Windsor Life Magazine September 2022

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1 ART DIRECTOR1 Michael Pietrangelo PRODUCTION 1 George Sharpe PHOTOGRAPHERS1 John Liviero,


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Mel Monczak 519-551-0072 WINDSOR LIFE MAGAZINE

318-5060 Tecumseh Road East Windsor, Ontario N8T 1C1 Tel: 519-979-5433 Windsor Life Magazine is published by Campbell McGregor Garant Publishing Incorporated. Articles and art may not be reprinted without written per­mission from the publishers. The publishers assume no responsibility to return unsolicited editorial or graphic material. Windsor Life Magazine is a registered trademark of Campbell McGregor Garant Publishing Incorporated, Suite 318-5060 Tecumseh Road East, Windsor, Ontario N8T 1C1. Telephone (519) 979-5433, Fax (519) 979-9237. All rights reserved. ISSN 11955694. Canada Post Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 43512513.

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Windsor Life Magazine is published 8 times per year. Mailed delivery in Canada is available for $40.00 per year including H.S.T. A $150.00 charge is required for mail delivery anywhere outside of Canada. Send cheque along with address information to Windsor Life Magazine, 318-5060 Tecumseh Road E., Windsor Ontario, N8T 1C1.

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Estate planning mistakes to avoid Advice for ensuring a smooth transfer of wealth.

Every year in Canada, billions of dollars in estate assets are transferred at death. Sometimes these transfers don’t go as smoothly as expected. There are, however, ways to minimize the risk of problems by keeping a few points in mind during the estate planning process. Careful planning and review of existing plans can help to ensure that the assets you’ve spent a lifetime accumulating go to the people you’ve selected, in the way you intend. I’ve highlighted a few of the most important factors to consider when planning your estate. Of course, each highlighted factor requires significant explanation and understanding to ensure the smooth transition you are seeking.

Joint ownership

Oft times, individuals choose joint ownership for “simplicity” yet fail to consider the implications of such a choice. I can explain. After a lifetime of carefully saving, investing and planning, you want the peace of mind of knowing your assets will be distributed as you intended. As a wellestablished, trusted advisor, I can partner with you to make the best choices for your situation.

Will planning

A basic and all too common mistake is not preparing a will. A will communicates your intentions and allows you – rather than the government – to determine how your assets will be distributed when you die. A will facilitates the administration of your estate and can help you avoid some taxes. It also allows you to choose the executor of your estate and the guardians of your children.

Tax implications

Often people intend to split their assets equally between beneficiaries – for example, between three children. However, if you fail to consider the tax consequences, the wealth transfer may not turn out equal at all! Another example of failing to consider the tax implications often involves second marriages or separated and estranged spouses. Understanding these implications is extremely important. Tax issues may feel complicated, I can help you to sort out appropriate solutions related to both investments, life insurance and retirement savings.


When a life event such as a birth, death, marriage, separation or divorce occurs, people often remember to review and update their will, but may forget to review their beneficiaries. This common oversight could greatly affect the realization of your final wishes. When naming a beneficiary, it’s also important to consider the age of the individual.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE, PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL Barbara Allen, HBA, CFP Life Insurance Advisor Manulife Securities Insurance Inc. Senior Financial Advisor Manulife Securities Incorporated Direct Line 519-250-0515 Office: 519-250-5190, ext. 409 2255 Cadillac Street, Windsor, ON, N8W 3Y2 Stocks, bonds and mutual funds are offered through Manulife Securities Incorporated. Insurance products and services are offered through Manulife Securities Insurance Inc. Banking products and services are offered by referral arrangements through our related company Manulife Bank of Canada. Please confirm with your Advisor which company you are dealing with for each of your products and services.


Manulife, Manulife & Stylized M Design, Stylized M Design and Manulife Securities are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under license. The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Manulife Securities Incorporated Manulife Securities Insurance Inc.

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ON THE COVER Musician Leah Harris knows what it’s like to be on a first name basis with the muses.


Photography by Drew Bordeaux See page 16








A Day in the Life of a Disney On Ice Skater


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A Leamington Barn Transforms Into a Family Home

Musician Leah Harris Releases a New Song With Sound Advice 24


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How Loss Helped Shape Mike Cerveni’s Music 48

Sohila Kaur Sidhu Takes Science to the Next Level 41


The Sun is Setting on Windsor’s Rattlesnake Population



A Local Law Enforcement Odyssey 52


John Liviero Witnesses the Carnevale di Venezia

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Publisher’s Note It is great to see people back enjoying summer with the festivals in full swing, charity events back and entertainment abound. We can see each other’s faces and smiles once again. And there is still much to enjoy as we head into the second half of 2022. In this issue of Windsor Life Magazine we feature area people doing remarkable things both here and around the world. On our cover we feature former Windsorite Leah Harris, fresh from her honeymoon in Ireland, chronicling the path to her new fresh outlook on life, as well as her new single which deals with the aspects of her journey that has brought her to where she is now. Further on in the publication you will find the story of 19-year-old Rubie Diemer from Woodslee who started skating at the age of 2 and has gone on to become a Disney on Ice performer. Then we feature a remarkable transition from a barn to a beautiful home in an article about the determination of homeowner Mara Hall to make the unusual change happen. Later a wonderful story of an exceptional grade 10 student, Sohila Kaur Sidhu, from Assumption College Catholic High School who won the Windsor Regional Science Technology and Engineering Fair for her design of an artificial pancreas. Saving species from extinction is the life work of many great people around the world and Windsor’s Jonathan Chouquette is certainly one of them. He is working tirelessly to bring the Massasauga rattlesnake population back to Ojibway Prairie. Local musician Mike Cerveni shares the story of how his personal loss is very much reflected in his music. Gas of Tank is a book written by Windsor Life contributor Matthew St. Amand and tells the story of a local police officer, the areas he worked and results of that work both good and bad. Lastly, photographer John Liviero, of Sooter’s Photography, allows us to feature his photos of a trip to Carnevale di Venezia, an annual festival in Venice, Italy. After reading the article you just might want to look into booking a trip next February as the festival is back on for 2023. I hope you enjoy this edition of Windsor Life Magazine as we really enjoy presenting it to you.

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LIFE FOR WINDSOR-BORN singer/songwriter, Leah Harris is a whirlwind but you wouldn’t know that from the relaxed manner in which she conversed with Windsor Life Magazine about her life and her work. Having returned from her honeymoon in Dublin, Ireland only the day before, it’s hard to tell if the “om” of her demeanor is Zen or jetlag. It doesn’t matter. In the midst of conversation about her move to New York City four years ago, Leah says: “Sometimes the everyday is the craziest.” That might be a good title for her next album. As it stands right now, Leah has a new song set for release. “It’s called ‘Shine,’” she says. “Songs usually come to me out of desperation. When something isn’t right in my life and I ignore it but can’t ignore it forever, it usually comes out in a song which is how ‘Shine’ was born.” She continues: “When I moved to New York, it was all very exciting. I was working multiple jobs and at one point it hit me—I wasn’t doing music. The point of the jobs was to fund the music and I was neglecting it because work was taking so much of my time. That didn’t work for me.” Leah’s song “Shine” is about a person who wakes up one day and realizes that the face staring back at her in the mirror wasn’t hers. Part of the song’s lyric goes: “So, I grab my keys / And I walk into the city streets / I’ll blindly follow my feet into the night / Til I shine...” “That’s me chucking it for a night and going out into the city to do an open mic,” Leah says. “I should have been sleeping and preparing for my job but I went into Manhattan instead, to sing, to perform. If life doesn’t make space for music, I’ll make the space for it.”

I’ve taken inspiration from each place where I’ve lived. My love of music began in Windsor. If I wasn’t born there, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.



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Leah recorded a second song titled “New Man” during the sessions which will be released later this year. “‘New Man’ is a more playful song, written for my husband Dan,” she says. “It’s a joking song, a girl talking to an ex who didn’t treat her well and finally saying to him: ‘Have you seen my new man?’” Leah laughs. “The point is to highlight the people who treat us very well. The song is about looking back on harder times and being happy that things have turned out. We all go in many different directions but it’s so great when you find your home.” Leah knows something about going in several different directions. Born and raised in Windsor, a graduate of Walkerville Collegiate Institute, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 2008 to study music at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. There she met her producer, Adam Rhodes with whom she worked on her first album, “I Don’t Believe in Love.” It was recorded in New York’s famous Systems Two Studios and released in 2014. In the summer of 2017, Leah worked once again with Rhodes in New York on her single “Don’t Blame Me.” “In 2013, I moved to Sweden to check out the European music scene,” Leah says. “To fund my life in Stockholm, I also worked teaching science.” Leah’s next move was to Finland where she worked for a tech startup company called Yousician, developing a new gamified piano learning app from scratch. The app soon became the world’s most successful piano learning app. Following her time in Finland, Leah moved to Ireland, her mother’s home country. Settling in Dublin, Leah focused on creating a new kind of path for professional musicians—being self-sufficient—which led to developing remote work skills and experiences such as networking and communicating online. “Artists should be able to have a happy, healthy life like people in other professions,” Leah said in a 2017 interview with Windsor Life Magazine. “People prioritize music in their lives and they should do the same for the musicians who create it.” She has remained true to that vision with her new release, “Shine.” Leah recalls fondly the early days when she was propelled solely by her love of music. “My first gig was at Chapters bookstore in the Devonshire Mall when I was fourteen years old,” she says. “I remember singing

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a Whitney Houston song and going for one of the high notes and totally missing it. It didn’t matter. My friends were there and we had fun.” Leah learned classical piano from her mother, beginning at age four. As the years went by, Leah’s father—an aspiring country music songwriter—showed her how to chord on the piano. This opened Leah to the idea of creating her own compositions. “I wrote my first song when I was around nine years old,” she says. “Whenever I wrote three songs, my dad booked time at a professional recording studio to record the demos. That made my efforts feel more official. When I was thirteen or fourteen years old, the songs started to feel more real and I made those demo recordings more with a thought toward ‘What am I going to do with those from here?’” She sent them around to music publishing companies. Although those initial forays into the music business were met with limited success, Leah made a habit of learning from every experience which is something that continues to this day. “I’ve taken inspiration from each place where I’ve lived,” she says. “My love of music began in Windsor. If I wasn’t born there, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.” She goes on: “In Stockholm, audiences are very attentive so I paid more attention to every detail of my performances. In Finland, I approached music as an entrepreneur, taking the tech start-up mindset into my career. Ireland is a storytelling culture, so there, songwriting became very important—saying something in my music that is real. Ireland had the greatest impact on my writing. And in New York, I’ve honed my business side more than my creative side.” Leah offers advice to anyone thinking of moving to “the big city” to pursue their dreams. “The challenge here is the energy level—your energy just disappears,” she says. “There is just so much going on—commuting, you can’t stop for five seconds in the subway to figure out where you’re going. It’s a very extroverted city. In Sweden, for instance, nobody gets in the way of your energy. In New York, it’s hard to get through the day without a lot of crazy things happening.” Leah is taking her own advice from “Shine” and ensuring there is always room for creativity in her life. To listen to her music or view some of her music videos, visit WLM


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Enjoy Your Outdoor Space in Comfort FOR NEARLY 50 YEARS, Seaton Sunrooms has helped Essex County residents bring the outdoors inside. “A sunroom adds value to your home,” says Brooke Watorek, who operates Seaton Sunrooms with her husband, Jason. “It allows a homeowner to feel like they are outside with all of the comfort of the interior. Sunrooms have a calming effect on people and they offer a lot of natural light.” Some of the most popular styles offered by Seaton include motorized Talius screens, screen rooms, three-season sunrooms and four-season sunrooms. A custom three-season or year-round sunroom instantly enlarges a home. The Talius motorized retractable screens allow homeowners to enjoy their outdoor living space. “So many of our clients say their sunroom is their favourite room in their house,” Brooke says. “Sunrooms have never been more popular. They’re a place where you can go out, enjoy your wine at night, enjoy your coffee in Actual Projects the morning—relax with books, games or TV.” In a video on the Seaton Sunroom website, Brooke’s father and founder Vern Seaton says: “We design everything in-house with the homeowner in mind. We make sure that our units fit your house, not your house fitting our units. We don’t order these things and then try to modify them. We build them to spec, each and every time.” Three-season sunrooms are a “We can work around anything,” Brooke popular choice, especially given the climate in Southwestern Ontario. These explains. “If a homeowner has funky pillars, are constructed with single pane glass and we can be creative, add fillers and notch insulation in the roof panel. A door would stone work. Our team has the knowledge separate this space from the rest of the and tools to make it look 100 percent polhouse for the coldest days in winter. That ished.” Sunrooms are fabricated in Seaton Sunsaid, with a little planning, an effective space heater can make the space quite us- room’s shop. As Jason explains: “Our prodable during the darkest doldrums of winter. ucts are made with our own proprietary Alternatively, the four season sunroom is aluminum extrusions that won’t rot or rust. a full addition to the homeowner’s house. All glass and roof panels are cut to order It is constructed of glass and vinyl, dou- by Seaton Sunrooms professionals, which ble-pane windows, has a thicker roof and allows us to create the perfect design to is fully insulated so that the door between complement your home, rather than trying house and sunroom can be removed if the to retrofit a kit sunroom.” Seaton Sunrooms gives homeowners the homeowner chooses. ability to receive a free quote right from the website. On the “Contact Us” page there is a fillable form where home

owners provide their contact information and have the option to upload photos of their property. Seaton Sunrooms will reply with a rough quote and photos of similar jobs. If the homeowner is interested, a rep will come out to get exact measurements and finalize the quote. “This has proven to be a very popular feature on our site,” Brooke says. “With everyone being in the house more during the pandemic, we’ve been keeping very busy, people taking this time to add onto their homes.” For more information about Seaton Sunrooms, and to view examples of their work, visit them online at

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ENWIN VP Hydro Operations Jim Brown (left) and Distribution Engineer EIT Washington Nguyen (right) visit the newly wrapped ENWIN transformers on Riverside Dr. and Glengarry Ave.


ENWIN Transformer Wrap installations beautify Riverside If you are travelling along Windsor’s Riverside Drive, you may notice that five ENWIN Utilities Ltd. (ENWIN) transformers received a remarkable makeover. These normally plain green transformer boxes all received decorative wraps showcasing educational and historic artwork on their surface. This project was the culmination of a collaborative effort involving teams from ENWIN’s Engineering and Corporate Communications departments, as well as the City of Windsor’s Parks and Recreation department. The group was faced with the initial challenge of introducing new transformer boxes to service the area of the Viale Udine Circle. According to Steven Bastounas, Manager of Hydro


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Engineering Services at ENWIN, “There was originally an underground vault with transformers and switches being used to service the area, but it had been showing its age for some time and was slowly deteriorating due to corrosion.” ENWIN proposed moving the assets that serviced the area to above ground, however there were concerns from the City of Windsor that the green transformer boxes would clash with the park’s aesthetics and be unappealing to pedestrians. Because the units were to be installed in high foot traffic areas, ENWIN needed a solution that would satisfy these concerns. Inspiration came from Jim Brown, Vice President of Hydro Operations at ENWIN, during his annual family trip to Port Stanley, Ontario.

“I noticed that the utility there had wrapped their transformers and other devices with an attractive wrap,” says Brown. “I took some pictures to bring back with me as I thought the wraps could be applicable here in Windsor. I proposed the idea that by wrapping our transformers we could make them look interesting and attractive.” The City reviewed the pictures of the Port Stanley transformers and agreed that wrapping the equipment was a viable solution.

“This solution presented us with an opportunity.” “We thought it was a very good idea,” agrees Wadah Al-Yassiri, Manager of Parks Development at the City of Windsor. “We often try to hide or camouflage such transformers with landscaping, but this solution presented us with an opportunity to not just hide these transformers but also utilize them in a way that allowed us to share a message.” At that point ENWIN’s teams were enlisted to find an attractive layout developing a series of wraps for the five transformers alongside Riverside Drive: two inside the Viale Udine Circle parking lot, another two on the northeast corner of Riverside Dr. and Glengarry Ave., and one just behind The Bistro At the River on Riverside Dr. and Ouellette Ave. “We decided on a historic and educational element for the project,” says Darko Milenkovic, Communications Coordinator at ENWIN. “We would contrast old and modern photographs of Windsor to offer a unique and memorable attraction for park goers.” Each transformer now tells a story of how Windsor has changed over the years. Artwork on the wraps shows the history of lighting, water and hydro operations, and electrification within the City of Windsor. Each piece of artwork is also accompanied by a brief blurb providing historical context to the photographs. “These wraps are considered one of our pilot projects,” says Washington Nguyen, Distribution Engineer EIT at ENWIN. “We are planning to gauge things like durability, fade, and acceptance by the public. We also hope that this can be an opportunity to connect with the art community in Windsor, and maybe even inspire other venues to want to get their transformers wrapped as well.” We encourage anyone walking along Riverside to take the opportunity to view one of our decorated transformers, and possibly learn something new about Windsor’s rich history.

The historic artwork on the wraps is accompanied by brief blurbs adding context to the photographs. They cover a wide variety of topics including the history of electric streetcars in Windsor, the innovation in City lighting, and major projects undertaken by the Windsor Utilities Commission and the former Windsor Hydro-Electric System in the 20th Century. S e p t e m b e r

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FOR 19-YEAR-OLD Woodslee native Rubie Diemer, dreams really do come true. It takes a passion for performing, plenty of persistence and unflinching determination to be chosen as a Disney On Ice skater. Rubie has all that and then some! “I’ve been skating since I was 2 years old—before I can actually remember,” Rubie laughs. A few years later, Rubie also began studying ballet under the tutelage of famed Windsor dancer Janice Brode (a National Ballet School of Canada alumnus who founded the Windsor City Ballet Company and the Janice Brode School of Dance). Under Janice’s direction, Rubie had progressed to advanced levels by the time she turned 16. Ruby recalls, “Growing up, dancing and music were always front and centre in my family’s world. I have three sisters; we’ve always loved making up dances and performing them together.” Trampolines and gymnastics were also part and parcel of Rubie’s athletic childhood. However, “I certainly would not be Clockwise from top: Rubie taking in the sights and sounds of Houston Texas on a coveted day off; Rubie, 3rd from right in a Carousel Silks performance during “Be Our Guest”; Rubie as Jessie from Toy Story; performing in a high-energy opening number;


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where I am today without Janice!” she exclaims. Skating competitively from the age of 7 until she was 17, Rubie pursued competitive figures, free skating, skating with a partner, culminating with ice dancing. At age 17 Rubie competed in ice dance in the Canadian Figure Skating Championships—the annual competition organized by Skate Canada. This event determines the Canadian teams for World Championships, World Junior Championships and Four Continents Championships, as well as the Canadian national team. For Rubie, “It was an absolutely amazing experience to compete against so many big names! I was in awe. It was really cool to be in on all the action.” Then came COVID. Rubie remembers, “There was no rink access for quite a while. During that period, my skating partner and I decided to part ways. For me, it was a turning point; that’s when I decided to look at other career options.” Growing up in the figure skating world, of course Rubie knew about Disney On Ice. “But I didn’t know that they’re the largest employer of professional figure skaters in the world.” (Over the past 40 years Disney skaters have hailed from 48 different nations from around the globe). Rubie’s Disney On Ice initiation could almost be described as a trial-by-fire. “Typically, you send in a portfolio that includes a resume, photo and audition video. If there is interest, you get a call for an in-person audition at one of the productions happening close to where you live,” she explains. However, when Rubie received the call, there was no show happening anywhere near where she lived. “I was so surprised…I sure wasn’t expecting to be hired so quickly—and solely on the merits of my audition video!” Although they make it look effortless, Disney On Ice performers give it their all to make magic for audiences around the world. Not only do they bring beloved Disney characters to life—they do it while executing some highly complex skating maneuvers (wearing costumes that can weigh up to 50 pounds), spinning on average of 300 rotations per minute and flying across the ice at more than 20 miles per hour. For every Disney On Ice show, there’s a rehearsal period so every performer can nail their roles and moves prior to touring. Skaters practice in their costumes for 3

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weeks—learning the lifts and choreography for the entire show, reviewing all the tricks and getting into peak physical shape. Typically, it takes more than 550 hours of preparation for each tour. But not for Rubie, who joined the show in Orlando, Florida—one month into the tour schedule. “The rehearsal period was long over. I just had to learn and perfect on the fly!” Some skaters perform multiple roles in a single show, which means they must become adept quick-change when it comes to costumes and makeup. In just one tour, a Disney On Ice performer will travel almost 14,000 miles— the equivalent of driving between Disney World and Disneyland nearly 6 times! All skaters who audition for Disney On Ice must be of very high caliber—each skater is usually an understudy for a lead role in the show, so only the very best are considered. Disney On Ice counts over 50 former Olympians and Olympic hopefuls in both lead and ensemble roles. Disney On Ice gives these former competitors the opportunity to continue displaying, perfecting and refining their unique skills. This time though they’ve traded in being scored by judges to impressing and bringing smiles to families around the world. Each tour also comprises an elite, dedicated team of top-notch costume designers, choreographers and directors. “But as you might expect,” Rubie adds, “it’s really like being part of a big family since skaters are together so much and away from home for so long—we’re on tour for 8 to 10 months a year, performing in a different city each week. Cast members are very connected; more often than not, lifelong friendships are formed.” And of course, being a part of Disney On Ice is an educational opportunity—potentially the chance of a lifetime for talented young figure skaters considering their educational options before, during or after post-secondary studies (all skaters must be high school graduates). “Bringing beloved characters and their stories to life—for audiences around the world—is pretty inspiring. The best part for me is seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter and applause at each show,” Rubie says. What’s not to love about making memories that will last a lifetime? For Rubie Diemer, it’s been one fun, rewarding and worthwhile journey. WLM Back to Contents



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DETERMINED TRANSFORMATION STORY BY MATTHEW ST. AMAND / PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL PIETRANGELO WHEN MARA HALL looked out the window of her Leamington farmhouse, she didn’t see a barn on the other side of the driveway—she saw a home. Mara and her husband, Jarrod, came to the property fourteen years ago as renters, thinking of it as a temporary living arrangement. Before long, they fell in love with the place. “We rented here for ten years,” Mara explains. “We always wanted to purchase it.” Four years ago, they got their chance. “The property was a fruit farm, at one time,” Mara continues. “The barn was a solid cinderblock structure that had been filled with machinery for packing the fruit.”



A Leamington Woman Turns a Barn Into Her Family’s Dream Home

Clockwise from opposite bottom: Homeowner Mara Hall. Photo by John Liviero, Sooters Photography; main living space; master ensuite bath; mudroom with custom-made cubbies for the kids; the master bedroom; a chefs kitchen.

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All of that was gone by the time she and Jarrod purchased the property. Mara dreamed of doing something with the space. “I’ve always been into designs, make-overs, houses,” she says. “I told my husband ‘I want to transform the barn into a house.’ He said: ‘I don’t think that can be done.’ Living on the property, we were in the barn all the time. It was 3,200 square feet, had tall ceilings, cement floor, great foundation—good bones to work with. And I thought: ‘This would be an amazing house. I could do so much with this!’” Having grown to a family of five by then, the layout of the house was a crucially important detail. “Thinking about the layout made me look at how we live as a family,” Mara says. “What is functional? How is everything going to be used? How do we add beauty? Function has to come with beauty. And also, there is nothing worse than wasted space in a house.” What came next was the undertaking of undertakings. “We didn’t hire a contractor,” Mara says. “We sub-contracted out the work ourselves.”

Clockwise from right: Entryway with a console table and a vintage rug; the grand hallway with vaulted ceilings; exterior of the completed home with three car garage; the original barn structure.


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First things first, Mara and Jarrod measured every square meter of the barn, and created the initial plans for the home. “We took our drawings and measurements to an architect,” Mara recalls. Their diligence paid off. Mara and Jarrod’s architect produced the plans they needed in just four weeks. The first major challenge of the project came early. “The barn was not up to code as a habitation for people,” Mara says. “It needed more trusses. That’s not an easy thing to add to a structure that already has a roof on it.” Throughout the project, Mara’s mantra was “Think outside the box.” She found that not everybody was willing to take on that mindset. “As challenges came up and we needed solutions, there were people who said: ‘That can’t be done,’” Mara remembers. “I didn’t accept that. We kept searching until we found someone who could help. In the case of the trusses, an engineer at another truss company had an idea that worked.” There were even friends and family who wondered if the project was too much. Mara was undaunted. “I’m a very determined person. When someone tells me I can’t do something, it almost makes me want to do it more,” she says. “Sometimes I questioned myself, but I wanted this so bad, and I knew I could do it.” The project also took place during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so supplies, at times, were difficult to source. When the first-choice materials could not be obtained, changes had to be made. “Workers came up to me, from time to time, showing me a part of the blueprints and saying: ‘This won’t work.’ Thing is, I don’t know how to read prints,” Mara says. “But we worked it out.” When certain floor beams proved impossible to locate, Mara made adjustments, approaching each new challenge with the mindset: “How do we get the results we want using materials different from what we planned?” Over the next seven months, work continued: windows were cut into walls, existing windows were filled, the interior began to take shape. A mudroom and three car garage were added on, outside. On nearly a daily basis, passing motorists, strangers, stopped in to observe the construction, striking up conversations with the sub-contractors about the work. “People were intrigued by the idea of converting a barn into a living space,” Mara says.

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One of the central features Mara envisioned was a grand hallway. “I wanted the stunning hallway as a focal point of our main space,” she says. As a family of five, storage was another important factor. “We don’t have a basement—we’re just on one floor,” Mara says. “We had to add storage. So, we put in enough closets and cubbies for the kids. There is also a large room with storage shelves.” In order to accommodate HVAC duct work and plumbing, the floor was built three feet off the ground. “The HVAC guys had to think outside of the box,” Mara recalls, “deciding how to run the air venting. They did a great job.” She continues: “We needed people who shared my vision. Once the plumbing and duct work was installed, it had to work. Otherwise, it meant tearing up the floor. They had to get it right the first time—and they did.” The project proved so inspiring that one of the framers said to Mara: “I have to go find a barn on a property like this!” “He was so excited to do this project!” she remembers. When the work was finally completed, the skeptics silenced, and the family moved in, Mara says that Jarrod marveled at the results, saying to her: “I can’t believe you pulled this off!” “Everything came out just as I envisioned it,” Mara says. “We have lots of windows. There is a massive window in the dining room—windows and bright lights were my number one design inspiration… making the house feel bright. I love the sun beaming in. I love a bright house.” From the strangers who visited the property to view the work as it happened, it is clear that Mara is not alone with her interest in transforming an unconventional structure into a home. “This is something I would like to pursue as a future career,” Mara says. To view the build process and finished product, visit WLM

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Windsor Life Magazine is always searching for interesting homes, landscaping, gardens, patios and water features to show our readers what others in the community are doing with their living spaces. If you have a home that you feel would be interesting please email photos to Photos need to be for reference only. If your home is chosen we will arrange for a complete photo shoot. If you wish, you may remain anonymous and the location of your home will not be disclosed. Back to Contents

Making the Best Use of Your Time to Create Your Custom Smile WHILE SNOWBIRDS are resigned IN THISLOCAL AGE OF information overload, it’s toamazing having that theiranwings clipped this some easy solution to ayear, common are findingstill something smilepeople. about: problem managespositive to eludetomany Getting their new teeth done. “I never knew you existed!” is one of the During recentrefrains visits to Parisien Denture most common Barry Parisien, DD, Clinic, patients have been telling Barry owner-operator of Parisien Denture Parisien Clinic DD since they are not traveling to the hearsthat in his office. sunny south, they putting their“human time to “It’s incredible,” are Barry continues, good use by having new dentures made. beings are adaptable, and too often people This idea is catching amongst travput upsmart with discomfort whenonthey don’t have elers grounded by is: COVID-19. “Ifthan youthey are to. The good news relief is closer thinking think!” of doing your new teeth this winter, callOne to schedule recommends. of the now,” most Barry important services the The journey to achieving a moreits functional, Parisien Denture Clinic provides patients attractive smile begins with an enlightening disis information. cussion with Barry. With more thanus20 years “Everyone who comes in to see is fully ofinformed experience in designing and fabricating teeth about the options available to solve for local people, the denturist crafts the beautheir problem,” Barry says. “Many times, tiful smiles hisnothing patientscan wished fortoinrelieve their people believe be done youth. their discomfort. We make them understand “Natural-looking giveis you vithat solutions are dentures available. can That where brant, well-shaped teeth that take years off your great care begins.” appearance. Even else more importantly, properly Like anything with human health, our fitted, sturdy dentures give you confidence teeth are not indestructible. Various factors, when talk, laugh and eat,” Barry says. such you as genetics, environment, medication, From traditional partial and full upper and lifestyle can lead to problems with our teeth. lower dentures to artistic dentures secured on Too many people put things off and convince implants, Parisien Denture Clinic provides the themselves: “Nothing can be done about my right dental solution to meet each patient’s situation.” needs and hopes. “We have helped a wide array of people,” “Implants are top ofneed minda referral among to many of Barry says. “You don’t come our patients. My custom dentures affix onto

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Previously made traditional dentures

Dentures created by Parisien Denture Clinic AFTER

BEFORE Previously made traditional dentures

Dentures created by Parisien Denture Clinic

posts the call jaw,for securing the teeth inThere place.isThis arrangement a huge see us.implanted People caninjust an appointment. no charge for themakes consultation difference in the fit of the dentures – and the patient’s quality of life,” Barry observes. visit, which is where we outline a patient’s treatment options.” “You can choose implantswho to beis done theatraditional way, where thereplace dentalthem. surgeon inHe continues: “Someone missing couple of teeth, we can Some serts the implants and then we wait for the mouth to heal before I put on the new denpatients thought it would be a big deal. In those cases, we created a partial denture that tures. Or wecomfort can snap onself-esteem.” the dentures the same day the surgeon puts in the implants,” helped with and says Barry, who collaborates with surgeons andpeople. refers his patients. There is no underestimating theseveral effect adental new smile has on After COVID-19 restrictions shut down Parisien Denture Clinic for nearly three “It sounds grand, but we’ve had cases where it’s literally changed a person’s life,” Barry months, the denture team and their patients were glad to safely reconnect. “Teeth are a says. necessity. Whether you are wearing older dentures that require regular maintenance to Whether it’s someone going back out into the workforce, showing up to job interviews, keep them in goodback repair orthe aredating ready scene, for a completely smile, wehas area here to help or someone getting into confidence new in one’s smile tremendous you,” Barry positive effectassures. on them. Everyone’s safety comfort been paramount at Parisien Denture Clinic. The needs of otherand patients arehave morealways immediate. “People who have worn dentures for COVID-19 reinforce taken. decades comemeasures in and say: ‘I wantthe to care be able to chew again!’ Two hospital-grade purifiers equipped with lights Barry that sterilize theleast air every “Getting a new set ofairteeth has a are profound effect onUV people,” says. “At once minutes, killing tells any bacteria or virus. a15 month somebody us that we’ve changed their life. Barry dons eye protection and a face shield treating patients. When working on Indeed, the range of services provided by thewhile Parisien Denture Clinic include implant their dentures, he uses a powerful suction chamber with a sealed HEPA filter that contains retained dentures, creating full and partial dentures, relines and repairs, teeth whitening, and anti-snoring removes contaminants. Thesedevices. precautions were in place prior to the pandemic – and and and sleep apnea provide patients with peace of mind now. “Getting new dentures is a lot like shopping for a car,” Barry explains. “We have several Only two patients at a time are allowed the clinic, byteeth, appointment. masked options to meet varying budgets, such as theinquality of the which willThe affect how team asks COVID-19 questions and takes the patient’s temperature before confirming natural the teeth will look, their function and longevity. There are varying types of meathe appointment can proceed. surements and impression techniques that can be performed.” While it was standard for treatment rooms be disinfected after each visit, Ferro, The Parisien Denture Clinic is also proud to to announce the addition of Daniela now doorknobs, counters and other commonly touched surfaces are DD, Denturist, to the team. Daniela is a Windsor/Essex native. Before becoming a also thoroughly sterilized. denturist, she was a level 2 dental assistant. In her Denturist studies, Daniela achieved “The number of people I can see a day less due the the honour roll and has a passion for in both theisclinical andtolaboratory aspects of denturtime required for additional measures,” Barry says. “However, ism. She is particularly passionate about implants and digital dentures. our cheerfully their masks and understand it’s for Topatients learn more, visitwear their benefit.” The Parisien Denture Clinic also has a YouTube To arrange a free initial consultation withtheir Parisien Denture channel containing videos explaining Clinic, please call 519-997-7799 or visit services and procedures. Check for updates. Barry Parisien DD OWNER

Barry Parisien dd

owner / denturist

Daniela Ferro dd

375 Cabana Rd. E. • 519-997-7799 375 CABANA RD. E. • 519-997-7799 WWW.PARISIENDENTURES.COM





Windsorite and Rotary International President-elect Jennifer Jones recently made a stop in Windsor on her cross-country tour dubbed Imagine Rotary Canada. While in Windsor/Essex, Jones wanted to be sure there were ‘hands-on’ projects focused that impacted the lives of residents. Pictured with Jennifer are Drew Dilken (left), Mayor of The City Of Windsor and Gordon Orr (right), CEO Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.

This year, Windsor-based company Hold Please Communications is proud to be celebrating 30 years of experience providing businesses both local and international with messages-on-hold, auto attendant greetings, radio commercials, and a variety of other services. President and C.E.O. Joe Di Giorgio founded Hold Please Communications in July of 1992 to serve the needs of local businesses for on-hold messaging services and quickly expanded the company to become a full-service audio marketing company servicing businesses across North America.


John Fairley, the face of The Hospice of Windsor & Essex County’s Face To Face initiative is excited to kick off their 20th Annual Campaign. Each year, the Campaign which runs from August 15th to September 30th, raises funds for the Fairley Family Transportation Program, which provides much needed rides to medical appointments for Hospice patients and families across our community.


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Bethany D’Alimonte recently purchased Musicland, a music store that has been in the heart of Amherstburg for the last 35 years serving the community with music lessons and retail. On July 11th, the new and improved Musicland opened its doors to the public and is now open six days a week. 519-736-7128

On Tuesday, June 21st T2B and some of their community partners unveiled the Dr. Lisa Ventrella-Lucente Healing Garden located in the heart of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH). This outdoor retreat for patients, families and staff to enjoy and relax in the comforts of nature was dedicated to Dr. Lisa Ventrella-Lucente who passed away in 2015 and was a long-time board member for T2B and was a true advocate for patient care. Pictured are T2B founders Tania Sorge and Doris Lapico. Photo by Zishan Ali.


The 10th and final year of the Bob Probert Ride not only provided the Probert family a way to give back to the community but also celebrate and honour the athlete, friend, son, husband and most importantly father that was Bob Probert. This year, there were over 1,200 riders. Through the years, the committee, donors and sponsors can proudly say that over 1.2 million dollars was raised for healthcare in our community. On the bike are Andrew Brotto and Dani Probert. Photo by Tim Jarrold.


The Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment is launching a $600,000 fundraising campaign to commemorate and honour the Regiment’s storied, 200-year history. The campaign will provide a permanent way to support the community initiatives that fall outside of the core government funding that covers operations and training. This includes attending commemorative ceremonies overseas, erecting and maintaining monuments here and abroad, and outfitting the popular Pipes and Drums so they stand ready to attend local parades and commemorations and digitize military archives for online public access.


Bianca Montaleone, along with her husband Dr. Pat Montaleone and their children Christpher and Joseph recently established a “Comfort Closet”, a space that could house needed items throughout the year for those in need. Thanks to their generous monthly gift, the Comfort Closet is available to Canadian Mental Health Association clients via their case worker to access toiletries, clothing, non-perishable food items and gift cards. Photo by Delmore Photography. Back to Contents

The freedom to take the road less traveled.


1602 Sylvestre Dr, Tecumseh 519-956-0123 / S e p t e m b e r

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Taking Future Generations of Science to the Next Level Grade 10 Student Sohila Kaur Sidhu Aims To Make Life Better For Those Living With Diabetes STORY BY ALLEY L. BINIARZ / PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEPHEN FIELDS FOR AS LONG AS SHE CAN REMEMBER, Sohila Kaur Sidhu wanted to become a doctor; her recent win at the Windsor Regional Science Technology and Engineering Fair for her artificial pancreas design just confirmed her passion and purpose in this field. “Ever since I was a young child, I’ve always been fascinated with how things work. Everything around us can be explained by science,” Sohila says. “I’ve experimented with different fields of interest and I know that this is a pathway for me.” As a grade 10 student at Assumption College Catholic High School, she learned about diabetes in her science class and was particularly struck by the WHO statistic shared with her class that over 1.5 million people are affected by the disease. Along with the classroom inspiration, Sohila was also motivated towards this project by her mom, who experienced gestational diabetes while pregnant with Sohila’s sister, along with her cousin and favourite teacher who were both recently diagnosed with diabetes. Watching so many around her


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touched by the disease encouraged Sohila to take action and make a difference in their lives. “It surprised me that with so many people who live with the disease, and one that’s been around for so long, that it’s still such an issue that hasn’t been solved,” Sohila explains the initial inspiration for her science fair proof of concept. “It’s such a restrictive lifestyle: you have to prick your finger 3-4 times a day to check your blood glucose levels, and your schedule and ability to go out is dictated by your disease; it’s a difficult way to live.” For her winning project, Sohila designed and tested an artificial pancreatic prototype. This pancreas would work in a real-life application where it senses high blood glucose and administers insulin as needed and then stops administering once it’s not required. The process is completely automatic and truly mimics a working pancreas which responds to increased glucose levels in the body. Sohila also connected the sensor using a Bluetooth smartphone application, Ardutooth, to help users view their glucose levels immediately. “I wanted my project to be linked to a phone so if anything went wrong, the person could see what was going on in their bodies in real time right on their device. This could really help someone in a diabetic situation and improve patient care,” she adds. A lot of research went into this project, which Sohila began working on in October of 2021 to prepare for the May science fair. Sohila had to juggle schoolwork and exams on top of wiring circuit boards, figuring out the physics behind the prototype, and coding the digital app. She is grateful to her mentors, Brent Charron and Ahmad Ali, both Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) alumni and University of Windsor students for their guidance and for helping her with the coding portion of the project. Sohila has also been taking coding classes since the 7th grade and has a basic understanding of coding that she continues to advance. “I believe that A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) and coding is going to take the field of medicine by storm. We already have robotic surgeries and virtual nursing assistance, and technology is constantly advancing and changing. I’m excited to see how far it can go in the future, especially when looking at the healthcare industry and innovative medicine; we’ve come so far and we can go so much further,” she says about the importance of introducing coding into

her lifestyle in anticipation for a career in the medical field. Sohila’s placement in the regional fair has also recently led her to the Canada-wide competition, which celebrates the best research projects from students across the country with a focus on health sciences, life sciences, and biotechnology. This year’s competition also took place in May during the 60th edition of Youth Science Canada’s (YSC) Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) where 98 projects from the junior, intermediate and senior categories competed for the Sanofi Biogenius Canada awards. This Competition and Grant encourages students from coast-to-coast and with any background to break barriers and explore real-life science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research that can change lives, all before leaving high school. In this national fair, Sohila placed bronze in the Intermediate category, received a $1,000 scholarship to Western University, and was selected as a winner of the Sanofi Biogenius Canada Competition for her project. “The regional level was a little more laid back, whereas the Canada-wide competition was more nerve-wracking. I felt a lot of pressure because I’d won in regional, so I wanted to give my best at the Canada-wide competition as well. Overall it was a lot of fun and I was so excited to show what I’d done; winning and placing has made me feel like all of my hard work has paid off.” Sohila says that it feels amazing to know that people throughout Windsor have been supporting her in this journey, and she hopes that one day in the future she could get this project ready for real-life application. For now she is basking in having won the science fair and feeling honoured to represent women in STEM. “As a young female it feels amazing to know that after winning, now people can see and know that young people—especially young female entrepreneurs—have what it takes to take the future generations of science to the next level.” Sohila wasn’t afraid to take on new challenges or learn new skill sets throughout her journey and she would like to encourage other students like herself to do the same, and to never give up in the face of adversity. “I had very limited knowledge about wires and circuits, but you need to persevere no matter how little you know about a topic. If you’re passionate about it, nothing should WLM stop you from reaching your goal.” Back to Contents

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APPETIT! dining & nightlife guide

Antonino’s Original Pizza - South Windsor, Tecumseh, LaSalle. Multiple-award winning pizza with the money back guarantee! Fresh salads & authentic Sicilian Cannoli that even your Nonna will love! Google our menu. Capri Pizzeria - Check out our take-out menu and be tempted by our famous pizzas, great pastas, fresh salads and much more! Penny more, penny less, Capri Pizza is still the best! 3020 Dougall Ave. 519-969-6851


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238 Dalhousie St., Amherstburg 519.736.4333 |

Casa Mia Ristorante - Experience authentic Italian food, local wines and homemade desserts served in a casual, completely handicap accessible setting. For many years, chef and owner Frank Puccio has been making lunch and dinner fresh to order. Gluten free options. Takeout available. Closed Sunday and Holidays. Follow us on Facebook. 519-728-2224. 523 Notre Dame St., Belle River. Cheesecake On A Stick - Dessert shop offering gourmet cheesecake dipped in chocolate and various toppings. Take out or delivery offered with Open Thurs-Sun 12-9 pm. Kingsville location open Sat-Sun 12-9 pm. 13300 Tecumseh Rd. E., Tecumseh 519-999-9116. 460 Main St. E, Kingsville 519-999-6024 Fourteen Restaurant & Skylounge - Experience dining with a panoramic riverfront view of the Detroit skyline from the 14th floor. For both casual and special occasions. Private and semi-private rooms available. Live music in our lounge most Saturday nights. Open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday at 5pm. Reserve online or call 226-526-7214. 14th Floor – 100 Ouellette Avenue Frank Brewing Company - FRANK is pure, straight-to-the-point, old-fashioned beer crafted with dedication and pride. Beer-loving folk enjoy FRANK’s small-batch brews made with only four natural and simple ingredients: water, hops, grain and yeast; and foodies enjoy the small plates, pizzas and sandwiches for pairing, and all the peanuts you can shell. 519-956-9822 12000 Tecumseh Rd. E., Tecumseh, ON Fratelli Pasta Grill - Offering flavour drenched


1637 Provincial Rd. 519-969-0300

Carrots N’ Dates - A health-forward restaurant & bake shoppe that offers delicious meals made with whole foods. Full-service bar, coffee, juices, baked goods, breakfast-dinner menu items and more. Famous for our Pad Thai Sauce! Open Mon-Sat 9am-9pm. 519-735-0447 1125 Lesperance Rd., Tecumseh

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elevated services from the hospitality experts

“woodfire” grilled steaks, seafood and pasta dishes. A fresh and healthy selection of modern and time tested classics. Located behind McDonald’s on Manning Rd. in Tecumseh. Take-out, catering, private parties. For reservations call 519-735-0355. The Hungry Wolf - The Hungry Wolf serves up Windsor’s best Greek, Canadian, Mexican and Lebanese food. Home of the best gyros in Windsor! 3422 Walker Rd., Windsor 519-250-0811. 25 Amy Croft Dr., Tecumseh 519-735-0072.

• With 7 halls available we are presently booking events for 2022 and 2023 • New indoor turf facility for various sports and training. Also available for corporate team building events and birthday parties

• Every Wednesday night from 5 pm to 9 pm we offer dinner for 2 for $35 (plus tax) which includes: Salad, Pasta with meat or tomato sauce, Chicken or Veal Parmigiana, and Rolls with butter • Every Friday we have our lunch buffet for $16 • Take out available Wednesday — Saturday

• Large patio surrounded by Carolinian Forest open daily and available for event bookings

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Johnny Shotz - Tecumseh’s #1 roadhouse and home of the Chicken Deluxe. Serving Halibut every Friday. Everything cooked from scratch. 37 HD TVs, 15 beers on tap. Follow us on facebook. 13037 Tecumseh Rd. E. 519-735-7005 Neros Steakhouse - Indulge in the finer things in life at Neros where modern upscale dining meets traditional steakhouse fare. Fresh, local ingredients, an incredible wine selection and superb service. 1-800-991-7777 ext. 22481. Nola’s, A Taste Of New Orleans - Located in Historic Walkerville. Cajun and Creole cuisine with the New Orleans Twist. Lunch dinner and lots of parking. 1526 Wyandotte Street East. 519-253-1234. The Parlour Ice Cream Co.- Satisfy your sweet tooth with premium Canadian made ice cream. 24 flavours, 15 Belgian chocolate dips to drizzle, ice cream cakes, milkshakes and so much more! Open Year Round. 5881 Malden Rd. Unit D3, LaSalle 519-970-9665 River’s Edge Tap & Table - Discover what is so delicious in the Harbour District of Riverside. Relaxing patio on the water, wine bar lounge, dining with private room available. Enjoy seafood, steaks, chops, pastas, burgers and more! 494 Riverdale Ave. 519-915-0200 SONA Ristorante & Taverna - An upscale casual dining experience inspired by cliffside restaurants of the mediterranean. Spend an evening in our ristorante, featuring seasonal cuisine and international wines for your enjoyment. 11 Queens Ave, Leamington. 519-974-7664. Vito’s Pizzeria - Rustic Italian restaurant serving woodfired pizza, fresh pasta, veal, chicken, grilled steaks and seafood. Wonderful wine selection. Private party spaces. Food truck and portable pizza oven for offsite catering. 1731 Wyandotte St. E., Windsor. 519-915-6145. For information on listings and advertising in Bon Appetit! please call 519-551-0072.

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Jonathan Choquette is the lead biologist for the Ojibway Prairie Reptile Recovery project with Wildlife Preservation Canada.

Meet The People Working To Save Windsor’s Rattlesnake Population STORY BY LEAH GERBER PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN LIVIERO

one organization among many working to advance the research and practice of captive breeding and releasing the eastern Massasauga rattlesnake to augment their natural numbers. Choquette is from the Windsor area; he grew up in LaSalle and later Tecumseh. In high school he found a Blanding’s turtle, which looks striking with its banana-yellow throat and army-helmet shell. It made him wonder about other intriguing native species nearby, and this led him to the Massasaugas. “I thought, “Wow, there’s rattlesnakes (near) my home city?’” he said. “I was quite amazed that we have rattlesnakes here. I just became obsessed.” In Canada, these rattlesnakes are only found on the Bruce Peninsula, the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, the Wainfleet Bog on the Niagara Peninsula and the Ojibway Prairie. They typically grow between 50 and 70 centimeters, and have a triangular head, blunt tail with a rattle, vertical pupils and hollow fangs used to inject venom into prey. “Rattlesnakes really only evolved here in North America,” says Choquette. They are much cooler under pressure than other snakes and prefer to hide. “The last thing they want is to bite you because it’s kind of a waste for them. Their venom is for food,” he said. However, Choquette recognizes people can have real fear of these animals. “They ask, ‘Why? Why conserve something that could


THE LAST TIME Jonathan Choquette saw a rattlesnake in the Ojibway Prairie was in 2019. Choquette is the lead biologist for the Ojibway Prairie Reptile Recovery project with Wildlife Preservation Canada. At the time, he and his team performed regular surveys between LaSalle and Windsor to estimate the number of rattlesnakes in the area. “In 2019 it was kind of a shock because we only found one Massasauga in that year. And this is putting in hundreds of person-hours of effort,” he said. “That really was the trigger for us to say these snakes aren’t hanging on that much longer.” Choquette realized the remaining animals needed to be collected and brought to a captive breeding facility for any chance of the population’s survival, but he needed permission from the provincial government to collect a protected species. “We were geared up for collecting the last individuals in 2020, and unfortunately we weren’t able to find any,” he said. “Same thing happened in 2021.” Though small numbers of the snakes could still be living in areas he hasn’t surveyed, Choquette has reluctantly concluded the Ojibway Prairie population of eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes is likely extinct. Wildlife Preservation Canada is an organization working to help the country’s species at the most immediate risk of extinction. It’s

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potentially cause harm?’ You can’t really gloss over this,” he says. Choquette estimates about one rattlesnake bite is reported per decade in the Windsor area. Across Ontario, reports of snake bites range between two to about 14 incidents each year, though five is more typical. The last known fatal snakebite in Ontario was in 1962. Across the country, researchers estimate about 100 snake bites each year, with zero fatalities recorded due to readily available anti-venom. “Most people are taking a bigger risk looking at their cell phone while they drive,” Choquette says. This risk is further reduced with proven methods to minimize human-snake interactions like the rattlesnake-proof fencing used widely in Arizona. If people are mindful about staying on trails and wearing appropriate clothing when moving through known rattlesnake habitat, then again, the risk of a bad encounter is also greatly reduced. Windsor is in the heart of the Carolinian zone, a biodiversity capital of Canada, says Choquette. “And with that comes rattlesnakes.” Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes have been in the Windsor LaSalle area for thousands of years since glaciation, says Choquette. Habitat loss and fragmentation, persistent death on roads and people targeting them out of fear have all led to their decline. Choquette identified and brought together key stakeholders who own or manage land in the approximate 410 hectares of critical habitat, including Ontario Parks, the City of Windsor, the town of LaSalle and the Essex-Region Conservation Authority, among others. Together, they work to enhance and connect habitat, install barriers to reduce the number of snakes being killed on roads and the possibility of snake-human encounters in residential areas. Ontario Parks has managed the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Park, part of the larger system of natural areas and corridors between LaSalle and Windsor called the Ojibway Prairie Complex, since 1977. It’s one of the largest remnants of tallgrass prairie and oak savanna habitat left in Canada. Staff perform prescribed burns to mimic the naturally occurring fires that once regulated this ecosystem. The Toronto Zoo is another major partner. Under approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums gave the eastern

Massasauga rattlesnake Species Survival Plan status. This means participating accredited facilities work together to breed and manage captive populations for genetic diversity and to increase their numbers. Rick Vos is the lead keeper of amphibians and reptiles at the Toronto Zoo. His goal, with the help of partner organizations, is to grow and house healthy snakes. If Vos is successful, the zoo will eventually provide snakes for release to support and grow Ontario’s native populations. This year he saw some success. “The Toronto Zoo was able to produce over 30 baby Massasaugas,” he said. These young snakes brought the total population at the Toronto Zoo to 70. But this comes with the challenge of finding enough space to safely store a growing number of venomous snakes. Another is finding enough snakes from southern Ontario to grow the program. The only other place to source southern rattlesnakes in the province is from the population on the Niagara Peninsula, which is also critically small. Another major challenge is moving snakes from one place to another, says Choquette. Historically, most snakes die after being moved. To address this, Choquette recently reviewed decades of scientific literature to find the methods that worked in the past. He was able to narrow down a few techniques, including providing captive-bred snakes more natural features while in captivity, housing them in groups, releasing juveniles instead of adults, not releasing them in the spring, releasing them as social groups instead of lone individuals, using a delayed release method by confining them for at least a month before full release and not moving wild snakes outside their home range. This research will impact the way Choquette and his team release snakes and their conditions in captivity. This summer Choquette is testing out potential release sites with garter snakes. He will study the conditions that help a snake stay close to a site so they don’t need to cross roads or move to someone’s backyard. Once again, Choquette and his team did not find a single wild eastern Massasauga rattlesnake in the Ojibway Prairie this year. “I feel privileged that I was actually able to spend some time with them before they blinked out in Windsor,” he says. But he is hopeful. “It doesn’t have to be the end,” he says. “The snakes were gone in 2020, but by 2021 we had 12 snakes hibernating at Ojibway Prairie again.” “We’re not giving up on them.” WLM Back to Contents

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LOSING SOMEONE always hurts. They are gone and they leave a hole behind in your heart. While you still have the memories of them there is still something missing. Their absence leaves a feeling you only begin to understand when you walk into a room and see their spot empty. It hits hard and fast, a deep swelling and longing for another moment, no matter how brief. You just want to see them again. Music does a lot of things, it holds up a lot of emotions, it tells a lot of stories. In his new single Shooting Star, Mike Cerveni taps into the raw emotion of missing someone. “This song is about my mom who I lost 14 years ago,” Cerveni says with a soft smile but sad eyes as he dredges up a mixture of happy and sad memories. “For Shooting Star there’s a lot of things she’s missed. I got married in 2013. I have a son who’s five years old now.” In the music video one of the most powerful shots is Mike coming to his house and walking in.



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He finds his father and his son sitting on the sofa together, the spot on the sofa his mother used to sit at now empty. While in the storyline of the video his mother is merely in the hospital due to COVID-19 in reality that spot had been empty for decades. His son had never even seen his grandmother sitting there before. “I’m always wondering what it would be like if she could come back just for a moment to witness all the things she’s missed,” Cerveni says, eyes getting slightly teary, “Because I think about that every day, the pain isn’t there as much since it’s been so long.” While Shooting Star is a song about remembering and missing his mother, it is not the only song about her. In a way Cerveni’s music has always had an element of being a tool of remembrance for her. “I’ve always played music, always wrote music,” Cerveni says. “I grew up in a musical family. I always saw my grandfather play guitar and when I was 11, I decided I wanted to learn it too. I started writing my own music at 16 and my mom was always encouraging me, giving me the confidence I needed and that I still have today. When she passed away, it gave me the push to lean in and create music professionally and that’s when I made my first album.” Two of the tracks on that first album, A Miracle and Right Now, begin the story of pain, loss and longing Cerveni experienced. Both are filled with joy, hope and love as Cerveni sings about wanting to help, to be able to do anything to help her and wishing for a miracle. But what he recognized is that while his songs were his words, they would have different meaning when falling on the ears of others. “The interesting thing about making music is I can write about something very personal to myself,” Cerveni says. “But when it’s released and other people hear it the meaning gets portrayed in a different way based on their own life. The song becomes something more than you imagined. It isn’t my song anymore, it’s everyone’s song and the meaning becomes even bigger.” From that kernel of creative outlet comes something greater. As an artist Mike’s work may be his own personal output of anguish, joy, sorrow and all other emotions but it is the listeners who it affects. Listening to a song can be therapeutic, it can help one come to terms to loss, to celebrate, to bring us to tears. “To me making music like this is therapy in a way,” Cerveni says, “It helps you

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heal, helps you cope with things and eventually feel better. “ With Shooting Star Cerveni wanted to do something different. He wanted to take his own personal anguish of missing and loss then turn it towards something everyone went through. It’s about COVID. Regardless of how you lay on your opinions of the COVID-19 pandemic it affected you. People could not meet, families were forced to meet via online means and everyone was worried one way or another. During the lockdowns it was a time of anxiety, depression and struggle to maintain our social bonds. Sometimes those bonds were severed with the dull tone of a flatline. “I wanted to tie in something relevant,” Cerveni says of working with his video production team and deciding on the core storyline for the video. “Even though it hasn’t happened to me personally, that specific event of trying to rush in and the doctors won’t let you in is something that has happened to others.” The video and the song are contrasting elements. Mike admits the video is nearly entirely a downer. However, the song itself, lyrically is a half measure of both good and bad, the silver lining in the storm cloud. “As much as I wrote the song about wishing she was here to witness everything,” Cerveni says with a soft sigh brought on by old memories. “I think the message with it is knowing she’s watching down on all of us and she’s very proud.” Mike hopes to continue making music, not just for himself but to continue keeping his mother’s memory alive. “The main reason I still make music is because without her I wouldn’t be created and I wouldn’t be able to make music,” Cerveni says. “It’s a way of me keeping her memory alive for myself by honouring her in this way.” He says the message he wants taken away when someone experiences Shooting Star is simple but one everyone needs to hear. “No matter how much you wish they were here,” Mike says. “They see you and they’re always proud of you.” If you would like to experience Shooting Star for yourself along with the rest of Mike’s acoustic rock stylings you can find his music on Apple Music, Spotify and most other places music is available to stream. The music video is available on YouTube at mikecervenimusic. WLM Back to Contents




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GAS OF TANK A Law Enforcement Odyssey Steeped In Local History



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Clockwise from above: Todd (right) in a publicity photo in Merlin, Ontario, showing cooperation between the RCMP and OPP, circa early 1990s; Todd Ternovan and Matthew St. Amand stand in front of the old Windsor Jail on Peter Street; Todd wearing his Correctional Services Ontario blazer when he worked at the Don Jail in Toronto in the early 1980s. Photos courtesy the Todd Ternovan Collection.

“THE SOUNDS OF a jail brawl are unique in nature…” So begins, Gas of Tank: A Law Enforcement Odyssey 1979– 2019, the book I wrote chronicling the law enforcement career of Todd Ternovan. As my friend, and next-door neighbour for sixteen years, I knew Todd as a constable with the Ontario Provincial Police, a proficient grill master and groundskeeper who kept his property immaculate. When I learned that his original career ambition was to be a daycare teacher, I had to ask, “How does someone go from working with kids to becoming a cop?” “Well, that’s an interesting story.” The book begins with Todd’s remembrance of a brawl between Windsor Jail guards and motorcycle gang members in 1979. Todd was an eighteen-year-old parttime corrections officer at the jail. At the center of the brawl were the perpetrators of the notorious “Moy Avenue Murders”, which occurred in January 1976. The murderers had been arrested, tried and convicted. When the Windsor court decided to hear their appeal three years later, they were transferred from federal custody to Windsor Jail. Unhappy with their accommodations in the Segregation Unit at Windsor Jail, the murderers fought the guards. And lost. They also lost their appeal. What simply looked like an interesting story to me was, for Todd, a journey through trauma-tinged memory. As he wrote in the book’s preface: “Throughout my career, I witnessed the horrors of motor vehicle collisions, suicide, death by misadventure, the plight of the poor, and the myriad issues surrounding mental illness, poverty, violence, treachery, drug and alcohol addictions.”


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It was that and more. The first thing to understand is that Todd believed in keeping things simple: Marrying his college sweetheart, studying Early Childhood Education at Ryerson University and spending his professional life as a daycare teacher. It was a reasonable plan, except for one thing: Man plans and the gods laugh. By September 1990, Todd was a constable in the OPP. His first post was in illustrious Merlin, Ontario. There, he learned that small-town policing wasn’t just rescuing cats from trees and performing wellness checks. In those first years, Todd dealt with a naked machete-wielding man who claimed to be Jesus Christ, armed American fugitives, decades-old sexual assaults, harrowing traffic accidents, violent home invasions, and even spent a year “Uncle Charlie” (undercover) investigating drug traffickers. Other cases Todd worked on have been featured on TV news magazines and in various books. Sol Littman, CBC journalist and bona fide Nazi hunter, interviewed him for his book War Criminal on Trial: Rauca of Kaunas (JewishGen, 1983) about Todd’s experience guarding Nazi war criminal, Helmut Rauca, at Toronto’s Don Jail before Rauca’s deportation to West Germany to face trial in the deaths of 10,500 Lithuanians. A case Todd worked in Essex County, involving sex abuse and hockey hazing, was featured in two segments of The Fifth Estate in the late ’90s. It was also a chapter in Crossing the Line: Violence and Sexual Assault in Canada’s National Sport (McClelland & Stewart, 1998) by CBC journalist, Laura Robertson. Todd’s unique and effective interrogation techniques are described in Convicting the Guilty by attorney Steve Sherriff (1998). If there is a consistent theme in Todd’s story, it’s his uncanny ability to police with his wits. An entertaining example of this occurred during an investigation into a smash-and-grab robbery at a Chatham jewelry store. Through his network of confidential informants, Todd had an idea who committed the crime, but not enough evidence to arrest him. So, Todd invited the suspect for an interview at the police detachment. Incredibly, the suspect agreed. Although he was free to leave at any time, the suspect stayed for hours. Even after the conversation hemmed the suspect in until his guilt was undeniable, Todd continued in a friendly tone: “All you have to do is write an apology letter,” Todd advised.

“Apology letter?” “Tell the court you’re sorry for what you did. It demonstrates remorse.” The suspect wrote a detailed “apology letter,” which was entered into evidence at his trial. He was found guilty of the robbery. The judge was amused and asked the accused if the police forced him to write the letter. “No, I wrote it on my own. The police were nice.” The book’s title comes from a motorcycle gang member who demonstrated his disdain for police by pulling a “wheelie” on his motorcycle following a traffic stop. The biker was charged with stunt driving. In his defense in court, the biker said, in a thick French accent: “That’s not possible. I had a full gas of tank!” “Gas of Tank” embodies, for Todd, all the surreal, upside-down, unbelievable, description-defying experiences police face daily. Since being published in February, book reviews have poured into and personal messages to Todd: “Funny, disturbing, absurd and heartwarming.” wrote one Amazon reviewer. A text message read: “Great Book Todd! Couldn’t put it down, first book I read in almost 40 years.” There have been tearful phone calls. Another Amazon reviewer wrote: “What a ride! This one takes you through all the highs and lows of policing, with a great comedic finish. Highly entertaining and a solid recommend for anyone who loves a good cop story, which is everyone. St. Amand always brings the comedy, even from the darkest of tales. Nicely done!” Regarding the process of committing his experiences to a book, Todd says, “With Matt’s encouragement and his witty writing style, I was able to convey my story, day by day… As the book progressed, I became increasingly comfortable telling Matt a variety of disturbing, humorous, sad and weird stories.” Like many aspects of daily life, citizens see police out doing their job, and think they know what the job is all about. Digging beneath the surface, however, revealed a strange and fascinating netherworld in Essex County, hidden in plain sight from most going about their day. Signed copies of Gas of Tank: A Law Enforcement Odyssey 1979–2019 are available at Juniper Books and Storytellers Bookstore on Ottawa Street and River Bookshop in Amherstburg, as well as on WLM Back to Contents

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ASK ANYONE who’s been to Venice, Italy— close your eyes, say the word “trattoria” three times and you will start to smell the paninis. For his 50th birthday, John Liviero, owner of Sooter’s Photography, received the gift from his wife, Anita: a plane ticket to Venice—in time for its world renowned Carnival of Venice, or, as it’s called in Italian “Carnevale di Venezia”. The gift turned into the experience of a lifetime when his younger brother, Joe—who lives in Iowa—learned of the trip. After receiving the itinerary from Anita, he called John and said: “I’m going, too!” They met in the Venice airport. “I try to make it over to Italy every few years,” John says. “My family is from Bassano del Grappa. Only my mom and brothers are in Canada. The rest of the family is over there.” So, there was no shortage of destinations to visit. First among them, however, was the Carnival. “We were there for the first two days, and it was crazy,” John recalls. “I took about five hundred pictures at the Carnival, alone. You can’t believe the costumes everyone was wearing.” As with most things in Italian culture, the Carnival has a long, complicated history. According to some historical records, the first Carnival occurred 1162, following the Venetian Republic’s military triumph over the Patriarch of Aquileia. To celebrate the victory, the Venetian people gathered and danced in San Marco (St. Mark’s) Square. The 2020 Carnival, which John and his brother attended, opened on Saturday February 8, and ran until Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras), February 25. The spectacle was on par with the opening ceremony of the Olympics, with elaborately lighted and festooned floats


literally floating through the canals. Upwards of 3 million people attended the Carnival of Venice earlier this year. Mask-wearing is a tradition believed to date back to the 9th century in that region, and the practice was eventually combined with the early Carnival. The original Carnival grew in popularity because it relaxed the rigid social hierarchy that ruled Venice. Processions and plays came into town. Music, dancing, and other decadent activities—ordinarily outlawed—were tolerated in public during the festivities. The early Carnival was also treasured because it bestowed certain freedoms on citizens that they didn’t enjoy during the rest of the year. Particularly, the freedom of anonymity achieved by wearing masks. This allowed people to intermingle with whomever they pleased—whether it was peasants mixing with aristocrats at their masked balls, men dressing as women in the costume of a “Gnaga”, or women passing themselves off as men. As with all fun events, things eventually got out of hand. A 13th century law prohibited visiting convents and monasteries while disguised. One can only guess what ill-advised carry-on necessitated that law. Another historical source says that in 1511, female prostitutes petitioned the Venetian government because male prostitutes dressed as “Gnaghe” were stealing their client base. The government responded by permitting the women to lean, bare-chested, from their windows as a form of advertising. As the saying goes: All good things must come to an end. Under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor and later Emperor of Austria, Francis II, the festival was outlawed entirely in 1797 and the wearing of masks strictly forbidden. The Carnival of Venice, however, was such a party, that not even a 200 year ban could wipe it from memory. The event was resurrected in 1979 and has been going strong ever since, attended by millions of people from around the world each year. Today, the creation of carnival masks is a thriving industry in Venice with many masks worn during the event made right there. There are several styles dating back centuries, such as the “bauta” mask, traditionally worn by men, or women disguised as men. Other styles include “Colombina”, “Medico Della Peste (The Plague Doctor)”, and the “moretta”, a small strapless, black velvet oval mask with wide eyeholes, but no mouth. Many masks are ornately jeweled.

Clockwise far left: Woman wears a Medieval Venetian costume; a masked couple share a gondola ride; Tradition carnival mask; a smaller church—just outside of Venice. S e p t e m b e r

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John Liviero was there to see it all. “I was there the first Sunday,” he explains, “and it was crazy. I have never seen so many people. We couldn’t believe how many different languages we heard as we walked around.” Tourists and locals and street performers were often indistinguishable, all clad in costumes and masks. For all the sights to be seen, however, there really is only one star of the show in Italy: “The food was fantastic,” John says. “The fish you’re eating was caught earlier that day. The bakeries, the cafés, the patios, people eating pasta, pizza, paninis.” John describes how he and his brother navigated the throngs of revelers, ducking into bakeries for a panini lunch, finding a café for a quick espresso, then enjoying a mid-afternoon snack at an outdoor patio. “Really, it was just people enjoying life,” John remembers. “One evening, I was on top of a bridge, looking down at the lights of the restaurants and all the people at the patios…” It was one of the hundreds of photographs he snapped on the trip. There are no cars in famously flooded Venice, so John and his brother, and countless other attendees, entered the city each day by train. “The last train out of Venice each night was ten-thirty,” John says. “Unless you were staying overnight, you were on that train.” With their senses still thrumming from two days at the Carnival, John and his brother rented a Fiat 500 and toured the country, visiting relatives and seeing the sights. “We ate lunch in a different city each day,” he says. “We’d find the church—that’s always the center of the city—and then found somewhere to eat. It’s a great place to just sit and people-watch.” The weather cooperated, as well, hovering in the mid-60s Fahrenheit each day. And in the grand scheme of 2020, John made his trip just as the window for international travel—and pretty much, any fun—was rapidly being closed by the global pandemic. “We were lucky,” John says. “A few weeks before we arrived in Venice, St. Mark’s Square was flooded.” It was the experience of a lifetime and in the nick of time. “Being a photographer,” John says, “I was taking pictures to tell the story for everyone back home, who hadn’t come.” Venice had won again. Only in Italy could centuries-old festival make the ancient country seem new again to a return WLM visitor. Back to Contents

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