MNR expects cooler than normal spring temperatures until May; what about snow melt?

March going out like a lamb, but will we see a sudden warm up? Muskoka News Watch asks the Ministry of Natural Resources about the spring weather outlook

Picture at left shows a groundhog on Moon River doing a second groundhog day look-about on March 20, 2014

March 31, 3pm. Today March is going out like a lamb so it seems safe to say that spring has finally arrived. But is it really as warm as usual for spring, or have we become so accustomed to the deep chill of winter 2013-14 that it just seems to be warming up fast? In fact, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) back in February suggested we could be looking at cooler than average temperatures right through to May.

Today, Ministry officials are meeting with Muskoka municipal politicians, emergency management personnel and water stakeholders, such as members of the Muskoka River Water Management plan, at the Rotary Centre in Bracebridge. The aim of the meeting is to follow through on a promise to review last year’s flood and share information about what the spring thaw could bring this year. The meeting was closed to the public and media, but Muskoka News Watch (MNW) hopes to bring you an update from today’s meeting as soon as possible.

While still shivering in early March, MNW Editor Norah Fountain asked Steve Taylor, an Integrated Resource Management (IRM) Technical Specialist with the MNR, what we might be able to expect in the way of weather this spring. Here’s our brief pre-spring Q&A with Taylor.

Note: Temperature data is readily available from Environment Canada and the most accurate up to date local information on watershed conditions is available at the MNR district level. Weather outlooks and forecasts are ever changing – just ask Rick Mercer in his widely popular “Seven Day Forecast” (See references at the end of this article). But flooding is no joke. It pays to check your forecasts and watch for weather outlook bulletins shared with municipalities by the MNR.

Q: What’s the spring temperature outlook? Is it time to put away the winter jackets, or should we keep some woollies at hand just in case?

A: We expect a cooler than normal spring, averaging all temperatures over the period from March to May. Of course, normal temperatures for each monitored location vary.

Q: How would the snowmelt potentially differ this year from last?

A: At the end of February, MNR snow pack monitoring indicated there was approximately 110mm of water content contained in the snow pack across the Muskoka River watershed. This is a reduction of approximately 27mm in water content since mid-February. In comparison, the 2013 end of February snow pack water content was approximately the same as this year for the month.

The melt rate of a late-winter snow pack prior to the spring thaw is driven by a number of factors including air temperatures and rainfall amounts.  The amount of snow pack water content throughout the winter is dynamic and can change significantly from month to month due to accumulation and loss factors. For example, evaporation of snow occurs at varying rates throughout the winter.

Should people be concerned about the potential for flooding like we saw last year?
A: The potential or likelihood of a flood occurring this spring will not be known until prior to the spring freshet when watershed conditions, including snow pack water content, are assessed and timely weather forecasts are provided identifying predicted air temperatures and rainfall amounts.

People with homes or cottages in areas along lakes and rivers within known flood-prone locations should always be prepared for the possibility of flooding. Floods are natural events and could occur in any given spring with the melting of the snow pack due to prevailing weather conditions including rainfall.

The MNR Parry Sound District will issue local public notifications through the media and local municipalities such as a Flood Watch if the potential for flooding exists and a Flood Warning if flooding is imminent or occurring. These notifications are issued to provide the public and local municipalities enough lead-time to prepare or respond to a potential or actual flood situation. Note: After this interview on March 28, the MNR issued its first notification. Click here to view that PDF (the full Water Conditions Statement also follows References at the bottom of this post).

Q: Muskoka lakes and rivers seem to be very drawn down or lower than in recent years – why is this?
A: The typical drawdown of lake levels completed in late winter prior to the spring freshet or snow melt is identified by the Target Operating Level (TOL) within the respective annual operating plans as identified in the Muskoka River Water Management Plan (MRWMP). There are provisions within the MRWMP to lower lake levels below the TOL under certain conditions including when snow pack water content within the Muskoka River watershed or portions thereof are greater than 100% of the historical average. A significant amount of snow fell early this winter such as in the month of December.


Feature picture: Groundhog repeats Groundhog day on March 20 on Moon River. Photo by Mike Webb.

Full text of Ministry of Natural Resources – Water Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook as of March 28, 2014.

The Ministry of Natural Resources – Parry Sound District is advising area residents that a Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook is in effect in the District.

Residents in the Parry Sound – Muskoka area should keep a close watch on conditions, regularly check for updated messages and exercise caution around water bodies as flows within rivers and streams increase in the coming days.  Although flooding is not expected at this time, residents may wish to consider taking action to secure or protect any property in flood-prone or vulnerable areas.

The MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed condidtions.  Further updates will be issued as appropriate.


Description of Weather System

Beginning today and extending into next week, daytime high air temperatures are expected to range from 1 degree to 8 degrees with overnight lows dropping to below freezing.  A total of 15-20mm of rain is expected today across local watersheds.  Rainfall and forecasted temperatures for the next few days will cause some melting of the substantial snow pack in the area but flooding is not expected at this time.

Description of Current Conditions

The water content within the existing snow pack across the Parry Sound-Muskoka area is approximately 180mm, which is significantly above average for this time of year.  The long-range weather outlook or trend suggests that cooler than average temperatures will return late next week, following the current mild spell.

In the absence of any significant rainfall amounts through early April, it is expected that these cooler air temperatures will allow the snow pack to melt at a relatively slow rate therefore reducing the potential for significant flooding within local rivers and lakes.

Expiry Date: This message will expire March 31, 2014 5:00 pm

Understanding Terminology

**WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – FLOOD OUTLOOK: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions

WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – WATER SAFETY: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for users such as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected

FLOOD WATCH: potential for floosing exists within specific watercourses and municipalities

FLOOD WARNING: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities

OPP respond to alleged assault, thefts in Huntsville area, and raise fraud awareness

March 31: Huntsville OPP newsbites and OPP message for Fraud Prevention Month

Muskoka News Watch subscribers, we’d like to hear from you! Do you want OPP crime reports delivered to you in digest form (like this one) or not at all? We are considering removing minor crime stories from our Direct to Subscriber news list, yet it may be important for people know the nature of crimes occurring across Muskoka. Your thoughts appreciated. Please email

Woman charged after another dragged out of pizza store

Police report a 34-year-old Huntsville woman will appear in court in Huntsville April 7 to answer charges of assault after a weekend incident. The report from the Huntsville OPP states a customer was waiting on a pizza order at the Pizza Pizza on Main Street when another customer began yelling at her. The customer was then allegedly grabbed by the hair and dragged out of the restaurant by the second woman who was later found and charged with assault.

Car broken into at Arrowhead Provincial Park

Police are investigating a break in of a car parked at Arrowhead Provincial Park last Thursday afternoon. Unknown culprits smashed a car window to make off with a purse containing Canadian and American cash, a cell phone and all of the victim’s personal identification. Huntsville OPP would like to remind people to secure all of valuables out of sight as to not entice any would be thieves. Also remember to lock it or lose it wherever you park your car.

Generator stolen from hunt camp in Lake of Bays Township

There’s also been a break in at a hunt camp on Martencamp Lake in the Township of Lake of Bays.  The hunt camp was last checked the first week of March and on Thursday, it was discovered it had been targeted by thieves.  Taken from the hunt camp was a generator, Generac model #4000EXL, valued at approximately $800, along with a set of Faber snow shoes that use the old wooden style frame. The hunt camp is in a remote area that can only be reached by snowmobile.

Anyone with any information about either theft is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

Preventing fraud due to identity theft

March is Fraud Prevention Month and the OPP has issued a warning about identity theft, saying fraud prevention remains a top priority for police and financial service providers. Below is the release from the OPP to raise awareness of identity theft and payment card fraud.

March is Fraud Prevention Month – a final reminder from OPP

OPP Release: As part of Fraud Prevention Month, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) believes greater awareness can help prevent consumers from becoming victims of fraud through identity theft and payment cards.

Typical identity theft cases include situations where government documents — such as drivers’ licences, health cards, Social Insurance Number (S.I.N.) cards and birth certificates — have been unlawfully obtained or forged. Criminals can use your stolen identity documents to:

·        access your computer and email accounts

·        access your bank accounts, open new bank accounts or transfer bank balances

·        apply for loans, credit cards and other goods and services

·        make purchases

·        hide their criminal activities

·        obtain passports or receive government benefits.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2013 there were 6,275 complaints of identity theft in Canada. Of those complaints, 4,898 victims were identified and their combined financial losses exceeded $11-million.

The consequences of having your identity compromised can have lasting effects on your life including potential employers, individual finances and credit ratings, and your dealings with government and other agencies.

The OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau – Identity Crimes Unit also makes use of stronger legislative tools with which to charge criminals for possessing the personal information of others and prevent it from being used for fraud or theft.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity or payment card fraud, contact your local police service or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

“Knowledge is power. Consumers can take some basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming a victim, such as never giving out personal information over the phone or over the internet if you are not sure with whom you are dealing, or by only carrying the identification documents that you need,” says Detective Inspector Paul Beesley of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch.

FRAUD…Recognize itReport it …Stop it.


·        Mass-marketing fraud (MMF) in Canada and particularly Ontario continues to grow at an alarming pace.   A 2008 study by the Environics Research Group concluded that two-thirds of Canadians have been targeted by criminal mass marketers.

·        The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) reports that, in 2013, more than 31,000 Canadians reported that they had fallen prey to organized criminal fraudsters for a total reported loss of over $63-million.

·        Almost one-third of complaints to the CAFC come from Ontarians who suffered a reported loss of $31 million to criminal mass-marketers in 2013.

·        The CAFC estimates that mass-marketing fraud reporting rates are less than 5% of actual victims.  Losses to Ontarians from mass marketing fraud in 2013 are estimated to have exceeded $600-million — or close to $2-million per day.  Many of these real dollar losses occurred to individual, ordinary Ontarians who may lose all or a significant portion of their life’s savings.


OPP – March is Fraud Prevention Month

OPP Crime Prevention Section — Tip Sheet

The OPP Identity Crimes Unit has a number of tips and contacts to help you avoid becoming a victim of identity theft at this link.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (formerly Phonebusters) – Identity Theft

For a Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Identity Theft Victims’ Guide, click here  (PDF file)

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Director of Finance retiring from Town of Bracebridge

Carol MacLellan retiring after six years as Bracebridge Director of Finance and Treasurer

Posted March 27, 5pm: Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith today announced that Director of Finance/Treasurer Carol MacLellan will be retiring from the Town of Bracebridge after six years of dedicated service to the Town. Her last official day will be June 20, 2014.

“We are sorry to see Carol retire from the Town,” says Smith. “Throughout her tenure she has shown dedication, professionalism, and significant initiative in her role as it became increasingly diverse over the years.”

Born and raised in Toronto, Carol obtained her Professional Accounting designation (CGA) in 1984. In 1996 Carol made a „lifestyle‟ change, leaving her position as Director of Finance at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto and moving her family to Bracebridge. After holding a number of senior financial roles with local businesses and not-for-profit organizations, Carol transitioned to the Municipal Sector in 2006 when she took a newly-created management position at the District of Muskoka. In 2008, Carol joined the Town of Bracebridge as its new Municipal Treasurer.

Over the past six years, Carol has been responsible for a wide range of activities and projects at the Town. One of the key initiatives has been the continued refinement of the annual budget development process. The result is the production of a comprehensive combined Municipal Budget and Business Plan document, with extensive input from Council as part of that process. As well, detailed quarterly reports to Council on the Budget and Business Plan document are part of the Finance Department‟s core business processes which strive to ensure accountability and transparency to the public.

Other key changes in the past six years include the implementation of new financial software for the Town, which in turn has allowed the refinement of many of the Town‟s financial business processes. Many of the Finance Department‟s manual processes have been replaced with electronic processing. Not only is this more efficient, timely and cost-effective, but the Town‟s customers and the public also appreciate these improvements.

Carol has also been successful in obtaining grants for the Town for a number of infrastructure projects such as for Arena upgrades, SkatePark construction, Manitoba Street bike path construction, Village Square Playground installation, and Town Hall HVAC upgrades. As well, the detailed Ministry reporting for these and other grant-funded projects was a high priority over the past six years to ensure that all funding available to the Town was secured.

An annual program for Community Grants was also developed, which has been well received by local not-for-profit organizations which are eligible to submit applications each year for consideration of grant funding for worthy community projects.

From her role on the Town’s committee for Collective Agreement bargaining, to working with the Ontario Heritage Trust for the continued preservation of the historic Woodchester Villa, to negotiating favourable new agreements with service providers for banking, audit, and insurance/risk management services, Carol has had wide-ranging involvement in the affairs of the Town.

Carol has indicated that she will be enjoying some extended motorcycling trips this summer as well as a few more rounds of golf at her favourite local golf course. In addition to her ongoing membership in the Rotary Club of Bracebridge, Carol is looking forward to using her additional free time in support of other local volunteer boards and organizations.

Mayor Smith, members of Council and all Town staff wish Carol well in planning for her up-coming retirement.

Muskoka Nursing Stations update: Georgian Bay appoints champion, fundraiser for Port Carling station planned

Interim locations being sought for proposed Muskoka nursing stations: Breeson volunteers to head up Port Severn effort, fundraiser for Port Carling station set for June 21

Posted March 26, 3.25pm: The Port Severn Nursing Station project – one of four planned nursing stations in Muskoka – now has a volunteer champion to head up planning efforts. Katherine Breeson of Honey Harbour has been appointed Community Community Chair for the Port Severn Nursing Station Project by the Township of Georgian Bay. Breeson is getting started right away in her volunteer post and will be introduced officially to the Mayor and Council on Tuesday April 15 at the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Breeson will be the community liaison with the District of Muskoka led initiative to establish a permanent full time Nursing Station in Port Severn. She lives in Port Severn with her husband and 11-year-old son (See Feature Picture). Having enjoyed summers at a family cottage all her life in Victoria Harbour, she moved from Mississauga to Muskoka in 2008 and has never looked back. Her successful career as a sales & marketing professional provided her the freedom to work from a home based office and her husband, Tom, a professional cabinetmaker, set up shop on their property on Musky Bay Road.

Breeson is passionate about contributing to the community in her new role.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to champion the Nursing Station project in Port Severn for our community and surrounding areas.” says Breeson. “This project is something I personally believe in and I know will dramatically enhance the lives of both permanent residents and seasonal cottagers and visitors.”

Nursing Stations are an opportunity for localized health care. They are Primary Healthcare clinics that have operated in rural and remote communities for 100 years in Canada. Anyone who needs primary health care can be treated. Permanent residents, seasonal residents, visitors, tourists, cottagers, even visitors from other areas and countries can be accommodated, regardless of whether they have a family doctor or not.

Operational dollars for the proposed Muskoka nursing stations are being considered through a funding application to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

While the funding application for the Port Severn Nursing Station is being considered, there have already been over 125 letters sent to Minister Deb Matthews on behalf of residents in Georgian Bay. Meantime, Georgian Bay Mayor Larry Braid says “interim solutions are already being considered to accommodate a temporary location should the Provincial funding application be successful. Council endorses this project, but community pride and financial support is crucial for us to be successful. We need to share our enthusiasm for a nursing station right here in our community.”

For more information on the Port Severn Nursing Station and to learn how you can help or donate, visit, or click here. To reach Katherine Breeson, email Bresson @ Sympatico dot ca or call her at (705) 817-5633.

Work under way for other nursing stations in Muskoka

The ‘Made in Muskoka’ proposal to see four nursing stations in Muskoka come to fruition is being developed through Donna Kearney, of Rural Health Solutions.

Port Carling Nursing Station, nursing fundraiser, Brock and Willa Wellness Centre, Port Carling, Port Severn Nursing Station, Katherine Breeson, Larry Braid, news about health in Muskoka, Donna Kearney, Rural Healthcare solutions
Willa and Brock Napier (left) discuss June 21 fundraiser with Cassandra Rowswell. Muskoka Melody performs to raise money for nursing station efforts in Port Carling.

Hers is the contracted company hired by the District of Muskoka. The three other communities working toward nursing stations include Port Carling, Severn Bridge and Dorset.

Port Carling fundraiser June 21

In Muskoka Lakes, there are plans for a temporary nursing station to be open in the Port Carling Library until the time the permanent station can be built and opened on the site of the future Brock and Willa Wellness Centre. On June 21, the musical ensemble Muskoka Melody, will hold a fundraising concert in Port Carling to raise money for the Port Carling effort.

“From the beginning, our plan has been to help a local charity,” says Cassandra Rowswell, one of the Muskoka Melody singers and a Lake Joseph resident. “All of our members are volunteering their time and talents and our goal is to raise as much money as we can for the charity from ticket sales and corporate and individual donations. As we considered the many needy groups, it seemed The Brock and Willa Wellness Centre offers so much to our communities, plus it would increase awareness of the great work that they plan to do once construction is completed.”

Philanthropists Brock and Willa Napier donated the land for the health related complex plus they contributed $750,000 to the three entities to be divided equally.

“We are so pleased the Muskoka Melody performers are choosing our organization as the recipient of proceeds raised,” says Brock Napier. “Willa and I are happy to have provided the property which we think will become a hub of health and wellness. The ‘Sounds of the 50s & 60s’ concert will add to the fundraising efforts that are already well underway for the innovative community centre that is intended to house the future Muskoka Lakes Nursing Station, Hospice Muskoka/Andy’s House and the Hub of the Lakes Retirement Residence”

Sounds of the 50s & 60s is planned for June 21 and features the music of Elvis Presley, Bill Hailey, the Mamas and the Papas and many others. Tickets are just $25. To learn more visit

Ryde pledges support for nursing stations

In Ryde, the Ryde Community Co-op has also expressed interest in a nursing station for its community but at a meeting earlier this month, it came to what it calls ‘the reluctant conclusion” that the Co-op and Ryde community isn’t able to provide a space for a proposed station at this time. In a release, the Co-op said “The proposal required the municipality or the community to provide the building space and make any modifications to the location to meet the requirements of the clinic. We were given to understand that the Town would not be providing any funding and that meant the whole cost would have to be borne by the community. Ryde does not have the financial resources to do this.”

The Co-op also looked at acquiring the Ryde Public School but it is also beyond its reach at this time. But the good people of Ryde are still doing their part: The Co-op has written a letter of support for the four other Muskoka Nursing stations proposed. Here is a copy of that letter of support that the Co-op says may serve as a model for others who want to pledge their support:  Nursing Station Letter

Featured Picture: Katherine Breeson and family. Photo by Jody Bressette.

Related Stories
Bracebridge Examiner/Gravenhurst Banner: Four new nursing stations proposed for Muskoka



Marc Garneau presenting Science Matters in Bracebridge April 3

Former astronaut and present MP Marc Garneau will stress how policy must be based on science

Posted March 26, 2pm: Astronaut. Scientist. Parliamentarian. Dr. Marc Garneau brings a varied perspective to the shape of science in Canada, and he promises an engaging presentation for the audience at the Rene Caisse Theatre next week in Bracebridge.

From creating the jobs of the future to solving the problems of our present, the need for evidence-based answers has never been more important, asserts Garneau, if we want to ensure Canada can meet the challenges of the modern world.

When he presents Science Matters, Garneau says he “will argue that public policy should be based on scientific evidence and that we need to let our scientists speak.” He adds the importance of a knowledge based economy will also be a focus of his talk.

This is not the first time Garneau has expressed the importance of the role of evidence-based knowledge in regard to the economy. Before throwing his support behind

Marc Garneau, Liberal, Muskoka
Garneau speaking during Liberal leadership race in Bracebridge, January 2013

Justin Trudeau, Garneau visited Parry Sound-Muskoka during the federal Liberal leadership race and spelled out several steps toward economic prosperity – that included supporting and growing a knowledge based economy in Canada.

The Parry Sound-Muskoka Federal Liberal Association that is playing host to the Garneau presentation insists this is absolutely an event focused on science, not on partisanship. In a release, the association says, “We have been witnessing a war on science as more and more public policy is being driven without appropriate consideration of the facts. Valuable data is being discarded and researchers muzzled from speaking.”

Garneau wants to see that changed, and he’ll make his argument for why that needs to happen on April 3 at the Rene Caisse Theatre in Bracebridge.

Science Matters Event Details:

  • Who: Marc Garneau
  • When: Thursday, April 3, 
6 pm
  • Where: TheRene Caisse Theatre, Bracebridge
  • Tickets; By advance tickets for $15 by clicking here or get tickets for $20 at the door.

For those who would like to meet Garneau personally, former Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Andy Mitchell is playing host to a private reception after the presentation. Tickets for this event include admission to the Rene Caisse presentation as well as refreshments. For this reception or to learn more about Science Matters, call 705-224-9461.

rene caisse theatre, Marc Garneau, Science Matters, April 3

Other upcoming events related to science and environment:

April 10, 7:30pm, “The Biological Recovery of our Lakes: How are we measuring it?” presentation by Dr Martha Celis at Muskoka Campus of Nipissing University. Celis is the guest speaker of the Canadian Federation of University Women (C.F.U.W.)

May 8-9: Muskoka Summit on the Environment, Resolving the Environment vs Economy Dichotomy. Features Guest Speaker Robert Bateman.

nature reserve, Muskoka Conservancy, Nelson Head, Musquash, news about Muskoka, protecting Muskoka environment, Muskoka Summit on the environment, events in Muskoka



Gravenhurst man charged after drugs seized; Huntsville OPP seek suspects in mall break in

Police seize weapons, drugs after search of a Gravenhurst home today; suspects sought in Huntsville mall break in; and Haliburton man charged after a tractor trailer wheel flew off and hit another car on Highway 11 yesterday

Posted March 26, 11.30am: A Gravenhurst man faces several charges — and there may be more coming — after police acted on a search warrant today at a Gravenhurst home.

Seized items included a prohibited weapon, marijuana, cocaine and Oxycodone.  Police estimate the street value of the items seized to be over $21,000.

Arrested and charged with uttering threats, drug possession and trafficking is 40-year-old James Downs.  The investigation is ongoing and more charges are pending.

The search warrants were executed by Ontario Provincial Police members of the Community Drug Action Team (CDAT) along with Muskoka-Vice Street Crime Unit and Central Region Canine Unit.

Police searching for suspects in Huntsville mall break in

In other police news today, police in the Huntsville detachment are asking for the public’s help in finding two suspects who broke into the Huntsville Place Mall sometime overnight on Sunday, March 23. So far it appears that nothing was taken.

Police say the suspects gained access through a rear door in the mall on King William St. The suspects are described this way: one was wearing black pants, black coat, black hat and black shoes. The second one is described as wearing a black hat, black pants, and a white jersey over top over a hoodie and black gloves.

Anyone who may have seen these two suspects in the area of Huntsville Place Mall on Sunday night between the hours of 2:00am and 3:30am is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.


Trailer wheel strikes car on Highway 11 near 141 yesterday

And yesterday, just before 4:00pm, Huntsville OPP charged a Haliburton man with driving while suspended after a trailer wheel flew off and struck the front grill of a car behind it. The incident occurred on Highway #11 north of highway #141. Police say a Ford pickup truck towing a trailer with snow machines was traveling north on highway #11 ahead of a car when a wheel came off the trailer, bounced on the road and struck the front grill of the Chevrolet travelling behind it.


Update: Three men charged in Gravenhurst home invasion now identified

Update: Three Males Charged in relation to Gravenhurst Break and Enter identified today by OPP

Posted April 14, 3,47pm: The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Bracebridge detachment members have named the three men charged in relation to a home invasion in Gravenhurst on March 20.

Police say at approximately 11 pm, three suspects forced their way into an apartment near the Albion Hotel. The two residents inside the Gravenhurst home say they heard the suspects entering and confronted them. After a short altercation, the suspects fled.

21-year-old Glen Werney of Gravenhurst is charged with assault with a weapon and break and enter to commit an indictable offence. Also charged is 24-year-old Kyle Matts of Tay Township and 30-year-old Beau Desvreaux of Gravenhurst. Both face charges of assault and break and enter.

The three will appear in Bracebridge court on April 15, 2014.

Original Article: Break and enter in Gravenhurst leaves two residents with minor injuries

Posted March 22, 3:50pm: Three men were arrested early Friday after a break and enter at a Gravenhurst home. According to Bracebridge OPP, three suspects entered an apartment near the Albion Hotel at about 11pm on March 20. The two people inside the Gravenhurst home heard the suspects entering and confronted them. After a short altercation the suspects fled from the residence.

The victims called Bracebridge OPP who responded and began searching the area immediately with help of the Emergency Response Team and K-9 officers. The three suspects were located through police investigation by the Muskoka Crime Unit, the Community Drug Action Team, and members of the Bracebridge OPP detachment. They have been charged with

  • CC 266 Assault
  • CC 348(1)(b) Break, Enter dwelling house – commit indictable offence

The two residents had minor injuries as a result of the incident and nothing was taken from the residence. Early Friday morning there were four police vehicles and an ambulance remaining in front of the Albion Hotel near the scene of the incident on the corners of Muskoka Road and Bay Street. One man was being treated for injuries inside the ambulance. The types of injuries have not been confirmed by police.

Feature picture by Norah Fountain, March 21, 7:30am.Related Articles

Muskoka ToDaily: Home invasion leads to 3 men charged

New technology, methods, products discussed at Working Around Water

Update: Working Around Water event draws crowd

Update Posted April 2, 9am: As part of the Shoreline Stewardship program launched late last year, Muskoka Conservancy played host to a “Working Around Water” Symposium for professionals who work around water in Muskoka on Wednesday, March 26th at Knox Presbyterian Church in Bracebridge. The event brought together about 75 local professionals to hear about the new products and technology for working in and around shoreline properties.

The Shoreline Stewardship and Water Quality Program was launched in the fall of 2013 by Muskoka Conservancy and Muskoka Lakes Association. “This is a multifaceted program that combines community workshops, private landowner consultations, and outreach to local contractors and service providers”, says Kristie Virgoe, Executive Director of Muskoka Conservancy.

“This was a great opportunity for professionals to get together to discuss and share information about working along shorelines in Muskoka so they can continue in the great work they are doing”, says Jenn Head, Stewardship Coordinator. Presentations during this event included permitting agencies, Maccaferri Canada, Waterloo Biofilter and the Wildflower Farm.

“The Symposium is vital part of our program and we are already looking forward to this becoming an annual event” says Head, Stewardship Coordinator. “Participants in the event will have their businesses listed in our Landowner Services Guide that we will provide to every landowner we visit. In that way, we are helping landowners connect with the professionals that can help them improve and restore their natural shorelines”.

“Muskoka Conservancy is thrilled to be working with all areas of our community to help protect our natural features.  The takeaway message from this event is simple – Muskoka has a great listing of contractors and consultants that really care about Muskoka!  This event gave them an opportunity to learn about some new products and technologies as well as to hear what is new in permitting processes”, says Virgoe.

As part of the Shoreline Stewardship program, Muskoka Conservancy will be hosting landowner workshops throughout the year to reach seasonal and year round shoreline property owners. These presentations will include topics like shoreline erosion control, and tips to manage Canada Geese on your shoreline property. Please visit for a list of topics, dates and locations.

Original article follows.

A don’t miss symposium for those who do work on the shores of Muskoka Lakes; event in Bracebridge

Posted March 22, 11am: Muskoka Conservancy is offering a “Working Around Water” Symposium for professionals who work around water in Muskoka. The day-long event will bring together local professionals to hear about new products and technology for working in and around shoreline properties. Permitting agencies, Waterloo Biofilter, and Maccaferri Canada, will be among the presenters.

Waterloo Biofilter has developed solutions for on site waste-water treatment. Maccaferri is a world leader in innovative environmental solutions with extensive expertise in retaining wall systems (gabion, geogrid), reinforcement of steep slopes, embankments, drainage systems, rockfall protection, soil erosion protection and soil stabilization.

Wednesday’s event is part of the Shoreline Stewardship and Water Quality Program launched in the fall last year by Muskoka Conservancy and the Muskoka Lakes Association. “This is a multifaceted program that combines community workshops, private landowner consultations, and outreach to local contractors and service providers,” says Kristie Virgoe, Executive Director of Muskoka Conservancy.

Working Around Water Event Details

  • When: Wednesday, March 26, 8:30am – 4pm
  • Where: Knox Presbyterian Church, Bracebridge
  • Cost: 50 per person and includes lunch.
  • Register now by calling 705-645-7393 ext. 200 or email

Topics for the day will include erosion control, permitting and planning (new construction and improvements), septic technology, site planning, and landscaping.

“This isn’t a training event,” says Jenn Head, Stewardship Coordinator, “it is an opportunity to share information and to hear about some of the new technologies that will help Muskoka landscapers, builders, and contractors in the great work they are doing.” Additional landowner workshops are offered throughout the year to reach seasonal and year round shoreline property owners.

Businesses get listing in Landowner Services Guide
“This Symposium is vital part of our program,” she says. “Participants in the event will have their businesses listed in our Landowner Services Guide that we can provide to every landowner we visit. In that way, we are helping landowners connect with the professionals that can help them improve and restore their shorelines.”

For more information and to register for Working Around Water, please contact 705-645-7393 ext. 200 or email

To know more about the Muskoka Conservancy visit or call 705-645-7393.

Please share a link to this article with anyone you know who works on and around the water in Muskoka.

Other events coming up in April from the Muskoka Conservancy include Canada Geese Shoreline Stewardship Workshop on April 2 and Flooding and Naturalizatin Shoreline Stewardship Workshop on April 9.

About the Muskoka Conservancy
For over 25 years, the Muskoka Conservancy (formerly the Muskoka Heritage Foundation and Trust) provides comprehensive environmental stewardship and outreach programs. The first property was donated 23 years ago and the Muskoka Conservancy has been protecting the regions’ natural spaces ever since. Today, the organization protects a total of 32 properties totaling over 1,800 acres of sensitive wetlands, forests, rock barrens, and shorelines. With over 200 active volunteers, the organization keeps its operation costs low and dedicates most resources to stewardship projects, land conservation, and community outreach. Muskoka Conservancy believes in working with community to build and support a vibrant Muskoka that honours the natural environment and the traditions of the area.


Science Matters, April 3, a presentation about science and how it is shaping our future by former astronaut and present MP Marc Garneau, Rene Caisse Theatre, Bracebridge. To buy tickets, click here

Muskoka Summit on the Environment – resolving the Dichotomy of Economy and Environment, May 8-9 and featuring keynote speaker, the renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman. To learn all about the summit, please click here.


Car crashes off Highway 11 southbound across from Muskoka Airport

Update on Highway11 SB crash yesterday (March 21)Update on Highway11SB crash posted March 22, 4:30pm: The driver of a car that crashed off Highway11SB yesterday near Muskoka Airport will answer to charges under the Highway Traffic Act, according to Bracebridge OPP. There were four people in the vehicle and two were taken to hospital with minor injuries. Police say the vehicle was driven off the road, and into a snowbank before crashing into a ditch. Original post follows.

Car crashes well off Highway 11SB after suddenly crossing from left lane

Posted March 21, 12.40pm: Just minutes ago a car crashed well off Highway 11 SB across from the Muskoka Airport. A driver stopped to call Muskoka News Watch to say “it looked like the car was airborne before crash landing” in front of the Hart of Muskoka Motel on Winhara Road, directly across from the airport. Emergency responders are on scene and the car is said to appear totalled. There is no official OPP report yet, but the man who called in the tip said the car was seen driving at high speeds just before the crash, then swerved from the left lane and became airborne before landing several feet from the highway’s right southbound lane.

It may be bright and sunny out today but there are still slippery spots on our highways.

Proof of chimney cleaning rewarded by Muskoka Lakes Fire Department

How to get a free carbon monoxide detector or smoke alarm from Muskoka Lakes Fire Department

Posted March 20, 1pm: Chimney fires happen more often than you might think, and are often a cause for alarm calls to the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department, according to Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes. Chimney fires can be equally damaging and dangerous for you, your home, and the fire fighters that respond.

Today the department is reminding people they should have chimneys cleaned at least once a year. This action is primarily for wood burning stoves but there can still be issues for any chimney from any fuel fired appliance.

If you have a receipt from a WETT-certified company about a recent chimney clean, you can bring it in for a free carbon monoxide detector or smoke alarm from the Township fire department as a reward for being diligent in fire prevention. To know more, click here to view the online notice or you can download the Fire Department PDF on chimney safety: Chimney Safety

Spring forward and think fire prevention, too

As today is the first day of spring, when was the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors? A general rule is to do this when you spring forward with time zone changes.




Huntsville woman seeks Canadian beauty crown

Nguyen of Huntsville has sights set on being Miss World Canada

Posted March 16, 3pm: Former Huntsville resident and Huntsville High School student Sindy Nguyen wants to wear the crown of Miss World Canada. She will compete against another 39 women across Canada for the title in the pageant in Vancouver this May.

“When I was younger, I always wanted to compete in pageants, but never
thought that I was tall enough, good looking enough, or even “white” enough
to compete,” says Nguyen.

Sindy Nguyen, Huntsville woman competes for Miss World Canada, Miss World Canada Vancouver, Huntsville High School alum, beauty pageant for Muskoka woman, news about Muskoka, Muskoka news watch
Sindy Nguyen of Huntsville, Ontario plans to compete for  Miss World Canada this May. Photo Credit: Hazel Studio Productions

“There were no other Asians competing or representing Canada in the International level. and as I got older, I realized that I now have the opportunity to be a role model for younger girls despite my race, height or background,” she says.

Nguyen graduated from Huntsville High School in 2007. After moving to Toronto for work, she joined the Princess Cruise
Lines as an Assistant Cruise Director.

Everyone can cast vote for “People’s Choice contestant

Nguyen hopes she will get the support of her former community by voting for her as “People’s Choice”. To vote for her and learn more, visit She’s also looking for sponsors and they can reach her at:


New Chief and Council for Wahta Mohawk Territory

Elections Officer confirms results: new Chief and three new Council members elected

Posted March 15, 10.20pm: After two-and-a-half years without one, there will be a new Chief of Wahta Mohawk Territory: Philip Angus Franks. He was elected Chief in today’s elections.

Elections Officer Veronica McLeod has confirmed the reports posted earlier on Muskoka News Watch of the new council for Wahta.

Philip Angus Franks is the new Chief with 154 votes, defeating his opponent Tim Thompson.

Elected to Council are:

  • Karen Commandant with 156 votes
  • Michael Decaire with 151 votes
  • Teresa Greasley with 146 votes and;
  • Stuart Lane with 114 votes

Three incumbent members of Council – Shirley Hay, Bill Hay and Dan Stock — were unsuccessful in their attempt at re-election.

Related Articles:

Muskoka News Watch, March 15, 2014: Early results show new Council for Wahta

Want to comment on this or any other article on Muskoka News Watch? We welcome interactive discussion and urge you to read About Muskoka News Watch for information about comments. For example, as a poster, you are responsible for all the content of any of your content that you or we publish and you are financially responsible to us for any claim against us by any third party that relates to your User Generated Content.

Early Wahta Election results have Philip Franks as new Chief and 3 new Council members

Posted March 15: 9.40pm: There are unconfirmed reports that the votes have been tallied after today’s vote for the Council for Wahta Mohawk Territory. It’s reported that Philip Franks was succesful in his bid to become Chief and one of the four incumbent Council members — Stuart Lane — will retain his position. Also reported elected are Karen Commandant, Michael Decaire and Teresa Greasley.

Here’s the unconfirmed breakdown of vote numbers:

For Chief

  • Philip Franks 154
  • Tim Thompson 93

Four Elected to Council

  • Karen Commandant 156
  • Mike Decaire 151
  • Teresa Greasley 146
  • Stuart Lane 114 (Incumbent re-elected
  • Shirley Hay 104
  • Dan Stock 104
  • Bill Hay 100

Wahta Mohawks have been without a chief since 2011, elections today will see position filled

NOTE: Results are expected to be published tomorrow after release by the Elections Officer.

Posted March 15, 9am: Members of the Mohawk Wahta Territory are casting their ballots today to choose a new Chief and Council. The poll opened at 9am at the Wahta Administration Office and will close at 7pm tonight.

In the running for the position of Chief are Philip Angus Franks and Tim Thompson. Seven people are seeking Council positions and only four will be elected. They are:

  • Karen Commandant
  • Michael Decaire
  • Teresa Greasley
  • William (Bill) Wayne Hay (incumbent)
  • Shirley Hay (incumbent)
  • Stuart Lane (incumbent)
  • Dan Stock (incumbent)

Votes will be tallied immediately after the poll closes, says Elections Officer Veronica McLeod and results are expected by 9pm.

The Wahta Mohawks have been without a Chief since November 2011. Blaine Commandant had held the position of Chief for 12 years and was removed from office after Council said he had missed three meetings. Since then, the process to fill the position of Chief has not been without controversy.

A Council update in April 2012 said the community had agreed to a postponement of a by-election to replace the Chief. At the time, there were at least two people (reportedly Lawrence Schell and Steve Stock) who had shown interest in competing for the position.

In June 2012, legal action was taken to attempt to re-instate the past Chief and remove the four duly elected Councilors. That action was unsuccessful. In its 2014 Annual Report released this month and posted just prior to today’s election, Council states it considers this case as still not being closed as court costs remain owing to Council.

The report also outlined Council’s position on the nomination process, which disallowed certain Wahta members to run for Council if court costs owed to Council by applicants involved in the court case were not paid prior to seeking nomination for office.

The 2014 Annual Report states:

“The Electoral Officer, on the advice of legal counsel, is requiring the Applicants to ensure that the court costs are paid prior to being considered as having met all qualifications for running for office.”

According to the Council report, applicants in the court case were “Blaine Commandant, Darrel Bruce DeCaire, George Francis Decaire, Elizabeth Bella Roberts, Scott Sahanatien, Lawrence Schell, Neil Schell, Ronald Strength, Calvin White and Michael Dewasha.” It’s not known if any of these people sought to seek office in today’s election.

Related Articles and References

Bala Legion Branch Info

Remembrance Day Ceremony 2015: At Wahta Cenotaph. NOTE: The Wahta Cenotaph has been relocated to the Wahta Administration Centre. There will be a special dedication service at 10:30am followed by the Remembrance Day ceremony at 11am.
Updated Branch Hours: 330pm to 630pm Tuesday – Saturday (remaining open later Thursday, Friday, Saturday depending on demand)
The last dinner/jam was Saturday, June 13.  Music at 4PM and dinner at 5.  If you have an instrument, come on out and sit in with the band.
We have added Tuesdays and Wednesdays to the days we are open, so our new hours are open Tue/Wed from 3-6PM and Thu/Sat from 3:30-11 (ish).  Enjoy our new big screen TVs as well as pool and shuffleboard.
On June 12th in Canadian Military History: 1900: Battle between Boers and Canadian mounted troops at Diamond Hill ends; 1941: RCAF bombers make their first attack on Germany, bombing the Schwerte freight yards; 1944: For his courageous and selfless attempt to save his crewmate over Cambrai, France, Pilot Officer Mynarski of the Royal Canadian Air Force, 419 Squadron, RCAF earned the Victoria Cross (Posthumous).
Lest We Forget

Saturday May 9: Join the fun at the Legion for another jam session — with some surprise guests!

Country Jam at Legion
Jammin’ at the Legion April 18

Note: The Bala Legion is looking for a janitor and bartender.

New Branch Hours: Thurs-Saturday, 3pm to 11pm.

March 27, 2015:

The General Meeting was held on March 25th and it was agreed that the Branch would be changing its hours, effective April 16th.  Starting then, we will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 3:00PM to 11:00PM.  You’ll finally be able to drop in to the Branch after a hard week’s work or while you’re relaxing at your cottage.  Sports teams are always welcome and you can take advantage of our newly refurbished pool table!

Speaking of good times, the next country music jam and dinner will be April 18th at 4PM  Our popular roast beef and all the fixin’s will be on the menu, so mark that on your calendar.  If you’re a musician, please feel free to bring your instrument along and get up with Jo & Jay and the rest of the gang for some great tunes.

Don’t forget the special Easter brunch at the Legion this Sunday, April 5th between 9AM and noon.  We will be serving scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and pancakes, as well as a beverage.  The cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12.  This event is open to the public

One of the problems Legions across Canada are having is the perception among the general public that we are a private club or that, if you are not a member, you have to be “signed in” by someone who is.  While that was true in the past, it is no longer the case.  We are open to the general public and everyone is welcome.  Even membership is no longer restricted to military personnel and their families.  Anyone is eligible to join.  All you need is the desire to support the Legion and a general desire to support our troops and veterans.  If you would like more info, send an e-mail to me at  I’ll be happy to get back to you.

Lest We Forget


March 21, 2015:

Glad to be back!  An extended vacation down south means I haven’t been able to do this column the last few weeks, but now we’re good to go!

There will be a special Easter brunch at the Legion on Sunday, April 5th between 9:AM and noon.  We will be serving scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and pancakes, as well as a beverage.  The cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12.  This event is open to the public

The last country jam/dinner on St Paddy’s Day was very well received and we are looking to start making the event a twice-a-month gig.  Watch here for details.  The next one scheduled will be April 18th at 4:PM.  The dinner will be roast beef with all the trimmings, courtesy of The Wahta Station.

We will be holding an open house at the Branch in the near future with the idea of bringing in people who are not familiar with the Legion and all it has to offer.  Again, watch this column for details.

The branch is currently open Tuesday to Saturday from 3:30 to 6:30.  Come in and join the guys for a game of pool and the beverage of your fancy!

Lest we forget!


March 15, 2015: Had a huge turnout yesterday; lot of people, lots of musicians and LOTS of Irish stew! The next jam will be April 18th so mark that in your phone or appointment book. We’re thinking of making these jams/dinners a bi-monthly thing. Thoughts?

Jan 1: Happy New Year.

Jan 1, 2015: It’s a New Year and we’ll be planning more events, so keep checking back. Meantime, a reminder to keep your dues up to date.

Dec. 28 Update: Wow, the country jam seems to be really taking off!  In addition to the regulars Jo, Jay & myself), we had Ed Voisin out on guitar, Ed Scott and Bruce (Bam Bam) Morrison on percussion and a couple of regulars from the Washago jam (whose names I unfortunately didn’t get) out on guitar and keyboards.  As usual a good time was had by all with LOTS of local Bala folk out for the music and the great spaghetti dinner.  Thanks to my beautiful wife, Laura Scott, as well as Connie Dingle and Maria Hamilton for all their work in the kitchen.  Next month’s dinner will be on January 24th and will feature roast beef with all the trimmings.  Watch this space!

Dec. 15 Update: Thanks to everyone who was out at the Senior’s Dinner last Saturday.  As the saying goes, a great time was had by all.  Special thanks to all the great volunteers for cooking, serving and, most importantly, cleaning up!  Your efforts are appreciated!


If you or your group are planning on holding an event , but have yet to find a good venue with decent prices, consider holding it at the Bala Legion.,  We have a large dining hall, a relaxing club room as well as complete kitchen features and we can host a wide variety of events, from business meetings to hockey tournaments to wedding receptions.  Call us at 705 762 3913 for more information.


Lest We Forget.

Wanted: High school students with great summer business ideas

Make Your Pitch contest back and open to Parry Sound-Muskoka entrepreneurs in two regions of competition

Posted March 10, 5:30pm: The Young Entrepreneur Make Your Pitch contest is back for a second year – and high school students in Parry Sound-Muskoka can submit short videos for a chance at a start-up business grant.

Young Entrepreneur, Make Your Pitch contest challenges students in grades 9 to 12 to pitch their business idea in a two-minute video submitted online at In their videos, students need to address who their customers will be, the problems that their business will need to solve, and why their business will succeed. Submissions must be entered into one of six categories: service, arts/culture/tourism, retail goods, social enterprise, environment and technology.

“This contest is a great way for high school students to pitch their business idea through a creative visual outlet,” says Vivian Ho, small business consultant with Muskoka Small Business Centre in Bracebridge. Ho adds: “This is a great opportunity for students across Muskoka to explore the possibility of entrepreneurship.”

Eighteen finalists will be chosen from six high school regions designated by the Ministry of Education from across the province.  For example, students from Gravenhurst High School, Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School and from the Simcoe uskoka Catholic School Board compete in the Barrie region, while Parry Sound high school students compete in the North Bay-Sudbury region. The finalists will pitch their ideas in front of a live audience and judging panel in Toronto at the Ontario Centre of Excellence’s Discovery Conference at Metro Toronto Convention Centre on May 12-13, 2014. From the 18 finalists, six winners will be chosen, earning them reserved entry into the Summer Company program, which includes hands-on training, mentorship and a grant of up to $3,000 to help turn their idea into a business.

The deadline for online video submissions is March 28, 2014. Video Judging begins on April 1 through a combination of online public voting and expert judges. For more information, please contact Muskoka Small Business Centre at (705) 646-9021 or visit

As part of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, the contest is presented by the Ministry of Economic Development Trade and Employment and the Ontario Centre of Excellence.

Quick Facts:

Lake House Cabinetry fire in Port Carling involved equipment

Equipment fire at Lake House Cabinetry, site of old Lee Valley Marine

Posted March 10, 5pm: Nobody was hurt in an equipment fire at the Lake House Cabinetry in Port Carling today. The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department responded over an hour ago to the fire that may have started in a dust collector out back of the shop building. A Lake House Cabinetry spokesperson expressed thanks for the quick thinking of employees who acted swiftly upon smelling smoke, and to the firefighters for their quick response. Lake House Cabinetry is located on the site of the old Lee Valley Marine on Lee Valley Drive. The building was completely renovated a few years ago and another 3,000 feet added to the space. So far, there appears to be no damage to the building itself, but the extent of damage has yet to be fully determined.

Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes described it as a minor fire in the dust collection system that the fire department had out in short order.

MNW thanks a reader for alerting us to the fire.


Dust the snow off the Muskoka Lakes Museum: big plans for its 50th year!

Muskoka Lakes Museum marks its Golden Jubilee – opening day in May starts a summer-long celebration of 50 great years

Posted Mar. 6, 5:30pm: 2014 marks the 50th year of The Muskoka Lakes Museum and the museum has a big 50 goal: to grow its Endowment Fund to $50,000 to support programming.

“The board of directors is spearheading this initiative to grow the Endowment Fund to $50,000 to help enhance programs,” says museum board Chair Liz Lundell. “The income generated supplements our grants and membership revenue, providing flexible funding to help create new offerings – such as a new exhibit or children’s program.”

Founded in 1964, the Muskoka Lakes Museum has relied on municipal, provincial and federal grants, charitable donations, program fees and fundraising to cover operating expenses. The Museum’s annual operating budget is roughly $100,000 and that covers wages, insurance, facilities maintenance, programming costs, administration and care of the collection.

museum, golden jubilee of museum, port carling
Muskoka Lakes Museum in Port Carling

As a registered charity, the museum has received generous gifts from donors and bequests over the years and the Endowment Fund currently sits at approximately $30,000. The capital in the fund is preserved, while the income is used to pay for programming costs such as children’s activities, lectures, and family events. The Endowment Fund is invested with a highly reputable investment management firm and the income provides a sustainable source of funding that is not vulnerable to government cutbacks or fundraising fluctuations.

The museum Board of Directors is hoping museum members, sponsors, and community supporters will consider a one-time birthday gift to the Endowment Fund to help the community museum reach its target and create a legacy to celebrate. All contributions are eligible for a charitable receipt for income tax purposes. Information about how to donate can be found at

Save the date for July 26th to celebrate Muskoka Lakes Museum Day

A number of additional festivities are also planned for the Museum’s 50th season. The popular lecture program will be offered at no charge. A 50th anniversary book is in production and a photography contest will run throughout the summer. All members of the community and visitors will be welcomed to a day of celebration at the island between the locks in Port Carling on July 26 – Muskoka Lakes Museum Day. Watch for details about these and other events at

Some history on the museum’s history…

Indian River cottager Marion Catto first proposed the idea of a museum in Port Carling to preserve the area’s pioneer past and provide a tourist attraction. The Port Carling Historical Society was founded at her cottage on September 9, 1961. While the group sought a permanent home, the society collected and borrowed artifacts, which were displayed at the Algonquin Hotel on Joseph Street.

In 1964, the Port Carling Pioneer Museum was incorporated by Letters Patent from the Province of Ontario and the first directors were Marion Catto, Gertrude Tassie, Dorothy Duke, Lorraine Amey and Adel Coutts. Plans for a centennial project began and on July 2, 1967 the Museum opened its doors in its present location on the island. After a name change to The Muskoka Lakes Museum in 1989, the organization continues today as a non-profit, registered charity guided by a board of directors.

The original centennial building was expanded a number of times to house a growing collection. In 1982-83, the Hall family log cabin was moved from its original location in Glen Orchard and reconstructed on the island.

Over the years, descendants of early settlers made many generous donations of artifacts and these have been joined by others contributed by both permanent and summer residents. The Honourable James Bartleman donated a large collection himself in 2013 chronicling his Port Carling and Rama background, as well as his contributions in the diplomatic service and as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Haven’t visited the museum recently? Be sure to be there this summer to wish museum curator Doug Smith and all the great volunteers a hearty happy 50th! The museum re-opens on May 17, 2014.

Featured Photo in Top Left: The 50th Anniversary Logo (logo designed by Rob Donald, Interlink Graphics, Port Carling).

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On sharing Sun Media article, Mayor Murphy Attitude Draws Scorn from Muskoka Lakes taxpayers

What’s Up Muskoka Article, Mayor Murphy’s Attitude Draws Scorn

Click here to Read Article by What’s Up Muskoka. Author: Matt Driscoll.

Muskoka News Watch fully agrees with this article and others like it published over the past four years in Muskoka newspapers. MNW Editor Norah Fountain writes she believes we have a poisonous culture being fostered at Muskoka Lakes Council and more people need to speak up about what they’ve seen and experienced.

Commentary by Norah Fountain posted March 6, 11:30am: I don’t take delight in writing about what myself and others feel is untoward behaviour on the part of some councillors in our Township. In fact, I feel ill as I write this commentary. You see, it’s even harder in a small municipality to speak up about abuse, and I am in awe of those who have the guts to say they’ve been treated badly and want it to stop. The weekly What’s Up publication, owned by Sun Media, this week published an article about people who say they have felt the wrath of Alice Murphy, the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes. Click here to read it. For her part, the Mayor was quoted by What’s Up as saying she acts in a “open and warm” fashion…and that those firing off criticism should find something proactive to do with their time and energy.” If she believes that, she isn’t leading by example.

Muskoka News Watch (MNW) readers regularly complain (off record, out of fear of retribution they say, unfortunately), to me about treatment they have seen Murphy mete out. Members and supporters of the fire department management appear to be favourite targets, along with anyone who has any opinion that differs from the mayor on the proposed hydro plant. Even a librarian giving a report about libraries was once reduced to tears during a council meeting.

A poisonous culture brewing

And the Mayor is not alone in her behaviour toward others. Recently Councillors Harding and Nishikawa berated a staff member in a public council meeting over her job fair efforts. In that case, the Mayor actually stopped the questioning that observers said was unduly sharp, reportedly on the advisement of the Clerk. It’s unfortunate that Murphy isn’t stopped when she herself takes aim at staff or someone delegating to Council.

At a meeting I attended on February 14, Councillor Nishikawa laughed derisively about the Fire Chief’s pay scale recommendations while agreeing with Councillor Harding that she couldn’t understand the report the Chief had delivered. This is a report the Council had originally requested and sent back for more work three or four times. The Mayor and Councillors sent the Chief back to the drawing board again. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that as part of good oversight, but here’s the but: in my opinion, from what I saw at that meeting and what I’ve heard has happened at others, the way the fire chief is treated might be construed as a potential constructive dismissal ploy. In other words, make the ones you don’t like want to quit.

He wouldn’t be the first staff member to leave (See Sun Media article, More Senior Staff Jump Ship). Six senior staff employees either quit, or opted for early retirement in 2012, leading one business person to ponder why in a client newsletter: “It is uncertain whether these moves are coincidental, or due to issues with the Mayor’s management style.” (Source, Muskoka Happenings, Summer/Autumn 2012).

I’m sure some staff are getting along very well with Council, but I believe no one should endure the poisonous tone of questioning I have witnessed at some Council meetings.

Then there are the people — the taxpayers and professionals hired by taxpayers — that experience ‘unpleasantness’ in and outside of Council chambers.

Stories of unpleasant interactions in and out of council

>The woman giving a historic tour of Port Carling to a group of of tourists who was stopped (some say accosted) by the Mayor on the street (The Mayor had a loud bone to pick with her for some reason).

>The man who was booed as he gave a delegation as the Mayor sat back and let it happen (Granted, the Mayor has improved and now asks for courtesy. That’s appreciated).

>There are the two people (that I know of) who have left Council meetings in tears (the first was reported by the Bracebridge Examiner – for May 2011 article, click here) who no longer wanted to endure the Mayor’s comments.

>The ratepayers who were singled out by the Mayor during a discussion on heritage minutes (Read February 2013 Metroland article, Heritage Minutes set off Mayor, here) and have been slammed at other times in the newspapers by the Mayor (Read March 2013 Metroland article in which she displays her warm approach to all: “Mean spirited RatepayerAssocn hurts #Muskoka community. Running secret society w/ ‘chosen’ Board, yet positioned as ‘conscience’ of Townshp,”). This was a YEAR ago.

>There are property owners who have dared speak opinions that don’t jive with hers and then had to go to the Ontario Municipal Board for resolution, costing them and the Township money.

>The politicians in other local municipalities, and in other levels of government, who shake their heads about her Tweet tirades against politicians and government agencies. Most recently, Oakville Mayor Burton, whom Murphy once asked for advice and then wrote to the province and federal government with allegations about Oakville that the Oakville Mayor countered were untrue.

>And yes, there’s me. I was yelled at to get out and ‘show some respect’ by an enraged Mayor striding across a public hall outside Divisional Court in Toronto. I asked for an apology, but like others, I’m still waiting. I’ve been approaching and interviewing politicians since 1979. I’ve never seen any of them act like Murphy.

Fear factor alive and well in Muskoka Lakes

I wish more people would speak up, but I can’t blame Councillors or local business people who have had their own negative experiences with the Mayor.  They say they can’t risk it. Or that it’s pointless, especially as without competition, it looks like Murphy will be the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes for another four years. Certainly, who am I to judge them? I didn’t hold my ground when she went after me that day in Toronto.  I try my best to never engage with her on social media like Twitter as she demonstrates ‘Troll-like” behaviour (see definition in this article about her Twitter tackle of Oakville’s Mayor).

Last week a Toronto political journalist called me and asked how I manage writing such commentary when I live in a small area where I can encounter the people I’m writing about in the grocery store and such. It’s hard for big city journalists, too, but small town politics are way more up close and personal.

The president of the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) told me he feels the negativity of what I and others have written is unproductive (I am a member of the MLA and the Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association). So have my personal friends. I agree with them in principle, and wish it were different, but as long as people are being abused in our township — be it staff, taxpayers or visitors — I think we all need to shine a light on it.

I admire the brave ladies of the MRA who sit through so many Council meetings to report what they see for those of us who can’t be there to see for themselves the way Council business is being conducted. And a big nod to local media – What’s Up Muskoka and Metroland’s Bracebridge Examiner and Banner for reporting what is happening in Muskoka Lakes. Believe me, it isn’t easy for those writers either.

Read and share the article published March 4 by What’s Up Muskoka by clicking here.

Full disclosure note: Some readers have complained that I may be guilty of ‘sour grapes’ because I was the co-campaign manager for mayoral candidate Patricia Arney in 2010. The fact is that Alice Murphy won by a landslide. Arney was in third and even if Arney and incumbent Karen Ellis had pooled their votes together, Murphy still would have won. She ran a strong campaign and Murphy once thanked me for being so gracious during the campaign. That was 2010. Articles written since have focused on the actions of Murphy since taking office. In the What’s Up article this week, Murphy also accuses the MRA of sour grapes because of her win. It is clear that many MRA members voted for Murphy.

Any mayor will get both positive and negative attention. Winning an election is one thing. It’s what your do in office that really counts.


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Distracted Driving Campaign Starts March 8 and so does March Break: Be safe!

OPP Asking for Public’s Help with Distracted Driving Campaign starting March 8 and a reminder: It’s March Break!

Updated March 7, 11am: The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reminding the public that the annual school Spring Break starts today in many of our areas.

Chief Superintendent John Tod, Regional Commander of the OPP Central Region is reminding the public that with March Break starting, “there will be many children playing in areas during the day that we are not used to seeing them. Please watch for children at all times.”.

Outdoor enthusiasts are also being cautioned to use caution as milder weather is in the forecast and this will no doubt compromise the quality of snow and ice conditions. “Although winter is still very much upon us, safety and planning ahead should be always an important component of any outdoor activity in the coming days and weeks as snow and ice conditions can start to change hourly,” adds Tod.

And drivers, remember that the OPP’s Distracted Driving Campaign is continuing and that Distracted Driving has become the number one factor in motor vehicle related collision deaths. Inspector Dom Beckett, Manager of the OPP Central Region Traffic and Marine Unit is asking motorists to “please keep your eyes and attention focused on the road; that is where it needs to be ALL the time. Distracted driving related deaths can be reduced if drivers change their behaviour and pledge to always reach for safety and not for their phone”.

OPP Distracted Driving Campaign starts March 8

Release from OPP Posted Mar. 3, 10.38am: Irresponsible driver behaviour has the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) concerned about the fate of many road users this year as officers prepare to launch their next campaign against Distracted Driving (Mar 8-14).

2013: Distracted driving caused more deaths than impaired and speeding drivers

In 2013, distracted driving fatalities surpassed both impaired and speed related fatalities in fatal motor vehicle collisions investigated by the OPP.  A total of 78 persons died in distracted driving related collisions compared to 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed related deaths last year.

“When you consider the overall impact of these 78 fatalities last year and the 325 other distracted driving victims who have died since 2010, the number of people these irresponsible drivers have had a profound and devastating impact on is in the thousands,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

“Everyone, from the victims’ families and friends to the police officers who attend these horrific collision scenes and have to notify next-of-kin, knows the emotional impact of one life lost to this senseless driving behavior trickles down to so many people who, sadly, through experience, know how badly this behaviour needs to stop,” he added.

The OPP recognizes that the only way to stop people from dying in distracted driving related collisions is to raise awareness of how serious the problem is and to have everyone make a firm, lifelong commitment to helping the police and safety partners eliminate it altogether.  According to the OPP, it can be done.

“Over and above every driver pledging to never text or talk on the phone, pledge to be a good passenger and speak up if the driver in your car is using his/her phone or engaged in other forms of distraction.  Pledge to regularly encourage your friends and family to not be distracted while driving,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the Highway Safety Division. “Even though our campaign only runs one week, make this a year-round commitment because it is a fail proof way to help us eliminate the tragic deaths that occur every year because of distracted drivers,” added Bell

March 18: fines jump to $280

The OPP is reminding motorists that on March 18, 2014 the current distracted driving fine of $155 will jump to $280 (this includes the increased $225 fine plus a $50 victim fine surcharge and $5 court cost).

The OPP’s Distracted Driving Campaign runs from Saturday, March 8 to Friday, March 14, 2014.  During that time, the OPP will be doing its part to eliminate the threat of distracted driving through its own awareness raising efforts and focused enforcement of distracted driving laws throughout the province.

The OPP is asking Ontarians to show their support during this important campaign.  Go to the OPP’s Facebook page and/or follow them on Twitter and let them know how you plan on helping to eliminate distracted driving on Ontario roads. The OPP will highlight some of your entries in a campaign wrap-up news release following the campaign.

Bundle Up: Windchill Warning in Effect for Muskoka tonight through early Monday

Monday could include a windchill of minus 36, warns Environment Canada

Posted March 2, 1.50pm: How many days until spring? Beautiful sunny day for our Sunday in Muskoka, but bundle up as windchill approaching minus 26 and will Environment Canada warns of wind chills in the minus 30s overnight and tomorrow (Monday) morning. Current forecast warns of a windchill of minus 36 for Monday.

So if you’re going outside to enjoy the sunshine, just make sure you’re probably dressed for the weather. Frostbite (damage, sometimes permanent, to skin and body tissue due to freezing) and hypothermia (a life threatening drop in body temperature) can occur if adequate precautions are not taken when outdoors. These can occur within minutes.

But it will warm up eventually. The first day of spring is only 18 days away.

Feature photo: By Norah Fountain via BlackBerry (It was much warmer and snowing lightly the evening of Feb. 21 when night skiing at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area).

Muskoka Lakes budget passed, offers matching dollars for hospital

Valentine’s Day budget includes 2.75% increase to annual levy, held last year funding amount for Chamber, and offered compromise for hospital ask

Posted Mar. 2, 2014: The Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce will be getting $18,000 to help fund its operations again this year again from the Township of Muskoka Lakes. It was the last item discussed by Township Council before it passed its Valentine’s Day budget.  Council also heard a delegation about the need for funding by the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital.

The Mayor thanked all Council for working to get the budget passed – the earliest budget confirmation date of Council’s term. The 2014 Budget includes a 2.75% increase to the annual levy. The majority of the increase will be achieved naturally through new growth and assessment phase-in, so the actual tax rate will only increase by 1.04% or $1.01 per $100,000 of assessed residential property value.

Before voting to approve the budget, Council heard from Chamber Manager Jane Templeton who requested funding be maintained to the Chamber – and Council agreed. Templeton had stepped in for Chamber President Walter Moon to ask the Council to hold its contribution, which she says is a fee for service, including marketing the Township, to the $18,000 the Council provided in 2012 and 2013.   Township provided $20,000 until 2013 when it cut Chamber funding to $18,000.  This tie Council wanted to trim that down to $15,000, a 25% reduction during the term of the current council.

Those cuts will have broad consequences for the services the Chamber provides to support business and economic development in Muskoka Lakes and a deeper cut will be felt by Township Council as well, said Templeton. Not only does the Chamber run annual and monthly events and information sessions, two seasonal Farmers Markets, the Bala Santa Claus Parade and produces visit information guides and more for the good of the entire township, Templeton explained that many services are also provided that directly support the Township. She pointed to the operation of a year round office and visitor information centre in Bala, a seasonal visitor information centre in Port Carling, free advertising via the Visitor Guide and by direct emails to the Chamber database for everything from Township job fairs to public meetings on Township issues.  The chamber provides representation of Township at Cottage Life Show, promotes businesses at Ontario Winter Games, participates in Fed Nor programs for the development of initiatives that increase tourism visitation, trade and commerce, and job creation.

Councillor Furniss responded,  “I can’t believe how much work the chamber does – it’s incredible”.  In a discussion later in the day, Council agreed unanimously to hold funding to the Chamber at the $18K instead of trimming it back to $15k.

As a result of maintaining current funding, Templeton reports that the Board of Directors as well as chamber members are very pleased that they are able to continue with the initiatives and mandates they are presently providing.

Council offers to match hospital donations

An amount of $9,000 was also put back in to the budget to potentially go to South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge. Council agreed to a funding option presented by Chief Administrative Officer Chris Wray in which members of the public would be free to donate to the hospital through the Township and the Township would match those donation dollars equally up to an amount of $9,000 – potentially raising a total $18,000 for the hospital, which needs help to pay for equipment, a cost not covered by the province.

Budget highlights:

  • Total levy of $8.4 million will allow the Township to conduct all of its operational duties, including summer and winter road maintenance, recreational programs, planning and development, as well as all administrative tasks.
  • $530,000 has been allocated for reconstruction of Beatrice Townline Bridge #2.
  • $25,000 has been earmarked to establish a reserve for future inclement weather impacts.
  • Staff – including firefighters who are considered part-time employees – will receive a 1.5% pay increase (a recommended pay scale change for firefighters wil undergo further scrutiny before a Council decision)

One item noted as a concern by Councillors Don Furniss and Allen Edwards during final budget discussions was the draw down of Township reserves. Since the present Council took office in 2010, reserves have been depleted by $715,202.

At the end of December, reserves were estimated to be $5,367,500. How does that compare to previous years? Total reserves (obligatory and discretionary) at year ended:

  • December 31, 2010: $6,082,702.
  • December 31, 2012: $5,801,015
  • December 31, 2013: estimated at $5,367,500