Midland’s North Simcoe Tool involved in some unique and impactful projects

Although operates a small shop on the corner of William and Yonge Street, the local plant is manufacturing components for some pretty significant projects.

The machine shop, which specializes in tooling, prototyping and small production runs has been assisting larger companies in the design and machining of components for some unique and impactful jobs.

“Part of the reason for our success is a never say no attitude,” said Mark Losch, who took over the business from his father in 1989. “Often a customer will ask us to step out of our comfort zone and manufacture something challenging. Instead of declining these opportunities our talented team of designers, tool makers and machinist embrace those opportunities and we try to turn them into an advantage.”

Diageo, the company which owns brands such as Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal and Baileys, reached out to North Simcoe Tool to design a custom chess set for retiring employees. Each piece of this set was a small replica bottle of one of their products.

“It was certainly an interesting project for us and one that was certainly beyond our scope of work,” said Losch, who serves as the company’s president and CEO.

The company is constantly investing in new technology enabling them to expand their capabilities and allowing them to take on new projects.

North Simcoe Tool has worked with McDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. — the company that built the Canada Space Arm — and helped them machine some prototype bushings to replace ones on the space arm that were wearing out.

They were also contracted by the University of Calgary to build a few different mechanical components to be used with a new remote control surgical device they were developing for complex brain surgery. Scalpel holders and other procession components used remotely in the surgical process were created in Midland.

“We worked on prototype drilling equipment used by the Northern Centre for Advanced Research and Technology when they were bidding on the Mars Rover project,” said Losch. “The prototype augers that we built would have drilled holes in the surface of Mars to extract core samples.”

Their willingness to take on new challenging projects and continued investments in new machinery and technology has made their name stand out in the industry.

When Alpine Shredders paper shredding trucks were in need of new parts they sought out North Simcoe Tool to supply them with the components.

“We had just purchased the exact type of machine Alpine needed to manufacture many of their components,” said Losch. “They are now 30 per cent of our business and we are their only supplier of machined components.”

Although many in the industry have suggested North Simcoe Tool expand their business to a bigger facility, Losch believes the small plant allows them to have much-needed flexibility.

“While we certainly want to grow, we always want to keep in mind that our size does make us nimble. We are often able to change gears quickly and able to provide responses and solutions in a timely fashion,” said Losch.

Inna Shafir — Innisfil Ward 4


My name is Inna Shafir. I am a mom of three unique, successful children and a happy wife. I’ve been living in this beautiful town for almost three years. I am running for council in Ward 4 because I  want to  represent multicultural life and family values of our town, on council.


• I will promote projects related to the support of local parks for residents of Innisfil.

• Creation of highly skilled jobs

• Expansion of the local road in both directions, to Highway 400

• Creation of more accessible places for sports, family entertainment and for every resident of the city

• Graduated from the University of Moldova — marketer, chartered accountant. In Canada, I changed my professional activity — I got an insurance broker licence.

• Great experience in charity events, charity garage sales. Two annual city festivals were held. And of course, daily volunteer help in the form of information, advice.

Issues I will champion:

• Questions of family, useful pastimes for all residents of Innisfil

• Questions of medical care, without queues

• Questions on changing the status of the city beach — more benefits for the city’s residents

• Questions on the timely clearing of snow from local roads

Campaign office: 1012 Abram Crt, Innisfil, L9S 0K3


Wasaga woman finds it tough to reach water’s edge because of accessibility issues

Kathleen Thackaberry stares down the sandy slope to the beckoning waves beyond.

“I’d make it down, but I wouldn’t make it back up,” said Thackaberry, as she shuffles, cane in hand, back to her husband’s van.

The Thackaberrys bought their cottage on Mosley Street more than 15 years ago, when Kathleen would have thought nothing of walking down 14th Street to access the beach.

She and her husband, Foster, came to Canada in 1982. She first worked in nursing, then in the school system with children with mobility issues.

“We bought the cottage so I could go down to the beach,” she said. “I’m from Trinidad, so this reminds me of my home.”

Today, she can’t go for more than a few feet — and certainly not down a sandy slope. The next nearest access to the beach, at 15th Street, is no better.

“For me to walk even a little bit is painful. I can walk down, but coming back I’m frightened I’d end up in an ambulance,” Thackaberry said, noting she hurt her ankle the previous week trying to get up the slope. An elderly neighbour broke a rib after falling while trying to navigate her way up the access point.

When it rains, the water creates gullies that make the walk even more treacherous.`

Thackaberry wonders why either the municipality or Ontario Parks can’t install a walkway — not just for her, she said, but for a number of neighbourhood residents who have mobility issues.

The access points are owned by Ontario Parks; an Ontario Parks representative did not respond to a request for interview.

In 2013, polymer mats called Mobi Mats were installed at and, allowing individuals with mobility challenges to access the water and washrooms. Fred Heyduk, the chair of the town’s accessibility advisory committee, said those were determined to be the best two locations based on parking, ease of access, and availability of washroom facilities.

Heyduk said the committee is considering purchasing another, “but they are really expensive.”

The first mats were purchased thanks to a federal government grant and a donation from a Stonebridge owner Hamount Investments.

Last year, the committee arranged for the purchase of two Mobi Chairs that can be taken into the water; the chairs are free to use, and available at Nancy Island and the provincial park office.

The committee is discussing the purchase of ‘wings’ for the Mobi Mats that would allow an individual using a wheelchair to pull off to the side of the main mat area at the water’s edge. It would be a project in 2019, if it receives budget approval.

“There’s definitely more to be done,” Heyduk said. “We’re making that beach as accessible as possible, but we also have to be cautious and courteous of our guests who come to Wasaga Beach.”

The committee’s other initiatives have included recommendations to make public transit stops accessible, and the installation of audible crosswalk signals.

“You might not see it, but we are making a lot of improvements and a lot of headway,” Heyduk said. “The town is … all about making this beach more accessible for seniors.”

“(But) we have to mindful where we’re going to spend money.”

Thackaberry hopes her issue can be addressed, since driving somewhere else to access one of the other beach areas is a “huge rigmarole.”

“We worked hard to get this little cottage, and for us not to be able to access the beach is hard,” she said.

Preservation society one step closer to owning Collingwood lighthouse

The Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society (NLPS) is once step closer to owning the lighthouse.

The society announced last week it has received notice from the federal government that both parties will be moving forward with facilitating transfer of ownership.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed that a required Indigenous land claim study is nearing conclusion.

“The intent of these investigations is to determine whether any claims exist as the result of pre-existing treaties or agreements made between the government and other parties,” said Robert Square, government liaison for the society.

The preservation society was incorporated and received charitable status in 2015 to ensure that the heritage resources of the Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse are protected.

The lighthouse is one of six “imperial towers” of the Great Lakes constructed in 1855-1858.

New Midland business Twist Yarn offers classes and socials

For the first time in many years, local knitters and yarn crafters can save themselves a long drive for supplies with the opening of Twist Yarn Co. in Midland.

Opening on the weekend of Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in June, owner Michelle DesRochers said the response has been “great.”

“People come in and say, ‘Thank God we have a yarn shop in town,’” she said.

DesRochers said she recently discovered crocheting and is now “addicted.”

A yarn social is held Tuesday nights. Classes and workshops will begin in the fall.

Twist Yarn sells yarns of all fibres as well as patterns, books and accessories.

Food bank feeding Thornton and beyond

It’s been over five years since the Thornton Community Food Bank set up shop inside the basement of the New Life Church on Robert Street, yet many still don’t know it’s there to help those who need it.

“It took a while to get the word out, but gradually it spread and the number of families that we have registered has grown to 200 since that time, and it continues to grow each month,” said Sarah Hines, who heads up the food bank with Wendy Kerr.

The food bank opened in January 2013 and is run by a team of about 20 volunteers from the surrounding area. It is a joint venture between New Life Community Church in Thornton, and Living Faith Community Presbyterian Church in Baxter.

Clients come from Thornton and neighbouring communities like Baxter, Angus, Innisfil and even the south end of Barrie.

A monthly point system is used to distribute food, and the number of points is based on how many members are in the family.

When new clients come to the food bank, they are asked to present I.D. and fill out an application form with basic information.

“We do our very best to treat our clients with dignity and respect, but we must collect this information in order to ensure that all the donations from the community are being distributed to those genuinely in need,” she said.

In the last three months Hines said there have been 127 visits to the food bank, which amounts to about 7,684 points, or an estimated $8,000 in food.

Most of the food products at the bank are non-perishable, but they do have a limited selection of produce like onions, potatoes and apples, and they also try to carry meat.

The selection always depends on the time of year and what’s been donated.

“We also carry baked goods that are generously donated by the Zehrs in Alliston, which we’ve picked up every Tuesday since the food bank initially opened,” she said.

The bank also accepts lightly used clothes for children and adults, along with winter gloves, hats and boots.

“Even when we are closed there is work going on behind the scenes several days during the week,” she said. “Aside from picking up the bread we also shop to ensure that our shelves are full for our families. We scour the sale flyers every week to take advantage of all sale priced items so that we are sure our donated funds are stretched as far as possible.”

While they don’t belong to the Association of Food Banks, they have a good working relationship with the Angus and Alliston food banks and have received food items from them on a number of occasions.

The food bank is located at ., just east of the Thornton Fire Hall and library, and is open to the public every Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 7.30 p.m.

Extra donations are needed to ensure the shelves remain stocked over the summer.

For more information or to arrange a donation call or email .

A grave situation: historian on mission to restore Clearview pioneer cemetery

Janie Cooper-Wilson rests herself on a canvas camp stool after wrestling with brush and weeds for the morning.

There’s still plenty of work to do at the before an Aug. 18 reblessing ceremony, and at the moment, she’s the only one on site.

“How in the hell did I get involved in all this?,” she asks with a laugh.

The Presbyterian cemetery sits on Hwy. 26, west of Sunnidale Corners. Aside from a wooden sign that’s leaning on its rotting posts, there’s little to distinguish what’s considered the area’s first established cemetery to passersby whizzing past on the highway.

The first burials on the one-acre site donated by farmer Samuel Lamont date back to 1833, and the last recorded burial was in 1901. The cemetery contains the remains of the area’s first postmaster and a veteran of the American Civil War.

In 1974, then-Sunnidale Township rearranged the gravestones onto a semicircular concrete base now crumbling from years of neglect and the infiltration of tree roots. Several of the stones bear the signs of haphazard repair efforts; others had fallen over into the underbrush, discovered when Cooper-Wilson and her small group of volunteers began cleaning up the site earlier this year.

“I was livid to see this, any cemetery that’s neglected, because I was raised to (believe) that when you bury your loved ones, that perpetual care was automatic, but it doesn’t work that way,” Cooper-Wilson said. “These people built the community we live on, we’re standing on their backs, and it’s the collective history of our country.”

More than 20 years ago, Cooper-Wilson led the effort to clean up the ; the cemetery contained the remains of a number of her own ancestors who had come to Canada to flee slavery in the States.

But even though she doesn’t share the same personal connection to the Presbyterian cemetery, Cooper-Wilson — who is also a director with the Ontario Historical Society, and chairperson of the OHS’s Cemetery Preservation & Defence Committee — believes those who are buried there deserve the same respect.

“People don’t realize the history that’s here,” said Cooper-Wilson as transport trucks rumble by on nearby Hwy. 26. “It’s an obsession with me.

“My people knew them. They were a community … my dad said everybody (at the time) had to depend on each other, no matter what their feelings were on race,” she said. “There will always be that element, but over time, families united, they had to to survive up here.”

For Cooper, the stones tell the stories of families struggling to establish a life for themselves in “the wild and wonderful world” of pre-Confederation Ontario.

She’s takes water with a little bit of vinegar to try and clean the stones so she can read them, and cross-reference that information with her research. She was able to find documentation from 1974 when the stones were moved to the current orientation, but even then, she said, there wasn’t much information to go on from cemetery records.

Cooper hopes to have the flower beds cleaned out in time for the service on Aug. 18, with the stones set on limestone screenings. However, she acknowledged, the work is limited to the funding that’s available; in 2017, township council established a $5,000 fund to address maintenance and repairs at the inactive cemeteries, of which $2,000 is being used to help with repairs at Old Zion.

There are nine inactive cemeteries in Clearview Township; according to the Ontario Historical Society, there are 1,500 unregistered cemeteries — and therefore have no protection afforded to them under the Cemeteries Protection Act.

“I would like to see stricter legislation. When I began, you took a lot of things for granted — a cemetery is supposed to be sacred, and that’s not the case,” she said.

The inactive cemeteries owned by the township are identified and protected by bylaws that have been approved by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.

There are too many other priorities “that the taxpayer has entrusted the council with” to be concerned with funding the restoration of a long-disused cemetery, she acknowledged

“There’s a lot of history that will be lost,” she said. “To me, seeing this going go to pot is an insult to these people, it’s an insult to the dead, when you think of what they went through.”

Stayner bookstore a labour of love

Three years ago, as Troy Disabato was about to start moving his books into the Torn Pages storefront, an apartment fire devastated his collection.

But the burned books sparked Disabato’s romance with Stayner.

“That was an eye-opener,” Disabato, a 28-year-old born and raised in New Lowell, said. “It showed me how nice this town is.”

A number of residents raised books for the store and encouraged him to keep on. Students at the New Lowell Public School, Disabato’s elementary school, raised books for the shop.

“There’s a lot of love and passion for a used-book store in town,” Disabato said.

Now, Disabato said, he’s not only filled his apartment with books, his parents’ and grandparents’ homes are also full of books.

“We’re a book family,” Disabato said. “I didn’t know so many of them were book readers.”

Disabato said his store, and his love of reading, has made him even closer with his family.

With a large inventory, Disabato said he’s got a wide variety in his stock.

“I sell a bit of everything,” Disabato said.

In the summer, he needs to keep beach reads like romance novels and thrillers stocked. In the winter, Stayner’s readers are looking for true crime and horror novels.

But year-round, the trends seem to depend on what’s hot on Netflix.

The Crown spurred a fascination with the Royal Family and British novels, while Stranger Things attracted fans of supernatural thrillers to the store.

Part of running a book store is trying to entice customers to stop in.

For Valentine’s Day this year, Disabato offered a 50 per cent discount on romance novels with characters embracing on the cover.

“I want Torn Pages to be a fun store,” Disabato said.

“Now that I run the store, I read everything,” Disabato said. “I even read romance novels because I want to know something I can relate to customers.”

Disabato said he’s currently finishing Dan Brown’s latest thriller, Origin.

But one of his most memorable reads is Gabrielle Zevin’s novel The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, about a bookseller. Disabato has a copy, but it’s not for sale; he said he’s not even willing to lend it out.

As well as running the bookstore, Disabato is a member of the Stayner Lions Club and a director for the Stayner Chamber of Commerce. Before, opening Torn Pages, Disabato worked as a personal support worker.

“Confidence-wise, this store has been a life-changer,” Disabato said. “I wasn’t the most outgoing, and this store got me out there.”

Disabato said he’s at the store about 10 hours a day.

“Running the store is a lot of work,” he said, “but I’m in my element. I love what I do.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be a millionaire,” Disabato said, “but I feel rich in so many ways.”

On Sept. 29, Torn Pages will host an event with local author Tamara Thompson.

Torn Pages is at and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Innisfil man injured after early morning rollover

An 18-year-old Innisfil man has been charged with careless driving after a report of a vehicle rollover on Aug. 8.

Officers responded to the single-vehicle accident at 6:30 a.m. on the 20th Sideroad between the 5th and 6th Line.

The driver had minor injuries and was checked by paramedics at the scene.

Surprise meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Bradford

It’s not very often that you drive through Tim Hortons in Bradford for your daily morning coffee when a man wearing a black suit on a very hot morning approaches your vehicle with a firm stop with his hands‎.

After this, you then you see about 10 black large SUVs lined up and then you wonder what’s going on.

I asked the man jokingly, “is the prime minister here?”

He replied, “yes‎ he is.”

I didn’t believe this was true. I then went on to park my vehicle hoping to meet him at the Caldense Bakery in Bradford where lots of people gathered very quickly.

I was able to get into the bakery fairly quickly and obtained a few photos of the prime minister of Canada to share with family and friends. My children did not believe it until I showed them the pictures when I got back home.

Regardless of one’s party affiliation, this was probably one of the biggest, unforgettable and unexpected surprises one could ever get.