Archive for November 2009

Your Next Hockley Valley Vacation and Facebook – A Tip

In today’s society, social networking sites are taking the world by storm. If you’re thinking of going on a sick leave and take a vacation to say, the picturesque Hockley Valley, then come back to share pictures of the awesome time you had on Facebook, think again.

Social Networking vs Your Next Hockley Valley Vacation

Take the example, of Nathalie Blanchard, 29, who hails from Quebec. She lost her disability coverage after her insurance company, Manulife, found vacation pictures on her Facebook account. When Nathalie—who’s been off work for over a year—failed to receive her monthly benefits, she immediately phoned the company for an explanation.

Manulife personnel explained that the vacation pictures on her Facebook profile suggested that she was no longer disabled. Blanchard tried to explain that the vacation was suggested as a curative by her physician. Blanchard has currently filed a lawsuit against her insurer, which is set to be heard in court on the 8th of December.

Nathalie Blanchard’s problem is just one of many horror stories that have to do with social networking sites and their connection with employers, insurance companies, and the legal system in general.

A case overseas involves a British worker who was fired for posting she was “bored” on her Facebook status message while working. Another more ironic incident has a Swiss insurance worker fired, this time for using Facebook at home after calling in sick.

Defense attorney Thomas Lavin comments “If the people who are using social networks are at all vulnerable in any areas of their life, they should be very careful about what they post because whatever they post is part of the public domain.”

In other words, be mindful of posting material on sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Don’t ever think that nobody cares about what you’re posting or saying, and above all, remember that the internet never forgets so the next time you visit Hockley Valley, be mindful of who you share your experience with.

Hockley Valley’s Local Potter & Tour Guide

Al Pace, Hockley Valley’s own local potter is known for his beautiful creations, but did you know that he also moonlights as a tour guide? The potter, who is also an avid outdoorsman, likes to take tourists, Canadians and locals out to see the wilderness. He has so far done 18 canoe trips, bringing along different people of different ages up to the far north.

Hockley Valley's Local Potter & Tour Guide Al Pace

For this year, his business received a grant from the North West Territories government, enabling Pace to further expand his business, something he and his wife, Lin Ward, are very excited to do.

The couple, who own the Farmhouse Pottery studio, located on Hockley Road, first started out when they went on a trip to Yukon with their little boy, Taylor. Upon getting back, Mr. Pace decided to write about his trip on his studio newsletter which he sends to his regular clients. The response was enthusiastic.

They made a return trip to the north with family the following year, and again, Mr. Pace wrote of his experience on his newsletters. This time however, readers were not only enthusiastic, but were also interested in tagging along with them on future trips.

The family then decided to form an outdoor and adventure company, Canoe North Adventure, with the goal of organizing canoe trips for interested parties who want to explore the Great North.

Their first trip with a group of strangers was a massive success, and word soon began to spread of Mr. Pace’s canoe trips. The best part is that the company has different trips tailor made for people of different ages, ensuring that everybody has a great time.

So far, the Mr. Pace’s family business has flourished. They’ve taken some 700 people on 18 canoe trips up north. With the grant he just received, Canoe North Adventure of Hockley Valley looks to stick around for the years to come.

Tough Times at the Choices Youth Shelter in Orangeville Ontario

Choices Youth Shelter in Orangeville Ontario

The Choices Youth Shelter, in Orangeville, Ontario is facing a crisis. With climbing costs, low donations and full beds, the shelter has recently been forced to turn people away due to the lack of space and room.

The emergency shelter has been under pressure these past months for operating above its usual capacities. With the arrival of winter, the shelter sees the problem of more and more people coming, further exacerbating the situation.

Mary Vervoort, executive director of the shelter talks about turning away people, “It makes me sick to my stomach. If that doesn’t keep you up at night, it should.” With the winter in the air she expects things to get worse.

The Choices shelter notes that they provided food, shelter and services to twice as many people as usual. Recently, it has been running at about 90 per cent occupancy on most nights.

“We’ve never seen this kind of usage,” Vervoort says, who thinks the increased demand is an effect of the current recession.

She notes that a surprising number of those who stayed in the shelter this year were newcomers, about 40 percent, very high from Orangeville Ontario. Many of these first timers were either laid off workers who can’t find jobs, or teenagers that belonged to families who have experienced job loss.

“They don’t have the education. They don’t get high-paying jobs. The recession has taken out a whole lot of lower-level jobs that are not going to be replaced,” Vervoorts says of the kids seeking refuge in her shelter.

Furthermore, there’s been a fall of cash donations, clearly a sign of the economic crisis. The good news however, is that donations of food and other supplies are up; cushioning the fall the shelter has taken.

“The community is very generous to us and they help where they can,” Vervoort says.

The shelter plants to hold a fundraiser at the Orangeville fairgrounds to raise money for costs and bills.

Vervoort believes that unless everyone in the community as well all government sectors take action against homelessness, the problem will continue to worsen so let’s show our less fortunate brothers and sisters more loving especially with winter just around the corner by helping out in one way or the other.

Hockley Valley’s Famed Tenor

Mark DuBois of Hockley Valley Ontario

Mark DuBois of Hockley Valley Ontario

Renowned tenor Mark DuBois, who hails from Hockley Valley, Ontario, has sung virtually every song imaginable. From opera, to broadway hits, to folk songs in various languages – even singing Frederick Weatherly’s Danny Boy in Mandarin, DuBois is known the world over as a flexible and extremely talented tenor.

Despite his massive success and travels around the world, he still favors his home standing on a 50-acre piece of beautiful land in Hockley Valley, his primary residence for over a decade and a half.

The father of five says, “It’s just paradise.” DuBois has frequented the area ever since his parents bought the property over 50 years ago.

Aside from performing in major orchestras across North America, some of DuBois’ notable performances include singing for the Pope, a monarch and a President.

As for his work and success, DuBois comments, “Being a tenor is quite demanding.  That’s why I came up with the Art of the Tenor, to show different aspects of my life.”

DuBois refers to his upcoming show on Nov. 13 at the Orangeville Opera House, with “everything from traditional musical theatre, the old ones like Westside Story and Sound of Music, to more modern music like Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera,” he said.

DuBois traces his interest in music back to when he was in the church choir at the tender age of 6. He then went on to study at the University of Toronto, taking up music and operatic performance, turning pro at only 18.

From that day on, DuBois has performed with every major orchestra in his native Canada as well as others in the United States including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. DuBois has also gone international – gracing stages in Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The tenor is currently busy imparting his talent and knowledge to the younger generation. Each year, he holds auditions and picks two or three kids to be part of his private class.

Asked as to why he does this, the Hockley Valley said, “I think artists, as much as they can, should give back to the community who got them where they are.” Lucky for us living with in close proximity to the famed tenor her in Hockley Valley.

Paris’ Rising Star Makes Locals Proud

It is good to know that Teal Parks, one of the top equestrian hunters that emerged in the provincial championships last month in Orangeville Ontario is from Paris. The eighteen-year old lass effortlessly finished the championships with two third places, a fourth and two ninths. These posts for the past season earn her the title of being one of the equestrian hunters to look for in the next few years.

“I was really excited, and a little nervous because the championships were a big deal for me,” said Parks, who was one of seven representatives from central west Ontario. “It can really be overwhelming because it is such a big place and there is so much competition, but my coach just told me to have fun and that is what I did,” added Parks.

Competitors during the provincial championships were close to 50 and in the large hunter division, Parks completed three courses. These three courses include an impressive flat class groundwork course and two jumps. She rode her horse, Thunder, with grace and was judged on how successfully she maneuvered Thunder around the course and over the jumps.

Parks started her equestrian career three years ago and is currently coached by Jen Sweet. Horseback riding was introduced to her eight years ago by a childhood friend. Her constant practice and dedication brought her to where she is now. Until last season, she’s usually seen at Innerkip at Millside Stables honing her riding skills. She has spent countless hours at Lions Bridge Stables to check how Thunder rode. Thunder is owned by Aspen VanWalraven.

The top equestrian hunter is now looking forward to 2010 and what it holds for her career. Parks is planning to spend the winter riding in an indoor arena with her new competition horse, Raffi. “This one is a lot younger so he still needs work. I will be out there every day working with him and training him,” said Parks.

Who’s next in line as one of Paris’ rising star?