Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

South Simcoe municipalities are joining forces under a new tourism initiative to give people a reason to visit and make it the best possible experience.
The initiative brings together New Tecumseth, Essa, Adjala-Tosorontio, Innisfil and Bradford. New Tecumseth economic development officer Andrea Roylance says the tourism group has been working for more than a year with the area chambers of commerce and tourist attractions such as Earl Rowe Provincial Park, Georgian Downs, the Nottawasaga Inn Resort and the South Simcoe Steam Train.
"We're finding everyone is doing their own thing. Working together is better," said Roylance.
The group's aims to work under the banner of the South Simcoe Economic Alliance (SSEA). This year participating municipalities have been asked for a total of $44,000, with each contributing differing amounts based on population. The goal is to have a full tourism project ready for the 2012 tourist season (in the spring and summer).
Making local residents aware of what is available in the area is part of the plan.
That means when tourists visit South Simcoe, frontline workers and volunteers at chambers of commerce and tourist attractions will be on the same page about all that's available in the region. With the training, it will be easy to direct tourists to other attractions and help with arrangements for the trip.
The target market for the group is to draw people from the Greater Toronto Area who take day trips to South Simcoe. Another target is to create an identity for South Simcoe tourism.
Other groups are working on tourism initiatives that impact South Simcoe. There is a Simcoe County group and a regional tourism initiative underway for Simcoe, Grey and Bruce counties. By having a South Simcoe entity however, the group hopes to have a greater voice at the regional tourism table.
Bats suffering from a mysterious condition called “white nose syndrome” have been found in Ontario, and researchers are trying to figure out what is happening.
Five years ago in upstate New York, bats started dying from white nose syndrome, so named because of a fungus that grows on the affected bats. The disease now has killed more than one million bats in eastern North America.
The syndrome was detected in Ontario in March 2010. It has been confirmed at seven sites in central and north-eastern Ontario.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canadian Cooperative Health Centre continue to monitor the spread of the disease and determine its impact on Ontario’s bats. While the number of bat deaths has been low in Ontario to date, researchers are concerned about the potential negative impact the syndrome could have on bats in this province.
The public can help protect bats by staying away from sites where bats hibernate, and by reporting any unusual bat behaviour, such as daytime flying, or deaths.
White nose syndrome has been linked to a fungus that grows on bats while they hibernate in natural caves and abandoned mines. The fungus seems to irritate and cause bats to awaken, so they use their winter fat stores more quickly. They may leave hibernation sites and fly around outside, often in the daytime, when it’s still winter and where there are no food sources available.
Entering caves or abandoned mines may disturb hibernating bats and reduce their ability to survive the winter.  The public is encouraged to stay out entirely or avoid entering natural caves or abandoned mines where bats may be hibernating.
If you see bats flying during the daytime in winter, or you see dead bats, please contact the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781 or the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940.
Do not touch bats — alive or dead — as they can carry rabies.
Bat Facts:
• Bats are the only mammal that can fly. As early as three weeks old they are able to fly and find their own food.
• Bats eat insects — lots of them. One bat can consume thousands of flying insects each night during the summer.
• Bats navigate and locate food by using echolocation. They send out signals and when the echoes bounce back, the bats can identify where objects are located.
• Bats are an important part of Ontario’s biodiversity. Eight different species of bats are found in this province; little brown and big brown bats are the most common. The bats that are affected by white nose syndrome hibernate in caves, while other species fly as far as South America for our winter.
Nothing is more exhilarating on a nice day than biking through the countryside. The warm wind blows through your hair, you sit high up and you feel like you are flying. You are in control of the speed and have time to take in the scenery of Simcoe County.
When you drive in your car, you miss a lot because of the speed. You do not have time to slow to a standstill and look around. When you hike, you miss a lot because you have to keep your eyes on the ground or you might stumble over a rock or twist your foot in a hole. So, for me, the bike is the answer.
I belong to a group that is an off-shoot of the Ganaraska Hiking Club (www.ganaraska-hiking-trail.ca). We are all retired and, each spring, we start biking as soon as the roads are free of snow. Most of our treks are 30 to 35 kilometres round trip. We would love new members, so bike on your own or come and join us for a day of fun.
We try to do a different trip every week. Here are some of our favourite trips:
1. Couchiching Park to Mara Provincial Park on Lake Simcoe
You will find plenty of parking on the waterfront in Orillia and you can start biking south right from your car on a smoothly paved bike trail. We love this trip because the trail snakes close to the water's edge along all of the bays.
After about half an hour, take a short detour to see Stephen Leacock's house and his beautiful flower gardens. If you bike on the weekend, you are guaranteed to see a wedding performed in the garden.
Continue the trail to the end, which is located at the Narrows. This narrow spot divides Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. If you look down into the water, you still can see the historic fish weirs built by the First Nation people many years ago.
Now, try to block out the sound and pedal hard because you have to cross the busy, noisy bridge, but you will be rewarded.
You turn right after the Tim Hortons onto a quiet, paved country road. You will bike toward Lake Simcoe and Mara, enjoying the peaceful countryside, with farms and cattle herds. At Mara, you will find lots of picnic tables if you bike before the summer season.
 2. Couchiching Park to Fern Resort
Like Trip 1, you start at the park and cross the noisy bridge at the Narrows. The Ramara Trail will soon start to your left. It is well marked with a Ganaraska marker. Yo follow an abandoned railroad through the pastoral countryside. We like to bike to Fern Resort in the off-season and explore some of the many nature trails.
3. Orillia to Coldwater on the Uhthoff Trail
Again, start at Couchiching Park. The abandoned railroad north takes you all the way to Coldwater. By the side of the trail are many swamps and creeks. There are lots of benches to sit, take a break and observe nature. This trip might be farther than you want to bike — 50 km return — but you will be rewarded. Coldwater has a wonderful new ice cream parlour where you can sit next to the river and enjoy a rest before you have to pedal back.
4. Hawkestone to Pizza Hut in Orillia
This is one of our favourite trips. We meet at the monument in Hawkestone and start travelling east along the abandoned rail line. You cannot see Lake Simcoe, but any right turn takes you close to the water. The, we stop at all of the small beaches and pars. Sometimes, the leader of the group reserves a long table at Pizza Hut. Nothing is better than "all you can eat" pizza with good friends.
The 13th annual Bradford area Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, Jan. 2, with 16 in-field observers and two feeder watchers participating.
The group saw a total of 46 species, bang on the average for this count.
Highlights included the Bradford CBC's first-ever ruby-crowned kinglet (the 92nd species for this count's history), the second-ever long-eared owl, three ravens, a snowy owl, 12 bohemian waxwings, a red-bellied woodpecker, goshawk, horned lark, merlin, five rough-legged hawks, and 6 northern shrikes.
It was a good day out and a nice way to start the new year.
Bradford is at the south end of Lake Simcoe's Cook Bay, next to the Holland Marsh.
Lake Simcoe Living Magazine and lakesimcoeliving.com are launching web-based TV programming on Lake Simcoe Living Community TV (LSLTV).
LSLTV will present programs about the activities and events across the beautiful and exciting Lake Simcoe Watershed, starting with the Lake Simcoe Fishing Show with Wil Wegman.
Wegman, a champion tournament angler who calls Simcoe his home lake, will feature local fishing events, the latest gear, safety on the water and strategies for catching those elusive fish.
The Lake Simcoe Fishing Show will be available in March by clicking on the LSLTV logo on the website at lakesimcoeliving.com.
Other programming for Lake Simcoe's lake people will begin later this spring. Program suggestions can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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