My Muskoka 150

The Muskoka Theatre Project presents “My Muskoka 150”, a chance to participate in a historical multi-media Canada sesquicentennial project. Part one takes place at 11:00 AM, Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the Gravenhurst Opera House, when three hundred people are invited to sing and record an original song, “My Muskoka”, written by award-winning playwright Vince Grittani. After registering online, participants will receive the music score in advance to learn. Then on May 27 everyone will gather to record the song, arranged in four-part harmony.

If you grew up in Muskoka, have a cottage, are a regular visitor or just love Muskoka you are invited. Sports teams, dance, seniors and hobby clubs are invited. Co-workers, schoolmates, government and public are invited. Church choirs, school choirs, individuals, and bands are invited. If you can sing a tune, hum a tune, carry a tune or even think you are in tune, you are invited. And it’s free!

Part two is from May 27 to Aug 27, anyone is asked to “Give Us 30 Seconds Of Your Time”, to upload visuals, videos, and stills, of their own “My Muskoka” moment. Those selected will be edited into the final “My Muskoka” video which will premiere at the fourth annual Muskoka Independent Film Festival, October 27 and 28 in Gravenhurst.

Space is limited. To register or for more information visit www.MyMuskoka150.com .

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Celebrate www.MyMuskoka150.com Saturday, May 27. Limited number of spots still available!

33% of available spots are filled!

Join us as we celebrate both Canada and Ontario’s One-Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary!

On Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:00 AM at the Gravenhurst Opera House, we are inviting anyone and everyone to attend a pop-up choir to learn, sing and record “My Muskoka”, a song that captures the spirit of Muskoka. If you grew up in Muskoka, have a cottage, are a regular visitor or just love Muskoka, you are invited! Sports teams, dance, seniors and hobby clubs are invited. Co-workers, schoolmates, government and public are invited. Church choirs, school choirs, individuals, and bands are invited. If you can sing a tune, hum a tune, carry a tune or even think you are in tune, you are invited. AND IT’S FREE!

FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED. WE ARE LIMITED TO 300 PEOPLE FOR THIS EVENT. (100 already gone)  TO REGISTER PLEASE EMAIL sing@MyMuskoka150.com YOUR NAME and the NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN YOUR PARTY .   You will receive a confirmation.

On the day of the event, participants with be placed in their designated area according to their voice range as indicated on their registration form. The event will be lead by a professional conductor and musicians. The session itself will be filmed and recorded by a team of qualified technicians.  In addition, we are asking participants to bring their phones, record and submit their My Muskoka experience (VISUALS ONLY) We will be selecting entries to be included in the finished film to be featured at the 4th Annual Muskoka Film Festival in October at the Gravenhurst Opera House.

TO REGISTER SEND YOUR NAME AND THE NUMBER IN YOUR GROUP TO

sing@MyMuskoka150.com

FOR MORE INFO VISIT www.MyMuskoka150.com

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“Affordable Muskoka” IS NOT an Oxymoron… Yet!

All The Convenience At a Fraction Of The Price

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   2 bdrm renovated condo in seniors’ lowrise $239,900/$461 monthly maintenance 
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Large renovated kitchen in the Town of Bracebridge seniors’ condo $239,900

Sometimes I feel like kicking myself for not holding onto a home in Toronto as the prices have risen to ridiculous levels. However, I only have to spend ten minutes in Toronto traffic to remind me that the trade-off was worth it.

 

Two hours north, Muskoka is a huge and vast region that covers almost the same area as the GTA. It is comprised of several towns like Huntsville, Port Carling, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge, smaller villages and hamlets in between and, of course, lots of lakes.  In my youth, when we came to the cottage from Toronto to Muskoka, mom would grocery shop in the city because there just wasn’t the variety up here and the prices were jacked up. Decades later Muskoka can boast about having pretty well everything one needs to live an incredible modern life. These days if Sobey’s, Wallmart, Shopper’s, LCBO or Home Depot doesn’t have it you can either travel an hour to Barrie or simply order it online.

Cottages have changed from a summer place where you dump the furniture you no longer want in the city to a place that is fully equipped for year-round use. And as I predicted twenty years ago, more than a home in Toronto, a cottage is an excellent investment. Where Toronto housing is spreading to the outskirts,  God ain’t making any more lakes. “What we have is all we’re gettin’.” 

However, for the time being, homes in the towns and villages of Muskoka have remained reasonable.  So when the time comes to sell that city house for $2.3 million   you paid $27,000 for fifty years ago, you can purchase an incredible home here in Muskoka for what is a bargain compared to Toronto. As I previously mentioned, today Muskoka has everything from fine dining to highly regarded hospitals, a variety of arts and cultural events to parks at your doorstep. Depending on where you buy, Toronto is a mere 2 to 2 3/4 hours away. (Actually, Gravenhurst is only 1 1/2 hours.) Taxes in the towns are reasonable and there you have water and sewers, parks, shopping, high-speed internet plus other amenities.

Offered at $249,900.  Newly renovated on 3/4 of an acre lot located in a small and historic Muskoka community.

For the time being buying here off-water in Muskoka is affordable, however, I must admit that I have seen a steady increase in prices and less product on the market. I think the word is out as more and more people are leaving the city for a life that is equally convenient but less stressful here in the Muskoka region.


Vince Grittani has been a licensed salesperson for fifteen years both in Muskoka and Toronto. He recently joined Solterra Realty Inc. Brokerage, in Port Carling, the heart of the region.  Vince has personally been buying and selling houses for thirty-five years and has owned and/or co-owned several cottages, city and country homes, condos and co-ops, attached and semis, both new and old construction on vacant and built upon land.

He is also known for his vast experience with cottage living and his contributions to the local and cultural community. Vince has written on a variety of topics for such publications as the National Post, Post Homes, Cottage Dog and Muskoka magazine, plus has produced and written extensively for television, stage and other media.  He owns and runs the successful casual TWG GUEST HOUSE in the village of Rosseau and  is the author of “The Weekend Guy; A Survival Guide” (Key Porter Books)   vince@weekendguy.com     www.weekendguy.com

2 for 1 passes for Muskoka Independent Film Festival

Now until Wednesday, Oct 19 at 3:00 PM get 2 x 3 day film festival passes at $55 for the price of one!  Call or visit the Gravenhurst Opera House to purchase your tickets. Student and day tickets available.   1-888-495-8888

FREE FILMS FOR KIDS   at the Gravenhurst Public Library 10:30 – 12:00 NOON (behind the Opera House)  See schedule below.

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The Artist’s Way* – An Affordable Living Community in The Village of Rosseau

artist-wayThe Rosseau Culture and Arts Project (R’CAP) in partnership with Solterra Co-housing is pleased to announce “The Artist’s Way”, affordable co-owned living accommodations in the quaint Village of Rosseau situated on Lake Rosseau.  This unique project will consist of individual suites that lead into a common kitchen, living, laundry and other facilities. Still considered a single residential dwelling unit, co-owners will proportionally split the project’s day to day expenses such as heat, hydro and taxes.

At a time when cities are becoming unaffordable, both for purchasing and renting a home, our goal is to bring together artists from all disciplines and create a permanent and affordable living experience for years to come. As the residents of “The Artist’s Way” mature, living here will also provide an affordable solution to their health, social and living needs as these costs can also be shared.

Why artists? To begin, the Township of Seguin, where the Village of Rosseau is located, boasts about being declared “the most artistic” in the province, based on the number of artists per capita. As we move forward, we are seeing an increase in the artistic activities occurring in the region, everything from art galleries to music to the growing film industry. Unlike other professions, most artists don’t retire. They may however move into the more individual oriented disciplines such as writing or painting.  As the Village of Rosseau is already hosting a variety of artistic activities, the influence of the resident artists will add the to overall community. R’CAP will continue to provide opportunities for exhibits, showcases and performances.

So what age are the residents? Age is not the factor, but rather providing affordable accommodations for artists of all ages is our goal. Perhaps you are living in the city and concerned about your future standard of living, buying into “The Artist’s Way”now will ensure you’ll be able to live comfortably  in years to come. If you are a couple, by participating now before final plans are set, a larger suite may suit your needs. Suites will range in size and will sell between $130,000 to $160,000.  Surrounded by multi-million dollar properties on Lake Rosseau, this is very affordable. Although our priority is to have the suites owner occupied, we will consider buyers interested in purchasing and providing an artist with affordable accommodations while getting a return on their investment.

“The Artist’s Way” is self administered and final decisions are made democratically by the residents. Solterra Co-housing and R’CAP are separate, registered, non-profit organization whose role is to assist in the creation of “The Artist’s Way” only until all suites are sold. Residency at “The Artist’s Way” will automatically include lifetime memberships with R’CAP. This project is made possible by  a seed grant from Canada Mortgage And Housing. If you are interested in purchasing or long term renting a suite in “The Artist’s Way” please email housing@rosseaucultureandarts.com or call Vince Grittani , executive director of R’CAP at 705-774-4487.

*The Artist’s Way in not associated with the highly regarded book by Julia Cameron but rather refers to the physical drive leading into the project. 

 

 

“Wake Me” It Ain’t Over

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“Wake Me When It’s Over! The ‘12-Step Musical’ 

GRAVENHURST – The Gravenhurst Opera House presents its final theatrical production of the 2016 summer season; the award-winning “Wake Me When It’s Over…the 12-step musical”, an original comedy by Canadian stage and screenwriter Vince Grittani with music by Rosalind Mills. This comedic look at one man’s attempt to cope with change on his sixtieth birthday features Larry Herbert (Stratford’s “42nd Street”, Toronto’s ”Mamma Mia” and “Cats”) and the versatile Debbie Collins (Mirvish Production of “The Producers”), who was last seen in this year’s Opera House production of “The Marvelous Wonderettes!”

This high-energy comedy from the creator of hits “Yuppies! The Musical”, “Quiet! I’m Talking” and “Scenes From My Dock”, has been updated and features, in addition to the original, new scenes and songs like “Divorce of Course” and “I’ve Got An App For That!”

As Roger (played by Herbert) is about to celebrate his 60th birthday, he turns to Dr. Yolanda and her book “Flush, a 12-step program to happiness!” With each step Roger is confronted by a series of hilarious women from his life, past and present, all played (sometimes at the same time) by Collins. From his strap-happy grade school teacher Sister Mary of The Compassionate and Merciful Christ to the slightly wacky Margo, an Evita Peron wannabe, running for president of the condo association, Roger is forced to deal with each of these characters before moving on.

Award winning director Dayna Tekatch, who directed the 2016 season opener, “2 Across” as well as Mirvish Productions’ “Forever Plaid” in Toronto earlier this year, returns to direct and choreograph this production along with musical director Sherisse Stevens. The show opens Tuesday, September 13 and runs until September 30.

Visit www.GravenhurstOperaHouse.com to purchase tickets or call the Box Office: 705-687-5550

The Evolution of the TWG Guest House in Rosseau with AirBnb!

Doing My Own Thing!

The smell of my  “Vin-a-bon” cinnamon rolls and chelsea buns baking in the oven, combined with fresh espresso coffee brewing on top of the stove, filled the crisp morning air. Nick and Lynn, a young couple from Belgium, were in the front sunroom sluggishly rearranging their backpacks, preparing for their first canoe adventure into Algonquin Park.  Dinner of homemade pasta and mussels, eggplant parmigiana and foccacia from the evening before, still filled their bellies with content. However, it did not stop them from enjoying my morning spread of hot lattes and tastey treats.

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Homemade Chelsea Buns, Bagels & Granola

As I stood back and watched, recalling my own backpacking adventures when I was in my youth, I suddenly realized what I had created with the TWG GUEST HOUSE was a combination of all the things  I loved most when travelling.

  1. A place where the host was the owner. They were local, or at least well informed about the area.
  2. You felt like you were stepping into a person’s home and so you got a glimpse of their personality and home life.
  3. The food was their own. Freshly made and again reflective of their personality.
  4. The atmosphere was casual, where you got to meet the owner’s friends, family & even pets.
  5. The rooms were clean, comfortable and not pretentious.
  6. It wasn’t expensive.
  7. It was a gathering place, where people from many walks of life and from a variety of origins met, ate together, laughed and exchanged stories.
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Iago & Willow

This is exactly what the TWG Guest House has become, a gathering place that is affordable, comfortable and personable, with good food to boot!

For years I have been hosting friends, visitors and many actors from my theatre company, all without charging them, because, well, I love doing it. But last fall when the actors returned to the city and suddenly I had an empty house, my cousin Lisa suggested that I list on AirBnB. Quite frankly I wasn’t even familiar with what is now the largest hotel in the world, a combination of all sorts of accommodations from urban condos to luxury recreational homes to campers vans parked on the street of  Brooklyn, New York.

So, after photographing my home, I joined Airbnb and within days I started getting bookings. At first I simply rented rooms and people would use my kitchen to prepare meals or go out for dinner and breakfast. To be honest I wasn’t really comfortable with this arrangement. However, during the fall, when there are fewer dining options in the village, I found myself offering to prepare food. Soon that developed from preparing coffee and toast in the morning to making full-scale dinners.

When I opened in fall ’15, my visitors were primarily Europeans here to see the cavalcade of autumn colours or to experience a final canoe trip to Algonquin Park. During the winter I had only a few visitors but as spring approached I decided to take on this adventure with more of a commitment. In addition to rearranging my rooms, I also added a full continental breakfast that includes homemade bagels, muffins of sorts, chelsea buns, cinnamon buns, granola, smoothies, crepes and a selection of coffees and teas. Of course, dinners too became a favourite and guests started requesting my  Italian specialties.

This year, what I found very popular, were young couples going to weddings at the JW Marriott, just a short ride down the highway and who didn’t want to, nor were able to afford the expense of a room at the resort. Also, I have had several parents staying who were dropping off, visiting or picking up kids at summer camp. Then there were the urbanites looking for a weekend getaway, and others; families, who were looking for an affordable way to experience Muskoka. My reviews, for the most part, have been excellent, except from those who were not comfortable with the cozy atmosphere and having to interact  with other guests. I suspect they have not travelled much.  I’m the first one to admit, the TWG GUEST HOUSE isn’t for everyone, especially the anti-social.

From my perspective the venture has been truly successful and beneficial. It has provided me with security while I write my next project. It’s given me the opportunity to test out new cooking and baking skills. But most of all, in a region of the province where the majority are longtime, permanent residents of several generations, it has assured me that Canada is still a nation that celebrates complex, wonderful and versatile individuals. This year I have welcomed members from every community; visitors from the likes of Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, China, Italy, Spain, Australia and  several African and South American nations not to mention all parts of Canada and the U.S.

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A marriage proposal  while staying the TWG GUEST HOUSE 

As one guest commented “It’s not the Four Seasons!”, nor have I ever claimed to be anything close to it or any other hotel.  I used to describe the TWG GUEST HOUSE as a “BnB”, which in fact, I am not.  I am my own invention; a hybrid of a traditional North American BnB, an Italian penzione and a hostel found anywhere in the world. It’s a place where strangers gather, become instant best friends then leave feeling they have had the opportunity to experience the local culture, and maybe, a bit of Muskoka magic. It’s a place that has turned out better than I had ever imagined. #keepingMuskokaAffordable

Visit www.TwgGuestHouse.com

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STAY WITH THE PLAYWRIGHT & CHECK OUT THE TWG FALL THEATRE SPECIAL 

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