I remember Midhurst’s tremendous wealth of spirit.

May 23, 2017

It seems over time, the more reliance on material things the poorer of a community we became.

Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another. — Thomas Merton

How is the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association’s fundraising going?

February 16, 2016

I wrote about it a month ago.

20160216 MRA fundraising

As of February 16, 39% of the goal has been raised.

Will the Greenbelt panel headed by former Toronto Mayor David Crombie “mean business” by stopping sprawl?

November 11, 2015

An article by Dr. John Bacher called Ontario May Finally Be Getting Serious About Stopping Urban Sprawl:

During the Second World War, one of the great intellectuals of our time, George Orwell, penned an essay about what the course of action for a Labour Party government he hoped for would be following a victorious peace. He contemplated what such a government would do if it were serious and “meant business.”

As it turned out, Orwell was quite prophetic in anticipating what a Labour Party government would do. It did truly “mean business.”

Major greenbelts were established around growing cities such as London. They have become so effective that the rate of loss of rural land after Labour’s landslide victory in 1945 became minuscule compared to the impacts of urban sprawl after the First World War.

20151111 John bacherOntario may be ready to spare more green places like the one on the left from what became of it on the right.

Here in Ontario, with the exception of protecting Niagara’s unique fruit lands, the designation in 2005 of a Greenbelt in Niagara and other parts of the Golden Horseshoe, was not a sign that the province “meant business” about stopping urban sprawl. This was because virtually everywhere else in the province, there was a gap in between the actual urban zoning boundary and the borders of the Greenbelt.

The agricultural and environmental protection zoned lands left out of the Greenbelt were given to expressive names. One was the “White Belt”, reflecting the colour on maps in between the Greenbelt and the grey urban boundary. An environmental protection group the Neptis Foundation came up with a more mocking phrase, inverting a planning designation of the Greenbelt Plan. This was to call the “White Belt”, “the Unprotected Countryside.”

In a 2005 study, released shortly before the passage of the Greenbelt legislation, Neptis calculated that the “Unprotected Countryside”, would create a land use planning disaster.

The “Unprotected Countryside” put 146,700 hectares of rural land at risk for sprawl. It found that even if the Greenbelt borders were extended right up to the actual urban zoning limits, densities would still be too low to efficiently encourage a high level of service for transit.

Neptis’ fears have come true in a most disturbing way. Through isolated hearings of the Ontario Municipal Board, (OMB), chunks of the Unprotected Countryside have passed from agricultural to urban zoning. Some 17,500 hectares of formerly agriculturally zoned land are now in urban land use designations, shrinking the White Belt to 129,500 hectares. One of the worst consequences of this sprawl will be its eventual consequences, once the land is actually built upon, on the ability of watersheds to support life.

White Belt sprawl hits lands that are very ecologically sensitive, impacting some of the province’s most vulnerable watersheds, lakes and streams.

In Hamilton, OMB hearings have led to the urbanization of hundreds of hectares of White Belt lands. This has impacted the headwaters of Twenty Mile Creek, which is already dry for most of the year, except for isolated ponds where fish such as the Northern Pike struggle to survive in the summer.

In 2005, there was a Lake Simcoe White Belt in Newmarket and Aurora. All these formerly agriculturally zoned lands are now in urban designations. To accommodate the anticipate flush of storm water, a new sewage treatment plant will have to be built at Holland Landing. This threatens the precarious Lake Trout and Whitefish populations of Lake Simcoe with a toxic tide of phosphorous loadings.

John Bacher SpringwaterThreatened landscape in Midhurst near Springwater Provincial Park north of Toronto. Land on left is in park and immediately to right is threatened by urban sprawl.

A provincially endowed but independent think tank, the Greenbelt Foundation, recently issued a study that hopefully is a sign that the province is getting ready to mean business in tackling sprawl. It is appropriately titled, “Growing the Greenbelt to Protect Vulnerable Water Resources in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region.”

Hopefully the release of “Growing the Greenbelt” is a sign that the province is preparing to cut back the bloated White Belt to protect our precious watersheds. It proposes to do this in three areas that encompass all headwaters of significant streams.

Two areas are part of the Oak Ridges Moraine in the Humber and Rouge watersheds. The third is a fragile stream with a more vulnerable headwaters area, Carruthers Creek in Pickering.

The “Growing the Greenbelt” report notes that 1,500 hectares of the Carruthers Creek headwaters area is threatened by urbanization supported by Durham Region. It notes that, “An Environmental Assessment produced by Ajax found that upstream development of the headwaters would increase downstream flooding in Ajax, directly impacting more than 1,000 residents, and causing an increase in flood speed at levels of up to 132 per cent.”

Pollution from development in the headwaters put two native cold water fish species at risk, the Mottled Scuplin and the endangered Redside Dace. It also jeopardizes a fishery of Rainbow Trout. A watershed study by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) found the threatened headwaters are important for threatened Bobolink, Meadowlark and Monarch butterflies. They are also a resting refuge for migrating birds.

“Growing the Greenbelt” documents carefully the ecological threats posed by the urbanization of the Rouge headwaters in Markham, some 2,000 hectares. It concludes that, “Enveloped on three sides by the Greenbelt, protection and enhancement of these lands can provide important natural connections to the highly fragmented watershed and help reverse a serious decline in water quality downstream.”

In addition to the cold water Mottled Sculpin and Rainbow Darter, the Rouge here provides habitat for another good ecological indicator, the Brook Lamprey. A TRCA watershed study finds that these species are all “on the threshold of decline.” It warns that urbanization would bring about consequences similar to those on the Rouge’s most degraded tributary, Beaver Creek, where there is a “higher concentration of phosphorous and E. Coli.”

A TRCA watershed study for the Humber River also notes the threats posed by expansion into the White Belt. It has identified such “harmful impacts of urbanization” on “water balance, water quality, natural cover, aquatic and terrestrial communities, cultural heritage and air quality. These effects include increased surface runoff, more water pollution, greater annual flow volume in rivers and streams, increased erosion and sedimentation, channel instability and losses of cultural heritage and biodiversity.”

In addition to greening the White Belt the “Growing the Greenbelt” report identifies the need to stop 2,000 acres of sprawl in the Midhurst area of Springwater Township, located in the headwaters of the Nottawasaga River. A two year struggle involving a native occupation was required to stop the proposed closure of Springwater Provincial Park, an important source of water for the Minesing wetland. The report stresses the need to grow the Greenbelt here to protect “large swaths of recharge lands” vital for this significant wetland complex.

The “Growing the Greenbelt” report also listened to the City Council of Thorold which for a decade has been calling for the extension of the Greenbelt around Lake Gibson. It stresses an area that “supplies drinking water to half of Niagara Region, including St. Catharines and Niagara on the Lake, with an estimated 150,000 residents dependent on these supplies. The Lake also supplies flow to coldwater streams, many with brook trout populations and provides habitat for water birds such as herons. Largely forested, the area connects Short Hills Provincial Park and the Welland Canal.”

It is to be hoped that “Growing the Greenbelt” reflects the still secret recommendations of the hearing panel on the provincial Co-ordinated Plan review, headed by former Toronto Mayor, David Crombie. If this is the case, it may be a good sign that the province is finally meaning business when it comes to protecting our watersheds.

John Bacher is a veteran conservationist in Niagara, Ontario and long-time member of the citizen group, Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society. A past contributor of posts to Niagara At Large, his most recent book is called ‘Two Billion Trees and Counting – The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz’.

W.O.2 Neil McIntyre Stewart, RCAF, 1923 – 1944

November 9, 2015

In memory of
Warrant Officer
Neil McIntyre Stewart
who died on February 20, 1944


The Crew Of Halifax JD271 from RCAF 428 ‘Ghost’ Squadron

Gerald SmithTook off at 23.56 hrs from R.A.F. Middleton St. George. County Durham (then North Yorkshire) to attack the city of Leipzig together with 822 other aircraft (561 Lancaster’s, 255 Halifax’s. 7 Mosquitoes). Crashed in the IJsselmeer off Andijk. F/Sgt Stewart was found near Andijk on the 29th April 1944 and buried there in the Eastern General Cemetery at the beginning of May 1944. On 17th June, the body of F/O Woolverton was washed ashore; he is buried in Enkhuizen General Cemetery.

One other crew member, F/Sgt Lister, was taken from the water and until 1984 he was buried in Wervershoof Protestant Cemetery. His grave is now located in the Groesbeek Canadian Cemetery. The rest have no known graves.

Neil Stewart1Alan Whamond Woolverton was born (1921) in Penticton, British Columbia (B.C.), West-Canada (Vancouver – area); but brought up in Winnipeg, more to the East, near the U.S. border.

He had a brother Ralph, who related – ” He considered Winnipeg as his home town. And he was a real pre war RCAF – man, officially an Air Force photographer, in Camp Bordon. He retrained as a pilot and went overseas to the European Theatre in 1943.”

Halifax JD 271 was intercepted and shot down by Lt. Friedrich Potthast (1) from 12./NJG1 at 3,700 mtrs at Ijsselmeer 15 km South East of Medemblik at 06.30 hrs.

He was a Luftwaffe night fighter ace (this was his 6th confirmed claim of the war) and went on to make a total of 8 night victories and a further 3 daylight confirmed claims – he was killed on the 21/22 May 1944 in a crash near Sourbrodt (Malmedy) after an air combat.

On this raid the Halifax loss rate was 13.3 per cent of those dispatched and 14.9 per cent of those which reached the enemy coast after ‘early returns’ had turned back. The Halifax IIs and Vs were permanently withdrawn from operations to Germany thereafter.

The crew were
Pilot – F/O Alan Whamond Woolverton – RCAF – age 23. Son of John & Alice Woolverton of London, Ontario.
Navigator F/O Gerald Alfred Smith – J / 21556 – RCAF – age 21 – Runnymede Memorial, panel 248
Flight Engineer – Sgt Arthur William Gotham – 1275643 – RAF(VR) – age 22 – Runnymede Memorial, panel 230
Wireless Operator/AG – F/Sgt Herbert Sutton Lister-RAAF – age 24. Son of Frederick Lister of Hill End, NSW
Air Gunner – Sgt Cecil William Sherratt – 1577535 – RAF(VR) – age 22 – – Runnymede Memorial, panel 237
Air Gunner – Sgt. Edward Charles Webb – R / 180232 – RCAF – age 20 – – Runnymede Memorial, panel 256
Air Gunner – W/O Neil Mcintyre Stewart – R /161156 – RCAF – age 21

Two other planes of 428 Sqdn. returned early, in that “night of the falling stars”, due severe icing (the extreme cold indeed, as you can see in the weather report). And another couple of Lancasters of the Ghost squadron returned damaged, after fighter attacks of a Fw-190 and a Ju-88 over Germany. They landed safely without injuries of the crew, on another (emergency?) base on the coast.

Neil McIntyre Stewart was from Paris, Ontario, Canada. He was born in 1923 in Compeer, Alberta. He had six brothers and four sisters. His family moved from a family farm to Paris, Ontario during the depression in the 1920’s. Neil attended Central public school and Paris High School both in Paris. He was very much a sportsman, especially in hockey and golf. He was working for Sanderson and Harold Company Ltd, when he enlisted in to the RCAF in May 1942.

Australian crew member Herbert Lister was recovered and first buried at Wevershoof, but is now buried at the Canadian Military Cemetery in Groesbeek, near Nijmegen. F/O Woolverton is buried at Enkhuizen General Cemetery.

IJsselmeer dike

Photo shows IJsselmeer dike where the body of W.O. Neil Stewart was recovered.

Aircrew & Groundcrew of 428 Squadron RCAF in front of Lancaster KB760 in August 1944‎.

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

Commonwealth War Grave Andijk, Netherlands

Handley page Halifax bomber

Handley Page Halifax bomber

Notes for Neil McIntryre Stewart

Stewart Family genealogy

1. Paris Star News Paper, February 24, 1944
Missing – Flt.-Sgt. Neil Stewart, air gunner, son of Mr. and Mrs. Neil Stewart, Capron Street, Paris, is reported missing in action, according to word received by his parents Tuesday, Flt.-Sgt. Stewart received his wings at Mont Joli, Quebec, on January 22, and went overseas in March 1943, There are two brothers Gordon and Russell, serving in the R.C.A.F., and one brother, Lawrence, in the Army.
2. Paris Star News Paper: July 6,1944
W.O.2 N. Stewart Died in Action, Missing Since February – Germans Recovered his Body at Sea.
Word was received on Tuesday night by Mr. and Mrs. Neil Stewart, Capron Street, that their son W.O. 2 Neil Stewart, 21, who has been missing following a flight over Germany on February 19th, was officially killed in action. His body was recovered from the sea by the Germans.
The night of the raid, heavy icing conditions prevailed and it is thought that Neil’s plane, of which he was an Air Gunner was forced down at sea. Neil was a popular member of the Paris younger set and will be greatly missed. He was an ardent hockey player and golfer. Before enlisting he was employed at the Sanderson – Harold Co. Ltd.

Descendants of Andrew and Mary (nee McCrigart) Stewart, Circa 1751, Wigtown, Scotland

Neil Stewart

Paris Cemetery, Paris, Ontario, Canada.

I never knew my Uncle Neil.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them

Neil Stewart

Veterans Affairs Canada, Book of Remembrance: Page 453 

Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Neil MacIntyre Stewart

One week away: Remembrance Day at Springwater Park

November 4, 2015

November 11th at 10 am.

Remembrance Day Invitation 2015

All welcome. pdf

Blueberry Pancake Festival in support of Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s Hearts and Minds campaign

July 25, 2015

At Barrie Hill Farms, this Sunday from 8 to 3 pm,


Six-year-old Abigail Smith digs into her blueberry pancakes as her brother Ezra, 2, stares down the photographer during the Knights of Columbus annual Blueberry pancake breakfast at Barrie Hill Farms. In support of Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s Hearts and Minds campaign, this is the 12th year for the fundraiser. J.T. McVeigh Photo

The Barrie Examiner, Barrie Knights of Columbus blueberry pancake festival helping mental health at RVH:

The Barrie Knights of Columbus and the folks at Barrie Hill Farms are hosting the Knights’ 12th annual Blueberry Pancake Festival.

The festival ran Saturday and will run Sunday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Barrie Hill Farms. Proceeds from the event will help fund the expansion of Cardiology and the Youth Mental Health Facilities at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. Barrie Hill Farms is located at 2935 Barrie Hill Rd.

The cost is $7.50 per adult and $5 for kids 10 and under. The meal includes blueberry pancakes, sausages, coffee or juice.


Knights of Columbus’ Robert Clark, right, flips while Les Stewart waits to refill the pan during the group’s annual fundraiser for Royal Victoria Hospital’s Hearts and Minds campaign at Barrie Hill Farms, Saturday. J.T. McVeigh Photo

CTV Barrie reports: New five-year agreement for Springwater Provincial Park

July 10, 2015

Exciting news for this unique partnership between Ontario and Beausoleil First Nation.

BFN Roly

Click here for video.

Heather Butts reports:

Springwater Provincial Park will reopen after a five-year deal was agreed to between the Beausoleil First Nation and the Province of Ontario.

The gates will reopen thanks to the unique deal between the two sides.

“It’s our treaty territory, Treaty 16, so for us to be able to do something beyond our First Nation. Ontario has given us the opportunity to prosper and it’s time for us to showcase ourselves, not only ourselves but also as Ontarians that we can be successful at economic opportunities just like they can,” says Beausoleil First Nation Chief Roland Monague.

Springwater Provincial Park was deemed non-operational in September 2012. The province said there weren’t enough visitors and it was losing money. Les Stewart fought to keep the park open and helped push for the new partnership.

“It’s really important that people be able to drive in and use the facilities and see the ponds and the pavilions. This is a very important area in our community, has a history back to 1922,” says Stewart.

Beausoleil First Nation will be responsible for the maintenance and general operation of the park. The park will be staffed by a member of the First Nations community and someone from Ontario Parks.

The park has always been for day use only and it will remain that way for at least the next three years, but Monague says there is a possibility overnight camping could be allowed in the years to come.

“We got a lot of planning to do to make it there, what we want to do is add a cultural component to this park which includes bringing in crafts people, vendors, Pow Wows,” adds Monague.

Attractions that might help keep the park going for a long time.

“We don’t have a lot of parks around Barrie and it’s such a large, open space, I’m hoping people will realize the jewel we do have and actually start frequenting it a lot more than they had maybe for the last few years,” says Springwater Mayor Bill French.

An official opening ceremony is scheduled for July 31.

Posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.

%d bloggers like this: