What a year it was: our top stories from 2015

Featuring highlights from local news, charitable causes, music, theatre, and more

Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef being sworn in as Minister of Democratic Institutions as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on (photo: CBC Television)
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef being sworn in as Minister of Democratic Institutions as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on (photo: CBC Television)

From the amazing rainbow igloo in Apsley to the top newsmaker of 2015, Peterborough-Kawarthas MP Maryam Monsef, here’s a selection by month of our most popular and most-read stories from 2015.


January

Increasing numbers of snowy owls have been popping up in southern Ontario in recent weeks. Scientists say that an abundance of prey in the bird's northern breeding areas is the reason behind the bird's southward expansion. (Photo: Spencer Sills)
Increasing numbers of snowy owls have been popping up in southern Ontario in recent weeks. Scientists say that an abundance of prey in the bird’s northern breeding areas is the reason behind the bird’s southward expansion. (Photo: Spencer Sills)
Although climate scientists confirmed that 2014 was the warmest year on record, winter returned with a vengeance after some mild holiday weather with a frigid Arctic air mass plunging southern Ontario into a deep freeze. The cold didn’t stop an increase in sightings of snowy owls in the Kawarthas, as they expanded their hunting areas further south.

Business expanded in downtown Peterborough, with The Food Forest announcing its move into the former Maggie’s Eatery location and Publican House Brewery opening a retail store as well as a tasting bar and seating area.

In the arts, the 11th annual ReFrame Film Festival took place while Cobourg’s famous street pianos got top billing on a design website.


February

For the second year in a row, Carolyn Amyotte coordinated the building a coloured igloo in Aplsey. The 2015 Rainbow Igloo was featured at the Apsley Winter Carnival on February 21st and Amyotte and three fellow parents slept overnight in the igloo in March to raise funds for literacy resources for Apsley-area students.
For the second year in a row, Carolyn Amyotte coordinated the building a coloured igloo in Aplsey. The 2015 Rainbow Igloo was featured at the Apsley Winter Carnival on February 21st and Amyotte and three fellow parents slept overnight in the igloo in March to raise funds for literacy resources for Apsley-area students.
The month started off with the news that former mayoral candidate Maryam Monsef would be running for the federal Liberal nomination and that CBC was investigating sexual assault reports at Canadian universities, including Trent University.

Winter charitable efforts continued with BEL Rotary raising $30,000 at its 35th Annual Polar Plunge, the sixth annual Pink in the Rink campaign raising $72,923 for the Canadian Cancer Society, and Apsley’s amazing rainbow igloo raising $5,900 for local student literacy.

It was a busy month in arts and music, with Beau Dixon performing his award-winning play “Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story” as part of Black History Month, while blues musician Rick Fines released his latest record and performed at Peterborough’s Market Hall. Local poet Wes Ryan came in third place in “CanLip: The Great Canadian YouTube Contest”, Art For Awareness mounted an epic and flawless production of the musical Rent at Showplace in Peterborough, and Peterborough radio veteran Gordon Gibb launched his new online radio station streaming classic hits and oldies.


March

Jeannine Taylor, one of "The Friends of Al Black" who organized the event, embraces him at the end of the seven-hour concert. Proceeds from the event will go into a trust fund for Al's granddaughter Lydia, to support family costs while Lydia receives treatment in Toronto for a blood disease rarely found in children. (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
Jeannine Taylor, one of “The Friends of Al Black” who organized the event, embraces him at the end of the seven-hour concert. Proceeds from the event will go into a trust fund for Al’s granddaughter Lydia, to support family costs while Lydia receives treatment in Toronto for a blood disease rarely found in children. (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
Friends of well-known local musician Alan Black organized “Love for Lydia“, an epic benefit concert at Showplace in Peterborough for Al’s ill granddaughter Lydia, which was a resounding success.

March saw a couple of concert from big names in Canadian music, including Canadian chanteuse Jill Barber and former frontman for Prairie Oyster Russell deCarle both performing at Showplace, and and we ran a profile on young theatre entrepreneur Dane Shumak.

In local news, musician Nick Ferrio resigned from the Peterborough Folk Festival, the Canadian Canoe Museum launched an international design competition for the museum’s new location at Peterborough Lift Lock, a local woman whose dog died in a baited trap on a public trail raised 45,000 signatures on a petition to the Ontario government to change the laws governing their use, and Future Shop closed 66 stores across Canada and consolidated the remainder (including in Peterborough) under the Best Buy brand.

The inaugural Peter Robinson Festival on the Civic Holiday was announced, as was Peterborough’s intention to celebrate International Jazz Day on April 30th.

As part of our ongoing series on how community donations to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) Foundation affect real people in our community, we ran a story on PRHC’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.


April

A familiar voice in the Peterborough music scene, singer Missy Knott has been writing and recording in Nashville with award-winning country music artist Crystal Shawanda. Pictured is Missy performing at the Red Dog Olde Christmas Pageant in Peterborough last December. (Photo: Linda McIlwain)
A familiar voice in the Peterborough music scene, singer Missy Knott has been writing and recording in Nashville with award-winning country music artist Crystal Shawanda. Pictured is Missy performing at the Red Dog Olde Christmas Pageant in Peterborough last December. (Photo: Linda McIlwain)
In local news, Dan Taylor left Peterborough Economic Development after four years as President and CEO to run his own business, a private developer proposed a $90-million sports complex in Peterborough, and the City of Kawartha Lakes announced the end of rural transit service in Lindsay, Fenelon Falls, and Bobcaygeon.

In the arts, the annual SPARK Photo Festival kicked off, we reviewed Dane Shumak’s Dogfight: The Musical, and we profiled Trent Radio‘s production of original radio dramas.

In music, local bands competed in CBC’s Searchlight competition vying for a $20,000 grand prize, musical veteran Ken Tizzard released his new album with a performance at Market Hall in Peterborough, and we ran a profile on Peterborough singer-songwriter Missy Knott.

Local fundraisers included Peterborough SPEAKS (the annual speakers’ series for the Peterborough Health Services Foundation), a fundraiser for Hospice Peterborough on behalf of the late Paul O’Sullivan, the Art School of Peterborough’s art auction, Public Energy’s 5th Annual Wearable Art Show and Runway Challenge, and a crowdfunding campaign to bring a documentary about The Weber Brothers to fruition.

As part of our ongoing series on how community donations to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) Foundation affect real people in our community, we ran a story on Leaf and Mars Worsley, a mother and son who were fighting cancer togather.


May

The Peterborough Theatre Guild production of the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Cats" ran at Showplace Performance Centre in Peterborough in May for seven performances only (photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
The Peterborough Theatre Guild production of the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats ran at Showplace Performance Centre in Peterborough in May for seven performances only (photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
In local news, a pilot project saw the Trent student card accepted at three merchants in downtown Peterborough, the Lindsay Downtown BIA assumed responsibility for the previously cancelled Classics on Kent, the Canadian Canoe Museum selected six architects for its design competition, Pedal For Hope Peterborough achieved a head-shaving world record in support of the Canadian Cancer Society, and Peterborough Pulse, the city’s first-ever open streets event, was announced.

In theatre, the Peterborough Theatre Guild won four awards at the Theatre Ontario Festival, a man proposed on stage after a performance of the New Stages’ production Taking Shakespeare, and we ran a behind-the-scenes look and a review of the much-anticipated Peterborough Theatre Guild production of Cats.

In music, Peterborough Musicfest announced its summer concert schedule and we profiled Trent Radio’s archive of Peterborough’s musical history.

One of our most popular stories in May was our profile of the Suspended Meal Program at Peterborough’s Speak Easy Cafe, which allows customers to donate a meal or drink to a person in need.


June

Warsaw Paralympian archer Alec Denys was the final torchbearer and carried the flame into Del Crary Park to light the community cauldron (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
Warsaw Paralympian archer Alec Denys was the final torchbearer and carried the flame into Del Crary Park to light the community cauldron (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
In local news, the Pan Am Games Torch Relay passed through the Kawarthas, the City of Kawartha Lakes hosted community workshops to gather stories for its digital mapping project, the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough announced $160,000 in grants, the Peterborough County-City Health Unit announced its move to downtown Peterborough in the fall, and Peterborough County announced plans and a fundraising campaign for a new agricultural heritage building.

Two big charitable events in June were Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, which raised $109,204 for the YWCA,
and the 15th annual Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival.

Two new festivals took place in Peterborough: the first Peterborough Yoga Festival with proceeds going to the United Way,
and the inaugural Kawartha Craft Beer Festival. Peterborough also held its first DIY Day, celebrating maker culture.

In music, Canadian rock music icon Randy Bachman performed during a downpour at Peterborough Musicfest and the Peterborough Folk Festival announced its 2015 lineup.

In theatre, the Theatre on King recreated four episodes of the iconic TV series The X-Files on stage.


July

Jerome Ackhurst, owner of The Only Cafe in downtown Peterborough, with staff members Lyne Dwyer (left) and Stephanie Wood (right) (Photo: Sam Tweedle / kawarthaNOW)
Jerome Ackhurst, owner of The Only Cafe in downtown Peterborough, with staff members Lyne Dwyer (left) and Stephanie Wood (right) (Photo: Sam Tweedle / kawarthaNOW)
Summer brought a day of free admission to Ontario provincial parks in the Kawarthas as well as new Ontario Government rules to protect bees and other pollinators.

In local news, the Art Gallery of Peterborough announced it was moving back to its upgraded location on Crescent Street, the Scouts’ racing sailboat was stolen from Rogers Cove in Peterborough, Peterborough Pulse (Peterborough’s first “open streets” event) drew more than 4,000 people into the downtown core, Peterborough artists Julie Douglas and Brianna Gosselin were featured in the 30 Under 30 show in Toronto, and CityTV’s Breakfast Television broadcast live from Fenelon Falls in Kawartha Lakes.

In music, local singer-songwriter Melissa Payne performed at Peterborough Musicfest as did roots-blues musician Rick Fines.

In theatre, we reviewed 4th Line Theatre’s original historical comedy The Bad Luck Bank Robbers and the award-winning comedy Three Men in a Boat at Globus Theatre in Bobcaygeon.

We ran a series of public safety features during July, including toxic wild parsnip and Lyme disease.

One of our most popular stories in July was our interview with Jerome Ackhurst, owner of The Only Cafe in Peterborough.


August

Robert Winslow stars as Reverend Bobby Angel in "Gimme That Prime Time Religion" at 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook (photo: Miranda Hume / Miranda Studios)
Robert Winslow stars as Reverend Bobby Angel in Gimme That Prime Time Religion at 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook (photo: Miranda Hume / Miranda Studios)
In local news, the heritage Pagoda Bridge in Jackson Park in Peterborough was closed for restoration and the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce uncovered a fascinating documentary on the contruction of Peterborough’s iconic fountain in Little Lake.

In music, the annual Hootenanny on Hunter Street took place in downtown Peterborough, the Peterborough Folk Festival happened, country-rock group Doc Walker closed out Peterborough Musicfest, and local singer-songwriter Chelsey Bennett announced plans to release her debut EP.

In theatre, we reviewed 4th Line Theatre’s restaging of Robert Winslow’s religious satire Gimme That Prime Time Religion and Globus Theatre’s innovative “choose your own play” Making a Move.

We ran a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations of staff at Showplace Performance Centre for the fall/winter season.


September

A commercial for the 2016 Subaru Forester was filmed this summer at two farms in the Kawarthas area
A commercial for the 2016 Subaru Forester was filmed this summer at two farms in the Kawarthas area
In local news, The Whiskey Club in downtown Peterborough became The Oxford Parlour & Patio, area landowners offered a new site at Highway 115 and Airport Road for a casino in Peterborough, architectural firms unveiled five design concepts for a new Canadian Canoe Museum, Kawartha Land Trust continued its fundraising campaign to protect Boyd Island in Bobcaygeon, and GreenUP announced a community beekeeping program

One of our favourite stories was a Toronto agency filming “Sheepdog Buddy“, a Subaru car commercial featuring an injured border collie, at farms in Grafton and Keene.

In the arts, Public Energy announced its 2015-16 season, Artsweek 2015 happened, and Rob Viscardis and Jeremy Blair Kelly previewed Before We Arrive: The Story of The Weber Brothers.

In music, the All-Canadian Port Hope Jazz Festival took place in Port Hope and the Peterborough Pop Ensemble held its 15th anniversary concert.

We ran our second story on The Only Cafe in Peterborough, profiling Bill Batten and Andrea Barrett.


October

Members of the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival committee and the Survivors Abreast team, accompanied by Kawartha Credit Union CEO Rob Wellstood and Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett, present a $163,693.96 cheque to Lesley Heighway, President and CEO of the PRHC Foundation. The proceeds will be used to purchase a new state-of-the-art digital mammography machine for PRHC's Breast Assessment Centre. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Huels, Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation).
Members of the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival committee and the Survivors Abreast team, accompanied by Kawartha Credit Union CEO Rob Wellstood and Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett, present a $163,693.96 cheque to Lesley Heighway, President and CEO of the PRHC Foundation. The proceeds will be used to purchase a new state-of-the-art digital mammography machine for PRHC’s Breast Assessment Centre. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Huels, Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation).
In local news, we reported on a mural by late Peterborough artist Chris MacGee being covered over at the former Craftworks building, a new report showing that food insecurity is a growing concern for Peterborough, the Salaam Peterborough community group sponsoring a family of Syrian refugees, Peterborough’s Dragon Boat Festival raising almost $164,000 for breast cancer care, Nexicom donating $5,000 to save Needler’s Mill in Millbrook, The Mount Community Centre entering an online competition for a $100,000 grant to repair their elevator (they won), and the launch of the Peterborough Shoebox Project to distribute little luxuries to women in need in shelters.

In environmental news, GreenUp was busy in the fall, hosting a monarch butterfly tag and release event at Ecology Park
and transforming a section of the Wireless Solutions parking lot into a garden.

In the arts, we interviewed Ron James in advance of his double-header at Showplace in Peterborough and we profiled Ken Gibb, the man behind CrackerJack Theatre.

As part of our ongoing series on how community donations to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) Foundation affect real people in our community, we profiled how the team at PRHC’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory saved David Whittingon‘s life.


November

Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef has been appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef has been appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions
The big news in November was newly elected Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef being appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions, followed closely by community support (including a crowdfunding campaign) after the arson at the Peterborough mosque.

In other news, it was announced that 117,000 trees are to be planted along the Highway of Heroes, the Trans Canada Trail between Peterborough and Hastings was completed, TELUS raised $10,000 for GreenUP, Long & McQuade opened a new music store in Peterborough, Kawartha Dairy pledged $10,000 to help save Boyd Island, November was Radon Gas Awareness Month, Peterborough was announced as the first host city in Ontario for the 2016 North American Envirothon, and the Peterborough County-City Health Unit launched a fundraising campaign for Myrtle’s Kitchen.

In music and theatre, we interviewed Canadian music legend Bobby Curtola prior to his December performance at Showplace in Peterborough, we reviewed Peterborough Theatre Guild’s production of Vimy and St. James Players’ The Producers, and we gave you a behind-the-scenes look at Cordwainer Productions’ American Idiot.

Rounding out the month, we welcomed Eva Fisher as our new food columnist and Liz Fennell as our new arts columnist, we sponsored Fashion Week in Peterborough, profiled the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough, explained the Living Christmas Tree in Lindsay, and gave you seven reasons to shop local in Downtown Peterborough over the holidays.


December

The cast of "American Idiot" with Andrew Little (Will), Ryan Hancock (Johnny), and Taylor Beatty (Tunny) in the first row. The production, featuring the music and lyrics of Green Day, ran for six performance only at Peterborough's Market Hall in December. (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
The cast of American Idiot with Andrew Little (Will), Ryan Hancock (Johnny), and Taylor Beatty (Tunny) in the first row. The production, featuring the music and lyrics of Green Day, ran for six performance only at Peterborough’s Market Hall in December. (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW)
Local news in December was filled with good deeds, including local volunteer Kerri Davies collecting toys for Syrian refugee families, Peterborough firefighters teaming up with The Toy Shop to donate toys to the Salvation Army, Rotary Club raising $25,000 for Hospice Peterborough, students from Immaculate Conception Catholic Elementary School spreading Christmas cheer in downtown Peterborough, and Level A Professional Group and The Staffing Connection donating 100 teddy bears for children in need.

The local community also rallied behind Peterborough Huskies founders Cathie and Dave Tuck, in an attempt to help them win a new car in the Toyota Wish Giver contest. Unfortunately, they didn’t win.

In the arts, we provided behind-the-scenes looks at the Peterborough Theatre Guild’s production of The Snow Queen and Ron James’ New Year’s Eve special filmed at Showplace Performance Centre back in October.

We reviewed Dane Shumak’s production of Green Day’s American Idiot, the new Star Wars movie, took some photos of In From the Cold (the annual Christmas benefit concert for YES Shelter For Youth and Families), profiled Megan Murphy’s upcoming documentary Murphy’s Law, and provided the most comprehensive listing of live music and celebrations on New Year’s Eve in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.

In environmental news, we showed you where to harvest your own Christmas tree in the Kawarthas, how feeding backyard birds is family winter fun, and GreenUP’s plans to expand urban beekeeping in 2016.

We profiled how St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Lindsay is preparing students for the future with digital learning.

Finally, as part of our ongoing series on how community donations to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) Foundation affect real people in our community, we ran two stories about PRHC’s Paediatric Inpatient Unit and Outpatient Clinic, including the story of 9-year-old Eli Partington and the story of newborn Clara Campbell Fraser.

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