SchoolBOX Virtual New Year’s
Join the Party on December 31 at 11am - theHumm December 2020

SchoolBOX Virtual New Year’s
Join the Party on December 31 at 11am - theHumm December 2020

By Sarah Kerr

SchoolBOX is planning their most casual and cozy fiesta yet! Tickets are priceless, but also free, at . And yes, you read it correctly —it’s happening at 11am eastern standard time. I mean, this is a children’s charity. So BYOC (bring your own coffee), wear your cozy holiday sweater and don your silliest New Year’s glasses and hats. We’re going to Zoom with the SchoolBOX teams from Almonte, Nicaragua, Wabauskang First Nation, and volunteers around the world. Expect to reunite with friendly faces from your build in Nicaragua, like Ronald Chavarria and Jazmin Lopez. If you sing anything like I do, you might want to mute your mic during a festive singalong of Feliz Navidad!

Terri Meekis, Marshall Moore and baby Miigwans from SchoolBOX North will log in to teach us how to wish each other “Happy Holidays” in Anishinaabemowin. And most importantly, our teams will give you a sneak peek into their plans for “making education possible” for kids in 2021 — which is, after all, what unites us all.

Almonte’s Hometown Charity

In case you haven’t heard of SchoolBOX, this grassroots charity was founded by Almonte’s Tom Affleck in 2006 when he gave two young girls school supplies while he was working in Nicaragua. Their father said to them: “now that you have a notebook and pencil you can go to school this year”. Tom couldn’t believe it was that simple. So he and his amazing mom (and lifelong educator) Jennette Affleck toured around together delivering school supplies to kids.

Soon they teamed up with Ronald Chavarria and Jazmin Lopez, who hosted the first SchoolBOX office in their home in La Primavera, one of the largest slums in Central America, and got to work dreaming up how to “make education possible” for kids. Thanks to the dedication and generosity of hundreds of volunteers, many from the Ottawa Valley, SchoolBOX has built over 117 classrooms in Nicaragua and donated nearly 700,000 notebooks to kids in need. But that’s just the beginning!

SchoolBOX Goes North

In 2009 we launched a volunteer program called Indigenous Youth Empowering Students, and hosted First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth from five provinces and territories to help build schools and share their cultures with kids in Nicaragua. Terri Meekis, an Anishinabekwe, was on a build in 2012 and explained that it was really empowering to help build a school for kids as she had to move away from her own community to go to high school because her community didn’t have a school of its own. In Northern Ontario. A friendship began then, but it took us a few more years to launch SchoolBOX North in 2017, after Terri returned to Nicaragua with her daughter Kiera and we worked together to create the first SchoolBOX learning center on-reserve in her home community of Wabauskang First Nation.

The Story of 2020

2020 was a challenging year on many fronts for small grassroots charities, including SchoolBOX. Although events were cancelled, borders closed, and both finances and safety were uncertain this spring, Executive Director Jon Tam led the charge through yet another crisis and we’re so thankful to him for his years of dedication. In Nicaragua, Ronald Chavarria and the team completed construction of five new classrooms and four washrooms for kids in Chinandega, Carazo and Leon. Two teams of amazing volunteers travelled from Canada, the U.S. and Costa Rica to help with the construction of these schools.

In Treaty 3 Northern Ontario, Terri Meekis and family helped reconstruct a building into a new learning centre and installed a new children’s library in Niisaachewan First Nation, with the help of volunteers from Almonte, Wabauskang and Niisaachewan First Nations. Although we had to close operations from April through August, Marshall Moore safely re-launched our healthy school lunch program in Wabauskang First Nation by September, and we’ve been putting the pieces together to implement new learning centre and school constructions in Northern Ontario and Nicaragua in 2021 – what will be SchoolBOX’s 15th anniversary year!

There is a lot that we can look forward to — and in the meantime we hope you can join us on December 31!


What Will 2021 Bring? - theHumm December 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Howdy Humm readers! As we may have perhaps already mentioned, it’s been an interesting year to be an “arts & events” paper. Interesting, challenging, but ultimately rewarding and pretty darn hummbling as well, thanks to the uplifting support we have received from so many people.

At this time last year we were putting the final touches on an issue that was full of fabulous events happening all over the Valley, and at the same time preparing for a fun event of our own —the premiere of Who Stole Christmas from Mississippi Mills? — written by Rob Riendeau and directed by yours truly.......


Caroline Evans — Art Imitates Life - theHumm December 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

Happy endings are always satisfying, and particularly welcome at this time of year when we’re forced to reinvent our Christmas holidays. Quite by chance we discovered that our featured artist this month is enjoying a storybook denouement to a peripatetic life filled with adventure and challenge. Oil painter and batik artist Caroline Evans is loving every minute of her idyllic life on ten acres of wooded countryside near Perth. Her art career has been as non-linear as her locat......


Holmes for the Holidays! - theHumm December 2020

Storytelling predates writing, and is an integral part of the human experience. We love to tell stories and we love to hear, read and watch stories, which is why Studio Theatre Perth is embarking on a Christmas fundraiser that builds on the theatrical tradition of storytelling. Our one-man show An Evening with Sherlock Holmes opens on December 10.

The show is an animated reading of two stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, brought to life by Perth newcomer and veteran actor Ki......


Clash of the Blues Titans at the Cove - theHumm December 2020

By Rob Riendeau

In the world of the blues, it feels a bit ridiculous to call two barely thirty-year-old musicians veterans. But in the case(s) of Jimmy Bowskill and Steve Marriner, the term is perhaps an understatement. These two musical heavyhitters started paying their dues early and they are continuing to grow and challenge themselves. A performance by either one on their own would make for a supremely entertaining evening out, but both together is a combination that cannot be missed. And that is exac......


Winterwords —an Invitation to Write - theHumm December 2020

By Kris Riendeau

As we head into hibernation during this first full pandemic winter, creative outlets may be more important than ever. With this as an impetus, I’m going to take the plunge and launch an idea that is not yet fully formed as of press time. Not fully formed, but not completely ethereal either — it has already been mulled over by two dynamic and talented writers, Robynne Eagan and Sarah Kerr. Perhaps you would like to participate, or even assist?

We’re calling it Winterwords, and it is in essence an invit......


SchoolBOX Virtual New Year’s
Join the Party on December 31 at 11am
- theHumm December 2020

By Sarah Kerr

SchoolBOX is planning their most casual and cozy fiesta yet! Tickets are priceless, but also free, at . And yes, you read it correctly —it’s happening at 11am eastern standard time. I mean, this is a children’s charity. So BYOC (bring your own coffee), wear your cozy holiday sweater and don your silliest New Year’s glasses and hats. We’re going to Zoom with the SchoolBOX teams from Almonte, Nicaragua,......


2020: A Year to Fall in Love with Nature - theHumm December 2020

By Robert Betcher

This year we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people visiting Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) wilderness properties in Lanark County. Many other land trusts across North America have had the same experience. In response to the pandemic, our properties have become an essential back-to-nature sanctuary. Perhaps you visited one of our properties to catch your breath, find refuge from the lockdown, or explore a safe place with friends or family.

MMLT co-founder Howard Cliffor......


Perth’s Nine Lessons and Carols Will Take Place! - theHumm December 2020

By Hilary Barrett

The popular Christmas Nine Lessons and Carols in Perth has not been cancelled — we are going virtual! The service has been held at St. James the Apostle Anglican Church for 37 years with the joint choirs of St. Paul’s United Church and St. James’. The 38th service will air on Sunday, December 20 at 4pm and a link will be available on the two churches’ websites. Choir directors Peter Woodwark and Brad Mills are working very hard to make it happen and have some great music planned.

The recording will......


An Arty Anniversary in Almonte - theHumm December 2020

Sivarulrasa Gallery’s 6th Anniversary Show is their biggest of the year — come and see it in-person during regular gallery hours at 34 Mill Street in Almonte: Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm. The exhibition will run until December 30.

Due to pandemic restrictions there will not be an in-person vernissage; however, the gallery will host two Artists Talks/Virtual Vernissages online via Zoom, where artists will join in live from across the country to talk about the......


The Hub Children’s Christmas Mailbox - theHumm December 2020

By The Hub Elves

With our thoughts turning towards Christmas during the upheavals that COVID-19 has created this year, the holidays are taking on even greater importance.

Every Christmas season, The Hub in Almonte holds a Children’s Christmas Shopping Day. At this event children up to the age of 13 visit The Hub and are able to buy gifts — any gift is one dollar — for immediate family members by themselves, and this year is no exception.

But this year The Hub is taking a different, COVID-safe approach......


NYE at Perth Manor! - theHumm December 2020

By Linda Craig

On December 31, we at Perth Manor Boutique Hotel are pleased to adapt and present our annual New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner — this year in a COVID compliant environment. We weren’t sure we would be planning this event this year; however, after receiving calls from last year’s guests inquiring if they could reserve a table, and chatting with the health unit, we reconsidered.

We contacted our featured pianist, Valerie Leavitt, and she is on board for a return engagement — mask and all — so we began pla......


Perth Community Choir AGM - theHumm December 2020

Although the Perth Community Choir (PCC) has unfortunately had to stay dormant through the fall of 2020, they are looking forward to the time when they can once again prepare for their next production.“In the meantime,” says Board President Kristen Widenmaier, “it is important that we continue to ‘keep the lights on’. One of the important jobs we must do is hold an Annual General Meeting.”

This year the Annual General Meeting will be held virtually on Wednesday, December 9 at 7pm. This means you can join from the comfort of your home — all you need is a device and an internet connecti......


A Calendar of Kindness
Finish this Year with a Bit of Cheer!
- theHumm December 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Well, here we are heading into the holidays and this final stretch of 2020, a year that not too many of us are going to grumble about saying goodbye to. Because what a year this has been. Our personal values, resiliency, and the strength of our community have all been tested in a way that most of us have never had to face in our lifetimes. And yet, it has been remarkable to see the small acts of kindness that have connected us, from a distance, through this pandemic. Folks offering up patience and co......


Humm Helpers & Hershey Kiss Cookies - theHumm December 2020

Dear readers,

We’re so glad that you picked up this festive edition of theHumm. We also hope you feel your spirits lift after seeing all the ways that folks in our community are working to support each other and express their creativity through this unprecedented holiday season.

In case you missed a couple of issues this fall, we are excited to share that some of our wonderful readers encouraged us to launch a subscription membership. The idea is to offer folks the opportunity to directly help with our publishing costs, in order to keep theHumm free for all. There are a few diff......


Growing Community in Lanark Highlands - theHumm December 2020

By David Hinks

There is an old adage that says: “Life is what happens when you’ve planned something else.” The philosophy of an enthusiastic volunteer group in Lanark Village is: “let’s skip Plan A and go straight to Plan B”. The initial impetus for Plan B was a perceived lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in Lanark Highlands. Once that was dealt with, Plan B has grown into a multi-faceted volunteer organization responding to many issues in the community. Director Melanie Mills observes that the goal is ......


Giving the Gift of Trees - theHumm December 2020

By The HHNL Board of Directors

You may wonder why Home Hospice North Lanark (HHNL) is launching another fundraiser hot on the heels of our very successful Hike for Hospice, which would normally have taken place back in May. We are 100% funded through donations and targeted fundraising, and our Tree Fundraisers have always proven popular for Christmas gifts, so we need to get this moving!

Our Tree Fundraiser shopping site is open for business at , and we ar......


The Trouble with Tradition - theHumm December 2020

By Glenda Jones

“Christmas will be different this year.” For sure it will, but get a grip and we can re-invent the wheel.

Many can’t believe that they will survive “different”, because “we’ve always done it that way”. If that were the case, my Christmas tradition would be doing the laundry, and when the kids were little, tending to all manner of Christmas crises like scalds that sent us to the emergency room or migraine headaches that led to… well, not a nice picture after Christmas dinner. I can’t recall......


An Open Letter to Humm Readers - theHumm December 2020

By Glenda Jones, AKA The Reever Reporter

More than 20 years ago Kris Riendeau allowed me to publish my first article, a little piece about walking my dogs. Every month since, she has given me that same opportunity, a privilege I cherish. What started out as an idea to organize the cultural life of our area has grown into an essential medium for all of us who want to share a corner of our lives. When we have endeavours that we need to advertise we turn to theHumm, and oh my, does it deliver! We see Kris and Rob, coffee mugs in hand, dropping off theHumm all over town, making connections, chatting with shop owners and readers, and......


The Taste of Longing
Your Invitation to an Imaginary Feast
- theHumm December 2020

By Danielle K.L. Gregoire

In November I became the literary publicist for The Taste of Longing by Ottawa writer and historian Suzanne Evans. The book is a beautifully written account of the life of Ethel Mulvany, a force of nature born on Manitoulin Island. The focus of the book is about her time spent in Changi Jail during WWII. The book is a tribute to resilience and how imagination and community can help one get through the darkest of times.The moment I virtually met Suzanne and she shared her story about findi......


MERA’S Christmas FairGoes Virtual for 2020 - theHumm December 2020

MERAs 18th annual Christmas Fair is moving online. From November 15 through December 20, visitors to will be able find special gifts for those they love. Even though the MERA Schoolhouse will be empty for this year’s Christmas event, the much-loved offerings of art, weaving, pottery, wood turning and other crafts will still be available.

“The fair has always been more than a fundraiser,” explains Elaine Wilso......


Another Kind of Gift
Core Gift Discovery with Bruce Anderson
- theHumm December 2020

By Maggie Dimock

While completing my Bachelor of Social Work at Carleton University I have had the privilege of completing one of my field practicums at Carebridge Community Support, located in Lanark County. As part of my practicum, I participated in Bruce Anderson’s Core Gift Discovery Master Facilitator Certification workshop. This workshop taught me about core gifts, and how we each have one that is unique to who we are and is meant to be shared.

After learning about them, how they manifest in our lives, how to uncover the core gifts of others, and the ways in which they can help promote positive ......


The Power of Saying Hello - theHumm December 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Smiths Falls native Mark Quattrocchi has just launched a book entitled The Cycle of Life: The Power of Saying Hello. It’s about his bicycle journey around the world (covering 40 countries over two years), and he describes it as a “motivational, adventure, travel book”. It’s a journey with purpose that helps others find their own. After watching his captivating TEDx Talk, we decided that we needed to hear more about this enthusiastic author, his ambitious trip, and his new book.



On Hope
Notes from Climate Network Lanark
- theHumm December 2020

My anxiety regarding the recent US election was deep-seated and gut-wrenching. To remain hopeful I kept repeating to myself Dr. Martin Luther King’s wonderful quote, made famous by Barack Obama: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”


Then I happened to hear a CBC interview with Canadian researcher, teacher and author Dr. Elin Kelsey on her new book Hope Matters. The subtitle is “why changing our thinking is critical in solving the climate cr......


LCIH Virtual Holiday Giving Campaign - theHumm December 2020

Lanark County Interval House and Community Support is thinking creatively this year — they’re taking their annual Angel Tree campaign online! The virtual Angel Tree website allows people to choose how they would like to support LCIHCS, whether by giving gifts or monetary donations, from the comfort of their own home. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women and incidences of gender-based violence are on the rise, the need for donations is high.

“We have seen a 75% increase in crisis calls due to the pandemic,” explains Executive Director Eri......


The Importance of Indie Bookshops - theHumm December 2020

By — John Pigeau

An author friend of mine wore a T-shirt the other day that read: “Some of my best friends are books.” I laughed when I saw this photo of her on Instagram, but then I thought, how true. And for a book lover, it genuinely is. In troubling times, a good book can be as comforting as a tender or affectionate hug. Insightful books about grief, loss, anxiety, depression can often be every bit as helpful as a good therapist or a kind, caring, cherished friend. Once we own them, books are a......


Stuck in a Slump?
How to Renew Your Zeal for Reading
- theHumm December 2020

By Karen Schecter

In chatting with people both inside and outside of the library, I have found that many readers report that they are not reading as much as usual even though they have more leisure time. These readers have experienced difficulty concentrating during the COVID crisis. Psychologists suggest that the increase in anxiety because of the pandemic is making it hard for some people to focus. This lack of focus could lead to an increase in the consumption of more passive pursuits such as watching Ne......


Smiths Falls Makes the Season Merry & Bright - theHumm December 2020

Riding high on the success of their summer/fall PICNIC program, the Town of Smiths Falls will be continuing to focus on local businesses with their Merry and Bright Christmas Box initiative. By partnering with local retailers, they are helping them offer fantastic packages of gifts and goodies that will appeal to anyone who “loves local”. Businesses will select their own items to put in the custom-stamped boxes, and then the Town supplements each box with a complimentary collectable gift, ......


Grief, Holidays, and COVID - theHumm December 2020

By Patti Koeslag is a volunteer with Lanark County Home Support

We are all experiencing some form of isolation and loneliness in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, but for those walking with the death of a loved one this time of holidays and celebrations can be particularly difficult. This year, many people have not been able to be at the bedside as loved ones died, or have not been able to have traditional mourning rites such as visitations, funerals, celebrations of life or the comfort of the hugs and presence of friends and family.

Grief at the best of times is heavy work. We cannot go around it… the only way to deal with grief is by going thr......


Textiles Return to Victoria Woollen Mill - theHumm December 2020

By Darrell & Thomas, Founders

In 1857, James Rosamond built a four-storey stone building, later known as No. 2 Mill. The Rosamond Woollen Mill remained one of the largest woollen mills in the country until the First World War. The Rosamond family continued to operate the mill after the war, but by this time the mill was not a major part of the woollen manufacturing industry. The Rosamonds were leaders in the community as well as the textile field. The mill remained in operation for 120 years.

This fall, the textiles industry ......


Puppet Town - theHumm December 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Back in September of 2018 we received an email from Fred Forse that said: “I am a photographer and writer from the UK who has been staying in Almonte for the past two months. Having visited A Puppet Retrospective at the Mississippi Mills textile museum, I’m fascinated by the tradition of Noreen Young making puppet lookalikes of well-known locals.”

Fast-forward to November of 2020, when Fred contacted us again about the launch of his new book: “A small Canadian town called Almonte (population: ......