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Prince Edward County Decade in Review – highlights from 2017

As we welcome a new decade in 2020, celebrates its 10th anniversary taking a look at highlights of the past 10 years.


There were 1,500 litres of oil recovered throughout salvage operation of the partially submerged Pitts Carillon barge in Picton Bay – 30 litres that had spilled, and 1,470 litres pumped from the barge’s fuel tanks. The incident began March 23 when a barge docked at Picton Terminals was found to be three-quarters submerged. On Friday, March 24 a spill of what is believed to be about 30 litres of a fuel mixture was observed. Galcon Marine’s barge was refloated April 2 and left Picton Bay Monday, April 3, enroute to Toronto. McKeil Marine, leading the salvage operation, remained involved with environmental engineering, health and safety consulting firms and the County. – Canadian Coast Guard photo. Click here for story and photos 

Emotions ranged from joy to a tinge of sadness – but mostly great relief – as Royal Canadian Legion President Pat Burrows helped screw in the ‘sold’ sign on the lawn of the branch’s historic Main Street, Picton mansion. He and members of the Legion’s building committee joined listing agent Kevin Gale to make the sale by realtor Elizabeth Crombie public knowledge. Her client, Jonathan Kearns, has lived at Morrison Point since the late 1980s. Watching Burrows help Gale to put the ‘sold’ sign in place, are building committee members Ted Taylor, Larry Tillings, Bill and Mary Cannons. (member Tom McCaw missing from photo) Restorations were originally intended for a culinary arts school. But as the project evolved, the new future of the building became a culinary-themed space for events, conferences and weddings of up to 500 guests). Click here for story

The final credits came up for Town & Country Video, the County’s last remaining video rental store. After almost 30 years at 130 Main St., in Picton, thousands of movies and video game rentals were sold and the store was closed. Owner Gavin Bonham-Carter said “technology has finally beaten us. With the introduction of android boxes, Netflix and just bootlegging in general, the dynamics of a bricks and mortar video store no longer work.” – Sue Capon photo Click here for story

Tight timelines and a flawed review process topped concerns about drastic changes to Prince Edward County schools. More than 100 community members attended the second and final public meeting for the Hastings Prince Edward School Board’s accommodation recommendations meeting at PECI. Accommodation Review Committees (ARC) were set up to discuss the draft plan which outlines combining students from Pinecrest in Bloomfield at Queen Elizabeth in Picton; sending students from Sophiasburgh to PECI in the fall of 2018; and seek funding to consolidate Kente Public in Ameliasburgh with CML Snider in a new school in Wellington for September 2020. Click here for School board confirms school closures story

Social media was abuzz with news Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau celebrated her birthday in Prince Edward County. They were spotted cycling, and were photographed visiting Hinterland Wine and County Road Beer, on the Millennium Trail and dining at the Agrarian. They stayed at Angeline’s in Bloomfield. Above, Justin and Sophie holding young Madeleine, daughter of Cody Vader and Melanie Fida, shown here with her brother Alex and staff at Angeline’s Restaurant in Bloomfield. Click here for photos and story

The official opening of the Prince Edward County Youth Centre was standing room only at its new location at 299 Main St., Picton. At the ribbon cutting were Mayor Robert Quaiff, students and centre volunteers Brooke Roche and Jake Holmes along with Brandi Hodge, community engagement director of the United Way of Quinte. The centre welcomes youth between the ages of 12 and 18 to connect with others, relax, or participate in programs focuses on mentorship, business, social enterprise and financial literacy. – Sue Capon photo

The first major step to build a new hospital in Prince Edward County was celebrated as PECMH Foundation executive director Penny Rolinski welcomed MP Lou Rinaldi to make the announcement the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has approved the Pre-Capital Submission for the project. The approval gives a ‘green light’ to move to Stage 1 of five – the proposal – which includes evaluating the current site, investigation of site options, a space plan and cost estimate. – Sue Capon photo

Rendering of how turbines six and four would look in Milford. – Photo contributed

An Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision removed 18 industrial wind turbines from the Renewable Energy Approval (REA)’s original 29, leaving the wpd Canada project with just nine turbines – mostly in the Milford area. The long-awaited decision follows a 21-day hearing in December 2015, and an order in February 2016 that the project “will cause serious and irreversible harm” to animal life and the natural environment – specifically the endangered Blanding’s turtles and Little Brown Bats. Click here for story

High water levels, wind and waves bringing in debris caused Quinte Conservation to issue a “water safety statement” for boaters. Above, County crews cleaning up the shore of Wellington Beach following a storm that washed up many logs and branches, a broken up dock, a set of stairs an aluminum boat, and a tire, onto the shore. The County restricted access to, or closed, a number of docks due to high water levels and damage caused by the wind and waves. Mayor Robert Quaiff declared a state of emergency in the County as flood waters continued to rise and more than 54,000 sandbags were provided.- Sue Capon photo Timeline story on flooding and the state of emergency here

Update 2019: Impressive stone work completed. – Royal Hotel photo

Following repairs to the east wall of the Royal Hotel in Picton, the Unsafe Building Order was removed from 251 Picton Main Street and tenants of the one apartment and Coaches Pub business were allowed back into the building May 19. The order was issued April 19 after a failure in the foundation and brick wall caused a portion of the wall to buckle. The neighbouring building was deemed unsafe and tenants were required to vacate.

Restoration work under way for the historic building, includes the brickwork, wood cornice and installation of new windows. The hotel was constructed circa 1881. It has been vacant for many years, resulting in significant deterioration. – Gilles Miramontes photo Click here for story and photos

Sunshine and squeals of delight filled the air at the official opening of Picton’s new splash pad at Picton Fairgrounds, following years of determination, support from the community and many sponsors – including Michael Hymus who presented half of the $250,000 needed to move forward on the project. Susan Quaiff officially opened the park with committee co-chair Phil St. Jean, by thanking individuals, clubs, organizations and businesses who helped the project come to fruition.

Search and Rescue was in the air and on the ground at Mountain View using real training and skills in response to a mock air disaster. The annual National Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) includes aerial and ground searches, medical responses, parachute accuracy and rescues.

Bystanders could hear hundreds of voices chant “We will, we will, stop you!” as opponents to the wpd Canada industrial wind turbine project paraded down Main Street Picton. The rally continued with a town hall style presentation at the Regent Theatre. – Olivia Timm photo Click here for story and photos

The C3 Expedition ship anchored in Picton Bay. Photo by Anne VanVlack

The Prince Edward County Yacht Club burgee will fly proudly on the Canada C3 Expedition as it continues its epic 23,000 kilometre journey. The ship was anchored in Picton Bay for participants to explore the County during the first stop on the 150-day journey. The C3 (coast to coast to coast) Expedition, a voyage of celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, incorporates a variety of participants including scientists, artists, indigenous elders and rotating groups of students. On arrival to the County, the C3 sailed around Point Petre, then to False Ducks Island where the science team conducted its first science mission taking water samples – part of a coastal Canadian survey being completed on the journey. Later, another team spoke with school children. Story and photos here

Sophiasburgh school students’ work presented by Darkspark, an arts education group led by Melissa Larkin and D’Ari Lisle. – Sue Capon photo

The work of Sophiasburgh Central School students to make a lasting commitment to reconciliation received a standing ovation. The students were part of the Four Directions Project with Darkspark, an arts education group led by Melissa Larkin and D’Ari Lisle. They showed four lyrics videos they created to about 150 people who attended the launch of the first permanent Downie Wenjack Legacy Room in Canada, at Books & Company in Picton. The fund was created by Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, and his brother Mike, who was also in attendance for the launch. Click here for story and photos

CIBC customers hoping their bank would have a change of heart on closing the Bloomfield branch in September left a “community information meeting” disappointed, and angry. “The branch will close,” confirmed Jon Kastikainen, senior manager of stakeholder communications. “At the end of the day it’s a business decision.”  – Sue Capon photo

Smiles, laughter, and a few tears unfolded throughout Pinecrest Memorial Elementary School as community members gathered for a closing ceremony. The school closes this month as a result of a decision by the school board June 19 to consolidate Pinecrest students from Grades K-6 with Queen Elizabeth School in Picton and send Grades 7 and 8 students to Prince Edward Collegiate in September 2017. In 2018, PECI becomes a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school. The gathering was nostalgic for those re-connecting with old school chums and staff. – Sue Capon photo. Click here for story and photos 

Premier Wynne looks on as the Wellington United Church ladies prepare strawberries and cake for Their Royal Highnesses. – John Brebner photo

Thunderous applause and the first brilliant sunshine of the day burst open at the exact moment the motorcade for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arrived in downtown Wellington. Prince Charles and Camilla walked a few blocks to greet well wishers lining the barricades along Main Street, before being officially greeted at the entrance to the Wellington Farmers’ Market. They were welcomed by Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff, his wife Susan Quaiff, and Farmers’ Market organizer Louise McFaul. Click here for story and photos

Vintage biplane replicas flying into the Picton Airport were greeted by hundreds of visitors as the Prince Edward Flying Club hosted the Vimy Flight Birth of a Nation team on its cross-Canada centennial tour, fresh from participation in Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa. The team of volunteer retired and active Canadian pilots performed a commemorative fly-past over the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France in April honouring the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Now the pilots and ground support team are touring Canada to commemorate the nation’s heroes of the past century, and Canada’s 150th birthday. – Rachel Hardon photo

It was the perfect day for a picnic to celebrate Prince Edward County’s 225th birthday, Sunday, July 16. Community members gathered around the historic Crystal Palace at Picton Fairgrounds to enjoy picnic lunches and entertainment while they awaited the unveiling of a commemorative barn quilt – marking both the County’s 225th birthday and Canada’s 150th year. A community photograph around the County 225 barn quilt is the first in another legacy project of the 225 committee, a photo inventory of 225 reasons to love Prince Edward County, to be made available for promotional and educational purposes in the the future.

More than 100 cyclists breezed through Prince Edward County on day two of a six-day journey from Toronto to Montreal. The 19th annual Friends for Life Bike Rally has raised approximately $803,000 for Toronto People With AIDS (PWA) Foundation – each cyclist raising a minimum of $2,500 to participate. – Sue Capon photo

“Well, we found one,” said John Burzynski leader of the Raise the Arrow expedition. The expedition’s engineers located one of nine models of the Avro Arrow that have been sitting at the bottom of Lake Ontario since they were launched in test flights between 1954 and 1957. The expedition spent a total of 12 days since the end of July searching the lake off Pt. Petre.

A piece of Cherry Valley’s history has disappeared following the demolition of SS #3 Athol Public School, which stood next to its replacement – now called Athol South Marysburgh Public School. The County’s Michelle (Fraser) Found spent the better part of two days witnessing the event and recorded a Facebook live video feed of the action. “It’s a sad day in Athol Township when a piece of the history is disappearing,” she said. “It was the original public school and my first school.” From the 1830s to the 1960s, there were 76 rural schools and five urban schools in Prince Edward County. The two-storey stone S.S. No. 3 was constructed in 1924. – Michelle Found photo

Carter Black with his watermelon that weighed in as Canada’s heaviest for 2017. – Sue Capon photo

Pumpkins were well off the mark for world record weigh-ins, but a young Prince Edward County farmer has grown the heaviest watermelon Canada has seen this year. In his first showing at Wellington Pumpkinfest, soon-to-be 11-year-old Carter Black, of Ameliasburgh, was proud of his 152-pound watermelon at the Pumpkinfest weigh-in Wellington. Black, a PEC 4H member for the past two years, wanted to test his skills at Pumpkinfest after a successful run with plenty of ribbons earned at the 4H competition at the Picton Fair in September.

A banner was hung downtown Picton honouring Canada’s most famous racing boat setting the world speed record at Prince Edward County 60 years ago. Miss Supertest set the World Water Speed Record on Nov. 1, 1957. The Unlimited Class Hydroplane ‘Miss Supertest II’, and driver Art Asbury, set the record of 184.494 mph (296.914 km/h), on (Hayward) Long Reach 60 years ago. “While it did not stand for that long before being bettered by an American boat, it still stands as the Canadian Water Speed Record for the last 60 years,” said Picton’s John Lyons. “An unimaginable feat all on it’s own.” – Photo from collection of John Lyons.

Challenges and triumphs of Prince Edward County’s first Syrian refugee family, and the many volunteers who brought them here, unfold in the feature documentary ‘SponsorLand’ during a special screening at Picton’s Regent Theatre before the TVO national broadcasts. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Michèle Hozer, SponsorLand follows the day-to-day lives of the Al Jasem family – brought to Canada in the fall of 2015 by PEC Syria, a private sponsor group with 150 volunteers in Prince Edward County. – PEC Syria photo

While firefighting has its serious side, there were smiles, much applause and camaraderie at the Wellington and District Community Centre for a Long Service Medal Ceremony. Fifty-eight members of the Prince Edward County Fire and Rescue received awards for 10, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of dedicated service before proud family members, work colleagues and friends seated in the Highline Hall. Above, 45 Year Service Provincial Bar recipients Leonard Bedford, William Bedford, Roger Flower and Robert Tolley with Chief Scott Manlow. – Sharon Harrison photo

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