Get Involved Innisfil

We have an online resource to share our “great” ideas with municipal leaders and planners but I don’t know how many residents in Innisfil are aware of it. I’m referring to Get Involved Innisfil.

Site visitors can browse and read about other people’s ideas and suggestions, contribute their own ideas on how to improve Innisfil, and vote for the ideas they like. Some young people shared their ideas to have more activities for them like trampoline, paint ball, and movies as well as some casual places to hang out. Others would like more trails and bikeways to connect neighbourhoods. And there are suggestions for more festivals and musical events, especially in summer.

This is a novel resource to learn about and share ideas. It’s important because it could help build support, steer funding and gather volunteers to specific projects. What’s your great idea? What suggestions would you vote for? What ideas would you be willing to volunteer a few hours for? I have no idea how many Innisfil residents have already registered on this site. If you haven’t yet, please do – and share your ideas with all of us.


Youth Author Competition

Young writers have an opportunity to compete for a $5,000 prize in the Youth Author Award. Authors between the ages of 13 and 18 (at time of submission) can enter an original piece of short story fiction under 3,000 words. It may be a published or unpublished work.

The winner also receives a mentorship lunch with the editors of the Walrus magazine as well as the prize money.

Further contest details are at: firstnovelaward/


Innisfil Dates to Circle

There are several approaching events that various Innisfil residents might want to circle on their calendars:

Monday, January 29 – Revitalizing Cookstown
Cookstown Library, 20 Church St., 6:30 pm

A “grassroots” meeting to help local businesses and organizations discuss how to bring new vitality to Cookstown. Innisfil’s Economic Development Catalyst will moderate a discussion of three possible strategies and invite additional ideas.

Wednesday, January 31 – Protecting Water Sources
Barrie – Southshore Centre, 205 Lakeshore Dr., 5:30 – 800 pm

An Open House sponsored by the Ontario government to let the public examine proposals to protect regional water sources by extending the Greenbelt.

Wednesday, February 7 – Over-Water Development Application
Town Hall 7:00 pm


Council will consider a zoning amendment to permit construction of a 2,764 S.F. boathouse complex, (foundation shown in photo) which would cover approximately 1/4 acre of Lake Simcoe.

February Blues Festival at IPL / IdeaLab

Had enough ‘serious’ stuff? It’s time for the Blues Festival, at Cookstown Branch Saturday February 3, 11 am to 2 pm with the Django Djunkies; and in Alcona at Lakeshore Branch, Sunday February 4, 2 pm to 5 pm with Richard Whiteman and Kurt Neilson.

Squirrel in the Kitchen

This article has nothing to do with my purported theme of urbanism. People still seem to love the latest kitchen gadgets and deluxe appliances even though it’s estimated that 50% of American meals and 30% of Canadian meals are prepared outside the home. The latest craze is the multi-purpose Instant Pot, with emphasis on “instant”.

I was also reading about the latest type of apps for cooks that interact with an electronically connected kitchen. Your ethereal electronic assistant can suggest a menu based on what’s in your fridge, or order the ingredients ahead of time, walk you through the prep with video instructions and demos and turn on your oven at just the right moment. Someday it might suggest menu variations based on your food preferences or sensitivities, your exercise tracking, or genetic profile.

Some people claim “recipes are as dead as paper maps” because we have so many food options, cooking styles and regional cuisines. But it seems a bit creepy when a computer knows not just what you ate, but what you’re going to eat.

It was with those thoughts in mind that I started flipping through The Canadian Woman’s Cookbook in the war-time 1941 version updated from the 1927 and 1934 editions. In spite of the name, it was an American publication revised by the Director of the Culinary Arts Institute of Cornell University. It’s one of those old volumes passed along through the family that still had an envelope, a draw ticket, a playing card and other ephemera tucked in between pages of recipes 76 years later.

The 40s don’t seem that far back in the historical past so I was a little surprised by the recipe for “opossum roast”. Further on, there were instructions on how to skin, dress and roast squirrel. I think tastes and more dire circumstances have changed! There were other intriguing concoctions that might be more familiar to New England states such as Indian pudding, Pandowdy and boiled cider pie. In spite of the page markers, I don’t recall this book making much impact on the family table. Ours was dominated by the traditional dishes of my ancestors.

Some recipes may be dead as a practical guide but the cookbook exists as an historical and cultural record (i.e. – “wedding menu”), a glimpse at social norms and tastes (i.e. – “table setting and service”), and ideally for some, as a memory of happy times past.

Snow has fallen, candles are lit, tables are set. No matter how you may choose to celebrate at this time of year, it will undoubtedly be around a table. Let your recipe include the love of family, enjoyment of friends and the creation of new special memories. Wishing my readers all the best …

A Few Centuries, and 150 Years

Most of us will soon be participating in celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Overall we can be mostly proud of the society that has evolved from our European and colonial past. Some First Nations are reminding us, though, that Indigenous people have no reason to cheer about an imposed system that continues to have devastating social and economic consequences for their communities.

I took a look at some maps in the Economic Atlas of Ontario from the Ontario Archives, which dramatically illustrates how “Indians” systematically vanished from our consciousness in the century prior to Confederation. The following slides contain four maps spanning 1792 to 1882.

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We can hope that in this 150th year of Canada that history is finally starting to bend in the direction of a more just future. In symbolic recognition, the summer solstice, June 21, is celebrated as National Aboriginal Day, and will be renamed National Indigenous People’s Day. More importantly, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has presented a full catalogue of recommendations to address numerous injustices affecting Indigenous people. (visit Reconciliation Canada)

I think it is both startling and shameful that, over my lifetime in the 20th century, I have had virtually no meaningful contact with Indigenous people. So in that context, it is particularly important and meaningful that Innisfil’s annual event, Celebrate Lake Simcoe, is partnered this year with the Barrie Native Friendship Centre to hold a traditional Pow wow at Innisfil Beach Park in conjunction with other activities later in July.

Travel Ontario website describes a pow wow as a “sacred gathering of Indigenous peoples to honour the past, renew friendships and celebrate with music, song, food, dance and storytelling.” According to Wikipedia, “The word is derived from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning “spiritual leader“.

The 2017 Celebrate Lake Simcoe event takes place on Saturday, July 22. Admission is free with a Food Bank donation. At 5:30 a.m. First Nations participants will conduct a sunrise ceremony, Blessing of the Water. A traditional Pow Wow begins at noon with a Grand Entry.

Celebrate Lake Simcoe also includes art, culture and environmental booths and a lake swims of 1, 3 and 5 km. Swim registrants are invited. Visit the website at Celebrate Lake Simcoe 2017