The 30th annual Canada Day Celebration went off with a bang at Optimist Park in Niagara Falls where music, food, a midway and a parade got the crowd in the mood to celebrate.
Besides the parade which featured the giant 18-foot inflatable Mountie, as seen in the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics, several marching bands and there were three outdoor stages featuring the magic of Greg Frewin, Russian acrobats, and the The Bananagins.
Other attractions were Tom Bishop’s 4B Ranch Wild West Show, a Reptile Kingdom display and lots of local businesses showing their stuff.
As great as the locale is for all these events though, 2012 was the last year for the beloved Optimist Park location.
“Well it’s very sad because this is a beautiful park but the Optimist Club members have sold the it so that this land will be developed into commercial and residential use,” said Lori Albanese, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Niagara Falls. “So what we’re looking for right now from the public is we would like your feedback on where we should take Canada Day next year for 2013 and future years and also what should it look like.”
NIAGARA FALLS – More than 1,000 people piled into Optimist Park Friday night to welcome home former boxer Mike Strange from his cross-Canada ‘Box Run’ trek.
Strange received loud cheers and applause as he ran the last few hundred metres down Morrison Street from Oakes Park, accompanied by a motorcade and a Niagara Regional Police escort.
To view photos from the event, click HERE.
To read more about Mike’s 3,200-kilometre journey and why he did it, click HERE.
In another heavy blow to Fort Erie, wind-turbine tower manufacturer DMI Industries -once the darling of Niagara’s fledgling green-energy industry – closed permanetly.
The Fargo, North Dakota-based company was no longer willing to keep the doors open at its Fort Erie location, which has been struggling for more than a year.
The Eagle Street plant once employed 225 people but was down to just 10 employees when the decision was made to pull up stakes in Canada.
No formal announcement was made and all attempts to reach company officials were unsuccessful.
The decision to close came less than a month after a rival Chinese company, TSP Canada Towers Inc., announced it’s taking over the former Dana Cananda building in Thorold and hopes to be producing its first towers within a year.
Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin, who had been worried about the fate of DMI for sometime, said he was contacted directly by the company’s president and informed of the decision.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” Martin told Bullet News.
All efforts will no be put into assisting the company find a buyer for the facility, one which will hopefully bring another form of manufacturing to the area.
DMI Industries was one of the first green energy companies to move into the area six years ago – well in advance of the provincial Liberal government’s Green Energy Act, which has provided lucrative incentives for the development of wind and solar power in Ontario.
Originally, the company said it would create 100 jobs, but that number nearly doubled as orders for wind towers rolled in and production ramped up.
But the company saw orders dry up last year due to political uncertainty about the future of the Green Energy Act, which the opposition Progressive Conservatives had promised to scrap if they had formed government following last October’s provincial election.
The company was forced to begin laying off its highly skilled workforce in the fall of 2011 after it failed to qualify for a federal assistance program aimed at retaining the employees until market conditions improved.
It was a historic moment in the Falls as the Niagara Falls History Museum officially opened its doors to the public and the two-year, $12-million renovation and expansion was put on display.
The space, designed by architects Moriyama and Teshima, features a bright modern atmosphere with soaring ceilings combining the old with the new, expansive windows which flood the space with natural light, and an impressive combination of glass, wood and steel.
Inside, for the first time folks were treated to their debut glimpse of three galleries and exhibits, including the Gale Family War of 1812 Gallery, the Niagara Falls Community Gallery and the Ontario Power Generation Gallery.
Lots of entertainment including live performances added to the excitement of the momentous occasion and to start things off a ribbon cutting ceremony had local dignitaries on hand in period costume to say a few words.
Federal Justice Minister and Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson called the museum, which features much about the history of the war of 1812, “a wonderful moment in the history of our country,” citing that if it were not for that battle this country would not exist as we know it.
Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor got the crowd in the mood to start things off saying “we’re here to party aren’t we?” But then on a serious note he recalled visiting the museum in its old state as a new city councilor years back and committing to one day bringing it back to life.
“It’s been a long road,” he told the crowd before mentioning that he and Rob Nicholson were able to bring $3.2 million dollars to the table on behalf of their respective governments.
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati reminisced to the crowd about when he got on city council in 2003 and a meeting was to be held in the museum’s basement and he didn’t even know where it was. But things are going to change.
“What I am happy to say though is, we are going to become much more relevant. We need to preserve our history if we are going to have a strong future.”
After a ribbon cutting ceremony got the party officially kick started, Don Jackson, fundraising chairman for the museum which was part of the 1812 Legacy Project, talked about the donations that made the dream a reality.
“Well, first of all we had to count on the generosity of the three major levels of government and once they came on board, our local fundraising campaign kicked into high gear and we have a number of businesses, citizens and organizations who with very little persuasion took the opportunity to buy into some of the naming opportunities that were here for them.
“Our major private donor was Bob Gale who provided us with a donation of $300,000 which sponsors the R.D. Gale Family War of 1812 Gallery.”
Bob Gale himself was on hand for the ceremony and commented on his vision for the future.
“I think it is a spectacular place and it fit all my dreams of when we first decided to donate the money. I really like it because it is all Niagara Falls history, not just the War of 1812.”
He says his goal when he donated was to make the place a well-known stop and to regularly “see school buses come so that kids can see the history of what’s going on.”
A 14-day weather forecast that was expected to bring more sunshine, high temperatures and little rainfall was bad news for Ontario farmers, says the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“The long range forecast isn’t pretty. It can get a lot worse,” said Mark Wales, during a tour of agri-business in Huron County Monday. The board of directors met for their monthly meeting at the Benmiller Inn and toured Hensall District Co-op, Suntastic Hothouse Inc. and Hayter’s Farm.
The season started with 28 degree Celsius weather in March, one month earlier than usual. The warm weather teased the fruit trees out of dormancy four to eight weeks earlier than normal and all the fruit trees came into blossom, including apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries and grapes.
At the same time, farmers got an early start on the land, planting corn and soybean earlier than ever.
“ If I can go out there by April 15 and start doing my spring tillage, I consider that an early year. This year I was out there on March the 15th, a full 30 days ahead of what I consider to be a good, early year. I’ve never even thought about putting a tractor out there in March,” said Wales, who harvests fruit and vegetables for local sale on his farm in Elgin County.
“The only way to describe 2012 is: challenging, bizarre, unusual,” he said.
Given a mild winter with not a lot of snow and an exceptionally early spring, frost came out of the ground much earlier and the water table dropped early, allowing farmers to work the land earlier than normal.
Then the frosts came; repeated frosts that killed the blossoms.
“The tree fruit were just devastated. Literally, there isn’t any,” Wales said.
Even down along the north shore of Lake Erie, and in the Niagara area, where farmers escaped early frost, a stretch of nights at the end of April when the temperatures dipped to minus 7 degrees Celsius wiped out all fruit.
“It just cooked the blossoms. So you’ve got a tree and no crop,” Wales said.
Thorold’s Natalie Mastracci was among the women’s eight rowing crew that took the silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.
The Canadian team, led by coxwain Lesley Thompson-Willie, of London, Ont., finished in second place behind the crew from the United States.
The Netherlands placed third to capture bronze.
“It hasn’t hit me yet. It’s an amazing group of women that I’ve had the privilege to row with and we gave it our all, no regrets. Fuel to the fire for 2016,” said Lauren Wilkinson of North Vancouver.
Added Thompson-Willie: “We weren’t worried about the Dutch at all. We were out there to win, and were watching the whole field, but we were focused on our own boat and our race plan.”
Thompson-Willie, who is married to Paul Willie, a professor in Niagara College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Administration, won her fifth Olympic medal – while competing in her seventh Olympic games.
Willie is a member of Canada’s Olympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. She is the coxswain on the crew. She has competed at seven Olympic games, including Los Angeles (1984), where she won silver; Seoul (1988); Barcelona (1992), where she won gold; Atlanta (1996), where she won silver; Sydney (2000), where she won bronze; Beijing (2008) and now London.
Beamsville native Tonya Verbeek claimed a silver medal in women’s wrestling at the London Olympics.
The Thorold resident defeated Castilloj Renteria of Colombia in their 55-kilogram match, securing herself a spot in the gold-medal round. She also won matches against India’s Geeta Geeta and Ukraine’s Tetyana Lazareva, the world champion bronze medalist.
But Verbeek eventually fell to Japan’s Saori Yoshida, two-time Olympic gold medalist. Yoshida won golds in 2004 and 2008 and once had a streak of 119-consecutive victories at the senior level internationally.
Verbeek won Olympic bronze in Beijing four years ago and took the silver at the 2004 Games in Athens. Speaking to Niagara This Week prior to her departure for London, Verbeek said she hoped to bring home gold but was more concerned with putting on a good performance.
“Of course I want the trinity,” Verbeek said. “More importantly I am going into the Games to be my best.”
More than 400 animal rights activists stood their ground outside Marineland, Saturday, shouting slogans and waiving placards in hopes of drawing attention to alleged incidents of animal neglect inside the park.
The latest demonstration, organized by the group Marineland Animal Defense, comes in the wake of a series of investigative reports published last week in the Toronto Star in which former animal trainers claim poor conditions have made some sea mammals sick.
The protesters want to see an end to all animal acts at the park.
The peaceful protest seem to have little effect on the throngs of tourists and locals flocking to the park on a warm summer’s day, but it did manage to keep the national media spotlight shinning on Marineland for another day.
Marineland officials steadfastly deny the allegations that have been made, saying the animals are well cared for and properly supervised.