Q&A: Fiver Talks About Audible Songs From Rockwood Album

Toronto artist Fiver aka songwriter Simone Schmidt will be performing at the Calvary United Church on Friday, January 12. The show is being co-presented by the Skeleton Park Arts Fest in a collaborative effort with the Prison4Women memorial.

She will be performing form her new album, Audible Songs From Rockwood – a series of songs based on the experiences of women housed at Kingston’s Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane between 1854-1881.

I sent Simone a few questions via email about her experience reading through the asylum’s archives for two years and turning that experience into an album. Learn why she chose these archives to write about, how this experience made her view our current mental healthcare system and her thoughts on these patients’ experiences.

Keep up with Kingston: What drew you to these particular archives?Fiver-Rockwood-Asylum-Album Was the plan always to turn it into an album?

Simone Schmidt: I read an article in the newspaper at random, while doing research about detention and incarceration in Canada. Somehow got onto this article about how the women inmates at Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane were housed in the horses stables as an interim measure for 12 years while prisoners from the Kingston Pen were building Rockwood as it stands today. It rattled me to think about and I wrote a song right away. That was back in 2012, and so I sang that song for a few years, and every time I sang the song, I would wonder about what life was really like for the people there. Information about Rockwood hasn’t been widely published (though a great writer, Kathleen Kendall is releasing a book about it in the next few years), so archival research was the only way to find out. And yes, it was always with the intent of writing an album because I’m a songwriter and that’s my way. Continue reading

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Q&A With A Passage to Bollywood Director Ashley Lobo

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Stage musical A Passage to Bollywood will be coming to The Grand Theatre on November 25. This vibrant show has traveled all over the world from China and Germany to Turkey, South Africa, US, Bahrain and Israel. Award winning director and choreographer Ashley Lobo took some time to answer some of my questions about show. Read below to learn about A Passage to Bollywood.

Keep up with Kingston: I read that you moved back to India in 1998, what brought you back?
Ashley Lobo: I left India for Australia because I wanted to train in international dance as there was no formal education system for it in India. I went back to India in ’98 because I thought it was important to start up a dance school so others could have the opportunity that I did not have.
Continue reading

Shop The Deals at Chris James’ Princess Pop Up

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Calling all Kingston shoppers! If you love a deal as much as I do you’ll love what I am about to share with you. Fashion boutique, Chris James, currently located on Ontario street has opened up a Pop Up shop on Princess street.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chris James, it is locally owned by Christine Ray-Bratt and Jim Adams who opened their boutique with the intention of creating a tailored shopping experience for all customers. They carry high end brands like Ted Baker, Tiger of Sweden, Paige, Iris and more so it’s rare to see some of these designers priced so low – lucky for us!

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Marked down to $96 from $160.

The stock is currently comprised of women’s clothing and ranges from summer items to blouses and button ups that can be worked into your fall wardrobe as well. Since it’s been unseasonably warm – some of the finds can still be rocked in this weather. Plus, they will be restocking weekly so fresh goodies will be appearing regularly.

After a browse around the shop I spot a few incredible deals: denim marked down from $205 to $48, button ups from $135 to $58, dresses for the office or nights out marked down from $375 to $187 and a beautiful Bandolera overcoat that I fell in love with marked down from $232 to $48.

Note to bring cash or credit for purchases as they do not accept debit.

Boss Ladies of the Limestone City: Jess and Cade of NORTHSIDE Espresso and Kitchen

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It’s been six months since the beautiful NORTHSIDE espresso and kitchen opened its doors on the north side of princess just east of clergy. It has been such an incredible addition to Princess street, with it’s beautiful, plant-filled, insta-worthy space, delicious food and amazing coffee they acquired admirers from the very start. Owners Jess and Cade moved from Melbourne, Australia to be closer to Jess’s family and brought their passion for their regions’ coffee cafe culture to Kingston. I’ve found a few common traits that run through these boss lady interviews: passion, the courage to dive into something new and the appreciation for support that the Kingston community offers. And Jess and Cade are no different. They clearly love the new life they’ve built with NORTHSIDE and it’s clear in the vibe that is felt whenever I stop in for a drink or a bite.

Below, they reflect on the last six months and explain how they got their start and what they love about being small business owners in Kingston.

KUWK: When did you start to think about NORTHSIDE and this concept?

Jess: I think the seed of the idea was always floating around in our minds, particularly because I grew up in Sydenham/Kingston. Whenever we would come home for a visit or something we felt like we were missing something. There was a gap for us in terms of getting that cafe culture. I know there are lots of coffee shops here which are great but we also wanted to have a breakfast with great coffee. Continue reading

Join the Next Full Moon Party with SimplyWell and Holistic Rain

What makes Kingston such an incredible community to be a part of is the amount of synergy between businesses. Our local businesses are so great at collaborating and creating amazing opportunities for us Kingstonians!

I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy outdoor yoga and I’ve talked about how much I enjoy all of the efforts of Limestone City Boss Lady, Jehna Duncan with her holistic nutrition and healing shop, SimplyWell. So I am excited to share details about a project that has brought two of Kingston’s local holistic health businesses together. Continue reading

Kindness by the Spoonful

Besides sleeping and breathing, the need for a good meal is something we all share.

Unfortunately, not all foods are accessible. And the cheaper the food, the less nutritious, resulting in a large portion of our population lacking what they need to live nutritionally balanced lives.

Enter: Loving Spoonful – and its 250 volunteers – that give the less fortunate in Kingston what they need.

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Spoonful‘s Executive Director Mara Shaw reflects on the  positive impact on the community. “Last year we provided 70,000 pounds of food to the community and that’s equivalent to about 70,000 meals. That’s about 7000 people that are being fed through the food that we deliver, then there’s another 250 kids in schools through the grow programs. Last year there were about 140 people who took our cooking classes.”

It’s clear Loving Spoonful does more than just deliver food. Teaching is how they make sure their initiatives making nutritious foods accessible do not go to waste.

Shaw elaborates, “We have cooking classes and figure out how to fund them so that people have more than enough. People can take home that butternut squash macaroni and cheese to their families and they can try butternut squash which they otherwise wouldn’t have tried. The next time we bring butternut squash to a pantry, people will take it home because they know what to do with it.” Continue reading

Boss Ladies of the Limestone City: SimplyWell Owner, Jehna Duncan


When I first discovered SimplyWell’s beautiful space, I fell in love with the concept and loved that Kingston finally had a delicious juice spot. When I found out the owner was an ambitious young woman, I was so impressed and interested to know how she got her start. In two years, owner Jehna Duncan – with the help of her team – has turned SimplyWell into a holistic one-stop shop catered to helping people with digestive health issues.

After sitting down with Jehna, I learned that her journey to business owner is filled with girl power because of the encouragement of other Kingston Boss Ladies. Learn how this Boss Lady went from selling her juices in the market to her light-filled storefront on Princess street.  Continue reading