Call Short Hills deer hunt what it is

Using the term “harvest” is just linguistic trickery. It’s just another level of duplicity used to get the public on board with having arrows fly through the park.

Of course, the hunting industry doesn’t like the word “kill” because it exposes the lie that animals die peacefully after being shot or otherwise tortured. Merely using the word “kill” also infers that there is no management of the hunt, while the term “harvest” has pleasant connotations of the nostalgic gathering of a crop that is planted and cultivated by continuous hard labour. Hunters do nothing resembling care of this “crop,” which brings to mind the image of a combine harvester and a crop of living animals that are simply mowed down.

Parks should be available for everyone to enjoy, every day of the year. Hunting in any public park is at odds with the very reason that parks exist.

Heather Clemenceau
Via Voice website


Thanks for Waffle Brunch success

The Friends of Maple Acre want to shout out a big thank you to all our Waffle Brunch donors: Devries Fruit Farms, Food Basics, Sobeys Fonthill, Giant Tiger, RBC Fonthill, Willowbrook Nursery, SafeTree, Fabulous Fenwick Lions and Lionettes, and the Fenwick Firefighter Association. We had a very successful First Waffle Brunch on Saturday November 5th at our Fenwick Firehall.

During our fundraiser we also sold photo note cards donated by Gwenn Alves. They included photos of our tree carving as well as pictures from Fenwick, past and present.

The cards will be on display and for sale at Maple Acre branch.

We also have a limited edition of stain glass replicas of our windows from our original Maple Acre Library building of 1920. Please drop by the library for a visit and to make any additional purchases

I also want to thank all our community, neighbours, relatives and friends who came out to support us. I hope everyone enjoyed the delicious waffles and the renewal of many old and new friendships.

Thanks to our many Friends who volunteered and made this event possible. Thank you to all for your help. A special note of thanks to Sandra for spearheading this idea and for bringing it to fruition.

“When many hands and hearts come together great things can happen!”

Sandee Matthews


Restoration of our watershed

What will be the story of ecological restoration in the Niagara Peninsula Watershed? The word “restore” means to return something or someone to an earlier good condition or position. When you restore the quality or ability of something or someone, you bring back something absent, lost, or stolen for some time.

According to the Society for Ecological Restoration, “ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.” They add that “ecological restoration seeks to initiate or accelerate ecosystem recovery.” It is the process of returning a degree of functionality to an ecosystem that has been lost.

Ecological restoration is also a complementary tool in the natural resources management toolbox, alongside protection measures (land regulation and securement) that the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) employs to positively impact the ecosystem throughout its watershed-based landscape (Niagara Region, and portions of Haldimand Country and the City of Hamilton).

We have known for some time that the NPCA watershed is functionally degraded to a high degree. It consistently exhibits poor water quality, fulfilling the adage “what we do on the land is reflected in the water.” The watershed is also highly fragmented in terms of natural areas and habitats— the elements that function systematically as the ecosystems left on the landscape. Research has objectively quantified that what persists in the watershed today cumulatively achieves only approximately 56 percent of what conservation literature recommends is required for a healthy and sustainable watershed. This persists despite many years and layer upon layer of environmental policy implementation and significant restoration investments by various players both in and out of government.

So, what’s the solution? Now that most of the protection policies in the Niagara Peninsula watershed have been refreshed and settled for what remains of the local natural environment, we have an opportunity to be intentional with ecological restoration considerations while understanding the existing condition of the watershed. It is extremely important to value and preserve what we have left, and it is even more prudent to recognize the need for and develop a collective common vision for a natural reserve system that restores our local ecosystems. Continued protection alone is not enough to get us to sustainability or an acceptable compromise of functionality. We owe it to the environment, ourselves, and future generations to do more.

To this end, the NPCA anticipates leading stakeholders through collaborative approaches and innovations to facilitate and achieve such a vision for restoring the local landscape. Appreciating that our watershed is predominantly privately owned, residents who volunteer their land and work with us and our partners toward this common goal will always play a critical role in this collective success.

The narrative for ecological restoration in the Niagara Watershed at present is about coming to terms with the fact that we are still missing a shared proactive vision for this precious landscape. What are we willing to do in this watershed when it comes to a natural reserve system?

It is abundantly clear that the story remains largely unwritten.

November 21 is the 2023 project application submission deadline for NPCA’s Restoration Grant Program. The NPCA evaluates and prioritizes projects with the greatest ecological co-benefits. Please consider submitting thoughts and ideas for how you may be able to contribute and make a difference with your property.

Geoffrey Verkade
Senior Manager
Integrated Watershed Strategies


Whose rights take precedence at Short Hills?

“Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well with others.” — Cesar Chavez

In cultures not my own I would, at age 79, be thought an elder whose experience-fueled values and opinions have merit. Remembering what it was like to be both young, and male, very different than I became, I’m a reluctant judge of others. But I self-identify with what has been called an ethical deviant, questioning authoritative claims. I have moved from youthful acceptance of cultural norms to regret our unprecedented ability as a species, both to kill, and to rationalize killing. I want to “live well with others.”

I have no belief in “rights” being inalienable. Rights invariably flow from “might” to the vulnerable. Rights must be codified in law that is enforced to function. As an environmental advocate drawn into the controversy that erupts each fall over the Short Hills Provincial Park deer hunt, or cull, I feel buffeted by what may seem to be conflicting values. Whose “rights” or interests, take precedence?

When the Ontario government imposed the hunt on the community in 2013, I was asked by residents to be at a meeting at White Meadows Farm, Effingham. We were told there was an overabundance of deer in the park, hence a deer herd reduction programme was necessary. The Ministry claims that 50 or so deer is the “right” number. But the concept of “overabundance” is a value-driven concept. It is not scientific. It is typically presented by the wildlife management community, with a vested interest it its own existence, as being for the greater benefit of the deer, or other species. That is rarely true. The deer were healthy, food plentiful. The Ministry’s hubristic view that they can know the “right” number of deer is hopelessly subjective, having nothing to do with ecological science.

The government’s own annual deer count shows increasing not decreasing deer numbers in the park, the opposite to what was intended. The average number of deer has increased over the ten year period since the hunt began. When we pointed out that if the Ministry alleges that a “cull” is necessary, then an environmental assessment is legally required. Then the narrative changed. We were told that the hunt implements treaty rights with the Haudenosaunee, turning the park into a private hunting preserve solely for them, serviced by everyone’s taxes, providing deer easily killed, having been conditioned to trust humans. The result are dead and wounded animals, violations of the most basic safety hunting regulations, and deterioration of the park’s modest amenities since more is spent on the six-day hunt than the park’s budget for the entire year.

As an infrequent observer, I became aware of the absurdity of the most effective tool used against those who feel there should be one place where deer and other wildlife are protected. It is the hunt that is opposed, not who is hunting. The government of Ontario’s mandate is to protect and restore the ecological integrity of Ontario’s provincial parks. But it is so much easier to allow the hunt then it is protect the park.

Barry Kent MacKay


THE NEXT | Catherine Brazeau

It’s just me, crying over nothing again

Why do we recoil when we hear someone call us overly sensitive? Maybe because we value toughness — Keep Calm and Carry On and all that. Or more likely it’s because we equate sensitivity with weakness. For some reason, others don’t like it when we cry… we’re bothering them with our feelings again. So what do we do? We fight like hell to keep them down, and trade control for connection.

As a child, my sensitive nature was always embraced as a part of me. Others I know were shamed for being open and permeable and responsive. Thankfully, I was spared living under the threat of that old familiar parental expression “I’ll give you something to cry about!” (Is there anything more confusing to a kid? What are you going to give me, for g-dsakes, I’m already crying!)

But things are different once the whole wide world gets its hands on you.

When I think back to certain times in my life when my self-esteem took a hit, it was often because of sensitivity. Crybaby. Nervous Nellie. Party-pooper. Yes, I often cried first, felt danger first, left a crowded party first. No, I’m not sad. I’m not afraid. I’m not antisocial. I’m just over-stimulated!

I get “visited” by overstimulation frequently thanks to a world of bright lights, strong smells, too many humans, 24/7 news, uncomfortable fashion-forward clothing, not to mention violent and scary movies.

I remember when The Exorcist was released in 1973. I was underage to see the film but sneaked into the drive-in with a group of friends while hiding in the trunk of the car. That movie played psychological games with me for a very long time (or maybe it was the trunk?). I don’t think I slept for weeks after that. Of course, when you’re a teen and you have feelings like this you don’t admit it for fear of being labelled a capital “L” loser. Violent, scary things take me out of that state of comfort and peace I’m always trying to maintain. Nope, not watching Dahmer on Netflix.

And then there’s the news. War in Ukraine, Putin’s sabre-rattling, Iran. What a heartbreaking, terrifying world we live in. Gimme one headline at a time, please. I can’t hold all this sorrow at once and I sure don’t want to start my day with rage, despair, and hopelessness. Starting energy is everything. Maybe that’s why I turn to arts and entertainment news first. Oh wait, it’s Kanye again. No news is good news it seems.

Like most creative introverts, I prefer to live in a world of thoughts and ideas rather than high-definition drama. There’s this thing called creative flow (often preceded by hopelessness and going off the rails) when you’re able to tune out all this external stimuli. There’s no concept of time. There’s no more you. You become one with what you’re creating. It’s a great way to filter out all those unwanted signals.

I listened to a podcast recently with entrepreneur, author and thinker Seth Godin, who said he doesn’t read the news anymore. He doesn’t watch TV. He turns down most speaking gigs. He said “no” to Twitter and Facebook years ago. Why? Because people can infuriate him. Comments never made him a better writer. Breaking news just makes him skittish. (There’s Seth, getting overly sensitive again.)

Everyone has their level of engagement. Curiosity and an expansive life always come at a cost. Maybe that’s why I find myself living life with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake a lot of the time. Like Seth, I’m learning that I don’t have to inhale stuff just because everyone else is. When it’s ready for me it will find me.

Sensitivity goes beyond discipline and fortitude or getting easily upset. Still, we tend to use the word “sensitive” as if it’s a bad thing. But it’s not inherently bad or good. It just is. In his latest book, The Myth of Normal, I love the way Dr. Gabor Maté defines it as “the quintessential combo package: gift and curse.” A gift because you’re tuned-in to the beauty of things like an awesome starry sky, the falling leaves in autumn, a fine meal; and a curse because you can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the things of life. Your brain feels like it has one of those wild and crazy roommates—they’re messy, noisy, and stay out way too late (plus they need to shower!)

Look, sometimes I need to cry. Just like I need to go to bed when I’m feeling tired, or eat when I feel hungry (thanks for the hunger cue!) These are tiny messengers —those places words can’t go. If any of this rings true for you, you can either be the indomitable warrior and soldier on, or you can stop wasting your time trying to control how you feel. Your sensitivity isn’t emotional dis-regulation. Because there’s a big difference between being responsive and being reactive. Being a highly sensitive person (or HSP) is actually a distinct character trait, an innate dimension of our human personality that was identified some 25 years ago by Dr. Elaine Aron. It defines how our brain is hard-wired to process inputs. In fact, it’s an evolutionary advantage also seen in the animal kingdom. Think of it as a survival strategy. (Hey, there’s something about these mystery berries that just doesn’t smell right.)

I don’t really know for sure if I’m among the 20 percent who are considered HSPs. But I do know I think a lot. I process things deeply. I have a complex inner life. I take my time making decisions yet at other times I intuitively know. I can read a room well. I like quietness. I’m deeply moved by the arts and music. The first time I heard soprano Measha Brueggergosman in concert I was so moved by her powerful voice I wept. I also teared up with absolute joy and appreciation eating a Caprese salad once. (Best. Salad. Ever.) And sometimes I need to pull a Greta Garbo by announcing “I want to be alone.”

Yes, I need buffers around my high-sensing times. And although I like to think I can change all parts of me, some things are just un-changeable. I’ve come to appreciate my sensitivity and I’m much better now at embracing it. So Keep Calm and Cry On, y’all!

Until The Next…