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February, 2001

February Edition

Think that Muskoka is a thriving community? Well you wouldn't if you read the papers around here...

The Muskoka Air Show is off this year. It was just getting off the ground (pardon the pun) as a reliable event and they've called for a one year hiatus to regroup and secure solid acts. Maybe if more of the planes had pontoons and were aimed at the retail market it would draw more over-priced SUVs.

Big Brothers of Muskoka has called it quits and not just for a year. They've been around since 1973 but with volunteers harder to find than entry-level lakefront properties they had to shut their doors and send the boys to Huntsville or Orillia. Big Sisters, however, forges on. For now.

M.A.D.D. has called it quits too. Now the loss of Big Brothers I mourned. The loss of "Wives of the Gestapo" is another matter.

The 2001 Winter Carnival is off, too. Municipal elections last fall meant that plans had to be delayed until we had a confirmed body count of council members and knew who was going to be responsible for the cash. In place of the Winter Carnival the Kinsmen held a broom ball /arm wrestling tournament.

One of the few things that's NOT dead is Riverfest 2001. Therein lies the problem - those living near Annie Williams Park hate it. Something about drunken teens blowing their chow on their lawns. While no one hates overly refreshed doofuses more than I do, you have to wonder what these folks thought the park was for when they moved next to it!

Speaking of losing things, Parry-Sound Muskoka M.P.P. Ernie Eves has decided to step down as Finance Minister to chair the Olympic Sports and Waterfront Development Agency. The Olympic gravy train rumbles on...

Speaking of Eves stepping down, there was a brief flurry of activity after his resignation with people clambering for the PC nomination for the up-coming by-election. There was Pat Tennant (Ernie Eves' executive assistant), former Toronto MP Pat Boyer, and former MPP Bill Grimmett. All had their past brushes with greatness and all looked like they had a decent shot at the title until local businessman Norm Miller stepped into the ring with the trump card pinned to his jacket. His dad used to be Premier! Pissing contest over.

Last month I mentioned that in Muskoka, "we may be inept but we're honest." I take that back. We're not so honest. February saw two separate incidences of cashier-gals 'forgetting' to give the bank card back after 'accidentally' noticing what the customer's P.I.N. was. Need I add that in the short time it took for the customer to notice the missing card there was a flurry of activity at the ATM.

We had triplets appear in Bracebridge in February! Bovine, but still... I know nothing about animal husbandry but apparently triplets are rare. The folks at the Examiner know even less about all things livestockian - they described the offspring as "two boys and a girl".

The Optimist of the Year Award 2000 goes to 48-year-old Bruce Keuhl of Huntsville who bought a 1975 Corvette for $3,500 from a guy he met in a strip club in Windsor. The fact that it had no ignition didn't bother Bruce a bit - hell, these things break on older cars...

One thing about Bracebridge - you have to keep your doors locked! One resident returned home recently and found that someone had entered their residence and taken a shower, smoked a cigarette and left. And there was a toilet brush and a can opener missing, too. I don't know about you but I smell an insurance scam.

Sprucedale - it may huddle in Bracebridge's shadow but you have to give it credit - it can throw a winter carnival even in the wake of municipal elections! To their credit: they had an ice carving competition. Reality reared its ugly head: the two guys who shared the title won for their carving of a Pokemon character. The one saving grace: it wasn't Pikachou.

Bracebridge is set to get a new recreation center. Cost: $13,000,000. Hopefully it'll look better than Port Carling's monstrosity.

Oh yeah - I forgot to mention Port Carling's monstrosity. They've built a new community center/ library behind the Port Carling municipal office. And they seem to have awarded the design contract to the architect who could incorporate the most roof lines into the design. The old community center is now a hole in the ground. No idea what is going there next. Maybe the Community Center Interpretive Center.

There's a whole lot of framin' goin' on at the other end of Port Carling, too. Steamboat Bay (aka the collection of retail shops next to the Beer Store) has spread like zebra mussels and colonized most of what used to be Murdon Marine. I smell crested sportswear!!!!

The Bracebridge Arts Council has put in a bid to buy the Norwood Theatre for $500,000. They want to convert it into a theatre theatre with AC-TORS and everything. So where do I have to drive now to see a flick now?

If there's anything this winter will go down in history for it's snow. Even the Muskoka Oldtimers have to go back a few decades to remember this much snow in one season. Last year the snowmobile season lasted about 3 weeks. This year it'll be three months. Thirty-eight people have gone to meet the chef on sleds this year in Ontario - three short of the record but a couple of two-fours this weekend could fix that!. Fortunately none of those deaths took place in Muskoka but a lot of people here have ended up in hospital, including our own ex-NHL'er Brett Lindros who ended up loosing his spleen after a single vehicle accident.

Local automotive supplier Algonquin Automotive woke up this month to a bad case of seven year itch. Just who was this Hidden Hitch subsidiary they were in bed with and why was a fine original equipment supplier like themselves slumming it with an aftermarket supplier? Hidden Hitch has since been sold to someone stateside and Algonquin has been spotted around town with a sporty new haircut and a gleam in its eye.

Last summer it was the Home Depot controversy. Then it was the Royal Muskoka uproar. Now it's the Funeral Home debate. Someone wants to buy the old Salvation Army building on Taylor Road and turn it into a funeral home. But the Town Council may or may not be making the developers jump through innumerable hoops - depending on which paper you read. One thing that is for sure: with this many seniors in what is so far a one funeral-home town they'll be busy.

Speaking of the funeral home, the name on the Coming Soon To This Location sign dispenses with that age-old "Surname & Surname Funeral Directors" tradition - it'll be called The Muskoka Funeral Home. Which makes one wonder what a 'Muskoka' funeral would involve. I figure there'll be three kinds of caskets: your basic pine, cedar for the affluent cottager, and something made out of recycled Molson Export cases for our Ozarkian, driving-while-intoxicated spouse-beating types.

I don't know how big the gazebo in the Port Sydney public park is but if two guys can douse it with gas and torch it and the damage estimate is $100... they either 'doused' it with 2 ounces of gas or the gazebo is two feet high. A hundred bucks gets you a few 2X4s and some nails.

Local resident Maria Duncalf volunteered at the Sundance film festival again this year and the Examiner ran pictures of her brushes with greatness yet again. One can only hope that Ms. Duncalf's piece on the festival was originally incredibly interesting but was butchered in the editing.Gravenhurst is going to build a pedestrian/ bike/ horse/ snowmobile bridge over Hwy 11 near Doe Lake Road. The bridge will scream, "Gravenhurst is bullish on tourism" to everyone who passes under it. Or so the pitch went, anyway.

What's the most expensive meat you can think of? A 3" porterhouse steak? Emu filet? Sashimi? If you ask that question to Scott Howart of McKeller Township he'll tell you it's turkey - if you shoot it out of season. Let's see... $1000 fine.... 15 pound bird, tops.... that's about $68 a pound - plus the forfeiture of the shootin' iron! And a bonus $200 levy because turkeys are considered threatened here. Nice shootin', Tex!

Debbie Mahaffy spoke at the Alternatives for Youth in Muskoka panel discussion held at the end of February at the Bracebridge Centennial Center. Hopefully her views on tough love have been revised.

The folks who organize the Festival of the Falls swear that come May 4 & 5 they're going to have one this year - honest! There'll be a lumberjack show, a tour of three local falls', a fireboat demonstration, First Nations performers, a pig roast and something called the Waterwalker Film Festival. Don't know if those are religious films or not.

You know you spend too much time reading the national news and not enough time in the local community when you're shocked to read the headline "Predators pull out of their slump". Alas the story had nothing to do with wolves, Paul Bernardo, or John Robey. Damn these major atom hockey teams!

Remember what I said about no snowmobile deaths in Muskoka? I stand corrected. A 16-year-old Huntsville gal died late in the month after her snowmobile collided with a tree. The

Town of Bracebridge is considering upgrading one of the seasonal roads that connects to Fraserburg Road to the outside world to allow those residents an escape route for when their main road washes out. Last year they were all trapped in or out after a torrential rainstorm left their only access road underwater for three days.

The local O.P.P. have reported a rising incidence of teenagers throwing snowballs at cars. It's rumoured the federal government is now considering a new program whereby people would have to register their snow and then have to account for it later. If it saves just one life, it'll all be worthwhile.

A month or so ago I mentioned that the Independent Grocer had applied to the Ontario Municipal Board to build a new store beside Monck school behind our Canadian Tire store. It now seems that the people who own the Timmies Plaza across the road are appealing to the OMB on the grounds that the development will cause traffic hell on Wellington street. Is it just me or do both of these plazas have the most confusing street access imaginable?

Leon's Don't Pay A Cent event took on a whole new meaning for a Gravenhurst woman who stole a purse from a car, applied for a Leon's credit card with the ID therein and bought herself $5,000 worth of living room furniture. The one hitch to this plan - she's of no fixed address. There's what the homeless need - furniture! Police recovered the goods in a storage locker in town. Did the purse sitting in an empty car tempt an otherwise honest gal to venture into a life of crime? Hardly - our gal has 81 criminal convictions to her credit since 1983. Wouldn't you think that after the first dozen or so convictions you'd get better at it? I mean, don't you get thrown in jail with other career criminals? Don't these folks exchange information. Give tips and pointers? Maybe not. I should pitch a new show to The Learning Channel - This Big House. Segments will include carny operations, bunko, fraud, shoplifting, theft, armed robbery and the finer points of embezzlement. Something for everyone. It'll be huge.

READ ON (March 2001 Edition)

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