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‘N Sew On

17 Apr

by Diva Claire Carter

I am always impressed by the unique businesses and offerings found in Huron County.  N Sew On is no exception.  Owned by Kevin Soehner, and located just off of the Square, N Sew On produces custom embroidered items, screen prints, vinyl and custom promotional items.

Embroidery Threads

Embroidery Threads

Kevin is very passionate about his work. He gives the impression that no task is too large or small.  While I was in the shop, he made a one-of-a-kind screen printed table cloth, hundreds of magnets, had several boxes of orders picked up and set up embroidery machines to make sweaters for a local hockey team.


in-house equipment

in-house equipment


Whenever possible, Kevin makes products in house.  Custom blankets, tote bags and aprons are all sewn in Goderich.  This allows the client to choose exactly what colour, fabric and dimensions they would like, and then a truly custom product is created.

Kevin said that he is starting to become popular with businesses in Toronto and Stratford, who hear about his services when they ask “who made that” of a promotional product.

I was amazed with the number of colours throughout the store.  Tye-dye and florescent shirts and hats are popular, and bright spools of thread are hung from the wall behind the giant Barudan embroidery machine.


Images supplied by clients can be transferred to items in a number of ways.   The photo above shows how an image on the screen is transferred by printer directly onto fabric.  I got thinking of all sorts of unique gifts and custom items that could be made possible with all of the equipment (and skill) at N’ Sew On.

In addition to plenty of bright colours and example pieces, the walls of N’ Sew On are lined with newspaper articles and awards that Kevin has received for his business, including Business of the Year at the Goderich and District Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Success Awards.  N’ Sew On began as a home based business, and has grown to a large storefront off of the Square.  Based on his accommodating attitude, it isn’t hard to understand why!

N’ Sew On is located at 53 South Street, Goderich.
(519) 612-1034

Henderson Digitization Project Launches at HCM

15 Apr

by Diva Claire Carter

After a year of scanning, digitizing, formatting and researching, the Henderson Digitization Project is online!  The project shares over 850 photographs taken by Goderich photographer, J. Gordon Henderson, at WWII Air Training Sites in Huron County.

No. 4 Sky Harbour Class, about 1940-1943

No. 4 Sky Harbour Class, about 1940-1943

If you don’t know about this part of Huron County’s military history, here’s a quick backgrounder.  The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) aimed to quickly increase the number of pilots, navigators, bomb-aimers, wireless operators, air gunners and flight engineers able to fight in the war.  The agreement was signed by Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia on December 17, 1939.

Commandos at Sky Harbour, 1943

Commandos at Sky Harbour, 1943

Under the BCATP, over 90 training schools were opened across Canada, graduating more than 130,000 people between 1940 and 1945.  Four of these training schools were established in Huron County, No. 9 Service Flying Training School (Centralia), No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School (Goderich), No. 31/ No. 5 Radio School (Clinton) and No. 31 Air Navigation School (Port Albert).

Instructor and Student, about 1940-1944

Instructor and Student, about 1940-1944

The Henderson Digitization Project tells the story of daily life at these training sites.  Photos are varied and capture group and individuals in both posed and casual settings.   Daily life is also captured, including weddings, funerals, parties, training and flight.

Heard Wedding Party, 1944

Heard Wedding Party, 1944

I find it really exciting that these negatives have been turned into photographs and are now easily found online.  A quick flip through gives a sense of who the men and women were that worked at these air training sites and may have travelled to Huron from the other side of the world.  The Huron County Museum has been contacted by individuals from as far away as the UK who have ties to the base.

I find myself partial to the portraits of the young airmen.  The details in the different uniforms and gestures tell a story.  We don’t know the fate of each of these men, but can imagine the charisma, humour or sense of duty they brought to their jobs based on their facial expressions and body language.  This photo of F/LT Simpson is one of my favourites:


F/LT Simpson, about 1940-1945

The photos can be accessed at, and can be searched by keywords, categories or as a whole collection.  The Museum is asking for help from the public to identify some staff and trainees or provide additional details.

There is also a blog that provides additional details and stories behind the project and photos.  It can be accessed here,


Something to look forward to in 2014

20 Dec

This blog post is a little different as it’s announcing a project that will be launched in Spring of 2014.

If you are a regular reader of OntarioTravelDivas you’ll know that Huron County offers a rich and vibrant life-style to its residents and a most pleasant place for visitors to explore.  Now visitor’s the world over will be able to learn a little more about our unique history through the Huron County Museum’s Henderson Digitization Project.    We’ll let you know when the site is officially launched …

HCM-a992-0003-342aContact:  Emily Beliveau, Digital Archives Assistant
Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol
519.524.2686, ext. 300


Museum to Publish Hundreds of Photos Online in 2014

Newly digitized photographs from the Archives at the Huron County Museum reveal New Year’s Day festivities at Sky Harbour seventy years ago. The images, which were scanned from negatives, show trainees from the British Navy Fleet Air Arm enjoying a holiday meal alongside Sky Harbour
instructors and staff on January 1, 1944. The Huron County Museum is kicking off the new year by announcing the publication of these and hundreds more WWII air training photos on a new online collections site.

In Spring 2014, over 850 scanned images will be published on the web to conclude the Henderson Digitization Project. The year-long initiative was undertaken by the Archives at the Huron County Museum with support from a Museum and Technology Fund grant from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport.

Between 1940 and 1944, Sky Harbour was the site of No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School, one of many wartime training schools located across the country that operated under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The new website will also feature pictures from No. 31 Air
Navigation School (Port Albert) and No. 5/31 Radio School (Clinton), all taken by Goderich-based photographer J. G. Henderson.

John Gordon Henderson (1913-1989) operated a photography studio on the north part of The Square for several decades, where Garb and Gear Source For Sports is now located. The Huron County Museum holds the collection of Henderson’s work as a professional photographer.

Before scanning, many of the images were only available as negatives, making it difficult to see exactly what—or who—was in the photo. The digital darkroom of the Henderson Digitization Project has made hundreds of images more accessible to researchers, and in a few months will make them available to everyone on the web.

Until the site launches, previews from the collection will be featured on the museum’s Facebook page,


HCM-a992-0003-330aHCM-a992-0003-334New Year’s Day 1944, Sky Harbour [3 images]

Image A992.0003.330a, Huron County Museum

Image A992.0003.334, Huron County Museum

Image A992.0003.342a, Huron County Museum

10 North Street, Goderich

Spirits on the Trail

28 Oct
James Willis, founding settler of Exeter

James Willis, founding settler of Exeter

By Diva Trista Russell

The ghosts of Huron County’s past came back to life last week! The Spirit Trail Super-Natural Hike in Exeter was originally scheduled for October 17th, but with the rainy weather it was rescheduled to the following evening. Luckily, Friday brought no rain, but it was a chilly evening. I bundled up, flashlight in hand (just in case), and headed to MacNaughton Park in Exeter.

Since 2010, a volunteer community group called the Friends of the South Huron Trail have held this spooky hike. The hike along the South Huron Trail features characters from local history, with an environmental theme. The hike was free, and I saw hikers of all ages enjoying interacting with the characters.

The hike was about an hour, and after starting at MacNaughton Park, it loops back to the start via the Stirling Bridge. The moon was very visible about half way through the hike, which added to the “spookiness”.

Dr. Smillie (Canada’s first female surgeon) who was raised in the Hensall area

Dr. Smillie (Canada’s first female surgeon) who was raised in the Hensall area

Along the way I met some spirits from our area’s past, including Mr. James and Mrs. Jane Willis, Mr. Gidley, James Stephen Jr. (aka King Stephen), the Green Lady of Hay Swamp, Dr. Smillie, and former canning factory workers. Mr. and Mrs. Willis led the hikers through the moonlight trail with an oil lamp. Along the way, each spirit kindly introduced himself or herself (except for the Green Lady who caught us all by surprise!) and explained what life was like back then. All the spirits gently reminded us that we are future stewards of the environment – and that we have an important role in how we protect our surroundings.



former workers from the Exeter canning factory

former workers from the Exeter canning factory

King Stephen (Stephen Township was named after him)

King Stephen (Stephen Township was named after him)


Sunday at the Blyth Steam Threshers Show

9 Sep
Classic Steamer

Classic Steamer

By Guest Travel Divo and Diva Wayne Vaasjo and Karen Melady

For Wayne this first time visit was a great surprise.
Wayne:  There was just so much going on.  It’s a mechanical engineer’s dream.
My highlight was the steam shovel – sort of like a fairy tale – with a man in the old engineer’s spot pulling the levers and the bucket magically goes up. Meanwhile in the back the stoker is filling the firebox, the machine is sending up a great plume of smoke that you can see from any place in the grounds.
Karen is a repeat visitor.
Karen: It’s been a few years since I last visited and I’m amazed at the increased organization and that it doesn’t change the homey feel.  There was great camaraderie among the people – those with displays, the visitors, the vendors.   And stories from the campers about the great music and the reunion atmosphere going on all week. It’s been going on for 52 years, so there are a lot of friendships made and kept up  because of this event.


1959 Retractable Ford Fairlane

1959 Retractable Ford Fairlane

We enjoyed the classic cars, the tractor pull and watching children cheer for their grampa. Loved the interactive displays and demonstrations: farm animal tent, rope making, blacksmithing, miniatures.  And just watching those great machines do their work threshing, cutting corn, shredding turnip.  A special moment was when an older man answered my question about a seeder that I recognized but couldn’t name. He described how he and his father worked the turnip seeder. I thought about how much more rare this is – a first person account of using the old farming equipment.

Here comes Grampa2 (Tractor Pull)

Here comes Grampa2 (Tractor Pull)

Steam Shovel

Steam Shovel

Wayne and I noted that it was sort of like being in a cartoon with these loud self-propelled, huge, old (and small), loud things popping up and tooting their whistles and puffing out smoke! A really grand day capped off with a swim in the lake. Love this country to coast lifestyle.

Turnip Seeder

Turnip Seeder

thresher at work

thresher at work

Old Beauty

Old Beauty

Co-ordinator Notes:  Ray Hallahan, a representative from the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association reported that attendance for the 52nd annual Steam Show was up slightly – that even the rain on Saturday couldn’t keep enthusiasts away!

750-800 trailers were on site for the three-day event, filling the trailer park  with a few located in an overflow area.

The Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Associations annual reunion is held the weekend after Labour Day each September.  Admission is $8 per person.

Behind the Bars

15 Aug
Huron County's Gaol is a National Historic site.

Huron County’s Gaol is a National Historic site.

By Diva Trista Russell

I think this one of the coolest (and relatively unknown) summer events in Huron County! “Behind the Bars” is an interactive tour of the Huron Historic Gaol in Goderich. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings from July to August, you can explore the gaol and interact with volunteers who step into the role of late-1800s prisoners. I have to confess that I’m not much of a museum fanatic, but I really enjoyed this as it was interactive and entertaining!

The Huron Historic Gaol served as the County Jail from 1842 to 1972 and now is a designated National Historic Site. One thing I didn’t realize before is that the building housed the County Courts and Council Chambers on the top floor. The gaol also held prisoners not only from Huron County, but also from neighbouring Perth and Bruce Counties as well.

Meeting characters from the past

Meeting characters from the past

Upon entering the gaol, there is an opportunity to sign the guestbook and state your “crime”. After paying the $10 admission fee, I was greeted by a museum attendant who explained some of the faces of the gaol I might meet. There are three floors to explore, as well as the Governor’s House. The cell blocks, kitchen, laundry room, Gaoler’s apartment, surgeon room, courtroom, and holding rooms/cells are all open for viewing. In almost every room there were opportunities to meet and question those who were representing the men, women and children who lived and worked behind the bars. There were also little excerpts on the walls that detailed the background of some of the prisoners. I quickly learned that some prisoners committed serious crimes, and other some very minor offences. I got to meet a young boy, around 13 years old, who was incarcerated for not having a job!

IMG_3764Each one of the prisoners did a wonderful job of representing and staying in character. I had a nice chat with the Governor’s daughter about life in the 1800s, and when I explained why I was visiting, she was was quite perplexed about what a “blog” was. Imagine explaining technology to someone growing up in the early 1900s!

IMG_3774What is truly amazing is that everything in the building is original to that time period and still works. One of the tour guides in the Governor’s House told me that the radiator in the bedroom still works to this day exactly as it did over 100 years ago!

As an extra treat, refreshments were served outside on the court yard.  It’s recommended that you allow at least 45 minutes for the tour. I easily spent over an hour exploring the building.

I had never been to the Historic Gaol before so this was a first-time experience for me. The chance to interact with these characters definitely makes this a truly unique attraction, and in my opinion is a great way to spend a summer evening learning about history. Plus, how often can you tell people that you went to jail for a night?

Behind the Bars Gaol Tours
Tuesday & Thursday evenings until August 29, 2013, 7 PM to 9 PM (last entry 8:30PM)
Admission: Adults: $10, Children: $5; Families: $25; Ages 5 & under: Free; Members: FreeLocation: Huron Historic Gaol, 181 Victoria St. North, Goderich


One Cell Block

One Cell Block

IMG_3780 IMG_3781 IMG_3783 IMG_3785Contact:

A Day at the Museum

12 Aug

Brown dressby Diva Nicole Olson

Earlier this week, I thought it would be a good idea to give the mini divas a little lesson on local and world history. I packed them up and headed for Goderich. There, we took a tour of the Huron Historic Gaol and the Huron County Museum. The museum has two temporary exhibits on presently; Here Comes the Bride and The Vikings: Master Mariners, Traders, Colonists and Artisans.

Here Comes the Bride is an exhibit that showcases different styles of wedding dresses from the 1860s to the 1970s. Some even have stories to go along with them, such as who the bride and groom were, where the wedding took place and in some cases an anecdote about the couple. As an avid enthusiast of the show Say Yes to the Dress, I really enjoyed this exhibit. I noticed that the majority of the early dresses were handmade by the bride or her family and were made from dark colors. I read that this was because wedding dresses were often worn several times, to church and special occasions, and white was an impractical color because it dirtied easily.

Blue dressWedding party

VikingsThe Viking exhibit, is a travelling exhibit from the Manitoba Museum. You can learn the Viking alphabet, learn about their ship building techniques, and get a better understanding of their traditional life and contributions made. There is a slideshow to take in as well. As you can see from the photo (below), my oldest mini diva enjoyed sailing the seas, pretending to be a Viking.

Here Comes the Bride will be on until August 15, and The Vikings will be on until August 31. You can also get joint admission to tour the Gaol, so I recommend making the trip!

Huron Historic Gaol

181 Victoria St. N (Hwy 21)
Goderich, ON
(519) 524-6971



Bicycle Opera in Bayfield

22 Jul
35-40 bikers joined the group as they toured the Village of Bayfield

35-40 bikers joined the group as they toured the Village of Bayfield

It was a beautiful Sunday morning to take a ride around Bayfield and get a glimpse of a special concert playing tonight.

The Bicycle Opera Projects consists of a group of young professional singers who bike around southwestern Ontario to bring contemporary Canadian opera to communities across Ontario while working to demythologize the idea of an opera singer, break operatic tradition and provide a car-free alternative to touring.  I recognized one familiar face in this group – Geoffrey Sirett was a guest artist here last summer during the 2012 Bayfield Festival of Song.

Today (July 21, 2013) they stopped in Bayfield, Ontario.

We met at Outside Projects – a great little shop on main street – where owner Tyler Hessel greeted the group of singers and community supporters.  A passionate interest in his community, it’s volunteer corps, and heritage made Tyler the perfect guide for the bicycle tour which was followed by an impromptu concert in the park.   The main event was a concert at Bayfield Village Hall this evening.

Bicycle Opera Project




sports bags and backpacks

sports bags and backpacks

Skateboards ...

Skateboards …

OUTSIDE PROJECTS:  Owned and operated by outdoor enthusiast Tyler Hessel, Outside Projects is located on Bayfield’s historic Main Street and offers services and equipment for outdoor activities. Their services include bike sales and rentals, custom bike building and fitting, skateboard and longboard building and sales, snowshoe sales and rentals, guided hikes and bike tours, bike and skateboard summer camps, apparel sales for outdoor activities, and many more!

6 Main Street
Bayfield, ON  N0M 1G0

Canoeing and Carrying on

13 Jun

Canoeing on the Maitland

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

I have always been one to enjoy being on the water and try to get out canoeing at least once a year. A few weeks ago I headed out on the Maitland River and set out for a weekend of canoeing and camping with a bunch of friends. I was fairly excited as last year the water was really low and we weren’t able to get out at all.

Fishing and canoeing Getting ready to canoestretch of it! We started out at Belgrave Road and meandered the river for a few hours until we stopped right at Auburn. My boyfriend had rigged up our canoe with a motor, but the water was flowing fairly quick and we didn’t end up using it (luckily, as it just seemed totally silly!).

Now what I find is the major trick to canoeing and camping is the packing. You have to make sure you bring enough – but not too much – so your canoe is still comfortable. We were able to do this by dropping of the majority of our overnight needs at the camping site and just taking our lunch and extra clothing with us.

At the campsite Canoeing on the Maitland Canoeing on the Maitland

My favourite parts of the trip were as follows:

- Seeing the forest floor covered in our Ontario flower – the Trillium

- Watching a friend endlessly catch tiny little fish

- Stopping for lunch in an amazing picturesque setting

- Giggling while one of the canoes somehow filled with water and sank (of course all in good fun, they just emptied it and were good to go again without loosing anything)

If you are looking for more information about paddling in Huron, here is a link to the Huron County Fishing and paddling guide:

Have you caught a fish this year?

10 Jun


By Diva Jenna Ujiye

Since 1980 Gloria and Dave Hedley have been running Hedley’s Trout Farm. I stopped by a couple of weeks ago to check out the place and see if the fish were biting! The farm is located at 84534 Marnoch Line in a beautiful slice of Huron County country-side.

First I will say that Dave is quite the character.  He will tell you when you arrive that his place is not for catch-and-release fishing – it is a farm, just like any other farm.

Caught a Fish at Hedley's

Since Hedley’s is a farm you do not need a fishing licence, there are no catch limits and there is no closed season, and no entrance fee! This is about the closest way to guarantee that you will catch a fish! While I was there we came across a family that had caught four or five rainbow and brown trout. Each of the kids had caught at least one fish and they were super happy.

My favourite part of this experience is that you can catch a fish and pay just a small amount to have it either scaled or filleted. The cost for your fish is $0.50 per inch and guess what, if you don’t have a pole you can rent one! They also have bait for purchase.  The one other “catch” is that you will have to get up early as fish bite the best in the morning!

Fish Jumping for food

Overall my experience with Hedley’s was great.   Dave even fed the fish and you could see them almost jumping out of the water. If you are looking for a great experience, where you get to bring lunch or dinner home, this is a great way to spend a morning! If you are looking for more information visit:


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