Martha ritz fire ignited bayfield fire department
BY DAVE GILLIANS, AUTHOR OF "FOR THE LOVE OF BAYFIELD"
The Ritz Hotel, built in 1878, was one of the most elegant summer hotels on Lake Huron. It was located where the Virtual High School is today on Bayfield's Main Street. (Photos courtesy Bayfield Historical Society)
It was Labour Day weekend, 1947, and 12 year-old Charlie Kalbfeisch saw the smoke coming out of the side of the Ritz Hotel's chimney while he was pedalling his bike down Catherine Street towards Hovey's General Store (today's Main Street Optometric). It seemed unsual but he was running an errand and didn't give it too much thought.
By the time Charlie stepped out of the store, smoke was billowing out of a small space at the back of the roof of the elegant old Hotel on the other side of Catherine Street and there was pandemonium on Main Street.
Charlie said, “Men were breaking windows on the second floor and throwing furniture and mattresses to the street below. Others were carrying tables, chairs and even the old serving counter out the front door. At one point the second-floor railing gave way as a man threw a mattress down and he toppled down and fell on it. As I watched, men and women were struggling to carry mattresses on their backs and heads to protect themselves against the burning embers. It was obvious that there was no hope of saving the Ritz and despite the smoke and flames, everyone was trying to take advantage of the short time available to save as much as possible. They even moved the cottages that were on the lot behind the Ritz.”
Thirty- five guests, mostly Americans, were able to remove their personal belongings in the chaos.
Ernie Hovey grabbed pails of water and began watering down his roof. The fire was so hot that the glazing and paint around his windows melted and clouds of steam would come off the side of the building. Mrs. Jack Jowett was pumping water as fast as she could and handing the pails of water to Mrs. Little who was passing the pail up to Mr. Little who was half-way up a ladder trying to soak down the Little Inn.
Tom Bailey at the counter in the Ritz Hotel
Other shop owners started gathering their valuables, papers and money so that they could make a quick escape if the fire spread. One summer resident moved his Cadillac and parked on Louisa Street near the Catholic Church but it was showered by embers when the wind shifted.
Word quickly spread and smoke could be smelt all over town. However, the 21-party telephone line did cause a lot of confusion as people broke into their neighbor’s conversations to sound the alarm.
In an Aug. 30, 1948 Clinton News-Record article, Roberta Raby, who was sent to safety at the Jowett’s Grove cottages on the north side of the river, wrote,” Looking over from the cottages, the sky seemed so bright red that we thought the whole town was going.”
Bill Elliott gained renown as a Pilot and Head Instructor for Air Canada who served for over 50 years, as well as being the owner of South Shore Marina, beside the Bayfield Bridge. Bill claimed that it was his family’s fault that the Ritz burned down. His parents, owned the General Store which became Hovey’s and then Graham’s, until 1944 and his mother always kept a bag of salt under the counter. Whenever Tom Bailey, Martha Ritz’s husband, lit the fireplace for the first time, the creosote build-up would ignite, and Mrs. Elliott would send young Bill over with the salt to extinguish the blaze. When the Elliott’s left town, so did the Ritz’s safety net.
According to Ms. Raby, “Some of the people worked frantically to save the stock of cigarettes etc. only to have them stolen before the night was out.”
At first, Mrs. Bailey thought that she’d lost all of the money she’d stashed away but the next morning, as she was complaining about the thefts, someone discovered her money in an old pillow case that had been put in Hovey’s barn with everything else that was saved.
No one was injured, no other buildings were destroyed but the fire at the Ritz Hotel was a reminder of how vulnerable the village was to the ravages of a fire. Soon after, a bunch of village men got together with the newly formed Bayfield Lions’ Club and the Bayfield Volunteer Fire Department was formed.
This article was written with the support and encouagement of the Bayfield Historical Society (BHS).
Resident tests positive for COVID at Blue Water Rest Home
Thanks to the hard work of Huron Perth residents in following public health measures, Huron and Perth counties have avoided a significant surge of COVID-19 cases in the community so far. Cases of COVID-19 in long-term care and group settings, however, remain a concern.
“Our focus now is to maintain what we are seeing in the community and to protect our vulnerable residents in long-term care,” said Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen
On Apr. 27, Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) learned of a positive COVID-19 case in a resident at Blue Water Rest Home in Zurich. With one positive result, an outbreak is declared. The resident is not hospitalized and is in self-isolation. HPPH outbreak staff are working closely with Blue Water Rest Home to provide support and guidance to help manage and control the outbreak and facilitating the testing of all staff and residents.
“The health and safety of our residents, and the team members who serve them, is our highest priority,” said Chief Executive Officer of Blue Water Rest Home, Angie Dunn. “We are working in close partnership with Huron Perth Public Health to ensure every possible step is taken to protect our residents and staff.”
As part of the provincial government’s action plan to protect residents in long-term care homes announced last week, HPPH is currently facilitating testing for all residents and staff of long-term care homes across both counties. This includes communicating and coordinating with long-term care homes as well as coordinating testing by staff from the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance and Emergency Services. HPPH has outbreak teams ready to support a facility if a positive is identified through surveillance, as during any long-term care outbreak.
“We have completed about 1,000 swabs total in our communities in the past eight weeks and will now need to perform 2,000 more in the next ten days,” said Dr. Klassen. “Huron Perth Public Health will be activating and redeploying staff as necessary.”
The majority of HPPH staff have already been activated for COVID-19 response, including case and contact management and sharing information with stakeholders and the general public. The HPPH intake phone line, Health Line (1-888-221-2133 Ext 3267), has been operating on extended hours seven days a week and received 3,500 phone calls from Feb. 3 to Apr. 16. About 88 per cent of those calls were about COVID-19.
HPPH has more than 60 staff completing case and contact investigations. An investigation includes contacting a confirmed positive case and asking the individual for the names of everyone they have been in contact with over the last 14 days. Public health will then call each of those contacts in order to determine their level of risk and will provide instructions on testing or isolation as needed.
If an individual has not been practicing physical distancing, an investigation can result in instructions being given to dozens of people.
“I am very much aware of how difficult these past few weeks have been,” said Dr. Klassen, “but individuals need to keep in mind that what might seem like an acceptable risk could negatively impact them and many, many others.”
The majority of Huron Perth residents continue to practice physical distancing and staying home except for essential reasons.
“I am proud and grateful for the resiliency and determination of Huron-Perth residents at this time,” said Dr. Klassen. “As the province explores the possibility of lifting restrictions, we all need to keep physically distancing and staying home except for essential reasons. We are making a difference and we will get through this.”
Even though COVID-19 response currently takes up the majority of resources at HPPH, public health’s mandate to protect and promote health continues. Public health services such as immunizations, sexual health services, needle exchange and well water testing, for example, continue in modified forms. For more information residents are encouraged to visit our COVID-19 Response Service Interruptions webpage for a list of programs and services interruptions and modifications: www.hpph.ca/en/about-us/covid-19-response-service-interruptions.aspx
bunny slippers optional for Grand bend stay at home gala
People are invited to join the nation-wide “Stay at Home Gala” hosted in the Grand Bend area online on May 2.
The local aspect of this national event is being organized in partnership between the Grand Bend Community Foundation (GBCF) and the Rotary Club of Grand Bend, to unite people from all over the region and the country. This one-night event aims to strengthen community efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
This first-of-its-kind event will include all the familiar elements: dinner (personal choice), game-changing speakers, entertainers, musicians and much more.
People are invited to dress up or get comfortable and join Grand Bend area residents and emcees Paul Ciufo and Jennifer Mossop for a night of togetherness, apart, during the nation-wide “Stay at Home Gala” to be held online on May 2. (Submitted photo)
The first hour, from 7-8 p.m. will feature local entertainers and speakers, while the second hour will be a star-studded Canada-wide live stream. Headliners include hockey great, Hayley Wickenheiser; TV personality, Erin Cebula; Lane Merrifield, of “Dragon’s Den”; Globe and Mail Health Reporter, Andre Picard; Indigenous advocate, Chief Gibby Jacob; and performers Michael Vanhevel, Once a Tree and Tanika Charles.
People are invited to dress up or get comfortable and join Grand Bend area residents and emcees Paul Ciufo and Jennifer Mossop for a night of togetherness, apart.
Donations will be tax receipted by the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, which will direct funds back to the GBCF to share with the most in-need charities in the community.
To purchase tickets visit: trellis.org/stay-at-home-gala-grand-bend
For more information on both local and national speakers and entertainers, and delicious take-out gala meals from local restaurants by visiting: “Grand Bend Area Stay-at-Home Gala” on Facebook.
Drayton Entertainment cancels ten of eighteen productions
Due to ongoing concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and in keeping with federal and provincial physical distancing recommendations, Drayton Entertainment has cancelled four additional productions at its various venues across Ontario.
The health and safety of patrons, staff, artists, volunteers, and the general public continues to be of paramount importance for the not-for-profit charitable arts organization. The following productions were scheduled to be held at th Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend this summer and have now been cancelled: 42nd Street, Fiddler on the Loose, The Dixie Swim Club and Sleeping Beauty: The Panto.
These productions were also scheduled to be presented at the King’s Wharf Theatre, Penetanguishene; Hamilton Family Theatre, Cambridge; and the Drayton Festival Theatre, during the summer months and have been cancelled in those locations as well.
“This is a very difficult time. Although we announce these cancellations with heavy hearts, we know it is the right thing to do given the uncertainty surrounding this unprecedented crisis,” said Artistic Director and CEO of Drayton Entertainment, Alex Mustakas. “We hope that by cancelling these additional productions and closing our doors for an extended period of time to facilitate physical distancing, that we can resume operations with confidence when the timing is right.”
Drayton Entertainment’s production cancellations do not follow a chronological time frame due to the company’s unique business model which transfers select productions from one venue to another throughout the season calendar. Cancellations are determined on a production by production basis and impact the playbill at each Drayton Entertainment venue differently.
At this time, 10 of the 18 productions in the 2020 Season have been cancelled. The status of each production at each venue is outlined on the Drayton Entertainment website: www.draytonentertainment.com/Online/article/season-2020
All Drayton Entertainment Box Offices are closed to in-person traffic but continue to operate remotely through phone and email communication in a reduced capacity. Patrons who have purchased tickets for cancelled performances will be contacted by the Box Office to facilitate account credits or refunds. Due to the volume of cancellations, Drayton Entertainment requests patience and cooperation while the team works to accommodate patron needs as operational capabilities permit.
Drayton Entertainment operates in accordance with advice from public health authorities and in compliance with directives from government agencies. As this is an evolving situation, the company will continually reassess policies and procedures as they relate to future productions based on recommendations from designated Canadian authorities.
Current information regarding coronavirus programming cancellations is posted on the Drayton Entertainment website at www.draytonentertainment.com/online/article/coronavirus.
Emergency management preparedness partner: ABCA
Emergency Preparedness Week is May 3-9. This is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative to promote emergency preparedness across Canada. To find out about Emergency Preparedness Week in Ontario, including, how to make a plan, build a kit and stay informed, visit this Emergency Management Ontario web page: www.emergencymanagementontario.ca/english/epweek/epweek.html
Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) is one of the emergency management preparedness partners in this part of Ontario. Conservation authorities continue to protect life and property with their essential services even during the current pandemic. The conservation authority delivers flood forecasting and warning programs on a watershed basis. ABCA staff members continue to monitor and model river levels either remotely or, as needed and using safe protocols, on site. As part of this service, staff continue to provide timely messaging to municipal flood coordinators when needed. This work is continuing even during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The conservation authority provides three levels of flood messages. The three levels are: 1. Watershed Conditions Statement or Shoreline Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook / Water Safety; 2. Flood Watch; and 3. Flood Warning. Messages focus on the scale of events that have the potential to impact properties in flood plain areas or adjacent to Lake Huron.
Not all rainfall events warrant flood messages but ABCA staff remind the public that wet spring weather and seasonally high and fast-flowing river conditions present their own hazards. The public, including children and youth, are reminded to stay away from elevated rivers and creeks as slippery banks and fast-flowing cold water combine to create hazardous conditions.
Through flood management and other programs, Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities build watershed resilience to limit the impacts of flood events and reduce the risk from, and cost of, flooding. This benefits residents, businesses, and all levels of government.
ABCA continues to ensure the delivery of essential services and programs, working remotely when possible, during the COVID-19 pandemic. These services and programs include flood forecasting and warning; operation and maintenance of water control structures; communications; municipal support; general administration and corporate services; payroll; property oversight; and other programs and services. Staff also continue to review development applications and issue permits.
For ABCA flood messages visit this web page at abca.ca: www.abca.ca/news/flooding/
The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority office is closed until further notice but staff who can complete their duties remotely are working from home and monitoring emails and messages. For Notices of Service Disruptions visit this abca.ca web page: www.abca.ca/news/disruptions
The Huron Perth Public Health website is updated daily with confirmed case counts received within the last 24 hours.
“Our online case reporting is not a real-time tool but is meant to keep the community informed on trends we are seeing,” explains Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen.
For the latest statistics on COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth Counties please visit: www.hpph.ca/en/health-matters/covid-19-in-huron-and-perth.aspx
United Way Perth-Huron (UWPH) is raising funds to support a new program meant for a group of people critical to the ongoing well-being of communities across Perth and Huron: frontline workers in any field such as medical, retail and human services.
“Frontline workers are currently carrying the burden of increased stress, risks and responsibilities on top of the everyday stresses already present in their jobs,” said Kate Aarssen, Clinical supervisor for Family Services Perth Huron (FSPH). “We have a responsibility to adapt and expand our programming to compassionately serve those showing up each day to ensure we are all taken care of; including retail workers, delivery drivers, healthcare workers and all others on the frontlines during this crisis. Even if someone uncertain whether or not they qualify for the program, please call FSPH intake at 519 273-1020 or 1-800-268-0903. We will work to get them the help they need.”
The personal toll on those working to keep food on shelves, caring for the sick and supporting vulnerable community members in shelters and other environments can be significant. Mental Health Counselling supports are crucial to help with stress, anxiety, depression and grief during and after this time.
“Nobody working to ensure the well-being of the community should have to deal with the strain alone,” added UWPH Executive Director Ryan Erb. “UWPH is looking to fill gaps in the system, to make sure all frontline workers and their families get the help they need, free of charge. We know only some frontline workers have access to mental health support, so this program is designed to help those who don’t. Please donate to UWPH’s COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund and help support this important program from our partners at FSPH.”
To donate to UWPH’s COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund, go to give.unitedway.ca/donate/WSTRAT-UWPH or call the United Way offices at 519 271-7730 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and noon and 1-5 p.m.
Cody Subject, Cole McLean and Chris Corbett of the Brussels Optimist Club presented $20,000 to local hospital foundations recently. (Submitted photo)
Hospitals in Wingham, Listowel, Clinton and Seaforth have all received a $5,000 donation from the Brussels Optimist Club.
The Optimist Club had intended to host its annual dinner and auction on March 14, but made the decision to postpone in light of growing concern around COVID-19. The hospitals had been the intended beneficiaries of that event. Nonetheless, the members of the Optimist Club made the generous decision to contribute $20,000 to support local healthcare even without the anticipated success of the event.
The contribution by the Brussels Optimist Club will be directed towards vital medical equipment and facility upgrades at each of the four hospitals. Their generosity will ensure that all our local caregivers continue to have the tools they need to provide care throughout the current situation and beyond.
Hospitals and healthcare are on everyone’s minds right now. Supporting these essential services in communities across the region will help weather this storm while maintaining the high quality healthcare that everyone in the community deserves. The Hospital Foundations in Wingham, Listowel, Clinton and Seaforth all extend a big thank you to the Brussels Optimist Club for their ongoing commitment.
For more information on how to support these local hospital foundations please visit their websites: Wingham, www.wdhfoundation.ca;
Listowel, www.lmhfoundation.ca; Clinton, www.cphfoundation.ca; and Seaforth, www.hpha.ca.
May 1st is the next deadline for individuals and organizations to submit applications for the Huron Heritage Fund (HHF). Established in 2007, the purpose of the Huron Heritage Fund is to encourage the preservation of heritage assets and activities of heritage importance to the County of Huron and its residents.
Many initiatives from throughout Huron County have been supported by the HHF since its inception. In recent years, projects have included support for the Reuben Sallows Gallery, Bayfield Historical Society, printing of the book, “Onion Skins and Peach Fuzz”, and upgrades to Elimville Community Park.
“The County will contribute up to 50 per cent of the costs of a project to a maximum of $5,000,” according to Beth Rumble, director of Cultural Services. This investment leverages other groups or individuals to invest in Huron County’s heritage also.
Projects will assist in the preservation and restoration of heritage landmarks, historic buildings, and objects of historical significance not owned by the County of Huron. Heritage publications and events also qualify for support under this program.
More information about the application process can be found on the Huron County Museum’s website at www.huroncountymuseum.ca/huron-heritage-fund/.
Global learning technology leader D2L announced on March 23 that it is partnering with Bayfield Design to offer an online course on COVID-19 at no cost.
The unique, complimentary course was built by educators and is based on the science behind COVID-19. The course helps learners and educators understand the global pandemic, its risks, and how to effectively manage it. D2L and Bayfield Design are key players in the online education sector and strongly believe they have a duty to help the 850 million students who are out of school worldwide.
“As educators, we believe that knowledge is essential to dealing with a crisis in a steady and effective way. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive review of all that we know to date about COVID-19, and made it available to everyone, at no cost,” said President and CEO of D2L, John Baker.
“With years of experience developing online courses Bayfield Design was well-equipped to partner with D2L on this initiative. In times like this, knowledge and education are powerful tools that can help us navigate challenging situations. Our goal is to provide a resource that promotes interaction and learning from scientific, social, and economic perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can work together to respond to this crisis,” said Senior Director of Operations at Bayfield Design, Kim Loebach.
The medical community continues to learn about both the virus and the disease as new research and information becomes available. The course gives people the most up-to-date, reliable, scientifically accurate information to limit the spread of misinformation. It also gives strategies for dealing with the pandemic, knowledge about symptoms, tips on proper hygiene, and definitions and proper terminology around the COVID-19 pandemic. Users can test their understanding of the content and bridge any gaps in their own knowledge about COVID-19.
Click on the following link to access this course: opencoursesstore.d2l.com
Coping through Covid-19
Bayfield resident, Eugene Dufour is a clinically trained Individual, Marital and Family Therapist, Bereavement Specialist, Compassion Fatigue Educator and Therapist and a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Facilitator. He presently works as a Psychosocial Spiritual Care Clinician with the Huron Perth Palliative Care Outreach Team.
Dufour was approached by several organizations to provide them with “Reflections” to offer coping techniques through the COVID-19 crisis. He was kind enough to submit these to the Bayfield Breeze and we hope to share them here as space allows.
This week we include two, the first offers suggestions on how to be supportive of others while they are working through emotional pain.The second reflection provides strategies on how to provide a personal presence while physical distancing.
Working with Emotional and Spiritual Pain - Moving from Helpless to Hopeful
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” - Helen Keller
When people are sharing their experience of deep emotional or spiritual pain, I often get overwhelmed. I start to feel their pain and then my mind goes blank on what is the best way to help. And their lies the problem. People do not necessarily want us to take away the pain, they need to be heard by a caring non-judgmental person. What suffering people often want is a supportive guide to help them process these strong emotions. I find it helpful to look for themes when a person is sharing an emotional or spiritual pain. Breaking the tidal wave of emotion into small parts allows for a deep reflection on the feelings behind the pain. I have applied them to our present day COVID-19 crisis.
Aspects of Emotional and Spiritual Pain to be reviewed:
Abandonment – This isolation is needed but I feel so alone. The quiet is deafening.
Anger – Why now? Why us?
Betrayal – Could not officials have warned us earlier about COVID-19?
Despair – This pandemic is never going to end. Will my family be OK?
Fear – I just cannot get the virus. What about my children and grandchildren?
Guilt – I should have not complained about my tax dollars going to pay for Public Health.
Meaninglessness – I will never recover financially from this mess.
We get incredible clarity when we review all these themes involved in an emotional and spiritual suffering. It gives us an ability to participate in a shared reflection on the underlying themes of meaninglessness and hopelessness. It is the deep reflection as a shared experience that provides the seeds of hope when it comes to walking with an emotional and spiritual pain.
The Power of Your Personal Presence
It is extremely difficult to see our family members, friends and the community at large suffer when we “cannot be there for them - physically. During a crisis people often feel a “felt presence”. This is a silent companion or guide that journeys with us during a difficult time. We can never underestimate the power of our presence.
The following can happen when we share our own personal presence:
Courage of Presence – I can be with your pain without wanting to hide it, fade it or fix it.
Compassion of Listening – bearing witness, allowing the person to ventilate, validation.
Humility of Helplessness – Your helplessness frees you to be present.
Confidence of Trust – I have the resiliency to share my presence.
Belief in Hope – We will get through this.
Peace of Adequacy – I have the skills and energy to journey with you.
Freedom of Inadequacy – I do not need to have all the answers.
Comfort of Companionship – I do not know what to say but I am here for you.
The most important aspect of personal presence is that it can be given over the phone, through Facetime, Zoom or any other virtual platform. COVID-19 is not allowing many of us to be there physically but we can be there in spirit and this is just as effective. Remember the last time someone said to you, “I just needed to hear your voice”. It is this kind of presence that will help us walk through this difficult time, together.