© 2020 · Raise The Arches Rotary Social.
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Let’s Rebuild Our Arches!!

My name is Annette Steele and I am an “emerging” Fonthill artist. As a member of the Visual Artists of Welland VAW,  member of Niagara-on the-Lake Pumphouse Art School and Gallery, and member of the St. Carharines Art Association SCAA I would like to share this painting entitled “Where We Gather” with you that I created earlier this year. It was inspired by a photo I took at the Christmas market 2018.

It is one of four paintings that I have done over the last few years celebrating the arches in Fonthill and which embody my artistic purpose which is  to celebrate 21st century Niagara( its culture, it’s landmarks, it’s attractions, it’s history ) particularly Pelham and its surrounding communities on canvas.

My reason for celebrating our arches is founded  “on the idea that public gathering spaces are important … for fostering inclusion and connection within communities, especially for the marginalized or isolated”. ( Leah Lewis, The Art Hive).

It’s wonderful that children,  people who have mobility issues, parents, young adults, old friends,  students, grandparents etc., can just come downtown (Fonthill) to meet, to dance, to eat, to share a glass of wine, a craft beer, whatever your fancy and do it outside under our arches.

I have been a resident of Fonthill for over 30 years, have raise my family and my children here and over the last few years have looked forward to catching up with old friends under the arches: Friends that we spent so much time with when our children were in school, friends that we don’t see as much now that our children have moved way to work.

We came here when Fonthill was a one-stop town stoplight town and Keith’s pies bracket especially lemon and a bracket we’re famous!

Over the years Fonthill has proven itself to be a wonderful small-town community. The “arches” had become not only an attractive physical identity (which has now been lost,) but also and more importantly to me they fostered and promoted the spirit of “small-town living”.  My earliest painting was titled  “Fonthill… where the living is easy” celebrating its bicycling heritage (Steve Bauer) and Pelham’s annual bicycle race.

Another more recent painting is titled,  “cool, small-town living” showing people waving at each other in front of the arches.

Over the past few years “the arches”  to me have offered an endearing sense of community and fellowship and it’s been wonderful to be able to go to the Summerfest and winter market events and see the next generation of parents with their young children fascinated by the alpacas, lining up for carriage rides,  purchasing a Christmas gift from one of our talented vendors or standing at one of the many standup tables enjoying music and conversations with friends and neighbors while having a hot apple cider, mulled wine or a glass of our locally made craft beer.

I think it’s very important at this time of Fonthill’s rapid growth that we continue to offer a small-town feeling of community and belonging, a place under the arches “Where We (can continue to) Gather”.

Let’s rebuild our arches!!

On that note,  I’m sure that many of you are not aware that many years ago the town of Fonthill wanted an indoor skating arena.  All they had at that time was an outdoor rink. ( This is the same skating arena whose fate is now being decided).

The skating club executive as well as the hockey club executive decided that they would put forth a huge fundraising effort in order to be able to build this arena for Fonthill’s growing population of young families. They, along with the contribution from the town succeeded in raising $100,000 which the province matched (we were the first community to be awarded money from the revenue the province was bringing in with its new provincial lottery) and that’s how we got our arena. (as Publicity Director the Fonthill skating club for five years I did a research paper on this because we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of our arena).

Just as the town at that time rallied to raise funds for the arena I feel that we too, as a community could rally  for all our families in the spirit of inclusion  to raise funds to rebuild our arches thereby restoring not only our place to gather as a community but also to restore our beautiful and distinguishable landmark.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Annette Steele
289 690 2780
210-190 Hwy 20 West,
Ridgeville, On

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