Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Elgin County Celebrates Canada's Birthday

Summer long weekends in Canada are meant to be savoured and enjoyed with friends and family. Celebrate Canada's 146th birthday party at one of many local events.

Great Lakes International Airshow
June 28 - 30, 2013
St. Thomas Municipal Airport
Fri. 4 -8:30 pm
Sat & Sun 10 am-6 pm, Flying Displays 1-4 pm 

The Great Lakes International Airshow is the 3rd largest airshow in Canada. Show patrons can get up close to aircraft on display and see flying demonstrations by the Royal Canadian Air Force's Snowbirds and others. 

Celebrating 200 Years of Sparta
June 29 -30, 2013
Village of Sparta, Quai Du Vin & Sparta Church Museum

Parade in the Village of Sparta; Dinner/Dance at Quai Du Vin Winery; Garden Party at Sparta Church Museum. 

Association of Port Stanley Artists Show
June 29-30, 2013
Omstead Building , Port Stanley

An art show displaying works from members of the Port Stanley Art Association. Please check website for more detailed information.

Port Stanley Canfest
June 29-July 1, 2013
Village of Port Stanley

Canada Day celebration featuring live music, boat parade, fireworks (Sunday in front of GT's Beach Bar and Grill). Visit the website for more details.

Dutton Canada Day Celebrations
July 1, 2013
Sons of Scotland Park, Dutton

Enjoy fun activities throughout the day, starting at noon! Free swim, volunteer awards, opening ceremonies, musical entertainment, kids activities, fireworks at dusk.

Port Burwell Canada Day Celebrations
July 1, 2013
Port Burwell Legion to Cenotaph

Parade at 11 am followed by a flag raising ceremony, music, entertainment, children's activities, food, fun, cake cutting. Visit the Marine Museum & Historic Lighthouse. 

West Lorne Canada Day Celebrations
July 1, 2013
Miller Park West Lorne

1pm Kids Country Carnival & other activities; 5pm fish fry; 7pm opening ceremonies, baseball games, Snake Lady Show; 9:30 fireworks.

Malahide & Aylmer Canada Day Celebrations
July 1, 2013
5 pm - 9 pm, Fireworks - dusk
East Elgin Community Complex, 531 Talbot St. Aylmer

Something for everyone- inflatables,carnival games, mini golf, photo booth, crafts & activities, BBQ and entertainment. All ages are guaranteed a great time. Free public skating. Fireworks at dusk.

Fingal Canada Day Celebrations
July 1, 2013
Fingal Ball Park, Fingal
(519) 769-2010

Half-Price Herb Sale
July 1, 2013
11 am - 3:30pm 
Heritage Line Herbs, 53443 Heritage Line Aylmer

Celebrate Canada Day with 1/2 off all 4" potted herbs

For a complete listing of events in Elgin County visit:

Monday, 24 June 2013

Seabuckthorn Berries – Superfruit of the Himalayas Grown in Elgin County

Chris Meeuse began farming with his father at the age of 18 and at 25 he took over the operation of their Tobacco farm in Central Elgin. An article in Fruit and Vegetable Grower Magazine about Seabuckthorn Berries sparked his interest and Chris and his wife Patricia started growing the fruit in 2007.

Originally found in the Himalayan Mountains, Seabuckthorn berries are very small, orange berries that are extremely tart when eaten raw.  Lauded for their health benefits, these powerful antioxidants are loaded with omega’s 3, 6, 7 and vitamin D. Although it is relatively new to North America, this superfruit has long been a popular nutritional, medicinal and beauty supplement in many parts of the world. When sweetened the Seabuckthorn berry has a mild taste of peach and citrus and can be used in juices, jams and pies among other things.

“We make smoothies out of them,” says Meeuse.

Seabuckthorn Berries are extremely popular in China where most of the word’s supply is grown. There are few sources of the berries in Canada with some growers in Saskatchewan and Quebec. The same sandy soil that made the Meeuse farm ideal for growing Tobacco is also ideal for the Seabuckthorn tree. The Seabuckthorn tree can handle temperatures anywhere from - 40 to +50 degrees Celsius but according to Meeuse, Elgin County’s heat units make it a perfect location for the trees to thrive.
“We have a wonderful growing climate here,” he says. “There is nothing that can’t be grown on the land in Elgin County.”

Although these hearty trees can survive in varying temperature conditions, it is very difficult to get an orchard established. The trees are extremely difficult to find in North America. The Meeuses purchased their trees from a distributor in Newfoundland who originally had sourced the trees from Lithuania. The trees require a great deal of water and they cannot be sprayed with any chemicals. Harvesting the berries proves a challenge as they have numerous thorns and gloves cannot be used because the fruit is so small.

“That is how they protect themselves from birds and animals.” Says Meeuse with a laugh. “They have a pretty good thorn on them!”

With a little skill these thorns can be avoided and many visitors come out to the farm to pick their own berries each year from late July to the end of August.  Located at 43315 Roberts Line, Central Elgin just south of Sparta Line, the farm is open from 8am – 5pm, seven days a week during the peak season.  The berries will also be available at a second location this summer in downtown Sparta, ON.

This summer the farm will host the first ever Seabuckthorn Festival from July 27-28, 2013. The festival will include vendors selling a variety of items including Seabuckthorn Berries, hay rides around the orchard and the opportunity to purchase a Seabuckthorn tree for your own garden.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Where is Sandi? Walk

The “Where is Sandi ?” Walk was created when three of Sandi Pyper’s interests came together: hiking, camping and keeping a local focus.  Sandi had heard of the Camino De Santiago in Spain and had thoughts of doing a pilgrimage there.  However, she realized that walking in Elgin County would keep it local and still offer the time alone to reflect.  Having had both of her children benefit from attending Pearce Williams United Church Christian Centre in Fingal and hearing about their Called to Grow Campaign, Sandi wondered how she could help.  When she stopped into the Elgin Tourism office, everything came together.   The “Where is Sandi?”  Walk will raise funds for Pearce Williams, while promoting Elgin County.  The planning is now underway and Sandi will begin her walk Friday June 21st, with a kick off breakfast at Pearce Williams at 8:45 AM
The “Where is Sandi?” Walk will cover 326 kms across Elgin County over approximately 22 days this summer.  Sandi hopes to increase camping and outdoor awareness, while taking the opportunity to meet neighbours and enjoy their hospitality.  Sandi will promote two new programs at Pearce Williams, Farm Camp and World Camp, and tell Elgin County residents about Pearce Williams’ 50 year history of providing wonderful camp experiences for local children.  Donations supporting the Capital Campaign can be made through Pearce Williams directly.
Along the way Sandi will be visiting local farms, perhaps popping her tent and sleeping overnight on a new acquaintance’s lawn, hiking along the Trans Canada Trail, Elgin hiking Trail and through local conservation areas, Elgin’s points of interest and more.  This pilgrimage will reveal the incredible wealth of activities Elgin County has to offer, all within a few hours of home.    She will be easy to spot in her Pearce Williams t-shirt and camp hat. You can also follow Sandi on the Tourism Elgin website (
Sandi Pyper is a  resident of Elgin county and has spent  most of her career as a certified chef, Sandi has a love and passion for food, and more specifically local food. She is a mother to two children who have attended and continue to be involved with Pearce Williams Christian/Retreat Centre near St Thomas Ontario in Elgin County.
More information, including pilgrimage route and how to make a donation, can be found on the Pearce Williams webpage:
Contact Info: Meagen Pyper  Phone:  519-764-2317
Joe Richards Executive director  519-764-2317
Follow Sandi on Facebook 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Kettle Creek Conservation Authority hosts strawberry social

The Kettle Creek Conservation Authority invites the public to a Strawberry Social Celebration to honour the planting of its one-millionth tree.

The celebration will be held on Saturday June 22 from 11 am - 2 pm at Dan Patterson Conservation Area and will include a BBQ, children’s activities, a bird’s of prey presentation and free strawberries, cake and ice cream. A Tree Planting Ceremony and speeches by local dignitaries will take place at 11am.
The Conservation Authority in partnership with Elgin County Economic Development worked to ensure that the food served at the celebration was sourced from local producers and businesses. Strawberries for the event will come from Howe’s Family Farm Market, Shaw’s will provide the ice cream and Killer Desserts & Café will be donating a cake. Hamburgers and hot dogs for the BBQ will be donated by the local Swiss Chalet.

"Local food producers provide a significant contribution to Elgin County’s economy," said Economic Development General Manager Alan Smith. "We are pleased to be able to work with the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority to increase local food awareness and promote the use of local products."

For more information regarding the Strawberry Social Celebration or the One-Millionth Tree Planting Ceremony call 519-631-1270 ext.224.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Rhubarb Cheesecake Squares

It is Rhubarb season in Elgin County! Rhubarb's tart flavours are perfect in pies, tarts and desserts of all types when sweetened with a little bit of sugar! Visit our local farmers' markets for some fresh Rhubarb and try out this delicious recipe below! 

Elgin County Rhubarb


These delicious square contain three parts- a buttery shortbread crust, a rich and creamy cheesecake centre and a sweet crumbly topping. To make these squares a bit healthier substitute whole wheat flour.

Ingredients you will need:

For the shortbread crust:

½ cup butter, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

For the cheesecake filling:

1 8-ounce/250g block cream cheese, at room temperature 
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into small pieces

For the topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup large flake oats
½ cold butter, cut into cubes
pinch of cinnamon

Baking Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare an 9-inch square baking pan by lining with parchment paper. 

2. To make crust:
In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Add in salt and flour. Beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into prepared pan. Randomly prick fork into bottom. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 
Shortbread Crust

3. To make cheesecake filling:
In a mixing bowl, mix together cream cheese and sugar. Add in vanilla extract and egg. Beat until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as you do. Add Rhubarb. Pour filling into baked shortbread crust, smoothing with a spatula. 

Cheesecake Filling

4.To make topping:
In a different bowl, whisk together flour and sugar and oatmeal. Add in butter. Use a fork to incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over top of the cheesecake filling before baking.

Crumble Topping

5.Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cheesecake filling will jiggle a bit in the middle when it's done. It will set as it cools. 

6.Once it comes to room temperature, place in the refrigerator for about 2-4 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy! 
Finished Rhubarb Cheesecake Squares