In the News...2017-18

Oct. 24, 2017


CFUW Orillia was extremely pleased to welcome guest speaker Susan Clarke, local yoga teacher, who shared and described her recent long distance walking adventure in Scotland. She affirmed that "it all started out as a dream" and when she received encouragement and support from family members and friends, she began to prepare and train for her Scotland adventure of walking the 155km trail of "The West-Highland Way", where 60,000 people walk each year, and approximately 35,000 complete it. Susan's preparation included a book called "Option B" about facing adversity and finding strength in the face of adversity and persevering when there was no option. A. Make the most of Option B. Put one foot in front of the other. Walking all over Orillia and Simcoe County and having the right equipment and foot care were also necessary for her preparation. The 155km walk was from Milngavie, north of Glasgow, to Port William, so mapping out walking a nine day walk, she and her companion walked approximately an average of 20-25 km daily. Starting at the train station in Milngavie, and following the trail, their journey would take them through pastures, over rocks, along sandy beaches, over military roads, all the while enjoying spectacular landscapes, and hearing the seabirds, while ascending and descending the hills of Scotland on the path to Port William. At the end of each day, Susan and her companion would be welcomed at a local pub where they would enjoy a pint, a meal, and the conversations of fellow hikers. Next morning, after a big breakfast, they set off early with the same lunch as the day before--a peanut butter sandwich, a Mars bar and an apple.


Walking through mist, rain, sunshine, among sheep, small villages, an old mining town, and over barren landscapes with no roads, often in silence, Susan felt a profound sense of peace, calmness, and great appreciation for the beauty of nature and the outdoors, which reminded her of the relaxing techniques of yoga. She also affirmed that " Gratitude" was one of the greatest lessons she learned on this journey, feeling very grateful for family and friends who walked and trained with her and encouraged her to complete the 155 km walk in Scotland enabling her the fulfillment of her dream. Nature's gift of the landscapes, the birds, flowers, and the joy of walking have made her realize "to never take walking for granted again." "Movement of the body when walking, the rhythm of your footsteps, your breathing, and all the health benefits received, revitalizes one's mind, body, and soul. It is quiet and peaceful, giving the walker a chance to reflect and contemplate the joy of being in the moment." For information of the West-Highland-Way trail, visit and for more information about CFUW, please visit .

Mary Susan Ruth
Photo of Susan Clarke
Preferred photo of Susan Clarke
Guest Speaker 2
West Highland books

Nov. 28, 2017

Due to the sudden and unexpected closing of our local newspaper, there is no article to accompany the photo above of our guest speaker, Dr. Marissa Rodway-Norman.

Jan. 23, 2018

CFUW Orillia recently welcomed guest speaker Susan Swan, renowned author and journalist,to their January meeting. Living in Midland in the 40's and 50's, where her father was a doctor, Swan, as a child wrote stories to entertain herself and her friends, and as a teenager, worked as a reporter on the Midland Free Press. She also attended Havergal College in 1959-63, which became an inspiration for a later novel. After graduation, Swan attended McGill University where she worked on The McGill Daily and became editor of The McGill Scene, followed by, working as a reporter for several Toronto daily newspapers. In a new direction, she began to turn to magazine freelancing and novels and became Associate Professor of Humanities at York University. Currently retired, she continues to write novels and mentor creative writing students at the University of Toronto and Humber College.


Swan's latest novel "The Western Light" is set in Madoc's Landing, a fictional town on Georgian Bay and revolves around the life of a young girl named "Mouse Bradford" who craves the attention of her father, a busy doctor totally dedicated to his patients, with little time for his family. Mouse seeks out another male figure for affection, who unfortunately is not a wholesome character. Swan affirmed some similarities between herself and "Mouse," and discussed the typical, traditional role of men in Western culture, where the expectation was that fathers would be strong and protect their families and provide for their well-being. However, what they gave was not necessarily "what we were searching for." The theme of searching for our fathers is not without perils as seen in the novels of other Canadian authors.The impact of Swan's novels on the Canadian literary and political scene has been far-reaching.

Feb. 27, 2018

CFUW Orillia was pleased to welcome Martha Lowry as guest speaker at their meeting on Tuesday, February 27 at the OMAH, 30 Peter St. S. at 7 p.m.  Martha Lowry, who was raised in Orillia, is the head distiller at Mill Street Brewery and cider maker for Brickworks Cider House and the only female distiller in Toronto.


Martha studied at Guelph and Dalhousie Universities and has a background in horticulture with a focus on fruit crops and viticulture from the University of Guelph.  Because of her passion for food and beverage she became interested in cider and spirits and her scientific background led her to the production side of things.


After working in different areas of interest a chance meeting with Kaitlin Vandenbosch at a networking event for women in the beverage business led her to a career at Mill Street Brewery.  At the time Kaitlin Vandenbosch was in charge of the small distillery at Mill Street. Soon after the two met Martha was trained by Kaitlin at the brewery. One and a half years later Martha took over the distillation program at Mill Street as the Head Distiller at the Mill Street Brewery.    Mill Street Brewery is the largest craft brewery in Canada.


Martha released Mill Streets first gin and whisky this past year to critical acclaim.  She is currently in the process of getting the cider house up and running and can’t wait to share the new products with the world.  Martha loves the creativity her job provides. Small batches allow Martha to explore mixing different fruits, spices, yeasts, and malts in order to create the unique flavour big breweries miss.  Visitors to Main and Broadview, in Toronto, can watch the fruit being prepared giving Martha the opportunity to talk with visitors and answer questions. During the evening Martha showed several slides on the processing of different spirits including gin, whisky and ciders.


Currently Martha is working with apples to create a new cider.  Her professor from the University of Guelph is assisting Martha by acquiring the specific apples that she needs.  As the apple is not native to Canada she can only bring in small amounts of it in to the country. Small batches are good for small operations.  Martha compares making her cider to making wine in that she gets back to agriculture. You need to know where your apples are coming from, how they are grown, and what soil they grew in.  A slide presentation demonstrated the procedure for making apple cider. From grinding the apples and letting them sit overnight to the apple press, collecting the juice and putting them in the fermenters.  Controlling the temperature results in specific flavours. Hot temperatures will result in a spice flavour. Cold temperatures will be more like a lager and warm will be fruity or floral. Two weeks of aging will produce a bright and crisp cider.  Aged for six months it will produce a creamy and smooth apple cider.

April 24, 2018

CFUW Orillia was very privileged to welcome Toronto Star Investigative Reporter and Journalist, Kevin Donovan, as guest speaker at their recent meeting. Donovan has been with the Toronto Star for 30 years, and has won 3 National Newspaper Awards, 2 Michener Awards, and 3 Canadian Association of Journalist’s Awards, as well as being the author of several books. He started a journalism course in high school with a friend in London, Ontario, which led to running the paper when he attended Western University. Here he interviewed Peter Worthington, a veteran newspaperman, who was impressed by Donovan’s journalistic skills, and enabled him to get his first job at the Toronto Star. With humour, enthusiasm, and conviction, he explained that most stories begin with a phone call—often a police officer, the court, an employee, or a family member. After validating the informer and their facts, Donovan must verify that the information is correct-not fake- and pursue accordingly.


Over the years, he has investigated many well-known cases, to name a few - the operation of Ontario’s Ornge Air Ambulances, Jian Ghomeshi’s firing from the CBC, Rob Ford’s drug addiction, inappropriate sexual behaviours of politicians such as Pastor and Senator Don Meredith, as well as sexual abuse scandals of Catholic Priests. In 2000, he did the investigative story, “No Where to Go” about the closure of HRC and other institutions, leaving challenged residents being placed in inappropriate group homes. Today, fewer people check that news may “be fake” or it may “not be fake”. Donovan affirmed that “People will always cover up stuff and governments are going to make mistakes. The world needs good journalism and investigations, which are supported by facts, is extremely important.”