Healthy kids need to spend time in nature – David Suzuki

David Suzuki

Ontario’s Healthy Kids Panel recently proposed a strategy to help kids get onto a path to health.

The problem is that the path doesn’t lead them into nature. Though the report quotes parents’ comments and research showing kids spend dramatically less time outside than ever, it doesn’t encourage time in nature.

That said, many of the report’s recommendations should be implemented and supported locally, provincially and nationally to reduce the risks of obesity. Encouraging parents and children to be more critical about dietary choices and requiring more information and labelling from restaurants and food producers is long overdue.

Ontario isn’t the only province working to reduce obesity rates and support parents raising healthy children, particularly in the early years. Alberta released relevant reports in 2011 and Quebec has had a ban on advertising junk food to children since 1980. No one can argue against public awareness and education around the benefits of healthy eating and active living. But a provincial, patchwork approach to addressing these issues isn’t enough. We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.

Although it seems logical that much of the time spent being active will take place outside, the Ontario report acknowledges that “many communities are not designed to encourage kids to move or be physically active…and have few safe green spaces.” One parent in a focus group explains that the parks in his community are either gated or locked up once school is closed. So, even when there is green space, it’s not always accessible.

Last year, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey with young Canadians and found that 70% spend an hour or less a day outdoors. The 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card says they spend almost eight hours a day in front of screens. So it’s not that kids don’t have time to be outside. It’s just not part of their lifestyle.

Much has been reported about a recommendation by the Ontario panel to ban junk food advertising that targets children under 12. This has worked in Quebec and is being discussed in Alberta. But the approach has invited criticism from those who argue that people should have the right to choose. It’s always tempting to focus on making bad things less accessible, but perhaps policy-makers should be more creative and focus on ways to make good things more accessible.

Being in nature is good for all of us. People who get outside regularly are less stressed, have more resilient immune systems and are generally happier. And it’s good for our kids. Studies show spending time in nature or green spaces helps reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Even in built playgrounds, kids spend twice as much time playing, use their imaginations more and engage in more aerobic and strengthening activities when the space incorporates natural elements like logs, flowers and small streams, according to research from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Provincial and federal governments are failing to integrate a daily dose of nature into their policies. It’s also something we as a society are failing to make a priority in the lives of our children.

We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature. We need to ask teachers and school board representatives to take students outside so that nature becomes a classroom. And we need to stop making the outdoors seem like a scary place for children by helping parents understand that the benefits of playing outside outweigh the risks.

Connecting kids to nature every day needs to be a priority policy objective in any strategy for healthy children and could easily have been integrated into the recommendations from the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel. Taking our kids by the hand and spending time outside with them will have the added benefit of making us healthier and happier adults.

David Suzuki, published in The Stratford Beacon Herald.

Meet Our Downtown Neighbours – Flowers on York

Paris in the Fall

“Paris in the Fall” is a 500 piece puzzle by Cobble Hill, available at the Book Vault Inc. Stratford, Ontario.

If you have never met an expert in the world of flowers, then you haven’t yet been to Flowers on York in downtown Stratford. Owner Nancy Gornyicki and head designer Lorri Zehr have a combined total of over 50 years of floral design experience, bring their own unique set of experience and passion to their business and to the community. Flowers on York has been open to the public for just six months, and it has already become popular with locals and visitors who are looking to add a little beauty to their lives.

A lifelong resident of Stratford, Nancy wanted to share her love of flowers with others, and is excited to have opened her full-service flower shop in her home town. “It is fitting that the new store is located in the city centre,” Nancy’s enthusiasm for all things floral has lead her to teach a floral design course for Conestoga College. She has also kept herself busy in the community by serving on the Perth Active Living, Civic Beautification, Parade of Lights and the Communities in Bloom Committees.

Lorri, through her dedication to her craft, has always been able to create unique and wonderful designs for clientele. She has a versatile ability to create traditional modern fresh dried and silk flower arrangements. Lori is proud to be able to provide people with am out-of-the-ordinary gift, perfectly fitting for the occasion. “More importantly than stocking quality product, out top priority is customer service,” she states. “Many of our clients have become part of the Flowers on York family.”

Whether you are in search of that perfect bouquet of flowers, would like to take a floral design course, or would just like a taste of spring, stroll over to Flowers on York to meet a couple of your great community neighbours!

A curmudgeon talks personal finance


The personal finance rotation

Long study has persuaded me that there are only four personal-finance columns in newspapering, which rotate week to week every month:

1. Saving for your children’s college education

No way you can ever save enough. You’re screwed.

2. Saving for your retirement

It’s already too late to catch up. You’re screwed.

3. Investing in stocks

Too risky. You’re screwed.

4. Investing in bonds

Too little return. You’re screwed.


By John E. McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun, March 15, 2013

The story of Easter

Easter is Awesome

April 6, 2012 by saradobie

Allow me to get religious for a moment. Easter is this Sunday, and we all know the Bible-based Easter story. Oh, wait, you don’t? Okay, let me tell you about it.

There was this Jesus guy. (You know, the dude born on Christmas?) According to scripture, he grew up to be an awesome preacher/prophet/healer. The chief priests and scribes didn’t care for him much. They thought he was a fraud, so they wanted him dead. They talked Jesus’ pal, Judas, into betraying Jesus for thirty stinkin’ pieces of silver. I’m sure that was a lot of money back in Bible times, but still, how rude. Thanks to Judas, Jesus was arrested.

They accused him of religious treason, since people claimed he was the Messiah. “Messiah” refers to a spiritual savior, redeemer, and in the case of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus was brought before Pilate—a Roman prefect and judge. Now, Pilate’s wife was a smart lady. She’d had a dream the night before about some Jesus guy, and she warned her husband to steer clear. Of course, being a politician, Pilate just had to get involved. He gave the people a choice: release Jesus or release a psycho murderer named Barabbas. In true angry mob fashion, the crowd chose to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus.

Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead. Uh, gross, right? Jesus being Jesus knew this was coming. He’d prayed about it the night before on the Mount of Olives: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Thankfully, Jesus was a big picture kind of guy … He was nailed to a cross, yet even in his agony, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And the mob didn’t know, did they? They thought they were executing a liar or lunatic. They didn’t realize they were slaughtering the Son of God.

Then, Jesus died. The sky turned black, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. I imagine the weather resembled those post-nuclear apocalypse skies you see in movies—the clouds black, red, and boiling. I imagine the priests and scribes looked at each other and thought, “Uh-oh,” because I imagine in that moment, they finally got it. They understood what they had done … and that Jesus had already forgiven them for it. But that’s hardly the end of the story.

The tomb is empty!

Days after his death, women came to tend to Jesus’ body and tomb. However, upon their arrival, they found the tomb had been opened. Jesus’ body was gone. In its place were two men in dazzling clothes. No, not drag queens—ANGELS!! Angels were waiting for Jesus’ followers so that they could say, “He is not here, but has risen!” I bet the angels did a little jig when they said it. I wouldn’t have been able to contain my joy. What great news! Jesus appeared to many after his resurrection, showing the nail marks in his hands and performing miracles among the masses. Then, finally, he ascended into Heaven, where he got to hang with good old Dad with a capital “D.”

So what does Easter mean to us? It means we’re saved. Jesus died for you. He died for me. We’re sinners, and we needed His help to get to Heaven. By His blood, we have been redeemed. Today is the day He died. Sunday is the day when He rose from the dead. What will you do in remembrance of Him? You can start by listening to the hippie classic He is Risen. Then, pick up a Bible and read the whole story (I prefer the Book of Luke). Check out your neighborhood church on Sunday. Most of all have a happy and blessed Easter! Celebrate what an ancient dude did for you, out of pure and unconditional love. Hallelujah! Christ is risen, indeed!

Canada’s Best Places to Live 2013

Stratford, Ontario - 14th best place to live in Canada 2013

Stratford, Ontario – 14th best place to live in Canada 2013!

Stratford is 14th on Canada’s Best Places to Live in 2013 list according to Moneysense Magazine’s rating of more than 200 cities!


What makes a city great? When we were determining our 8th annual list of Best Places to Live in Canada, we looked at all the data we could find to name the communities that offer the best overall quality of life.

By MoneySense staff | Online only, 20/03/13


What makes a city great? When we were determining our 8th annual list of Best Places to Live in Canada, we looked at all the data we could find to name the communities that offer the best overall quality of life. We started with incomes and employment. After all, most people’s experience in a city is more positive when they have a high-paying job—and the ability to get a new one if they so choose. We looked at the price of housing, giving high scores to cities where home prices are affordable when compared with local salaries. Weather was also key. Sure, some Canadians love cold weather, but most will agree that extra sunny days, days above zero and days without precipitation are nice to have. Crime rates and access to medical treatment are also important factors, so we awarded points to communities with low rates of crime, good access to hospitals and high numbers of medical professionals.

Quality of life isn’t only about practical concerns. The ability to take part in cultural activities adds richness to our lives, so we gave points to communities with high numbers of people working in the arts or sports. We tracked whether a city has a movie theatre or easy access to an airport. Of course, statistics don’t capture the personality, scenery or people that make each place special, but they provide a good idea of what life would be like if you lived there. Did your hometown make it to the top of our list of Best Places to Live in Canada?

Best Cities Overall

Rank City Bike to work % Days with rain/yr Days above 0°C Pop. growth ’11 to ’12 Jobless % Average house price $ Average household income $ Crime Severity Index Property tax % Doctors per ’000 Employed in arts & rec % New car %
1 Calgary, Alta. 1.18 67.5 169.3 6.56% 4.02 394,550 125,733 65.69 2.32 2.46 2.11 1.37
2 St. Albert, Alta. 0.64 76 176.3 4.92% 3.82 344,967 139,628 56.51 2.54 2.59 1.86 0.94
3 Burlington, Ont. 0.73 108.7 236.2 6.82% 4.65 417,102 110,031 33.57 2.62 2.50 2.06 1.69
4 Strathcona County, Alta. 0.52 77.4 169.7 4.85% 3.51 371,619 147,946 54.14 2.50 2.59 1.66 1.02
5 Oakville, Ont. 0.55 101.3 222.1 6.23% 5.3 587,045 145,471 33.57 2.70 2.07 2.58 1.89
6 Ottawa, Ont. 2.05 118.5 211.9 4.10% 5.89 352,020 98,980 58.62 2.19 2.44 2.94 1.74
7 Saanich, B.C. 5.11 150.5 327.8 5.59% 4.64 562,115 84,509 44.52 2.22 3.25 2.43 0.11
8 Lacombe, Alta. 1.14 75.6 156.9 7.20% 3.91 243,461 97,516 59.11 2.06 2.39 1.46 0.34
9 Lethbridge, Alta. 1.20 58.5 191.5 4.53% 4.1 183,491 82,601 86.99 2.08 1.99 1.44 0.20
10 Newmarket, Ont. 0.52 108.3 205.8 6.31% 4.69 413,688 107,353 39.37 2.78 2.07 2.05 1.63
11 Edmonton, Alta. 1.21 77.2 186.7 3.84% 4.91 338,463 96,704 97.96 2.06 2.57 1.95 0.93
12 Saskatoon, Sask. 2.11 64.4 166.4 6.85% 5.25 311,592 86,934 128.83 2.08 3.06 1.78 0.41
13 Halton Hills, Ont. 0.90 109.6 193 6.08% 4.16 458,024 116,251 33.57 2.96 2.07 1.67 1.44
14 Stratford, Ont. 4.59 117.1 211.2 4.50% 5 237,518 73,948 55.91 2.46 3.04 2.60 0.68
15 London, Ont. 1.45 120.3 217.3 5.87% 6.09 247,818 78,873 91.42 2.38 3.07 1.56 1.42
16 Winnipeg, Man. 1.47 76.9 170.2 6.00% 5.04 255,091 77,269 113.60 2.08 2.57 1.91 0.80
17 Regina, Sask. 1.22 68.1 165.6 6.91% 4.82 312,506 87,063 129.99 2.12 2.37 2.17 0.63
18 Boucherville, Que. 1.53 116.4 225.5 -3.13% 2.78 317,057 115,838 76.56 2.83 2.34 2.86 1.99
19 Kingston, Ont. 2.16 119.4 219.6 3.38% 6.54 287,403 79,727 66.05 2.19 4.11 1.91 0.87
20 Halifax, N.S. 0.85 133.4 228.9 5.86% 6.29 247,566 79,348 87.00 1.98 3.74 2.47 1.83

Meet our downtown neighbours – Karma Restaurant & Pizzeria

Snack Stack

“Snack Stack” is a 500 piece puzzle by Springbok.
Available at The Book Vault Inc., Stratford, Ontario.

For every entrepreneur, the path to owning a business is their own unique journey, and Sherry and Michael Saunders of Karma Restaurant and Pizzeria have certainly been on an adventure. The owners of the new Downie Street eatery moved to Stratford from London, Ontario with their three children in May of last year, and quickly fell in love with their new city. Sherry and Michael, who opened their doors just a month ago, say thay they are proud to be business owners in a city and community that they love, although their journey to this point was not all that easy.

“We both came from poor families and grew up with next to nothing.” Michael explains. Although he used to make his living as a construction worker, Michael proudly says that “Now, I cook and it makes me happy to see someone enjoy the food I make!”

Michael and Sherry are extremely pleased with their choice to relocate their family to this city. “I look forward to our time in Stratford,” he says. “It is much different living here than elsewhere. It is more friendly, and more of a community.”

Although their journey has only recently brought them to Stratford, Michael and Sherry look forward to being as active as possible with the community.

The next time your adventures include grabbing a slice of pizza, or if you would just like to welcome some great new neighbours to the community, be sure to head to Downie Street to meet Sherry and Michael Saunders, proud owners of Karma Restaurant and Pizza.

Klahsen putting old twist on downtown space

Gazette file photo


Local cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen is opening a restaurant on Wellington Street that, like the traditional Italian osteria on which it’s modeled, will be nondescript from the outside but memorable inside.

The small establishment, set to open April 1 in the location last occupied by Evergreen Terrace, will have no name or sign hanging out front, and will offer customers a simple selection of local specialties.

Klahsen, a longtime chef and the owner of Monforte Dairy, says the unassuming nature of the business is all part of the plan.

“The whole mandate for (the osteria)  is that it’s really different than anything else in town,” she adds, noting that  philosophy also extends to the renovations currently underway inside the building, where the plan is to use all repurposed materials.

Klahsen initially purchased the building for its kitchen; the dairy is expanding into charcuterie and preserved and pickled goods – some of which will be hand-picked from a garden out back of her dairy’s Griffith Road facility. But she soon realized the extra space out front could also work to her advantage.

“We ended up with the restaurant, so we might as well serve some people if we’re trying to sell them stuff downtown too,” she adds, with a laugh.

The eatery will serve cured meats, jarred goods and, of course, a selection of Monforte’s award-winning artisanal cheeses, as well as some cheeses from area farmers. Many of the foods will be  available to purchase to take home as well. There will also be a limited menu with one or two items that Klahsen plans to change daily and some menu basics like soups, salads and sandwiches.

A graduate of the renowned Stratford Chefs School who spent 25 years working in local restaurants – 15 of those at the Stratford Festival’s Green Room – Klahsen says she always hoped to one day open her own restaurant.

Just like her dairy, which moved to and opened in Stratford in 2010 on the strength of an innovate subscription drive supported by foodies as far away as Toronto, Klahsen will be counting on her out-of-town supporters to help her newest venture thrive, at least in the beginning.

It’s no coincidence that Klahsen is working feverishly to have the Monforte osteria open in time for the Stratford Festival season, which begins its previews later that month.

“That’s my hope, that when they’re here we can give them a  different experience,” adds Klahsen, referring to her many loyal Toronto-area  customers. “We need another way to sell to tourists in the summer.”

Klahsen is equally optimistic the restaurant will attract a local following during non-tourist season, if not year-round.

“I really want (local residents) to feel comfortable there,” she adds.

Local festivals crack top 100 in Ontario

Local vendors display their fresh produce Saturday during the Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival. (MIKE BEITZ The Beacon Herald)

Two Stratford festivals have been named in the 100 best events in Ontario.

The honours went to the Stratford Festival and Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival.

Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) announced the 2013 Top 100. The top 100 were not ranked, but appear as an alphabetical list.

An independent panel judged submissions from FEO members, FEO said. The festivals and events ranged from community level to internationally recognized events.

“We are thrilled that the Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival is recognized among the top 100 festivals and events in Ontario along with long standing winners such as the Stratford Festival. The Culinary Festival has previously been awarded Ontario’s Tourism Event of the Year and Culinary Experience of the Year. These awards are a testament to the culinary passion of the community and the dedicated work of the volunteers,” said Danielle Brodhagen, Culinary Programming Stratford Tourism Alliance states,” said Danielle Brodhagen, culinary program co-ordinator with the Stratford Tourism Alliance.

Best Western (The Parlour), Pazzo, The Prune and City Centre Committee tweeted congratulations to Savour Stratford.

Other nearly events in the top 100 were Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Port Elgin Pumpkinfest, the TD Kitchener Blues Festival and TD Sunfest: Canada’s Premier Celebration of World Cultures in London.

Money Rules – rule your money or your money will rule you

MONEY RULES by Gail Vaz-Oxlade 

My New Book - Money Rules by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Your money is YOUR responsibility. If you won’t take the time to figure out how it works, you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work for YOU.

A lot of people out there are going to try to get your money to work for them. Retailers want you to spend it. Bankers want you to borrow and pay them interest. Investment advisors want you to put your money where it does their sales targets the most good.

You’re working hard for your money. Don’t you want to put that money to use for YOU ? Don’t you want it to serve YOUR needs and wants?

Money Rules is the truth about what you need to know about money, and who’s going to try to pull one over on you. Some of these rules debunk older rules that should never have been rules because they’re wrong. Some are misunderstandings that we think are rules because they’re repeated so often. And some of the rules are plain ol’ common sense.

I want to show you how to turn common sense into money in the bank.

“Create Your Own Puzzle”

Cobble Hill Puzzle Compay of Victoria, BC has come out with another unique puzzle product.

“Create Your Own Puzzle”  is a fun, new way to enjoy jigsaw puzzles: 

These are puzzles are the ultimate craft keepsake.  Now little artists have a vast canvas to cover with their imaginations and a puzzle to play with when they are done.  Cobble Hill high quality pieces are thick and durable, so the puzzles can be assembled over-and-over again.  They build puzzles to last!!!  For ages 3 and up.

Cobble Hill puzzles are made in North America.  They use environmentally friendly inks and 100% recycled fibers.

“Create Your Own Puzzles” come in 3 formats:

"Create Your Own Puzzle" is a 10" x 14" tray puzzle with crayons.

“Create Your Own Puzzle” is a 10″ x 14″, 35 piece tray puzzle with crayons.


You have several choices of blank, assembled tray puzzles that are ready for the young puzzle artist to draw and colour their own creation:

  • one 10 ” x  14″, 35 piece tray puzzle for $4.99
  • two 10″ x 14″, 35 piece tray puzzles with 24 crayons included (pictured above) for $11.99
  • a cute 5″ x 7″, 12 piece postcard size tray puzzle for $1.99


"Create Your Own Floor Puzzle" is a 36 large piece floor puzzle measuring 2 ft. x 3 ft.

“Create Your Own Floor Puzzle” is a 36 large piece floor puzzle measuring 2 ft. x 3 ft.


At a size measuring 2 feet x 3 feet, “Create Your Own Floor Puzzle” is just what it sounds like – a 36 large piece blank puzzle that you piece together and then start drawing and colouring as the inspiration bursts forward.  And these floor puzzles are double-sided for twice the fun!



“Coloring Puzzles” are a box set of 3 24-piece puzzles – just assemble and these durable puzzles are ready to
colour any way you like!



Coloring Puzzles are white puzzles with a line drawing sketched on the puzzle.  The box contains 3 24-piece puzzles ready to assemble and colour however you wish.  The puzzles come in a Nature, Dinosaur, or Fairy Tale Princess themes.  These puzzles are lots of fun for ages 4 +