“Weekend Warriors” Fantastic doc!

Weekend Warriors had its first showing Friday February 24, 2017 at the Wolf Performance Hall, 251 Dundas Street, London, Ontario at 7:00 p.m.

Southwestern Ontario independent filmmaker Barbara Urbach, operating as Crocodile Productions  completed the 60 minute documentary film featuring the Upper Thames Military Re-enactment Society, a London based non-profit group whose members participate in living history weekends which recreate battle scenarios from the War of 1812.
Urbach’s film captures behind the scenes footage as she dawns the iconic British Red Coat and joins soldiers on location at some of Ontario’s most famous battlefields including Fort Erie, Chippewa, Fort George, Longwoods and more.
“This film is unique in that we have managed to capture and share personal experiences of key members of the group in addition to the action and drama that plays out before the camera” explains Urbach. “We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished” explains director Gary Van Osch, “It was very difficult since, as in a real battle, the game plan is constantly changing, which although exciting, tends to add a level of complexity to our work, this is also why it has taken seven years to complete the film.
We are certain that audiences will be entertained since we do not follow the normal rules of documentary filmmaking” says Van Osch citing great music, creative sequences and many surprises including roman soldiers dressed in full armour.

The evening’s entertainment started with a musical performance by period singers, and was followed by a short film starring artist/painter Aaron W Smith .


Little Stone House

They call it the Little Stone House, situated on a 14-acre plot of land on Longwoods Road (Highway 2) just east of Thamesville.

This house was nothing more than a clapboard homestead built in 1870 when Sarah Gamble bought the property in 1926. She was a school teacher who came up from Detroit to find a summer retreat for her and husband Stanley Gamble.

Unfortunately Stan lost Sarah and their infant son at childbirth, so in honour of his beloved wife, he transformed the dwelling into a cobblestone cottage.

Eventually he formed a partnership with local artist Annie Aldred and together they established The Little Stone Tea House. Stan then created a beautiful courtyard with cobblestone archways, a popular place for couples to have their wedding photography done.

Stanley passed away in 1952, and Annie’s tea house closed. The property now belongs to Annie’s nephew Robert Aldred from London.

By John De Boer who lives in Kitchener and enjoys daytripping off the beaten path.   Posted June 1, 2016 in the Kitchener Post    

Source: De Boer’s treasures: Little Stone House

Our ace in the hole: Skunk’s Misery

“Skunk’s Misery” consists of forest, grassland, wetland and watercourses.  It straddles three counties and links to the Thames River. The woodlands play a significant role in protecting the air, soil and water. Skunk’s Misery is one of the few places in Canada where you can find a mix of Carolinian trees, such as Chestnut, Sassafras, Tulip Tree and Flowering Dogwood, typical of more southern climates.  In the woodland and along the roadsides, is one of the country’s most diverse butterfly populations.   The site has Canada’s largest colony of endangered Acadian Flycatcher along with many other rare species such as Black Rat Snakes and Cerulean Warblers. [1]  The stories about Orville Shaw, the hermit of Skunk’s Misery, need to be written down.

Excerpt from Nov 28th Inventory


[1] News release from Middlesex County and Carolinian Canada, Re: Unveiling of Skunk’s Misery Plaque.  July 5, 2005.

Wardsville Woods – SOLD!

It’s official, as of June 29th, the Thames Talbot Land Trust closed on the purchase of the parcel formerly known as Highland Hills Golf Course. It is now known as Wardsville Woods and the work to clean up and restore this beautiful 50 ace parcel is underway! A date is set for the light material/trash pickup. All volunteers welcome to help out and explore the natural abundance while we work towards a more pristine ecosystem. Meet on site at 10 AM, Sat. Nov 10th, 2012. 1km west of downtown Wardsville.

Newport Forest

Excerpt from TTLT web-site: After the sudden death of Lorne Newport in 1998, his executrix Eva Newport put the property up for sale. NCC inspected the property and encouraged its use as a conservation area. In June, 2000, it was purchased by Omnibus Research, Inc (A.K. Dewdney). The NCC easement was developed in 2001 and approved in 2002. The Thames Talbot Land Trust (TTLT) was incorporated in 2000 and A.K. Dewdney developed an interest in the TTLT which led to his including a codicil to his will leaving the Newport Forest to the TTLT in 2004. In 2006, A.K. Dewdney decided to advance his gift of the land to the TTLT and began the process, which included the development of this Conservation Management Plan.

In preparation for the transfer of title to the property it was agreed amongst A.K Dewdney, the NCC and TTLT that the Conservation Easement should be assigned from NCC to TTLT prior to the transfer of title in order to simplify future management and monitoring issues. Under the terms of the Eco-Gift provisions, Environment Canada (CWS) authorized this assignment in December 2006. The Conservation Easement was assigned to TTLT in April 2007. Title to the Newport Forest was transferred from Omnibus research Inc. to TTLT in June 2007.
View this video about Newport Forest prepared by the London Community Foundation.

SWM contemplates nature trail concept

by Marie Williams-Gagnon, Transcript & Free Press
The benefits of creating a nature trail on the abandoned CN line in Southwest Middlesex were contemplated by members of Southwest Middlesex council during the January 19 meeting. Community in Blooms committee members Jane May and Gerald Reycraft attended the meeting for a  discussion about the concept.
In June of 2008, council was originally made aware of CN’s plans to sell sections of the spur line to St. Thomas. After unsuccessfully offering it to the provincial and federal governments, CN began offering it to municipalities with the salvage of steel anticipated to be greater than $4-million. The “Rails to Trails” program was discussed by Southwest Middlesex council at that time, as were potential issues such as fencing. The Township of Southwold declined a similar offer in 2008, finding that the substantial purchase price and major undertaking to recover the investment from salvage was undesirable. Southwest Middlesex took no action on the $1-million offer from CN at that time.
Since then, of course, CN has removed all of the lines and new discussions about use of the property continue. May made a presentation to council this past fall about the benefits of creating walking trails on the property.
Councillor John Kendall stated that owning such a trail would result in “a lot of liability for municipality. What has changed to make it suitable for a public walking trail now when considering the rights of owners in needing to erect fences?”
Mayor Doug Reycraft pointed out that, in his inaugural address, he had commented on the feasibility of creating trails. He had spoken to North Middlesex representatives about their experience after receiving the right of way for a trail as a gift from the railway. “North Middlesex has found it was used by a number of people. It has led me to think that establishing such a trail may be a feature that might attract people to the community or help keep people in the community.”
However, Reycraft noted that council should have more information before even considering this in principle. “To just endorse the suggestion is premature without more research and feedback from the community.”
Gerald Reycraft pointed out that a letter written to community groups asking for their endorsement has been put on hold until council’s approval is received. May added that they hoped that the letter would help council gain an idea of public support.
Doug Reycraft explained that council does not have enough information to endorse the nature trail but could set up an ad hoc committee. Councillors suggested including the snowmobile club and any interested adjacent landowners in the discussions.
Councillor Marigay Wilkins pointed out that there is a similar nature trail in West Elgin that is well used.
Doug Reycraft noted that the “fact that it’s worked in other municipalities may be an indication that it could be an asset but all avenues need to be considered.”
The report was referred back to staff to have a report come back before council about implementing an ad hoc committee to investigate the purchase and use of the land as a trail.
Marie Williams-Gagnon
Transcript & Free Press
Glencoe, Ontario