what's up with the rural/recreational market?

July 24th, 2010

A recent Washington Post article declares that prices have dropped to a point where the emotional benefits of homeownership outweigh potential losses from further price declines.

And a recent Toronto Globe and Mail article said this:

Ontario is in the midst of an "impressive" economic recovery driven by government stimulus, a pickup in auto manufacturing and a hot real estate market, BMO Nesbitt Burns says. "In fact, the recovery has been so potent that the province, which had been Canada's economic whipping boy throughout the recession, has now moved to the top of the pack on a number of indicators," economist Robert Kavcic said in a research note today.

Country real estate is seen as a world away from the noise and congestion of urban life and recent Royal LePage and ReMax surveys contend that the Canadian rural/recreational market is seen as being reasonably priced compared to other countries.

We all know that it really feels great to just sit by the water in a special place. People still want a property in cottage country. Recently, unprecedented market conditions included a severe shortage of listing inventory and in the past few years, Seller’s prices that had climbed have simply returned to calm. Yes, some prices may have dipped, but they’ve settled now, so don’t look for them to crash. Inventory is better and luxury properties, in particular, are selling well.

Now, it’s as easy as ever, to enjoy some of the finer things in life... like sunsets, the way the sunlight plays in the ripples on a lake, the sound of loons. People are pulling their heads out of the sand and ignoring negative press... as one Realtor put it, “Lots of expensive homes have been bought and sold, and those people don't buy if the economy is in trouble.”

Purchasing a cottage is like buying the complete lifestyle vacation package, every bit as much as it is a sound real estate investment. The most important ingredient seems to be a place to have a peaceful place for family time and truly break all connections with the city, while being only a few hours from home. Psychologists will tell you, that parenting is easier in this kind of setting, too!

Canadians' dream of owning a cottage or other piece of recreational property just won't die, regardless of the state of the economy, rising taxes and interest rates, and more stringent mortgage requirements.

&, as tragic as the April 20 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico might be, it is causing a slight increase in the number of tourists who are coming to cottage country, as they decide to bask in the sun in this area rather than the south. After all, we do have 4 season activities... in winter, you can luge, ski, skate, snowmobile, dog sled, ice fish, build snowmen or cuddle by the fire!

There’s nothing sweeter than a dark sky and quiet. Just the sound of a frog or two. Yup, they aren’t kidding when they say it’s an emotional thing.... which is one of the most difficult hurdles during the property search. I find that most people have a difficult time articulating what “their” rural home or cottage is like... I mean, the one they dream about... the one that they imagine is their place.

I find that once I spend a little time with folks, it’s easier to narrow down their choices and I love finding them the right spot, at the right place, with the right terms! It’s so very satisfying.

A Peek At Home Trends

July 14th, 2010

Small is the new big. Spaces that are easier to maintain, keep clean and heat are the hottest in home trends. Everyone's recalibrating. Watch the horizon for smaller homes and the trend continue, toward greener, more sustainable buildings. Amenities override size on the priority list and, in general, consumers want a home that is cosier, more organized and more economical in terms of operating costs.

Today’s home buyers really do think about their carbon footprint and plan ways to save on utility bills. They ultimately want their home to be energy efficient. Low E Glass, R 38 insulation, high efficiency AC systems, passive solar orientation, solar panels, energy rated appliances, tankless water heaters, and LED lighting are some of the basics that buyers hope to find.

Basements have become entertainment showplaces, where custom built-in bars, theatre areas, exercise rooms and guest suites give friends and family an open invitation to stay for a while. Homes have become a source of entertainment for owners who have traded a night on the town for take-out and a movie on the flat screen. Sellers who don't have a finished basement should consider clearing the space and putting a good paint on the floor.

Consumer interest delves into things far more technical, as today's Buyers are concerned about how construction materials were made, and the energy cost of transporting them. Today’s buyers prefer locally made or recycled products that are eco-friendly to produce, and safe to have in their homes. Insulation made from old blue jeans is a perfect fit! Open floor plans are sought after.

Boomers and Millenials are driving the demand for smaller, smarter homes designed to function more efficiently with no wasted space and plenty of room for storage. They want high-tech features, open floor plans and spaces to enjoy outdoor living. They are also buying before they get married and are willing to buy higher density/smaller homes.

New alternative energy sources are no longer frightening. People are eager to see "off the grid" housing. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are trending in... indoor fireplace are trending out. Sellers should make a fire pit in their yard, if they have space.

Two-story family rooms are out... the demand for accessible homes is on the rise and the kitchen is the new family room. Transformed from a room in which only family sit or cook food in- the kitchen is now a place of gathering and entertainment.

Products and furniture green or recycled materials are becoming more popular. Natural materials such as wood, bamboo and cork, combined with paints and varnishes with low volatile organic substances. This not only improves the atmosphere at home, but also plays a role in the conservation of nature. The same goes for appliances, even taps- people are looking for water saving as well as electricity saving devices.

Stainless steel and granite surfaces are out....while there is a move toward a surface’s visual impact, including color, sheen and special effects – today's consumer loves the unusual, such as sparkle, metallic and pearlescent effects – which define the look and feel of an object.

Sherwin Williams says:
… a million glittering pinpoints of light, glints redolent of precious metals … innovative trend stylings which contain brand-new, literally scintillating effects never before seen, bringing luxury to any surface …
… new directions for red, whether fire engine or Ferrari, the color which most attracts attention … now, the most penetrating color gets a new twist! …
… gleaming reflections in everything from bronze to pewter … mirrored accents bestow luxury and stylish refinement …
astonishing shades enhancing the look of an object and adding sparkle … rich and unique effects … fiery, glowing reds to rich browns with inner orange flashes, highlighting shape and design …
… intriguing surface stylings featuring colors and effects overlaid on the intrinsic beauty of “exposed” carbon fibre weave patterns – made possible by new advances in protection technology


Beautiful and timeless, white kitchen cabinets are the most popular and flexible choice for the kitchen – that combine great color with different shades of the furniture and various architectural styles of the room. Besides all this, the white color makes the room a light and spacious, and you can safely add a brighter color on the walls. Oak cupboards have made a bit of a comeback, too.

Home decor is leaning toward themes of nature, ethnic colors, casual chic and cheerful tones. Tuscan is over, today we want neutrals combined with soft, pale pastels plus urban darks. Gray, navy, light camel and olive are joined by white, pale heather, soft rose, pistachio tint, aqua, lemon and pink. Warm buff and pebble colours are in, blued grays, lavender and yellowed greens are popular.

Sofas and chairs that aspire to be quaintly “cottage” by combining two or more fabrics—like a cabbage-rose print on the seat cushions and another pattern on the back or arms are OUT and we're trending toward simple, plain, minimalistic furnishings. Natural fibres are popping up in many catalogs with pieces made from materials like woven sea grass and abaca.

Designers lean toward geometric shapes, fine materials- often sparkling and advise that homeowners never exaggerate the palette of color. Continuity between inside and outside is to be considered, too. Simple is the new elegant.

Seems we are simplifying and going more natural in most directions... on the hairstyle front, for instance, the craze for super-long locks is diminishing and hair extensions are dialling back... we can expect to see lots more curly styles in the coming year. In 2011 hairstyles are full of movement and will mix textures and effects with a combination of softness and provocation. Styling becomes airy light and magical, irregular or geometric.

For longer hair affectionados, braids are the biggest upcoming trend. Falling in two distinct camps: 1/ tight and sleek like state-of-the art hair architecture and 2/ the surfer chic version, loosely worn in matte, roughly textured plaits snaking over the shoulders – NO gloss spray. Yup, and 2011 hairstyles are all about being shorter, bold and strong. With styles that have the tendency to be tapered and light, strong and delicate, composed of disorganized harmony and mixed colors.

In the fashion world look for more smart fibre blends and new finishing techniques; with an emphasis on performance. Today's fabrics are supple and have comfort stretch. Red will definitely be the main color for fall/winter this year. The industry claims that they are experiencing a most demanding design direction with its apparently contradictory, subtle mixtures of authenticity and the new modernity. The consumer, in all areas of life, is seeking a comforting bit of nostalgia, mixed with new demands for high-performance, social responsibility and quality.

Today's Buyer is willing to put the effort into restyling for the sake of performance and responsibility... although most home Buyers today are looking for a comfortable, smaller home that utilizes space to the max, a home that encompasses some of today's trends will be seen as a more attractive purchase. Buyers will look for "found space", so Sellers should tidy up underutilized areas such as basements, attics, garages which Buyers see as space that can be repurposed into functional and stylish rooms...

after all...home ownership is still seen as a rite of passage, an expression of independence... and home ownership is, in many cases, the primary source of a household's net worth and the fundamental first step toward accumulating wealth – it is one trend that's here to stay.


June 26th, 2010

It's hard to believe... but my little girl has completed high school! They aren't kidding when they say they grow up fast!!!

It seems like it was just yesterday....
Catherine Elizabeth Stewart (Katie) came to join us

Then, not even a year old... she started walking AND talking! & she loved to visit the zoo....

She was born independent!

She began driving, before she was 2

Then, it was time for her first day of school....

where she accumulated many friends and fans... and got excellent grades...

and she got a lot of practice speaking in front of groups and being on stage...

she mc'd the grade 8 graduation, the year before her own... and she was Miss Bancroft... and Miss Pioneer... and she won numerous poetry contests... and volunteered for all kinds of stuff!!!

Then, she went on to high school... and became more worldly...

and joined the improv team....

and started working at a local jewellry store of her own volition, at the age of 15

she also got involved at the Village Playhouse....

in various different roles....

and made some good friends...

lots of them... especially during the 4 years of improv....

she did a fabulous job as Erma in NHHS's musical theatre production of Anything Goes (singing and dancing, too) ... getting special notice on the radio... and special attention from the crowd!

Oh... did I mention that she never gave me any problems and always made me proud?

Recently, she went to her prom, with one of her bffs...

Her boyfriend showed up later (his prom was the same night... a nearby town, but different high school)...

and next week... she is Valedictorian at the Commencement Ceremony...

Her grades are near to perfect... and she is a joy, indeed...Fabian and I are so proud... her grandparents (John and Pat Noyes of Bancroft & John and Ellen Stewart of Lindsay) are proud and her father Patrick and his wife are, too....

and next year... she's off... to Queen's... we're going to miss her and all the crazy stuff she does around here...



Last evening, June 29, 2010 we enjoyed the commencement ceremonies at North Hastings High School...

Katie gave a moving Valedictorian Address...

AND took away a number of awards...

The Dramatic Arts, University Preparation Award

A North Hastings High School Scholarship (for a student who excels in academics)

The Principal's Award for Studen Leadership (for a senior student who displays outstanding leadership throughout the school community)

A Quinte Arts Council Bursary (for students who have demonstrated active involvement in the arts both within their school and the wider community)

The Magister Award for Top University-bound student (yes, she got the top marks for six grade 12 courses, all at university level)

The Bancroft Theatre Guild Appreciation Bursary

An "Ontario Scholars" certificate

The Level 3 House Award

Member of the Honour Society

and we're not even touching on the Wasmund Family Memorial Scholarship that she's been awarded!

G it's G8

June 24th, 2010

I'm beginning to think that the world is coming to the point that, if we stop and listen very carefully.... we just might hear the message that we sent to ourselves, a millenium ago.

oh, how the earth drums rumbled yesterday... calling to us all the way from Buckingham, Quebec....

Buckingham is part of the provincial riding of Papineau (as it is located near the Papineau region and the federal riding of Pontiac.

Throughout its history, the city of Buckingham's economy has been dominated by the MacLaren dynasty.

Claude Lemieux was born in 1965 in Buckingham, Quebec...

Is it true that in Quebec, Metis are not recognized?

Today, I found this website:


There is an online petition... in part, it says....

"On August 18th and 19th, beginning at 9:30am, we are asking for 1,000,000 people to meet with us at the Lincoln Memorial / Reflecting Pool Area in Washington DC as we bring to the attention of the United States the plight of all Mixed Bloods and Cherokee Freedmen who have been denied their rights as a Cherokee People by the discrimination perpetuated by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma who are denying our very existence. They deny us the right to even say that we are Cherokee, they deny us the right to sell our crafts as Cherokee Made and we are denied our Freedom of Religion to worship our Creator as we deem necessary to our spirituality. Throughout this date we will have speakers, Native American dancers, drumming and flute playing as we seek an audience with the President of these United States of America. This event will start with the blessing of the grounds promptly at 9:30am. Because of the increasing support we will now be meeting for two (2) days for this event, There will be Native American guest speakers and Native American performers.
We are asking each and everyone who will join with us on this August 18th at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, to sign this showing your intention to be there to take a stand for not only your rights, but the rights of your children and grandchildren that will follow you. Surely the ancestors will smile on this day as we take back our rights as Cherokee."

Peaceful Eagle
Event Specialist

(there's lots more to see at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/indian-creek-chickamauga-confederacy-native-blood-drive)

Sometimes, I imagine a powerful nation rising in North America... maybe that's what it was... that sounded like drums... during the earthquake that rocked us... yesterday.

Local News & Coming Events

June 23rd, 2010

School is almost over... soon, the happy voices of children will be calling out, "I'm bored".... so, here's a smattering of news items and some of the many, many things to do in the area:

Highway 62 between Selby Hill and Maynooth is under construction... those who have had to travel the lumpy bumpy bit of highway will appreciate the work...

meantime, there are a few traffic snarls...

Also on Highway 62, just before Maynooth, a solar farm is being installed. It looks similar to the one in Coe Hill....

Speaking of which, the work of Coe Hill area artist Tobe Muir and her husband, Gary Miller, is being featured in an exhibit at the Innuit Gallery- 201 Queens Ave in London, Ontario.

Computer Assisted Retinal Analysis is being deployed in the area.

The Upper Madawaska Valley minor baseball team took the A championship title.

The Barry's Bay and Area Library is offering the downloading of audiobooks (via the province's funding of the OverDrive project) from its website. Also, the library is circulating museum passes for free admittance to some national (including the newly renovated Canadian Nature Museum) and Renfrew County museums. Free passes mean no fees (for up to a family of five) and no waiting in line-ups to pay for admission.

Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School in Bancroft will become a green energy leader in Eastern Ontario as they begin preparations to build a biomass boiler system for the facility by September 2010.

We were sad to learn of the recent passing of community volunteer, Dennis LeFeuvre, community leader, known as an environmental crusader, advocate for youth and fish hatchery champion.

Graphite Bible Camp is celebrating its 50th year.

Barry’s Bay has a new gazebo, near the Zurakowski Park. Watch for community events at this venue.

Put down the beer, no more beavertails, and take one less slice of pizza - you've only got a couple of days left to train for the Barry's Bay Triathlon or Duathlon. June 27th, 2010 marks the 18th annual running of this challenging race in the Madawaska Highlands!

Florence VanderMeer, an educational assistant at North Hastings High School , has been awarded with the Premier's Award for Excellent Support Staff.

George Thorogood band’s lead guitarist for a dozen years, Jim Suhler, will be playing this weekend at Combermere’s Bent Anchor as their special season opener!

The 47th Annual Rockhound Gemboree takes place in Bancroft on July 29 to August 1, 2010. This is Canada's largest gem & mineral show and it brings together over 110 dealers of fine mineral specimens, gemstone jewellery, and lapidary supplies. Highlights include a gold panning booth, rock and mineral talks with geologists from Natural Resources Canada, a swapping area, a mineral display and expert mineral identification services offered by Malcolm Back of the Royal Ontario Museum, and geologist-led mineral collecting field trips. Last year, the event was identified as one of the top 100 Festivals & Events in Ontario.

The first annual 2 day, 3 stage music festival “Bomb BayBlast” is scheduled for July 1 & 2nd in Barry’s Bay and will focus on local and regional talent of varied music genres from around the Ottawa Valley. Early Bird passes are available until June 30th! For more information see: http://bayblast.ca/eventinfo.html

The Mineral Capital Concerts look forward to a fantastic season in 2010 with musical events on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm, June through August at the Millennium Park in Bancroft.

This weekend, June 25-27th it’s McNab Days 2010 - Affair of the Arts in Burnstown. www.burnstown.ca

Remember, the farmers market runs from mid June to Thanksgiving in the pretty village of Combermere.(Corner Of Hwy 62 And Mill Road)

Also in Combermere, the Madonna House Gift Shop, Gallery, Flea Market and Museum are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. until Thanksgiving. Their used bookstore is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. until Thanksgiving.

The Combermere Craft Cabin is located at 39244 Combermere Road (Highway 62) and is open Open weekends -May to October. Weekend and weekdays - July and August (Closed Mondays-except holiday Mondays). It is well worth the trip to see the extraordinary work of some of our local artisans and crafters.

The CO BLITZ takes place on Sunday, August 1, 2010 at Combermere & Area Community Centre. It’s aA fun-filled day full of activities for the whole family, to celebrate being a part of the wonderful area of Combermere. Enjoy live music, games, petting zoo, lawn mower races and more!

The Barry's Bay Farmers' Market is open on Friday evenings 3-6pm at the Railway Station Park until Thanksgiving. & Friday August 20th from 10-6 , Taste of The Valley which is an extended farmers' market featuring the best market goods from across the Ottawa Valley! Over 40 venders selling: Dairy; Beef; Lamb; Honey; Pork; Preserves; Produce; Crafts; and more.

Tuesday nights are “Blues Jam Nights” at the Wilno Tavern.

Ian Tamblyn is playing at the Wilno Station, this Saturday night (June 26th)

Griffith Farms are hosting a Horse Pull on the 26th at 1:00 at 1075 Cold Creek Road
(off Lett's Cemetery Road) in Eganville.

The works of Alice Vermeer are on display at the Upstairs Gallery, at the railway station in Barry’s Bay. Her collection of watercolour paintings and pen & ink drawings, are inspired by the beautiful Ottawa Valley scenery. July 9 - Aug 1 the exhibit will change to The Nesting Habit in which Cara Bleskie and Catherine Toth will use recycled materials, objects from nature and photography to create an installation looking at the theme of travel and the railway.

Also, at the South of 60 Arts Centre, until July 4th, is Hans Aggarwal’s series of mixed media work investigating what people buy and consume and the impact of this activity on the environment. This show is entitled “Manipulation”. July 9 - Aug 1 Hockey Stick Junkestra Musician and artist, Mark Sepic will create a large, interactive music sculpture right in the gallery. The sculpture will be made out of recycled objects from our community, such as pots and pans, sinks and broken wooden hockey sticks. For more information see: http://www.southof60.com/index.php?whichpage=home

The Madawaska Valley Movement Arts Festival is slated for August 20-29th and includes workshops for children, youth, adults, seniors and professional movement artists. For more information visit www.morningstararts.com

All Dance Project, South of 60 and Morningstar Center present Caboose, a site specific creation- at the caboose, near the water tower on Aug 27th 8:15 p.m. in Barry’s Bay.

Saturday July 10th, the arts & crafts festival will be held at the old train station in Barry’s Bay.

Artists In The Park (Barry’s Bay):

July 30 Ottawa Valley Music Festival Choir The OVMFC will be doing James Wright's Gallery of Song, poems set to beautiful choral music describing nine different paintings by Group of Seven artists.

Aug 13 Shroeder Nordholt - Pianist
Schroeder will perform an assortment of classical, jazz/blues, and pop.

Aug 27 Ken Ramsden and Zeke Mazurek Zeke and Ken will perform classical, folk, and celtic musical selections on guitar and violin.

July 30th 1-5pm Janet Moore – Painter Janet will demonstrate mixed media/ painting.

Aug 13th 1-5pm Brian Michel - Camera Obscura Brian will demonstrate his pin hole camera in a yurt.
Come and find out what it is like to step inside a camera.

Aug 27th 1-5pm Jamie Turnbull – Potter Jamie will demonstrate turning clay on a pottery wheel.

Also, check out the shows at the Bancroft Playhouse, this summer!

& there are so many other places to see, planned events, artists, artisans.... I dare anyone to be bored in these here parts!

UPDATE: at 1:40 this afternoon we were shaken by an earthquake for a good 15 seconds or more... and then, a smaller tremor.... Fabian thought someone had hit the store in Barry's Bay... Sandi thought someone had hit the office in Bancroft... my dishes rattled and my computer monitor rocked on the desk... it really scared the dog (and me).