Sound Outlook is written by the local lifestyle enthusiasts at Rrampt. Originally a six-part series, Sound Outlook has been extended as we continue to offer unique insights and ways to explore Owen Sound in a COVID world. We know this isn’t the ‘Summer Guide’ you’ve been accustomed to, but hey, nothing is customary these days.
Enjoy the reading.
Sound Outlook - Winter Edition 2020 DIGITAL VOLUME
Sound Outlook - Part 10: The Downtown Vision
If you haven’t already stumbled upon it, consider checking out the Grey Bruce Image Archives Facebook page. It’s a fantastic resource of historical photographs and has a killer way of inspiring discussion and memory-ladened chatter in the comment section. The downtown core of Owen Sound is featured frequently, and its bustling economy is both awe-inspiring, and perplexing. Whenever I see a shot of a jam-packed city street accented by thriving businesses, Model T’s, and a few horse and buggies, I’m left thinking, ‘ man, downtown doesn’t quite look like that these days.’
Economy is inevitably linked to many complex themes: population, socio-economic circumstance, geography, culture, politics, and bureaucracy to name a few. When one or two of these pillars of economy crumbles, so does the historical record of such impressive archival photographs. Here’s the thing, and I’ve said it again, and again - there’s always one thing that doesn’t waver here, and that’s a love for this place and all of its quirks. I’m going to keep saying that, too; love, however you want to interpret that word, is quite frankly the key in helping our City rebound from just about anything. Hard times, prejudice, a proverbial bump in the road, and economic tragedy included.
Cue Waleed Aslam Shaikh. He may not have grown up here, but the love this guy has for the City of Owen Sound is palpable. In just two years of calling this place home, Waleed has cemented himself as a positivity-driven people’s champ with one hell of a resume to back it up.
“I sat on the tourism advisory committee down in the City of Hamilton for a number of years. The committee oversaw what I think is one of the most ambitious tourism and waterfront development initiatives in southern Ontario. I also sat on the Immigrant and Refugee Advisory Committee, and this committee worked extensively to assist immigrants and refugees that had settled in the city’s core,” says Waleed. “I was a member of the Hamilton Youth Action Committee as well, this committee reported to council on various youth initiatives.”
Up north in Owen Sound, Waleed was appointed to the City of Owen Sound Community Services Committee that works exclusively on matters pertaining to planning and heritage. He also serves as a director on the Four County Labour Market Planning Board serving the counties of Grey, Bruce, Perth and Huron. He’s a Director with Welcoming Communities Grey and Bruce that works to welcome and assist newcomers and migrants in our area, and finally, as if that wasn’t enough, is a member of the Georgian Bay Folk Society. But perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments he’s made here is being appointed by the DIA as Board Member of the Owen Sound Downtown Improvement Area, an organization formed by downtown merchants in 1973. The OSDIA is committed to developing a vibrant, visitor friendly downtown core to attract and retain business in downtown Owen Sound.
“The foot traffic is just not there [this year],” says Waleed over the phone. “Being conscious I don’t speak on behalf of the OSDIA, what I can say is some of our merchants downtown are having a very hard time making ends meet… It’s tough. What we’re trying to do is support as much as we can, day in, and day out… As of now, the majority of the conversation that’s been there is how to support existing businesses that are there… We’re confused, I guess a lot of us are. How do you navigate this crisis we’re in while keeping an eye on the future? It’s a very challenging task.”
So, where do we start? Covid-19 is a worthy adversary, and like all great strategic minds, the OSDIA is looking both within, and elsewhere to investigate what has worked here and in other communities. For one, so history doesn’t repeat itself, and two, as an advantageous way of looking at the broader scope of what’s possible.
I spoke with OSDIA Vice-chair and Bare Birch co-owner, Jacqueline Furtner, to gauge the hurdles and deciding factors that have helped inform Covid-19 reopening guidelines as Stage 3 loosen the stranglehold of the local economy.
“We aren’t in this alone. We depend on each other’s success,” says Furtner. “The DIA has been working on a rebranding initiative for the downtown and one of the main aspects of this will be building more connections amongst business owners and staff so we can create a better atmosphere as a whole. With the five-hour free parking now available downtown in downtown parking lots, there is more opportunity to park and wander.”
She says through various channels and actions, local businesses and their patrons are supporting each other by taking to social media to leave positive reviews of their favourite businesses or sharing posts. Some are purchasing gift certificates online to use at a later date, some purchase online for curbside delivery. “Now that we are able to be open again, people tell me they are happy to be out and feeling some sense of normalcy by just going into a store. It feels good to be back and we’re so lucky to have such great customers!”
Waleed shared a similar outlook, citing a three-pronged approach to revitalizing the downtown core; namely re-investigating the roles of commercial, tourism, and residential opportunities. And the pitchfork, so to speak, can’t be held by someone only looking to the future. What’s going to help OS out of this current crisis, is giving these tools to the people on the ground.
From speaking with local business owners lately, something Waleed notices we need more of, is inter-business collaboration. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. The challenge has been, and will always be, communication. The solution has been, and will always be circling back and finding common ground; we all love this place. Remember that. When your neighbour does well, you do well. When your competitors do well, remember birds of a feather flock together. Key to this City’s downtown success will be knocking on doors, talking to one another, and supporting the folks who surround us.
Furtner adds our strength in Owen Sound remains an unbreakable resolve and an outpouring of community support - beginning with the creation of BOOST, Businesses and organizations of Owen Sound Together, a few years ago.
“The DIA holds an annual party for business owners and staff to get together and mingle so we can build connections and work together. It has always been a very well attended event. A few years ago, Camille Cole from Pretty Woman’s Shoes and Swirls organized a group of businesses to get together to put on the First Friday events which have since become DIA events… It was a great initiative to get businesses connected and we still connect with each other for support and ideas.”
In the meantime, Furtner says the OSDIA has been promoting the Digital Mainstreet program and sending all application information to its membership. This grant allows businesses to access funding for online training and software. “Being online has never been more important than right now and we want each of our members to have the opportunity to make it possible for their business,” says Furtner.
“This is me being honest,” says Waleed. “I come at it from a different town, been here for two years - people are like ‘what the hell, why are you so into this?’ It’s because I’m obsessed with this community. I see the potential here. I see what it can be and the path we can hike down… We’re the gateway to cottage country… Coming in from Hamilton and seeing how it turned itself around from the whole Steel City debacle and the demise of the steel industry, we kind of lost our identity there for a bit. Now you see these touristy coffee shops, skating rinks, the revitalization of the waterfront, people enjoying the patio - that’s the vision I have for this City.”
By Nelson Phillips
Sound Outlook - Part 9: Pop into the New Tourism Pop Up Centre
Owen Sound has always been a welcoming city. When you roll in via Route 26, 21 or the old 6&10 for example, the first sign to greet you is the iconic ‘green meets blue’ Owen Sound logo; you quickly realize you’ve come to a place that boasts both the Bruce Trail and Georgian Bay. Then you see the green hills literally descending to meet the blue water of the Sound and you know why exactly what the logo represents.
Inside the city limits, you’re greeted by signs pointing you towards the centre’s historic buildings and cultural attractions – there are many to choose from. But you can only fit so many signs on one post – there isn’t enough room to really inform you about makes Owen Sound so special. For a real sense of what the city offers, it’s best to make a visit to the Owen Sound Tourism Centre. And where is that you might ask? Well, it’s recently ‘popped’ up in the downtown core across from City Hall on 8th Street East. Now it’s even easier to ‘pop’ in to this new space to ask questions, get reading material (like some local culture magazines), and meet the people who are in the know about what the Owen Sound experience can be during Phase 3. People want to visit and spend time here, but they need to know what’s open and what’s not, where to go, and how to make the most of their visit.
One of the best people to ask is Manager of Community Development and Marketing, Brent Fisher, who facilitated the opening of the new Tourism Pop Up Centre. “Residents and tourists are spending more time outside, exploring our natural environment – we want to be sure we’re pointing them in the right direction. Not to places that are closed,” he says. And since most places have re-opened after Phase 3 came into effect, it’s easier to put a smile on each visitor’s face. Cultural institutions like the Tom Thomson Art Gallery have opened their doors to the public, the Farmers’ Market is back up and running on Saturdays, restaurants and bars can seat people inside or on their patio, and most stores are open for business.
Not all places are open again, though, and many have changed their hours, which is why a Tourism Centre is so important to help point both locals and tourists in the right direction.
In order to support all local businesses this summer, a pop up seemed like a great opportunity. “It was identified in the Grey County resiliency and recovery plan that marketing and promotion was a priority of local businesses through the recovery process and being in stage 3, we are definitely at that point,” says Fisher.
And interesting times calls for interesting measures. Not only are in the midst of a pandemic on a global scale, but we’re dealing with some major closures on a local scale. The main bridge that connects the East and West sides of the city has been under construction all year and has forced the city to get innovative. “The partial closure of 1st Avenue West due to the 10th Street Bridge reconstruction and the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre being closed – it was still important to the city that we offer visitor services to support businesses and tourists. We had to get creative and do it fast,” says Fisher.
The Community Waterfront Heritage Centre is typically the spot where many visitors stop in to get information and talk to knowledgeable staff about the area. It’s also the place that hosts the Harbour Nights series Sunday evenings on non-Covid years – which has been every year leading up to this one! It’s a fitting spot to bring your lawn chair and settle in beside the historic rail car for some outdoor tunes along the water. Its absence has been noticeable this summer but the new temporary Tourism Centre is a great substitute – it’s central and still filled with knowledgeable staff and the right reading materials and City swag (I love that grain elevator logo they’ve been using – slick stuff). The choice to move downtown this summer was a good one.
Pop ups are a great way for an empty space to become a vital space, if only for a short while. It’s a common occurrence in bigger cities, so why shouldn’t it work in a smaller city like ours? It could. It should. It is. I’ve already been in for a visit – have you?
Next time you’re downtown, pop into the Tourism Centre and pop a question to the staff inside. Yes, wear your mask. Yes, keep your 6 feet. And yes, take some magazines with you. And then go and take your newfound information and explore the city that has always welcomed you.
We live where the green meets the blue – and where city staff members meet visitors with a smile and list of amazing things to do!
Written by Jesse Wilkinson
Sound Outlook - Part 8: The Garden City
Resilience is one of the defining traits of Owen Sound and its inhabitants. The ability to read the direction of the wind, trim sails, and adapt to changing times. When the rail lines which served the city were removed, Owen Sound kept right on chugging. Those former rail lines have now been converted to picturesque trails - trails that meander through the city offering citizens and visitors a unique look at our industrial past through the lens of our more green and vibrant present.
This current hurdle of COVID-19, while vastly different in scale and scope, has been treated in a similar manner by Owen Sounders. They’ve detected the prevailing winds, adjusted course and are carrying on into the future. And much like the conversion of sooty railways to lush tree lined trails, many Owen Sounders have been inspired to beautify their surroundings even if they’ve been limited to their own backyards.
At first there were just one or two. While scrolling social media in the spring I spotted a couple local friends posting shots of tools, soil and lumber which shortly thereafter became proud pics of newly installed raised beds. Then our next door neighbours installed a beauty raised bed in no time flat. Next, my other next door neighbours threw in a gorgeous new row of shrubs. By June my social media was overflowing with pergolas, flowerbeds, veggie patches, and happy Owen Sounders with dirt on their faces.
Local greenhouses and garden centres rode the wave beautifully following their re-opening in early May. We all waited for Vanvugt’s, Westside, and Town and Country to explain how and when they’d be opening to indulge our green thumbs. I tried to round out our strawberry patch with another plant - no luck, sold out. Our neighbour sought a specific type of shrub to complete his matched set - no luck, sold out. This was not cause for frustration, but rather an encouraging sign that these local businesses had been supported effectively by their primarily local clientele. One greenhouse, despite having to delay their opening, sold out of their stock and closed for the year early while thanking their customers for such a great season. Truly inspiring.
Greenhouses are not the only branch of business to contribute to the recent greening of Owen Sound. The Grey Gallery has installed a lovely set of six raised beds in the previously vacant lot beside their 2nd Ave. East location. These beds have been done up right and are enjoying effective care. They’re bursting with leafy greens, sunflowers and all sorts of other ... pretty … plants - I’m no horticulturist, but I know a pretty plant when I see one, and I saw lots down there.
There are further plans for this space which include a sculpture garden and a mural. Something to keep an eye on for sure.
Not to be outdone by its citizenry and local businesses, the City of Owen Sound and the O.S. Downtown Improvement Area came out swinging with flower boxes, hanging flowers, and all sorts of potted flowers all along the downtown core. Of course this is nothing new, as these displays are a seasonal highlight in the city, but they are particularly striking this su
mmer and justify a socially distant tour of the downtown all on their own.
Perhaps now you’re seeing a bit of the resilience I mentioned. Local businesses had to delay their season? No problem, we’ll clean them out in record time once they open. Can’t visit parks and open spaces? Ok, we’ll grow our own beautiful scenery right in the backyard. Need to cut down visits to the grocery store? Alright, we’ll build a garden and harvest our own salads thank you very much. Vacant lot in need of a makeover? Here’s oodles of flowers, some sculptures and a mural.
Sometimes it’s hard to discern a silver lining in the current situation, but Owen Sound sure has found its green thumb in all of this. The best part? All of this planting, growing and greening doesn’t just disappear once COVID goes the way of our old rail lines. What we’ve started now will continue to bear fruit for years to come - all we have to do is sit back and watch it grow.
Special thanks to my neighbours for letting me brag about their yards, the Grey Gallery for their wonderful work downtown, and Clancy Francoeur and Garrett Alevan for modelling their lovely gardens.
Words and photos by Zak Erb
Sound Outlook - Part 7: The Arts Are Making Owen Sound Look Good
The arts have always been alive and well in Owen Sound, and as we enter into Phase 2 of re-opening in the Scenic City, the arts community is leading the charge. Exhibits are back on display, classes are starting back up again, and new spaces are becoming occupied and beautified. Look no further than the downtown core, where some visible initiatives are not only taking place inside of the arts centres, but outside of them.
Take Grey Gallery for instance – they’ve extended their gallery into the empty lot next door, one that used to be the iconic Scopis Restaurant, but has been vacant since 1993.
“We wanted to transform that derelict looking vacant lot into a more welcoming, green and useful space,” says Grey Gallery owner Anne Dondertman. “In addition to the edible and ornamental plantings, the idea is that the central space will be a sculpture garden, and an extension of the art gallery.”
The Grey Garden will be open during business hours and could be used for events (post COVID). In July, local artist Raquell Yang will get to work adorning the south facing wall with a mural. “She has experience doing large outdoor murals in Taiwan, and has come up with a fantastic design.”
Take a stroll by the Garden and see if you get inspired with a vision of your own for the space. “We are interested to hear from people who have ideas about outdoor sculptures, or just generally ideas about the use of the space,” says Dondertman. They also have a current show running inside which opened last week. Vera Dernovsek and Lorne Wagman are both well-known artists who have a distinguished body of work. Pop inside for a visit and see the colourful paintings on display.
Just down the street, Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts is also busy utilizing both their interior and exterior space. They’ve started classes again in everything from acrylic painting to introductory pottery, and the Palette Cafe is putting a patio out front so you can have a coffee, wine, or beer après-class.
“Class sizes will be limited, workspaces will be set up 6 feet apart, and tools will not be shared,” they state. “Hand washing stations and sanitizing stations will be available throughout our large space. Masks are not required, but encouraged!” So you can wear your mask to do the class inside, and then take it off to have a beverage and a bite on their patio outside.
How could we have a discussion of the arts in Owen Sound and not mention The Tom Thomson Art Gallery? This iconic gallery is scheduled to open on July 22 for members and July 29 for the general public. Lucky thing this reporter bought his membership a month ago! I’m looking forward to finding six other people in my social bubble and bringing my ‘group of seven’ to see the Group of Seven feature that marks the 100th anniversary of their first exhibition. There are only 10 people allowed in the Gallery at one time, so it’s a great place to practice social distancing while getting some much needed culture this summer. Plus, they have two new contemporary shows opening. One is Toronto based artist, Steve Driscoll. The other is local artist, Emily Kewageshig, who is from the Saugeen First Nation. While you’re in checking out their amazing exhibitions, you’ll also notice their revamped lobby area and gift shop for easier flow.
2nd Ave Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 11-4 each week and is offering all sorts of engaging initiatives from painting classes for teens to portrait painting Sundays. July is a busy month at this gallery so check out their website and social media pages for more details. Gallery de Boer on 2nd Ave East boasts an extensive collection of international and Canadian artists including a wealth of impressive work from First Nations artists.
The Artists’ Co -Op offers work from 45 local artists and is now open 10am – 4pm every day and 12 – 4pm on Sundays. You’ll notice the beautiful floral art of Kelly Maw on the walls, the exquisite pottery of Kate McLaren, and sculptures by Pam McCowan.
But perhaps the greatest thing about art in Owen Sound is that you don’t even have to enter a gallery to get a glimpse of it. The Owen Sound Art Banner Display showcases 75 local artists’ banners along the harbour. And storefronts downtown that have available window space have been filled with local art, as well. All you have to do is go for a walk in the Scenic City and you’re bound to be inspired by the beauty of the brush stroke.
Sound Outlook - Part 6: It's Patio Season!
They say there are only two seasons in Canada: winter and patio season. Well, it sure isn’t winter right now as temps are soaring to 30 degrees. But the warm weather doesn’t last long ‘round these parts, so it’s best to get outside at any opportunity.
With the recent Ontario announcement that patios are allowed to open, local businesses are quickly readying for a busy season. Anyone with an outdoor dining area is already off to a hot June start, but even those without a traditional patio are able to turn parking spots into eating spots and give people a safe way to spend summer in typical Owen Sound fashion.
We’re taking a look at some of Owen Sound’s notable patios and outdoor spaces. And with a new motion recently passed allowing the City Manager to approve sidewalk patios downtown, you’re likely going to notice a few pop up along 2nd Ave E, notably outside the Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts and Birgit’s Pastry Café. The following is a list of patios that have already opened and is by no means a full list.
No winner will be declared here because the winner is you… enjoying the sunshine and beautiful weather.
Downtown Owen Sound
Two words: rooftop patio. A few more words: you know what comes with a rooftop patio – an excellent view of the theatre district in Owen Sound. To match the view, you’ve got a menu that can please just about anyone and a selection of beverages that will do the same. They opened as as soon as they were given the go-ahead and it’s been a favourite spot since.
Casero Kitchen Table
Casero is a cozy mexican restaurant in downtown Owen Sound. They sling some of the best burritos this reporter has ever tasted. Everything on the menu is an instant favourite, from the appetizers to the desserts. And they only get better when eaten outside. There’s a neat thing where the whole front of the building rolls up like a big garage door and changes the vibe of the entire restaurant in the summer. To maximize their patio space this summer, they will dedicate their parking spaces to increase outdoor capacity.
An old favourite, Jazzmyn’s has been open for nearly two decades. It’s a great place to grab lunch or a quick dinner before your concert (back when we had concerts). Their secluded patio is one of the nicest places to be on a hot summer night. Everything from the vine-covered pergola to the dim mood lighting makes Jazzmyn’s patio one of the best places to spend an evening.
The Gazebo across from the Library
I know. “Gazebos are different from patios. This one’s not attached to a restaurant. That’s cheating… Et cetera, et cetera.” But it sure is a nice, free-to-use public space! Bring along some takeout from the Bavarian Hut, Sabitri’s, Europa’s, Mr Kahn’s, or a restaurant of your choice. Alternately, pack yourself a nice picnic lunch, grab a friend -- and enjoy the fresh air! Take your pick - there are three or four picnic tables in the immediate area, as well as a few nice trees to sit up against! And the river sure is nice to look at, too.
Along the water
Mudtown Station is entering their third summer as one of Owen Sound's go-to hangouts. Their menu changes seasonally, and their daily specials are something to look forward to! And do I even need to mention their beer? But more importantly, they have a wonderful and large patio. Mudtown Station is on the harbour on the east side of town. The view is spectacular and the atmosphere is awesome.
This is a gem of a patio with a beautiful view of sprawling green leading to the harbour. Open everyday from 11:30 to 8pm, this is a great spot to bring the family for lunch or dinner. Take a stroll along the waterfront path that leads from the Harry Lumley Bayshore Centre before or after dinner. You could even paddle up to this patio.
East Side of Town
East Side Mario’s
This popular eastside joint has turned its parking lot into a patio area so you can have your salad, bread, pasta combo while socially distancing. Each table is spaced out by 50 meatballs! They’ve been steadily delivering takeout during the quarantine, but once the call was made, they shifted into patio season seamlessly.
Right beside the Heritage Mall, Kelsey’s boasts the opportune patio experience that might be best coupled with a shopping trip to The Mall or any of the East side stores that are all open for business again. They’ve removed some parking spots and added a few tables along the walkway to eat socially and safely.
With their massive parking lot that has even been used for road hockey tournaments in the past, BP’s had no problem extending their patio beyond their usual spot. Open 11am to 10pm, this popular joint is a great spot to grab a pizza and beverage on your way out of town, or on your return home.
If you’ve been to Montana’s, you know they’ve got a unique outdoor patio setting that’s also closed in to the elements. Regardless of rain or snow (better not be!), you can dine in comfort. They’ve even added a few tables around the perimeter of the restaurant if you’d like to change up your view.
I know there are a few we missed on here, and maybe we didn’t mention your favourite restaurant. But I think that’s what makes Owen Sound so special. Even in a small town like ours, there’s so much to offer that one couldn’t reasonably do a fun little article such as this one and have it be a comprehensive guide.
From Victoria Day to Labour Day, there are only 17 weeks of patio season. Go out and make the most of it!
Written by Andy Elliott and Jesse Wilkinson
Sound Outlook – Part 5: Sowing the seeds for reconciliation at Kelso Beach
Sitting on the edge of the Owen Sound harbour is a picturesque stretch of land, set alongside the mouths of the Pottawatomi and Sydenham rivers. Here, waves lap gently at the shore while the towering willows flutter their leaves in the breeze sweeping across the water. Nowadays, we mainly know this place as Kelso Beach, home to Summerfolk, the Salmon Spectacular, the Good Cheer Splash Pad, and spectacular sunrises. The beach is closed but the trail and the splash pad are open. And while the warm waters of the harbour may be shallow, the roots of this land run deep.
Once upon a time, before stories were written, the sun-soaked bay teemed with sturgeon. So plentiful were these massive fish that they gave way to the Ojibwe name, “Gitche Name Wikwedong”. Great Sturgeon Bay. The nearby river banks were the traditional hunting and fishing grounds of the Ojibwe people, with the sturgeon being of particular significance. Not only was the sturgeon an immense food source, but the Creation Story tells of Grandmother Sturgeon giving birth to the seven original clans. It is an animal woven into life and lore.
After the settlers arrived and larger-scale fishing operations became practice, sturgeons were all but wiped out from these waters. The massive fish were seen as interfering with the targeted trout, salmon, and whitefish. The sacred sturgeons were caught by the boatful and burned like logs on shore. At the same time, Indigenous populations across the country were being torn apart by the residential school system and other efforts to eradicate their cultures. It is a dark piece of our shared history and one that needs to be remembered.
Recent years have seen a surge in reparative efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, reflected both in large-scale initiatives and small-scale projects. If you have walked through Kelso Beach Park in the last year, you will probably have noticed one such project that is taking shape at the south end of the park. In 2010 the City of Owen Sound began considerations for a reconciliation garden in order to provide a space for reflection and healing, as well as to honour the Indigenous history of this area. Knowledge keeper and project committee member, Paul Nadjiwan, explains, “We’re focusing on the cultural revitalization and retention.” Drawing on both the traditional name for this area and the importance of sturgeon in these waters, the Gitche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden began to grow.
The past couple of years have seen the garden taking shape. The city itself has provided the land on which to make this vision come to life, and a multitude of community organizations and institutions have come together to donate time, money, and resources. This summer’s continuation of the project will be a huge leap forward, with local limestone seating and terrace cover installed as the construction phase continues. It has been a long road from concept to reality, but the process has allowed the project committee, headed by Susan Staves, to be thoughtful about each item that will be incorporated.
With consultation from elders and knowledge keepers, landscape designer, Thomas Dean, has planned out a space that is rich in symbolism and meaning. Dean specializes in landscape design for healing purposes, and it’s clear that this project is a labour of love. From the medicine wheel garden at its heart to the Grandmother and Grandfather stones that will sit atop the hill and watch over the great sturgeon, every detail has been drawn with intention. Four sacred trees are to be planted along the western edge – cedar, birch, ash, and black spruce. As Nadjiwan shares, these trees hold the potential for all of life’s instruments. Even the stone seating will have the Seven Grandfather Teachings carved into it. And as a way of honouring the life-giving sturgeon, artists will be called on to submit designs for a sculpture of the fish. The chosen piece is hoped to be installed in the space next year, swimming in the dry stream by the water’s edge.
With so many teachings woven into the garden, education is an important piece of this project. Indeed, as the name affirms, the Gitche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden is meant to be a place of learning and healing. “I think the first part of reconciliation has to be understanding,” Dean acknowledges while speaking of the project’s aim. Multilingual signage is planned to offer creation stories, cultural interpretations, and historical perspectives, providing an accessible site for everyone who wishes to learn. Even once the garden is complete, its role in the community will be dynamic. “We’re hoping to make it a living, breathing space,” says Dean. It has the potential to hold traditional ceremonies – such as water ceremonies – and its position on the Walking Together Tour provides a natural spot for pause and reflection.
Next time you’re out enjoying a summer’s day, take a stroll through Kelso and stop by the garden as it unfolds. Listen to the timeless waves lapping against the shore. Breathe in the fragrance of sun-warmed sweetgrass and cedar. Feel the strength in the stones, carved from an ancient sea bed. We are all connected in this space, and with connection comes healing and growth.
Gitchi miigwetch to Paul Nadjiwan for sharing his knowledge and stories with me and allowing me to incorporate them into this article.
To watch for updates on the garden, visit the project’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/recociliationgardenproject/
Written by Sarah Goldman
Sound Outlook – Part 4:The Sunrises and Sunsets in the Scenic City
Words and Photos by Zak Erb
The Scenic City tends to look great at all hours of the day, but it truly shines at sunrise and sunset. And is it any wonder why? Hugging both shores of an inlet of Georgian Bay, Owen Sound boasts waterfront views facing both east and west. Experienced sun chasers know this translates to beautiful, dramatic scenes at both dawn and dusk. In addition, thanks to the Niagara Escarpment cutting right through town, there’s no shortage of elevated lookouts to take in the golden hour light. Pair these features with nearby waterfalls, nearly 50 outdoor parks and our iconic waterfront features, and you’ve got a massive number of options for your sun viewing pleasure.
With so many locations to choose from it can be hard to know just where to begin. You might find yourself thinking “If only there were a concise list of the best locations for sungazing in Owen Sound…” Well unfortunately that list doesn’t exist, because ranking a sunny vista, much like appreciating art, jazz, or coffee, is totally subjective. Besides, the best way to find YOUR favourite sunny location in “the Sound” is to get out and explore. That being said, what follows is a list of locations from which to begin your search. Whether you’re after a quiet introspective morning, the perfect golden hour selfie, or something a bit more dramatic, sunny Owen Sound has got you covered.
Beautiful Morning Light - Kelso Beach Park
Ask a local photographer where they love to catch sunrise in town and Kelso Park is bound to be a top pick. Right on the water on the West side of town, Kelso offers a splendid view of the sun peeking over the escarpment across the water to the east. The beach is closed but the trail is open. As the sun clears the escarpment, radiant golden light washes over the park and the entire western shore. Watch the light creep up our iconic grain elevators (you can’t miss ‘em), catch some rays beside the “Summerfolk Tree” (a lone willow standing in the water behind the bandshell), or listen as the birds (mallards, geese, even a swan or two) begin their day.
Massive Waterfront View - the Breakwaters at Georgian Shores Marina
Just to the north of Kelso, and best accessed by foot from the park, lie the twin breakwaters of Georgian Shores Marina. Their primary purpose of course is to protect the vessels moored in the marina from wave action, but they enjoy a thriving second life as beautiful walkways enjoyed by fishermen, marina patrons, wildlife, and sun chasers alike. The view across the water is simply breathtaking at dawn as reflected sunlight colours the water of the bay. Take in the sights from the south arm as boaters motor out of the marina, or head to the north arm for an absolutely massive view out to the open waters of Georgian Bay. Please note that swimming around the breakwaters is dangerous and prohibited.
Elevated Lookout - Timber McArthur Park
West is not necessarily best when it comes to sun gazing in the Sound. To take in a truly memorable sunset you’ll want to set up on the east side of town. Timber McArthur Park is one of our best kept secrets (shhhh!), and sits atop a long stretch of Niagara Escarpment beginning at 16th Street and 5th Ave. East. This gives the park an impressive vantage across the inlet to the opposite side of town and beyond. Make your way through the park and you’ll come across one or two lookouts which offer the clearest viewing locations for sundown.
Incredible Drama - Inglis Falls
The waterfalls near Owen Sound are some of our most awe inspiring features. This is never more true than when the sun is low in the sky offering softer light than at midday. Water thunders as it cascades down the broad 18 meter drop. The fiery sun, be it at dawn or dusk, casts a warm glow across the surrounding forest. Mighty boulders, toppled by the force of the rushing water, lie along the riverbed below. Without doubt this is one of the most impressive scenes in the area, and it only gets better during the golden hour after sunrise and before sunset.
So there you have it! A few suggestions to get you started with your sungazing adventures in Owen Sound. Get outside, explore the Sound, and soak in that summertime sunshine!
Words and photos by Zak Erb
Part 3 - Hike, Bike or Paddle in the Scenic City this Summer
Things are starting to heat up, and open up, around Owen Sound.
Summer is here, signaled by that recent heat wave where temps hit 30 degrees plus. And some businesses, parks, and amenities are starting to open up. It doesn’t mean that we can assume COVID is over – it’s not – but it does mean we can enjoy summer while being safe. One of the best ways to enjoy summer in and around Owen Sound is to get on the water or hit the trails. If you’ve got wheels, a board, or a pair of feet, there are many places you can take them for some exercise and a chance to clear your head.
Did you know that Owen Sound has two rivers that run through it? Of course you did. But when’s the last time you took advantage of them? When’s the last time you took your kayak, canoe, or paddleboard out for a rip through the Scenic City? It’s a completely different way to view Owen Sound, and one that’s highly recommended. It’s an easy way to get outside and maintain that social distancing while alleviating that feeling of cabin fever some of us have been wrestling with these past couple of months.
For those who have a full day and want to really get those arms in shape, you can launch at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre and paddle the shoreline to Ainslie Wood This requires a little forethought and a parked vehicle but definitely worth it. You’ll see parts of the area you’ve never seen before all while getting some Vitamin D and loads of exercise. For those who don’t have a full day, why not take the afternoon and paddle from Harrison Park to the Mill Dam and back? That’s only a couple of hours depending on your level of fitness. Pack some snacks and have a picnic on the grass at Harrison Park afterwards. Another option is to start at the Mill Dam and meander through the downtown core and back. Route numero four could see you put in along the Pottawatomi River and traverse the west shore of Owen Sound Bay past Kelso Beach, the marina, and Cobble Beach.
If paddling isn’t your thing, put on your walking shoes and get hiking. After a period of closure, many of the trails are open around Owen Sound including Harrison Park, the East Rocks and the West Rocks. A fantastic city hiking route starts at the Harbour where you can follow it along to the Bayshore and then continue on to join the Tom Thomson Trail, which can actually take you all the way to Meaford.
You may not want to take it that far, but a hike to Leith may be in the cards if you have the day. Just be mindful of high water this summer as some sections may be closed.
We’re incredibly lucky to have the Bruce Trail running directly through Owen Sound, and some sections are now open. A personal favourite is the Palisades side trail at the southern terminus of 7th Avenue East. This advanced trail showcases some of the escarpment’s best-kept secrets. Craggy cliff faces, lush forest, and low foot traffic mean an opportunity to explore the forest in isolation while being a stone’s throw from home.
Got more of a need for speed? This is where the bike comes in handy. Many modern cities are built with biking in mind, and while Owen Sound may not have considered bicycles outright, you’d swear cycling is in its blood. City streets are a great way to get out and stretch those leg muscles, lined with beautiful trees, rivers and streams, parks and recreational spaces, and unique neighbourhoods.
For those looking to get off the beaten path, the Harrison Park fitness trail is a wide gravel trail running along the east side of the Sydenham River where you can challenge yourself with easy going, meandering hills. Continue onto the ‘Mile Drive’ and into the Grey Sauble Conservation Arboretum. Alternatively, the West Rocks are a fantastic place to challenge yourself with a technical network of trails that travel through thick forest atop the escarpment. Our history is chalked full of ties to the railroad, and while the trains don’t come to Owen Sound anymore, they’ve left a legacy of rail-trails that are a great way to bike all over. The section from the Hospital to Stone Tree is a local favourite with excellent opportunities to view wildlife.
Enjoying the waterways, paths, trails, and streets of Owen Sound via pedal, paddle, or bootstraps is one way it’s earned its Scenic City moniker. With summer weather finally here and so much space to explore, social distancing has never been so easy. We’re lucky to live in a place with so many open spaces to explore. Get out there!
Sound Outlook Series
Part 2 - Dreaming Big
There’s a great Tragically Hip lyric that goes: “We’re forced to bed but we’re free to dream”. It’s a simple message that says while we may be forced into a particular place, our minds are always free. We all have the liberty to imagine what we choose no matter where we are placed.
It’s a line that’s resonated with us lately for reasons you can probably imagine. We haven’t all been sent to our rooms like in Gord’s lyric, but we’ve all been forced inside - yet we’re still free to dream; dream up ways of entertaining ourselves, connecting with each other, creating new ideas, and inventing new things. Dreaming about what the future will look like.
For many of the businesses in Owen Sound, it’s been a period of dreaming up new ways to do business. All of us Sounders still want the products and services that are offered in our community and as the days pass by we’re understandably missing some of the things that made us feel normal. Grabbing a coffee with a friend, going out for dinner, picking up a few things from the store. Those things are still available, we just need to adapt to the new ways of getting them.
Did we ever dream that we’d be getting our physio exercises through Facetime? Did we all think we’d celebrate St Paddy’s Day by watching a band perform on Facebook to an empty concert hall? Was it in our mindframe to order lumber online for small projects? Did we conjure up a situation where we’d put our Farmers’ Market items in a virtual ‘basket’ and settle the tab with PayPal?
Many of our local businesses have been lucky in their ability to be agile and react quickly to changing circumstances. Perhaps the most advantageous thing about being a small business is being able to change course easily. Larger corporations have a tough time turning around, but the little guys can deke just about anywhere with the right motivation. The ways some business owners have had to pivot and re-imagine the way they do business has taken some serious creative problem-solving. We’ve all been proverbially forced to bed - and boy - did we ever dream up some cool ideas. We all got creative. We had to.
Art is essential, so naturally, musicians were first. They streamed concerts from their living rooms, basements, and bedrooms - sometimes while their kids were sleeping in the next room. They exposed their lives away from the stage and simultaneously showcased a more human way of sharing music. Live, off-the-cuff renditions with limited tech, no light shows, and no sound checks. They used new technologies like champs to bring us the music we needed. They’re still doing it, and some bands are even proposing drive-in concerts this summer. Talk about dreaming big.
Locally, the Roxy Theatre dreamed up a way to keep their rehearsals going and used Zoom to communicate. They are imagining this Fall as a possible time to reschedule their much-anticipated Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime among many other concerts.
But it’s not only artists who have gotten creative. Many business owners have come up with new ways of doing business. You can order online from Casero, Milk Maid, Birgit’s, Mudtown Station, Europas, East Side Marios, and many more local spots. You can pick up your items in a way that safely adheres to social distancing guidelines and still support your favourite spot while satisfying your cravings.
Event organizers like Trivia by Ross’ Ross Docherty have imagined a new way of delivering events by using new technologies simultaneously. When Chapman House was struggling to raise funds, he stepped up to deliver a fundraising event that raised over $2,500. Did we ever dream that we’d be going to a charity event without leaving our living rooms? Docherty did.
Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts has been busy making everything from masks to birdhouses to keep their revenue flowing. Have1 quickly pivoted to manufacture PPE, sneeze guards, and COVID signage for businesses. Grocery stores were quick to install plexi-glass and place floor markers to keep us six feet apart. Driverseat Owen Sound installed plexi-glass in their vehicles, as well. Shopper’s Clothing is steaming and sanitizing their clothing so people can try things on before purchasing, all while limiting the number of people allowed in their downtown storefront. The Nutty Baker is doing curbside pickup and deliveries. Kokoro is offering virtual workshops and meditation sessions. Nak’d Basics, the Rocking Horse, and Sweetpea Wholesome Baby are all doing free in-town delivery. Rrampt Magazine is adapting its distribution strategy to make sure it’s available to all with many drop sites closed.
Whatever you’re missing during this time, the local business community has been working tirelessly to ensure we can continue on with some degree of normalcy. These little tweaks and changes to business are all part of an effort to stay the course, while the course itself has been changed so much.
While businesses have shifted and adapted in the short term, they’ve also imagined what they will be in the long term. It’s a period of reflection for everyone. We’ve all been sent to our rooms for the night, to return to Gord’s metaphor. We’ll spend some time dreaming and see what the morning brings. Inevitably, the sun will rise and we’ll go back outside and many things will be different, and many things will be the same.
We’ll adapt to the things that are different. We’ll take comfort in the things that remain the same. And we’ll keep dreaming big because that’s what this community needs right now.
Sound Outlook Series
Part 1: Together we get through this
Written by Jesse Wilkinson & Nelson Phillips of Rrampt
Pandemic. Outbreak. Coronavirus. COVID-19. No matter what word you use to describe the past two months, they all spell the same thing: struggle. We’ve all struggled in our own way.
Some of us have struggled economically having lost business, employees, and the feeling of financial security. Some of us have struggled physically, having lost access to the gym, trails, and parks, yearning for more time away from the couch. But most have struggled socially. Owen Sound is an incredibly social community, home to a vibrant culture of collaboration beautifully accented by cuisine, music, theatre, art, sport, and natural beauty. During this time of literal isolation, perhaps we’ve struggled socially the most; but there’s a great silver lining to this temporary reality.
You’ve likely seen the online meme about us all enduring the same storm but in different boats. That’s not just true of individuals, but of communities as well. No city has experienced this thing the same. Not every town is in the same boat. But regardless of the community you have been isolating yourself in, it is the people around you that have helped to get through this.
It might have been something small, like a Facetime with someone we’ve lost touch with, or a note left in the mailbox from a loved one. A wave from that person we’d normally walk by without saying ‘hi’ to. It’s Zoom gatherings with friends. It’s homemade beer and fresh bread left at the doorstep by a family member; and it’s seeing a profound level of appreciation in the faces of grocery store workers when they’re thanked by shoppers for doing what they’re doing. At the end of all those instances, it’s a quick smile that makes all the difference. That’s the new currency of this community.
Yeah, when it comes down to it, what we need right now is community. And it’s clear – this community we have here in Owen Sound is pretty amazing. It reminds us how lucky we are to be in this boat during this particular storm. When word hit that this Coronavirus was the real deal and headed our way, one of the first local reactions online was the creation of a Caremongering group, something native to Canada. This was a group that’s sole existence was to help the most vulnerable in need, and this area adopted the idea quickly and ran with it.
There is a famous Ghandi quote that says “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” By this measurement, I’d say we’re flourishing. That might not be a word many would use to describe our current state of affairs, but it’s a clear sign that we’re going to take care of each other through this no matter how long it takes. It means we’ll learn to ignore our differences more and embrace the things that bring us together. It means connecting with our kids and our friends in more meaningful ways and letting people know they’re not in this thing alone. It means using creativity to overcome boredom and solitude. It means we’re not going to let this virus defeat us. But that’s not to say there won’t be struggle.
What do you do when an area poised to begin its tourist season has no certainty what that will look like? How do you plan for a summer that has no Summerfolk, or Salmon Spectacular to look forward to?
We may not be the tourist centre we usually are this summer, but 2020 has also presented us with an opportunity. Every disaster does. With so much taken from us as of late, we should also acknowledge what we’ve been given: we have an incredible opportunity to re-evaluate and re-define what makes us great as a community. We have a shot to heal relationships that have fallen by the wayside. We have a chance to look inward to better appreciate the things we have, the people who make us happy, and the good health that sustains us. We have a chance to answer old questions and ask new ones.
Over the next six weeks in this Summer Outlook Series, we’ll be addressing some of these questions and answers, and providing our insight into how this community is moving forward. We’ll highlight some of the great things happening around Owen Sound with current Covid measures in place.
Let’s never lose sight of the fact that one day in the not-so-distant-future we’re going to emerge from this chapter. We’ll witness people who haven’t seen each other in months embrace in the streets, cry tears of joy, shake hands, hug, play, and catch up. Some things will be different, but the community feeling will still be there. It’s not something that can be erased because it resides within each of us. We all make up this community collectively, and we’re all supporting each other in our own ways. We can see that. We know you can see it too.
Hang in there, OS. Together, we get through this.
Sound Outlook is a six part series written by the local lifestyle enthusiasts at Rrampt. Sound Outlook will provide a look at how COVID-19 has affected Owen Sound through a cultural lens. We know this isn’t the ‘Summer Guide’ you’ve been accustomed to, but hey, nothing is customary these days.
Part 2 of the Sound Outlook Series is coming next week.