Friday, October 28, 2011

Sutton Blues Festival

Sutton Blues Festival off to a swinging start

Jerome Godboo - courtesy of his web-site
By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg
On October 29, visitors and locals of Sutton will have the opportunity to see Jerome Godboo at the third in a series on concerts called "Sutton En Blues". The concerts, held at the Auberge Appalaches on Sutton mountain, will continue until November 26. This weekend's feature, Jerone Godboo is one of the highlights of this years tenth's anniversary of the blues festival. Mr. Godboo is a giant in the music scene in Canada, He has played with such greats as Prince, James Cotton, The Tragically Hip, Johnny Winter, Jose Feliciano and more, The "Globe and Mail" said about Jerome: "He commands a harmonica the way Jimi Hendrix commanded a guitar".
On November 5, the series will continue with a concert by Bharath & His Rythm Four, a long time favorite of Sutton's blues fans. The group won the Maple Blues award in 2003, they are playing with amps and mikes from the 60's and represent an incredible replica of the golden age of Blues.
On November 12 Toronto's Jack de Keyser is on stage. He is originally from the United Kingdom but has made Toronto his home for years now. He has won seven Maple blues awards, two Junos and in 2008 he won Nashville's international songwriting competition. Bob Dylan in a recent interview spoke of Jack de Keyser: "If Jack was from Chicago or New York or L.A., he would be world famous..."

 Photo courtesy of Jack de Kayser
November 19 will be a rocking evening with Treasa Levasseur on stage. This incredibly gifted woman has become somewhat of a "Blues Diva" in Canada and her funky delivery, her sometimes smoky voice which evokes memories of old Bogart movies, has made her a darling of this festival's connoisseurs.
 The end of this year's run of concerts is on November 26 when Sutton will be happy to once again welcome "MonkeyJunk" from Ottawa, who have been winning awards all over the globe lately, from the Maple Blues to the "Electric Act of the Year" ,for the second year in a row, "Harmonica player of the year", the third year in a row for Steve Marriner and "drummer of the year" for Matt Sobb.
This will be a great finale for this anniversary event of great music in Sutton at a fine venue, presided over by owner Patricia Gerard, an original music lover and  generous host at her Auberge Appalaches.

Halloween at the Sutton Museum

150 happy children and a small museum - Halloween's Pumpkin Art in Sutton

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
When Richard Leclerc took over as administrator of Sutton's museum he probably thought that this would be a job of ease and relaxation. This, after all, is a small town and there are no Dinosaurs rising up in the middle of the night to wreak havoc. However, since he has been there, the museum has become a lively and interesting place, exhibitions change, interactive events have been created and the last in this series of changes was evident on Thursday morning when 150 school children invaded the museum to take part in this year's Pumpkin judging contest.
More than 70 beautifully crafted pumpkins are presently on display and shall stay until the final judging is over on Sunday. Kids under 18 can write in their favorites and adults are asked to make a $ 5.- donation to the museum when casting their ballots. There are prizes galore to be won, the biggest one being a Montreal Canadian's sweater autographed by Emile "Butch" Bouchard.

 This event is being sponsored by a number of local merchants which have founded an initiative "Buy Local Sutton". I.G.A. has donated the pumpkins, the Sutton mountain group has given money, so has the local cheese shop "Rumeur Affame", the pharmacy of M. Milot, Lynda Graham's "Vert le Mont" B&B. the "Chocolaterie Belge", the local fashion shop "Rendezvous de la Monde" and others.

"Three more days of this" for museum director Richard Leclerc who seemed to revel in entertaining his young charges.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chocolaterie Belge in Sutton ready for Halloween

Three decades of sweet joy - Sutton's chocolate Belge is ready for Halloween

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
Before Norka Muriel was allowed to purchase the venerable"Cocolaterie Belge" in Sutton, seven years ago,she had to work with the previous owner for a full year. "They wanted to make certain that the quality will continue" smiles the engaging and courteous Norka, a Bolivian born entrepeneur. "I came up here to visit with my sister who had moved to Canada many years before I did, fell in love with the country and here I am"
Here she is indeed. There are many days that she starts at 9am and does not leave until 2am the next morning. She is all by herself, every single piece of chocolate is hand crafted, there are not a lot of molds - she will make violins and hounted houses, all by hand. There are three machines constantly mixing the dark chocolate, the milk chocolate and the luscious white base which I had the hardest time not dipping my finger into, in the last moment of desire remembering health regulations of the province of Quebec.

How long does it take to make such a beautiful creation such as the plate of tiny Halloween treats? "At least two hours, but some things like this small violin which encompasses three different chocolates might take a bit longer". And then there are the stock truffles,cream  filled chocolates,nougats, bars, nut confetions and chocolate treats on popsicle sticks. At best estimate, there were about 4,000 pieces on display, maybe more, Norka does not know either. "I just work every day and fill the showcases, I use only the best Belgian chocolate from a company called "Callebaut" which has been around for a few centuries. All my nuts come from one of the oldest Montreal distributors of fine imported and domestic product and my cream and milk is locally sourced and certified to the n'th degree. There is no short cutting when you want to make the best product".

With just a couple of days to go before Halloween, we left a harried Norka to her mixing machines and her spotless tables, wishing that we might be young again to put on that costume and knock on the door of Chocolaterie Belge in Sutton on Halloween evening.

Sutton mountain readies itself for winter

"It's up to mother nature now" - Sutton mountain gets ready for the season

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
"It is all up to Mother Nature now" according to Sutton mountain's Melanie Davidson. "This is our busiest time of the year, getting the mountain groomed, the snow making equipment in place, enlarging the bar, the installation of new carpets in the reception area etc."
And busy it was Wednesday morning. The phone was ringing, backhoes were driving up and down the myriad trails and workers were everywhere on the slopes. The mountain is expanding this year by offering four new "tree skiing" trails to all winter sport enthusiasts: Crocodile, Entonnoir, Extase and Seduction. Skiers and snowboarders can expect to practice their favourite winter sports in a wooded zone, where there will be lots of trees. Due to this fact, the Crocodile and Entonnoir trails will offer a high level of difficulty, they will therefore have a "triple diamond" status. The Extase and Seduction trails will be listed in the "double diamond" category.
A new Tucker Sno-Cat has been added to the already impressive fleet of snow grooming machines and 33 new energy efficient snow guns have been installed to insure coverage of snow on the most popular Dynamique trail.
"We had an exceptionally good year last winter" explains Melanie, "there were no serious injuries, attendance was at a record level and we are building upon this to make this season as good as we can, to ensure the continuance of our status as one of the most desirable ski designations in Quebec".

 "In two or three weeks this is going to be a beehive" smiled a worker busy at inspecting the chairs. "we are even installing new backrests to make people more comfortable".
This winter, Mont Sutton will also offer a new 3D interactive trail map. Among other functions, this new trail map will give visitors the possibility to share photos and videos directly on it.
Among other news at the mountain is a new family pass which  will allow its holders to ski for free at Mont St-Bruno. Now it is just up to nature. The mountain and its hundreds of employees are ready!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sutton Curling Club

Sutton Curling Club opens for the winter season

.By Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
My friend Diane Owen, a long time member and officer of the Sutton Curling Club invited me to visit last this year's "open house at the club. I had never set foot in a curling venue so this was all new to me. There is a tournament sized 146 foot rectangle of impeccably manicured ice,  polished "sliders", the stones players will move about the ice, as well as a great array of ice brooms. The facility has a banquet hall which can be rented for special occasions, with a free bartender available for the asking.Roomy and rustic, I can envision a birthday or anniversary party here with some good ice time available at a small extra cost.

Diane Owen scheduling events
Actually, Diane Owen is in charge of rentals of the ice. It costs only $ 200.- for four hours with all the sliders and brooms supplied. Thus, if a group has four skips, for that amount ,4 groups making up 16 people on the ice, the cost per person is $ 12.50. The club supplies everything else from ice maintenance to electricity. This sounds like the greatest sports bargain on the planet to me.
The club is one year older than I am, it was founded in January of 1947 and originally was curling on an outdoors hockey rink on the same site as today's facility.  The first president was Mr. Ed Curley which struck me as hilarious. Obviously with the name "Curley" a soccer club was not on the radar. Curley's curling club built the building and got its first ice making machine in 1954 and the club has been operating from October to mid April ever since. It is registered as a not-for-profit organization.
Currently there are 40 members who are all volunteers. "Nobody gets any pay here" explains Diane. "Everything gets done by the volunteers, from ice maintenance to bartending and sometimes during a "Bonspiel" or when we have a Bloody Mary Breakfast, it can become quite hectic".
Bonspiel? I never heard that one but the word is in common use in curling and is of gaelic origin, meaning "the great game" which in normal language is called "tournament". Curling Sutton, last year, held a big Bonspiel with clubs from all over Quebec competing here.

"Visitors are welcome to Sutton Curling Club to watch a match. You can also try curling for yourselves on Friday evenings for a fee of $10 for non members or $2 for memebers. All you need is a clean pair of running shoes and warm clothing.We will supply the broom and slider" explained Diane Owen.

The spacious hospitality room and bar have long been a favorite spot for the "after curling" activities and has seen all sorts of events from retirement to engagement parties. For information and reservations call: 450 538-3226
Copyright 2011 Maple Leaf Press Agency. All rights reserved. Clients may reprint or quote from any sent articles as per contract. Attribution to author is mandatory.
20 Western Street
Sutton, QC J0E 2K0

ph: (450) 538 0982

Friday, October 21, 2011

This week in pictures

photos taken on my morning drive:

Rue Favreau, Dunham

J.P's cat staring at the Pinnacle

..and his new puppy entertaining "old faithful"

Heading down Pinnacle road

Saying "Good Morning" to my friends at Liebrecht's sheep farm

My friend Benjamin is still working his ground cherry farm on Alderbrook road

Robinson's Farm has turned out the first horses of the morning

and just up a ways on Jordan road James is tending to his Alpacas

Cows cows everywhere

The last flowers of fall will probably be gone by next week

Selby lake in Dunham glimmers in the early morning light

Jenny's pond frogs have gone into hiding but the view is still spectacular

 On the Dunham/Sutton line I stop to say "Hi" to the duck and the two dogs which greet me almost every day

 Heading home

 Rue Favreau again

 One more pond...
and a lovely barn on the corner of Alderbrooke....

And we are back home!

I hope you enjoyed my pictures - there will be a new edition of my Sutton area picture album every week now.
Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
Copyright 2011 Maple Leaf Press Agency. All rights reserved. Clients may reprint or quote from any sent articles as per contract. Attribution to author is mandatory.
20 Western Street
Sutton, QC J0E 2K0

ph: (450) 538 0982

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christmas market in Sutton announced

Abenaki tents and Santa Claus - A new twist for Sutton

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
The wigwam shown above (Courtesy Vermont Historical Society) is an example of the traditional Abenaki "house". The Abenakis came into Southern Quebec in the 1660's and settled along the shores of Lake Champlain, eventually moving north into Southern Quebec. The Missiquoi tribe of Abenaki indians became the dominant local group and are remembered through names such as the Missisqoi river and it's valley.
To celebrate the heritage of these early settlers in the greater Sutton area, the town of Sutton will feature a theme based Christmas market this year. The event will take place at five different locations in Sutton on Friday, December 9 to Sunday, December 11 and then from Friday, December 16 to Sunday, December 18.
In its planning stages now, the organizers envison tipees, prospector tents and related temporary shelters to show off the products of local artisans and producers of agricultural products of the area. There will be decorations, music and entertainment and as soon as we have a complete program of events we will post them. In the meantime, interested parties can contact the Sutton Tourist office at their web site:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween from the Dollarama in Cowansville

Cowansville's Dollarama rocks with halloween spirit

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
"This is so much fun" exclaimed a young woman who was doing a dual purpose shopping at Cowansville's Dollarama on Monday afternoon. "We have our boss's birthday party to get dressed up for and the rest of the stuff is for Halloween".
She was not the only one. There were dozens of upbeat shoppers loading up on candies, fake bleedingg arms and hands, masks, skeletons, funny hats, immense and threatening looking chains (of lightweight styrofoam thank you Lord) and the occasional severed head.
We purchased five lovely goblins ($ 2.- each) for our front yard display, which this year will have a life sized stuffed scary doll riding our full sized illuminated tractor, accompanied by scary music.

The Dollarama has been a life-saver for so many of us noveau poor in the townships. We get our glassware there and the rolling pins, inexpensive electric bulbs and extension cords for the Christmas tree to light the bargain prived tiny bulbs.  Today we saw the scarves and gloves disappearing before our very eyes and the warm hats, priced at $ 2.- seemed such a bargain that we bought four. Add to that the $ 1.00 slippers, the new shower curtain ($ 2.50), six solar light sticks to illuminate the driveway in winter at $ 2.- per, and everyone who cannot afford Holt - Renfrew, can have a shopping spree at the Dollarama.

If this were a consumer report, we should advise the following purchases: Spanish squid pieces in a roasted garlic sauce for $ 1.50, nicely crafted quartz kitchen clocks with real glass fronts (we owned one of these for five years) at $ 2.00, excellent staplers for a buck, socks of decent quality, ditto, flashlights, both conventional or LCD for about $ 2.00 and the first batches of Christmas cards in both official languages so inexpensive, you can include all the girls at the local I.G.A in your Christmas card list.
I shall now sit down to a plate of mini ravioli with meatballs ($ 1.00) until we can figure out what's for dinner tonight. Happy Halloween to our readers!

Quoi de Neuf? in Sutton

Artisan exhibit at Sutton's Golf Club thrills large crowd

By ManfriedH. Starhemberg
At Sunday afternoon there were at least 400 visitors at the annual artisans exhibit "Quoi de Neuf?",at the Sutton Golf Club. "We will be back next year" was the most often voiced summary of this year's two day event. "This was the best show yet" explained another artisan who has been a "frequent flier" here for seven years.
The array of pleasing decorative items was impressive, from braided ruigs to woodwork, hand made woolen garments and beautifully blown glass, the mostly townships based artisans created a lively and fascinating palette of color and visual impact in so many genres that we had to tour the exhibit twice because it would have been easy to overlook a deserving display.

A superb exhibit of plants was located next to hundreds of delightfully handcrafted dolls made from mostly recycled fabrics and next to this was a show of decorative items made from found or hand shaped wood. Soaps and lotions were there as were delicacies to samplee such as pieces of mediterranean pies by Mami Mari or the delicious morsels of pumpkin or red wine fudge by Lynn Matthews of Knowlton.
Domaine Bresee winery was represented and had a lively exhibit with the opportunity to sample this year's offerings. A silversmith delighted with an array of more than 300 pieces handmade from mostly vintage sterling flatware. The company is aptly called "Spoonart"

Lovely painted objects from boxes to candlesticks delighted next to the sublime creations of a pottery from Pigeon Hill and the wooden toys of Francois Boisvert. And at the main foyer , visitors were greeted by dozens of traditional Santa Claus dolls by Knowlton's Judy Mullins who has decorated stores and restaurants in the area for Christmas for quite some time.
The local foodbank had a display and a raffle and we were told that this year the raffle sales had been good and the proceeds of the show are a welcome addition to the ever precarious funding of this institution.

 And to the delight of many, with the possible exception of Anne Johnston, who worried about her braided rugs, a small cat played the crowd at the upstairs exhibits. The mood was festive, sales brisk and even the big rainstorm on Saturday did not dampen the spirit of this event which is always eagerly anticipated in Sutton.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Salle Pelletier, Sutton

"You cannot download a life show" - Salle Pelletier in Sutton

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
"You cannot download a life show, you have to come here, experience the proximity to the artists, it is something so very special which is why we do it" explains sassy and energetic assistant artistic director of Salle Alec and Gerard Pelletier, Eve Denis. The concert hall/ movie house/ theater, is the mainstay of cultural activity in Sutton and hosts approximately 160 events every year. And now, after the Sutton Jazz Festival has ended, the hall is preparing for a long winter of great doings: There are movies on Thursday nights, there will be the great annual Blues Festival in November and a number of concerts are on the menu.
On October 15 the "Minstrels of Hope" will perform. This is a group of eleven singers, aged 18 to 27, from the slums of Manila in the Philipines. On October 16 the hall will feature an incredible new movie: "The Raid". A group of confederate prisoners escape to Canada and plan to rob the banks and set fire to the small town of St. Albans, Vermont.
"It is a rendezvous with local history" explains, Michael Hynes, artistic director of the facility.

Mr. Haynes (51) is an internationally known producer of contemporary classical music with more than 100 albums done under his tutealge. "What brought you to Sutton ?" we asked. "It is a bit like a blind dog finding a bone" chuckles Michael. "I used to ski here, I love the area and when the job became available seven years ago, I just had to have it".
"There is the great exhilaration to work closely with artists, set up the stage, truly manage a small theater, know most of the patrons and then, after a night goes well, turn out the lights".
The show however continues, with short films from around the world on October 21, a mexican band on October 22, a contemporary French comedy "French Immersion" on October 27, Cine Cabaret on November 3 etc. For a complete program of events at Sutton's intimate theater and performing arts center go to their web site at:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sutton History Ralley

Tourists rally around historicial buildings in Sutton

By M. H. Starhemberg
It's the brainchild of Marie Amyot (above) of the Sutton tourist office, coincides with the Sutton Fall festival and will end on October 16: A foot Ralley for tourists to discover the historical roots of this town. Available at the tourist office across from the town hall are questionnanaires which have sixteen items. A tourist can walk the town, questionnnaire in hand and visit the buildings mentioned, all of which have descriptive plaques on the front lawn. Questions may be, "What was the material used to create this structure?", or "Which religious groups made up the first congregation of this church?". All the clues to the questions can be found on the historical markers and after people submit their filled-out forms, they will be eligible to a drawing of a stay for two at Sutton's B&B "Gite Vert Le Mont, complete with breakfasts and afternoon teas.
A drawing for the grand award will be held at the tourist office on October 21.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sutton's Keith Robinson

Keith Robinson and his Sutton equestrian center

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg
Over the past decade Keith Robinson has gradually added to his family's horse business by purchasing abutting acreage and facilities. Now the "Robinson Stables" encompass 191 beautifully maintained acres just five minutes from the center of Sutton center, in the rolling hills of Jordan road which are one of the most outstanding visual delights in the greater Sutton area. Jordan road winds from Sutton to Dunham, passing a sheep farm, an Alpaca farm, sparkling ponds, vineyards and apple orchards. In the center of this is Keith Robinson's place. Often, on a sunny Saturday or Sunday morning, Sutton parents will drive their children up theire just to let them watch the horses training at the large outdoor jumping ring or being exercised in the dressage area, or simply to see those animals that are turned out daily to dot the fields in which they are largely free to graze and show off their equine beauty.

All the horses the stables board are turned out every day, are fed three times per day and get more attention by Keith, his family and seasonal employees than many senior citizens in assisted housing receive. Keith owns two boarding barns, one with a capacity for 24 horses which adjoins an indoor show arena and a viewing gallery, a second one is able to house 13 animals. Large tack rooms are available and owners have their own lockers and access to all the facilities of the farm. A third large barn is the utility facility for the feed, equipment and tools.

 Outdoor jumping area (photo courtesy)
There are so many more facets to this place. Keith and his crew will teach jumping and dressage, driving and eventing. Timid owners of competition horses can have their prized animals shown and ridden at competitions by the experienced trainers of the stables. The farm also provides transportation of horses by means of one spacious six horse transport and another which can accomodate two animals. And for the first timer, the family Robinson will provide guidance for beginners from the purchase of a horse, the introduction of riding and caring of the animal, through any advanced degree of horsemanship. The stables have won numerous awards in competitions, have a loyal owner following and currently showcase some of the finest hunters and jumpers or eventing horses in the townships.

One happy rider all decked out (courtesy)
Lastly, Robinson stables is selling horses and currently has an impressive list of exquisite horse flesh on sale at their web site. Unfortunately, just in the last week we noticed that suddenly, more than half of the horses advertised have a "sold" sign on their pictures which shows that an aggessively managed and well promoted business which has been in business, albeit in a much smaller form, until Keith expanded it, for five generations has done well and will continue to do so because this is a family who truly loves the work, thrives on it, even in the bleak winter months when we have observed them in the barns in the early morning hours at their tasks. "It is not a get-rick-quick business smiles one of the Robinson family members. You have to love what you do and take the winter with the glorious other three seasons which have given us as a family such great joy to be here".