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April, 2002

April Edition

Easter Monday fell on April 1st this year. Is that an unfortunate coincidence of dates, or what? "Christ is risen.... KIDDING!"

Easter brought more than Peter Cottontail hopping down that bunny trail - the woods was full of deer, too! And apparently they were all keen on crossing various highways in the area. There were two deer/car 'incidents' on Hwy. 169 between Gravenhurst & Bala and one on Hwy. 118W near Milford Bay. Best to get a pair of those plastic 'deer whistle' things that you stick to your car - I've had a pair on my car for years and I have yet to see a deer. They must keep panda bears away too because I haven't seen any of them, either.

Some people are dog walkers... and some people aren't. One Bracebridge
resident definitely isn't - when his wife asked him to take the dog for a
walk he put a rifle to her chest and threatened to blow her away. There's no dog walking where he's going - he'll be a guest of the Crown for 60 days.

If you're planning on getting sick in Muskoka you'd best do it before June 1st - that's when South Muskoka Memorial Hospital is figuring on running out of money this year. And with the Royal Bank not in the mood to underwrite any more than their usual overdraft, things could get tense.

Those of you who've been fined for speeding, seatbelt non-use or building code infractions would be advised to pay up soon - the District has hired an outside collector to 'remind' all those with overdue accounts. In a related story, the Muskoka-Parry Sound Health Unit has suggested that an outside company be hired to collect fines levied in the District's new clamp-down on public smoking. Two enforcement officers will be writing $200 tickets for lighting up in public and someone's going to have to make sure that the landslide of cash thunders in unobstructed. The common thread to these two stories? Big Tony's Collection Services! And we get a discount on their fees if we give the nice boys from Hamilton an exclusive vending franchise! We're gonna be like Family...

Just after September 11th local clothing opportunist The Northern Woods Clothing Company, a subsidiary of KKJ Graphix (aka The Factory Store) rushed pro-American "United We Stand" T-Shirts into production and sold them with the pledge that 50 cents from every shirt would go to the American Red Cross. Turns out KKJ thought the retailers were going to pay that 50 cents and the retailers thought KKJ had already paid it and, well... The American Red Cross didn't see a nickel of the $300,000 worth of shirts that were sold. But it's the thought that counts, right?

They've broken ground at the new condo development beside Bracebridge Falls to a chorus of complaints from the community-at-large. In defense of the building, the developer offered that it wouldn't look cheap and have vinyl siding or anything... Take that, you vinyl siding salesmen!

The Lake of Bays council has approved a 4.9% tax increase for the coming year. That translates to about $13.70 for every $100,000 of assessment. In Bracebridge it'll be around $16/ $100,000

Note to those holding: try to blend in to the crowd. The O.P.P. became suspicious of a vehicle at the side of Hwy. 11 last week and found the occupants in possession of cannabis resin and various paraphernalia. Why were they at the side of the highway? They were backing up to retrieve a windshield wiper that had fallen off. Cost of wiper: $15 max. Think they'd pay $15 to avoid a drug charge on their record?

Reduce, reuse, recycle. But not weapons! Muskoka Recycling Employees recently found a .22 caliber rifle and some ammo in a recycling bin. Note to householders: the recycling program usually cranks out paper and perforated drainage tile - not ploughshares! There IS a gun amnesty program being operated by the O.P.P. right now but they stress that unless you're keen on dying in a hail of gunfire it's best not to walk into the detachment carrying the firearms you want to turn in.

Arnies Cat House (those are Arctic Cats, folks) was the place to be recently when a prospective buyer fired up an ATV in the dealership compound... and left on it! Owner Arnie gave chase on a snowmobile so the culprit ditched the bike and jumped into an accomplice's pickup truck. One problem with that - said accomplice headed the getaway vehicle down a dead-end road! After doing a one-eighty when they ran out of road, the truck tried to head back out of the middle of nowhere but collided with a truck driven by Arnie's wife. The two suspects then fled on foot and were later tracked down bayou-style by locals with dogs. Who said it's sleepy up here in the winter?

We may not have had Jerry Lee dropping by lately but good golly - there's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on! But it's not the fun kind - it's just the Drumkerry construction folks blasting on Ontario Street to make way for their new eyesore... oops, condo. But remember - it won't be vinyl-clad! Whew...

Speaking of shakin', there were a few drivers who were shaken, maybe stirred last week when a Bracebridge woman decided to buck the system and drive south on Hwy. 11 - in the northbound lanes! It makes more sense when you've had a couple of refreshments. But it was an isolated incident, right? I make way too much of the drunken hordes up here, right? Guess again - four days later the same woman was arrested for impaired driving AGAIN after careening through Bala! I rest my case.

Fowler Construction Company, one of the area's largest employers during the asphalt-laying season, is being sold to a French road-building company that got its start building corduroy roads out of day-old baguettes. Vive l'asphalt!

Gravenhurst Opera House may be a pretty busy place but it's anything but profitable - in the last four years it's lost over $1.2 million.

Bala's gonna get gas! And I mean that in a good way. The owner of The Bala General Store has been given the OK by town council to start pumpin' petroleum. Amazingly enough, there were some grumblings from town council that the big nasty trucks that would be filling up his tanks might cause traffic congestion. In Bala? Please... When I was a kid and Bala was a thriving little town there were at least four gas stations in operation and somehow we all managed to navigate our way through the flotillas of supertankers delivering the juice.

You can count on the Ads-vance for hard-hitting investigative journalism. This just in from the front page of the April 14th edition - Use Caution Near Water. Ya figure? Page Two's bulletin - Don't Use Hair Driers in The Bathtub.

The Port Carling docks just got a face-lift of sorts. They needed to be strengthened for the increased traffic from The Wenonah II. And no, that's not one of The Judds.

Gravenhurst got their funding for the Muskoka Wharf project! Ten million clams from federal and provincial governments outta buy a lot of cedar decking and aluminum soffits. After that the crested sportswear just FLIES outta there...

This just in from the South Muskoka Center for Disease Control: a Torrance woman has survived a bout with necrotizing faciitis, better known as 'the flesh-eating disease'. But before you torch the cottage take heart - she contracted it while vacationing in Mexico. Remember the good old days when all you were worried about contracting in Cancun was 'turbo shloops'?

How much would YOU pay to host a visit from King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway? $100,000? $50,000? Well act now and for the low introductory rate of only 20 equal payments of $1,000 Norwegian royalty will attend the ground-breaking ceremony of your choice! Look for a big Skandic hullabaloo at Muskoka Airport on May 8th. Dress casually upscale. Horned helmets optional.

The 'Blue Box' has barely stopped smoldering and word is out that Kayoss is back from the dead! The bar downstairs will be much the same as it has always been but the ever-changing upstairs will now be... get this... a fish and lobster market. Is that 'Port Carling', or what? Maybe they can embroider something on the lobsters and charge even MORE for them. "Don't get crabby with me - I'm from Muskoka!" It goes without saying that it will close after Labour Day, when the demand for lobsters in Port goes south with most of the population.

Seasonal residents take heart: the widespread poaching of fish and wildlife during the Conservation Officers' strike is all a rumour according to the 'Zamina. Apparently the woods have eyes and those poaching will get theirs! Kinda makes you hesitates next time you're out there and caught short, doesn't it?

A gaggle of local Rotarians are off to do international humanitarian aid! Are they headed to the slums of Calcutta? The refugee camps of Rwanda? East Timor? Hell no - they're helping to build a Children's Resource Centre in Freeport, Bahamas. Rarely have I witnessed such selfless philanthropy.

People with houses/cottages/assorted buildings along the Muskoka River are breathing easier these days - the floodwaters are receding. The situation didn't approach the 1998 'disaster zone' flooding but try telling that to people watching the town docks float away.

It's Midnight Madness at Zeller's and the video game cartridges are flyin' out of the store. To the tune of $5,000! Plus the cost of the window, of course.

Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton dropped by Muskoka late in the month to hang out with OPSEU members picketing at the Ministry of Natural Resources. He calls it work but when there's a campfire, donuts and an organized sing song, I call that scamper camp. Okay, everybody, "What do we want - MORE TIMBITS! When do we want them - NOW!!!"

Speaking of pickets and campers, those early bird trippers who showed up for the opening of Algonquin Park were in for a quick civics lesson first - they had to cross OPSEU picket lines to get a trail permit. Angry strikers warned that the level of safety they normally provide would not be there this time. Wow, dude - the eco-challenge comes to Canoe Lake!

The OPSEU strike almost screwed up the wild turkey season but fortunately (unless you're a turkey) non-ministry satellite license bureaus were still able to issue permits provided applicants could prove they'd taken the mandatory Wild Turkey Seminar. Test question: What goes best with Wild Turkey? Answer: Ice.

The Bracebridge Farmer's Market is relocating to Memorial Park in downtown Bracebridge. The increased visibility ought to be great for business but parking is going to get interesting. And where are the skate dudes gonna hang if the park is now going to be full of produce pitchmen?

Those of you who used to listen to The Moose (100.9 FM) for their comforting repetitions of U2 and INXS hits should be advised that local news on Saturdays and Sundays will now be broadcast from Parry Sound, not Bracebridge. Who knows what local scandals will now go undetected.

Wellington Street is going three lane! No... not each way - in total. They're adding a middle left-turn lane to reduce traffic congestion. The work will start just after Labour Day.

The Optimist of the Week award goes to a Bracebridge man whose car caught fire after hitting a pothole (?!) on Lone Pine Drive. He tried to extinguish the flames coming out of his dashboard by filling a pop can with water from the ditch but the job got harder when the fire triggered the power locks and he couldn't get back into the car.

Note to Bracebridge residents: never complain to the Roads Department that your street hasn't been swept. Those who do have found that their street is swept until it's cleaner than the bottom of my dog's bowl - at three in the morning, of course. Get the message?

If you're driving through Bracebridge look out for some unexpected thrills courtesy of the folks at Belanger Construction. The company is, I trust, competently installing new sewers along Manitoba Street but the flag-gals they've hired to control the traffic through the site don't seem to have grasped the whole STOP/ SLOW SLOW/STOP thing. "Oh... so our signal signs have to... like... be coordinated or something? Bummer!"

READ ON (May Edition)

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