June 03, 2009

Busy downtown is good news for Erin

As published in The Erin Advocate

I saw a nice pair of crutches at a yard sale on the weekend, right beside some mountain biking body armour. I enjoy browsing around these sales, which sprout up every springtime, though it is rare to find something I want. I was tempted to buy the crutches, just in case I need them someday, but I figured that would be bad luck.

Light fixtures from the '70s, antique video games, dusty golf clubs, a trampoline set in a wheelbarrow – it all seemed so familiar. I think garage sales bind us together. There is comfort in knowing that the stuff other people want to get rid of is the same stuff that we want to get rid of.

Speaking of which, I have a trampoline to give away, free to a good home. It is in reasonable condition, except the protective pads disintegrated a few years ago and the springs are rusty. I will deliver it to your house. Send me an email.

Browsing around Erin village took me to Credit River Motors, where the Rotary Club washed my car. They were also selling hot dogs and raffle tickets to support construction of the new park at 109 Main Street. Political correctness being what it is these days, the cars were washed with biodegradable soap.

Took a walk down to the park site, where a crew was nailing in the rafters for the pavilion. It has a raised stage, an octagonal roof and is positioned as an attractive focal point.

A grand opening on Canada Day at first seemed too optimistic, but the way things are going it is quite possible. The project has strong support from the Business Improvement Area (BIA) and was approved by Town Council, with $73,000 earmarked, though the total value will be about $120,000.

Importantly, it is benefiting from volunteer labour and donations of money, services and materials. The Optimists have put a lot of effort into the pavilion. Also, the Garden Club is contributing $5,000, the Lions Club $5,000, the Rotary Club $2,000, and the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation $1,000. Budson's is donating grass seed, and Keeler Electric is providing a 10% discount on the electrical work. (These are examples from the park committee minutes, not a complete list.)

With the gardens, benches, clock, winding walkway, special lighting, community board, tourism kiosk and big Christmas tree, it is designed to provide what the Town website calls "a lovely tranquil ambiance in the middle of our bustling village".

Speaking of which, take a look around on a sunny weekend – the village has quite a buzz. The picnic tables in front of Bailey's Ice Cream are full and the sidewalks are filled with shoppers. We seem to have become a major stopover point for cruising motorcyclists, and tour bus operators are making downtown Erin a destination for their customers.

As I drove home, I saw a sign just south of the village, "Original art for sale", and so I stopped. Roy Grandy had filled his driveway with a display of his own oil, acrylic and watercolour paintings. Now this is not an easy thing to do. The painting must have taken many hundreds of hours, plus the cost of framing and the risk of putting something personal on display for the public.

Roy said he gets lots of compliments on his art from family and friends, but is still unsure about how others will react. Well, I am not a professional art critic, but as someone who loves to browse through art galleries, I can say that this is good quality work. His website is not ready for the public yet, but you can email him at rggrandy@sympatico.ca.

His southern Ontario farm scenes are very attractive, but most appealing to me are the depictions of the rugged terrain in the Killarney region (west of Sudbury). He is able to portray the starkness and wildness of those mountains, lakes and trees, experimenting with light and shadows to capture different moods.