Tag Archives: Cece M. Scott


Cover Story: Molly Johnson

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Cover Story: Molly Johnson

Self-identification for women seems to be somewhat more complicated than it is for men. And for Molly Johnson, her list of accomplishments can’t be distilled into one word. Johnson is an artist, a singer, a songwriter, a mother and a philanthropist – to name a few.

Photo, Chris Nicholls

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

Molly Johnson is also a five-time Juno nominee, and in 2009 she received a Juno award for vocal jazz album of the year (Lucky). In 2007, Johnson was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of her contributions to Canadian music, as well as for her work with the Kumbaya Foundation – an AIDS charity that she co-founded in 1992. She is also a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient (2012). Johnson has performed for the likes of Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana, and alongside many notable artists, such as Tom Cochrane, Anne Murray and Peter Appleyard.


At the age of 59, Johnson’s career has spanned more than five decades. By the age of four she was appearing in musicals, including Porky and Bess at the the Royal Alexander Theatre in Toronto. Performing was a family affair, and her brother, Clark (age seven), and her sister, Tabby (nine), were in a number of productions alongside her. When Johnson and actress, Cynthia Dale, were both seven years of age, they appeared in South Pacific and Finian’s Rainbow, and a lifelong friendship ensued. “I remember the props, especially in Candy Man, the orchestra pit, the music, and my beloved Ed [Mirvish] and his beautiful theatre,” says Johnson.

Molly and her brother, Clark, at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards. Photo courtesy of Molly Johnson and the Canadian Screen Awards

In addition to acting, Johnson aspired to be a choreographer, and attended the National Ballet School of Canada until the age of 15. While at the school, Johnson learned more about how to use, and enrich, her diaphragm as it related to modulating her singing. “I would creep into the back door of the Colonial where the brother and sister team of Shawne, and Jay Jackson of The Majestics were singing. I would watch Shawne sing her own songs, and she made her own clothes. And, I realized that I could make other things, too. I could make songs,” says Johnson.

Childhood photo of Molly and Cynthia Dale. Photo courtesy of Molly Johnson

Johnson became a guest singer of the disco group, Chocolate Affair, then went on to perform gigs with Billy Reed and The Street People. By the late 1970s Johnson was writing her own material and had formed the eclectic funk-rock group, Alta Moda. Her interpretive, smoky voice earned her the nickname – Diva of Queen Street.

Molly performing with JUNO award-winning bassist Mike Downes. Photo courtesy of Molly Johnson


Johnson doesn’t drive, and walks everywhere. She considers herself extremely fit for someone who doesn’t go to the gym, and says that her life is her gym. She does admit that she’s had to make some accommodations as she’s aged. “I drop my songs a semi-tone to accommodate my vocal range. I call it my old lady key,” says Johnson. “And while I miss a lot about my youth, I am really tired of the attitude that women are past their prime at 26. How can I talk truth and be authentic if I colour my hair? When I turned 50, I felt like I had arrived.”

Photo, Chris Nicholls

While fiercely private about her family, Johnson is extremely proud of her sons. Henry recently graduated from grade 12, and Otis is in his third year at the University of Ottawa. “They are both beautiful, kind, empathetic gentleman – that was my goal.”

Released this past spring, her new album, Meaning To Tell Ya, reflects Johnson’s attitude towards life, as well as her musical explorations. The title references the positivity that Johnson emanates in terms of her intention of wanting to ‘tell ya’ how brave you are, or how fabulous you are, or that when you walk into the room, you own it. The album is a mix of funk, soul, groove and jazz, and includes a Marvin Gaye song, Inner City Blues. The album was produced by Larry Klein (once married to Joni Mitchell). “I couldn’t believe that I had the opportunity to work with Larry,” says Johnson. “Marvin was the master of telling stories that are both relevant, and still very meaningful, in today’s world. That, in itself, is a strong message, not just about how far we’ve come, but also for how far we still have to go.”


Johnson is also a consultant and story teller for the TD Bank’s Black History Project (an initiative she co-founded with TD). She uncovers interesting, and impactful, stories that relate to Canada. “This country is rich with black history,” Johnson says. “In fact, Canada abolished slavery 76 years before the States.”

She recounts the story of Viola Desmond (featured on the Canadian 10-dollar bill). Desmond was a successful black Nova Scotian businesswoman who challenged racial discrimination by sitting in the main level of New Glasgow’s Roseland Theatre, an area supposedly reserved for white people. “Desmond was dragged out of the theatre and put on trial,” says Johnson. “Her stand against racial discrimination actually happened ten years before Rosa Parks took her stand.”

Johnson is advocating to have The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill, included in the grade 11 curriculum.

In 2016, Johnson started the Kensington Market Jazz Festival – an extensive undertaking that involves programming 400 Canadian musicians in more than 12 venues. The 2018 festival runs from September 14th to the 16th. “It’s a community vibe with curated busking,” says Johnson. “Tom Mihalik, of Tom’s Place, is the patron saint of my festival. He also pays for piano lessons for kids in the neighbourhood.”

A huge supporter of both established, and aspiring, musicians, Johnson does not perform at the festival. “This is about others – my community and my talented friends.”

Photo, Chris Nicholls

“A good song can change your mood, and in fact, your whole day.”
– Molly Johnson

Johnson has upcoming concert dates scheduled in Canada, the United States and Europe. When not touring, recording or working on her many philanthropic initiatives, Johnson loves to hang out with her kids. Gardening is a favourite past time – both vegetables and flowers – especially the Oscar Peterson rose with its creamy white blooms.

The creative and inspiring people of Toronto, along with its diverse cultural, food and musical events, keeps Johnson centred. “Toronto is like a charm bracelet around the lake,” says Johnson. “And every charm is a neighbourhood with its own flavour.”

Feisty, self-deprecating, witty and always the optimist, friends tease her of being a Mollyanna. “I’m definitely a yes person. I like a challenge.”


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Cover Story: Holly Cole

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Cover Story: Holly Cole


By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

Raised in a creative family, alto soloist, Holly Cole, fell in love with jazz at a very early age. Her father, Leon Cole, a classical pianist, composer and Halifax-based broadcaster, also hosted two popular radio programs on CBC. Her mother, Carolyn Cole, was an arts’ curator in New Brunswick. And her brother (and best friend), Allen, was her co-conspirator in much of her musical journey.

A two-time Juno Award winner, including Best Contemporary Jazz Album for Don’t Smoke in Bed (Holly Cole Trio,1994), and Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for Shade (2004), Cole has also won two Geminis, two Japanese Golden Disc Awards, and is the recipient of the Montreal Jazz Festival’s 2013 Ella Fitzgerald Award.

Shooting live at the Glenn Gould Studio – Photo By, Tim Martin

Cole describes herself as a rebellious, free-spirited teenager, who hit the road at the age of 15 with $20 in her pocket. She hitchhiked from New Brunswick to Boston to visit her brother who was studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. “Allen had long hair at the time and so did I,” says Cole. “He was staying in the dorms. He’d go in, give his ID to his friend, who would then come out and give it to me, so I could sneak in. I slept on the floor of Allen’s dorm for weeks. While I was there, I was exposed to this rich culture of jazz music. I was mesmerized by the whole thing.”

For Cole, jazz provided her the freedom to express her individualism. “To me, jazz seemed like classical music for people who were bad, which totally appealed to me,” says Cole, with one of her never-far-from-the surface, smoky laughs.

It was Allen who was responsible for Cole’s first public singing gig. “I was 17 at the time. Allen, who was playing at a local New Brunswick coffee house, called me up on stage. I was so scared that I announced to the audience, ‘OK, I’ll sing, but I have to stand behind my brother.”’

Originally from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Cole and her family spent several years in Nova Scotia, before she, at the age of 19, and Allen (21) moved to Toronto in 1983. Holly was enrolled in Humber College’s vocal jazz program. The improvisation of jazz music appealed to Cole. “I love to interpret songs,” says Cole. “My best friend is subtext, which allows listeners to hear, and to imagine, whatever they want. It’s a subtle thing – sexy, exciting, mysterious, emotional. Subtext is always there. It’s part of my personal life as well.”

Photography, courtesy of Holly Cole; (Holly and Allen) Bob Johnson

Cole has many anecdotes about her and her brother sharing on-stage time, including performances of German cabaret music in the 1980s – A Weill Evening with Allen and Holly Cole, which featured the music of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. “We performed the show in art spaces and clubs, mostly along Queen Street. We would push an old upright piano onto the stage, and Allen would play and I would sing.”

One of Cole’s popular songs, Onion Girl, acts as a personal metaphor for the many layers she has peeled back in her life. “I had an epiphany when I was 26,” says Cole. “I remember the day vividly. My ex-boyfriend asked me why I always had to be right – why I always argued and never discussed things. It was then that I realized that the world is not black and white. There are many subtle layers to this thing called life.”

With age, and life experiences, a mellowing attitude often follows. With more than 15 albums to her credit, both as the Holly Cole Trio and as a soloist, Cole’s approach to her 2018 CD, Holly, took her in a new direction.“I hired Larry Goldings to do the arranging. He also plays the piano and organ,” says Cole. “It was hard for me to give up the reins. I’m used to steering the ship. But I wanted the experience of working towards someone else’s aesthetic. Once I relaxed, I loved it.”

In 2016, Cole took a sabbatical to care for her mother. “It was one of the most important decisions I’ve made in my life – to take time off from my music to look after mom,” says Cole. “I got to know so many things about her that I didn’t know. It was beautiful. My advice is to spend time with your parents – you will never regret it.”

While she was on hiatus, Cole studied hypnotism, with a focus on pediatric hypnosis. “As a tool, it enriched my life so much. It helps me to stop doing things that I don’t want to do.”

With the loss of family and friends, Cole has changed the way that she views her life priorities. Her loved ones come first, followed by her passion for music and, of course, some out-sized fun. She feels that everyone needs to have personal interests – ones that nurture self-actualization and a sense of wellbeing. “People around you want you to get what you want – to have your own thing,” says Cole. “It makes them happy for you.”

Photography, (top right) Jonathan Warden; (in red dress) Edward Gajdel; (right middle and with Rhoda) Andrew MacNaughtan

The lens in which Cole sees herself through has also shifted. Within a short time frame, she experienced a broken wrist and then a broken kneecap. “If I had fallen off my bike when I was 22, I don’t think my wrist would have broken,” says Cole. “But at 55, my bones aren’t made of rubber anymore. Breaking my kneecap last summer was brutal. I sure miss being resilient – not having to be careful.”

In an effort to maintain a healthy stamina, Cole incorporates a three-hour exercise regime into her day, which includes 90 minutes of physical exercise, and 90 minutes of breathing and vocal exercises.

“My voice, which is a muscle, has become more resilient,” says Cole. “I’m feeling a lot stronger and I’m really enjoying it.”

Cole is currently involved in an extensive renovation project on her 1845, south shore, Nova Scotia home. “It’s a big old house that feels like a friend – it’s so cathartic,” says Cole. “It was originally a barrel factory, and then a coaching inn – kind of like a Motel 6 before there were cars. My concept for the house’s aesthetic is old meets new, which is very much like my music – the craft of bringing disparate elements together.”

With a large, grassroots fan base in Japan, Cole will be touring there, as well as Canada, Europe and the United States this year. “I love performing live more than anything. I never, ever forget where I came from.”



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Cover Story: Making it Work HAL EISEN and ANDREW BOTTECCHIA

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Cover Story: Making it Work HAL EISEN and ANDREW BOTTECCHIA

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

WHEN YOU LOOK AROUND the sun-splashed condo of Hal Eisen and Andrew Bottecchia, you can’t help but be struck by Eisen’s outsized collection of eclectic art. Located in an 1873 heritage building in the west end of Toronto, the couple’s penthouse also includes a spectacular 1,200-square-foot, wrap-around terrace.

On the wrap-around terrace of their condominium. Photo, Steve Russell

Partners in business, and in life, Eisen ( 61) and Bottecchia (54) met some 16 years ago. True to his acting roots, Eisen is gregarious and animated, while Bottecchia is the gracious parenthesis. When speaking about their relationship, Bottecchia says, “It took a while to figure things out. We had to set some boundaries.”

The couple’s personal commitment was cemented when Eisen was performing in a play in Ottawa called It’s All True, which won the Governor’s General award. “I knew Hal wasn’t in a good place, mentally,” says Bottecchia. “So, I got up on at 2 a.m. on a Saturday and drove to Ottawa. I called Hal from outside his house and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have breakfast together this morning?”

“Talk about a big romantic gesture,” says Eisen. “Andrew’s visit gave me the opportunity to let go, and to step away from the role for awhile. I had a whole new energy. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was good looking, funny and charming. His goodness is what you fall in love with.”


Bottecchia is president of Bottecchia Artistic Group Inc., and has worked on such shows as The Designer Guys, This Small Space, and on Life T.V. and The Food Network. At the height of the SARS epidemic in 2003, major film productions were being pulled out of Toronto and acting opportunities were scarce. Bottecchia, who was the art director on Love by Design, recommended Hal as the show’s host. “They wanted someone who had done interior design and was also familiar with television,” says Eisen. “I had experience in both, as I’d put myself through acting school by doing design work.”

By the end of 2009, both Bottecchia and Eisen stepped away from lifestyle T.V. and immersed themselves in their individual careers. However, the door was never really shut when it came to collaborating on design projects. “We don’t even know how we agree on stuff,” says Eisen. “We each have strong opinions and we filter things through our own aesthetic. But, ultimately, the client decides.”

Eisen has been acting for four decades in theatre, movie and television, and has appeared on Saving Hope, DeGrassi and Murdoch Mysteries. Eisen admits that the opportunities for auditions for his age group are dwindling. “It’s not like when I was in my 20s and 30s. I went out there knowing I’d get the roles – I just expected it. There’s a lot more competition now,” says Eisen. “But the good thing is, I am at a point where I can turn down a role that doesn’t speak to me. That’s why it’s wonderful to have another creative outlet.”

Bottecchia established his design company in 1994. What he’s now noticing is that he’s designing for the offspring of the families that he initially designed for. “It’s exciting, and an honour, to be working with the next generation,” says Bottecchia. “We’ve become part of their families.”

Both Eisen and Bottecchia are aware of the pros and cons of being self-employed. “When you have a relationship with someone who understands the freelance life, it certainly helps,” says Bottecchia. “Hal gets the hardships of it. He’s my rock – my mushy rock.”

“You’re fighting time – your mind says one thing and your body says another.” – Andrew Bottecchia


The opposites attract theory holds some merit with regard to the way that they each approach life. Bottecchia sees the glass as half full, while Eisen is a self-declared worrywart. As a child, Eisen says that he was overweight, and had glasses and big teeth. “I was never the first choice, so I spent a lot of my life achieving things.”

Whereas Bottecchia says that he could be sitting in their lovely home with only a nickel in his pocket, and would consider himself rich. “I call him Pollyandy,” says Eisen. “Andrew always looks at the good side of everything. He’s incredibly loyal.”

On their off hours, Eisen likes to swim, and Bottecchia enjoys going to the gym and roller blading. When at a cottage in Haliburton, Bottecchia hikes and kayaks, and Eisen reads and sleeps. “I’m a city guy, and Andrew is the country boy,” says Eisen.


Eisen is now the same age as when his mother passed away. Aging is on his mind, as are his aches and pains. “I miss that gung-ho ability to throw myself into everything. And, I miss the realization that not everything is possible.”

“I haven’t found any aging challenges, yet,” says Bottecchia. “But when I do, I am going to deal with it like I do everything else, which is basically screw this, I’ll handle it. There’s nothing I miss about my younger years – it’s all in how you set your mind.”

Their retirement dream is to secure an eight-bedroom guesthouse in Barbados. It will be a bed and breakfast, as well as an art gallery that features Bajan and Canadian artists. Bottecchia will reside there, while Eisen will travel back and forth. “I need to be around my acting, and my city friends,” says Eisen. “I need my six months in Canada.”

Photo, Jake Martella

“You come to an age when you either get it or you don’t,” says Bottecchia. “When we are young we aspire to material things. I’ve achieved all that, and now I am thankful for the wisdom, gratitude and understanding. I say prayers every morning. Everybody needs something that they can connect to.”

Eisen interjects and says that he connects with their dog (Boy), and the couple breaks into laughter. Both are grateful that they live in a country that is so accepting, and where seniors are not a throwaway generation. “I feel there is more that I can do,” says Eisen. “In many ways – to teach and to share.”

Photography, courtesy of Hal Eisen and Andrew Bottecchia.


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Destination Ontario: The Talk of the Towns

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Destination Ontario: The Talk of the Towns

Port Hope & Cobourg

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

Port Hope is the gateway to Northumberland County. Located just an hour east of Toronto on Lake Ontario’s north shore, the town was voted the ‘Best Preserved Main Street in Ontario’ by TVO viewers. Founded in 1790, the town’s population is now in excess of 16,000, and it’s become a creative hub for artists, foodies and retired Torontonians.

Downtown Port Hope


The Ganaraska River runs through the town, and every April thousands take part in this annual festival, which commemorates the 1980 flood that destroyed Port Hope’s downtown core. Participants, in canoes, kayaks and crazy, build-your-own vessels, float down a 10-kilometre run with an over-the-rapids finish near the Barnett Street Bridge. The weekend also includes a three-day Float Your Fanny Comedy Festival, presented by Ontario Street Theatre.

Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny

It’s an incredible site to see thousands of Atlantic Salmon make their way up the Ganaraska River to spawn, each year between August and October. The man-made fish ladder is the perfect spot to watch the fish jump, flip and fly up the ladder.


Horses, alpacas, and Nigerian Dwarf goats welcome visitors to the 200-acre Haute Goat Farm. Hiking trails and guided tours are available, as well as farm-made creams, cheeses, fudge and goat milk soap.

While touring the countryside, visit Laveanne Lavender Fields. Here you can experience a sensory sample of Mother Nature’s unique offerings. Visitors can practice yoga in the lavender fields, and then go for a restorative walk in the labyrinth. During the month of July (weather permitting), visitors to the Laveanne Cafe are transported to south of France with breathtaking views of the vivid, purple blooms. Lunch entrees, sides and sweets are all dusted with hints of lavender, and you’ll find lavender inspired honey, essential oils and sachets at the gift store. The Passion of Lavender is an interactive seminar that offers tips on how to maintain, harvest and process lavender plants, as well as how to use lavender in your gardens.


Port Hope is becoming a popular, and well-respected, culinary destination. Held in Memorial Park, Cultivate: A Festival of Food and Drink is a three-day celebration of local food, craft beer, artisans and live music.

City Hall: photo by JoAnn McHardy

The Capitol Theatre is one of the oldest restored theatres in Canada. This 1930s theatre is the perfect location for the Vintage Film Festival, which showcases films made more than half of a century ago. Many of the films feature screen actress and Cobourg native, Marie Dressler, and is held this year from the 12th to the 14th of October. The Capitol also hosts live theatre, operas and concerts. Tickets to events at the Capitol Theatre are classified as a Golden ticket, which entitles the bearer to receive special privileges and discounts at participating businesses.


Cobourg is the largest town in Northumberland County, and is known as Ontario’s feel-good town. Located just east of Port Hope, this town also exudes local flavour and country charm.


The town’s white sandy beaches are a big draw for swimmers, paddle boarders and kayakers, as well as those who just love hanging out by the water. The waters are rich with salmon, with some catches weighing in at more than 30 pounds.

With easy access to the Northumberland and Ganaraska Forests, residents and visitors enjoy hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing. Treetop Trekking Ganaraska provides those of a more-spirited nature the opportunity to climb, fly across zip lines and swing high in the trees. For a new experience, try one of their night treks – headlamps provided.

Old Bailey Courtroom, Victoria Hall


Sir. John A. MacDonald once convened a trial at The Victoria Hall Courtroom. Other famous trials include that of Sir Arthur Currie (1927), vilified for leading troops into Mons, Belgium on armistice day.

Located in the ballroom of Victoria Hall, The Concert Hall is a fitting venue for musical theatre, plays and concerts. England’s Prince of Wales attended the opening gala of the art gallery in 1860, and it continues to feature local and touring artists.

The Cornell House is a Victorian home once owned by 1930’s stage star Katharine Cornell. It was here that Katherine, reportedly, hosted her friends Ethel Merman, Orson Wells and the Marx brothers. Today, chamber, folk and classical music concerts are held at the Cornell House.

lake-side skating


The Cobourg/Port Hope area boasts spectacular golf courses, including Ash Brook, Cobourg Creek, Dalewood, Roxburgh Glen and the Port Hope Golf & Country Club.

sidewalk sale, Cobourg.


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Cover Story: Christine Magee

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Cover Story: Christine Magee

Living Life on her terms

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

Close to 25 years ago, Christine Magee had a stable career at a bank. Many people would have been content, but Magee decided to embark on a new trajectory and seize an opportunity. Magee had worked with both Stephen Gunn and Gordon Lownds on previous financial transactions, when they invited Magee to join them as a third operating partner in the launch of a new mattress retail concept. “There were some very attractive industry fundamentals, and we felt that none of the existing mattress retailers were doing a good job of servicing the customers’ needs,” says Magee.

Photo, John Crozier

For Magee, it wasn’t just about selling a mattress, a pillow or a sleep accessory, but rather helping a customer get a restorative, better night’s sleep. “We also identified that as the demographic was aging, the awareness around the importance of sleep was growing,” says Magee. “And there was an opportunity for us to service that need – along with providing exceptional customer service.”

In 1994, it wasn’t an easy decision for Magee and her husband, Allen, to quit their jobs, sell everything and move from Toronto to Vancouver. From a purely conventional perspective, those who were looking at this new adventure from an outside position, didn’t understand why they would leave good jobs to start a new company. “I stopped telling people what we were going to do, and thought it was better if we just went out and did it,” says Magee. “We certainly had to weigh the pros and cons of that decision. Now when I am asked what lessons I have learned, I talk about the importance of the notion – what would I do if I were not afraid to fail? I hope that if I want something bad enough, I will make every effort to go out and make it happen.”

A Dynamic Campaign

The start-up business plan for the new company was an aggressive one, with 88 stores scheduled to open in the first five years. Four stores were launched in lower, mainland Vancouver, and by the end of the first year of operation, 12 stores were up and running.

Sleep Country opened 10 stores in Ontario in 1996. Within the same year, 19 more stores were added, and another 14 stores in 1997. In the fall of 1997, they opened four new stores in Calgary, and by the end of the first three years, they had opened more than 50 stores. Fast forward to 2018, and Sleep Country has more than 247 stores across Canada, 16 distribution centres and more than 1,400 team members. “From the beginning, we have focused on three factors to differentiate us from our competition,” says Magee.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Sleeping Beauties and Beaus for One Walk to Conquer Cancer; Christine Magee and The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, 2010 to 2017; ALS Ice Bucket Challenge; Blissdom Canada Conference. Photography, courtesy of Sleep Country Canada

First, Sleep Country creates top-of-mind awareness, so that each customer understands that they are receiving the best value and the best service. Secondly, an exceptional in-store experience services the needs of the customer through a consultation, rather than a hard sell. And thirdly, Sleep Country offers a prompt delivery service that includes a three-hour delivery window and the removal of the mattress packaging, in addition to the removal of the old bed, which is recycled or donated to a family in need. “Our ability to deliver on these three factors is all about the execution, and excellent execution comes down to having the right team,” says Magee. “Attracting, developing and retaining a great team of associates has been the differentiator in delivering on our customer promises.”

There’s no question that Magee has created one of the most award-winning formulas for success, and is an inspiration to many. Recognition includes, Canada’s Top 40 under 40 (1997); Induction into the Retail Council of Canada Hall of Fame (2005); Women’s Executive Network Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013 ), the Order of Canada (2015), and the Excellence Canada Special Recognition of Achievement Award (2017). “At the end of the day, it’s all about companionship and friendships,” says Magee. “Any successes that I have had are made that much brighter by sharing them with the individuals who have helped me to get there.”

Moving in the right direction

At the age of 58, and after 24 years of strategizing, implementing and hands-on company management, Magee is, once again, listening to her inner voice. To that end, she has transitioned from her role as President of Sleep Country to that of Co-Chair of the Board for Sleep Country Canada Inc. “It was a more difficult transition than I expected,” says Magee. “Now, I balance my time between overseeing the business and other board work, while being able to pursue my personal goals. I didn’t realize how ingrained in the day-to-day activities I was, so it takes a period of adjustment to let go.”

In addition to Sleep Country, Magee also sits on the boards for Metro Inc., Woodbine Entertainment Group, as well as two non-profits, Trillium Health Partners and Plan International Canada. “Right now I am fully occupied. I’m challenged. I’m learning. I am also enjoying spending more time with my husband and my daughters. I am confident that these are the right ways to spend my time at this point in my life.”

Magee has two daughters – Riley, 20 and Kate, 17. “As the life stages of the family changes, Al and I, as parents, have to change and adapt as well,” says Magee. “I hope that I can share that same belief with my daughters that my parents gifted me with – that in life, we are really only limited by our own aspirations.”

Being present, and appreciating those around her, are conscious choices. Observing challenges that friends and family members are facing as they age is a reality that is all-too real. “To the degree that I can influence my health, I need to take responsibility for it.”

Magee has always been active and involved in many sports like skiing, golfing, tennis and yoga.“I’m rejuvenated by nature, and I love going to the cottage, going for walks and taking the time to take in the beautiful scenery.”

Photography,Andy Vanderkaay

As she approaches her sixth decade, Magee is well aware that this very moment is what’s important – to appreciate it and to live in it. There’s no point in having regrets, but to learn from them and to move on. “When we are young, we do not realize just how much time we have to determine our passion – one’s true calling. Then we age, and we finally discover what our passions are, only to realize that we don’t have as much time to pursue them as we thought.”


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Cover Story: David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears

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Cover Story: David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

Music gives him a reason to live.

Best known as the singer and frontman for Blood, Sweat & Tears (BS&T), David Clayton-Thomas is an inductee in The Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1996), the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2007) for his song Spinning Wheel, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2008), and Canada’s Walk of Fame (2010). He’s also a multi-Grammy award-winner, having sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.

Photo, Don Dixon

A musical icon, Clayton-Thomas, now 76, earned his chops with David Clayton-Thomas and The Fabulous Shays, laying down hits like Out of the Sunshine and Walk That Walk. In 1964, the band opened for the Rolling Stones at Maple Leaf Gardens – a proud moment for Clayton-Thomas, whose parents were in the audience. “You showed them, David. You showed them,” said his mom.

The teenage years were a tumultuous time for Clayton-Thomas. At 14, he ran away from home to escape his abusive father. He spent the next several years living on the street and in various reformatories (for petty theft, vagrancy and street fighting), including the Guelph Reformatory and the Burwash Correctional Centre. “Burwash was thirty miles from Sudbury and a thousand miles from nowhere,” says Clayton-Thomas.

Induction, Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Ottawa (2008); Photography, courtesy of David Clayton-Thomas


To fill the time, Clayton-Thomas taught himself to play a guitar that had been gifted to him by an inmate. Before long, he was performing concerts for his fellow prisoners. When he was released in 1962, Clayton- Thomas was armed for a new lifestyle, along with his guitar and a newly discovered singing voice.

His first stop was on Yonge Street in Toronto, with a strip of legendary bars that included Le Coq d’Or, Friars’, The Colonial and The Town Tavern. Clayton- Thomas’ robust, soulful voice caught the attention of others and he found himself being mentored by some of the best, including Ronnie Hawkins.

David Clayton-Thomas with his mother, Freda (1974). Photography, courtesy of David Clayton-Thomas

After The Shays broke up, Clayton-Thomas went solo, playing Yorkville’s storied coffee houses alongside the likes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot. He was invited to New York by his-then idol, John Lee Hooker, and spent the next two years playing Greenwich Village. “I was in good company playing the basket houses – Carole King, James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix. We’d play two songs and pass the basket.”

In 1966, Clayton-Thomas joined the Bossmen, scoring a Top 20 Canadian hit with the anti-Vietnam war song, Brainwashed (1966). Following an invitation from BS&T drummer, Bobby Colomby, Clayton-Thomas joined the group as the lead singer in 1968. They went on to win critical acclaim for their self-titled album that included such hits as, And When I Die, You’ve Made Me So Very Happy and Spinning Wheel. The album won three Grammys, including Album of the Year, beating out the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Grammy win with Louis Armstrong (1970)

One year later, BS&T was a headline act at the epochal Woodstock Festival (1969). One of Clayton-Thomas’ fondest festival memories was meeting Levon Helm and the rest of The Band backstage – his old pals from the strip. “We were like, wow! A couple of years ago we were playing the Yonge Street strip and now we’re headlining the biggest concert in history. It was pretty amazing.”


It was a speedy transformation for BS&T. They were now a money-making machine, with the added pressures that went along with it, including expectations to tour. “For the first three years none of us had homes – but we had really nice luggage” says Clayton- Thomas. “There was no such thing as having a steady relationship.” Clayton-Thomas’ own three failed marriages were a casualty of being on the road for a good part of each year.

In 2005 Clayton-Thomas decided to semi-retire, and moved back to his hometown of Toronto after living in New York for several decades. “For 47 years, my life consisted of performing 250 concerts a year all over the world with Blood, Sweat & Tears. It was a blur of running to airports, sleeping where I could – it takes its toll. I wanted to settle down in one place, and I chose Toronto because I love it here,” says Clayton- Thomas. “Of all the places I’ve been in the world, I think Toronto is one of the finest places on the planet. I never gave up my Canadian passport.”

Woodstock Festival (1969)

The last twelve years have been busy. Clayton-Thomas has put out an album each year, and has performed at selected concerts in Canada and in Europe. His 2017 Canadiana album is a tribute to Canada’s 150th Birthday, and features music by old friends, including Neil Young, Levon Helm and Joni Mitchell. An original soundtrack of new songs will be released later this year.


In 2011, Clayton-Thomas experienced a health scare, which forced him to slow down. A bacterial infection impacted his aortic heart valve. “I got the valve replaced and I came through it, but I don’t move as fast as I used to. At one time, I was a runner, but now my exercise consists of taking Maggie for a walk down the beautiful Toronto boardwalk three times a day.”

“Canadian” Blood, Sweat & Tears, San Francisco (1982)

Music played a life-changing role in Clayton-Thomas’ life, and he’s never forgotten it. He’s involved with Peacebuilders – an organization that fosters the reformation of the justice system and provides support for underprivileged kids. In addition, he supports the Hamilton Music Collective – An Instrument for Every Child. This organization provides musical instruments, and instruction, to inner-city kids through a partnership with Mohawk College. “There are so many young kids who don’t have the money to buy a guitar or learn how to play. This gives them a chance in life.”

Someone referred to me as the Dean of Canadian singers. I guess that means I’m
getting old. – David Clayton-Thomas

Another youth advocacy group that he’s committed to is Pine River Camp in Orangeville. “Instead of going to jail, Pine River offers kids in the reform process a second chance,” says Clayton-Thomas. “The kids go there for two years, get a specialized education and, ultimately, get their high school diploma.”

Clayton-Thomas is also working to get legislation passed so that streaming companies, such as Spotify, pay fair royalties to the artists for their music. “We need to keep the music alive.”

Brentwood, California (1982)

Clayton-Thomas counts his daughter Ashleigh, his granddaughter Dani, (a second grandchild is expected this year), his Miniature Schnauzer Maggie (named after Margaret Trudeau), and his downtown, lake-view crib as life’s gifts – as well as being on stage and performing for a hometown crowd. “I will always remember playing at Maple Leaf Gardens,” says Clayton-Thomas. “When I get on stage now, all the aches and pains go away. I don’t think about it until afterwards. I get back to the hotel and think, oh God I hurt. But it’s fun making music – I have always loved it.”



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Destination Ontario: Ontario’s Riviera Port Dover & Norfolk County

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Destination Ontario: Ontario’s Riviera Port Dover & Norfolk County

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

Photography, courtesy of www.norfolktourism.ca

Located on the north shore of Lake Erie in Norfolk County, Port Dover is one of Ontario’s best kept secrets with tropicallike beaches, fresh-water activities and fishing, as well as some of the province’s most beautiful scenery.

Motorcycle enthusiasts from across North America descend upon Port Dover every Friday the 13th. This tradition dates back 20 years. If the 13th falls during the summer months, more than 100,000 enjoy a festivallike atmosphere, making it the largest one-day motorcycle event in Canada.

Friday the 13th


Norfolk County includes eclectic villages, towns and hamlets, such as La Salette (1875), Waterford (1826), Port Rowan (1825), and the county’s main town, Simcoe (1795), which boasts a vibrant downtown, a lush park system and several historic sites. Turkey Point (1793) was previously the county’s capital, and is aptly named for the rafter of turkeys that used to roam the area.


Palm trees on port Dover beach

Norfolk County is flushed with sparkling lakes – providing splashperfect destinations for swimming, fishing, boating and picnicking.

Named one of the Top 10 Beach Weekend Escapes from Toronto (blogTO, 2017), Port Dover touts white-sand beaches and shallow waters. Glorious days can be spent walking the shores of Lake Erie (known as Ontario’s South Point and Long Point), or renting a stand-up paddle board (SUP) from South Coast Paddle Sports.

Port Dover

Enjoy a cold one on the patio of The Beach House surrounded by whimsical palm trees that are planted every year by the owner. Other Port Dover restaurants include Lago Trattoria (Italian with a local twist), the 1946 Erie Beach Hotel (now run by the third generation), and Urban Parisian, which features authentic, French-style bakery items.

Long Point shore fishing

Port Dover has an extensive boating and fishing history, and once possessed the world’s largest fresh-water fishing fleet. Commercial fishing still plays a significant role in the local economy, and restaurants serve up tasty lake perch and pickerel dishes. Anglers can fish from the pier during the summer months, and come winter, ice fishing for pike is a popular past time.

The town’s marine heritage is celebrated at The Port Dover Harbour Museum.


The sandy soil and lake-moderated temperatures of Norfolk County are a perfect combination for grape growing. The area hosts 11 wineries, including Villa Nova Estate, Burning Kiln Winery and Bonnieheath Estate, which also grows lavender. Several area wineries have won international awards, both for their wines, as well as their hard ciders. In the process of getting their DVA designation, the region is now considered to be Ontario’s new emerging wine region.

VillaNova girls toasting

Craft breweries are also jumping on board with local favourites from Blue Elephant Craft Brew House and Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm.


Turkey Point, Long Point, Port Rowan and Normandale are great locations for birding and for spotting wildlife. Long Point is home to Birds Study Canada and the Long Point Bird Observatory – considered to be one of North America’s most important waterfowl areas. Sightings include the rare Peregrine Falcons, Cave Swallows, Fox Sparrows and the Horned Grebe.

Norfolk County is one of Canada’s most diverse agricultural regions. Once a tobacco belt, the county is now the country’s top grower of asparagus, cabbage, ginseng and peanuts.

Seasonal, and year-round, farmers’ markets include Simcoe Market held on Thursdays, and Port Dover Lions Silver Lake Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

Lavender field at Bonnie Heath Estate

Great finds can also be found at Franni’s Actic. This destination features close to one acre of treasures and collectibles in a rustic environment, complete with tin ceilings and oiled, hardwood floors. More than 60 vendors carry up-cycled antiques, pottery, textiles, etc. at the Waterford Antique Market. Deer Creek Antiques & Creations sells beautifully aged, and repurposed, furniture.

One of the largest agricultural fairs in Canada, the Norfolk County’s Fair and Horse Show, features fabulous food, a midway and main-stage concerts. Come fall, Waterford hosts an annual Pumpkinfest, Port Dover hosts Beerstock, and Friday the 13th celebrations are a yearly tradition.



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Cover Story: TRUE Canadian Gems – Murray McLauchlan & Denise Donlon

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Cover Story: TRUE Canadian Gems – Murray McLauchlan & Denise Donlon

By Cece Scott www.cecescott.com

At the age of 69, Murray McLauchlan is affectionately referred to as Murray Many Heads. His wife, Denise Donlon, agrees. The recipient of 11 Juno Awards, including Country Male Vocalist of the Year for a total of five times, McLauchlan may be best known as a musician and an award-winning song writer, but he is also a painter, a pilot, a husband and a father – and possesses a wonderful sense of humour.

McLauchlan’s song catalogue includes Farmer’s Song (1972), Down by the Henry Moore (1975), On the Boulevard (1976) and Whispering Rain (1971) – all of which have stood the test of time.

Denise Donlon, now 61, is a Broadcast Hall of Fame inductee, and a Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music. She was the anchor for Much’s (formerly MuchMusic) Rockflash News (CityTv,1985), as well as the host and producer of The New Music (1986 to 1993) on the same network. Donlon has witnessed, firsthand, the changing face of pop culture through music videos, and has done more than 1,000 interviews with the likes of Keith Richards, Joni Mitchell, Sting and Leonard Cohen – to name a few.

Donlon’s 2016 book, Fearless As Possible (Under the Circumstances), chronicles her impressive, and storied career, on the front lines of the media and music industries. Donlon toured as a publicist with popular bands like Headpins, Whitesnake, and Doug and the Slugs. In the book, she also goes into detail about her business, and personal, relationships as the first female president of Sony Music Canada, and as the general manager and executive director of CBC English Radio.

McLauchlan the pilot; son, Duncan, McLauchlan and Donlon; Bruce Cockburn and McLauchlan.

Both McLauchlan (1993) and Donlon (2004) have received the Order of Canada, which recognizes their outstanding achievements, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

McLauchlan’s and Donlon’s home property abuts the Don Valley ravine in the east end of Toronto. During the interview, a coyote saunters into the backyard. As a child, McLauchlan dreamed of being a wildlife illustrator and a painter. “I had this wildly romantic idea of doing covers for Sports Illustrated magazine, as well as studying under the preeminent landscape painter, Doris McCarthy.”

McLauchlan did study with McCarthy, and also attended lectures given by Canadian naturalist and wildlife painter, Robert Bateman. “I went to Central Tech and studied and studied, and then realized that I didn’t want to be a commercial artist.”

Stevie Wonder and Donlon, 1982; Donlon and Leonard Cohen, 1981; McLauchlan and Donlon in Tuscany, 2013.

It was around this time, that the-then 17-year-old McLauchlan headed for the hippie haunts of Yorkville and started performing at various coffee houses. In 1966 he performed at the Mariposa Folk Festival, followed by stints in New York’s Greenwich Village. McLaughlan’s songs have been performed by the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Tom Rush.

Donlon and McLauchlan met in the late 80s, married two years later and then welcomed their son, Duncan, into the world in 1992. Mclauchlan admits to feelings of angst when he calculated how old he’d be when his son would be in his teens. “I was worried about becoming a father at 43, because somewhere in my mind I had an idea of my golden years,” says McLauchlan. “But then, there comes the realization that you are no longer the centre of your own life. I was in the love bubble.”

After Duncan’s birth, McLaulan took time off, and Donlon went back to work after three months. Donlon’s career continued on an upward trajectory, and she became the first female president of Sony Music Canada in 2000. Soon after, Napster (a filesharing, internet service that emphasized sharing audio files) was launched. It wasn’t long before Napster ran into legal difficulties, but the damage was done.

It changed the landscape of the music industry, and, as a result, Donlon’s lack of confidence was triggered. She admits that she suffered from Imposter’s Syndrome. “In my private moments it was really tough sledding, but in my public moments it was about leadership and inspiration – I had to be there for my artists.”

Upon the completion of her book, Donlon reassessed her perspective on life. “I’m taking a deep breath and putting it out to the universe to see what comes back,” says Donlon. “My tendency has always been to put the pedal to the metal, and to try and fill everything up with busyness. So, I am trying to spend more time in the moment, fill my life with things that give me pleasure, and not be as frantic as I once was.”

Morning Stoney Lake, by Murray McLauchlan.

Donlon never shied away from much – in both her professional, and personal, life. She’s rappelled down the side of a building, driven a 40-ton German tank and has tried bungee jumping. These days, she’s keeping closer to the ground, and is spending a great deal of time on her yoga mat. “The things on my list are now more about endurance. I’m trying, desperately, to keep my yearly, one-mile swim to under 30 minutes.”

Involved in the martial arts when he was younger, McLauchlan no longer practices combat training. “Basically, the body can’t take it anymore. Life, in general, is extremely active between keeping up the house and the cottage. And, of course, there’s the keeping up with Denise.”

When in his 40s, McLauchlan’s agent suggested to him (jokingly) that he was getting too old for the market. “I felt the whole idea was appalling and colossally stupid. I still do,” says McLauchlan. “There is a weird phenomenon in the music industry that ridicules old rockers – like the Rolling Stones. The media doesn’t talk about their music, just how wrinkled and prunelike they are.”

McLauchlan has performed at many concerts and benefits over the course of the past year, and has additional shows booked in 2018. “It has always been about reinvention for me – finding new ways to make contact with my music.”

Storm Stoney Lake, by Murray McLauchlan.

“My best days are ahead of me,
even if I do hurt in the mornings.” – Murray McLauchlan

Giving back, in many different ways, is important to both of them. Donlon is currently involved with War Child Canada, MusiCounts and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, amongst others. “As I look at my third act, the fundamental priority, for me, is that I must make a contribution,” says Donlon. “It would be a waste if you didn’t make a positive contribution based on the wisdom acquired throughout your life.”

McLauchlan strongly believes that music has a profound effect on memory. He is on the board of the Room 217 Foundation, which trains medical professionals to utilize music in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Traveling, wine, laughter, nature and time are all high priorities for Donlon. “And don’t forget the seniors’ discount,” says McLauchlan.



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Destination Ontario: Waterloo Region

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Destination Ontario: Waterloo Region

By Cece Scott www.cecescott.com

Big city amenities, small town ambiance

Photography, Courtesy of Explore Waterloo Region

The cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge are known as the Tri-Cities. Situated in southwestern Ontario on the Grand River, the Region of Waterloo is Canada’s 10th largest metropolitan area.

Grand River at Galt


From 1800 to the 1830s, Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonites, from upstate New York and Pennsylvania, moved north to Canada and settled throughout the Waterloo region. Today, there’s still a strong Amish and Old Order Mennonite presence in the area.

From mid April to late October, visitors can take a 75-minute Mennonite farm tour that includes a stop at an Old Order Mennonite farm. The Old Order refers to those Mennonite groups of Swiss/German and south German heritage who continue to practice a lifestyle without many elements that are associated with modern technology. The tour also includes a stop at the Farm Quilt Shop, where local, handcrafted items can be purchased.


The region of Waterloo has more than 500 kilometres of on-road bikeways, as well as off-road, multi-use trails. A part of the Trans Canada Trail, cyclists can ride through Kitchener, Waterloo and the Township of Woolwich to St. Jacobs Market.

More than 500 kilometres of multi-use trails.

The gently winding Grand River is one of Canada’s heritage rivers, and runs for more than 300 kilometeres. Four popular canoe routes are offered by the Grand River Rafting Company. The three-hour Cayuga Paddle is suitable for beginners. The three-hour Oneida Paddle and five-hour Cambridge Paddle are at an intermediate level. And, for the more adventurous, try the six-hour paddle from Glen Morris to Brant. The churning waters of the Elora Gorge attracts white-water enthusiasts. Launch your own craft, or rent one on-site, at the Grand River Conservation Authority.


St Jacobs Farmers’ Market is Canada’s largest, year-round farmers’ market, and features hundreds of vendors selling Ontario’s farm-fresh produce, crafts and imported goods, as well as scrumptious, ready-to-eat foods. It is located along the Conestogo River, eight kilometres north of Waterloo.

St Jacobs Farmers’ Market

Located in the downtown core, the Kitchener Market is a popular Saturday destination for locals and visitors. Pick up farm-fresh eggs, produce, flowers and homemade sausages, from one of the many Mennonite-operated farms in the Woolwich and Wilmot areas.

St. Jacobs’ horse-drawn train


A sure sign of spring is the The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, scheduled for the coming year on April 7th, 2018. It is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest, single-day, maple syrup festival. Founded in 1965, it continues to grow in popularity, and offers piping hot pancakes, as well as a half-mile long, outdoor mall, which features baked goods, handmade crafts and, of course, freshly made maple syrup. Buskers, live performances and saw-testing skills, add to the festivities. Visitors can also take a ride on the Waterloo Central Railway steam train, from St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to Elmira.

West Montrose Covered Bridge


The Waterloo Central Railway organizes themed train experiences. The Great Train Robbery Adventure fictionalizes a dramatic event (with outlaws and horses) where a substantial amount of gold is on board – en route to the Elmira Bank. Other themed excursions, include the St. Patrick’s Night Train, The Vimy Ridge Steam Train, and the Father’s Day Train.

WCR Train Robbery

The West Montrose Covered Bridge was declared a provincial historic site in 1960, and is known as the Kissing Bridge. Built from 1880 to 1881, the bridge is Canada’s oldest covered bridge, and the last wooden covered bridge in Ontario.


Established in 1969, Kitchener Waterloo’s Oktoberfest runs for nine days every October. Steeped in the region’s German heritage, it is known as the largest Bavarian Festival in North America, and the second largest in the world. In 2018, the festival celebrates its 50th anniversary from October 5th to the 13th.


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Cover Story: Ken Welsh

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Cover Story: Ken Welsh

By Cece Scott www.cecescott.com

Acting is in his blood.

Just as I am about to knock on the white door of Ken Welsh’s country home, my eyes spot a sign that epitomizes his wry sense of humour – Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.

Photography by Jake Martella

At the age of 75, Welsh’s career has spanned a half century. He’s played countless roles, onstage and on screen, and is the recipient of many awards, including fi ve Geminis, a Genie for the best supporting actor in Margaret’s Museum, the Earle Grey Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2004 Welsh received the Order of Canada.

Photography by Jake Martella

Born and raised in Edmonton, Welsh graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in drama, and then attended Montreal’s National Theatre School. Not many actors can claim that they spent the first seven years of their career at the Stratford Festival. Following this stint, Welsh left in 1973 and went on to appear at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and then spent many years on Broadway.

At the age of 26, while at Stratford, Welsh was cast as Hamlet. Other plum roles include starring in Piaf on Broadway, and the 1987 production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune with Kathy Bates.

Touted as one of the hardest working actors in Canada, Welsh wrote and performed the celebrated off-Broadway cabaret musical Standup Shakespeare. “My favourite characters are ones that have heart and play to a complicated range of emotions. I like to find the soul of the character, where the sensitivities lie,” says Welsh. “Humour is definitely an important element in any role I play. If you can’t have a good laugh, what’s the point? I laugh out loud to myself all the time – of course that could be senility.”

In 1989, Welsh’s performance in Love and Hate: The Story of Colin and Joanne Thatcher, about a former Alberta rancher and politician who is convicted of killing his wife, won him a Gemini.

Welsh’s favourite Hollywood movies were all made in Canada, and include Loyalties, 1987; Margaret’s Museum with Helena Bonham Carter in 1995; and a hilarious flick about opera and hockey with Robbie Coltrane called Perfectly Normal, 1991. A compilation of Welsh’s work wouldn’t be complete without highlighting one of his favourite parts, the villainous Windom Earle in the 1980s hit series Twin Peaks. “Windom was one of my favourite television roles,” says Welsh. “People remember the character because he was so evil.”

(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) Corrine Farago, (Devon’s mother), Ken and Devon, 1988. -Cyrano de Bergerac, 1980, Goodman Theatre, Chicago. -Paul Benedict, Ken Welsh, Kathy Bates, Terrence McNally, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, 1988. – Doctor Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles, TV movie, 2000.

During his illustrious career, Welsh has performed alongside many well-known actors, but especially enjoyed working with Stockard Channing, Kathy Bates, Olympia Dukakis, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep and the late Ron Silver.

In his 50s and 60s Welsh says that he was still in top form when it came to memorizing his lines, but concedes that he’s finding it a bit more challenging in his 70s. When it comes to physical endurance on stage, he says that it hasn’t been a problem, because the audience’s energy gives him the adrenaline charge that he thrives on to outperform himself.

“There aren’t as many roles available for actors my age, and what roles do come up are being filled quickly. Guys my age are dying off, but not quick enough,” says Welsh drolly. “Whenever I am asked, I will act. I just did an episode of The Blacklist in New York. It really only took me a couple of days to learn the lines.”

Welsh is also committed to helping out young directors, and those who are up and coming – often appearing in independent films for very little gratuity.

The pride and joy of Welsh’s life is his son Devon, now 28. With his then wife, Corinne Farago, they moved to the rural Ontario property where he has lived for the last 28 years. It was here that he brought up his son, often on his own.

After living in New York for 12 years, a small community appealed to Welsh. “My neighbours are all really great people. I like watching the kids play as the generations roll out. Certainly, I enjoy being a part of it all. I read poetry with the choir and sometimes I perform Shakespeare,” says Welsh. “In fact, ever since 1974 when I was in Chicago, I’ve done exclusive Shakespearean performances. I have a big sign that has 30 characters on it and I let the audience choose. Sometimes I do a soliloquy. Sometimes I do the entire first scene with all the characters in it.”

Welsh is an avid gardener and has planted more than one hundred trees of assorted varieties on his pastoral property. This year, his vegetable garden is expected to yield beans, potatoes tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli and herbs. “I have always loved gardening,” says Welsh. “I need to have things growing around me.”

Welsh has no plans on slowing down. Part of his ongoing regime includes going to the gym on a regular basis, walking 5,000 steps a day, practicing yoga, eating properly and meditating. “I’m in pretty good shape for a guy my age. I don’t ever plan to quit.”

He also has a few things that he still wants to check off of his bucket list, which have to do with singing and playing the trumpet. “When people have a birthday, I play Happy Birthday on my trumpet. It’s become a tradition,” says Welsh with that mischievous twinkle in his eye.

Photo By Jake Martella

The minute I got on stage and got a few laughs, I knew that acting was my destiny. – Ken Welsh

Welsh would love to make an album of jazz songs that feature the melodies of his favourite musical icons like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney. At the top of his list would be the opportunity to sing the anthems at a major league baseball game. “I love sports and I go to the batting cage. And, yes, I hit the ball. I’ve still got it.”

Good health, good friends and, in particular, his son, Devon, are the things that Welsh cherishes. Devon is a musician and currently lives in Montreal. His hit song, Downtown, won him a Juno. Regular visits, which include the odd Raptors’ game, keep them connected. “I love my son very much. We maintain close contact and I see him as often as I can. He has a beautiful voice and works very hard. He is a lovely man,” says Welsh in his melodious Shakespearean cadence.

(LEFT) Standup Shakespeare, created by Ken Welsh and Ray Leslee at Theatre 890, NY, 1987. Photo by Jake Martella (RIGHT) Ken and his dog Zoltan. Photo by Charles Dennis.

Welsh appreciates all that life has bestowed upon him and spends no time bemoaning his youth. “I don’t miss anything about my youth – youth was youth. I did a lot when I was young, so there is nothing to regret. My youth was fabulous, but I certainly enjoy what I do now.”

In one of his more serious moments, Welsh says that spirituality is a key component in his life. “It gives a great respect as to why we are here. I’m not a philosopher – I just live life.”

And with that he turns to the photographer and agrees that a photo shoot in the backyard would definitely work. “It’s breezy out there, and my hair looks good blowing in the wind.”


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