EarlyON and child-care services should be available in Grafton by fall

By Cecilia Nasmith

Northumberland County is pleased to announce its partnership with YMCA Northumberland for the delivery of child care and EarlyON programming at the Grafton Community Centre, once renovations are completed there this fall.

The county is directing $500,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Education for the construction of new child-care and early-learning spaces at the former two-room schoolhouse in Grafton that now houses the community's library. This will mean 15 additional child-care spaces for the community, as well as the first EarlyON Child and Family Centre in Alnwick-Haldimand Township.

Northumberland director of community and social services Lisa Horne stated in the county's press release that they have a history of partnership with the Y in delivering Early Years services to the community that are designed to engage both children and families in stimulating, nurturing environments that foster healthy child development.

“These new spaces will increase access to licensed child care and early-learning opportunities for our community,” Horne said.

“We are very pleased to once again be working with the Y to make these important services available to lo­cal children and families.”

Y chief executive officer Eunice Kirkpatrick said they are excited to be expanding these services into the Grafton area through this new partnership.

“Since 2000, Grafton families have come to rely on the quality before-and-after-school child care provided by the Y,” Kirkpatrick said.

“With this new arrangement, we are pleased to now also be offering the first family age-grouping child-care service in Northumberland, along with innovative early-learning services through the new EarlyON Child and Family Centre currently under construction.

“This is another way for us to fulfill our vision of stimulating health and growth for life, in all local residents.”

Parents and caregivers can contact the Y at 905-372-4318 ext. 404 to have children added to the wait list for child care at the new Grafton location, as well as to learn more about plans for EarlyON Programming.

For more information about EarlyON programming at locations throughout the county, visit

Name change better reflects services

By Cecilia Nasmith

Northumberland County Archives will now be known as the Northumberland County Archives and Museum in order to capture the full scope of services it offers the community.

The name change also positions the operation for the enhanced programming and exhibitions that will be on offer to the community, once the collection moves to the new combined Golden Plough Lodge-Northum­berland County Archives and Museum facility, due to be completed in the fall of 2022.

“The  collecting activities of the county archives, from the very beginning, have involved the care and preservation of both documentary materials and artifacts,” Northumberland director of corporate services Lisa Ainsworth said in the county's press release..

“This name change signifies a heightened awareness of the opportunities created by embracing this dual identity, and the further recognition of the important role that cultural institutions play in engagement, education, and identity-building within our community.”

The press release listed services already available at the NCAM, including research support, access to artifacts and documents representing lives – historical and contemporary - from all over the county (including mu­nicipal records, family and genealogical records, property records, photos and maps), programming for young people (such as the Life in the 1800s in Northumberland County comprehensive lesson package for Grade 3), and engaging tours for small groups (which can be customized according to their particular interests).

That's for now. In the new space, so much more is possible.

The press release listed enhanced community programming for all age levels (including specialized programming for Golden Plough residents), a permanent display about the history of the county, changing exhibits about content important to local residents (developed in collaboration with community groups), an expanded reading room for public research, and a forum for community groups to showcase the stories they wish to tell.

The NCAM collection was built through the generous donation of materials by individuals and organizations. Staff strive to build a collection that represents the diverse experiences and histories of this area, and are available to answer questions about the primary sources NCAM is interested in collecting, and how to donate.

Warden John Logel stated in the press release that the archives exist to make historical investigation possible and promote accountability, transparency and diversity,.
”Likewise, museums, created in the public interest engage visitors in developing a deeper understanding of authentic cultural and natural heritage,” Logel continued.

“This name change is a natural realignment of the identity of this operation with the important functions it performs today for the community.”

Until the end of 2022, the NCAM will continue to operate within the C. Gordon King Centre at 200 Ontario St., Cobourg. At that time, the collection and staff will move into the new facility co-located with the new Golden Plough Lodge redevelopment.
For more information, visit

Share your budget input by Aug. 14

By Cecilia Nasmith

Northumberland County council and staff are seeking feedback from residents about areas of focus for the county’s current and long-term financial priorities through the 2020 Financial Framework Survey.

This is their opportunity to engage in the financial-planning process, as staff prepare a draft budget and updated long-term financial plan for council’s review and consideration in December.

This engagement is an annual exercise, the county press release stated, through which priorities that are identified direct the focus and the resources brought forward through each year's budget process.

County residents are invited to complete the survey – which is available through Aug. 14 – either on-line ( or in hard copy (at the county building, 555 Courthouse Rd., Cobourg).

Therapy dogs minister in a new field

By Cecilia Nasmith

Everyone knows the blessings of a therapy-dog visit to a seniors' home, hospital, school and even crisis settings such as a natural disaster.

Less well known is the fact that two teams from the Northumberland St. John Ambulance therapy-dog program have been bringing these special benefits to participants in a mental-health program at the Warkworth Institution.

The Northumberland St. John Ambulance branch was contacted in February 2018 by an occupational therapist at the medium-security Correctional Services Canada facility. Nicholas Lefebvre was creating a program that would use this therapeutic tool based on research he had seen about what dog therapy can do for the individual. Two local therapy-dog teams jumped on board right away when the call went out from branch administrator Karen Walker.

“I put up my hand right then for prison visits,” recalled Jane Watanabe of Port Hope, who was visiting a retirement home at the time with her golden doodle Pogo.

Fred and Joan Montpetit of Brighton, who were visiting Applefest Lodge with their chihuahua Mollie, also volunteered immediately.

Though it sounds like an unusual assignment, Walker's successor Amy Turcotte said, it is still – like all other St. John Ambulance therapy dog assignments – a matter of bringing comfort to vulnerable people.

Jane said that she and Pogo were warmly welcomed at each visit to the retirement residence, but sometimes found that the residents seemed almost equally interested in visiting with her as they were in enjoying Pogo.

At Warkworth, there's no question that Mollie and Pogo are the centre of attention during visits. There's even a tribute to both teams on a concrete-block wall – a mural painted by a resident who loved art.

When Fred thanked him, he heard that the young man was getting out in August.

“I said, 'To tell you the truth, I am glad you are still here – you wouldn't have got the picture done.”

Both teams alternate visits as part of the voluntary program, bringing in Mollie and Pogo for a 10-minute visit with each participant (if one or two don't show up, that just means a longer visit for the others).

The mechanics of each visit are accomplished in such a way as to accommodate the important prescribed routines of prison life, but they've always found the staffers welcoming and helpful.

And the delight the residents take in their four-legged visitors, they agree, is an absolute joy.

Many of them have had dogs previously, and relive wonderful memories during these visits.

Jane had a conversation with a man who had not had the opportunity to pet a dog for almost three decades. “Do you know what it feels like to touch a dog after 27 years?” he asked her.

Both teams enjoy watching the reaction of another portly inmate whose visits consist of lying supine on a yoga mat and letting the dogs lick his face – something he has found to be sublimely calming as he struggles with anxiety.

Joan said many residents who have a release coming up declare their intention to get a dog of their own.

The art of conversation with the residents is typically a matter of letting them take the lead.

“If they want to talk about sports, we talk about sports. If they want to talk about something else,” Fred said.

“Sometimes the guy just wants his 10 minutes with the dog – he doesn't want to talk. Sometimes they give us hugs. There's always a lot of communication and friendship.

“We treat them with respect, like we want to be treated with respect.”

He and Joan shared some of the jokes they had been told, all of which were surprisingly clean.

Fred said they are well aware each man is there for a reason, but he has no doubt of the genuine warmth and friendship so many have displayed.

“We don't ask them what they are in for,” Jane said.

“Occasionally, they might say when they are getting out or, if it comes up, I might say, 'Have you been here long?'”

One man volunteered his life story of being raised by crack-addicted parents, becoming addicted himself, then committing murder by the age of 18.

“He was the most incredibly wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent person,” she stated.

“He would be dead if he'd been on the streets.”

When appropriate, the Montpetits have given some of the participants photos of Mollie. Joan was told by one man that, when he gets out of bed feeling depressed, looking at Mollie's picture seems to make things better.

Amy recounted the story of a man whose release came through, but he delayed his departure to enjoy one last visit with Mollie.

“I can't tell you how much I have seen a difference in some individuals,” Lefebvre said.

“Some individuals I have gotten feedback from parole officers on acknowledge, since these individuals started this program, their personality, attitude, behaviour completely turned around.

“I think it means something to everyone who participates in it, but there are certain individuals it means so much more to. They haven't had that kind of nonjudgmental physical contact and interaction with that kind of affection in years. For those individuals, it tends to mean a lot.”

Warkworth Institution does have cats living in the facility, and Lefebvre has found certain of his clients who were previously closed off have changed because of the dog therapy. Now they have begun opening up their affection to these animals as well. By interacting with the cats, they are getting some of these benefits even when the dogs are not present.

The mural is the work of two men, he said. They painted it as a result of being asked what mental health means to them. Both were part of the dog therapy program, Lefebvre said, and this is one of the most important things they have taken away from it.

Once in a while, a letter of thanks makes its way to the therapy dog teams – which is no small thing. A letter written by a resident is routinely intercepted and read at several stops along the way as a security measure before it reaches the recipient. So each one means all the more.

Joan recalls a beautiful note with a picture of an eagle on it.

“He said that's because, when we leave, he feels like he is flying high.”

“You build up a trust – and an attachment, actually – to some of these people,” Jane said.

“It has been a privilege to do this,” she stated.

“A blessing,” Fred agreed.

Justice Minister announces support for justice initiative

By Cecilia Nasmith

The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, was in Cobourg today to announced funding for the Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland that will help support access to justice and address workplace sexual harassment.

This support is part of $3.747-million that will be invested in 20 legal clinics in Eastern, Northern and Southwestern Ontario to devise a coordinated approach to the development and delivery of legal information and advice to individuals, as well as public legal education on sexual harassment in the workplace. It is anticipated that this work will improve access to justice for those who experience sexual harassment in their workplace by educating vulnerable individuals on their legal rights in this regard.

Help and Legal Centre executive director Lois Cromarty said the 20 community legal clinics involved in this initiative are pleased to be chosen to deliver this important program, which works toward safe workplaces for all.

“Community legal clinics are uniquely situated to be able to carry out this vital work,” Cromarty said in the press release from Northumberland-Peterborough South MP Kim Rudd.

“First, they have expertise in developing and delivering public legal education and information, and in giving legal advice.

“And second, community legal clinics are locally based and, as such, they can tailor their materials and delivery toward workers, workplaces and the types of employment that are found in their own community.”

Rudd's press release noted that sexual harassment affects the health and well-being of those involved, in addition to their ability to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. It's a priority for the Government of Canada, she said, to ensure workplaces where everyone can be safe, respected and able to focus on his or her own work or career.

Today's funding is part of the 2018 budget's $50-million (over five years) to address sexual harassment – half to enable organizations to increase their ability to provide legal advice and information in support of complainants of sexual harassment in the workplace and half to enable organizations to provide public legal education and information to workers.

“Today's funding helps make clear that sexual harassment in the workplace will never be tolerated, ensures that this is a top priority – as it should be – that victims know they have recourse, now and in the future,” Rudd stated in the press release.

“I want to commend both the Legal Centre and the Help Centre for the important work they do every day on behalf of their clients.”

Rotary Club of Cobourg shows their support for community radio

Northumberland 89.7 FM is pleased to announce today that the Rotary Club of Cobourg has made a donation to Northumberland 89.7 to assist with the purchase of a new broadcasting console. A cheque for $5,000 was presented to Barry Walker, Chair of Northumberland 89.7 FM and Kevin Stuart, Station Manager, by Rotary’s President Don Owen and Lynda Kay.

The broadcasting console is a vital part of the studio. Everything you hear on the air coming from our station goes through this console. The existing equipment is almost six years old and has served us well. The new equipment will provide a greater capacity and flexibility that is needed, given the changing demands of today’s radio business.

Mr. Walker said “We are extremely grateful to the Rotary Club of Cobourg for this donation. Not only has this donation helped us attain our fundraising goal for the project, it also makes us proud that Northumberland 89.7 has the confidence of the Rotary Club of Cobourg to continue our work as a major source of news, information and entertainment in Northumberland County.”

Northumberland Players Believes In Truly Local Radio!

Northumberland 89.7 FM is pleased to announce today that the Northumberland Players has made a donation to Northumberland 89.7 to assist with the purchase of a new broadcasting console. A cheque for $5,000 was presented to Barry Walker, Chair of Northumberland 89.7 FM and Kevin Stuart, Station Manager, by the Northumberland Players’ President Jack Boyagian, Vice-President Valerie Russell and board member Victor Svenningson.

The broadcasting console is a vital part of the studio’s operation. Everything you hear on the air coming from our station goes through this console. The existing equipment is almost six years old and has served us well. The new equipment will provide a greater capacity and flexibility that is needed, given the changing demands of today’s radio business.

Mr. Walker said “We are extremely grateful to Northumberland Players for this donation. Not only does this help us attain our fundraising goal for the project, it also makes us proud that Northumberland 89.7 has the confidence of the Northumberland Players to continue our work as a major source of news, information and entertainment in Northumberland County.”