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No physical store, no problem, says government pot regulator

Instead of a government-run storefront merchandising plan the new policy will rely on private enterprise to sell to what’s expected to be a huge marketplace.

The one store approach had been criticized in any case because it would have woefully underserved the local market, though more outlets would have been rolled out in later years.

Instead, the new government’s private model will see bricks and mortar outlets open April 1 instead.

Windsor and Essex County still doesn’t know how many stores will open locally though the new government will release details as it continues to formulate the private retail sales strategy.

Where does that leave the Liberal government’s Ontario Cannabis Store, overseen by the LCBO?

It still exists and is very much in the cannabis sales game, and it will still be serving the public when sales begin Oct. 17, only that it will operate the online sales website through which shoppers can place marijuana orders.

“The Ontario Cannabis Store welcomes the direction from the Ontario government to focus on launching our online retail store and begin establishing a wholesale distribution network to supply cannabis to legal private stores in Ontario once legislative requirements are put in place,” OCS president Patrick Ford says.

The new website will be run through Ottawa-based private retail portal Shopify.

“The site is complete and final testing is underway,” Ford said.

More details will be released soon, including about supply agreements and delivery methods.

What happens to any leases the OCS signed with local landlords for government-run physical stores that now will not be needed?

The OCS says these costs are “minimal” and that current leases “will be honoured and we are reassessing the plans for these locations.”

How about people hired to staff those locations?

Says the OCS, in response to questions from, “very few store-specific staff” had been hired and those that have are being reassigned “to new roles where their social responsibility and product knowledge training will be useful elsewhere in the organization, such as in online support.”

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Noted golfer Alice Cooper live in person

AE SH - Alice Cooper

Detroit native and noted golfer Alice Cooper will be live in person at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor Feb. 3 at 7 pm. The shock rocker, whose albums go back to 1969 and whose best-known hits are School’s Out, Eighteen, Only Women Bleed and No More Mr. Nice Guy, will be on stage to discuss his new film, also being shown, Super Duper Alice Cooper. There’ll also be a book signing with the discussion hosted by Gary Graff, former Detroit Free Press writer and author of Alice Cooper at 75, and WDET DJ Rob Reinhart. Cooper, by the way, is also known for his golf prowess. - 27/1/23

Teacher alert – Stratford interactive is here

AE SH - Shakespeare Hamlet

Stratford is, well, bringing Stratford into the classroom. The Ontario seasonal festival has lunched Classroom Connect that will allow students access to the festival’s vast library of digital content including new and classic plays. There’s filmed theatre productions, dance, podcasts, interviews and documentaries, accompanied by lesson plans and study guides. It also includes Illuminated Text which combines animation, calligraphy and street art to “reveal the intricacies of Shakespeare,” the festival says. The interactive experience, for example, allows students to explore text from  Hamlet (photo)  using the learning style of their choice – rhetoric, imagery or sound and rhythm. Cost for up to 150 users is $180 for five months. – 12/13/22

WIFF festival favourites return to the Capitol Theatre

AE SH - WIFF banner

The Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) is coming back to downtown, less than two months after the yearly 11-day event ended. It will be re-screening "festival favourites" such as French-thriller Black Box, A Year in the Forest, about a local Windsor old growth forest (it actually exists!), Walkerville's Willistead Manor: The Home That Shaped a Community, and Peace by Chocolate, about Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia. Screenings are at the Capitol Theatre Dec. 14, 15 & 16. Check out the WIFF website for more info. - 11/29/22

The Tea Party returning with symphony Feb. 3

AE SH - The Tea Party

The Tea Party will perform for the first time in 20 years with a symphony orchestra when it returns to Windsor for a performance Feb. 3 at Caesars Windsor. The band, which has played the world and calls Windsor home, is known for its progressive rock with Middle Eastern influences dubbed “Morrocan roll.” The band, originally formed 30 years ago, has released eight albums and sold more than three million units. It has received 14 JUNO and 22 MuchMusic award nominations. Its return here will be a benefit for Transition to Betterness and “essential and frontline workers.” It will perform with the International Symphony Orchestra, a 55-member band bridging Sarnia and Port Huron. – 11/15/22

Several public art pieces damaged by elements - good and bad

AE SH - Love for All statue

Public art, being out in public, is subject to the vagaries of the elements. Not just due to the weather but vandalism and theft. Such was the case with several art installations in the city in 2021, the last report available. The Jackson Park Ukrainian Monument granite base suffered cracking and is being replaced. Last spring the Black Historical Murals in Patterson Park in Sandwich Town were vandalized and have now been fully restored by the original artist Jermain Baylis. The Man on the Horse sculpture in the riverfront Windsor Sculpture garden  was stolen but now has been restored “and reinforced,” says the Community Public Art Committee. Meanwhile  Love for All Hatred for None, (photo) a globe raised by sculpted extended arms, on the riverfront and installed five years ago, had its rusting base recast in stainless steel. Finally, the Mary and Henry Bibb plaque located next to Mackenzie Hall was stolen. The plaque was federally owned and Parks Canada was looking at  reinstalling it by the end the year. -10/19/22

Photo: City of Windsor

Yes, it's Comic Con time in the Motor City

AE SH - Motor City Comic Con

Now that we're - almost - free - to cross the border (the Americans still require two shots) you might want to take in the Motor City Comic Con Oct. 14 - 16 at Suburban Collection Showplace located in Novi, Mi. Scores of celebrities from TV, movies and streaming, and Comic and Crafter guests will be on hand for Michigan's longest and largest comic and pop-culture extravaganza since 1989. A vast collection of pop-culture merchandise, like comics, art, t-shirts, movie memorabilia and posters will be available. Over 250 comic book creators, writers and artists attend. Guests can attend panel discussions, attractions and explore various exhibitor vendors. Schedules and additional fees vary per guest and event. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit - 5/10/22

$200,000 for new museum website

Art Windsor-Essex, the still relatively new name for what was the Art Gallery of Windsor, has unveiled an updated website. Officials (photo) revealed it last week. The bright easy to navigate site breaks down into sections like current exhibitions, what's in the permanent collection and educational opportunities. It was created from a $201,500 grant by the province and Ontario Trillium Foundation. AWE executive director Jennifer Matotek said the website will help get the word to more people. “To meet this demand and maintain our artistic vision, AWE must increase its marketing and communications footprint,” she said. – 9/20/22

It will be a Starry starry night in the Motor City

One of Vincent Van Gogh’s  most famous themed paintings, Starry Night, will have a place of honour at the upcoming Van Gogh exbibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s the first time in more than a decade this particular Starry Night from Paris's Musée d'Orsay will be on display in the US. It's not the more well known version, on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit, featuring more than 70 works by the tormented Dutch artist, runs from Oct. 2 to Jan 22. The DIA was the first museum in America to buy a Van Gogh painting, Self Portrait in 1922. Appropriately, the exhibit, Van Gogh in America will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of that acquisition. Tickets are on sale now. – 9/6/22 (Updated with correction 9/8/22)

Rosalie Trombley's greatest hits

Rosalie Trombley - “The Girl with Golden Ear” - the famed Big 8 CKLW’s music director in the late 1960s and 70s, is renowned in pop music circles for breaking some of the biggest hits, and careers of all times. A statue is being made in her honor by Windsor artist Donna Jean Mayne. Here are some of the songs that Trombley, of Leamington and who died last year, made famous.

• Heavy Music and Ramblin Gamblin Man by Bob Seger

• Show Time by the Detroit Emeralds

• Both Sides Now by Judy Collins

• I’m Eighteen by Alice Cooper

• Sweet Sweet Baby (Since You Been Gone) by Aretha Franklin

• These Eyes by the Guess Who

• I Want You Back by the Jackson 5

• Love Child by Diana Ross and the Supremes

• Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross

• Do I Love You by Paul Anka

• If You Could Read My Mind and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot

• Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

• Cloud Nine by The Temptations

• What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

• Superstition by Stevie Wonder

• Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones

• Me and Mr. Jones by Billy Paul

• If You Don’t Know Me By Now by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

• Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith

• Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen

- 8/23/22

Hot Lips and Klinger gracing fall comic con

Hot Lips and Toledo’s very own Klinger will be paying a visit to this fall’s Motor City Comic Con. Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger aka Jamie Farr and Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan aka Loretta Swit, both of TV M*A*S*H fame, will be attending Michigan’s largest and longest running comic book and pop culture get together. They’ll be signing autographs and posing for photos (for a fee). It takes place Oct. 14-16 at Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace. The TV stars will be there all three days. Both actors trace their careers in film and TV to the mid-1950s. No word on whether Farr will bring wardrobe changes. – 8/10/22

Audition call - The Pride Monologues

You may have heard of the Vagina Monologues. Now there’s the Pride Monologues. These are a collection of real stories set for the stage. They feature stories written by LGBTQ+ people and friends. The monologues are “funny, uplifting and true” and premiered in Chicago during Pride month, according to the producer. Now Windsor will be the second site for the production. Shadowbox Theatre (photo) will host the show Aug. 7. The producers have put out a casting call for volunteer performers, as proceeds will go to charity. Contact

- 7/22/22

Photo: Shadowbox Theatre

You'll pay more to buy movie tickets online

Convenience just got a little more expensive. Those hoping to avoid lineups at the cinema will have to pay extra for the privilege. Cineplex has introduced an additional $1.50 to buy a ticket online or through its mobile app. Canada’s largest theatre chain says the reason is to “further invest and evolve our digital infrastructure.” There will be no such charge if you show up at the box office or theatre ticket kiosk in person, however. Those who are members of Cineplex’s Scene Plus rewards program will only have to fork over $1. And those who are members of Cineclub, a monthly subscription service, won’t have to pay extra at all. – 7/8/22

Plaques remove “inappropriate language” 

Two new plaques were unveiled at two of southwestern Ontario’s most significant Black settlements. Ontario Heritage Trust says the plaques “were rewritten to remove inappropriate language and recentre the experience of Black communities and individuals.” The plaques are for the Buxton Settlement (photo), west of Chatham, in recognition of the legacy of the “thriving free Black community” in the area.  As a testament to the settlement’s legacy, thousands return to the village every Labour Day weekend for a homecoming celebration. The other is for the Wilberforce Settlement north of London. In 1829, a group of free Blacks from Ohio set out to establish an organized colony “where they could enjoy freedom, self-determination and equality,” The Trust says. - 6/7/22

Photo: Wikimedia 

Funk Brother led band at former Windsor club

Joe Messina, one of the legendary Funk Brothers who backed Motown acts in the 60s and 70s and who has recently died, at one time led the Joe Messina Orchestra at Windsor’s Metropole night club. The guiarist died of kidney failure at 93 in suburban Detroit. “That insistent guitar figure that percolates throughout Diana Ross and the Supremes’ ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’ — was Joe Messina,” said a recent Detroit News article.  The Metropole, or Metropole Tavern (photo), was locate at 917 Walker Rd. at the corner of Niagara St., now occupied by the Walkerville Eatery. – 6/3/22

Photo: SW Ont. Digital Archive

Detroit chain ups the customer experience

Detroit’s Emagine theatres have introduced a host of inventive audience amenities. These include sensory friendly screenings. “What does Sensory Friendly mean?” asks the home-grown chain. “First, it means sensory friendly experience (lights up a bit, sound down a bit). Second, if your child needs to get up, move, dance, sing.... No problem. Third, guests are welcome to bring a safe snack for any food allergies or food avoidance/restrictions.” This was for a special screening of the movie Sing. The chain also introduced open captions at select screenings of The Batman in March. “Guests who experience hearing impairments will be able to enjoy the movie-going experience with audio subtitles displayed on the big screen for all to see.” And who says theatres can’t be open in the morning? Emagine will host a breakfast buffet at its Royal Oak location May 1, a 10 am screening of The Bad Guys. - 4/27/22

Detroit whale mural covered - for now

It’s a familiar sight to Windsorites attending a ball game at Comerica Park, the giant “whale” mural on a skyscraper back of right field. That mural has been there since 1997 and was done to show how water, such as the Great Lakes, connects to the ocean. The artist was former Detroiter Robert Wyland. The mural helped spark a renaissance to revitalize old abandoned office towers in Detroit’s downtown core. Now that painting is being covered by another, sponsored by Rocket mortgage companies. It says “Detroit is Home” and features a group of funky smiley faces, also by another Detroit artist Phillip Simpson. The vinyl ad is not permanent. – 4/11/22


Biblioasis features authors' live conversation

Windsor’s Biblioasis, the publisher and bookstore, will be co-hosting a live event with Baltimore's The Ivy Bookshop featuring Canadian author Elise Levine’s latest book, Say This. Levine will be in conversation with Baltimore-based writer Jung Yun, author of O Beautiful.  The book, published by Biblioasis and set in Baltimore, is described as “Two crystalline novellas linked by one devastating crime: Say This is an immersive meditation on the interplay between memory, trauma and narrative.” The event will take place online Wednesday, March 9 at 7 pm on Facebook and Twitter. - 28/2/22

Photo: Biblioasis

WIFF will continue Covid protocols for March screenings

Ontario may be removing theatre capacity and vaccine passport rules March 1 but the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) will keep the current 50 per cent limit when it hosts three films March 3, 4 and 5. “To ensure the comfort and safety of our audience, WIFF will be adhering to the Covid-19 public health measures as set out by the province when tickets first went on sale February 8th,”  the festival says in an announcement. “WIFF understands that the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions are continuously evolving and we will re-assess these protocols for any future screenings.” To gain admission, filmgoers will have to show a QR code, wear masks, there will be 50 per cent capacity “and physical distancing measures in place.” Screening at the Capitol Theatre will be the Japanese film Drive My Car, Danish film Flee, the Spanish film Parallel Mothers and Norway's The Worst Person in the World. - 24/2/22

Windsor's other film fest celebrates 25th

Windsor’s other home-grown film festival, Media City, will offer all its films free online during the festival’s 25th edition, taking place through March 1. More than 70 films will be available at The festival features unconventional, edgy and experimental work from around the world and is recognized internationally for its critically curated content. Indeed, filmmakers from a multitude of countries have long exhibited their work at the festival. “Audiences will gain unfettered access to incredible new works, world premieres, restorations, amateur films, and historical masterpieces from legendary artists and filmmakers,” says artistic director Oona Mosna. The festival remains online until such time as “public safety allows” resumption of in-theatre audiences, Mosna says. - 16/2/22

Ladies and gentlemen, Pine Knob is back

Pine Knob is back. Or at least the name is back. But, of course, you always called it that anyway. DTE Energy Music Theatre, the name of the venerable outdoor concert site north of Detroit, was always too much of a mouthful anyway. Pine Knob opened in 1972 but the name changed under new sponsorship from DTE Energy in 2001. That 20-year sponsorship ended and two new sponsors have agreed to return the 15,000-seat venue to its original much-loved name and are keeping a lower profile.  The venue has seen thousands of acts over the years and often set attendance records for the top grossing outdoor venue in the US. That includes in 2019, its last regularly scheduled year prior to Covid, when almost 600,000 concertgoers passed through its gates. The facility is run by 313 Presents which also produces events at Little Caesars Arena, the Fox Theatre, Meadowbrook Amphitheatre and Comerica Park. “The renaming couldn’t come at a better time as the 2022 summer concert season will mark the renowned venue’s 50th anniversary,” 313 says in a release. The first scheduled show is AJR on May 27. – 1/25/22

Windsor's Poet Laureate program to be more inclusive 

The city’s Diversity Committee wants to expand Windsor's Poet Laureate program by adding an Indigenous Storyteller and Multicultural Community Storyteller. The city started its program 10 years ago and Marty Gervais (photo) was the first poet laureate, now Poet Laureate Emeritus. City Council had requested the program be further expanded. “In the past when applications were received for poet laureate, they did not receive applications from Indigenous or multicultural or marginalized communities,” says the city's Diversity Committee minutes. Museum Windsor has had “tremendous consultation” with these groups. However, it found Indigenous and multicultural people “would not resonate with the title poet laureate.” The Asian community suggested sharing their culture through dance, “a valid form of storytelling.” And an Indigenous community representative said they would “play the drum; present the Eagle Song and the Song of Welcome and Unity and share their culture through traditions.” Hence the committee suggested an expansion into “storytelling and community traditions.” – 1/4/22 

Photo: City of Windsor

Windsor native's marriage to Chris Noth "hanging by a thread"

Windsor native Tara Wilson’s marriage to Sex and the City star Chris Noth is “hanging by a thread” according to the New York Post’s Page Six. The couple have been married nine years and opened the imaginative Once Upon a Teacup on Windsor’s east side more than a decade ago. The celebrity gossip page says sources have told it Wilson “has removed her wedding ring.” This follows accusations this month that 67-year-old Noth sexually assaulted three women. “Tara is upset and things are hanging by a thread,” the Post reports. “She just wants to protect the kids (Orion, 13, and Keats, 22 months). That is her (top) priority.” A spokesperson for Noth declined comment and the actor has denied all accusations. Noth came to Windsor in 2008 to help Wilson publicize the child-oriented tearoom. Once Upon a Teacup is for moms and their kids to meet up with friends, drink specialty teas, and dress up in costumes. – 12/23/21

Photo: Wikipedia

Suspected slain DJ had a Windsor radio connection

John O’Leary, the Detroit disc jockey found dead in his Highland Park home, had a Windsor connection. In the 1990s he worked for a time at Radio 4, comprised of four radio stations – FM’s 89.1 and 93.3 and AM’s 580 and 800. O’Leary was found dead from stab wounds. Highland Park police have arrested a suspect. O’Leary, 67, worked at many Detroit radio stations including WABX, WWWW, WLLZ and his last gig at WCSX. – 11/23/21

It's A'burg's Art by the River - only indoors

It’s Art by the River, only the indoors version. Amherstburg’s venerable Gibson Gallery, the decades old gallery in the former Michigan Central Railroad station off Richmond St., will be holding its Artisan Shoppe, just in time for Christmas. The shop runs Nov 18 - Dec 12 on Thursdays through Sundays 11 am – 5 pm. Fourteen artists or studios are being represented. Works include rustic house signs, watercolour cards, glass, jewelry, basket weaving, body care, thread painting and candles. The gallery is run by the Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts. And, oh yes, the traditional outdoors Art by the River returns next year Aug. 27 & 28 at Fort Malden National Historic Site on the Detroit River. – 11/15/21

Photo: Gibson Gallery

No response on when University Players will perform in-person

The University of Windsor Players (UP) is performing plays in virtual format. The province since Oct. 9 allowed theatres and concert halls to open at 100 per cent indoor capacity, subject to vaccine screening (passports) and mask-wearing. However the UP's autumn play If We Were Birds, directed by Lee Wilson, was presented live via “Zoom webinar” and incorporated recorded performances from the university’s studio theatre. When will the UP perform live once again? Neither the Players nor the dramatic arts department responded to several requests for comment. – 11/8/21 [UPDATE 11/22/21: UW Players has now responded: "We're still making our plans for the upcoming semester and we won't be able to confirm our capacity just yet. We'll be making an announcement as soon as we go live with ticket sales for our in person shows in the coming year."]

Brace yourself for a night of scary Halloween music

Strange apparitions may scare the innocent at Halloween. But music can play a part as well. The Windsor Symphony knows just that. It’s scheduled a night of scary Halloween-theme music just in time for the Trick or Treat event. “Remember the music in Psycho, one of Hitchcock’s scariest films…or the music filled with suspense, intrigue, and humour from the  cult-classics Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors? How about Sondhiem’s haunting music from Sweeney Todd? This is the perfect program for Halloween!” Symphony conductor Robert Franz will direct St. Clair College Music Theatre students in the hourlong Halloween on Broadway concert at the Capitol Theatre Oct. 30 beginning 7.30 pm. - 10/15/21

Photo: Windsor Symphony

Unique tote bags support local artists

You can get a limited-edition tote bag and support local artists. The Arts Council Windsor and Region is selling the Voices Tote Bag through Oct. 31. Cost: $20. Each bag sports a different design by a local artist. The bags also promote the council’s New Voices billboard. The 6x6 board is located on the outside wall of ArtSpeak gallery. It features interchangeable letters for language-based exhibits and poetry. It’s designed to provide an outlet for “underrepresented and marginalized voices in our community” including new generation, new immigrant and artists of colour, the council says. – 9/22/21

Photo: Artspeak’s example tote featuring Alexei Ungurenaşu’s Hold, Twist Release.

Immerse yourself in Claude Monet's iconic paintings

Those who love French Impressionist artist Claude Monet can glory in a multi-media immersive exhibit now through Oct. 3 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The three part multi-sensory experience combines music, sound effects, and projection. Beyond Monet provides an audio visual journey through the artist's most iconic works - Poppies, Impression: Sunrise, and the iconic Water Lilies series. Viewers in fact become one with the paintings as the larger than life projections swirl around, immersing the observer in colour and light. – 8/24/21

Image: Beyond Monet

AGW reopening reflects separate museum status

The Art Gallery of Windsor (AGW) is re-opening this week, despite the fact other city museums are remaining closed until fall (see front page). Jennifer Matotek, the AGW’s new director, (photo) who took over as Covid came on the scene last year and has presided over a mainly closed museum, said the AGW is opening earlier because of its independent status. She said the gallery has a “separate operating model” than, for example, Museum Windsor, which runs the adjoining Chimczuk Museum and nearby Francois Baby House. “We have been ready to go for a while with our reopening." Matotek said. -  8/10/21

Blushing Peonies Vertical