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Read: Adventures in Grey Bruce! By: Norma Grafe...
Captain’s Log, stardate…unknown. When our slingshot around the sun threw us out of our own time and into the past, our computer malfunctioned. As a result of these malfunctions, we have seen the Grey Roots Museum and Archives, axe-throwing at the Bowling Alley, Inglis Falls, Kelso Beach and Cobble Beach Golf Resort. Then we found ourselves transported to a
building with a sign on it identifying it as Century 21 In-Studio Realty.
“I believe that we can get the help we need in here,” said the Captain. “This sounds like a place where one can purchase property. We have the same concept in our time. If anybody can tell us where we are, I’m sure that these people can.”
“But Captain,” protested the Science Officer. “The products displayed in the windows are clearly for sale, yet have no relation to conveyance of property. Perhaps you are mistaken. There are what appear to be musical instruments, jewellery, greeting cards, things crafted from what appears to be wood, bottles of something called ‘hot sauce’ and honey, signs, framed illustrations from what appears to be rock material, things crafted from glass and I also see a painting on the wall inside.”
“The sign clearly states ‘realty’,” replied the Captain. “Let’s go in and see what we can find out.”
They entered the building and their attention was immediately captured by a large screen on the wall. “I rest my case,” grinned the Captain in triumph. “See what’s on screen. Images of houses with what are clearly their asking prices!” As the Science Officer struggled to reconcile the incongruity, they were approached by a young man, who held out his hand and smiled a greeting.
“Mike Seiler, Broker of Record and owner. You look a little confused. Anything I can do to help?”
“Cap – uhh, that is, John…Smith,” replied the Captain, shaking the other man’s hand. “My friends and I were just trying to decide if you sold what’s in the window, or property.”
“Oh, we’re a real estate brokerage all right,” assured Mike. “With a twist! We like to use our window spaces to feature our local artists, instead of covering the windows with pictures of listings. It’s a new concept, so we’re used to the confusion. Can I show you something from the window, or can I help you with a real estate question.”
“Well, actually, we’ve been travelling for quite some time and distance. One city looks pretty much like the rest. We just wondered where we ended up…”
“Sounds like you’re travelling with a band,” said Mike. “You know the saying. It’s Tuesday so we must be in Cleveland.”
“We are in Cleveland?” asked the Science Officer, and turned away to consult his hand-held device.
Mike frowned slightly. “No, this is Owen Sound. Hey, is that one of the new smart phones? I’m always up for the latest technology! Can I have a look?”
The Captain spoke up. “It’s only a prototype. You’re not supposed to be field-testing it yet,” he reprimanded his Science Officer. He turned to Mike. “It’s still in the Beta stage. I’m sorry.” “So, we’re in Owensound,” the Captain continued, in an attempt to change the subject. “That’s in…..”
“Grey County,” supplied Mike.
“Of course. Grey County. That’s in ….”
Mike was beginning to wonder about these people, but if they needed help, he would do his best. “Southwestern Ontario.” He watched the Captain struggle to pretend that he knew where it was. “Province of Ontario? Canada?” he continued slowly, and saw that it finally clicked with the Captain.
“Canada! Of course! A moment, please…” responded the Captain and he and his officers huddled around the Science Officer with his hand-held device. After several moments of whispered conversation that sounded like a debate, the huddle opened and the Captain approached Mike, with a sheepish smile on his face. “It seems that a computer error got us sent here by mistake. Until we get it fixed, we’ll have to stay here.”
“Yeah, sometimes the airlines are something else,” agreed Mike. “Come on back to our bullpen and have some coffee!” As Mike led the way into the back part of the building, the Science Officer was busy scanning the area.
“Captain,” he whispered. “I find no other life readings than we humanoids in the immediate area. There are no bulls and therefore no danger.” They followed Mike and came to a large room filled with tables in front of a wooden counter. There were several paintings on the walls and the room looked cheerful and welcoming.
“We’re the only real estate brokerage in town with a coffee bar,” smiled Mike proudly. They took their coffees to the tables and sat. “Well,” continued Mike. “The airlines couldn’t have sent you to a better place. It is confusing, since Toronto Island airport changed its name to Billy Bishop Airport. Sometimes flights come here to our Billy Bishop Regional Airport instead of Toronto. But since you’re here, let’s find a place for you to stay. “The Best Western Inn On The Bay is just up the street from here, at 1800 2nd Avenue East. They have air conditioning, free parking and free Wi-Fi. “Another good choice is the Comfort Inn, at 955 9th Avenue East. They’ve got great breakfasts! “Let’s give you a choice of three. Another good place to stay is the Inn on 6th . Like the name says, it’s at 896 6th Street East. With air conditioning, an outdoor pool, and free Wi-Fi and parking, you can’t go wrong!”
After the choice was made and rooms booked, Mike went on: “You folks must be starving! What are you up for? “If you like Chinese, we can walk down the street to Channing Chinese Restaurant at 1002 2nd Avenue East. “Or right next door is Sabitri’s Global Cuisine at 941 2nd Avenue East. Like the name says, the cuisine is international and great! “If you prefer vegan, also next door is The Bleeding Carrot, at 945 2nd Avenue East. Salads, wraps, smoothies, fresh juice and baked goods! “And those are just on this street. In all, Owen Sound has over 70 places to enjoy a meal! And in September, you can’t miss our Ribfest at the Bayshore Community Centre. Sample the culinary delights that can only come from 5 of the best North American Rib Teams! But for now we could even walk a bit farther up this street and enjoy a meal at The Bus Stop Cafe at 1023 2nd Avenue East. People come from all around for breakfast there. “Or, a little farther up the street, we could go to The Boot and Blade at 1135 2nd Avenue East. The possibilities are endless!”
Some time later, as they were enjoying their dessert, Mike asked his visitors what they knew of Owen Sound. At the blank stares, he grinned and assured them that he was only too happy to tell them about his city.
“Owen Sound is also called The Scenic City, because of where we are on the Bruce Peninsula and the Niagara Escarpment. The Bruce Trail is in our back yard, and the opportunities for hiking are everywhere! Because of the escarpment, we’ve got several beautiful waterfalls! You can enjoy them year-round, but the best time is in the spring when the water is high. We’ve got Weaver Falls, Jones Falls, Indian Falls and Inglis Falls.”
“We’ve seen Inglis Falls,” broke in the Captain, pleased to be able to contribute to the conversation. “Quite a sight!”
“You bet,” agreed Mike. “And the rest are just as note-worthy! “Little history lesson here,” continued Mike. “As well as being called The Scenic City, Owen Sound has also been called Chicago of the North, Corkscrew City and Little Liverpool.”
“Why all the different names?” questioned the Science Officer.
“Well, the other 3 names came about because of our rowdy reputation. We once had a tavern called Bucket of Blood. It shared a corner with 3 other taverns. That intersection came to be known as Damnation Corners. Funny thing about that was, just a block away, an intersection with a church on each corner was dubbed Salvation Corners. Anyway, all the drinking and rowdiness practiced by citizens at the time caused the coining of all the other names. Eventually, Prohibition came along and Owen Sound was “dry” until 1972!”
“Fascinating,” murmured the Science Officer. “This City’s location near a large body of water should ensure that adequate precipitation should be received, and yet it received no precipitation until stardate – er – the year 1972? How long did this Prohibition last?”
Mike glanced around the table and noticed an identical look of confusion on all of the faces. “Uhh, Prohibition was a movement. Prohibitionists wanted to make sure that no liquor of any kind was sold in the City. It was thought that drinking alcohol contributed to all of the sin in society. In fact, there’s a Saints and Sinners tour once a month from June to September. You can book a seat on the Beer Bus and take a tour to learn about the saints and sinners of the past and the brewmasters of the present.”
“Ah,” replied the Science Officer. “So the word ‘dry’ refers to the absence of alcohol. A commendable act, this Prohibition. I consume no alcohol. I can attest to its negative effects on an organism.”
“Sure…” ventured Mike with hesitation. “Anyway, enough about the history lesson. Right now, Owen Sound has so much going for it that I bet you could name any type of recreational activity and Owen Sound has got it! Go ahead! Test it!”
“All right,” replied the Captain. “We know that Owen Sound has ‘culture’. We’ve already seen the Grey Roots Museum and Archives.” “And you think that’s all the culture we’ve got?” shot back Mike, with a large grin. “I’ve got to take you to see the Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery at 840 1st Avenue West. It’s not far from here and you will enjoy his paintings. They inspired the famous Group of Seven, you know.
“Can we see the underground tunnels?” exclaimed the Engineering Officer with anticipation.
Again, Mike glanced around the table. Where did these new friends come from, under a rock? “Umm, the Underground Railroad refers to an organization that secretly smuggled slaves out of America to Canada, to freedom.”
“Our 400-seat theatre, the Roxy Theatre, is just around the corner from our brokerage, at 251 9th Street East. You can catch live theatre and concerts there! “Just across the street from our brokerage, you can see the works created by over 45 local artists at the Owen Sound Artists’ Co-Op at 942 2nd Avenue East. While there, you can also enjoy a snack at Birgit’s Cafe.
“In the winter, you haven’t seen Christmas lights until you’ve seen our Festival of Northern Lights, from November to January. Walk the displays and then stop in for a hot chocolate to warm up. There’s nothing like it!
The Captain was struggling to keep up. What was the Group of Seven? A legendary band of bandits from the past? And how would a painter inspire them? What was a red baron? He knew what a baron was, but what was the significance of red?
“Test me again,” commanded Mike, smiling.
“Music,” challenged the Science Officer.
“Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival for 3 days in August,” recited Mike, counting down on his fingers. “Georgian Bay Symphony holds 5 main concerts every year, usually at 1550 8th Street East. “Mudtown Music and Arts Festival every year in 8 different Owen Sound downtown venues. “TD Harbour Nights Concert Series each Sunday from June to August. See you behind the Visitors’ Centre at 1155 1st Avenue West. “Noon hour Concert Series each Wednesday from June to August at Georgian Shores United Church, 997 4 th Avenue East. “Owen Sound City Band Summer Concerts in the Park, each Monday in July and August, at Harrison Park. “Harbourfest, on the harbour front in July. “Sweetwater Music Festival, in September, in Owen Sound and Meaford. “Pratie Oaten Irish Festival, at Grey Roots Museum and Archives, in September. Next…”
“Sports,” suggested the Ship’s Doctor.
Mike took a deep breath and began: “Hiking the Bruce Trail. You can take short hikes or longer loops, easy terrain or challenging terrain. The whole family can take part! You’ll never believe the awesome scenery! “Swimming at Kelso Beach. Another family activity.” “We’ve been there, also,” added the Captain. “OK, fish for some of the largest rainbow trout in the world,” continued Mike. “Enter our Salmon Spectacular during the last week of August and try for the largest salmon. If nothing else, enjoy a delicious fish fry down by the harbour!
“Owen Sound is the smallest city in Ontario, and one of the smallest in Canada to host an Ontario Hockey League Major Junior hockey team – the Owen Sound Attack. The whole city gets behind our team! “In the summer you can enjoy our cycling trails. In the winter, the whole family can enjoy our snowmobile trails, or do some cross-country skiing or even visit some of the downhill ski clubs in the area!
“Hit the links at Cobble Beach Golf Resort,” continued Mike.
This was something the Captain thought he knew. They had been to the golf resort, of course, and the Science Officer had explained how the game was played. He also knew of the feline species called ‘lynx’ but somehow the part about striking such a creature was left out of the Science Officer’s explanation. He glanced at his Science Officer and saw the same confusion on his face. Sometimes these people at this point in time were so barbaric! “Holography,” challenged the Navigator. Mike drew his brows together in thought. The Science Officer realized that this technology did not yet exist in this time period, and he searched his memory for the correct term. “I believe the correct term is ‘movies’,” he remarked, and Mike’s brow cleared.
“We’ve got Owen Sound Outdoor Movie Nights once a week for 3 weeks in August, in multiple locations around the city. “We also have the Scenic City Film Festival in September at the Heartwood Concert Hall, 939 2nd Avenue East. “And, of course, there’s our Galaxy Cinema, at 1020 10th Street West, with 11 screens, 4 of which are 3D. Next.”
“Shopping,” said Yeoman Stevens.
“Downtown Owen Sound has all sorts of charming little surprises,” replied Mike. “There are one-of-a-kind boutiques, plus book stores, bike and board shops, photography stores, retailers specializing in high-end baby gear, children’s toys, Christian supplies, health foods, wool and knitting supplies, women’s clothing and sporting gear, shoes and boots for the whole
family, and wellness stores, to name a few.”
“Well, your city certainly seems to have everything,” concluded the Captain. “Water sports, summer sports and activities, winter sports and activities, musical and cultural events, lots of places to enjoy a meal. If we can’t get our computer issue resolved quickly, it would be quite tempting to live here.”
“Say the word,” replied Mike, “and I can get you into the perfect home. Here, take my card.” He handed his business card around the table. The Captain studied the card. “We may be pretty far from here soon…”
“No problem,” assured Mike. “You can call me on my cell or shoot me a text.” The Captain nodded his head and tried a self-assured smile to cover the fact that he had no idea what Mike had just said. They all stood and shook hands.
“Give you a lift to your hotel?” queried Mike.
A short time later, Mike walked into his brokerage and greeted his Office Manager. “I just had an interesting thing happen,” he began. “A small group of people walked in, didn’t know where they were, didn’t know they were even in Canada, one of them had some high- tech device that looked really futuristic, didn’t know what Prohibition was, didn’t know what an Underground Railroad was, seemed filled with horror when I mentioned hitting the links, didn’t know what a movie was…” “Hmmm,” mused his Office Manager. “Sounds like aliens,” she winked.
Meanwhile, in the hotel room, the Science Officer finished reassembling his hand-held device. “I believe that I have repaired the malfunction,” he announced. “Captain?” “Computer,” commanded the Captain. “Beam us back to the ship.” A low hum filled the room and the Captain and his officers and Yeoman shimmered out of existence, to reappear in the transporter room of their starship.
“Please start your computations for time travel,” the Captain directed the Science Officer. Less than an hour later, the starship left Earth’s orbit and initiated its warp drive engines on a course straight for the sun. “Captain’s Log, stardate 2260.2. My Science Officer has effected temporary repairs to the malfunctioning computer and we have successfully returned home to our own time. We were temporarily trapped on Earth of the past, circa the 21st century. Our computer system will be completely overhauled and, when completed, one of its first commands will be to provide information on the following: Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, circa 21st century; bullpen with no bulls; group of seven; red baron; prohibition; underground railways; a recreational activity called ‘golf’ and its relationship to the act of striking a feline species known as ‘lynx’; calling a cell; and shooting a text.”
Meanwhile, the computer technicians were busy overhauling the entire computer system. They were curious to find, at the helm, at the science station, at the captain’s chair, in sick bay and in engineering, the same small white card with printing on it:
Broker of Record / Owner
Century 21 In-Studio Realty Inc., Brokerage
927 2nd Avenue East,
Owen Sound ON N4K 2H5