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Highlands Cinema documentary hits the big screen

Hundreds of Highlanders had the opportunity Sept. 23 to finally see a documentary about Keith Stata and the iconic Highlands Cinema he built in the woods of Kinmount.

Filmmaker Matt Finlin and his crew presented a private screening of The Movie Man this past Saturday.

The documentary chronicles the creation of the movie house, dubbed, “the greatest theatre in the world,” by Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, who was an executive producer for the project.

Stata said, “I was impressed with how many people came, and how many people I recognized that have been coming over the years.”

As for the film, he joked, “I saw the rough cuts of it, and I like it much better now.”

Stata said since news of the documentary came out, he had a number of people tell him how much the theatre has meant to them.

A short Q and A after the screening introduced the audience to executive producer Finlin, partner at Door Knocker Media, Karen Barzilay, Robertson, and Stata.

A boisterous, and appreciative round of applause welcomed the filmmakers, and the star. Barzilay also announced The Movie Man has been picked up by Mongrel Media film distributors for release across Canada.

Finlin thanked those involved in making the film, and the audience, and said Stata was his inspiration.

“Keith has dedicated his life to providing a special experience to people for generations. In the film, we speak about how time is so important and what we do with it, so thank you, Keith, for giving your time to all of us for all these years.”

Musician: ‘Stata has made our lives richer’

The film goes through the many transformations and additions. It is much more than just a multiplex cinema, but a testament to the passion of the man who built it. All the artifacts, projectors, displays, and memorabilia are memories, Stata said.

The film also explores the uneasiness of COVID and the possibility of not being able to re-open. “I sometimes think, where did all the time go? The struggles to build the theatre, the nights I didn’t have two dimes to rub together, but I was just going to do it and see if hell would freeze over or not, or what would happen next. The theatre is important, I mean I put so much time and so much effort into this place, somehow it has to continue,” said Stata

The audience also got a chance to thank Stata for what he has done for them personally and for the community at large.

Ed Sharp, from CanoeFM, said it was a real pleasure knowing Stata, and the great things he does for the community. “Thank you for being the great person that you are.”

Another said coming to Highlands Cinema from a very young age inspired her to go to film school. She is now in the middle of shooting her first feature-length film. “My love of films and filmmaking comes from this cathedral that you have built.”

Stata spoke about being successful and Robertson summed it up by saying, “what you are talking about is wealth, but you have been enormously successful. You have made the lives of everyone who has ever been here richer. You have created something unique, you created something beautiful. You celebrated the thing you love, and we are all so grateful.”


Learn how to act at Ctrl-ART-Del workshop

Local production company Ctrl-ART-Del is offering the public the chance to peer behind the curtain and learn how to become comfortable performing on stage through a new beginners acting course launching later this week.

The workshop will run for two weekends beginning Sept. 23 and will cover the basics of acting, says Amy Leis, who co-founded the troupe with artistic director Tim Nicholson last winter.

While the original mandate of Ctrl-ART-Del was to bring local talent together to showcase their skills in a variety of works, they have adapted recently to introduce an educational component. That was borne out of Leis’ work with a group of drama students at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.

“I met many very talented kids that are hungry for more theatre than they can get at school alone. They kept asking me if they could get involved – who am I to say no?” Leis said. “This workshop is part of our effort to make sure people have some level of training before we throw them on stage. I think anybody can act – they just have to figure out the basics. That’s where we come in.”

Leis is an experienced performer, featuring heavily in Highlands Summer Festival productions and K-W Musical Productions performances in Kitchener in recent years. She is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School in Toronto. Nicholson has years in the industry too, performing professionally in North Bay and Toronto before returning to Haliburton County, where he has become a staple at the Highlands Summer Festival.

Nicholson said he’s excited to run the workshops, which he says will teach people skills they can build on for the rest of their lives.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that acting is a skilled trade,” he said. “Raw talent exists, but there are technical skills that can and should be taught. Once you have those in your mental toolbox, you can apply them to any role you take on.”

Leis said the workshops will focus heavily on presentation and delivery, with participants challenged to write and perform their own monologue. There will also be “table work”, where everyone will sit and read through an entire play as a group and perform select scenes.

“That’s all about showing people what the start of a rehearsal process is like, what sort of questions they should be asking for character development, and how they go about building a character from the ground up,” Leis said.

The workshop will end with participants helping to craft a series of unique scenes, which will be performed for a live audience at the Haliburton Legion Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

The workshop will end with participants helping to craft a series of unique scenes, which will be performed for a live audience at the Haliburton Legion Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

The end goal is to have a new pool of actors to select from when Ctrl-ART-Del launches its second performing season next spring. In its inaugural year, the group performed one play, Cherubs by British playwright Toby McShane, at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion last March.

“Our big focus this season is on getting fresh blood onto the stage. If you’ve always wanted to be on stage in Haliburton, we want to meet you,” said Leis, noting the group is planning to run two plays and a cabaret next year. A full schedule will be announced Oct. 15.

Leis said the workshops are a “low stakes, fun, supportive environment” for people looking to pursue acting, whether as a hobby or a career.

The course will run Sept. 23, 24, 30 and Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Minden Lions Hall. Rehearsals will begin Oct. 14 and run through to the live show.

To learn more and register, visit ctrlartdel. ca.


Huskies oust dominant Canadiens in OT

The Haliburton County Huskies laid down a marker to the rest of the OJHL this past weekend, recording dominant wins over the Toronto Junior Canadiens and North York Rangers to move into fourth place in the East Conference standings.

There was a big game feel inside S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena Saturday as 514 fans came out to watch the hometown team do battle with the undefeated Canadiens. After a back-and-forth duel in regulation time, Declan Bowmaster potted an overtime winner to hand the visiting side their first loss of the season.

New additions Antonio Cerqua and Izayah Luddington were in the home lineup, taking on their former team following a midweek deal that saw former Husky Will Gourgouvelis move to the Canadiens.

The Huskies made a strong start, with Rhyse Brown, Lucas Vacca, and Lucas Marshall each testing Sergei Litvinov in the visiting goal with some early pot shots. The pressure paid off when, three minutes in, Vacca sniped the puck high over Litvinov’s shoulder with a shot from the boards, assisted by Luddington.

The home fans were still celebrating when, 25 seconds later, Lucas Stevenson made it a two-goal game, pouncing on a loose puck in front of the goal after Litvinov had denied Ian Phillips and then Jack Staniland.

It was one-way traffic for much of the rest of the period, as the Huskies chased a third goal. Winger Johnathan Mead had a great chance to extend the lead after eight minutes but could only find Litvinov’s glove after barreling down on goal. Phillips, Luddington, and captain Patrick Saini also went close.

The momentum shifted after Cerqua was sent to the box for slashing a Canadiens forward. The visiting team scored on the powerplay, Brenden Anderson beating Vlad Visan on a rebound after the young goaltender had done well to stop a Boris Kofman shot.

The Huskies ended the period with 16 shots, to the Canadiens’ eight.

It was a different story to start the second, with the visiting team taking control. Chris Soares tied the game two minutes in, assisted by Luka Graziano, and Evan Malkhassian completed a remarkable turnaround 90 seconds later, firing high over a prone Visan, who had done well to save earlier efforts from Evan’s twin, Luc, and John McKinney.

Stevenson hit the outside of the post after skating into the crease midway through the period, with Cerqua denied after a net-front scramble minutes later. A nice give-andgo between Saini and Ty Petrou with the seconds ticking away presented an excellent chance for the Huskies captain to send the teams in tied at the end of the second, but he was robbed by an outstretched glove from Litvinov.

The crowd came alive to start the third, cheering the Huskies on. They got an instant response, with the home side retaking control of the game. Litvinov made a series of spectacular saves before Phillips bested him at 16:29, assisted by Saini and Petrou.

There looked to be only one winner in the extra frame, with the home side tilting the ice. Bowmaster was the eventual hero, scoring unassisted after almost three minutes of play.

Win on the road

The Huskies roared to a huge 5-1 win away against the North York Rangers Sept. 17

Bowmaster was on the scoresheet again, tallying the game’s first goal with 14:21 played, assisted by Saini. Marshall added a shorthanded goal a couple of minutes later, set up by Gavin McGahey-Smith. Cian Noble responded for the home team, firing past Logan Kennedy at 17:24 of the opening period to get the Rangers on the board.

Phillips added a powerplay goal three minutes into the second, with Marshall doubling his personal tally five minutes later. Saini completed the scoring 14:53 into the third, assisted by Hunter Martell and Mead.

The Huskies are back in action tonight (Sept. 21) on the road against the Stouffville Spirit and will host the Aurora Tigers Saturday (Sept. 23). Puck drop in Minden is set for 4 p.m.


SIRCH looks to community to support free meals program

SIRCH Community Services has kickstarted its annual ‘Gifts from the Heart’ campaign early, with demand through the organization’s community kitchen program soaring.

Now in its 13th year, the campaign, which traditionally runs in the lead up to the holidays, raises money to sustain SIRCH’s meal preparation and delivery. Volunteers gather weekly at the Bistro in Haliburton to package free, nutritious frozen meals for people across Haliburton County and Bancroft.

Communications lead Angelica Ingram said the non-profit is preparing approximately 1,400 meals, plus soups and desserts, every month. That’s about as many as SIRCH was doing in a full year back when the program launched in 2011.

“We kicked this off so early because there is an urgent need for more funds to sustain the community kitchen program… costs continue to increase, making it more important for the community to donate if they want to see certain programs continue,” Ingram said.

SIRCH also works with 12 partner agencies across the County to ensure those who aren’t aware of the program, but who could benefit, have the option of enrolling.

The Haliburton County Youth Wellness Hub has been one of the main beneficiaries. Over the past year, the organization has handed out roughly 850 frozen meals to clients.

“This program was heavily utilized by families and youth who were grateful to have access to healthy, home cooked meals,” said hub manager Mary Sisson. “Our community benefits a great deal from this program and the difference it makes to children, youth, and families in Haliburton County.”

Ingram said SIRCH also receives goods, and money, directly from local farmers, growers, community partners, and grocers to help keep the program afloat. CanoeFM station manager, Roxanne Casey, attended The Bistro earlier this month to deliver a $5,000 cheque to support the campaign. The money was raised from Canoe’s radio bingo, with SIRCH selected, “based on the great work they do tackling food insecurity,” Casey said.

The community kitchen program is supported entirely by donations and doesn’t receive financial support from any level of government. That’s what makes campaigns like this so important, she added.

“We are very fortunate to live in a caring and compassionate community, where we receive a tremendous amount of support. Fundraisers like this are vital because it’s helping your friends and neighbours. All the money raised goes back into supporting programs and ensuring no one in Haliburton County goes to bed hungry this winter, or that seniors and kids are not malnourished because they don’t have enough money for healthy food after they pay all their other bills.

Ingram added, “we hope the support continues… our goal is to be able to sustain the community kitchen program on a yearly basis.”

For more information, visit To donate, call 705-457-1742, or email


Rich Anton filling some big Blues shoes at CanoeFM

CanoeFM is adding Rich Anton to its roster of on-air personalities. He will be taking over the Buckslide Blues show, starting at 7 p.m. Sept. 26.

“I know that I have some big shoes to fill,” said Anton about stepping into the show that Pat Monaghan had broadcast for a number of years. “I didn’t know just how big, but one thing I found with Canoe, which I am so grateful for, is that everyone, from fans of the show to people at Canoe, have all stepped up and said, ‘we’ve got your back, we’ll help you and you got this’,”

Having worked with the TTC for 29 years, and recently retired, Anton bought property in the area and built a home. With the house completed this summer, he discovered CanoeFM and, “just fell in love with the radio station.” He enjoyed the variety of shows, as well as the whole vibe. “When I first tuned in, it felt like a warm blanket, it had a warm, down-home kind of feel to it. And some of the ads I found were so endearing and humorous.”

He regrets he never got to meet Monaghan, however in a short time he has come to realize what a great authority Monaghan was on the Blues. “His contribution to this community was so vast.”

Anton has some roots in the Blues, listening for enjoyment, and playing the harmonica the past 28 years. When he heard of Monaghan’s passing, he did not know if the show would continue, but really wanted to keep it going. Even though he has only been here a few months, he is very excited about the opportunity to get involved and do things.

“The people are so friendly and supportive. It is a testament to the people who live here that there is so much going on. There are a lot of wonderful, awesome, giving, loving, proactive, community-minded people that are making a lot of cool stuff happen up here,” Anton said.

He is looking forward to his debut saying he is excited, and a little nervous.

“In honor of Pat, I want to keep things the same, like the name of the show, the intro music, ‘Green Onions.’ I think it is respectful and appropriate to continue in the same vein. However, I will be adding my own style and flavour, but I think it is respectful at the same time when carrying on some history.”

Anton is not only hosting the Buckslide Blues show, but has become an active member of the Highlands Buckslide Blues Society, which is sponsoring a concert Oct. 26 by the Downchild Blues Band, that he will emcee. He is also playing a gig with Sean Cotton at the Haliburton Highlands Museum Nov. 17.

He said people should jump right in, see how they can contribute, and get involved. “It is rewarding, exciting, fun, and meaningful. And you will meet some wonderful people,” Anton said.

“I can’t fill Patrick’s shoes, but I believe that we as a community can.”

Rich Anton will host the Buckslide Blues show on CanoeFM starting Sept. 26


Success drives expansion at Kohara + Co

Haliburton entrepreneur Brandi Hewson is tapping into the family business through her company Kohara + Co., recently launching new kitchen and bathroom product lines and unveiling a new showroom at her home base along Industrial Park Road.

When launching Kohara in September 2021 Hewson focused on providing custom lighting solutions to contractors and interior designers, but quickly developed a strong following among local DIYers. When the unit beside hers suddenly became available, she jumped at the chance to expand her portfolio.

“This is a very exciting time – we opened our new showroom in August, and we couldn’t be happier with the response. We’ve been up and running for just over a month and already we’re working on multiple projects and have seen lots of people come through the door,” Hewson said.

The pivot to kitchen and bathroom makeovers is extra special for Hewson, given her grandfather, Jack Hewson, spent much of his life in the industry having owned Highlands Plumbing.

He had an installation and service company, but also had a showroom just like this one. My dad said it was surreal stepping in here and seeing this, as it was kind of what he saw [with his dad’s business],” Hewson said.

Pivoting when an opportunity arises is nothing new for Hewson. Prior to launching Kohara, Hewson built her other brand, WAI Products Ltd., which distributes water supply, irrigation, and landscape lighting products across Canada. When the COVID19 pandemic hit, she spent some of her spare time developing a new business that would cover interior lighting, after being pushed by several clients to expand.

Now, Hewson views Kohara as a fullservice operation.

“No matter what you need for your home renovation project, we have it. Whether it’s a new faucet for your kitchen, sink or tub for the bathroom, or cabinetry – we have solutions that meet every need and price point,” Hewson said, noting she and her staff will also be providing design services for clients who need it. “We can help with design concepts, vision boarding, and then we can provide them with all the fixtures they need.”

Hewson said one of the more popular trends right now for home renos are freestanding tubs. She has put a focus on that in the showroom, with one of her tubs taking centre stage.

She noted this expansion will also see Kohara partner with local craftsman Ryan Mitchell to offer custom cabinetry to clients.

“Ryan is incredibly talented,”

Hewson said. To learn more, visit, or visit Hewson at the showroom located at 175 Industrial Park Road. The space is open Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. B


IB+O trail bridge in HE to be restored for sledding season

Sledders should be back on the IB+O trail this winter. Highlands East council voted Sept. 12 to work with user groups to replace a bridge that’s been closed since July 2022.

Council unanimously backed public works operations manager Perry Kelly, who recommended spending $215,000 exclusive of GST on the new bridge, with user groups chipping in nearly $100,000 of the cost.

Kelly said the Central Eastern Area Snowmobile Region had committed to onethird of projected costs ($71,686.79) while The Haliburton ATV Association had pledged to provide $25,000.

He added once the bridge is made and delivered, the work can be done in five days.

“This is an amazing project bringing the user groups together and the community together in order to pull this off,” Kelly said.

He noted the new bridge will be able to support all user groups.

Kelly said for sledders, it’s “an integral asset” for connectivity to the rest of the trail system. He said it will bring increased traffic for retailers, and will reduce municipal liability.

Council passed the resolution unanimously without discussion, with its portion of the money ($118,394.94) coming from reserves. Highlands East met with user groups Aug. 22, culminating in last week’s decision.

Kelly suggested the most economical replacement would be a Lessard bridge, made of steel, 50-feet long, and with a 10-ton capacity to support a trail groomer. He said it’s a good price, the easiest to install in a remote trail area, and local contractors can do the work.

In August, Wilberforce Service Centre co-owner Todd Watling told council the closure had a significant impact on his and other businesses in winter 2022-23. He said co-owner, Lindsay Watling, had estimated they were down more than $140,000 last year. He said it was so bad, they considered closing last winter and embarking on renovations earlier.

Watling said they heard similar stories from other Wilberforce businesses. “We just simply get bypassed. They choose their rides elsewhere, other trails, other towns, so it’s been significant.”

Jon Cumming, president of the Paudash Trailblazers Snowmobile Club, also told council at an Aug. 8 meeting, “I want to impress upon council the importance of resolving the problem prior to this winter.”


Hundreds demonstrate ideological differences

By Lisa Gervais

A 1 Million March 4 Children event in Head Lake Park Sept. 20 quickly led to Minden Pride organizing a counter rally, as hundreds demonstrated their ideological differences in the Highlands.

The 1 Million March 4 Children was a series of protests in cities and towns across Canada.

Local spokeswoman, Valerie Jarvis, said they were uniting diverse backgrounds and faiths who, “share a resolute purpose: advocating for the elimination of the sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.”

She said as a symbol of their commitment, students were encouraged to participate in a nationwide school walkout on the day, although few did locally.

“Together, we stand united to safeguard the well-being and innocence of our children,” Jarvis said. She added their mission is to, “free children from the bondage of indoctrination. Breaking the system designed to sexualize our children.”

While the approximately 50 Million March participants started at the welcome centre in the park, they eventually marched on the path towards Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.

The walkway was lined by LGBTQ+ supporters, who outnumbered them approximately three to one. One of the 1 Million March 4 Children brigade called out “God bless you.” The Pride-organized supporters answered with “educate, don’t discriminate.”

Pride chair Alan Guinan said, “I think the idea of removing queer ideology from the curriculum in high schools is a very dangerous proposition because it’s been proven that people who are within the queer spectrum have to have some sense of belonging. If you remove it from the education system, I don’t know where else they’re supposed to get it from.

“There’s this idea that there’s this sexualization of children, which is not what education is about, so from our perspective, we’re just here to say that there is a different viewpoint around education of children.”

Guinan added the opposition march seemed to be part of a growing anti-LGBTQ+ movement.

“We’re starting to feel as though there’s other people who have maybe a different agenda, an anti- LGBTQ+ agenda. We really want to ensure that our voices are heard.”

The Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s Carolynne Bull said TLDSB believes in safe and caring school communities.

“It is important that all students, including our youngest students, learn to respect each other’s individuality. Students and staff need to see themselves reflected in the language used in classrooms and in the school,” she said.

“At TLDSB, Positive Space is only one component of the equity and inclusive education strategy. Since 2009, TLDSB has been working on a number of inclusive education initiatives, including religious accommodation, Indigenous rights, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status, to promote a safe and caring school climate for all.”

She shared two pages from the TLDSB website relating the board’s “commitment to equity, inclusion, and well-being for all.”

Youth speaks out

Participant ‘Poet’ said she couldn’t agree more with Minden Pride that sexual orientation awareness and programming belongs in schools. She emphasized it isn’t classroom-based curriculum.

Poet said she grew up queer, always struggling with her identity, and was bullied at school.

“I was the weird kid. I was always doing different things with my self expression and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

“If I would have had the education, some staff at my school saying, ‘it’s actually fine for you to be who you are. You can be whatever you are, maybe I wouldn’t have been one of those at-risk youth.”

She’s gone on to do youth advocacy work with a few different organizations, such as Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario, provincially, nationally, and globally.

She said trans youth today do face risk. “When we remove resources from those young people, they’re more likely to slip through the cracks,” the 22-year-old said. She referenced a Canadian Medical Association Journal 2019 survey that found trans youth showed five times the risk of suicidal ideation and 7.6 times the risk of suicide attempts. (Lisa Gervais)


Lions to support new diagnostic tools

For Haliburton resident Andy Chvedukas, there are few things more important than raising money for causes that will better the community.

A relative newcomer to the Highlands, Chvedukas said it didn’t take long to learn how generous people in Haliburton County can be. Now, he’s trying to tap into that through a new fundraiser the Haliburton and District Lions Club is hosting to support the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation in its commitment to purchase diagnostic imaging equipment for the hospital.

An ‘Autumn Harvest’ dance will take place at the Haliburton Legion Oct. 6, featuring music from Highlands soul band Adverse Conditions, beef on a bun dinner, and live auction. Tickets are $35 each, or $60 for two.

“This is a close-knit community where everyone looks after each other. To have this diagnostic imaging in Haliburton County is going to be a big plus for this community,” Chvedukas said. “The Lions club wants to do its part to support this fundraising effort, because it’s going to take a lot of money to get it over the line.”

There will be several items available during the auction, including a private concert by Canadian singer and keyboard player Carl Dixon, and $250 of meat supplied by Jim Phoenix of Black Angus Beef.

Chvedukas said he’s hoping to raise $10,000, with some of the money earmarked for other long-time Lions club causes, such as supporting a national campaign to breed and train service dogs for people with disabilities, maintenance and upgrades to the ‘Enchanted Forest’ at Abbey Gardens, and various youth, art, and recreation camps.

Melanie Klodt Wong said fundraisers are vital for the HHHS Foundation. Earlier this year, the organization committed to raising money for a CT scanner and mammography unit – approved by the province in July. HHHS acting CEO Veronica Nelson pegged the cost of the machines at between $3 million and $3.5 million.

Klodt Wong wouldn’t commit to a fundraising goal, noting the foundation also wants to upgrade existing ultrasound and X-ray machines alongside purchasing the new equipment. She acknowledged it would be a multi-million-dollar commitment.

While there is some concern the fallout of the recent closure of the Minden emergency department may cause people to think twice about giving to HHHS, Klodt Wong noted the foundation operates as its own entity and will make the final decision about where the money is going. She noted the project would benefit everyone living in Haliburton County.

Diagnostic imaging supports the needs of the County in so many different ways – like keeping EMS local and making your services more efficient. Right now, if a doctor needs to get a CT scan for someone, it takes a long time figuring out where to send them, can we get transport arranged, is there a nurse available to go on that trip? It’s so complicated and takes unnecessary hours out of a person’s day, and is time consuming for doctors, nurses and paramedics,” Klodt Wong said.

Since neither the Ontario government nor HHHS sets aside money for equipment upgrades, Klodt Wong said that burden falls on the community.

Once the fundraising effort is complete, and the equipment purchased and installed, Klodt Wong hopes it will help attract more health care professionals.

“A CT scanner is a stethoscope for doctors. It’s a basic tool. If you don’t have one, doctors don’t feel like they can do their job. This is about finding a way to give our doctors the tools they need. If it helps bring more primary care physicians and nurses, that’s an added bonus.”

For more information, or to purchase a ticket, visit, or call 705-457-1354.


Highlander editor takes third in nationals

The Canadian Community Newspaper Awards were announced Sept. 18 with Highlander editor, Lisa Gervais, being recognized.

In the best news story category for papers with a circulation of up to 9,999, Gervais placed third for her story ‘Devastating call inspired better policing.’

The story was about Haliburton Highlands OPP police officer Paul McDonald receiving a Police Association of Ontario award. In it, McDonald opened up about how his sister’s near strangulation by an intimate partner, and the aftermath, led to him wanting to become a cop.

News Media Canada said the “prestigious” annual awards program features 27 categories honouring outstanding editorial, photography, multimedia and overall excellence in community newspaper publishing.

The 2023 winners were selected from 798 entries for work published in 2022.

You can read Gervais’ story at