What’s So Funny?! — an interview with Rachelle Elie - theHumm September 2020

What’s So Funny?! — an interview with Rachelle Elie - theHumm September 2020

theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Rachelle Elie — the world-travelling, award-winning comedian and Rag Bag Cabaret host who now calls Almonte home crowningmonkey.com . We contacted her to find out how she has been faring for the past few months, and how she plans to get people laughing again.

theHumm: First of all, how have you been faring since COVID hit? As a high-energy person, did you manage to find outlets for your creative talents during lockdown?

Rachelle Elie: Ha ha! It was a huge adjustment at first because I was so accustomed to being on stage 5–7 nights a week and suddenly I was home every night. The great thing was that I was forced to slow down my life and hang with my hubby & kids more. We got in some amazing quality family time. We worked thorough some big challenges as well, but I think we are closer from it.

I am a painter, so for the first few weeks I really threw myself into my art and that definitely filled the void for me. I have not made time to paint in a long time, so quarantine gave me an excuse to paint. It was also awesome because one of my sons got inspired to paint with me and now he is addicted to painting. I got to watch my 19-year-old son become an artist and that was amazing. My younger son taught himself how to weld and made a go-kart that works, so that was pretty mind boggling to watch! I did an online version of my one-woman show and that was great. About 70 people watched it in a Zoom room and I was surprised at how much fun it was. With that show I raised $500 for Lanark County Interval House and that felt good to do, especially during this tough time. I started up a mini-vlog with my husband called “the hot tub sessions” — it was so exciting to have a creative project with my hubby!

Humour and laughter are perhaps more important than ever when we are under stress, and yet people are still not able to attend the larger in-person shows and gatherings that we could in the past. I imagine it might be a while before it’s feasible to tour as well. How are you and other comedians trying to help fill the void during this time?

We have been in Stage 3 for three weeks and since then I have been on stage nine times — it has definitely lifted my spirits. From talking to other comedians, it seems like many are like me. I have been doing whatever I can do to stay positive despite not being able to do what I love. Most of us have been itching to get back on stage. Now that we are back it has been an adjustment to go from performing for hundreds of people to a maximum of fifty, but I am thrilled to be back in front of a live audience.

At many of your past shows you have donated a portion of your proceeds to the Canadian Association of Stand-Up Comedians. Why is it important to you to advocate for other performers?

In Canada, stand-up comedy is still a marginalized art form. It is baffling but it is still not recognized as an art form. Stand-up is such a challenging profession. The public and even funding organizations still do not fully understand how creative the craft is. Many assume it’s not work. You are either are funny or you’re not. They are ignorant of the skill, hard work and crafting that goes into the incredible process of sculpting a simple idea into a masterful joke. I knew most of the American stand-up comedy icons — George Carlin, Joan Rivers, Richard Prior — and yet when I discovered Canadian comic Mike MacDonald I had to do my research to find out who he was. Many people know do who he is, but he is not a household name in Canada like Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Chris Rock are. As Sandra Battaglini, who heads the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians, said: “Canadian comics are at a disadvantage in their own country because Americans do not face the same bureaucratic red tape when they visit Canada for work… layers of structural problems throughout Canada’s comedy industry have resulted in many comics living on shoestring budgets.”

As Ontario progresses through Stage 3, what kinds of support would be helpful to performers — either from institutions like arts funders and health units or from your patrons and the community?

As a performer I seek support from my employers, which are comedy club owners. The thing I can wish for from them is that they still hire me and pay fairly for my work even though times are tough. As a producer what is helpful is for patrons and the community to attend shows! I would not want anyone to go out of they don’t feel comfortable, but please continue to support artists if you can. Most venues and producers are taking COVID precautions very seriously so that audiences and performers can feel safe.

What are you personally most concerned about at this time?

I am concerned about the performance arts and how we will survive. I have toured the fringe festivals for the last twenty-five years. Many friends rely on the income they get from seven months of touring to survive. It’s all shaken up now, for club and theatre owners as well. I’m not sure how arts organisations are going to survive this. With minimum capacities of 50 it is very hard to make a profit and pay bills. I also really worry about stand-up comedians because we still do not have access to government funding and grants.

What are you optimistic about in terms of what happens to comedy and live entertainment during and after the pandemic?

I am optimistic that audiences will slowly start feeling more comfortable going out and seeing shows. I was at Yuk Yuks with Derek Seguin and we sold out Saturday night, so that gave me optimism about the future of stand-up. I am optimistic that live entertainment will continue, but right now it’s still up in the air, and time will tell. I am excited to be giving it a go in Almonte this Friday night and I am thrilled that we are sold out!


Lynn Melbourne — A Gift for People - theHumm September 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

Re-gifting is frowned on in some circles, but when your gift is a talent for capturing the character, the strength and the internal beauty that people wear on their faces, sharing that gift becomes an act of kindness, empathy and generosity. When tragedy struck in March at Almonte Country Haven, a long-term care home with 82 residents, local portrait artist Lynn Melbourne used her talent to reach out to the devastated residents, their families and their caretakers.



25th Annual (1st Virtual) Fibrefest - theHumm September 2020

Fibrefest is once again taking over Almonte from September 11–13 (with workshops beginning on the 10th). Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the festival will look a little different in 2020 as it moves online to comply with public health advice and regulations, but the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum (MVTM) is excited to welcome you for our fourth year of hands-on workshops… albeit this time virtually. This is a unique opportunity to involve friends and family from further afield who may not be able to ......


BOTR’s New “COVID Fighter” Fall Series - theHumm September 2020

By — James Doran

Blues on the Rideau at The Cove in Westport had to cancel the last three shows of their 2019/20 Season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like everyone, we were hoping things would be back to semi-normal by now and the 2020/21 Series would be able to proceed. Sadly that hasn’t happened yet. Given the safety protocol measures still in effect, there was no way we could return with the traditional format – full electric bands, 100+ capacity, buffet dinners, packed dance floor etc.

So it was ei......


Warden’s Slow Roll & Official Alameda Opening - theHumm September 2020

The Lanark County Warden typically hosts a fundraising event every year. In the past this has been a golf tournament during the month of August, but with COVID-19 and the gathering restrictions, Warden Brian Campbell wanted to change things up and host an outdoor family event to highlight the OVRT and all of the wonderful work that has been done to make it an accessible trail for everyone to use.

After discussions with Jeff Mills and Stephen Brathwaite, the concept of a “Slow Roll for Unit......


“Market Masala” Child Haven Fundraiser - theHumm September 2020

Organizers are excited to announce a fun and safe event in support of Child Haven International this fall. This year’s event takes place on Sunday, September 27 from 3–5pm at the Carleton Place Market Square, an outdoor covered space. All proceeds go to support destitute women and children in India, Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh.

You will have the opportunity to attend this outdoor market-style event and enjoy Indian music and culture, shop the international sales bazaar, get henna body ar......


Recreating Creativity — Classes during COVID - theHumm September 2020

The pandemic has dealt a huge blow to artists and performers, cancelling gigs by the gazillion and making it difficult for people to teach art, theatre, music and movement. Fortunately, creators are, well, creative by nature, and many of them have been hard at work figuring out how to continue to keep students engaged and learning. Below, a few teachers and studios explain how they are doing just this in our area.

The Almonte Dance Company is committed to providing a fun, safe environment for......


Back to School 2020: Choose Your Own Adventure - theHumm September 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Ah, the back to school season is upon us! The joy of shopping for school supplies, that fresh new outfit and shiny new shoes. The little rush that parents get when they think about sending their kids back to full day daycare — I mean, full day learning — so we can make up the hours lost over summer and try to keep our jobs. Oh wait, this is 2020? Damn!

Wait — are you sending your kids back? Yeah, me too. Well, I think so. I might just wait to find out what the school has to s......


Picnics and Musicand Trains, Oh My! - theHumm September 2020

By John Pigeau

In one sense, this summer has reminded me a lot of the summers of my childhood — everybody wants to be outdoors. We’re all like kids again, darting out the door on the last day of school, whooping at the sunshine and gulping in the fresh air, itching to do something, anything, but be cooped up inside. Nearly everyone is camping or glamping or spending a week or a weekend at a cottage. Lots of folks are hitting the beaches and plunging into lakes. They’re walking and cycling, golfing and hiking an......


Recreating Creativity: Visual Arts - theHumm September 2020

CHANNELS at Sivarulrasa Gallery

From September 2 to October 9, Sivarulrasa Gallery is pleased to present CHANNELS, featuring works by artists Deborah Arnold, Elaine Carr and Wendy Robertson. “Channels” suggests waterways or pathways; a transmission of frequencies or ideas; explorations of both inner and outer worlds. The exhibition can be viewed in person during regular gallery hours, Wednesdays to Sundays from 11am to 5pm.

Deborah Arno......


What’s Black and White and Hard to Move? - theHumm September 2020

By Meriah Caswell

Do you want to move a library?

It’s big, and it’s coming up fast. We need your help to do it.

In October 2020 the Carleton Place Public Library will relocate to The Station Active Living Centre while the Beckwith Street location undergoes some much-needed interior renovations. Of the library’s 40,000-item collection, about 1500 items will be moved to the Station for circulation. The rest of the collection will be boxed up for safe storage.

In planning the move, our staff have......


Yarrow (Or, a Conduit Conducting Energy Between the Cosmos and the Earth) - theHumm September 2020

By Susie Osler

Our lawn for the first half of this summer, when temperatures were sizzling and rain was scarce at best, was left to its own devices — the mower forgotten in the barn for over a month. Without the weekly subjugation to the blade, the diversity of plant life in the lawn began to announce its presence. The wild plants able to thrive in droughty heat seized their opportunity, rising above the parched and browning grass.

Yarrow was, to my eyes, one of the most beautiful and prominent of these plants.......


Union Hall Crafts at Almonte Farmers’ Market - theHumm September 2020

By — Linda Camponi

The Union Hall Community Centre, located at the intersection of Wolf Grove and Tatlock Roads, is a Registered Charity, owned and operated by the local community. Rentals of the hall and its exterior sign form the basis for our annual budget. Private donations and financial support from the Municipality of Mississippi Mills supplement this income.

Come and visit our booth at the Almonte Farmers’ Market on September 12 and 19, where we will be selling hand-crafted items made by Unio......


Plenty for Everyone: an Interview with Joanna Jack of Plenty Canada - theHumm September 2020

theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Joanna Jack, Programs Manager at Plenty Canada, an Indigenous-led non-profit organization that facilitates access to and shares resources with Indigenous peoples and other community groups around the world in support of their environmental protection and sustainable development goals. We contacted her to find out about som......


How Do I Know Thee? - theHumm September 2020

By Glenda Jones

Years ago I had a bright yellow snowsuit that I wore all winter. Yes, I looked like Big Bird, but everyone knew where to find me at our events. One summer day, I met someone who nearly passed me by, and then returned to say, “I didn’t recognize you with your clothes off”. I kid you not! When I retired the yellow suit, it was as like a stone in a pond: no one looked for me, no one found me, and we passed on our event duties to the next eager parent.

How do we recognize each other when we’re h......


Middleville Museum to Re-open on Sept. 5 - theHumm September 2020

The Middleville and District Museum (located at 2130 Concession 6D in Middleville) will once again be welcoming visitors starting on Saturday, September 5. They’ll be open from 12–4pm that whole weekend, including Labour Day Monday. For the abbreviated 2020 season entry will be by voluntary donation, and the Museum will be open every Saturday, Sunday, and holiday Monday, or by appointment, through Thanksgiving weekend. Please note that masks will be mandatory in the museum; they w......


Livin’ the Dream - theHumm September 2020

By David Hinks

Twelve-hour days, six days a week outdoors in the hot sun, worrying about the lack of rain, lettuce going to flower and becoming bitter way too soon — all for remuneration way less than minimum wage. Yet Alberto Suarez professes to be living the dream, doing exactly what he wants to do as he puts his beliefs and values into each and every day. And I have to admit that I greatly admire what he is doing and the values that he is living.

Alberto and his partner Joanna have developed a small fa......


Notes from The Lanark Climate Network - theHumm September 2020

By — Chandler Swain is a member of the Communications working group of the Lanark Climate Network

In our house, getting a new edition of theHumm at the beginning of every month is a treat. No matter what is going on, knowing that our community is full of amazing and creative people, events and projects is always an inspiration. 

To add to this monthly feast for the mind and soul, the Lanark Climate Network will be sharing its activities to collaborate, advocate for and build a fairer, greener, sustainably prosperous Lanark.

Since the lockdown and other measures were ......


Addressing the Perils of Sex Work - theHumm September 2020

By — Susan Fisher

When I first began supporting Willow’s, a struggling Vanier drop-in centre for sex trade workers, I wanted to help others who needed a hand. I had no clue this would lead me to a series of crash courses on Canadian law, community safety, human rights, and harm reduction strategies for the most vulnerable of our citizens. I also learned the distinction between sex work (voluntary) and trafficking (forced), both of which are happening in all corners of Lanark County. This is not a big city problem......


Beer! Where? Here!!: an Interview with Daniel Post - theHumm September 2020

theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Daniel Post, an Almonte-based web developer who recently created and launched CraftOttawa.ca — an online guide to the region’s craft liquor scene. We contacted him to find out what inspired him to do so, and what he thinks of the area’s spirited offerings.



What’s So Funny?! — an interview with Rachelle Elie - theHumm September 2020

theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Rachelle Elie — the world-travelling, award-winning comedian and Rag Bag Cabaret host who now calls Almonte home crowningmonkey.com . We contacted her to find out how she has been faring for the past few months, and how she plans to get people laughing again.



Caring for the County: an Interview with Fraser Scantlebury - theHumm September 2020

theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Fraser Scantlebury, the outgoing Regional Director at United Way East Ontario — Lanark, and a long-time community volunteer. We contacted him to find out how he’s feeling about stepping down from the position that he has held so capably for the past 7 years (while being at United Way for a total of 9 years and 7 month......


Stories of Decolonization — Land Dispossession and Settlement - theHumm September 2020

By — Susie Osler

How many of us know the history of the lands we inhabit? For settlers, do we know the stories of our ancestors’ arrival to these lands, and whose lives were embedded here prior to their arrival? Whose voices created the official historical record of this country that predominates? Whose voices have been silenced, ignored or not told? And how are our own personal histories interwoven with the colonization of these lands? Are we willing to actively engage with these questions? These ar......