Our contributing columnists cover a wide range of topics that are important to both themselves and a wider audience. Their coverage lets readers form their own opinions on the issues that matter to their daily lives. Our columnists are engaging, sometimes witty, and always insightful as they delve into the issues that capture our attention, evoke our emotions or simply make us laugh.
TED BARRIS – The Barris Beat
For most of my professional life, I have been in love… in love with words and in love with applying the best descriptions those words can deliver about the people, places and events I encounter in the stories I write for print, media and online publication. My column, The Barris Beat (coined by my late father, Alex, when he wrote a column for the Globe & Mail in the 1950s) demands that I never stop searching for vivid ways of putting a human face in words to community, service, colour, memory and innovation around me. As a new or regular reader of my weekly column, you can expect that I’ll keep trying to bring that love affair with words and life to each column.
ROGER VARLEY – AM I Wrong? / A Cup Of Coffee
I began writing for The Cosmos 10 years ago when I retired after spending most of my working life in the news business.
I began my career with The Canadian Press, the best training ground for journalists, and spent almost 30 years there. I worked for a few years with The Uxbridge Times-Journal until it was acquired by Metroland and then worked for York Metroland, where I was a co-winner of the Canadian Community Newspapers Association ‘s feature writing award. On joining The Cosmos, I brought back my Am I Wrong? column and my Cup of Coffee interviews, both of which started when I was at the Times-Journal. For the last 10 years, I have reported regularly on Uxbridge council and the Uxbridge Bruins and have covered the local candidates in every municipal, provincial and federal election in that time. In my time I have interviewed prime ministers, party leaders, cabinet ministers, entertainment stars and sports notables. But my 10 years at The Cosmos have been the most enjoyable.
SHELAGH DAMUS – Writing Fitz
As a freelance writer I enjoy writing for the Cosmos as a way to explore the people, places and events that contribute to the distinct nature of Uxbridge. I am interested in the promotion of Uxbridge businesses and events to those within the community, as I believe they are our town’s lifeblood. The art of finding unique sequences for the 26 letters of the alphabet is my creative outlet and I relish the opportunity the pseudo-monthly Writing Fitz column affords me. My husband and four children, who sometimes are fodder for said column, are a little less enthusiastic.
AMY HURLBURT – Aiming High
I’m the eldest of four children, and it shows. My primary career ambition has always been to write; basically from the time I was able to read…although I did have a brief interval where I seriously considered driving transport trucks. I moved to Uxbridge in junior high and started writing for the Uxbridge Cosmos as a co-op student in high school, with dreams of working in Journalism. In 2013, I graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with my Bachelor’s in Communication and returned to Uxbridge, and resumed writing for the Cosmos on a more regular basis. Other publications I’ve written for include the Muskoka Sun and Mosaic Magazine. In my spare time, you can probably find me hanging out with my family, attempting to be athletic, or walking my cat around town.
ROGER PIRES – Ravenshoe Ramblings
Hi, I’m Roger. The Cosmos has kindly allowed me to write for them since 2005. And I don’t even have to pay them for it. I write about everyday stuff. You know: my wife, my kids, how the neighbours put up a fence because they’re tired of me mowing the lawn in my underwear.
I have a piece of paper on my wall that says I graduated from U of T with a B.A. in English Literature. It’s very nice and has pretty colours. And of course it prepared me well for my career as a computer programmer. But most of what I find useful to navigate through life I learned on the field playing football and rugby and on the ice playing hockey. Things like leadership, teamwork, and how not to get crushed by the big picture (or by the big defenseman who’d love to tattoo his number on your forehead). It also doesn’t hurt to watch, to listen, and to learn. Sometimes you’re going to fall down. Just get up, brush off the dust, and get back on the horse. And whatever you do, don’t forget to laugh a little. It’ll go a long, long way.
NANCY MELCHER – The Nature Nut
I AM the “Nature Nut”. After more than four decades of environmental education and with an ongoing love of the outdoors, I have a wealth of information to share about the natural world around us. As a result, I often get assignments for the paper that are related to the environment. I welcome questions about things you’ve seen or heard, smelled or touched, or even tasted in the great outdoors and on local trails and roads.I am also active in local community theatre, and you might find me acting on the stage, or perhaps working behind the scenes helping to build sets and stage-managing. I’m in touch with the wider arts community, and through “Art-y Facts” I try to keep Cosmos readers in tune with upcoming concerts, exhibitions, book readings, plays, and special events. I moved to Coppins Corners in 1983, and shortly thereafter my husband and I moved into town: we’ve lived here ever since. We’ve raised our son here, and enjoy the vibrant lifestyle that this community offers. It is definitely the centre of our universe!
WHITNEY ROSS-BARRIS – Life in the Big City
I’m a prairie-born, writer-raised jazz singer and actor who has performed on stages around the world, from the bright lights of the Uxbridge Music Hall to the bottom of the Wieliczka salt mine in Poland. I recently released “Everybody’s Here,” a jazz album featuring a number of not-so-standard standards, originals and even a few long-lost compositions by my late grandfather, writer-broadcaster, Alex Barris. I live in Toronto, where I play gigs, writes mediocre columns for The Cosmos and I try not to swear too much while chasing around my two adorable young hellions.”
LISHA VAN NIEUWENHOVE – A Blonde Moment
“A Blonde Moment” was how I first found my words on the pages of The Uxbridge Cosmos. Former editor Conrad Boyce and I were doing a play together, he discovered I had a background in journalism and writing, and he asked me to write a column. A few short years later, I found myself at the helm of the best little newspaper in Durham Region (in my opinion). I still like to take off the editor hat, every now and again, and write a “Blonde” column because it lets me give voice to things that I love to write about but have no place anywhere else in the paper. And just to note – my hair is naturally blonde.
CONRAD BOYCE – Wandering the Cosmos
I’m a native Albertan, and lived many years in both B.C. and the Yukon before emigrating to Ontario in 1995. I became involved in the Uxbridge arts community almost immediately, but was obliged to work elsewhere until I became the founding editor/publisher of the Cosmos in 2005. Among the other local writing projects I’m most proud of are Maud of Leaskdale, the one-woman play I created for the LMMSO in Leaskdale, and Jewel on the Hill, the book about the Thomas Foster Memorial I wrote in 2014. I now live in the Ottawa Valley, where I babysit grandchildren and am finding other things to keep me busy!
JOHN CAVERS (Freelance Photographer)
Freelancing my images to The Cosmos has allowed me to visually document many special events and to meet so many new people. It is a real privilege to promote what a terrific town and newspaper we have. I appreciate The Cosmos being truly a “local” enterprise…so that whatever function I attend it has to focus on the people and happenings of Uxbridge.
I also do wildlife photography and have four galleries selling my work around the province. I have the honour of working with the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and now the World Baseball Hall of Fame. I even have my work posted on the Canadian and National Geographic Websites. However, nothing brings me more satisfaction than getting that “Special Shot” of someone in town and creating a lasting memory when they see themselves in the Uxbridge Cosmos! Watch out, you could next!