Les Nobles

Sarah Couture McPhail is an artist, resident of the Brockton community and the creator of Neighbourhood Fan Mail.

About Les Nobles

I’ve been taking pictures of women who mean something to me (friends and family) and photoshopping them into old english paintings, then tracing the images and turning them into prints. I then write playful historical bios for them that are based on their accomplishments. The project is as much about the process as it is about the people featured in the prints. It is a lengthy method but it’s comforting spending time with the my people in the prints. Meditating on who they are and what they mean to me is validating. The history of women being reduced to their physical attributes is very long and rooted. I have added modern elements to the images too to ground them in the present though they are dressed up in the past.

The Honourable Baroness Karin

Aquatint on 4×4 inch zinc plate.

Baqi, Karin, LL.B. Esq. Born in the town of Nepean to parents immigrated from Bangladesh. Baroness of No One is Illegal; attorney under the Law Society of Ontario; scholar of the Humanities; protector and advocate of new Canadians and of the undocumented; political champion of the downtrodden on the streets in the land of Toronto; loving and devoted daughter and aunt; lover of ales and all things crafty.

Lady Mega

14 x 20 inch block print
McPhail, Megan. Lady of the T.O.R.D. Born in the small town of Timmins. Admirer of Sappho; scholar of networking computing devices; superior carpenter; master of the round flat track; known for her brute strength, her amiability, her love of ales, and her vociferous astuteness; she is a legendary aunt and a loyal sister and daughter.

Dame Nira

 Aquatint on 4×4 inch zinc plate.

Elgueta, Nira, Dame of Dundas. Born in Chile, immigrated to the land of Toronto. Scholar of women studies and of the arts; volunteer to the needy; executive to houses of refuge; benefactor of time and servitude to the destitute; advocate of the promotion of peace and social justice; mother of Lia and Simon; beloved friend to all.

Duchess Lia

14 x 20 inch block print


Reyes, Lia, Presider over Dundas West, born in Chile, nurtured in the land of Toronto; threefold threat of thespian arts; wielder of the long and short board; melodic player of the ukulele; lover of dancing and of whimsy; kind and loving daughter and sister; fun and loyal friend; immanent full and rewarding life ahead; best laugh ever.

Vicereine Carrianne

Aquatint on 4×4 inch zinc plate.

Leung, Carrianne, Ph.D. Vicereine of Brockton, born in Hong Kong, immigrated to Canada and grew up in the land of Scarborough. Doctor and scholar of Sociology and Equities; writer of fictions and of reality; beloved professor of modern English; co-owner of an Organic Grocery; mother of Fenn and her dogs Kuro and Ruby; partner of Andrew; steadfast friend.


Princess Jaclyn


Ray, Jaclyn, Princess of the Annex Territories and Liberal Indiana, born in Toronto and came into adulthood in London town of Ontario; master of mending fabrics and friends; celebrated organizer of people and materials; horticulturist of lavish gardens; gatherer of communities; missed wherever she leaves; dedicated friend; matched partner of Jason; lover of animals big and small.

Inside Out at the Roseneath

How do you get a group of teenagers to discuss homosexuality, bullying, and teen suicide?  It would be difficult to be in that room without witnessing nervous laughs, sweaty hands, and sideways glances.  Playwright Paul Dunn and the Roseneath Theatre have come up with a good starting point for discussion, a play entitled Outside about a young gay man who comes out to his peers.  Watching this play and participating in a short question and answer period afterwards is a great way to move past the awkward feelings that might typically be experienced during this discussion.

The Roseneath Theatre operates out of St. Anne’s Church at Dufferin and Dundas.  The theatre has existed for 30 years and moved to this place in August of 2008.  The founding/former artistic directors, Robert Morgan and David S. Craig, created the company while living on a tiny street called Roseneath Gardens (near St. Clair and Oakwood) in 1983, and David has been living on the edge of Dufferin Grove Park since the late 80s.  Andrew Lamb is the current artistic director and the director for the play Outside.

Roseneath Theatre tours schools all over Ontario.  I was fortunate enough to see a dress rehearsal for Outside in front of its first audience.  City View Alternative School, Grades 7 and 8, joined me for an engaging hour to preview this inspiring new play.  Gretel Meyer Odell, the Education and Marketing Manager of Roseneath, lives in Brockton Village and invited me for this unique opportunity.  Starting the week of April 13, 2015, Outside started touring high schools and middle schools across Ontario.

Meyer Odell:  “The play will be performed  55 times for approximately 50 schools (20,000 teens!) not just across Toronto, but in Simcoe County, the Sudbury Area, Marathon, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, North Bay and even Red Lake (a tiny Ontario municipality which is almost at the Manitoba border, a 22 hour drive from Toronto).”

I was interested to find out how this particular play came together.  Was it Roseneath’s idea to introduce this theme around homophobia or did it come from the playwright?

Director Andrew Lamb:  “Paul sent in an application to Roseneath and we were quite taken by what he proposed to explore, which resulted in us recommending funding for the project.  After reading the play, which was very compelling even at this early stage, I then invited Paul to participate in developing the piece further from Jan-Dec 2014.”

I asked Paul why he decided to write a play dealing with this theme.

Paul Dunn:  “I wanted to contribute to the dialogue happening in this country around homophobia and bullying in schools.  I was particularly inspired by the Gay-Straight Alliance movement, and the young people who are struggling to start and maintain clubs in their schools.  This play is a bit of a love letter to those kids.”

The first scene begins with Daniel, the main character (played by G. Kyle Shields), talking to the audience as though they are a “GSA” or a “Gay Straight Alliance”.   So right from the outset, the audience is engaged and is an integral part of the play; this strategy works beautifully.

Dunn:  “I deliberately cast the audience in the role of Daniel’s allies; he speaks to us as if we are fellow members of the Queer-Straight Alliance at his new school.  This allows Daniel the freedom to share the details of his story with us, and for the students in the audience, the opportunity to hear his story from a unique angle, and perhaps a new perspective.  I wanted to reinforce the idea that the students in the audience are part of the solution.”

Daniel begins to tell you about his experience of homophobic bullying at the school he previously attended and introduces his friends there (Krystina and Jeremy, played by Mina James and Youness Aladdin) through flashbacks and parallel time sequences.  It was the flashbacks that were the hardest part of moving the play from paper to the stage.

Lamb:  “Locations and flashbacks were probably the biggest challenge in bringing Paul’s script to life.  We worked closely with Michael Greves our set designer and Lindsay C. Walker our costume designer in advance of rehearsals to address these challenges. This resulted in the creative and seamless way we were able to deliver these shifts with clarity to audiences.”

The set is a series of chain-linked triangles that spin into different configurations.  Some of them include classroom doors (one turns into a hospital bed), and some show lockers.  These lockers have screens mounted on them that mimic a smartphone screen.  It is on these screens that we see the nasty texts Daniel receives from his peers.  The play shows how smartphones and texting have now become one of the most prominent ways in which teens are bullied currently in schools.  The actors put on and take off articles of clothing with the chain link sprayed on them (reminiscent of something Arcade Fire might wear on stage)  to distinguish at what point in time we’re watching.


Krystina and Jeremy, Daniel’s old friends from his previous school, are setting up a GSA after the events Daniel went through there.  These two are the only ones in the group at the moment and they are trying to find ways to approach others to join up.  Through their candid and often humorous discussion, the audience learns how to become an ally.  Krystina, the “good student”, is quick to support Daniel, while Jeremy, “the jock”, struggles within his crowd to express his friendship towards Daniel.  All these characters have depth, although it is often Daniel who is the most honest about his feelings and opens the door for the audience to enter.

Dunn:  “Jeremy is the way into the story for a large portion of the audience.  I created him to bring humour into the play, but also to have a character that can ask the questions many of us might be afraid to ask.  It’s okay to feel ‘stuck’, and I want the audience to know that.  Jeremy is also the voice for forgiveness in the piece, for giving people a second chance, because he knows what it’s like to act out of peer pressure, and to make mistakes.”

This play deals head on with some dark issues, and eventually Daniel attempts suicide.  The play is very powerful because it talks to students at their level and in their language. I asked Paul what was it like to write a play for teenagers versus some of the plays he might have written for Buddies in Bad Times.

Dunn:  “The best advice I heard about writing for teenagers was to not worry about trying to ‘target’ my play to a specific age group, and instead to just focus on telling a good story.  So, in the beginning, I didn’t worry about tailoring the play to teens, and instead just wrote the play I wanted to write.  In the development process, we did get feedback from educators and people who specialize in dealing with the issues of homophobia and bullying, and we adjusted some language and story points to ensure that the play was an effective and useful tool in a school setting.  There was also the time consideration (it needed to be under an hour), which meant choosing carefully the points that I needed to make, and questions I needed to raise.”


Bill 13 just passed in 2012 paving the way for students to create Gay-Straight Alliance clubs.  This kind of play with this kind of content could not have toured Ontario schools previously.  Homophobia is an important topic that affects the lives of many teenagers.  30% of teen suicides are from LGBT youth.  After I watched the play, I thought to myself  “THIS is what theatre should be about.”  There really is no better way for students to understand the thoughts and feelings of someone going through what Daniel suffered than through the medium of theatre.  A book wouldn’t engage the same way because reading is a private experience; a speaker doesn’t allow for the same vicarious experiencing of emotions.  Watching actors play out this story does engage because it provides the necessary distance for students to be able to get it, to think about it, and to discuss it.   I asked Andrew about what it meant to experience this play being viewed by such a large audience.

Lamb:  “As an openly gay man who married my husband in 2011, it is difficult to put into words what producing and directing this play means to me personally.  Even though July 2015 marks the 10 year anniversary of gay marriage being legalized across Canada, there is still a lot of work to be done around homophobia.  My hope is that this production will help keep the conversation going, which I truly believe is the one thing we can all do to improve our communities and become allies for those in need of our support – to call out bullying, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia when we see it and work together to create a better and safer environment for us all.”

Photos by John Packman from the 2015 production of ‘Outside’ by Roseneath Theatre, featuring G. Kyle Shields, Mina James and Youness Aladdin.

‘Outside’ received two Dora Mavor Moore nominations this week in the Theatre for Young Audiences Category!

Outstanding New Play – Paul Dunn
Outstanding Performance – G. Kyle Shields

FREE OUTDOOR PERFORMANCE at the Dundas West Fest, Saturday June 6th, 11:00 am on the corner of Dundas and Gladstone.  The Roseneath Theatre will be performing Spirit Horse that chronicles an incredible adventure involving two urban First Nations children.  The play is recommended for children grades 4-8, however it is suitable for most family audiences.
Bring a lawn chair, blanket or cushion to sit on!

P.S. I ❤ You

Sarah Couture McPhail is an artist, resident of the Brockton community and the creator of Neighbourhood Fan Mail.  She’ll be at the Dundas West Fest again this year on June 6th between 11am and 2pm.  Instead of being in the St. Claren’s parkette, look for Neighbourhood Fan Mail in a tent at the corner of Dundas and Margueretta.


■ – What is Neighbourhood Fan Mail?

Sarah Couture McPhail  – The Neighbourhood Fan Mail project encourages handwritten fan letters to local shops, restaurants, neighbours and friends —letting them know how they are appreciated.

This community engagement endeavour explores city life through handwriting letters about people in specific neighbourhoods and delivering other writers’ works.  Participants are encouraged to think about what makes their community better and then discover new places they might not know. The results functions as creative expression and social exploration of participants surroundings, and also reaffirms individuals and their place within the community.

■ – Who are you a fan of in the community?

SCM – My neighbour, the one we call Grandpa Joe. He has boundless energy and runs and plays ferociously with my kids. In his seventies, he is a model of health, strength and good nature. Neighbourhood kids know him and love him. When my kids see him, their eyes sparkle. If he isn’t deserving of fan mail, I don’t know who is.

Many people in this neighbourhood deserve acknowledgement. Our local grocer, whose smile never fails to brighten our worst day. Our favourite coffee shop, who saves our heads from aches with their delicious and always fresh coffee. The person down the street who curates the most amazing garden and has inspired our own verdant thumbs.

■ – Who can participate?

SCM – Participation has no age requirement, no language barriers, or requisite social standing. It doesn’t even necessitate that participants reside in the community. People must however acknowledge the neighbourhood’s greatness.

■ – Are there any other rules of Fan Mail?

SCM – First Rule of Fan Mail: In order to write a fan mail people MUST FIRST PROMISE to deliver someone else’s fan letter. Once this commitment is made, participants write/draw/decorate their fan letter. When they are finished, they drop their letter off in “Outgoing Mail” (attach letters to the hanging display using a clothespin), where they can also pick up someone else’s mail. Then they are expected to deliver the mail while they are walking through the neighbourhood. Keep it positive. Be creative. Have fun.


Slow Dance

Alison Bates is a proud member of the Brockton community and co-chair of the Shirley Street Parent Council.  You may have seen her wandering around the neighbourhood with her two kids chasing down ice cream trucks in the summer. Last year, she and Sarah Couture McPhail started “Slow Dance: No Excuses” at the Dundas West Fest.  You’ll find them both once again at the at this year’s event.

■ –  How did “Slow Dance: No Excuses” come about?

Alison Bates – We all have the need to burn off some energy, let loose, and just have some FUN once in a while! How often have you thought to yourself “I need to go out dancing”? Last year’s Slow Dance: No Excuses was sparked from this idea. Because really excuses might pile up, but sometimes we just have go out dancing!


■ – Slow Dance premiered at last year’s Dundas West Fest. What was that like?

AB – It was great! We trimmed the grassy area in at the back of St Clarens parkette with lanterns and flags. And like back in high school, it may have started off with a touch of nervousness but once snowball was called, it was an all-out party. Although the dance party is called “Slow Dance” there were many fast, up beat songs to dance to as well! Adults, teens, kids, toddlers… everyone was dancing. And suddenly our nerves disappeared. Everyone danced and laughed the evening away. It was a great end to a wonderful day at Dundas West Fest.

■ – How do neighbours take place in this year’s Slow Dance?

AB – This year we’ve decided to make the dance a masquerade. On Saturday June 6th from 7:30pm to 10:30pm, the St Clarens parkette will transform into a community ball room of our dreams filled with feathers, glitter, super heroes, and animal costumes, anything you like! We’ll also have a tickle trunk of costumes mostly all donated by Brockton’s own dancing crossing guard, the lovable Kathleen, to make things even more fun! The Goodtimes have signed on to D.J. the party. And, if everything falls into place, we may all be delighted by a surprise or two.

In preparation for the dance, we are having a mask making workshop on May 23 during the Brockton yard sale. We’ll be sharing some materials and costume ideas, and get excited for the big event, (if you missed it, visit the event page to see what we made and get inspired!). https://www.facebook.com/events/759258304187266/

■ – Are there any rules on who you should dance with? Who danced with whom, last year?

AB – There are no steadfast rules to the dance, other than to be respectful and kind to one another. Kids danced with parents and friends. Friends danced with friends. Actually, the dance acted as a kind of ‘date night’ for a few people too! That was great to see.

■ – What makes you want to run this yearly event?

AB – Toronto may have nearly 3 million people living within it, but it can still feel like a small town especially here in Brockton. Thankfully, we are a city of amazing neighbourhoods. The hope with this dance is to demonstrate other ways neighbours can use their local outdoor green spaces. Last year’s dance was a great success in bringing together neighbours new and old to Brockton. Perhaps in the future we can organize another community dinner, a theatrical performance, an active game day, or have even more dances in the park too! There are so many options!

■ – Slow Dance is also part of the 100in1Day Festival. Can you tell me a little about this?

AB – This is 100in1Day’s second year in Toronto. It takes place all across the city and is fueled by civic engagement – people who want to make their city a better place by having small initiatives that spark change. Check out their website for a list of the interventions or to get info if you want to host one yourself! https://toronto.100in1day.ca/

■ – Slow Dance sounds like a lot of fun.  I can’t wait to get my dancing on…

AB – Come by to say hi, and have a dance or two! It’s going to be a great night!


Brockton’s Hockey Team?

The Brockton Generals may not have a large fan base but they have a lot of fun. Not that they don’t take hockey seriously. In the game I caught the end of the Generals creamed the Holy Mackinaws Eh 9-2 and were getting complaints that they were trying too hard. The Generals are one of the best teams in the league and play in the “Eh” division. They’ve lost to the Parkdale team in the championships 2 years in a row.

The Brockton Generals plays for the Good Times Hockey League of the Arts, a league that started in 1999 with 2 teams and now has 32 teams in 4 divisions. This is a league where intentional body contact is not allowed and if you rack up more than 4 minutes in penalties in a game you can be ejected and your conduct reviewed by the league. Teams earn 2 points for a win and can earn 1 point for playing a game without penalties. Some of the more famous players for the league have been CBC/Hockey Night in Canada’s “boyfriend” George Stroumboulopoulos, the Rheostatic’s Dave Bidini, and a couple of the guys from Sloan. The ads on the GTHLA’s website are from Zunior, a website to download Canadian independent music.

Two thirds of the games for this league are played at McCormick arena, right in the neighbourhood. The hockey rink here is a little small, not regulation, but bigger than the other rink at Bill Bolton at Dupont and Bathurst area. In the summer, the arena is referred to as the McCormick Slush. Most of the walls to the “barn” go directly to the outside world making ice conditions not as ideal as they could be.

I spent an evening after the game with sweaty naked men getting in and out of the shower and drinking a few pops. I talked to Jeremy Harris, one of the “GM’s” of the squad about how the team started.

The team has been around for three years, but the Brockton Generals are officially in our debut season under that name.  The two previous seasons we were Brockton Hockey Club or Brockton H.C. We’re a group of friends ranging in age from 24 to 52, mostly actors, musicians and engineers. Thanks to our cool new sponsor, The Sister bar and grill (on Queen near Sorauren), we bought snappy new uniforms and thought a team name change was in order.


The Generals name came about this past summer when we researched the history of the old town of Brockton. Major General Sir Isaac Brock (In reality it was actually his cousin) owned the land, and had a history of battles and bravery that we thought might be noble. We’re not military buffs or into war of any sort, but it was an interesting fact. Also a member of our team just happens to have some star tattoos similarly located to a general in the Russian Mafia. He had no idea about that until a teammate informed him of that fact. In a moment of coincidence, and naive laughter, it sort of seemed to fit with the whole team theme.


Two thirds of us play on a team called Sgt. Rock (named after the comic book). The Rock have been in and associated with the GTHLA for 11 years. We’re one of the league’s foundational teams. It became challenging for some Sgt. Rock members to play on Saturday nights, so with a core of Rock guys and some other pals, we formed the Brockton squad.


(from L to R)
nicknames –  BC, Dinzer, Scotty, D-Mac, Steve-o, J’air, Ronny (kneeling), McG, Kanye, Trav, Cammer, Hurlz, Snatchie

real names – Bryce Collins, Chris Dinsdale, Scott Yaphe, Dan MacDougall, Steve Chambers, Jeremy Harris, Ron Fine, Bryan McGahey, Jeff West, Travis Shaw, Cameron Urquhart, Mike Hurley, Thomas van der Bliek


I asked Jeremy more about the GTHLA.  What makes this league different?

The GTHLA, the Good Times Hockey League of the Arts, is truly unique. I’m not aware of another hockey league that promotes its team members to be made up of the city’s artistic community. Most importantly, with a strong focus on fun, fair, competitive hockey and a no BS, no meathead attitude.

A larger extension of the league is the Hockey Summit of the Arts, an annual tournament which is truly like no other tournament in the world. It attracts like minded teams from all over Canada to Toronto over the Easter long weekend. We play on the ice against each other by day, and play music onstage to each other by night (usually at the Horseshoe Tavern). It has grown to now host more than 30 teams. I’d be shocked if there was anything like it anywhere else on the planet.

The people, the encouragement to involve our families, the many levels of hockey and the common community vibe, are just a few reasons why we are proud to be a part of such a great league.

Anything else interesting about this team?

In our debut season we had simple uniforms – golden yellow jerseys with a big black letter B on the front. That same year renowned director, Ridley Scott, put out a worldwide call to submit videos to be the basis of a documentary about Bruce Springsteen fans. We have a few serious Bruce fans on our squad, so we shot a short film about us being a team full of Springsteen hardcores. Although we were really called Brockton, we said in the film our team name was “Bosscocked”. We hoped the big B on our chests would be proof enough. The essence behind that false team name was an homage to Bruce and the E Street Band’s performance during the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show. During the set, Bruce ran across the stage, fell to his knees and slid for a long time kind of out of control, and slammed crotch-first into one of the cameras. It was as if millions of viewers at home had been unintentionally witness to a spontaneous 3-D moment of Springsteen over exuberance. It actually became a viral video and the term “Bosscocked” was born. We thought this might be an original angle to take – realistically, how many other hockey teams would submit something?

So, we shot some fan confessionals in our dressing room, some footage from one of our games, edited it together and sent it off hoping it would be viewed among the thousands of other entries.Well, the production company saw it. They actually liked it. So much so that they contacted us, they wanted us to provide release forms for all those that were involved, they wanted all of our raw footage, they showed interest, which was pretty cool. We were in close communication with the producers back and forth for a few months, but still didn’t think anything could really happen. Then we were told we it was pretty much a done deal. When the trailer was released one of our clips was in it. We couldn’t believe it! We actually got picked! We started contemplating flying to London for the world premiere screening, or at least a team trip to a theatre here in town to catch ourselves in all of our slightly made up splendour. The doc film entitled, Springsteen and I, played in many cities all over the world on one single night. The screening fell on one of our hockey nights so only a couple of guys and their wives decided to go. The excitement and anticipation sitting in the movie theatre was surreal. After the movie was over and the final credits scrolled, that surreal feeling turned to confusion when it was clear we didn’t make it to the final cut. What, how? In hockey terms, it felt like losing in quadruple overtime. For whatever reason (or maybe obvious reasons), we ended up on the cutting room floor. Dang. Still, it was such an amazing team experience riding the emotion of incredulity that our strange little Springsteen hockey movie might just make it to the silver screen.

Hey, you win some, you lose some.


The Generals Roster

1Scott “Scotty” Yaphe – #19 (defence)
Hometown: Montreal, QC
Was well-known as Wink Yahoo on the YTV show, Uh-Oh! Has the longest stick in the league. Stay-at-home defenceman.


2Jeremy “J’air” Harris – #10 (defence)
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Voice of CBC Radio. Drummer/Singer in hard rock band, Uncle Father. Bee-in-your-bonnet D-man.

Travis “Trav” Shaw – #67 (forward)
Hometown: Dundalk, ON
Member of the Canadian National Inline speed skating team. Super fast winger and wit.

4Thomas “Snatchie” van der Bliek – #93 (defence)
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Played professional hockey in Norway as a goaltender with a lightning fast glove hand, thus the nickname. But is a solid rushing, shot-blocking defenceman on Brockton.

5Steve Chambers – #4 (forward)
Hometown: Welland, ON
Power tools by day, power forward by night. Presently, in his rookie season with Brockton, dealt with the team’s hazing rituals quite well, only cried twice.

6Daniel “Danny Mac” MacDougall – #9 (forward)
Hometown: Sydney, Cape Breton, NS
Good with money, great with the puck!


7Chris “Dinz, Dinzer for the Winzer” Dinsdale – #00 (forward)
Hometown: Owen Sound, ON
Canadian Squash Champion, can do that and play forward or goalie. Dinz does it all!

 Cameron “Cammer” Urquhart – #21 (forward)
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Know for walk-off game winners, and walking the catwalk as our token male model.

Mike “Hurlz” Hurley – #28 (forward)
Hometown: Cole Harbour, NS
Hurlz is so smart he has more degrees than a thermometer! Unstoppable power forward, championship scorer.

Ron “Ronny” Fine – #29 (goaltender)
Hometown: North York, ON
With new bionic knees, Ronny is a machine in net. RoboRon!


Bryan “McG” McGahey – #15 (forward)
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Our other rookie, works for Brampton Beast hockey club, semi-pro baseball player, plays like the Fighting Irish he is.

Jeff “Kanye” West – #79 (defence)
Hometown: Beaconsfield, QC
This Kanye doesn’t interrupt awards, he wins them. A master chef and loved by all (except opponents).

13Bryce “BC” Collins – #17 (forward)
Hometown: Kitchener, ON
Speed, shot, sales, BC is the full package!


PrintPaul Aucoin – #76 (forward)
Hometown:Halifax, NS
Musician-composer-arranger-engineer-producer, A-list vibraphonist, centreman, scoring wizard!

PrintMike Greene – #5 (defence)
Hometown: Cole Harbour, NS
Greener could stickhandle his way out of a phone booth. Coach/player, father/son, lover/not a fighter.

PrintMatt Snow – #8 (forward)
Hometown: Cole Harbour, NS
During the recent NHL lock out, Snow played in a charity game vs Sid Crosby, and stole the puck off of him. It’s true! Just ask him, and find footage all over YouTube.

PrintChris “CO” Owens – #11 (forward)
Hometown: Barrie, ON
Star actor has performed on stage, silver screen, and TV, most notably as Agent Spender on the X-Files. Comic-Con sweetheart.

PrintMatt Sharron – #75 (forward)
Hometown:Cornwall, ON
Power forward and power drummer in bands, Brutal Knights and Hacksaw. Huge Springsteen, Dead and Immortal fan.

PrintJeff “Burkey” Burke – #3 (forward)
Hometown: Windsor, NS
Played hockey tourney in Mongolia in -30 weather. Been to the Arctic. Yet, very warm-hearted.

PrintDamir “Creamy”Jezernik – #89 (forward)
Hometown: Zageb, Croatia
Got his nickname for his slick stick work. And for how he likes his hot chocolate.

Be My Neighbour: Carrianne Leung

Carrianne Leung is the author of “The Wondrous Woo”, published in 2013 and nominated for the Toronto Book Award in 2014.  She is also part owner of the local “Multiple Organics” shop for locally grown organic food.  I got in touch with her to talk about her writing, creativity and living in the neighbourhood.

■ – How long have you lived in Brockton?  How did you end up here?

Carrianne Leung – My partner, Andrew and I moved to Brockton almost ten years ago. Previously, we were living in an apartment in Parkdale for a number of years and wanted to stay in the west end. When we looked to buy, we found this little row house on Norfolk that we could afford. We were able to make friends very quickly. Our street is tiny, so we got to know our neighbours immediately. Then, we got dogs and were able to form connections with other dog-owning neighbours. The kid came next, and this meant experiencing the neighbourhood as part of a community of parents and kids. Then my friend Nupur and I opened up Multiple Organics, and that introduced us to all the wonderful small business owners on Dundas West. You can say that Brockton facilitated all these things happening for me. When I look back on it, I am so happy that we moved here. The neighbourhood far exceeded my expectations of what “home” is and can be in the city.

■ – Your son is a similar age to my daughters and I know they both go to the after-school program at McCormick Community Centre.  You grew up in Scarborough.  How do you think your son’s childhood will be different growing up in Brockton compared to yours in Scarborough?

CL – Surprisingly, I don’t think Fenn’s childhood will differ drastically from mine in the suburbs. Even though we live in a bigger city, our neighbourhood really does feel like a village in many ways. We are so lucky to have the facilities that we do – McCormick Park, the area, the community centre, Shirley Street School, etc. He is growing up within a tight neighbourhood, and he and his friends will likely be in and out of each others’ houses as they grow. This is not so different from my own childhood in Scarborough where the boundary between house, street, park and other public spaces were blurred.

■ – Why did you want to write a novel and how did that happen?  Have you always been a writer or is this something you came to later?

CL – I’ve always wanted to write. I started my first novel when I was a kid. Writing fiction and poetry was something I did on and off all my life.  I never let myself have the time and space to devote to it before. It was a lack of confidence as well as the need to divert my energy into working. That’s a lot of people, I imagine. Anyway, I had a window of time and decided that finally, I was going to write a novel.


■ – I’m interested in the creative process.  On your blog you mention that writing to you is like sculpture – you form something in an organic way.  For you, what comes first – characters or plot?  Or are they always tied up together?

CL – This is a good question. I am not sure. It changes. Something compelling always come up. It could even be an idea initially and not plot or character. I just follow it along and wait for it to take shape. The revisions are the fine sculpting work.

■ – Do you start from the beginning and work your way through the novel or do you write chapters all over the place and then string them together in the end?

CL -I don’t even have outlines usually! As the story unravels, I follow along. Sometimes I am surprised at what happens. Mostly, the story is chronological in the first draft. I may make notes for later chapters, but I always write in order. Of course, as I revise and edit multiple drafts, I am usually all over the place. It’s actually the same in academic writing too. I have a PhD, so I also write scholarly work once in awhile. To me, writing is all creative whether it be fiction, non-fiction, a blog, poetry, even an email. I have something of an outline, and then I write and watch it grow.

■ – As a creative person, I need time to make things to feel healthy and happy.  You mentioned on your blog that when you don’t write your characters come to haunt you — how do you feel about your own creativity?  Do you think it’s a form of therapy?  Do your ghosts disappear once you get their stories written down?

CL – I am always thinking about writing. My inclination is always towards the written word. It’s how I make sense of things so that I can go from writing personal essay, academic texts, fiction and poetry with fluidity. I suppose you can call it “therapy” in the sense that I HAVE to write. It’s not really even an option for me. Writing fiction is interesting in the idea that I am “haunted” by stories and characters. When I am in the process of crafting a piece, I am constantly thinking of them so that characters and the worlds they inhabit become so vivid for me that it feels like I am being followed. When I finished The Wondrous Woo, I actually had a weekend of saying goodbye to the characters. It may sound weird to some people, but it was something I had to do to mark an ending.

■ – How did it feel once you finished and published your book?

CL – Writing and publishing a novel was the only thing that I ever had on my bucket list, so to finally be able to do it was exhilarating. I didn’t realize that another great part was to come – hearing from readers! I love receiving feedback. The novel belongs to readers now and not just to me, so it is really meaningful to hear how others encounter the world of Woo.

■ – You were nominated for the Toronto Book Awards this year.  Can you tell me about that experience?

CL – It was thrilling! It was already a dream come true to have a novel published and read. Being shortlisted for the award meant that I was able to reach a lot more people. These days in publishing, the onus for promoting books weighs heavily on the writer. I would have never been able to receive the kind of attention that I have without the nomination. It was so cool to read at Word on the Street!! It was also an honour to meet the other writers on the shortlist. They are all people who I admire greatly. Lastly, the TBA nomination gave me the boost that I needed to take myself seriously as a writer.

■ – You mentioned that you are working on a book of short stories. Do you know how long it will be and when it will be done?

CL – I don’t know how long it will be or when it will be completed. Like other things that I have written, I have to wait for these stories to reveal themselves to me. Short stories are more manageable at the moment since I work full-time, teach part-time and am very busy with my family.  They don’t require the length of time and momentum that is required in novels. That being said, short stories demand another kind of attention and are challenging in their own way.  I am having fun. That’s the most important part. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be doing it.

Art in the Park

Since the fall, Linda Naccarato has been spending her Saturday mornings between 11 and 1 at McCormick Park creating outdoor artwork with children.  The materials range from sticks and leaves, to ice balls and snow cakes.  I had a few opportunities to join with my children over the past few months and it’s a great way to get out of the house and meet up with others.


■ – I’ve heard that you’ve been teaching art outside at McCormick Park since September. How did this start and how has the experience been so far?

Linda Naccarato – I was first contacted by the Friends of McCormick Park to lead some eco-art activities for the launch of the McCormick Park Cafe and new playground. On the day of the launch, I was overwhelmed by the support from the local community and their determination to make the park a centre for the neighbourhood. At a community meeting not long after, we discussed the possibility for a weekly, drop-in program that would connect kids to nature and attract families to the park. The experience has been incredibly positive so far, and we have a solid group of families that have now incorporated natural art making and creative play into their Saturday routines.

■ – What kinds of things are you doing with the kids and how has their reaction been?

LN – My focus is really to foster a variety of opportunities for open-ended natural play. Each week there is a new activity, like building structures with sticks and yarn or weaving with fabric and natural materials, but there are also lots of loose parts (stones, shells, bark etc.) to encourage the kids to play in their own creative ways. Although I’m always modelling new techniques, I try to keep my resources simple and accessible, so that parents and kids can easily reproduce them at home and continue the momentum to play outside.

The kids reactions have been fantastic. I love seeing them try something new, like drawing with crayons on hot rocks, but my favourite is when they use the materials in unexpected ways. It’s great to see them feeling comfortable to dive right in, experiment and create!


■ – Can you give me a little information about you and your creative past? How did you come to be an art teacher?

LN – I come from a background in Visual Arts, and while studying Design in University I quickly realized how important it was for me creatively to keep my hands busy and my fingers messy. Luckily, I have always worked with kids, leading camp groups, working in preschools and teaching afterschool art programs, so I had a wonderful outlet to keep on experimenting and really play with art again. I eventually followed this path to Teacher’s College, where I focused on integrating art throughout the curriculum. The majority of the work I do now is in schools as an art educator, teaching diverse art practices like recycled textile weaving and natural shibori dyeing, practices that connect art-making with nature and the environment. Teaching art to me is all about showing kids another way for them to express their ideas, and think creatively.

■ – I’m inspired by your willingness to get out in the middle of winter to get creative. What drives you or inspires you?

LN – I know, playing outside in the season of Arctic air blasts seems pretty crazy! The truth is my inspiration comes from the many kids I’ve seen who would rather stay inside no matter what the weather is. I think that we need to model all seasons of outdoor play and teach our kids to really embrace the weather outside our windows no matter what that is. I have visited Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools in Northern Europe, and the children there loved being outside, whether it was in rain boots or snowsuits, they loved the freedom and all the opportunities they had to explore outdoors. I’m more than happy to bundle up each Saturday and share some of that enthusiasm for natural play with our Brockton neighbourhood families.

■ – I can’t wait to get my kids out there with you painting snow and making nature based art. What are you looking forward to this season?

LN – I love that winter gives us a white canvas to work on outside, so I’ll be excited to create art with seeds, sticks and coloured ice. Making art outdoors in a public space like the park also gives us a chance to make a little magic for unsuspecting neighbours and might just encourage someone else to get outside and create something.


For more information on school workshops with Linda or if you are interested in starting your own neighbourhood natural art drop-in,  check out www.artwithlinda.ca, and follow her @artwithlinda on instagram.

Gallery Hopping on St. Helen’s

I have always enjoyed looking at art.  While in high school in the suburbs of Toronto, our amazing art teacher would encourage us to go to Toronto and see the latest shows in the small artist-run or commercial galleries.  This was before Queen West was a thing. We would take school buses downtown to creak up the stairs at 80 Spadina or roam the halls of 401 Richmond in Toronto’s Fashion District.  I remember our class piling into Jane Corkin’s tiny gallery space on John Street before she moved her gallery to the Distillery District.

At age 17, I remember taking the subway down to Dundas West Station with my girlfriend (who would eventually become my wife) and walking down Dundas West to Morrow Ave.  This seemed like the least likely place to find contemporary art.  This strip is starting to gentrify now, but back then it really was a no man’s land.  We were encouraged to hunt down Olga Korper Gallery – a place where some of the best art in Toronto was shown —  and still is today — in a beautiful gallery space.  Little did I know then that I would eventually have my home a short walk away from there.

It was these trips to Toronto art galleries which must have inspired my girlfriend and I to take a trip to Europe in the summer between Grade 12 and O.A.C. (when OAC still existed!) to see art.  Our parents gave us the okay without thinking that we might actually save up enough money to make a go of it.  We were very young – I remember inadvertently dropping my passport at Pearson Airport while going to check in.  Luckily my mom was close behind me and she retrieved it.  Our plan was a month long trip:  Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.  We survived and luckily, because we weren’t officially adults, we we able to get into some of the best galleries in the world for free.

Anyhow, this article is not about galleries a thousand kilometres away by plane but about the contemporary art that can be found steps away on St. Helen’s Ave. between College and Bloor streets.  This is a hot new destination for art in Toronto with galleries being outpriced by high end clothing stores on West Queen West; as a result, they are now moving to more unconventional digs, spreading out further north and west in the city.

To me, St. Helen’s was previously just a street on the route to Value Village where we  shopped for cheap toys, books and clothing for the kids or bought halloween costumes and browsed around the used furniture. This street was also my first introduction to a “loft” building where my artist cousin lived.  It was was so bohemian!  Then shortly after, the building was sold off and turned into fancy condos.  St. Helen’s has some nice houses on the east side that face what used to be small warehouses or factories.  Many of these buildings have now been converted into spaces where you can see some of the most interesting art in the city.

It’s fascinating to see how the art scene moves and changes over time and geography.  Take one of the galleries on this St. Helen’s strip for example, TPW (Toronto Photographers Workshop).  They were one of the galleries I used to visit 18 years ago at 80 Spadina.  Since then they moved to the Ossington strip before it was taken over by restaurants and shops, then to a temporary space on Dundas West.  Now they are building a new space here on St. Helen’s Ave.  Their movement through the streets of Toronto tells a history of where the artists and galleries can afford to live.

Gallery hopping for me is either an exhilarating or extremely disappointing affair, similar to a trip to Value Village.  Sometimes you leave empty-handed and sometimes you hit the jackpot.  With the galleries that have moved here you are more likely to find something that will turn on your brain or stimulate the eye.  Visual art is interesting, as it is always an ongoing discussion.  Most of the time, it feels as if you can only really understand bits and pieces of the conversation.  Sometimes, when things come together and you can connect with it, it’s so refreshing, like a swim on a hot summer’s day or the perfect cup of coffee.   And often, that connection comes days or weeks afterwards, when you have that AHA! moment, thinking back and smiling as you step out of the shower or while you are brushing your teeth.


The Galleries


Clint Roenisch Gallery

Address: 190 Saint Helens Avenue
What’s on: Jennifer Murphy and Eli Langer: Caravansary of Joy,  March 20 – April 25, 2015


When did you move here?
 July 10, 2014

Why did you move here?
After 11 years on Queen St I wanted a bigger space and also my former gallery was being knocked down for condos anyway. Plus my colleague Daniel Faria and I used to work together so it was nice to be beside his gallery. And when I saw this space with such great proportions, high ceilings and no columns, I knew it would work well.

What type(s) of work do you show and/or what is your philosophy on the work that you show
I show everything from film, sculpture, drawings, photography, installation and painting. My philosophy is simply that I show the artists I believe in, those whose work I feel has merit and authenticity.


Daniel Faria Gallery

Address: 188 St Helens Avenue
What’s On: Douglas Coupland: Our Modern World,  January 22 – March 21, 2015
Valerie Blass: My Life, March 26 – April 25, 2015



Robert Kananaj Gallery

Address: 172 St Helens Avenue
What’s On: Constans: Descendents13 until 14 March
That Was For This: Sculpture/Installation Thesis Exhibition Series, March 17 to March 28, 2015 (Reception: March 21, 3 – 6 pm)

ENVELOPMENT(S): paths taken and not taken,  April 3rd – 5th, 12 – 5pm (Reception: April 2nd, 7pm – 10pm)

Spring Show Flyer 11 To Print.ai

When did you move here?
We started at this new location; 172 St Helens with the project Void on June 2014, open to the public, since our Third Anniversary of RKG, exhibition July 16, 2014.

Why did you move here?
We moved to this new location for more than one good reason: One, this is much better space than our first space where our gallery was located for three years at Bloor West. Two, it is a new destination to see cluster of exciting galleries providing and supporting unconventional life-giving art projects. The gallery is like any one artist, in quest with the spontaneity and unpredictable directions and methods, sharing with the art-loving public a unique art-experience.

What type(s) of work do you show and/or what is your philosophy on the work that you show?
Our gallery is dedicated to show and promote any artist or fine art that provides a unique art-experience. The gallery and it’s artists celebrate our time as we live it.

 TPW (Toronto Photographers Workshop)

Address: 170 St Helens Avenue
What’s On:  under renovations, opening in the near future.



Scrap Metal Gallery

Address: 11 Dublin St. Unit E.
What’s On: Group Show: Somebody Everybody Nobody until March 28th