Month: February 2021

Students presenting Rehearsal for Murder

Playwright Alex Dennison’s fiancée was murdered on the opening night of a play he wrote a year ago. A year later, he has written another play to bring back the same cast and catch the killer.

Don’t fret; that’s just the plot of a play. But it’s a killer plot indeed.

Mac Snider, a Grade 12 student at Twin Lakes Secondary School, is playing the lead, Dennison, in a suspenseful production of Rehearsal for Murder, to be performed for community audiences in April.

"I love old murder-mysteries," said Snider, 17. "And you definitely get twists and turns in this. It’s a really cool plot. I want to show the audience the contrast of my character’s personality, Alex Dennison."

The play is being put together by students in grades 9 to 12. Thirty-five students are working on the production either on the stage or behind the scenes.

"We’ve managed to involve lots in our backstage program," said Sally Holdsworth, director of the play and drama teacher at Twin Lakes. "We also use our cosmetology program to do all the makeup and hair as part of their course."

The students’ level of experience varies from rookie to veteran.

"I’ve been in the last two productions here, so I have a lot of experience backstage," said Kayleigh Arsenault, 18, student stage manager for the play.

Even though it’s stressful, she said, seeing it all come together in the end makes it worth the hard work.

Breanna Yundt, 15, will juggle multiple roles on the stage.

"My character (is) a smaller character, so we just have one scene," said the Grade 10 student. "But when we need crossovers or extras to fill up a scene, that’s when I get to play different roles."

Snider is proud of the hard work the cast and crew have put into the production and he believes audiences will see that in the final product.

"They will come in for a high-school production," he said, "but we’ve put in a lot of work, and it’ll go beyond their expectations."

The play will be performed at Twin Lakes April 14, 15 and 16, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 per adult and $8 per student and will soon be available through the main office and also at the door on the performance dates.

For more information, call the school at 705-325-1318.

[email protected] 

Cookstown woman blames Air Canada for missing flight to see her dying brother

Ruth Hannah just wanted to fly to P.E.I. to be at her brother’s bedside during his final hours.

But the 85-year-old Cookstown resident and her granddaughter had difficulty finding a wheelchair at Pearson airport in Toronto last Monday. As a result, they showed up two minutes late at their check-in counter and Air Canada refused to let them to board their flight.

Joanne Hannah, 46, complained that missing the flight ultimately robbed her grandmother of the chance to say goodbye to her sibling, Gerald Profitt, 71, who suffered from lung cancer and died shortly after they missed the flight.

"She’s upset because she knows she could have had about six hours with him while he was still alive," Hannah told Postmedia Network by phone from her home in P.E.I.

"(A customer service manager) pointed her finger in my face and said, ‘I don’t care who is dying, you’re late, too bad, so sad, you don’t fly today.’"

Air Canada issued a statement, calling what transpired a "very regrettable situation.

"We are sorry the family was unable to travel in time. Unfortunately, they did arrive late for check-in, which is why they were not boarded," a company spokesman stated.

Joanne was visiting family in the GTA when Ruth Hannah’s brother fell gravely ill. The two of them headed to the airport around 10 p.m. last Monday to catch their 11 p.m. flight, but there were no wheelchairs near the front doors.

Hannah said airport staff weren’t much help. The Air Canada booths were empty and she didn’t know how to use the self-serve kiosk.

After she located a wheelchair — which her grandmother used as a walker — they found an Air Canada booth with staff at 10:17 p.m. The employees told them they were two minutes too late.

Hannah pleaded with an airline worker, explaining a loved one wasn’t expected to make it through the night and begged for her grandmother to at least be allowed on the plane, which was still at the gate.

"The woman didn’t care," Hannah claimed. "I bent over to tell my grandmother and she started crying."

She said a customer service manager arrived about 25 minutes later to bluntly tell them they weren’t flying that day.

Her cousin, who drove back to Pearson to pick them up, became frustrated with Air Canada staff and threw a package of luggage tickets at the wall, knocking over a turnstile.

She claimed the Air Canada worker threatened to "flag" her grandmother — who lives in Cookstown, near Hwy 89 and Hwy.400 — which would stop her from flying at all.

Police arrived, arrested her cousin and charged him with mischief.

The next flight with seats available wasn’t for two days, so Hannah and her grandma returned to the airport the next morning to fly standby. They got seats on a flight, but by then it was too late.

"I was putting our bags on the scale when I got the call," Hannah said. "I had to break news to my grandmother in the middle of the airport."

With no service planned, she called the funeral home to get them to hold off on the cremation until Ruth Hannah could get there and spend a moment with her brother’s body.

Joanne Hannah has since left a lengthy message on Air Canada’s Facebook page, a post that has generated countless comments of disgust.

Air Canada’s social media team later responded to her post, sending her a link to the airline’s website where she was invited to "refer any further comments.

"We’ve been advised by our customer relations team that they’ve called you to extend our sympathies and our apologies for your experience," the message read.

[email protected]

Statement from Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick:

“This is a very regrettable situation and we are sorry the family was unable to travel in time. Unfortunately, they did arrive late for check-in, which is why they were not boarded.

“We are in touch with the family and will be following up with the customers directly as well as with our employees, including investigating why it was not possible to board them on an exceptional basis due to the circumstances.”

‘Zombie Fest For Youth’ in Orillia

Expect plenty of foot dragging and ghastly moaning as the ‘undead’ invade Orillia’s streets for an eye-opening look at youth homelessness.

Proceeds from the April 17 event – dubbed the Zombie Fest For Youth – will go to help establish a shelter for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, says Kevin Gangloff, director of the Orillia Youth Centre.

“All of the dollars raised are going to be going toward that youth shelter fund,” said Gangloff. “It is a huge awareness-raising piece.”

Beginning at 11 a.m., participants dressed in zombie-appropriate garb will walk from the parking lot across from Brewery Bay to Georgian College.

Live music and other activities will follow at the campus.

“If you raise $20 or more you get into the gym for free, and if you just want to come to the music portion, then it’s a $10 donation to get in,” said Georgian College social services worker student Che Cleland, the brains behind the event.

It was developed through the school’s social entrepreneurship program.  

“This school has been great to me, and it is nice to give back to the community,” Cleland added.

Orillia’s youth opportunities committee recently surveyed residents ages 16 to 24 to determine the extent of homelessness among the city’s younger demographic.

According to Gangloff, the problem – while obvious to those in the know – isn’t as readily apparent in smaller communities.

“It’s not like a Toronto, an urban centre where you see that person sitting on the street corner or, the old adage ‘sleeping on the heating grate’,” he said.

Many youth don’t identify themselves as homeless, even as they ‘surf’ from one couch to the next, Gangloff added.

“There is a lot of hidden homelessness,” he said, noting the lone youth shelter in Simcoe County is located in Barrie.

“So you are either sending them to Barrie, if there is room, or you are sending them to Sutton or you are sending them to Newmarket or down to Toronto,” Gangloff added.

To register for the zombie walk, go to

Gulity plea for Orillia woman accused in January B&E, DUI in Kawartha Lakes

One of three people accused in a break-and-enter in January has pleaded guilty.

Erica Varley, a 24-year-old Orillia woman, received 94 days in jail for deceit/defraud.

With the 62 days she served in pretrial custody taken into consideration, she spent an additional day behind bars before beginning 18 months’ probation. She also has three months to pay restitution of $56.91.

Varley, Blake Nolin and Derrick Courvoisier were all arrested and charged following the Jan. 10 incident. Police allege Nolin and Courvoisier forced their way into a house on Memorial Avenue and assaulted a female occupant.

All three suspects were picked up during the week of Jan. 25. Nolin will be in court for a pretrial hearing April 11, while Courvoisier’s case will be spoken to April 12.

RIDE check leads to charge

RIDE checks can happen any day of the week, at any time, as one Orillia man discovered earlier this week.

Alan Draper, 39, was charged with having more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood near Fenelon Falls Wednesday night.

Officers from Kawartha Lakes OPP were conducting a RIDE check on Kawartha Lakes Road 8 when Draper went through the spot check at about 8:40 p.m.

He will be in Lindsay court April 14.

OPP looking for Tay Township woman

(TAY TOWNSHIP) – Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say a Tay Township woman reported missing has been located in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Approximately two weeks ago, Melissa Chantel Sarchuk, 30, left a friend’s house in Tay Township where she had been staying. 

She travelled to Prince Edward Island (PEI) for personal reasons. On Sunday March 20, she was last seen by a friend in Moncton, New Brunswick while travelling back to Ontario. Police were called when she failed to return to the Tay Township residence.

OPP say she was located in Niagara Falls the evening of March 23.

Barrie Police look for suspected debit card thief

BARRIE- Barrie Police have released the photo of a man wanted in connection with the theft of an iPhone 5S and a debit card stolen last week.

Officers said the items were stolen March 17 from the Queens Hotel on Dunlop Street and were used the following day to buy cigarettes at a Mac’s Convenience store at 150 Bayfield St.

The debit card had a tap feature, which doesn’t require a PIN number to be used.

Anyone with information can call officers at 705-725-7025.

Simcoe County’s public board approves homework policy change

The public board has approved homework policy amendments to be more inclusive to students without technology at home.

Simcoe County District School Board trustees voted last week to amend the plan, allowing students without computers or Internet access at home a chance to receive alternative assignments or access to the technology during the school day.

The board also agreed to ask teachers to minimize the amount of homework assignments due within 24 hours.


Suzuki speaking at Georgian College on Earth Day

Georgian College will mark Earth Day 2016 in the company of award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki. 

Suzuki will share his wisdom on The Challenge of the 21st Century: Setting the Real Bottom Line with students, alumni, staff and supporters on Friday, April 22.

His hour-long presentation is part of the President’s Thought Leadership Speaker Series, which engages the broader community in the exceptional learning experiences available at Georgian.

“I am eagerly anticipating the visit from Dr. Suzuki, especially for Earth Day 2016,” said MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College President and CEO. “Georgian is fundamentally committed to environmental sustainability and we strive to continually advance our efforts. I know that Dr. Suzuki will bring challenging and inspirational messages for all of us.”

Doors open to attendees at 9:30 a.m. with a pre-show starting at 10 a.m. Tickets for the general public cost $30 each and can be purchased at  The presentation will take place in the Barrie Campus Athletic and Fitness Centre. All tickets are general admission and seating on bleachers.

This event is proudly sponsored by TD Friends of the Environment, Johnson Inc. and AMG Environmental Inc.

Icebreaking operations Saturday in Midland Bay

MIDLAND – The OPP and the Canadian Coast Guard are warning people to stay off Midland Bay starting Saturday.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay is scheduled to assist the M/V Baie Comeau leave its winter berth in Midland and enter open water.

All ice on or near the planned icebreaking operations should be considered unsafe during and after the ships’ passage.

Barrie mayor to meet with First Nations chief on GO lands debate

Huron-Wendat Grand Chief Konrad Sioui said he is outraged by the “immense desecration” of potentially indigenous human remains found on the Allandale Station lands in Barrie.




In response, the city issued a statement Monday stating it is taking the concerns “very seriously” but noted there are no outstanding archaeological issues with the site.

Mayor Jeff Lehman and Sioui also plan to meet to review the city’s actions with the land. The Huron-Wendat Nation has also requested an independent investigation.

“We deeply lament this immense desecration of our ancestors. The Allandale Station site and the burial grounds that are found there are sacred and must be protected,” Sioui wrote in a statement.

“We have been faced with many situations where the remains of our ancestors have been unearthed, examined, studied, unilaterally appropriated or simply disposed of like garbage. As in all such cases, this situation is unacceptable to us.”

Human bones determined to be more than 50 years old were discovered twice in 2011 during construction of Allandale Station’s exterior at the corner of Essa Road and Lakeshore Drive.

AMICK Consultants archaeologist Michael Henry, who examined the site, told the Advance at that time several cultural groups could have used the property but there were “no graves or burials evident in the area.”

He identified the bones to be from an adult and “sub-adult” from different eras going back as far as 1300 to 1350.

His report stated he was satisfied there were no archaeological concerns.   

“The excavations to date appear to have been largely restricted to the excavation or previously disturbed soil and there is no indication that impacts have occurred to native soil where there may be as of yet undocumented archaeological resources, including burials,” he wrote.

Sioui made his comments in a March 11 news release after an article appeared online suggesting the station land is an ancient First Nations burial site.

Although the city’s statement notes there is currently no activity on the Allandale site, Lehman listed interior construction on the former station as a priority for 2016. An express casual eatery is also being sought to occupy space in the building.

“The City of Barrie has always carefully followed archaeological processes, the applicable legislation and any direction provided by the Province of Ontario to ensure protection of the archaeological potential of the site,” the statement read. “Barrie has deep respect for First Nations and has been careful to follow the advice and recommendations of the archaeologists who studied the Allandale site.”