Thousand Islands Writers Festival 1st Annual Storefront Writing Contest

The inaugural Thousand Islands Writers Festival Storefront Writing Contest is now just a memory. It was great to see it come to fruition. In the early days of the registration process, we weren’t sure what to expect and at one point there was talk of cancelling due to lack of participation. Thankfully, it didn’t come down to that.

Writer’s Ink was well represented with a number of the members out – Dorothy Bush, Sylvia Perry, Catherine Durnford-Wang, Marike Harris, Chris Hanna, Joe Mossman and me filling out the total number of thirteen.

I entrusted my husband, Don, with my camera since I couldn’t write and take pictures at the same time so he made sure the day was well documented.

We met at the local library at 9:30 where we drew our locations and were assigned a number. Even though we were writing under pseudonyms, the possibility existed that the judges might recognize us… hence the use of numbers.

Anxious participants waiting for the library to open

Our prompt was chosen by W.I. founder, Bunty Loucks. It was “if Sylvia had the faintest idea of the consequences of her action, she would immediately have written ‘Return to Sender’ across the envelope and dropped it in the nearest mailbox.” We had from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm to come up with our up to 2,000 word short story.

Getting our prompt and other pre-contest business
Drawing location and getting assigned my number

Seven King Street merchants played host to us. From west to east – Reliable Home Furniture (current and old location), Echo Clothing, Picket Fences, Tiny Prices, Alan Brown’s, National Rent to Own and Golden Soles.

Sylvia Perry at Tiny Prices
Catherine Durnford-Wang and Chris Hannah at Echo Clothing
Tari Pyke of Reliable helping Marike Harris get set up on wi-fi
Wendy Millar in one of the windows at Picket Fences
Melanie Robertson-King (aka Heather Park on this occasion) in the other window at Picket Fences
...and from inside the store

I have to say that Wendy and I were extremely well received and treated at Picket Fences. Jennifer made sure we had everything we needed, including the location of the washroom which was extremely important since we were going to be there pretty much all day. When she made the pot of coffee we were welcome to help ourselves to a cuppa.

Two more participants (Kirsha Martelle & Cindy Dopson) at Alan Brown's
Dorothy Bush at National Rent to Own
Joe Martelle at National Rent to Own
Joe Mossman at Golden Soles
Chris Wood at Golden Soles

We temporarily lost one of our participants. She ended up at the old Reliable Furniture location on the south side of King Street. She was eventually found and joined us at the Grindstone Tapas afterwards where we downloaded our compilations onto Thousand Islands Writers Festival committee member’s, Doreen Barnes, laptop.

Getting our files downloaded for transfer to the judges

While we waited our turn to get our files downloaded and answer some questions about the experience, we chatted amongst ourselves and everyone agreed they would do it again. We also talked about how we wrote our pieces… did we start at the beginning, the middle, the end. Did we outline? Did we pants it? I started with the end so I knew where I had to go, the journey there would be the fun part. I’m already looking forward to next year and hope I can draw the same location again. It was a lot of fun. And, a wee tidbit… my piece was 2,000 words on the nose!

What do we win for our day of “sweatshop” writing?

1st prize – Dinner at the Brockville Country Club with authors Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady during the Thousand Islands Writers Festival on Friday, October 14.

2nd prize – A pair of tickets to one of the presentations by the Brockville Concert Association

3rd prize  – $50 from Leeds County Books (our independent bookstore), donated by a TIWF member

The top three writers will be notified by phone that  they are invited to the Terry Fallis, Two Books, One Community event on Monday, September 26 at the Brockville Council Chambers where they will learn where they placed.

Niagara Falls adventure continued…

Unfortunately, seeing a ship pass through Lock 3 of the Welland Canal at St. Catharines wasn’t to be. Still it was a great place to stop, wander around and marvel at the technology of raising and lowering the ships. Athough the signs tell visitors to enter through the main entrance, we were rebels and walked down along the canal to the viewing platform. At the foot of the stairs, this sign caught my attention.

Interesting tidbit of information on display

That’s a lot of bread. We climbed the steps to the top level of the viewing platform. With the exception of the high iron bars to keep folks from climbing over into areas they shouldn’t be in, the views were spectacular.

Looking towards the south and the lift bridge we’d crossed on our way, there were no ships in sight coming through locks 4, 5 and 6 which are in quick succession of each other. All three are at different levels so a ship in any of them would be visible, even if the ship was being lowered for readiness to continue towards Lake Ontario.

Looking towards the lift bridge and locks 4, 5, & 6

Towards the north, the Garden City Skyway crosses the canal at a level high enough that the ships can pass under it. No lift bridges of any form needed that snarl vehicular traffic to allow the ships passage. The trouble with the height of the skyway is, on a windy day it can be quite the scary experience to drive over it.

Looking towards the Garden City Skyway

Inside the Welland Canal Centre, there are many items on display on the second level including a liftbridge model, Algoma Central Corporation’s ship Algoway.

Down on the main level, they have a model of lock 3. The only thing missing from it is the viewing platform.

Lock 3 model

Within the grounds at the Welland Canal Centre, there are a number of anchors and other shipping paraphernalia. One of the more interesting is the signpost with the distances from that point to various major locations around the world.

Distance Signpost

There was one more place I wanted to stop before returning to our hotel in Mississauga so we bid farewell to the lock station, disappointed at not seeing a ship but still it was a place our grandson had never been before.

Our next stop was at Jordan Harbour where the two-masted wreck is anchored. The first time I remember seeing it was in October 2005 when we took my friend (visiting from Wales) to see Niagara Falls. From that time on, I wanted to stop and photograph it. On this trip, the light was perfect and so were the shots.

Wreck at Jordan Harbour
Wreck at Jordan Harbour

When we finally got away from here, the traffic heading into the city was picking up. The overhead sign before the Burlington Skyway indicated high winds and drive with caution. The wind buffetted the car the entire trip but a few gusts actually threatened to move the car from one lane to another.

Prior to the interchange for Winston Churchill Blvd, another overhead sign told that the traffic from there on was moving extremely slow. So since our exit was the next one, we got off there and onto the street our hotel was on. We were back in our room before one of the transports we’d seen stuck in the tailback passed by.

After much debate and walking around near the hotel to find a place to eat, we went back to the hotel for the car keys. The plan was Montanas. Not within walking distance but a bit further from our hotel than originally thought. Still, it was worth the drive. Our server “Fred” was fantastic and so was the food! Since we drove, only one of us could drink but from the time it was decided we’d do Montanas, I immediately went into “Virgin Caesar” anticipation.

When it was time to pay the bill, Fred stayed and chatted with us for a bit. The thunderstorm that according to the weather network would pass through that night was beginning to put on the light show. Fred told us that Toronto was under a tornado watch.

The rain was just starting when we went back to the car and by the time we got back to the hotel about 9:00 was coming down steadily. Up in our room, we turned on CP24 and watched the news. Mississauga, where we were staying had been upgraded to a tornado warning. The lightning displays outside our room were phenomenal and much better when we turned off the one bedside lamp.

Thursday morning before leaving the hotel, I checked CP24’s website for updates on the previous night’s storm. I’ve included the link to that page. If you scroll down, there are a number of pictures of the lightning strikes.