed, the results shocked many of us. Our top news story for the year, however, was the ferocious wildfire that forced nearly 90,000 to flee Alberta’s Fort McMurray and the surrounding area. It was merciless and unpredictable,  “Not even a Hollywood script could match the terror, uncertainty, and heroism to come out of what seemed to be a surreal event,” wrote Dave Barry, news director of CKPG TV in Prince George, B.C.  We also said goodbye to many throughout the year. Some were intimate personal losses, while others were felt worldwide as the plethora of celebrity deaths seemed to never let up.

There are many ways to start a new year but one of the most symbolic  is the tradition of the doors. It’s simple and anyone can do it. At the stroke of midnight, open your back door to let out all the bad luck and negativity from the year that has just ended. Then, open your front door to let in all the good luck and positive energy for the new year.

We have a lot to look forward to in 2017. In the Chinese Zodiac, 2017 is the year of the Rooster which begins on January 28th under the sign of the Fire Rooster. Being a sign of rising, of awakening to life and of triumph, this promises to be a year of great achievements.


The Pantone Color Institute has announced “Greenery” as the colour of the year. A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. It’s a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.  According to Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute,

“Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the assurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the re-connection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”


Perhaps one of the best things to look forward to in 2017 is Canada’s celebration of its bi-centennial. That’s right. We are 150 years old this year and we are going to party! To find out about events and celebrations throughout the year visit Celebrate Canada 150. On top of that, we are all getting a birthday present from Parks Canada — Free admission to Canadians and visitors from all around the world to all Parks Canada Locations from coast to coast to coast. For all of 2017, this pass gives you unlimited opportunities to enjoy National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites across the country. To order your 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass click  here.


Oh, it’s going to be a great year! We can’t wait to see what the Durham Region has in store for us to discover in 2017.

Happy New Year Everyone!


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!



Vive La Frenchman’s Bay!

One of the most attractive aspects of living in the Durham Region is its proximity to Toronto. On the other hand, there are times when one of the least attractive aspects of living in the Durham Region is its proximity to Toronto. We have all been there – stuck on the 401 in deadlocked traffic or sitting on the Go Train waiting for your stop, thinking you will never get to work on time, or worse yet, that you will never get home!

Incredibly, only a few blocks from Canada’s busiest highway and the first Go Train stop in the Durham Region there is a place that can make all that disappear. The only traffic you will find is people out for a run, walk, bike ride, sail or a swim. Frenchman’s Bay offers a peaceful retreat from the every day business of working for a living. Naturally divided into a west side and east side, you will find Frenchman’s Bay Marina, Frenchman’s Bay Yacht club and Pickering Rouge Canoe Club on the shoreline.

According to the Frenchman’s Bay Marina website,

“The area around Frenchman’s Bay was originally inhabited by the Senecas, part of the five nations of the Iroquois.  Their village – known as Gandatsetiagon or Ganatsekwyagon, meaning “break in the cliffs” or “opening in the sand hills” – was one of the major villages of the Seneca tribe.  It was located just east of the mouth of the Rouge River.

In 1667, a French missionary, Francois de Salignac de Fenelon, arrived in Montreal, and in 1669 he travelled to Gandatsetiagon to work with the native people.  It is thought Frenchman’s Bay was named for Francois.”

In more recent years, a revitalization of the area has brought us Nautical Village, Millennium Square,  a splash pad, a boardwalk, “Home Place”, free concerts, top notch restaurants and some lovely shops.

Frenchman’s Bay is one of a series of large coastal wetlands along the north shore of Lake Ontario, home to a diversity of vegetation communities and labelled an Environmentally Significant Area by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The spectacular scenery includes sandy beaches, colourful trails and plenty of wildlife creating a perfect spot to relax or take a stroll.

We could go on and on about the beauty of Frenchman’s Bay, but we think it would be best to show you.


View From Progress Fenchman's Bay East Park

View From Progress Fenchman’s Bay East Park

Progress Frenchman's Bay East Park

Progress Frenchman’s Bay East Park

Progress Frenchman's Bay East Park

Progress Frenchman’s Bay East Park

Xeriscape Garden

Xeriscape Garden

East Side of Frenchman's Bay

East Side of Frenchman’s Bay


East Side of Nautical Village

East Side of Nautical Village

Crossing Into Millennium Square

Crossing Into Millennium Square

Millennium Square

Millennium Square

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk



There are lots of places to stop and rest, have a picnic or just enjoy the view.



From The East Side Of The Entrance to Frenchman's Bay

From The East Side Of The Entrance to Frenchman’s Bay


Entering Frenchman’s Bay


Looking from East Side To West side

Looking from East Side To West side

Frenchman's Bay Is Home To Several Swans

Frenchman’s Bay Is Home To Several Swans

Mr. & Mrs. Swan Expanded Their Family This Year

Mr. & Mrs. Swan Expanded Their Family This Year

There Are Lots Of Geese And Their Babies

There Are Lots Of Geese And Their Babies

There are some very good places to eat right on the water.

The Waterfront Restaurant

The Waterfront Restaurant

Port Restaurant

Port Restaurant

Lakehouse Restaurant

The Lakehouse Restaurant

Frenchman's Bay Marina From The West Side

Frenchman’s Bay Marina From The West Side

Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club Is On The West Side

Frenchman’s Bay Yacht Club Is On The West Side

The Pickering Rouge Canoe Club Is On The West Side

The Pickering Rouge Canoe Club Is On The West Side

The Entrance To Frenchman's Bay From The West Side

The Entrance To Frenchman’s Bay From The West Side


Entering Frenchman’s Bay From The West side


The Beach On The West Side Is A Sandy Beach


There are all kinds of activities available both on land and in the water. Sailing, Paddle Boarding, Kite Boarding, Rowing, Fishing and even Yoga on the Beach.








Whatever you are looking for at Frenchman’s Bay the one thing we all agree is that the view is breathtaking.







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!