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Five Great Things About Windsor

Intimate Neighbourhoods

Windsor is comprised of many smaller neighbourhoods all woven together to form one tightly knit little city. In any one of them you’ll find lovely walking routes, neighbourhood parks and green spaces, the beautiful architecture of schools built in the early 1900’s, and a community of citizens that know and support each other. Sound like something out of Mayberry? Windsor is that perfect size city, small enough to be intimate, large enough to escape into; it is a big city with a small town vibe. The first question you ask when you meet someone in Windsor is, “Where did you go to school?” – We know all the schools, we know people that went to those schools, and we love connecting the dots about how we all know each other. Welcome to Windsor, baby!

The River

The riverfront features a 5 km walkway that’s lined with sculpture art, parks, memorials, lush gardens and premium seating views of the Detroit skyline. Visit the flocks of geese that stalk the area with their goslings, and be amazed by their majestic flight as they float or soar along the banks. The festival season literally ignites with one of the finest fireworks displays cracking, bringing on average over a million people to both riverfronts. The river has a romantic energy all year round befitting a Woody Allen movie; don’t be surprised to see steamy windows on cars parked at the river on warm nights.

Restaurants

In Windsor, the restaurants are as good as it gets and feature a bit of everything. A little Italy hosts fine Italian dining and lights up Erie St. with a buzz. Award winning pizza is available from local Armando’s and Johnny Piez. Rino’s, Bubi’s, and Motor Burger have all been featured on the hit television show “You Gotta Eat Here”. Windsor also boasts undiscovered neighbourhood gems all over the place like Marco’s. Downtown highlights include several pub dining options like The Loose Goose and locations like The City Grill and The Bistro At The River. Windsor’s restaurants are as diverse as its neighbourhoods are with worldly options like Mazaar Lebanese Cuisine, Hikari, Sushi California Japanese Restaurant, Marathon Ethiopian Restaurant, and Shawarma Palace to name but a few to satisfy your tastes. Yes, there is something for everyone here.

Entertainment

One of the reasons there are so many places to eat in Windsor is because there is so much to do in Windsor for entertainment. Who doesn’t love dinner and a show? Perhaps the largest venue is Casino Windsor, but that is merely the tip of the iceberg. Windsor is home to sports teams like the Express and the beloved Spitfires. It has several options to see quality theatre including the WSO, Windsor Light Music Theatre, Korda Artistic Productions, the Purple Theatre Company, University Players, and Windsor Dance Experience. Venues like the Colosseum and WFCU Centre feature topnotch concerts and shows as well. Film festivals, parades, museums, aquatic adventure, and so much more one could write a book on Entertaining Windsor.

The County

Just a quick drive south, the county of Essex has so much to offer visitors and locals alike. Award winning wineries lace the area from Amherstburg through Kingsville in a stunning drive along the shore of Lake Erie. Wine not your thing? Stop at several farm fresh vegetable stands throughout the county and buy local quality food.  You can experience a bit of the nineteenth century historic settlements like John R. Park Homestead and Fort Malden, or watch the sun set over the lake in a beautiful blaze of color.

Windsor Cinema Review

In my lifetime, I can recall several cinemas that are no longer with us. I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my family at the old Forest Glade Cinemas. I remember the Lauzon Parkway Cinemas, the Palace downtown of course and the old Devonshire Mall, too. There was also one on Riverside Dr. at the old hotel across from the old art gallery. All of them operating at the same time. It all seems crushingly long ago.

Clearly, Windsor has a long standing movie going enthusiasm for it to support so many theatres all at once.

The modern era of movie going is crowded as more people herd to fewer locations. It is an overwhelming sensory experience that is distracting. Perhaps that’s why we didn’t notice or seem to care that the current concession pricing is deplorable. Even more sickening is the way larger sizes are pushed on you at a “value”, a trend that encourages modern excessive consumption. What a Capitalist thing to do, eh – open a big cineplex with a lot of screens, drawing all of the business to you shutting down local independent cinemas in the process, and then raise prices sky high once they’ve cornered the market.

What happened to the simple charm of lights around colourful movie posters. Or the chatter of excited movie goers squawking about their experience – now we’re too busy tweeting about it to engage in the conversation. Call me old fashioned or 20th century, but I prefer those settings that are intimate and more conducive to friends hanging out or couples on dates.

Although Windsor does not have a full-time independent movie cinema, there are still plenty of alternatives to Silvercity and Devonshire.

The Olde Walkerville Theatre sometimes shows movies. For instance, on Sat May 19 2018, they are showing Ashes of K – this should be of interest because it was filmed in the Windsor Detroit area. They also have a film fest coming in June.

Outside of WIFF, you can also see WIFF365, every second Thursday  of each month at the Capitol Theatre. The Chrysler Theatre as well sometimes shows movies. I recall seeing The Only Living Boy In New York there as part of last years WIFF. Occasionally, you will see slightly older family favourites such as The Nut Job or movies with newly minted classic status such as Ghostbusters or Raiders of the Lost Ark at Devonshire – and kudos to Devonshire for screening them.

Apart from these, however, Windsor really does not have an old fashion movie cinema dedicated to showing older movies. Larger cities such as Toronto still have several to offer. Do you think Windsor needs a movie cinema? Post to comments to share your thoughts and experience.

The Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit

The Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit is a key reason Hollywood shoots movies in Toronto as often as they do; and something that Windsor can capitalize on to draw new industry.

The OFTTC is a refundable tax credit for Ontario labour expenses from a qualifying production company with respect to an eligible Ontario based production.

The credit refunds 35% of eligible Ontario labour expenses.

The OFTTC has drawn several leading Hollywood productions to the GTA already: Pacific Rim and Suicide Squad to name but a small few.

The cities local economy gets a boost in several ways.  Prop and wardrobe rental companies as well as other specialized equipment distributers pop up to meet the technical needs of a production -employing local workers. Restaurants, bars, boutique retailers, hotels, and every other up and coming retail all sustain a boost via outsider spending while productions’ cast and crew are in town. Film crews go out on location and local attractions can reap rental fees and high profile exposure. For a city coming into its own in the tourism industry drawing the film industry here could have cosmic possibilities.

Take a leap of faith and try your next production here in Windsor – first time producers are eligible for an even higher 40% of their first $240 000 qualifying labour expense. A nice incentive for the beginner risk taking filmmaker in any young entrepreneur.

Why come to Windsor instead of an established location like Toronto? An additional 10% is available to qualifying productions with at least 85% of the location days outside of Toronto. A first time producer can be eligible for 50% tax credit under this framework.

Windsor, the movies are calling us.

For more please see: http://www.omdc.on.ca/film_and_tv/tax_credits/ofttc.htm

 

Big City Lights!

Windsor’s Jackson Park is lit up for the holidays with a dazzling array of colorful lights, displays, and of course, a big Christmas tree.

The display is so fantastic  that you literally walk through a magical winter wonderland to see the main attractions of the display.

Adding to the magic are buskers playing acoustic versions of our favorite Christmas carols, a food truck, and a sleigh to take pictures in; making the whole experience a real one of a kind holiday event for Windsorites. Jackson Park was full of people taking the scene in with lively chatter and exciting energy throughout.

Walking through the display is quite spectacular, and there is so much to take in, it will require multiple visits to truly see it all; meaning this event will be a popular spot over the next couple of weeks. It is the perfect place to bring family, friends, and dates of all types – or just bring yourself and a camera – because this holiday event is loaded with the potential for artistic inspiration.

reaching to the heavens in dance!

The relationship between pretty lighting and creative inspiration was clear.  Part of the experience became navigating yourself through a crowd of people that were frequently pausing to snap selfies, and take pictures of their favorite displays. Windsor has some spectacular events – fireworks night comes to mind, the Santa Claus parade, and those events bring artists out by the heaps. There is a connection between the type of society you are living in and the art that it produces. The vibrancy of our society and culture is visible in the passion of artists and their output, and it was thriving Friday night at the opening of the new lighting fest.

Windsor is like a playground to artists right now and raw materials are the plaything – from the rock-art being arranged at the river, to the painted rocks dropped at Ojibway, our artistic culture is thriving.

Windsor has once again shown itself to be every bit of a spectacle as New York City has. Our meandering riverfront that winds along its own display of beautiful artwork is just one example. The new holiday tree lit up at Jackson Park is just another example!

If you think Windsor is as cinematic as I do, check out the Instagram link to cinematic_windsor (available in the social links menu above) for more pictures of our filmic city!

These trees are my favorite! The lights moving up the trunks make the trees look like they are dancing in the night.

There is a lot of potential for this event over the years. Imagine Willistead Manor lit up like the Griswold house, and the park’s trees and pathways lit up to the heavens for people to wander through. Walking in a winter wonderland? Imagine walking along the river and seeing such a display and what it would look like from Detroit! Do you have any other ideas of holiday lighting for Windsor? Post a comment and share ideas.

A Sense of History

Windsor is a place that has buildings over a hundred years old. They complement some of the trees nicely and create a sense of history. Some of the old architecture that you will find in this city is designed in an older English style, like Willistead Manor. When walking up to its beautiful entrance one feels like a character in a Jane Austen novel, come to call on an important associate or would be lover. The park is open to the public and the mansion is frequently open as well. The history of Walkerville in the time period of the early 20th century, and the family that helped form it live in the aura of this magnificent home and garden. The era and culture come to life when you step inside and smell the original wood. There is no single location greater than Willistead that I’m as eager to see on the big screen!

Windsor has a diverse range of neighborhoods, from the Italian restaurants of Erie St. to the bars of downtown, the shops along Ottawa, and the many residential suburbs that populate this urban melting pot.

A true tribute to the spirit of Windsor’s blessing the new with the charm of the old is the nearly retro-fitted Armouries building downtown by the University of Windsor.

Old buildings such as the post office in Olde Sandwich town remind us of just how old this area is, and the influence the past still has over us as we have such feeling for the old architecture we refuse to tear buildings down. This location is a perfect place to set a scene from the early 1900’s – a time when the world was beginning to stretch its imagination to what was possible in society; buildings like this remind us that a hundred years later history repeats itself, as we again find ourselves during societal change.

After you drive through all of the wonderful Windsor architecture, you’ll want to take your shoot to Colchester, right to the edge of Essex County, of Canada, of so many things right out on the edge – face west – and watch the sun slip away into the lake leaving a glorious canvas of pink and orange across the limitless sky.

There is beauty here like no other art gallery in the world has to offer – whether you find it in the cities old architecture, or the counties natural spaces – you will see why film-makers will flock to this city in the future to set their movies in a little town with a big potential.

So crack a beer and stay awhile.

 

Ojibway Park

Ojibway Park is home to some of the oldest trees in the area.

This lush woodland is lined with winding walking trails and observable wildlife areas, such as the pond and bird sanctuaries. Walking through this park will make you feel your true relationship to nature. I recommend going in the early morning when you can watch a thick fog lift away into the day.

Ojibway Park is a unique setting on the outskirts of Windsor toward LaSalle because it places you in the middle of a thick forest. You could be walking through a magical woodland chasing faeries or a medieval knight racing off on a noble quest. You may be one of the lone bucks pacing the forest in solitude, or you may be something freer soaring through blue skies overhead. Maybe it’s just my child-like imagination but I like to imagine I’m a woodland dwelling creature walking through my neighbourhood.

This park lays undisturbed and when trees fall to the ground they offer natural planks for chipmunks and squirrels playfully chasing each other in circles.

It is a park where a quiet meditation will evolve into a blending of man and nature as the park’s sounds not only surround you but the life of it moves through you. If you’re still enough, the park will kiss you on your nose, asking you to play. To some, this park is a natural cathedral for getting in touch with their inner selves, with a view of the heavens like this, who could wonder why.

The raucous yipping of gregarious birds sounds this particular cathedral like a soulful church choir.

If you walk far enough you will see artist’s traipsing through patiently waiting for the moment of inspiration to flash a picture, paint their still-life, or set their scene.

They keep coming back, because they always find it!

WIFF Short Films Presentation

I saw the WIFF Short Films Presentation 2017 last night at the Capitol Theatre on University Ave. in beautiful downtown Windsor. The Capitol offers a more artistic atmosphere than the modern big box cinema because of it’s open viewing space, well maintained architecture and of course the dazzling paint display; reminding us that we go to the movies for more than to just stuff our faces with 20 dollar pop and popcorn combos watching movies that are visually stimulating though not emotionally, artistically, or intellectually so. The experience of going to see a film should be an engaging one, and I find a movie that features recognizable settings from Windsor very engaging.

The presentation featured 3 locally produced short movies, two of which were filmed in Windsor, the third was a thought provoking documentary about Orca’s and how human impact has changed the oceans – filmed in B.C. (where the Orca’s are, we don’t have them in the river).

The current local interest in local movies is very evident as the theatre was quite full, and a buzz permeated the line outside while we waited anxiously to go in.

This is not intended to be a critique of the films, but rather a promotion of the idea that Windsor is a cinematic town and has a lot of potential to be a film making haven for local artists right now. During a few scenes, I shot up in my seat thinking, “I know that place”, “I’ve been there!”, I thought, “I went to school there” when I saw a woman walking away from the University of Windsor toward the now famous bus stop on University Ave. It was a similar excitement to when I saw shots of Windsor in Bowling for Columbine, and Sicko. It gives me a feeling like the world really is watching, and to take a deep breath and realize how stunning this city really is.

But these films were different, because they were filmed by locals. Windsor is an arts town and there is no better place to start a local film revolution. Windsor is a city that has forged a real bond with its citizens – there is a living bond between us – and it creates a love for this place that a lot of other cities don’t inspire. And we know that pure love is what drives all creativity, so it makes perfect sense that artists would create out of that inspiration.

Methinks the movies are coming to Windsor; methinks I want a camera.

Check back soon!