by Margaret Knott
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Annual Archives
Margaret Knott's What's New on Frontenac Islands articles appear with the kind permission of the The Kingston Heritage Newspaper.

December 23, 2015
A Christmas Season Reflection

A few weeks before Christmas, during Advent as a matter of fact, I read a sign outside a church in Kingston that reminded anyone who read it that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees. I did a double take. I guess I knew that but I had never seen it expressed so directly. Perhaps it struck me even more because of Canada’s present focus on bringing into Canada 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year. I am aware that there are more than 25,000 refugees who arrive in Canada annually (Christians, Muslims, Jews, black, white, coloured) from many other parts of the world other than Syria, also in a state of conflict, many from the camps they escaped , many of them sponsored, others coming simply in search of work, a better life and safety for their families. T

Waiting for the ferry home to Wolfe Island I reflected on the concept of this Holy Family. Why were they refugees. What was it that compelled Mary and Joseph to take their new born baby and travel to another place ? I had to think awhile and remember that they had already travelled from their town to Bethlehem to register in a census called for by government. There the baby was born in a stable because the city was crowded and there was no room for them anywhere. Shortly after the baby’s birth as they were starting home Joseph had a dream where in he was urged by an angel to take Mary and baby Jesus not home but to “flee to Egypt because King Herod was about to search for the child, to destroy him any way he could.” And Joseph did just that taking Mary and the baby to a safe place, until the death of Herod at which time they would return home. They went as refugees with nothing to start a new life.

Those thoughts of course led to thoughts of my own parents who originally came to Canada as visitors from Europe for a specific period of time to serve others settled here of the same languages and religion as their own. They were victims of the depression of the 30’s in Canada during which time my brother and I were born.. They did not have the money it took to return “home” at that time. When it became apparent that war in Europe was going to happen they chose to stay in Canada, to take refuge if you will, for the sake of their Canadian children. My father never saw his family again. My mother visited her home at the age of 73. (We never met our grandparents). No family reunification then.
It would be easy to speak of the miseries experienced by many who came from elsewhere to Canada. Life was far from easy. Nothing came free. Two world Wars and others followed. Racism was a reality, (religious, linguistic, colour). Strict discipline, even cruelty was a part of life. But much has changed, continuously evolving for the better.
While all Canadians proudly claim origins that began elsewhere, and either came here or were born here, we all cherish the freedoms and rights that Canada offers the opportunities to live together in peace and harmony regardless of religion, race or skin colour, to work educate and raise our families. The flight of Joseph, with Mary and Jesus into Egypt presents a situation not much different than for today’s refugee offering us all food for thought… and opportunities for good. Thinking of my community with thanks..…. and prayers for Peace on Earth. Happy New Year 2016 to ALL.

Posted by M Knott at 09:06 AM
December 22, 2015
Looking for Your Input..A Reminder of the Ferry Class EA

The 2011 Wolfe Island Planning Study recommended improvements to the Wolfe Island and City of Kingston ferry terminals, for a dual ferry operation with a new 75 car vessel as well as: marshalling, queuing, parking improvements, pedestrian, cycling, passenger amenities, and intersection improvements (Kingston-Marysville).
Now, although it is close to Christmas, it is none the less important to once again remind Wolfe Islanders as well as all those interested in the island’s future that the “Preliminary Design and Class EA for the WI Ferry and Docking Improvements,” presently in the hands of Morrison Hershfield Limited, is ongoing and looking for your input. Ms Tina White is MTO’s Senior Project Manager for the Class EA.
The purpose of the study, once all deficiencies are identified, is to look at alternatives for increasing ferry capacity and docking improvements, recommend one option, consult with the public, and finally identify and design an acceptable cost effective alternative to move forward. A Study Design Report (SDR) is available for review and provides background information for review and comment by the public, agencies, etc. and outlines the planning process including information on the generation of alternatives and how they will be evaluated. “As part of a Class ‘A’ Environmental Assessment (EA), public consultation is essential,” MTO’s Tina White said. “The SDR was developed early in the EA process to obtain input from the public on the proposed planning process and consultation. We are very interested in hearing public feedback on the SDR. The Study Report serves as an important opportunity for the public to ask questions, offer comments or ideas that will help shape the consultation process. We also seek to hear any feedback regarding the ferry and dock improvements throughout the course of the environmental assessment and preliminary design study,“ she said.
At the present time the Morrison Hershfield Limited Study Team has been meeting with municipal and county officials, MTO engineers, as well as special interest groups, individuals, agencies etc. (Probably a public meeting on Wolfe Island would be useful—editorial comment!.) To date the study has not progressed enough to determine where docking will occur and possible the impacts or what impacts there are to any internal road network, whether the new ferry will operate all year long and/or to what dock it will go. These and many more will be looked at and determined as part of the present study according to MTO. “This EA study will provide a plan that will last into the future. The ministry does not have any plans to initiate another study regarding the Wolfe Island Ferry.”
Currently, the Study Design Report is available for public review and comment at several locations and online. Later as the study further progresses , Public Information Centres will provide an outlet for public consultation and feedback. At the study conclusion, a report called a Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR) will be prepared and made available for public and agency review and comment before environmental approval can be obtained to proceed to construction. For more information about opportunities for input please visit

Around Town: 1. Pretty unnerving to have someone assaulted confined, near to the ferry dock at Dawson Point. While there is security it is pretty dark there these evenings. dark shadows, no moon , easy for anyone to slip away up the road unnoticed, unseen. Without a bus waiting, I wonder how safe it is for walk-ons going way up the road to their cars, or waiting for a lift home? 2. WI Friends of Feral’s say “Thank-you!” to everyone who contributed to on going cause to move forward with spay-neuter initiative. To date 48 cats were spayed, neutered and vaccinated and returned to their colonies from the waste site, the foot and the interior of the Island…. Interesting to note many islanders favour the project. On the other hand many do not! Their concern is for birds! . Frances Smith, Mayor of the Township of Central Frontenac, was elected Warden of the County of Frontenac replacing our Mayor Denis Doyle who recently completed histerm of office. This marks Smith’s second term as Warden of the County. 5. Wolfe Island Refugee Support group is now working in Partnership with Frontenac Refugee Support Group. For more information, contact Judith Kinghorn: or Clara Lovatt: Watch for Posters .. 6. What's Not Happening at the WI Medical Clinic during the Christmas Holiday: No Nurse Practitioner Walk IN Clinic Thurs. Dec. 24th or Thurs. Dec.31st. Also, NO Office Hours nor Walk In Clinic with Dr. Russel Tues Dec. 29th. The Friday January 1, 2016 Lifelabs Specimen Clinic will be held January 8th,the next Jan. 15th, then 1st & 3rd Fridays. The Jan.1st Paramedic Wellness Clinic is Fri. Jan.8th. 7. Unfortunately, warm temperatures have kept the ice at the rink difficult to maintain & ice making equipment running full time at great cost… The rink has closed until further notice.
Coming Events: Hatha Yoga with Marlie 7 pm (4)Tuesdays beginning Jan. 5, 2016… St. Margaret’s Hall.**Winter Fest set for Feb.7th .

Posted by M Knott at 08:52 AM
December 16, 2015
Travelling the Ice… Then

Before the province took over full responsibility for the ferry service in 1964, the ferry service for Wolfe Island ceased operations when winter ice conditions made it impossible to continue . ice travel was the only link to the mainland for anyone living on Wolfe Island. The stories that surround that era continue, fascinating for young and old alike. Since it inception the WI Historical Society has committed itself to capturing the island’s history, its wonderful and compelling stories best told by those who have lived them. Most recently WI horsemen Kaye Fawcett and Ken White talked about ice travel during the years when the ferry shut down and how islanders risked travelling on it for reasons much the same as they are today, health,work, provisions. WIHS’ Brian MacDonald and Hank Connell ‘beamed up’ the remarkable pictures of cars, boats, horses and sleighs stuck, partially submerged and sinking into the waters off Wolfe Island, and of islanders of those days.

Kaye Fawcett held a copy of what he wanted to say. And with every paragraph there were questions and “I remember’s” from a very engaged audience. Kaye said that it was generally in late December “when the ice would start to ‘take’, and the boat would have trouble, that people started walking, the 3 miles across the ice to Kingston. Then when the ice got to 6” thick they would start driving.” With one horse and sleigh, Tricky McDermott and Bob White they would check it. “If there was a crack Tricky would build a bridge of wooden planks over it. He would stay all day so people could cross.” Casey McAllister and Gary LaRush ploughed a road , people donated their Christmas trees and others went out and bushed the road. “That way if it was storming people had something to guide them home and to keep them from getting lost.”

Kaye talked about drawing hydro poles from Kingston with teams and sleighs at $1. a pole, for hydro at the foot of the island. “Eve Lawrence was the one looking after it,” he said. Bill Bolton, Ed and Jack Flynn, Tricky and Bob White began installing the poles in the spring . Kaye worked with the team drawing poles off the flat bed to the fields. He talked about taking working men to town at 7 am and picking up the mail. “Tricky usually took the mail to the Post Office run by Duff Cosgrove and I’d bring the bread, he said, adding that the next trip from the Island was at 9 am and returned at 11:30 am with passengers and supplies for the stores, Howard Tarrant, Charlie Coffey and Baker’s. On the 4 pm trip to the island they usually brought stove oil for the schools.

“We brought gas for Jimmy Hawkin’s garage, feed and supplies from Topnotch for Hank Quist, supplies to Coffey’s grist mill from Peter’s Seed and coal to Leo Hogan. We did sleigh rides in the evenings for Queen’s over to the Hotel from West Street. Sometimes we left the team at Mark McRae’s or Doug Seville’s barn. When the ice was good people drove their own vehicles. But many times people got stuck in the snow and slush and needed to be pulled out. There were many stories, exciting, frightening and sad about travelling the ice, stories that few will forget…

Ken White (White horses , wagons and sleighs), joined in the story telling and reminiscing. He also read from the book “Growing Up on Wolfe Island”, in which Islanders themselves are the storytellers. About island life in the past, crossing the frozen three mile channel of dangerous ice with ‘Tricky’ McDermott. and Minnie the mare, tired of waiting so she struck out across the ice on her own; being hauled out off the ice, and along in your car by a team of horses; reminders to jump out as far as you can but hang on; keep the car doors open so you get out; keep the horse from drowning with a board across her chest under front legs; the convenience of the ‘ice road when the boat was tied up; & dangerous come spring thaw. And John O’Shea, an island story teller, added to already exciting evening with his memories of crossing the ice when the boat was tied up till spring and a baby was due… for instance. Copies of ‘Growing up on Wolfe Island’ are available from the WIHS through B.MacDonald: .

Around Town: 1.Looking forward to Christmas, family coming home, ice at the rink, snow on the fields?..2.Saw the tiniest of tiny Snowy Owls. 3. Adjusting to the ferry being at the Dawson Point dock.(No shuttle service), and with no snow or lights (after the turn) the road is dark and dangerous.

Coming Events: Annual Ecumenical Advent Service of Readings & Carols at Trinity Anglican Church Sat.,Dec. 19th at 7 p.m. A wonderful way to prepare for Christmas. A reception follows.**WI United Church Annual Christmas Pageant: Sun. Dec 20th at 7PM at the Church.** A Jubilee Year of Mercy Mission at: Sacred Heart of Mary Church, at 7:45 pm. Dec. 20, 21, 22nd.

Posted by M Knott at 07:57 AM
December 08, 2015
Comments Slow In Coming Re Preliminary Design Wolfe Island Ferry EA

For the last couple of weeks, included in this weekly column, there has been a reminder that MTO has retained Morrison Hershfield Limited, for a Preliminary Design and Class EA Study for WI Ferry and Docking Improvements, and is looking for public comments and concerns about the Study Design Report regarding the design and the EA process by a Dec. 23rd deadline. The SDR is available for review at:, (hard copy at WI Town Hall, library, etc.) The request for comments, notes that improvements to terminals, may include changes to the marshalling areas, larger dock/mooring facilities, improved pedestrian/ cycling facilities.
After a long difficult seven months, perhaps Islanders are just so happy to have the ferry back and operating from Marysville. They just do not want to look at what the future will bring as a result of a long EA process. They simply want the ferry running on time, many from the village for as long as possible, and for the Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca to come through with a back-up ferry as quickly as possible in advance of a 75 car, ferry built (2019-20?), and bridge study possibly in 20 years.
Thus to date few comments from islanders have crossed the Hershfield Limited desk.. Even though right now is the opportune time to point out different situations and concern, at the island, and city ferry docking areas These became clearly evident particularly during ‘Wolfe Island’s months of discontent’ waiting for the return of the Wolfe Islander III, and to have them considered in the preliminary design of the project.
Some of those thoughts related to the ferry itself, docks and marshalling but others were about too little lighting and the dangerous road conditions from the Dawson dock to the village of Marysville for cars, trucks, cyclists and walkers. Also an on going need for shuttle service, operating cameras and increased security, concerns for the disabled, distance from amenities while waiting in line, more overnight island and city parking. The continuing need for the earlier ferry run. And of course, security and public communication with Internet access at the docks and on the ferry were seen as a necessity.
Over the last few years there has been far more communication between the public and MTO. Township representatives and MTO meet. The public feels freer to call MTO if there is a problem. And MTO certainly responded to issues that arose at Dawson Point during the difficult summer months. And now MTO is seeking input from Islanders for the Preliminary Design and Class EA Study as it gets underway. And who better than Islanders, young and old, , renting or permanent, summer or full time, emergency service providers, health providers, farmers, business/tourism operators, and event providers, and of course never forgetting the importance of Horne’s ferry to Cape Vincent. They can speak to the islands transportation needs and assist in the design of the EA. Transportation is the Island’s Life Line. Island Transportation is about moving people and vehicles between places. It is it is not just about the ferry and the docks. Call, email your comments….. MTO’s Tina White is Senior Project Manager( 613) 545-4871, Morrison Hershfield Ltd. Mr. Edward Li, (416) 495=4228
FYI—— Due to low water levels, the ferry Wolfe Islander III is NOW OPERATING from the Dawson Point Terminal for the winter. Also, the 4:45 am trip from the island has been discontinued. Please Note: The Ferry will be out of service Wed. Dec. 9th (9:30 am - 2:00 pm) for regular maintenance. MTO is on Twitter: Wolfe Island Ferry @WolfeIslander3
Around Town: 1. Wolfe Island’s 2015 Christmas Village was a wonderful success. The Organizing Team of Linda Thomas, Pat Sanford, Carolyn Wiens, Christina Pyke, Kayo Murakami (MPS), Diana Moore (Fishtale Shop), Martine and Denis Chercuitte (My Old Her), & Nancy Steele (Ferry Lane) share this message with you: “What a successful and beautiful day it was! Families & friends enjoyed strolling in the village of Marysville and shopping for nice things for Christmas. Thanks to All vendors with their wonderful offerings. Thanks also to all visitors who came over! We hope to hold a Christmas Village again next year! Comments and suggestion are much appreciated. Email us at:
2. It was a full house at the recent Wolfe Island Historical Society meeting. Kaye Fawcett and Ken White presented a talk about “Ice Sailing” on Wolfe Island for the many years before the Ferry service was taken over by the Province of Ontario in 1964. No one at the meeting was in any hurry to go home in spite of bad weather. Some fascinating pictures. Hope to write about it soon.
3. For information about the WI Refugee Support Group Contact: Clara at 613- 840-5077
Coming Events : .***WI Community Centre Winter Programming Registration Friday, December 11th from 5:00-9:00 pm @ The WIPP **WI Christmas Pageant at the United Church 7 pm December 20th. Everyone Welcome… ** At the WI Medical Clinic: Dr. Russell's After Hours Walk IN Clinics Tuesdays 4:45- 6:15 pm. Nurse Practitioner Walk-In-Clinic Thursdays 9:00-11:30am

Posted by M Knott at 07:51 AM
December 02, 2015
Frontenac Islands Council Rides the Roads

Frontenac Islands Council Rides the Roads Only one island citizen took up the invitation to participate in Frontenac Islands Wolfe Island Ward tour of the municipal facilities and road network on Wolfe and Simcoe Islands. The tour included areas of concern with work to be done, or to be completed, or planned for the future. It was not a walking tour and a school bus was on hand for each stop along the way. (A similar tour of Howe Island’s municipal facilities and road network was held Nov. 19th.)
Frontenac Islands Public Works Manager (PWM) Rob Dillabough set up the comprehensive agenda and conducted the tour attended on Wolfe Island by Mayor Doyle, Councillors Barbara Springgay and Wayne Grant, CAO Darlene Plumley, Deputy Clerk Carol Dwyre, and, from Howe Island Councillor Bruce Higgs.
PWM Dillabough provided listings of all places on Wolfe Island that needed to be looked at, what needed to done and a time frame for doing it, some in a 5 year (2016-2020) period, many in 2016. This includes a 5-10 year plan for the Nine Mile Point Road with culverts and rebuild. Listed for replacement in 2016 are sidewalks, guiderails- new and replacement, signage, road construction, and surface rehabilitation. Included in the listing were those things that had been done since his arrival , signs, guide rails etc. A complete list will be brought forward during 2016 budget deliberations. Dillabough ‘s intent is to provide council with a detailed work plan of what needs to be done, what needs to be changed. (A similar list was prepared for Howe Island tour)

During the Wolfe/Simcoe Islands tour of every road Dillabough pointed out many things requiring rehabilitation, identified areas such as a large sink hole on the 8th Line road used for drainage, the lack of road ditching, tree/brush cutting requirements, need for more signage, etc. and Simcoe Island ferry road- dock needs, all important as liability issues . He offered insight into such things as snow ploughing methods for safety and to lessen road damage, and including lowering speed and adjusting depths to protect the equipment. It was a thorough review with clearly identified requirements, which he linked to the Frontenac Islands Asset Management Review process done a few years ago. That process identified Frontenac Islands facilities and road assets (Howe, Wolfe, Simcoe) and what has to be done to keep them up to standard, maintain and/ or replace over the next 5-10 years.

2. Land Fill Site Then… Recycling Transfer Station Now: “And the green grass grows all around, all around. And the green grass grows all around.” It is amazing to see the broad expanse of green grass that has covered what was until recently an enormous hole filled day by day with the community’s garbage (and hopefully not with recyclables). Once upon a time a gravel pit now it is a hole no more. From a distance it looks instead like a miniature golf area. That’s not to say the Transfer Station is pretty. The much-in-need-of paint-containers are rather dismal although on occasion when one is full and trucked away, a newly painted one replaces it making the place look brighter for awhile. The place is so tidy, nothing out of order. Accessing the recycling bins becomes easier with each relocation change made. Residents continue to donate their bottles for the benefit of community organizations. Many more people are bringing in materials for composting. At this time Mae has Christmas Decorations and lights on her office door and at the gate, and always a smile to greet us. Come spring we will probably see flowers planted, and maybe? even a stall erected for perfectly good give aways, along with special days at the site. Special thanks to Mae and the Land Fill Site Committee for their ongoing effort to make it all work.

Around Town:1.** FYI Frontenac County Council will hold a special meeting Dec. 2nd, a part in closed session, to consider additional solicitor advice, employee negotiations and deployment options with respect to the Wolfe Island volunteers ( ambulance). 2.** Morrison Hershfield Limited, retained by MTO for a Preliminary Design and Class EA Study for WI Ferry and Docking Improvements is looking for public comments / concerns until Dec. 23rd about the Study Report available for review at:, also at WI Town Hall, library. Improvements to terminals, may include changes to the marshalling areas, larger dock/mooring facilities, improved pedestrian/ cycling facilities. MTO Tina White is Senior Project Manager( 613) 545-4871 Frontenac Islands Mayor Doyle encourages WI residents to submit their comments, suggestions and to get involved in the Ferry EA process. “Better now, when what you say may make a difference rather than later when its not possible,” he said….

COMING Events:** ‘Ice Travel’ with Kaye Fawcett & Ken White presented by WI Historical Society Wed. Dec. 2nd 7:30 pm United Church Hall. If you have pictures of that time bring them along.***WI Community Centre Winter
Programming Registration Friday, December 11th from 5:00-9:00 pm @ The WIPP **Wolfe Island Christmas Pageant at the United Church 7 pm December 20th. Everyone Welcome… ** At the WI Medical Clinic: Dr. Russell's After Hours Walk IN Clinics Tuesdays 4:45- 6:15 pm. Nurse Practitioner Walk-In-Clinic Thursdays 9:00-11:30am Bring OHIP card ALL welcome (including American residents)…

Posted by M Knott at 07:50 PM