My Favourite Photos

A few of my favourite photos... some for sale, even! More »

Glory Whalen

The revised edition of the story of Glory Whalen is now available for download. Click here for more... More »

Jack`s War

Jack Fisher was a flight sergeant and the wireless operator aboard LM 129, a Lancaster bomber attached to RAF Squadron 207. On July 8, 1944, the plane was shot down over France... More »


I`ve picked up my share of awards over the years, for writing, design, and photography. Here`s a bit of my CV... More »


Ladies and gentlemen, start your vote-plumping machines…

Yes, I know, I see the emails rallying your supporters. Can’t hide anything from me.

Tho’, there is a danger to it… how will you feel the night of Oct. 27, after riding the top of the EEU polls for a month, to finish with fewer votes than Sandy Cunningham. Current odds: Sandy finishes 12th…

Who are your choices for council (up to seven) in Week 1

  • Tim Fryer (53%, 102 Votes)
  • Steve Berman (49%, 94 Votes)
  • Kathy Jeffery (45%, 86 Votes)
  • Rick Crouch (38%, 73 Votes)
  • Bob Madigan (37%, 71 Votes)
  • Gail Michalenko (36%, 70 Votes)
  • Deb Doherty (34%, 66 Votes)
  • Cam Ecclestone (25%, 48 Votes)
  • Dale West (20%, 38 Votes)
  • Mike Edwards (19%, 36 Votes)
  • Jim Gosnell (11%, 22 Votes)
  • Betty Donaher (11%, 21 Votes)
  • Kevin Lloyd (10%, 20 Votes)
  • Ian Chadwick (8%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 193

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Cam Ecclestone comes out swinging in #CwoodVotes2014…

And no, I don’t mean he has either come out, or is swinging (I can’t help that my readers have their minds in the gutter)…

From Cam’s election Facebook page this morning:

The core of my campaign has been and always will be to bring experience, both municipal and corporate to Council as well as an impeccable record over the years for honesty and integrity. As most of you are aware
1) There is an ongoing OPP investigation into the current council since early 2013-The OPP will be issuing a final report but I doubt that it will be before our election!
2) Our Sprung Skating arena and Aquatic centre was contracted out without competitive bids-This is an absolute abuse of power and the misuse of your tax dollars!
3) Our long term debt has risen from $14,435,000 in 2003 to $36,401,776 in 2013 an increase of 152% in 10 years. In addition there are outstanding debentures for $3.3mm and $1.5mm to be added making the total $41,201,776
We absolutely need change

Cam, the first non-incumbent out of the gate six months ago, has been relatively quiet (his Facebook page has 14 ‘likes’ as of my writing). But with three spots now open at the table with Sandy Cunningham bowing out, even if it’s status quo after Oct. 27, that’s an increased chance to be sitting at the table.

As I commented to someone earlier this week, the next two weeks are like the final 800 metres of a 10,000 metre race… and Cam is trying to break out of the pack of runners following the leaders.

Gauging the deputy-mayor vote in #CwoodVotes2014

One day only, folks. Gear up your supporters for Friday’s one-day poll for the council candidates…

Who is your choice for Deputy-mayor of Collingwood (Week 1)

  • Brian Saunderson (88%, 113 Votes)
  • Rick Lloyd (9%, 12 Votes)
  • Undecided (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 129

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If those #CwoodVotes2014 results are true…

… by golly, I’ll have to eat my treasured True-Sport ball cap.

Call me cynical, but I can’t see Chris Carrier capturing more than 50% of the vote on Oct. 27 (sorry Chris – quite frankly, I can’t even see you coming on top in this three-horse race.) But goodness knows, I’ve been wrong… oh, so wrong, many, many times before.

I found this story kind of amusing, in light of the deputy-mayor’s copyright infringement of Randy Bachman’s music:

Legendary rocker Randy Bachman said Stephen Harper didn’t get permission from him or his publisher to use his classic “Takin’ Care of Business” as the theme song for a major speech on Monday. He said if the prime minister had asked, he would have probably said “no.”


“I don’t think he’s taking care of business for the right people or the right reasons,” Bachman said.

Speaking of ‘taking care of business for the right people’, the fundraising letter for the Rick Lloyd campaign from local developer Steve Assaff raised a few eyebrows around town.

It’s one thing for an individual or business to donate money to a candidate; that’s their right. It’s quite another thing for someone who actively has business in front of the council table to take part in someone’s campaign as their ‘fundraising chair’, soliciting money on behalf of a candidate who appears to have spearheaded a lot of decisions that have gone in favour of said developer. The optics, as they are, are terrible.

My favourite line of the letter is about being ‘open and transparent’. Would that be like the Sprung Shield decision?

Anyway, stay tuned tomorrow for the deputy-mayor poll…

The game is on in #CwoodVotes2014

With two more entering the race in the dying moments, it brings the total number of council candidates to 15 – not quite the 21 we had in 2010, but still above the average of what Collingwood has seen in the past, certainly in the three decades of municipal elections I’ve studied.

So without further ado, or comment (for now), this is a one-day-only poll; it closes down at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday – so rally your supporters and plump the heck out of it! On Wednesday, we’ll get a sampling for the deputy-mayor race, and on Friday, the councillors.

Who is your choice for Mayor of Collingwood (Week 1)?

  • Chris Carrier (57%, 78 Votes)
  • Joe Gardhouse (18%, 25 Votes)
  • Undecided (15%, 21 Votes)
  • Sandra Cooper (10%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 138

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Meanwhile in #CwoodVotes2014…

More election shenanigans, this time on the opposite side of the deputy-mayor race.

Brian Saunderson doesn’t have the appropriate stickers on a couple of his signs on public property, per the municipality’s regulations with regard to election signs on public property. There could also be an issue of the ‘checkmark’ that’s in place of the clock in the stylized clocktower. Again, with regard to the rules:

In addition to the regulations outlined above, please ensure that any marks provided on the election sign be illustrated with an X as opposed to a check mark. This will help in providing the most effective mark on the mail-in ballot.

That’s not a checkmark – it’s the clock’s hands, at 10 minutes after 10… er, honest!

Hang on, maybe if I check one of Dan Brown’s books, it’s actually an Illuminati symbol foreshadowing the arrival of a proper multi-use facility and appropriate municipal processes…


Well, at least it’s not quite to the level of copyright infringement, though it could be considered an almost-Chadwickian™ level of Rhationalization and Rhetoric™.

Hang on, just to make myself feel better:

During my time in office, I have championed issues at the table that affect us all: …public health…

Yes, that’s why you called a proposal to pursue provincial funding for a healthy kids initiative “#pointless”…

Phew, that feels better. Worried I was losing my touch…

Just think – 52 days left…

At least none of these transgressions will affect Councillor West, who has once again pledged not to litter the landscape with pesky signs… but only cuz he’s a cheapskate…


Municipal Election 2014 kicks off…

Let the shenanigans begin!

First up: Rick Lloyd’s campaign website. Can someone tell me if Takin’ Care of Business is in the public domain yet? It’s not? Geez, nothing like kicking your campaign off with a copyright claim…


Probably a good thing it was taken down, because, quite frankly, this would scare the bejeezus out of me (screenshot taken just before the Innernet Police moved in):


I guess that’s what Steve Berman means by the ‘Fab Five’.

Yes, Randy Bachman’s timeless ode to returning to a business-like fashion was the background music to Rick’s video on the website, that is, until the Innernet Police removed it after the question was asked of Bachman’s management company whether the Lloyd campaign had permission. Rock stars get a little uppity about the use of their music in campaign videos

Anyhoo, I did chat with the candidate about it, and Rick acknowledged posting the video was a little, uh, “premature.” I suspect it will be getting reposted (probably should do it sooner than later, rather than have a black box greeting visitors with the message, “This video no longer available due to a copyright claim by Sony ATV Publishing.”)



One more time: mayor power poll

Time to take a break from vacation, hop online, and vote in the final power poll for the month of August.

Then yes, you can go back to the beach, or the dock, or wherever (realizing, of course, that I now hate all of you… not having had time off in more than a year…)

Final August power poll: The race for mayor - who's got your vote?

  • Chris Carrier (48%, 60 Votes)
  • Joe Gardhouse (25%, 31 Votes)
  • Sandra Cooper (17%, 22 Votes)
  • Player to be named later (or 'none of the above') (10%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 126

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The #IceBucketChallenge… and other stuff…

Thanks to Matt McLean and Patrick Bales for the challenge, and Doug Measures and Drew Werbitsky for helping out behind the camera. I know Dale West and Danielle Lafreniere have done their challenges; just waiting for Saunderson to step up to the plate.

Along with the challenge… yes, I also donated to the cause…

* Am I the only one who thinks it’s kind of inappropriate the town is hosting a ‘coffee with council‘ at the Economic Development office less than two months before a municipal election? “Yeah, look at this wonderful initiative we’ve accomplished – Yea us! And don’t forget to vote…”

What does the Code of Conduct say? From Section 8…

Members of council will… in an election year, not use facilities, equipment, supplies, services, or other resources of the town for any election campaign or campaign-related activities.

Having an event, with two weeks left in the nomination period, is pretty borderline in my eyes. In the interest of goodwill, all candidates should be invited to take part…

* Very amusing to read Dr. Mike Lewin’s response to Councillor Chadwick’s response to the Better Together Collingwood questions.

I noted the commenter to Lewin’s letter made a couple of relevant observations, though reference to the councillor’s ‘due diligence’ is kind of ironic given everything we now know about the Sprung decision.

But then again, Chadwick has never met a ratepayers’ group he liked, and usually labels them as ‘special interest’ to get around the sticky business of being held accountable. Here’s what he said about VOTE in 2007 (granted, he was referring to pre-2006 VOTE, which had the appearance of being a ratepayers’ group, not post-2006 VOTE, which suddenly developed blinders to everything the 2006-2010 council did):

While I often disagreed with their perspective, I actually didn’t mind having a watchdog group outside the media keeping tabs on council’s activities and decisions. That helps keep council focused and cognizant of community opinion.

Yes, Collingwood is where irony goes to die…



Time for a harbour master plan…

Some of you will probably be reading John Edward’s piece in this Thursday’s Connection, and saying, “WTF Scoop…”

For one thing, I need to make it clear – I cannot write about the harbour in the pages of the E-B; I have a very clear conflict of interest on the matter, and it would not be ethical of me to report on the issue.

John had to edit some of my remarks down, because, you know, once I get yakking about the harbour it’s kind of hard to get me to STFU. I should probably make it clear that I, and the canoe club, are not against docks, per se. We agree that there’s a need for transient boater space… but…

We don’t believe it should come at the expense of other user groups: us, the rowing club, the yacht club, anglers, etc.. I guess it would help if I present my full comments to John, in response to the so-called Collingwood Municipal Marina Coalition:

“Our position has always been that we believe the harbour to be a shared facility. We recognize that it’s a finite space, and trying to balance the needs of the yacht club, rowing club, our club, and a multitude of other users is a delicate line. It’s also important that each user group respects the rights of others to the use of the harbour, and that one group is not granted any rights or given any advantage that could have a detrimental impact on the others.

“To that point, it’s always been our opinion that the municipality needs to embark on a proper harbour master plan that incorporates the needs and issues of all groups. Citing a study from 1988 completely ignores that since 2004, the use of the harbour has changed dramatically with the introduction of the two recreational clubs. While the Baird Report from 2009 did a fair job of documenting these different uses, where it fell down – substantially – was it focused on dock development while presenting recommendations that would have essentially pushed the rowing and paddling uses to the fringes of the harbour.

“Our board was disappointed council decided not to move forward with a harbour master plan this year, as it could have taken the necessary steps to resolve, or at least minimize, some of these potential conflicts and address the matter of shared use. We remain hopeful it will be part of the next council’s planning process early in the term.

“It’s all well and good to cite potential revenue numbers, but without some sort of solid economic or business case, there’s no way to justify the revenue projections put forward by the coalition. A waiting list does not necessarily translate into customers; a waiting list also does not justify the need to develop a facility that could potentially discourage the use of the harbour by other groups.

“We are a growing club, as are the rowing club and the sailing school, and it is vital to the development of those sports – especially for young people – that the harbour is a safe and accessible place. Creating a ‘parking lot’ of docks is not conducive to that goal.”

To add to that, a bit of my own opinion (which may or may not reflect the opinion of the board of the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club)…

The ‘build it and they will come’ attitude is something I’ve been battling for the last five years of being a member of the town’s harbourlands committee. The Baird report was short-sighted, with no economic basis to back up the need to create a parking lot of docks in the harbour — and essentially making it unusable for anyone else. And the coalition is incorrect — it was not accepted by the Harbourlands Committee in the form that it’s presented in. The committee made several recommendations to revise some of the report’s conclusions, but those were never put in place because the money needed to prepare the final report was shifted to another municipal priority. What’s being passed around is a draft report — not a final report, and for the Coalition to present it any other way is disingenuous.

The same goes with the introduction of the transient day-use dock in the launch basin late last year; earlier this year, during municipal budget discussions, four councillors were quite willing to drop another $130,000 to extend that dock, even though a pattern of use hadn’t been established yet (because the existing docks had been installed in November), and there was no business case. There are five spots (approximately, depending on the length of the boat) at the existing dock; I can think of one weekend, Elvis Festival, when the dock was full; the rest of the time, I think I see one or two boats on a consistent basis.

And I’m not even getting into the environmental issues, and promoting healthy, active living (I find it amusing that municipal policy discussion on active transportation seems to stop at the town’s shoreline), which were tossed around as I circulated my comments to the rest of my board prior to providing them to John.

So… I go back to my (and the canoe club’s) original proposition – before any more capital dollars are spent in the harbour, the municipality needs to get an understanding of how the facility is used, who uses it, and how it can be properly shared between ALL user groups. The last three years has been spent with certain individuals attempting to ‘divide-and-conquer’ on the harbour – it’s time for ALL the user groups to speak with a common voice to develop a shared vision.