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10-0483 WI Time of Your Life_100Mile.qxp:100MilePeninsula


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Now is the time to have the time of your life! Enjoy a retirement lifestyle that reflects everything that you’ve worked for. After all, you deserve it! We invite you to look into the care-free, all inclusive retirement communities of Amica Mature Lifestyles, where independence flourishes and living here is like the vacation that never ends. With locations in Ontario and British Columbia, with more under development including in Alberta, our communities offer all the amenities, services and accommodations of a 5-star hotel, while providing the privacy, security and the freedom to do whatever your heart desires! Daily activities, fabulous chef-prepared meals, on-site theatre and so much more make living here feel just like a cruise ship vacation, where we do the work and you do the living.

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5 reasons to check out our region Real Estate...

✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔

With an average resale home price of $154,402**, Windsor-Essex is among the most affordable places to live in Canada.

Climate... Enjoy seven months of short-sleeve weather at the same latitude as northern California and southern Italy.

Location ... Canada’s southernmost point is minutes from Detroit and within an eight-hour drive of half of North America.

Investment ... A skilled workforce, affordable real estate and built-up infrastructure make us a prime location for investors.

Lifestyle ... Recreation, festivals, the arts, gaming, quality health care and much more await you in Windsor-Essex.


Sunparlour of Canada. Canada South. The Rose City. The Sun Belt. The Place To Be. Whatever you call it, the 50-plus market, retirees and would-be retirees are coming here in droves, lured by the region’s magnificent scenery and unparalleled lifestyle. It’s Ontario’s best kept secret. Welcome to the 100 Mile Peninsula. For boomers, the ideal retirement location is one that’s affordable and more relaxed than – but within reach of – a booming metropolis. The WindsorEssex Peninsula is that place. Bordered by the Detroit River (the only designated international heritage river), lakes St. Clair and Erie, this spectacularly beautiful region is within an eight-hour drive, or one-and-a-half hour flight, of half the population of North America. As Canada’s southernmost point, sharing the same latitude as northern California and southern Italy, WindsorEssex boasts the balmiest temperatures in all of Ontario, with an average daily temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 223 days out of the year. The 100 Mile Peninsula lifestyle is envied around the country. Retirees flock to this area for

the relaxed yet active lifestyle. Canada’s most biologically diverse region is a recreational playground, offering 20 conservation areas and three islands, where folks can kayak, canoe, hike, bird watch and camp out. Golfers will be thrilled to come here; 23 golf courses and an extended season make this a golf enthusiast’s heaven. For culture, Windsor-Essex is awash with multicultural celebrations, county fairs, festivals, bird sanctuaries, botanical gardens and 14 award winning wineries. Theatre and music lovers will enjoy nationally acclaimed performances by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, premiere entertainment by the likes of Celine Dion and Jay Leno at Caesars Windsor and St. Clair College for the Arts, and exquisite works of art showcased at the Art Gallery of Windsor. The 100 Mile Peninsula boasts some of the most affordable real estate in all of Ontario, at 30 to 50 per cent less than comparable markets. With its quality amenities, diverse lifestyle and affordable living, Windsor-Essex is unlike any other location in the country. It is 100 miles of paradise.

The Windsor-Essex Active Retirement Community Initiative (WEARCI) is a not-for-profit, cooperative marketing partnership formed by the Greater Windsor Home Builders Association, Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board and the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, committed to establishing the region as a leading active retirement community and a strategic location for the 50plus demographic, retirement-related investment and development. Visit the website or call 1-877-963-2323. * We have attempted to ensure that housing prices and all other information is accurate as of publication, May 2010. Visit for current statistics. Produced by the advertising department of




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Island Retreat

Colleen and Richard Peddie call out to their dogs, a pair of Giant Schnauzers, from their home on Boblo Island in Essex County. - Ed Goodfellow photo

Maple Leaf ’s Peddie enjoys life on Boblo, far from the hustle, bustle of the big city BY JOHN HUMPHREY


Richard Peddie, one of the most prominent North American professional sports managers, has returned to his roots in Essex County and the 100 Mile Peninsula. But make no mistake – he’s not here just to rekindle fond memories of yesteryear. Rather, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, chose the local area as his family’s best option for affordable and stressfree living and an amazing quality of life. Born, raised and educated in Windsor, Peddie now spends most of his weekends with wife Colleen at their scenic home on Boblo Island, located 20 minutes from Windsor, Ontario and directly across from the Essex County historic community of Amherstburg. One of the continent’s largest professional sports companies, MLSE owns the Air Canada Centre, Toronto FC, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV. Ricoh Coliseum and BMO Field are also operated under the MLSE umbrella of companies. Peddie, a high-profile business administration alumnus of the University of Windsor, has contributed more than a half million dollars to his alma mater since graduating from the school and leaving the area in 1970. The Peddies’ decision to move to Boblo and the 100 Mile Peninsula shelved earlier plans to expand their brand new farmhouse that sat on a 100-acre parcel of land in Shelbourne, just north of Barrie. “Before meeting Richard, I think my view of Windsor and Essex County centred mainly on the 401 and the gateway to Toronto. Being blinded by the big city lights of Toronto, it took me a few visits to realize just how beautiful the area is and


how much it has to offer,” Colleen says. “The waterfront is fantastic and traveling out to Essex County to see how alive all the small towns are is terrific,” she adds. “There’s nature and the climate is fantastic. These are realities of life here that we really don’t hear about in Toronto.” The Peddies try to make it down to their Essex County getaway residence every other weekend, or whenever their hectic lives allow them. They have to make the journey to the 100 Mile Peninsula by driving because they usually are accompanied by their pair of Giant Schnauzers on the trips. The Peddies plan to one day retire to their now part-time Essex County residence. Sixty-three year-old Richard, who grew up in south Windsor, makes a point of stipulating that his move back to Essex County is not a sentimental journey. “It was never going to be a déja vu trip down memory lane. Colleen had to want to come here too or we were not coming at all,” he says. “As it turned out, she championed the move more. But I was always open to it.” The Leafs’ head honcho says living on Boblo Island, where he spent countless summer days as a youth, is ideal. “It’s 272 acres and a three-mile run around the island,” offers Richard, who is an avid runner along with Colleen. “Here we have deer, fox and eagles and our bird count on the island is up to 54 different species.” The Peddies were sold right away by Boblo Island’s unique setting. “It’s the ultimate in gated communities,” Richard says, “and we think that the ferry ride is ideal.” During the holiday season, the Peddies like to look out their windows over to the mainland and take in the sights of the Amherstburg River Lights festival too. “We can sit here and be completely

serene and quiet and have birds all over the place and deer in our front yard. And after a short ferry ride we can be in a first-rate restaurant or be shopping,” Richard says. “Or following a short drive, we can be in downtown Windsor and Detroit, or at Point Pelee.” Both Peddies are quick to identify the many positives that are to be gained from living in the 100 Mile Peninsula. “It’s all about lifestyle,” Colleen says. “It’s having the ability to have a quiet homefront and yet still be part of a larger community that can be quite active while also having a sense of community. But there’s more than dining, shopping and entertainment It’s all that endears Essex County and the burgeoning retirement about mecca to the Peddies. “The area is rich in history, particularly lifestyle. when it comes to the War of 1812 and we have Fort Malden right across the water from us,” - Colleen Peddie Colleen says. “Canada grew as a country right from this area.” Ever the salesman, Richard is quick to extol the many virtues of living in the 100 Mile Peninsula – not only for seniors, but for the entire population. “We are talking about a region that is home to a dozen wineries and we live in an excellent temperate zone too,” he says of the area that is on the same latitude as northern California and southern Italy. “We are probably a couple of climate zones better here than in the Greater Toronto Area,” Colleen adds. “We couldn’t grow a sycamore tree at our farmhouse north of Toronto because the climate was simply too harsh, but we will be able to plant them here.”

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‘In their own words...’

From left, Jules Hawkins, holding his son Christopher, 5, Allison Hawkins and her son Duff, 1, Alan Bull, Sally Blyth and Gazmend Dervishaj sing the praises of their new hometown. They are shown along the Windsor waterfront. - Windsor Star file photo

My husband and I just moved to Windsor this January from Toronto and we have not looked back. I wish that more people could see the possibility, growth and beauty that Windsor has to offer. We have had so many conversations with relatives of mine who live here and the reaction was "Why did you move here?" or when we decided to move we received "What does Windsor have?" Windsor has so much to offer. We were able to move from a downtown (Young and Eglinton) condo to a beautiful home. There is no way that we could have afforded this type of lifestyle in Toronto. On top of that, we never had a desire in Toronto to go to the waterfront because of the traffic and buildings. Here there is so much waterfront beauty to enjoy all across the city. We find the people to be genuinely hospitable, and there is almost no traffic. We're going to continually preach for everyone to take a different look at Windsor and try to see past the negative news, because the grass can be greener on the other side of the fence. - Jo-Anne Coutts

Newcomers love their town BY FRANCES WILLICK


He came, he saw, he stayed. While some may view Windsor as merely the terminus of Highway 401 or as a pit stop on the way to the U.S., for one Toronto expat, it’s a place he’s proud to call home. Jules Hawkins, 38, moved to Windsor in 2008 with his wife and son, and says his only regret is that he didn’t make the move sooner. Originally from the U.K., Hawkins spent 10 years in Toronto before relocating to Windsor, his wife’s hometown. He is now a champion for his adopted city calling it “a good, honest, supportive, friendly town.” Hawkins says perhaps the biggest perk is Windsor’s strong sense of community. “It’s a place you can feel you belong. In Toronto, you don’t get to know people nearly as much as you do here.” Windsor’s great climate is another benefit of living in the country’s southernmost city – a view supported by Environment Canada senior climatologist and Windsor native Dave Phillips (see also pg. 8). He calls Windsor-Essex “almost the Goldilocks of weather – it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold.”

As for affordability, Hawkins says Toronto simply can’t compare. “You can afford a nice place to live here without having to resign yourself to 40 years of working to pay it off,” Hawkins says. At $154,402, the average resale home price in Windsor in 2010 was the fifth lowest in the country among 35 urban areas, and less than half the national average price of $340,920. Compared to Victoria's $624,149, Toronto’s $440,153, Calgary’s $465,363 and Kitchener’s $278,825, Windsorites have it pretty good. While he reaps the benefits of living in a small city, Hawkins says he also enjoys the access to Detroit’s international airport and other amenities such as the sporting events, shopping opportunities, cultural events and attractions such as Greenfield Village and the Detroit Zoo. Hawkins isn’t alone in his appreciation for Windsor. He says he’s met scores of others who feel the same way and who have chosen to make the city their home. Alan Bull, 68, moved to Windsor from British Columbia in August 2008 to be closer to his grandchildren. He was skeptical at first about the city’s charms. “When you’re out on the West

Coast, any place other than the West Coast sounds like a sentence – the equivalent of a firing squad.” But Bull and his partner Sally Blyth were surprised by what they found here. “It was such a pleasure to find a community of people that were genuinely friendly,” he says. The retirees also value Windsor’s extensive riverfront park system, and regularly take It’s a place strolls along the waterfront. you feel “Every time we do it, we bless you can the people who had the vision to turn the industrial area into belong. something as pretty as what it is.” Gazmend Dervishaj, 26, - Jules Hawkins moved to Windsor in December after living in Michigan for about 10 years. A native of Kosovo, Dervishaj lived through the war in his country and says the mix of cultures here is a good reason to remain. “The thing I like best about Windsor is the diversity. That diversity and harmony matters to me a lot.”

- Reprinted from The Windsor Star

Average home less than $155,000 Your real estate dollar stretches farther on the WindsorEssex 100 Mile Peninsula. A whole lot farther. One of the most lucrative real estate markets in the country, the WindsorEssex Peninsula’s prices range between 30 and 50 per cent less than those found in comparative communities. The average home resale price here is $154,402, in comparison to $318,337 in Ottawa, and $440,153 in Toronto. No other community can offer the diversity and assortment of attractions and amenities than Windsor-Essex. Whether you’re looking for a waterfront condominium, country acreage or income property, you’ll find it here, in the vast and beautiful 100 Mile Peninsula.




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Today’s forecast: Sun! A Mennonite farm worker carries her bucket among apple trees at an orchard near Kingsville in Essex County during the fall harvest. Essex County has the greatest number of growing days annually in Canada. - Windsor Star file photo

‘Windsor is one of the warmest places year-round’ in Canada, weather guru says



Ranked above all other Canadian cities for having the warmest autumn, the most humid summer and the greatest number of days booming with thunderstorms, Windsor boasts plenty of weather. “It’s never boring in Windsor,” says David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist and spokesperson for the department’s Meteorological Service of Canada. He appraises the climate as ideal. “I’m a Windsor person so I’m a little biased,” admits Canada’s weather guru. Raised in the city, educated at the University of Windsor and still rooting for the Windsor Spitfires hockey team from afar, Phillips first became fascinated with all things weather in his hometown. Compared to the rest of David Phillips the country, “Windsor is one of the warmest places year-round,” Phillips says. It has four very definite seasons, yet is blessed to have a shorter winter than in London, Toronto and Ottawa. As for the humidity, “people in Windsor probably have the best skin in Canada because it is so moist there.” Even being the thunderstorm capital of Canada is “not necessarily a bad thing,” Phillips notes. A good thunderstorm “helps to scrub the air.” It smells wonderful after the rain ends – “great for drinking beer on outdoor patios.” The lush local climate is a boon for food and flower production. “Windsor is probably the best area for growing things in Canada,” Phillips says. “You’re never too worried about frost in Windsor.” Essex County has the greatest number of growing degree days annually, with an accumulated average daily temperature above 5°C. Windsor starts blooming in early spring. City parks and private yards continue flowering through November. Local


gardeners, farmers and wineries tend the bounty of the county, growing asparagus, strawberries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, corn, apples and more. “Essex County is better than the Okanogan and the Niagara region for growing grapes,” says Phillips. The region’s wine country is rich with awardwinning winemakers growing grapes on approximately 1,000 acres in the Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island designated viticultural areas. Ripe purple and green grapes, peaches and cream sweet corn and rosy red apples add their colours to the magnificent fall the region enjoys. Winter is soft. “The real advantage is that you get a touch of winter in Windsor. You don’t have to spend much money on heating your home.” There is enough snow and ice for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and skating on outdoor rinks and waterways. Embraced by water on three sides, Essex County has a climate made for outdoor pleasures. Compared to north of Toronto, the good weather arrives two or three weeks earlier in the spring and continues two or three weeks longer in the autumn. When cottagers, boaters and RVers in the Muskokas are closing up for winter, Windsorites are still at play. “We’ve got another month and a half of additional boating. That is a big deal,” says

Dave Barnier, past chair of Discover Boating Canada and owner of Erieau Marina near Blenheim, Ontario. With open access to the connected freshwaters of Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, boaters have plenty to explore: Point Pelee, Peche Island, Bob-lo Island and more, with more than 28 marinas clustered along shorelines. The water is clean and super for recreation, Phillips It’s never finds. He adds the fishing “is boring in first class. It’s right there on your doorstep. From the Windsor. docks in Windsor to the boats in Lake Erie, they do very well.” - David Phillips Boats of all sizes are typically launched by the first week in April. “They are pretty safe in the water till the end of October,” says Phillips. An increasing number of Ontario residents are spending time on the local waterways. GTA boaters who brought their craft to southern Ontario for winter storage and stumbled onto the advantages have abandoned the Muskokas and now dock and cruise their boats in the Windsor area. “A lot of the time, it’s quicker for them to drive here,” Phillips says.

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New home feels like cottage

Leo Groarke in his University of Windsor office. - Ed Goodfellow photo

Leo Groarke, the University of Windsor’s newest provost and vice-president academic, is enjoying life in his new postcard setting of a home. The distinguished academic left Wilfrid Laurier University after 26 years to move to Windsor and purchased a home on Riverside Drive with a commanding view of Peche Island and the Detroit River shipping lanes. Everyday, he looks across the water and sees potential – the busiest international trade route in the world, across from a major metropolitan city and on the Great Lakes. “I look out at the water and I feel quite blessed to have landed in Windsor,” Groarke told The Windsor Star in May. “When I go home and look out at the river and Peche Island it feels as though I’m going to the cottage.”


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Mac Isaac & Mac Leod

Fiddler Ashley MacIsaac (left) and author Alister MacLeod are two Cape Bretoners who have decided to make Windsor their home.

- Ed Goodfellow photos

Two famous Cape Bretoners find the perfect fit in their adopted hometown BY KIM PALLOZZI


Two great Canadian icons with shared Cape Breton roots have both chosen Windsor-Essex as their unlikely home. Alistair MacLeod is considered by many as the country’s greatest living author. Ashley MacIsaac, whose fiddling is as synonymous with Canada as maple syrup, was recently shown performing during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Windsor, Ont., seems like worlds away from Cape Breton Island, N.S. in terms of culture, climate and landscape, however there is a common thread. For the past 40 years, Cape Bretoners have moved to the Windsor area in search of job opportunities in the auto industry and it is that very established community that first attracted MacLeod and MacIsaac to the region. In fact, the two Canadian luminaries first met at a square dance in the city. “There are a great number of Cape Breton people here in Windsor and in Detroit and I appreciate that,” says MacLeod, “I have many relatives and friends here.” MacIsaac also has countless cousins in the area, including Jack White of Detroit’s famous rock band The White Stripes. Although MacLeod and MacIsaac felt a sense of comfort in Windsor due to cultural bonds, many other factors played a part in their eventual decision to stay – MacLeod as a longtime city resident, and MacIsaac as a newcomer. Both men comment that the warm climate, low cost of living and central location all make for a perfect home base. “I came in 1969 and I’ve been happy for 40-plus years,” says MacLeod. “It’s been a very good city.” MacLeod worked at the University of Windsor


for most of his professional career where he is now Professor Emeritus. “It’s a very nice city, it’s medium-sized and the people are very friendly,” he says. “I think being close to the United States is also an advantage. You have all the advantages of a big city without having to live in a big city. You can run across the bridge and the tunnel to see big shows, NHL hockey or NBA basketball.” He laughs at how most of his children have become Detroit Red Wings fans over the years due to the close proximity. MacLeod also notes the low cost of flights out of Detroit compared to Toronto is an added bonus, since both men travel often throughout North America and Europe. “My first gig out of Cape Breton was in Detroit and I was 13 years old,” says MacIsaac. Ironically, the sight of the Detroit skyline across the river continues to be a source of inspiration for him to this day. “It’s a beautiful view,” says MacIsaac, “and I find it very exciting to have this type of partnership nearby.” The easy access to chicken wings and southern cooking across the border is also an added bonus for MacIsaac. MacLeod has lived on the west side since he first moved to Windsor, and both men joke about how they live on opposite ends. “I’ve been living all my life in the same neighbourhood in Windsor in two different houses,” MacLeod says. “When the first house got too small, we bought the house next door. That was our big adventure.” MacIsaac, a city resident since July 2009, lives on the east side, just a block away from the waterfront. Despite the easy accessibility from one end of the city to the other, MacLeod quips, “My children’s focus was always on the west side of

Windsor since that’s where they grew up. When they go to the east side they think they have to get their passports ready.” MacIsaac’s east-ender impression of the city as a newcomer is very straightforward: “Windsor celebrates the blue collar attitude and the strong work spirit. It’s clean; it has beautiful parks and it has nice areas that have been built up by a multiethnic community.” Despite the fact that MacIsaac’s music is a reflection of east coast tradition, moving to Windsor has inspired his work in other ways. “I’ve picked up the fiddle at least once a week and I’ve never played it at home since I was 18 year’s old. I lived in condos and It’s clean; hotels, so I never felt comit has fortable playing it. Now that I have a house, I’ll sit down beautiful and play tunes.” parks. Both MacLeod and MacIsaac are currently in the creative process of their future artistic - Ashley MacIsaac endeavours fresh off the heals of enormous successes: MacLeod as a prestigious PEN/Malamud Award winner for Short Fiction in Washington D.C., and MacIsaac as a worldwide crowd-pleasing opening ceremonies performer at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. When MacLeod is asked about his next project, he reveals, “I’m thinking. I find it’s good to think before you write, so I’m in the thinking stage.” As for MacIsaac, he shares the fact that he’s been very motivated to learn new songs here in Windsor, something he hasn’t done in 15 years. “I have to learn the next part of my life’s music. That will be another set of tunes.”

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Seizing the moment BY KAREN PATON-EVANS


A highly skilled labour force, bargain-priced property and an abundance of sunshine enticed two very different yet far-seeing businesses to capitalize on Windsor as prime investment territory. OYA Ventures LLC and the Handerson family both determined that Windsor had everything they needed to launch new enterprises. The former had local roots, the latter had none; however, both recognized opportunity and seized it. Born and raised in Windsor, Manish Nayar attended the University of Western Ontario and then moved to Chicago to complete his MBA and to work. With the announcement of Ontario’s Green Energy Act in May 2009, Manish and his friends immediately began their research, raised venture capital and several months later, established OYA in Windsor. They expect to invest up to $180 million and create perhaps 100 jobs in the area’s first utility-scale rooftop solar energy project. OYA is three entities: OYA Solar Inc., which designs, develops and operates socially responsible renewable energy projects; OYA Energy, a regional distributor of solar products working with 17 dealers serving farms, homes and small businesses; and Polar Racking, a manufacturing firm that produces commercial rooftop racking systems to hold solar panels in place. Nayar and his partners considered Toronto, Kingston, London and Ottawa before deciding that Windsor was the place to be. The winning factors were: five to 10 per cent more sun than in Toronto and more moderate winters than in London and beyond; local expertise in large construction projects; and the structural, industrial strength of commercial facilities. “The buildings are built to last,” Nayar says. OYA partners with commercial property owners to transform unused rooftop space into solar photovoltaic energy-producing plants. Proximity to the U.S. border and the global marketplace was another major point in Windsor’s favour. At present, OYA’s primary customers are throughout Ontario and India. The company is developing preliminary engineering for Bulgaria, California and the Philippines. “Windsor will be our engineering hub,” Nayar explains. The border location “is great for us because we are near metro Detroit.” Nayar says Windsor is ideally positioned for great things. “Let’s have the highest density of solar in Canada. It’s possible. We have the talent here. Let’s take that talent and do something better for the future,” Nayar says. Sean Handerson and his father Ken were also attracted by Windsor’s opportunities, particularly in real estate. Sean’s career as a Mississauga chemist came to an abrupt end in 2008 with the closing of his company. Ken had recently sold his Barrie-based distributorship of factory automation components. Father and son teamed up, took courses in investing and went shopping for rental and commercial properties. “We analysed lots of properties all over the place, focused on Ontario,” says Sean. They found Windsor to be “a very affordable


OYA Ventures LLC is investing $180 million into Windsor-Essex’s first utility scale rooftop solar energy project. Manish Nayar , a managing partner with OYA Solar Inc., says the region’s greater percentage of sun and more moderate winters were among the key factors in the investment decision. Below: Ken Handerson (left) and his son Sean purchased a 23-unit apartment building in Windsor. - Windsor Star file photos

area to live. For people with jobs, it’s a very high quality of life.” Understanding that “residential is one of the more comfortable investments first time out,” Sean and his dad purchased a 23-unit apartment building in need of renovation. “Because properties were very affordable at the time we bought the apartment building, we could easily justify the costs to renovate,” Sean says.

All units are completely occupied and under the capable supervision of the on-site property manager. The Handersons were so pleased with their Windsor investment they branched into commercial property ownership. Hiring a local general contractor, tradespeople and landscaper, the Handersons renovated Venture Place on the city’s east side. We have The purchase and upgrades of the two properthe talent ties totalled $2.5 million. All here. work was done by local people previously unknown to the Handersons. “We’ve got a - ManishNayar great team in Windsor. They’re more like friends,” says Sean. As new investors, the Handersons feel they have been fortunate in putting their money into the city. “Windsor has lots of potential and a lot going for it,” Sean says.

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Solar manufacturing plant being built in Windsor The sun continued to shine on WindsorEssex with the announcement May 11 that Ontario’s first solar panel manufacturing plant will be built in Windsor. The plant is being built by Solar Source Ontario, a joint venture of a subsidiary of Canadian merchant bank Solar Bancorp Inc. and India-based multinational HHV. “Windsor is a wonderful place for us to put

our (North American) beachhead,” Solar Source president Ross Beatty told The Windsor Star. The company will be investing “well in excess of $40 million”and hiring as many as 500 people in three years. The first solar panels will be coming off the line by year-end. “An industry is being born,” said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, who promised “other announcements to follow.”



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Windsor a ‘well-kept secret’ BY KAREN PATON-EVANS Special to The Star


Approaching retirement five years ago, Americans Allen and Peggy Shearn consulted a map of North America and wondered where they would settle down for their golden years. They knew they did not want to remain in Baltimore, where Allen was the biology department chairman at Johns Hopkins University and Peggy was a special education teacher. High housing costs and what the couple perceived as general rudeness and a climate of anti-intellectualism motivated them to retire elsewhere. With family in Chicago and Detroit, the Shearns wanted to live within reasonable driving distance. Alan, who dreamed of literally sailing into retirement, was drawn by the water flowing around Essex County. Curious about Canada, the couple checked out Windsor on a weekend visit. Rather than being isolated tourists, the card-loving Shearns found themselves invited to a bridge game. Windsor’s “small-town-in-a-city feel” resonated. “We also spent a weekend in Toronto and love it. But it’s so crowded, so big and so expensive,” Allen says. “Windsor is much more of a human scale.” The Shearns found a local realtor who proved a tremendous resource, connecting them with an immigration lawyer, contractor and sailing club. During the two years expended in obtaining permanent Canadian residency status, the Shearns worked with their realtor to find their perfect home: a solid old place with original character that Peggy could restore, extra bedrooms for visitors, and room to set up Peggy’s dollhouses and Allen’s model trains. Everything came together in a large brick Crafts house near the University of Windsor, two blocks from the Odette Sculpture Garden on the Detroit River. Sale of their Baltimore house left the Shearns with funds to pay for their new residence and its renova-

Peggy and Allen Shearn share a laugh over the model train collection inside their Windsor home. - Karen Paton-Evans photo

tions, plus a sailboat for Allen. Construction costs were very reasonable. “The amount that we had done we could never do in the States,” Peggy says. The Shearns moved to Windsor in September 2007. There was a two-month gap between the sale of their Baltimore house and possession of their new Windsor home. Having read an article declaring Victoria, B.C. was the best retirement place in Canada, the couple rented there for the interim. Cost comparisons proved that a one-bedroom condo in Victoria was equivalent to the Shearns’ new Windsor house with its new kitchen, bathroom, windows, air conditioning and other improvements, and the sailboat. Even if the Shearns could have afforded a boat in Victoria,

there is a waiting list for a well at the marina. “Victoria is very expensive, it’s very touristy,” Allen notes. “After having been there a couple of months, we were very happy to be in Windsor.” Finally in their retirement home, the Shearns divided their time between renovating to their taste and exploring their adopted community. They soon established a lifestyle determined by the seasons. Summers are spent primarily on the water. Allen, who is the Rear Commodore of his sailing club, finds people “are completely accepting. It’s a wonderful feeling.” With their cruising club, Allen and his first mate, Peggy, explore the Detroit River and lakes St. Clair and Erie. Peche Island, idylic for picnics and walking trails, is a favourite destination. The Shearns also go birdwatching in Point Pelee National Park, take houseguests on tasting tours of local wineries and cycle along the riverfront two blocks away. “We’re just staggered by how many parks there are – and how beautiful,” says Peggy. Allen enjoys the many local golf clubs and plays in a senior softball league. Rainy days are spent playing bridge. The Shearns’ winter life is rich and active. Peggy is the scenic artist and Allen constructs sets for the Windsor Light Opera Association. They attend plays and lectures at the university and take potluck in the homes of dining club members. Peggy volunteers at the Downtown Mission, preparing and serving meals. The couple keeps fit by square- and step-dancing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in Ojibway Park, and going to the gym. The Shearns’ social calendar is full. “It’s amazing how many friends we have,” Allen says. He adds they “found a doctor we really like. He’s been great. Despite the negative things we’ve heard about the health care system, our experience has been completely positive.” Says Peggy: “I’ve always thought Windsor was a well-kept secret. Windsor is a great place to retire to. People are surprised to hear that.”

Johnny V rockin’ in Essex County BY KAREN PATON-EVANS Last year, musician Johnny V Mills was embraced by two communities: He was inducted into The Canadian Blues Museum and Hall of Fame in Windsor and was the guest of honour at a welcome party thrown by his new Colchester neighbours. Touched by both events, Johnny V is humbled by the warm Essex County reception that he and his wife, Debby, and their teenaged son, James, have received since arriving from Calgary. “It’s a genuine community. It really feels neighbourly down here and I like it,” he says. Born and raised in Toronto, busking with his guitar at age 12 in Kensington Market and on the road to adventure at age 15, Johnny V has toured the world and lived from the east to west coast, mostly in big cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Calgary. The Juno winner has shared the stage with B.B. King, John

Hammond, Otis Rush, Dr. John, Amos Garrett, Delbert McClinton, Pinetop Perkins, Eddy Clearwater and many other blues artists. Seeking a simpler, quieter, more affordable home life, the Mills researched real estate listings across Canada. Debby was intrigued by Essex County. A property for sale in the lakeside farming community of Colchester could provide the family with three times the space that they had in Calgary. “Houses are cheap in Essex County,” Johnny V says. As soon as James graduated high school last summer, the Mills sold up and moved to the large Colchester house, just a three-minute walk to the public beach near a marina on Lake Erie. The family found themselves in the land of plenty, arriving at harvest time, when roadside stands sold produce of almost every variety growing in fields only steps away. Please see pg. 18

Johnny V Mills strums his guitar inside his home in Colchester, Essex County.


- Karen Paton-Evans photo


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Build it and they will come; train them and many will stay. Recent and new investments in medical services and education in Windsor-Essex County are improving the prognosis for quality health care locally and nationally. An infusion of public funding and community donations is giving the Windsor area a boost with the establishment of The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry - Windsor Program, facility enhancements, new construction and expanded medical services at Hotel-Dieu Grace and Windsor Regional hospitals, and the April groundbreaking on St. Clair College’s new health sciences building. All are contributing to the training of much-needed health care professionals. On St. Clair College’s main Windsor campus, construction of the $32-million health sciences building is underway. With the anticipated movein date of March 2011, students are looking forward to learning in the 108,000 square-foot, stateof-the-art facility, predominantly set up for labs and clinical learning experience. Observing that the college’s health care students could easily get into universities anywhere, academic vice president Dr. Peter Tumidajski says, “I think we get the cream of the crop.” He finds the college pairs “good quality people, good quality programs.” With Windsor’s proximity to Detroit, Canadian health workers and patients have access to opportunities for employment and care offered at Henry Ford Hospital, Beaumont Hospital and other major medical centres. Reflecting on past graduates, Dr. Tumidajski finds “though many leave to start their career, a lot of them come back to the region. “There is a strong draw to come back for people who grew up and went to school here.” This is good news for the local community, which depends on well-trained health care professionals to treat the entire population. The ability to instruct more people ensures more patients have greater access to services. For instance, with more medical technicians trained to operate advanced machines, “that gives you a faster response rate and a better health care system,” says Dr. Tumidajski. With more Canadians living longer, there is an increased reliance on supportive services who “need different kinds of care,” he notes. Therapists “train them how to organize their lives so they can stay at home.” Practical nurses and personal support workers care for residents in nursing homes or as home care providers. When emergency services are required, it is reassuring to be attended by the college’s para-

Johnny V rocking Continued from pg. 14 “The Walleye Capital of the World is right out here,” Johnny V says, indicating the nearby lake. His new buddies are taking him out on their boat to fish for walleye, pickerel and perch. Living in the heart of wine country, Johnny V has learned “the wine’s real good here.” Compared to Calgary, “we’re saving between 30 and 40 per cent on monthly food, gas, utilities on the basic cost of living,” Johnny V finds. For writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, “it’s beautiful down here in the sense that you can explore your creativity without being burdened by distractions,” such as having to go to a day job to pay


RX for good health Artist rendering shows the $32-million health sciences building that St. Clair College is constructing.

medic graduates who have won provincial awards. “I think the governments are recognizing this area needs to have investment in training and delivery of health care. They are putting money into that.” Beyond campus grounds, “our regional hospitals are growing to capture more medical work,” Dr. Tumidajski says. He anticipates seeing even greater local development with increased abilities to assess major medical conditions and provide advanced treatment right in Windsor, rather than sending patients to London or Toronto hospitals. One very positive development is the Schulich School, a partnership between The University of Western Ontario, University of Windsor and the Windsor and London hospitals. In the fall of 2008, the first class of 24 students began studies at the University of Windsor site. When they graduate in 2012, they will receive University of Western Ontario medical degrees. In the meantime, students are contributing to health care. “During their training, they will provide clinical care under supervision by resident physicians engaged in specialty training and by Windsor physicians,” says Schulich dean Dr. Carol Herbert. “Some will be engaged in research projects in Windsor or elsewhere in southwestern Ontario.” More than 200 Windsor-based physicians are involved as faculty. “We depend on the Windsor physicians who give of their time and experience to teach our students, often meaning longer days to take care of all their patients’ needs. They bring a wealth of clinical experience in hospital and community settings,” Dr. Herbert says. “We continue to foster formal teaching skills through faculty development.” The school has already attracted a number of

physicians to practice in Windsor who also want to be engaged in teaching and clinical research, she adds. “We hope that in the longer term, some of our graduates will settle in areas where there is medical service needed, including Windsor-Essex County. We know that our graduates will provide excellent service wherever in Canada they ultimately land.” Incoming dean Dr. Michael Strong was born in Windsor and lived in Leamington. Currently based in London, he is a tertiary care neurologist who has provided neurological care to southwestern Ontario for the last 20 years. “I can state without any hesitation that the care provided is superb and that SWO patients are well-cared for by dedicated primary care physicians, specialists and health care professionals,” he says. “My experience in sending patients back into the community and to home hospitals has been that they are cared for well and that the level of care is excellent.” “The Schulich is an absolutely integral part of health care delivery across SWO and….both of its campuses contribute in a major way to this,” says Dr. Strong. “It is in fact what places us at the forefront of a number of health care initiatives, both from the vantage of education (distributed learning) and research.” Dr. Darren Cargill, an Oakville native who graduated from the University of Western Ontario’s medical school in 2004, considered setting up his practice in various cities throughout Ontario. “I found Windsor and Essex County to be a nice-sized community. It is not too small and not too big,” he says. “We have a lot of the big city amenities while maintaining a small-town feel.”

to live and create in a major centre. “If you’re going to play music as a career, the ideal thing is to find a place like Essex County to come home to,” Johnny V believes. After a long tour, “when you come back home, you want to shut the world off for awhile.” The close proximity to the U.S., Windsor International Airport and Hwy. 401 means a musician can easily get to the next venue. It’s a location that works for Ashley McIsaac, The Laws and other performing artists. James is already finding his own opportunities, teaching drums and percussion and playing in a heavy metal band. He is looking into the music programs at the University of Windsor and Wayne State University in Detroit. In his own little hamlet, Johnny V is revelling

in being one of the guys. “I like the anonymity of it,” he says. “This affords me the opportunity to have privacy.” At 3 a.m., he can play his guitars without disturbing the neighbourhood. During the day, “I can rehearse with the band – and it’s loud.” In good weather, the neighbours sit outside to listen in. They only complain when the music stops. Johnny V acknowledges, “I could never do this in Calgary,” where rented rehearsal space was another expense and inconvenience for the artist. Debby, a lifelong Albertan, is pleased to be part of the “tight-knit community.” She is astounded “the neighbour will cut your grass.” “I found most people are real approachable,” says Johnny V. “Just about everyone I’ve met has been cool.”

Healthcare you can count on... Access to high-quality healthcare is something you’d rather not worry about during retirement. That’s why Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hopsital goes far beyond conventional healthcare. We’re a centre of excellence in acute tertiary care, which means we provide clinical expertise in a much broader spectrum of medical specialties than typical urban community hospitals. These include advanced cardiac care and angioplasty, renal dialysis, trauma and neurosurgery, acute mental health and stroke. Our opthamology programs are among the finest in Canada. And we’re always growing to serve you beyond your expectations. Why? So you can enjoy the retirement lifestyle for which Windsor-Essex is so well-known. You can count on Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital for your healthcare needs.



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and features the following amenities: concrete party wall, 2-car garage, main floor laundry room, maintenance free living, covered porch, 9â&#x20AC;&#x2122; high ceilings, lawn with in-ground sprinkler, sidewalks with plenty of trees, and golf course views from the front porch. Maintenance-free living means not having to mow your lawn in the summer or shovel snow in the winter. Our Non-Profit Homeownersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Association is happy to provide these services for you. Regardless of what your needs are, Seven Lakes Estates will surely work hard to meet each and every one of them. Model Homes are now ready to be viewed. Please call Annemarie Meo at (519) 250-8088 ext. 325 or Ron Kereliuk at (519) 567-8659 to book an appointment today. Please visit for further information.




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‘I feel like I’m in heaven,’ artist Virginianne says BY KIM PALLOZZI


Moving back to your hometown after almost 40 years may seem a bit daunting. It’s not always easy to readjust to an environment that is a piece of your past when your life has taken you in different directions. However, life has a funny way of offering up pleasant surprises and sometimes homeward bound is exactly where the path was meant to lead all along. “I feel like I’m in heaven,” says Virginianne, one of Canada’s most celebrated artists who has recently returned to Windsor. “I’m satisfied and every day I’m even more satisfied.” Virginianne, who is currently working on a sculpture of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, has been commissioned numerous times to produce her works for many notable figures, including the British monarchy. A 1981 typed letter from The Queen Mother that is framed on her living room wall thanks the artist for her bronze sculpture rendition of Northern Dancer, the famous Canadian thoroughbred racehorse. Among various other mediums, Virginianne is also known for her collection of wildlife art that is done in the rare cast paper image technique. After graduating from the University of Windsor in the 1960s, Virginianne completed her masters degree and then moved to Ottawa for a job opportunity as an art teacher, where she taught for almost 30 years and flourished as a well-respected artist. Throughout this time she took leaves and lived in such exotic locals as Italy, Egypt and Australia. It wasn’t until after her retirement as an educator that her life took a sharp turn. Her 87-year-old mother, Mary Dixon, became ill with Parkinson’s disease and Virginianne made the decision to take care of her herself instead of relying on nursing home care. Also during this time she reunited with her longlost love of 40 years who was living in It’s the Michigan. Unexpectedly, all arrows friendliest pointed to Windsor. “I would recommend anyone to come here,” says city. Virginianne. “It’s the friendliest city.” When it came to finding a home, she says “There are so many places to - Virginianne choose from and the bargains are wonderful.” Despite the abundance of different neighbourhoods and beautiful houses, Virginianne instantly fell in love with her east-end home. “I didn’t see the backyard or anything, I just had this wonderful feeling and I knew that this was it.” Her intuition served her well. Just steps from the riverfront, the house, yard and neighbours are better than she could have ever expected. When she first moved in, “the people across the street came over with fresh baked pumpkin bread.” It was a recipe that they found in a cookbook that they received when they moved in the neighbourhood 15 years prior. “The card said, ‘I hope this brings you the wonderful spirit of living that we have had,’” Virginianne recalls. “Wow! I know the names of just about everyone on this street.” She also speaks with enthusiasm about her neighbourhood bowling league that has been going strong since 1947. Some other things she likes about the city is its annual film festival, the Red Bull Air Race, The Ol’ Victoria Tavern which boasts “a great blues band”, biking and walking trails and the sea kayaking lessons she takes at the University of Windsor. The proximity to Detroit is also a bonus because “it is going through so many changes and it has so much to offer,” says Virginianne. “I love shopping and going to the Detroit Institute of Arts.” Although the Canadiana artist took the long way home to Windsor, her destination ended up being a place of great comfort and happiness. “Windsor has really grown and blossomed. Quality things are happening here.” As for her new life: “Sometimes you put out a wish and someone will make it come true. More than you could have ever imagined.”

“ ”

Artist Virginianne is shown with her Yorkie dogs Happy, Mimi and Sumo at her fireplace. Some of her sculptures are on the left. Above: A sculpture of Northern Dancer and a letter from The Queen Mother. - Ed Goodfellow photos





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100Mile Lifestyle

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unique destination for the 5 0 Plus crowd. Ontario and Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s southernmost peninsula. 7 months of short-sleeve weather. Moderate winters. 3 0 0 0 acres of parkland. 2 0 conservation T areas. 28 marinas. 3 island getaways. Freshwater fishing. TH AKE E5 And golf! 2 3 challenging courses. Plus, Caesars Windsor. World-class TOU 0/50 R casino and superstar entertainment. Simply stated, a 1 0 0 mile playground. Easy commutes for city or country living. 30 awesome festivals. 14 estate wineries. Express yourself! Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re 2 nd in cultural diversity. 1 mile across from Detroit and 4 major-league teams. Convenient Snowbird connections south. Live here for less! Choice real estate sells 3 0 - 5 0 percent below the GTA. Spend a weekend. Take a tour. Get a new perspective on active retirement living.


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