Friday, July 10, 2015

IRON MEN

Three friends from Cambridge, Ontario stop in Muskoka to buy supplies and get ready for a few days of riding in a beautiful part of the province.

Of the three men, Rick Moyer who works in the construction industry, is the only one raised in Cambridge where he also works. 

Barry Kent, originally from Bell Island, Newfoundland has been living in Cambridge for the past 40 years. Retired now, Barry was a maintenance electrician. 

North of St. John's Newfoundland, and fairly remote given the breadth of Canada, the tiny island of Bell Island is also where Wayne Peddle, a shipper, is from. Astonishingly, he only met fellow biker, Barry in Cambridge, Ontario! Somewhere there will be a bookie working out the odds on that one!

FRIEND FUN FACTS: Pre-warned to think of a fun fact, the three men shuffle their feet, heads down thinking... Wayne sheepishly puts out there that he once walked through a screen door and left it at that with a chuckle. Not exactly a defining moment in one's life, but made more fun when his Bell Island buddy chimed in, "I can better that! Twice I tried to walk through a glass door. The windows were that clean," Barry admits to the teasing laughter of his friends.

With that, these three tough teddybears were on their way to enjoy the open road, on their huge bikes weighing in between 750-900 pounds.


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN


Thursday, July 9, 2015

MENELIK

A mural depicting three Pan Am athletes bursting through the finish line tape, painted by Menelik Powell and another artist is huge at 12' x 7'. What makes this even more impressive is that they had only three hours to complete the work.

Born in Toronto, Menelik is headed into his final year of high school in September at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute. As a boy growing up surrounded by video games and other visual inspirations, Menelik was never far from a pencil and paper."I started off with Mario because that was the first video game I was playing. I just kept going with it," he says of his early memories drawing characters. "When teachers asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, I'd say,'I want to be an artist' and they would just say, 'Oh, interesting', " It's the one thing he really enjoys and makes him happy he says.

When he was asked to participate in the Live Art mural project with other artists and murals in Mel Lastman Square, Menelik jumped at the chance. Its a way to get him exposure even though most of his art is sketching, though he is moving more into digital art.

MENELIK FUN FACT: When he was seven, Menelik was shared a room with his older brother. In a bedroom with bunk beds, there's not a lot of room to save and protect little treasures kids are fascinated by. His brother, and his mom would often come across collections of dead ants he would keep. He cannot recall now why he was so interested in these tiny creatures, but he thinks it kind of grossed him mother out! Note to friends: He no longer has that particular interest in entomology!


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

OLGA

Surrounded by Russia as well as bordering the northwest of China and a few other 'stans, is the large country of Kazakhstan where Olga Anissimova is from. Almaty, it's former capital, is the city that Olga, her husband and two young children left for a better life in Canada 11 years ago.

Under the thick canopy of the trees in Berczy Park in downtown Toronto, Olga manages to keep dry from the rain, enjoying some fresh air during a break from work. She is a residential mortgage underwriter for CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) in an office not far from away.

"I try to go dancing once in a while. I'm taking dancing lessons now, mostly salsa," Olga says of the activities she enjoys when not at the office or looking after two teenage girls.

OLGA FACT: "My wildest thing was to come here – to come to Canada. It took a lot of adjustments," she explains, detailing her big decision to leave her home country and family. Adjusting to a new culture, expectations and traditions was a big adjustment, but the are happy and return to visit family occasionally. 

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

WILL

It was a visit to Toronto to see his cousin in 2001 that convinced Willard Ncube to stay longer. Will enjoyed the city and the country so much he decided to live here permanently, leaving his home behind in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. 

Taking computer programming in school, Will now works in information technology as a computer analyst for a local company.

An outdoors guy, Will loves to ride his bike which is also his main mode of transportation living in downtown Toronto. He also enjoys road trips, walking, "Anything that involves me being outside – I live outside," he says laughing and looking about at the beautiful day where he sits waiting for a friend at the Distillery District in downtown Toronto.

WILL INTERESTING FACT: When Will came to Canada, he felt people could not understand him even though he could understood everyone else! He often had to repeat himself, even still today with a beautiful but still heavy accent. "When you come from a place like Zimbabwe, everyone is black. All of a sudden, you come to Canada and you feel like you stand out," Will says of some of the feelings he had when he moved to Canada. 

"Canada has been great to me. I love the peace and the tranquility here," Will says of one of the main reason he moved. "Zimbabwe was unstable then, still is now".


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Monday, July 6, 2015

FRANK

His large handsome boat, bobbing like a cork from the waves of other passing swiftly, is eventually secured, Frank Evans can relax and enjoy the afternoon along Toronto's Corus Quay.

With a broad smile and a welcoming wave, we join Frank on his boat, a place of refuge for him, comfortable, spacious and down below, a home away from home. Frank, now retired six years has lead an interesting life and is proud of his five grown children who have each achieved great success.

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Frank owned his own sales agency. Prior to that he helped develop Toys "R" Us around the world. Convincing the American owner of Toys "R" Us to expand into Canada, Frank and a partner began to train people, expanding the operation internationally beginning with Germany and England.

After working with Toys "R" Us for nine years, Frank opened his own agency producing goods which he in turn sold back to Toys "R" Us and other large companies such as Canadian Tire, Costco and Sears.

He owns a home in Costa Rica as well as renting out others he owns. He travels where and when the weather is favourable avoiding the harsh winters in Canada. "When the weather turns a little less than awesome, I get the heck out of here," he says of his migratory trips south to live for a while.

FRANK FACT: Frank and his wife loved to travel and explore together. One one occasion, they were privileged to join a team and visit the lands and indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada in South America early on before access was restricted.

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN


Sunday, July 5, 2015

HEATHER

Relaxing in the sun on Toronto's waterfront, Heather Fraser is enjoying an afternoon with a new book. Working part-time as a security guard at the Ontario Science Centre, she is also a student.

Born and raised in Toronto, Heather is a student at Seneca College taking Pre-Service Education and Training in order to train as a future firefighter. "It's a programme that prepares you ready to be hired. It takes you from the beginning of learning the apparatus, burn tower scenarios, swift water rescue and high angle rescue. It's a full course and tough, but I love it," Heather says of her year-long preparatory firefighting course.

Heather has her eye on working for a firehall in Markham, Ontario, but will take what she can get, the competition is tough. A mature student in the Seneca course, Heather spent 12 years working other jobs gaining life experience before realizing her dream of firefighting. "I applied for a position in Vaughan, Ontario recently. 3,000 people applied for 60 jobs. It's pretty competitive," she says of her job prospects. 

An avid sports lover, Heather can be found playing rugby, football, baseball, anything that keeps her fit and active. Today she is relaxing, listening to the wind and waves, a well-deserved break from a busy life - even if just for a few hours.

HEATHER FUN FACT: The "burn tower" is a concrete structure resembling a house and apartment complex. It is set alight and used to train firefighters and students in burn scenarios.

"We were all excited and gung-ho, our instructor was there. Four of us were to go in and put out the fire in the kitchen, but when we saw the huge fire and we just stood and stared! We just watched the fire until our instructor yelled at us," she says of her first experience in the burn tower. "Our instructor was so mad at us, but after that, he did say that everyone reacts that way to their first experience. "It was frightening, but so surreal and amazing at the same time."

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

www.richmondhill.caThe Richmond Hill Fire Department Training Centre's burn tower.