Get tickets now for BAA event

By Cecilia Nasmith

The Town of Cobourg and Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce urge everyone to plan ahead and get their tickets early for the 18th annual Business Achievement Awards celebration of the winners and nominees on March 29.

Voting closed Feb. 11 on the annual awards, and the results of the balloting will be announced

Established in 2000 by the town and the chamber to acknowledge and honour excellence in business, the awards ceremony has become Cobourg's most prestigious business event of the year.

Cobourg's community-events co-ordinator Jackie Chapman-Davis said the town takes pride in its long-standing partnership with the chamber in hosting these awards.

“Eighteen years strong, this gala event is one of the most talked-about events in Cobourg,” Chapman-Davis said in the town's press release.

“Acknowledging our hard-working business owners is what this night is all about.”

Businesses in Cobourg and also in the Townships of Hamilton and Alnwick-Haldimand are eligible to be nominated in any of the nine categories – Communications and Technology, Health and Wellness, Hospitality and Tourism, Business and Consumer Services, Manufacturing and Agribusiness, Retail Trade, Skilled Trades, New Start-up and Nonprofit Sector.

The event will be held March 29 at the Best Western Plus Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre, an opportunity to connect with some of Cobourg's finest to celebrate our business community.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, contact the chamber of commerce at 905-372-5831 or

Three Cobourg health professionals are Guatemala-bound

By Cecilia Nasmith

Three Cobourg health professionals will be part of the Horizons of Friendship team travelling to Guatemala on a maternal-newborn-child-health knowledge exchange as part of its continuing Reducing Gaps for Indigenous Peoples in Totonicapán, Guatemala project.

The 10-day exchange that begins Feb. 23 is being led by Horizons, a third team they have escorted over the course of the four-year $13.2-million project being funded by the Government of Canada.

It will include health-care providers, experts and advocates from across the country to exchange knowledge and experiences on the challenging maternal-newborn-child-health issues Indigenous Maya K’iche peoples face in that Central American country.

The 11 participants include family physicians, midwives, nurses, health administrators, a pediatrician and a dietitian, coming from as far away as British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Among them are three participants from Northumberland Hills Hospital and the Northumberland Family Health Team.

The goal of this project is the reduction of maternal and child deaths in Totonicapán, a predominantly Indigenous Maya K’iche province with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Central America.

Implemented by Horizons’ local partner - the Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education (PIES)in close collaboration with the Totonicapán Health Directorate - this initiative provides culturally relevant training and equipment to more than 950 traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ midwives. It is also stocking dozens of health centres and the provincial hospital with life-saving equipment, and implementing a province-wide maternal and child health promotion and education campaign.

In the almost three years since its launch, organizers estimate the project has already benefited more than 140,000 Indigenous Maya women, children and men.

Horizons executive director Patricia Rebolledo said they are honoured to be part of this forum that enables meaningful and respectful opportunities for mutual learning.

“Mutual respect and understanding lie at the heart of these exchanges, through which we aim to nurture co-operation between Canada and Guatemala while placing social justice issues front and centre,” Rebolledo said in the agency's press release.

Train show in Cobourg will have strong historic element

By Cecilia Nasmith

Local railroad historian and modeller George Parker's work has been widely seen and admired in a number of venues, such as the outdoor operating model railroad he set up at Cobourg's Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre and the displays he regularly set up as part of the annual Cobourg Model Railroaders show.

That show was always scheduled on the first Saturday in March. As of 2019, the annual event was discontinued after 22 years. With the permission of the organizers, Parker has set it aside this year for his own show.

Parker's show has a specific theme: Cobourg's 19th-century railroad history. He is organizing operating layouts, models, artifacts, drawings and even activities for March 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cobourg Public Library. Then, from 3 to 4 p.m., there will be a presentation on the lumber trade in the 19th century.

And admission is free.

Parker didn't require the space at the Cobourg Lions' Centre, where the Cobourg Model Railroaders show was held, but determined that the Rotary Room at the Cobourg Public Library was more suitable for the kind of show he has in mind.

The quality of his displays should be a draw to the local-history buff as well as of interest to the model-railway enthusiast who likes vintage machinery.

Unlike the typical model-railroad show, this one has no vendors.

Also unlike the typical show, children need not grow restless when they are constantly reminded not to touch anything – Parker has arranged for some interactive displays people can do rather than watch. These include a wind-up clockwork locomotive and a track where model railroad wheels (made of Tim Hortons coffee cups) roll down steep inclines and around sharp curves without leaving the tracks.

He's particularly proud of his model steam engines you can operate safely, because no actual heat is involved. He has made these little marvels of wood, and they are powered by the air pressure from a balloon in much the same way an actual steam engine was powered by the air pressure from steam – educational and fun.

While Friends of the Cobourg and Peterborough Railway play a large role in the event, Parker sees the theme as the larger story of Cobourg and its railroads – plural.

While many Cobourg residents know that that particular railroad was only operational for a limited number of years, and went out of business in the 1860s largely due to the failure of the bridge across Rice Lake, that was only chapter one. Chapter two was when it was taken over by the Cobourg-Peterborough-Marmora Railway and Mining Company, an American-controlled operation that stayed in business through 1874 and focused on the iron-ore market.

This will be part of the display as well and, along with the model railway, visitors can see associated exhibits, like his model of the Blairton Mine with its heavy machinery that was on display one season at the Sifton-Cook Centre.

Special guests also include the group who restored an actual Crossen ore car from the Cobourg-Peterborough-Marmora railroad and set it up on display at the harbour (Crossen – there's another local-history name). They will be present with a display on that particular project as well.

At the door, people will get a hand-out with a directory of the exhibition that will help them know more about the different displays and activities they visit.

Parker's 3 p.m. presentation is called Where Have All The Giants Gone – giants being the gargantuan trees that were felled as part of the big sawn-lumber industry made possible by the Cobourg-Peterborough Railway, transporting the goods from Peterborough to Cobourg and from there to Albany, NY.

Those trees truly were giants, he said, compared to anything we have now.
“People have no conception of what the forestry was like,” he declared.

What with the sawn-lumber industry, farmers clearing away land to settle on and squared timber shipped to Quebec City, it is now a shadow of its former self, but Parker will be celebrating the role it played in this area.

The presentation will include a couple of songs everyone will enjoy (with a couple of singers present to lead a sing-along). The Log Drivers' Waltz will be familiar to many, he said, celebrating the dexterity these men enjoyed on the dance floor after days spent balancing on floating logs. Then there's the Shanty Boys' Alphabet, the story of the men who cut timber through the winter, lodging in crude dwellings called shanties.

The library is located at 200 Ontario St., and everyone is welcome to drop in to enjoy the show (and learn a thing or two about yesterday's industrial scene in Cobourg).

Progress on Ontario's deficit comes at a cost

By Cecilia Nasmith

While Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini points with pride to the progress Premier Doug Ford is making to tackle Ontario's deficit, a number of local parents find the provincial government's methods of doing so unacceptable.

A Friday-morning protest outside Piccini's Port Hope constituency office was mounted by the Autism Advocacy Committee and other taxpayers in response to the announcement earlier this month of changes to the funding model for parents with autistic children – providing for an average of $8,750 per year per eligible child, while the average cost of intensive therapies can exceed $70,000 a year.

“Families deserve not to be shuffled from one bad Liberal plan to an even worse Conservative plan,” their press release said.

Piccini's office issued its own press release on the occasion of the third fiscal quarter since the government's election in June. The province's deficit has declined from $15-billion to $13.5-billion, it said – a $1-billion improvement since November.

“In six short months, we have managed to find $3.2-billion in savings across government, delivered $2.7-billion in tax relief to Ontario families, individuals and businesses, and cancelled millions in planned tax hikes,” the news release said.

As for measures to stimulate business, it continued, it pointed to taxes that were cut, hydro rates that were lowered, and regulations and red tape that were slashed.

Efforts to help Ontario families include tax credits for low-income workers and savings at the gas pump from eliminating the cap-and-trade programming, not to mention freezing hunting- and fishing-license fees and allowing free fishing on Family Day weekend.

Locally, Piccini pointed to a $1.74-million investment in Campbellford Memorial Hospital, a temporary addition to acute-care beds at Northumberland Hills Hospital, Trillium Foundation funding for Transition House, and long-term-care funding for the Golden Plough Lodge and Pleasant Manor.

Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod announced the change to autism funding Feb. 6 as a positive development that would clear lengthy waiting lists for therapy. The group protesting in Port Hope, however, say the new funding model will result in less funding per child, and that this funding will depend on age and family income rather than clinical need.

“This announcement once again abandons the needs of society's most vulnerable by ripping away the services of high-needs children receiving therapy, and all other autistic children on the waiting lists will have their services cut,” they argued.

“We are calling on the government to fund families according to the needs of their children, and stop any plan that forces families to cope with any cut to therapy already being given.”

Cobourg Transit runs on Family Day

By Cecilia Nasmith

The Town of Cobourg reminds Cobourg Transit users that both the conventional and Wheels Transit buses will be operating on Family Day – Monday, Feb. 18.

Hours for conventional transit services will be 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and both Routes 1 and 2 will end at Northumberland Mall for the day.

Wheels Transit hours will be 6:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. BTS Network will operate the service from 6:15 to 7:45 a.m., and appointments can be made at 1-877-284-7433. Century Transportation will operate the service from 8 a.m. To 3:30 p.m. - cal 905-372-0582 for an appointment.

For more information, call the engineering department at 905-372-4455.

CCC welcomes Blushing Brides March 30

By Cecilia Nasmith

The Cobourg Community Centre will be one stop on the 40th-anniversary tour of The Blushing Brides, and Rolling Stones fans won't want to miss it.

The town's Community Services Division announced the concert by what the press release called “the world's original tribute to The Rolling Stones since 1979, bringing fans a unique perspective on the music of the Stones.”

In fact, the press release said, the Brides' performance is apt to be far more daring than today's far more subdued shows by the original Stones.

And while music writers once referred to the Stones as Their Satanic Majesties (after one of their releases), the Brides still boast the title World's Most Dangerous Tribute to the Music of the Rolling Stones.

The line-up includes singer Maurice Raymond, guitarist Desmond Leahy, bassist Glen Olive and keyboardist Dylan Heming. Their combined stage presence, personae and musical licks make each performance a memorable concert spectacle.

Director of community service Dean Hustwick agrees.

“I saw The Blushing Brides perform a few years ago, and I can guarantee a high-energy live performance that will have fans on their feet in no time,” he said in the press release.

“As an added bonus to concertgoers, we are hosting a pre-concert party in the Grand Hall, with both canteens serving special menu items.”

This includes a variety of pub-type food, including hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings and popcorn. To ensure smooth service, a second satellite canteen and bar will be open in the Rotary Hall.

The schedule calls for the party to run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., after which doors will open. The opening act The Spirits perform at 8 p.m. and The Blushing Brides charge onstage at 9 p.m.

General-admission tickets are $25 plus HST plus service fee, available through the Victoria Hall Concert Hall box office (905-372-2210 or

Notes from NHH

By Cecilia Nasmith

Apply now for NHH scholarship

Northumberland Hills Hospital reminds local high-school students of the Feb. 15 deadline to apply for this year's Health Professions Scholarship.

The hospital introduced the scholarship in 2003 in support of West Northumberland students who are pursuing a career in the health-are sector, with the hope that these young people might one day choose to return to their home community to practice.

Evaluations are made on the basis of academic achievements, extracurricular activities, a testimonial explaining applicants' interest in their chosen profession, and written references. All applicants must be enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) in a full-time study program in a health field at a post-secondary institution.

The 2019 scholarship is $1,000 for each student selected, and the presentation will be made at a spring meeting o the hospital's board of directors.

Full details (including a downloadable application form) are available on the Careers tab at

Be careful out there, NHH warns

Stuck in the heart of winter, as all of us are, Northumberland Hills Hospital warns patients and visitors to take extra care when walking outside.

The potential for slippery conditions exists in and around the hospital, president and chief executive officer Linda Davis said in her report to the February board meeting. And the extreme cold can cause sudden shifts in pavement and walkways, resulting in uneven surfaces.

Davis echoed a message Occupational Health Services RN Ellen Douglas shared earlier this winter in extending the reminder to take extra care when walking outdoors.

“We can minimize the chance of dangerous slips and falls by wearing appropriate footwear, ideally winter boots with nonpslip rubber soles with a tread,” Davis's report said.

“NHH's grounds contractor does a great job keeping parking lots and sidewalks salted and safe. But when temperatures dip very low, even salt can have a difficult time melting the ice. Caution is always recommended, and it is always better to avoid tricky situations by being prepared.”

Piccini welcomed back at NHH

Northumberland Hills Hospital president and chief executive officer Linda Davis received assurances from Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini that he would continue to meet with them on local health and health-care priorities,

In her report to the February board meeting, Davis reported that he had come through.

The pledge was made in December, as Piccini announced a temporary boost in bed capacity in response to flu season. Since then, she said, he has met with staff, management, physicians and patients on three separate occasions.

The first of these was on Christmas Day, when Davis escorted him on a walkabout through the hospital, where he met with both patients and their families.

On Jan. 30, Piccini attended a working lunch with physician leaders and the senior management team that Davis recalled as “a welcome opportunity for two-way dialogue around health-care priorities ranging from funding stability to alternative-level-of-care partnerships.”

Later that day, in conjunction with Bell Let's Talk Day, the MPP also paid a visit to the hospital's Community Mental Health Services office at 1011 Elgin St. W., where he talked with staff and managers (from both NHH and Four Cast) to learn more about regional mental-health services, opportunities and gaps.

Davis said they look forward to more such meetings, the next one of which is expected to be a demonstration of the successful M-HEART service. This stands for Mental Health Engagement and Response Team, and it is a street-level collaboration between NHH Community Mental Health and area police services launched a year ago.

Cobourg invites expressions of interest on pianos with a cultural theme

By Cecilia Nasmith

As winter inches toward spring each year, the Town of Cobourg invites expressions of interest on decorating donated pianos that, once summer arrives, will grace the downtown and harbourfront as street pianos.

While the 2018 theme for the pianos was the town's Armistice 18 activities to mark the century since the end of World War I, the town's new Cultural Master Plan exercise gave organizer's this year's theme – What Does Culture Mean To You.

As well, the town this year is inviting cultural organizations within Northumberland County to submit their ideas on painting and designing one of the three pianos that will be in place for this year's Keys To Our Town celebrations.

This annual exercise is based on the Play Me, I'm Yours project originated by artist Luke Jerram in England. Cobourg's version invites local artists to paint donated pianos each year, which are stationed in downtown and waterfront locations in the hopes that passersby may sit down at the keyboard and share the gift of music with all. Over the past three years, thousands of locals and tourists have accepted the invitation.

These pianos are a public-art project, as well as a free avenue for individuals to express their musical talents in a public settings.

“This year's theme revolves around culture, and correlates nicely with the launch of the Town of Cobourg's first Cultural Master Plan,” the press release stated.

“Community organizations that encapsulate culture – such as art galleries, theatres, concert halls, libraries and so on – are invited to submit their interest by Monday, March 25, 2019.”

Cultural organizations selected to decorate a piano will be paid a $500 honourarium and will be reimbursed for art supplies to a negotiated maximum. Travel, insurance, studio space and similar considerations are the responsibility of the artist. However, the Town of Cobourg will transport the original piano and the finished piano to its summer location. The piano remains the property of the town at all times.

To submit an expression of interest, an organization is asked to provide a cover letter of one to two pages outlining its interest in the project, provide a written concept and sketch, highlight credentials and relevant experience with a resume or bio, and provide contact information that includes telephone number, e-mail address, website and mailing address.

These rule are set out at on the Bids and Tenders page.

Submissions should be forwarded to the town office at Building 7 in Northam Industrial Park, 740 Division St., Cobourg K9A 0H6 and addressed to the attention of community-events co-ordinator Jackie Chapman-Davis (who can be reached by e-mail at