Alan Walker 2021-small
Barbara Swinton
Sam Kingdon
NOTL Museum

Those of you who remember me from my Shaw Guild Garden Tour Convenor days will recall that I know very little about the actual practice of gardening, or matters horticultural.  It has been said, rather unkindly, in my (not so) humble view that I wouldn’t know the difference between a gerbera and a gerbil. [Editor’s note: see image below]

Message from Alan Walker, President, Shaw Guild

Shifts are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon – 2pm and 2-4pm. You will be part of the team to welcome visitors, which usually includes many from Quebec, and provide guidance for safety protocols and help answer questions about the Town.

As well as Ambassadors who stroll the streets of NOTL, we are also looking for a few people who can stay in the Market Room at the Courthouse (our home base) to check in volunteers and keep an eye on things. Bring a book or your iPad to pass the 2 hours. We will even provide you with a tshirt!

Please contact Margot Devlin (in photo) if you’re interested.

Click here to read the recent media release from the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Sunset Grill Recognizes Town Volunteers

Kim Hughes, manager of the Sunset Grill on Queen Street, wanted to show her gratitude to volunteers in Town who help make NOTL safe, friendly and welcoming. Recently she offered free breakfasts to volunteers until June 14. She specifically invited Guild members who had participated as Ambassadors last year.

Here’s the article from the Lake Report.

Recently I read that there is evidence, apparently, gardeners live longer and are less stressed. A variety of studies confirm this, pointing to both the physical and mental health benefits of gardening. And there are learned articles on gardening being a metaphor for life.

This became the impetus for my recent poodling down to the Shaw Gardens to both meet and greet the happy Team of Shaw Guild Gardeners, and to express my gratitude to them for the work they do to keep the Shaw gardens looking so wonderful.

My visit coincided with the Team’s 2nd week back at work in the gardens. As with the rest of the Team, this had required me to submit a Health Questionnaire, announce my arrival at the Shaw Festival, take a quick “contactless” temperature check, don my mask and report to Paddy Parr for my assignment, manning the movement of much mulch, carried out under the strict supervision of Peggy Bell.

What followed was both instructive and extremely rewarding. To be in the company of others, albeit as socially distanced as we could, out in the fresh air and actually being back in action on behalf of the Shaw, was very rewarding.

As with the “behind the scenes” Zoom based journeys we have taken with disparate members of the company this year, it was instructive to see the work that goes into making the magic of the gardens. Yes it was a really hot and humid day, and yes I returned to Chez Walker redolent with the aroma of mulch about my person, but I felt good to have been a part of the Team, albeit only for a 2 hours shift and to have made some sort of contribution to the beauty of the gardens.

So, all in all, “baby steps” for us doing what we do best, serving the Shaw.

PS -  you will be happy and relieved to learn that no plants were hurt in the process.

Announcing an important change to the role of the President of the Guild

Peter Jewett, the Shaw Festival’s Chair of the Board of Directors, advised me recently that the Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee had reached the conclusion that it made sense for the President of the Shaw Guild become a member of the Board of Directors. De facto this had been happening by invitation. The move was confirmed by the recent passing of an appropriate motion, and with immediate effect.

The Board of Directors is invested with fiduciary oversight to support and further the mission and longevity of the Shaw Festival.  As you will see at it is a richly multi-talented and dedicated Team.

I regard this as a singular honour for all of us in the Guild, as recognition by the Board of the contributions to the Shaw that we, as a dedicated Volunteer organization, have made. It also comes as no surprise that it follows from the term of my predecessor, Laurie Harley, who has done so much to foster the very strong relationship we enjoy with the Shaw.

Do you speak French or other languages besides English? We would welcome you to join the 2021 Ambassador Program!

You may have seen pasta dishes that were topped by sautéed breadcrumbs instead of Parmesan cheese. For those folks who couldn’t afford Parmesan, breadcrumbs were an alternative to expensive Parmesan. I’ve read of a soup that was flavoured with a sausage and that sausage would be served to the dinner guest.  The rest of the family would have the flavour, but not the sausage, in their bowls.

As it turns out, this Mediterranean diet of little meat and a lot of vegetables is renowned as a very health diet.“Classic” can be rightly applied to many French recipes.

This designation came into prominence due to a French chef, Georges Auguste Escoffier, 1846-1935. Escoffier had a very successful partnership with Cesar Ritz, of the famous Paris Ritz hotel.  That hotel, and the Savoy in London, became famous due to Escoffier’s kitchens in those hotels. Up until that time, high society ladies rarely ate out in restaurants, but Escoffier’s cooking was too good to pass up.   To maintain his high standards, Escoffier trained his staff in these various locations and provided his staff with detailed recipes with specific instructions in order that each dish would be prepared to the same high standard as his Paris restaurant. Escoffier’s cookbooks and recipes are still used to this day.

So, Classic French Recipes, oui, Classic Italian Recipes, non. 

In Memoriam


Mary Mizen, Vice President


Classic Italian Recipes

Bang, siss, boom, bah.

That is the sound of the balloon breaking for all of those who have read a “classic Italian” recipe. There is no such thing as a “classic” Italian recipe.

We have all seen Italian recipes for various dishes, but those recipes are guides to making the dish. In an Italian neighbourhood, the method, and ingredients for making a particular recipe vary from street to street and household to household. There are Italian products, such as Parmesan cheese, which by regulation, need to be made in a specific manner and aged for specific length of time. I do know of a few recipes from towns where a recipe originated which dictate that specific ingredients be used but, when considering the thousands of Italian recipes available, the number of such recipes is minimal. 

Much of Italian cooking can be classified a “Cucina Provera”, that is, peasant cooking made from inexpensive ingredients. Throughout history, the number of poor people has always outnumbered the rich and Italian peasants were at least living in a warm climate where there were diverse ingredients and where on the roadsides, and in the fields and forests, dandelions, grain stubble, nuts and mushrooms were at hand and readily available and free.

Brenda Weafer, Activities Chair

Celebrate the Shaw’s Diamond Anniversary in 2022

We missed you so much, and can’t wait to catch up in person over a cup of coffee and a yummy treat!  We are presently working on a plan to host a coffee morning outdoors at the Shaw Festival once a week in August and September. 

Members who wish to re-connect with friends old and new will be able to sign up for a coffee hour where we can just visit with each other, while respecting the COVID-19 protocols of course.

Rest assured we are working hard to make this happen... so stay tuned for further updates and tell your friends!

To view this year’s brochure, and to purchase tickets visit the Garden Tour page.

The photo shows Joe Cassidy (a member of the Shaw Guild Gardens Team), Jane Catcher (Garden Tour Convener), and Peggy Bell (a member of both teams!), “hard at work”, looking elegant and enjoying what they love best.

The Shaw Guild is happy to announce, coming soon to a tent near you . . . Coffee Connections!

15th Annual Shaw Guild Garden Tour: Early bird ticket sales end July 15

Less than 2 months to go before this year’s Tour and tickets are selling very well. Seems that people are eager to attend a happy outdoor event in fabulous gardens on a lovely late summer’s day. Sounds pretty great!

Regular price tickets are $25 (+ EventBrite fee). Sales start July 16.

Contributed by Joe Allevato, Guild Treasurer

Treasures Sale and Pig Roast

Monday, Aug 2nd -  11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Although our annual heritage festival had to be scaled down this year, we welcome you to join us for our popular Treasures Sale! Browse through a selection of gently used china, silver, decor, ephemera, antiques, prints and used books.

And grab a pig roast lunch from PigOut while you're here!



Do you have a favourite memory or experience while volunteering at the Shaw in the past 10 years?  We’re documenting the Shaw Guild’s history from 2012-2022 as part of the Shaw Festival’s 60th Anniversary next year.  And we would love to include your stories.

Send an email to Mary Mizen with a short description of your experience, when it happened and names of any other Guild Volunteers involved.

Barbara Swinton

Barbara worked in the front-of-house department at the Shaw Festival for 20 years where she found pleasure in helping others whether welcoming at the doors or ushering in the theater. She greatly enjoyed seeing the plays, remaining a proud ambassador of the Shaw after she retired and volunteering as a member of the Shaw Guild with her husband Rodger for many years.

Sam Kingdon

With great sadness we announce the passing of Guild Gardener, Sam Kingdon on June 18th, 2021, after a brief and courageous struggle with cancer.  We send our deepest sympathies to Sam’s wife, Guild Greeter and Host, Pat Kingdon, and his three sons and families.  He, and his vast horticultural knowledge, will be sorely missed in the Shaw gardens.

Community Notices

The Town’s Communities in Bloom Committee, Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro, and the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre are partnering to invite submissions for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro Box Beautification Competition 2021.

Deadline is August 20, 2021.   Click for details.

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