Category Archives: CLUBWEST

Prevention Key

(To view our July/August 2019 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

For Fire Chief of The Year – Mike Cain
By Mike Williscraft

It’s not easy bucking a 100-year trend, but Grimsby Fire Chief Mike Cain has been doing exactly that.

Not only has he been going against the grain of traditional beliefs and traditional views of firefighting, he had significant success.

This success drew the attention of the Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association, which bestowed the 2019 Fire Chief of the Year Award on Cain during its annual convention last month.

“I was very surprised,” said Cain from his office at Grimsby Fire Station 1.

The question is, though, should he have been?

Granted, there are 440 municipalities in the Province of Ontario with fire departments, so there was plenty of competition, but few, if any, have the varied background, employment history and intensely consistent history of driving home the point that prevention is THE way to go when it comes to firefighting.

For Cain, it is not about the great things firefighters do when actually battling intense flames and smoke-enveloped buildings – although he is quick to heap kudos to his dedicated crew. It is about education, awareness and planning which can prevent fires, injury and death.

He has seen all that in his decades of service to Grimsby Fire, which goes back 30 years to when he started as a volunteer firefighter.

While most people in town would recognize Cain through his work with the department, the fact is he had several careers before getting into senior roles with Grimsby Fire.

After growing up in St. Catharines and graduating from Sir Winston Secondary School, Cain graduating from Fanshawe College (Construction Engineering Technology); Dalhousie University (Certificate in Fire Service Leadership, a Specialty in Human Resource Management), and; Brock University (Certificate in NextGen Municipal Leadership Program). These do not include the plethora or one-off courses related to firefighting.

When just out of school, Cain started his own home renovation company, which operated from 1983-1989, then he took a position with Town of Lincoln as a building and plumbing inspector.

After working for one year as a consultant in Toronto, Cain returned to a Town of Grimsby job, again as a building and plumbing inspector.

When a position at a prestigious consulting firm came up – the firm which develops the fire safety codes which Cain now lives by – Cain had to take the shot, and he did, going to work as a technical consultant there for two years.

Two more years of the Toronto commute proved enough, and Cain seized the opportunity to return to Grimsby as the chief fire prevention officer. After two years in that position it was on to the Deputy Fire Chief position (2004-2009) and was promoted to Fire Chief in 2009.

That education and work history barely scratches the surface of his six-page resume but it gives one an understanding of just how long the road to knowledge can be. Cain’s varied background in the building trade gives him an excellent understanding of how structures are put together and, by extension, how to strategize when fighting an active blaze.

But all the knowledge in the world, on occasion, still does not help.

Case in point, the infamous blaze which destroyed three buildings in downtown Grimsby in 2017.

“That was preventable,” said Cain.

And prevention was the only way that fire could have been stopped given the century old construction with which they were built. That fire burned from a fence in the rear of one building expanding its way up into the roof and walls in no time. Once it accessed those locations, it proved impossible for firefighters to get ahead of it and the operation became damage control as the structures were reduced to rubble over the course of an afternoon.

“Emergency respone, suppression has a 100-year tradition unimpeded by change,” said Cain.

“We have great suppression crews, highly respected, and as well they should be, but the best way to improve fire safety is through prevention.”

While it may seem like simple common sense, it is a bumpy road to navigate since the reputation of firefighters generally precedes them in the community.

“Firefighters are heroes by reacting to circumstance,” said Cain, “and, on occasion, they do amazing things.”

“But far more lives can be saved through prevention. It has taken a long time to get this belief embraced.”

This difficulty comes from the general public, those in the industry and even in municipal governments.

“When budgets are set, typically, money goes into suppression. We have tried to reverse the traditional paradigm. Fire code enforcement and prevention are key,” notes Cain.

When completing a nomination for Chief of The Year, Grimsby’s fire prevention officer, Paul Kucharuk, cited 24 different programs the department utilizes all to raise awareness and drive home the need for prevention to young and old alike.

As well, it is noted that Cain implemented a policy under which all volunteer firefighters are trained as fire and life safety educators so no matter which firefighter gets asked a question – whether it be during their presence at the Grimsby Farmers’ Market or at a stop in a grocery store, everyone in the department would be able to field questions in a knowledgable manner.

Cain sees the prevention initiatives as akin to the ancient Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

If prevention programming is working, it should result in a reduced call workload on the department.

2004 – more than 900 calls
2018 – less than 600 calls

“We will never stop fires. As long as people occupy buildings, stuff will happen,” noted Cain.

“It’s what you do about it that will ultimately determine long-term successes.”

Among the initiatives Grimsby has implemented is a detailed awareness program as part of its annual open house during Fire Prevention Week in October.

As noted in Cain’s nomination: “Grimsby holds a Fire Safety Day annually in September and it is a huge success with 800 plus in attendance. The entire fire department participates! Children learn fire safety through various stations such as Get Out Safely, Stop Drop and Roll, Calling 9-1-1. Adults learn kitchen safety, escape plans, importance of working smoke and CO alarms and fire extinguishing training. A live burn demonstrates how quickly fire spreads. Fire safety materials promoting the NFPA prevention week theme are available to the children and adults. A Fire Safety Day is not complete without a BBQ. All free to our citizens sponsored by the Grimsby Fire Department! Local news media advertises the event and attends taking photos for print media.”

It should not be lost on the community that the Fire Safety Day is held within the confines of Grimsby’s Station 2 – another aspect of the chief ’s planning.

“Fire Chief Cain had a vision. His vision of building a Training Facility began in 2007 when he was Deputy Chief. He endlessly pursued this vision and finally gained the support of Town Council in 2015 when they committed to sharing in his vision. In May 2017, Chief Cain’s vision became reality with the grand opening of the Grimsby Regional Training Centre (GRTC). The GRTC was designed with Fire Station 2 on one side and training facility on the other. The interior training side houses four classrooms, commercial kitchen and a lab, while the exterior training facilities include a training tower and eight burn cells with an additional area for vehicle extrication and vehicle fire investigation. GRTC is referred to as the ‘Centre of Fire Prevention and Public Education Excellence’. Based on Chief Cain’s belief that fire prevention is the future of our industry, GRTC (and for 2 years before its establishment) has been offering training to the fire services and Grimsby’s community partners and organizations,” reads his nomination form.

“It’s about modifying people’s behaviour reprioritization, just as we did with the blue box programs,” Cain pointed out, adding it was many years before recycling efforts had any support, but now there are grey and green boxes added to the program for cardboard/boxes and compostable materials respectively.

Part of the problem is people can be somewhat lazy in their consideration of implementing fire safety measures, often due to historic successes of firefighters.

“People are very confident in their suppression crews, and they should be. They

think, ‘they’ll save me’,” said Cain.

But just as times change and it would be wise to shift focus to prevention, this thinking should be magnified by the knowledge of how today’s buildings are constructed.

Bringing his vast knowledge of building structure to the fore, Cain cited many design elements and changes in materials which make fighting fires in modern structures much more difficult and even a relatively small fire potentially deadly.



(To view our May/June 2019 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin

If nothing else, this edition of ClubWest Magazine presents two stellar examples of persistence – very different, I grant you, but both make very strong cases for pushing through adversity and never giving up.

First, we’ve got Jeff Tiessen.

We’ve all been kids at one time or another. We’ve done silly things, taken risks (some more risky than others). The vast majority of silly adventures end up as amusing anecdotes for us to tell when we are older.

For the most part, these missives don’t end in tragedy or serious accidents, however, some do.

Case in point is Mr. Tiessen’s tobogganing accident after a much-larger than-normal snow storm. The added precipitation made it possible for his ride to clear a fence sending him into a hydro transformer compound.

The rest, as they say, is history.

But Jeff has not allowed history to dictate to him. He has made his own history and, simply, made history with world record times in his paralympic track and field exploits.

He must have thought “why me?” at some point in his life, but those days have long passed by. Today he is a relentless advocate for those who face a wide variety of challenges and a beacon of hope for those same folks.

Good on him!

With Jeffery’s Greenhouse, no business survives more than a couple of years without peaks and valleys along the way. To survive three generations? That is a whole other matter.

Continued to success to both! Enjoy their stories.

Publisher, ClubWest Magazine
Mike Williscraft



(To view our May/June 2019 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

Fresh food and fine wine essential ingredients to a New Zealand recipe

By Lorraine Simpson

New Zealand is a dream destination. From the crystal waters of the Abel Tasman, to the expanse of Northland’s Ninety Mile Beach, to the mountains surrounding Queenstown — the country knows no shortage of breathtaking scenery.

Visitors can experience the best of it by hiking, lazing at the beach, or soaking up views from a vineyard with a glass of local pinot noir in hand.

As our long winter has come to an end is it time to consider a warmer place to spend next winter?

There’s no bad time to travel to New Zealand, but unless you’re a snow bunny and planning to spend time on the slopes, it’s generally wise to avoid visiting in their winter which is perfect for us Canadians as their summer is our coldest time.

As seasons are opposite to the northern hemisphere, travelers end up leaving the snow to head into beautiful sunny weather.

Though the summers have beautiful weather, early January is also not the best time to visit. It’s common for New Zealanders to take three or four weeks off around the holidays, meaning cities empty out while everyone heads to the beach, and many restaurants and cafes shut down, limiting options for dining, and crowding the beaches. We suggest February and March.

Your New Zealand experience starts the moment you step aboard your flight. Air New Zealand international flights feature New Zealand wines and cuisine. And their friendly, professional crew will make sure you’re comfortable throughout your flight. Experience award-winning service and warm Kiwi hospitality.

New Zealand’s wine and food is amongst the best in the world. Taste is paramount. Talented and innovative chefs combine ingredients freshly harvested from garden, land and sea while Pacific influences, organics and indigenous foods create a unique experience – whether that’s fine dining or casual outdoor meals, cellar door tasting, mingling with the locals at farmers’ markets, or an authentic Māori hangi experience.

Spectacular scenery is just the beginning of the New Zealand experience – aside from the landscape, some of New Zealand’s best kept secrets are of the culinary kind.

For an authentic taste of New Zealand, the intrepid explorer should also be prepared to engage the tastebuds and discover the unique flavours and quirky treats – from chocolate fish to golden kumara – that Kiwis love to come home to.

Of course you’d also expect to taste great wine in NZ and a new batch of luxury hospitality offerings lifts the country’s wine experiences to a new level.

New Zealand is best known for its rugged mountain peaks, deeply carved fiords and sweeping white sand beaches. Now this land of natural contrasts is home to luxury wine experiences in locations as diverse as the sides of cliffs and beside picture-perfect lakes.

Our first stop is Craggy Range, Hawke’s Bay – famed for its distinctive art deco architecture – has buckets of sunshine and a fertile coastal landscape that infuses award-winning wines and gourmet food.

The two-day Craggy Range Ultimate Wine Tour begins with a helicopter tour over Craggy Range vineyards with head winemaker Matt Stafford, who guides the small group as they view vines and the region’s natural landmarks from the air, including Tuki Tuki Valley, the Te Awanga coast and Cape Kidnappers.

Then it’s back to the winery for a personalized tasting and blending session to create your own wine to take home.

The experience can be mixed and matched with a bespoke food and wine event, which begins in the garden and culminates in a personalized three-course meal at Craggy Range’s Terrôir Restaurant.

Food is prepared from a guided food gathering with chef Andrew Saxon. Guests stay in the luxurious four-bedroom lodge and can also fly-fish, walk up Te Mata Peak and play a few rounds of golf. Its warm maritime climate makes Hawke’s Bay comfortable to visit year-round, even on chilly winter mornings when the sun is shining and the cool air has chilled the air temperatures.

Next stop on our wine lovers’ adventure is The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.

It is a 30-minute drive from Napier on the North Island’s east coast but a world away, with its dedication to high-end luxury experience. This is a special place, not only because it reveals panoramic views of New Zealand’s wild east coast at its best, but also because it’s home to just a handful of individual private cottages, so few people can stay at once.

There’s a particular focus on food and wine here. Wine experiences range from wine tastings and appreciation classes in The Farm’s own cellars to full-day excursions exploring the cellars of some of Hawke’s Bay’s best wineries.

If eating freshly harvested oysters, taking a private helicopter tour over the Marlborough Sounds and foraging for your own food appeals, then the Cloudy Bay Winery’s Forage experience is for you.

In between food foraging, there are private vineyard tours, wine tastings, sashimi tastings of local salmon and lunch on the Marlborough Sounds on the way to Tio Point oyster farm to harvest shellfish fresh from the sea. It also includes a private barrel tasting and blending session at the globally renowned Cloudy Bay Winery – one of the first in New Zealand to make sauvignon blanc. We finish with The Forage dinner, created from the produce collected.

We stay at Dog Point Vineyard’s The Bell Tower, which offers boutique accommodation with outstanding views across Marlborough’s Wairau Valley.

Next we travel to Brancott Estate Heritage Centre overlooking the country’s largest wine region, Marleborough which has vistas to the North Island. With one of the most outstanding vineyard restaurants in the country, Brancott specializes in fresh regional produce and wine tastings including wines only available at the cellar door.

There is an exclusive bespoke private dining room catering for up to 18 guests, or a wine tasting tailored to your tastes. Take a vineyard cycling tour or up the splendour with a helicopter flight over the vineyards followed by a wine tasting.

A premium wine tasting experience features Brancott’s top-flight wines, led by one of the estate’s experts. We stay nearby in the newly opened five-star Marlborough Lodge, a stately residence set in expansive heritage gardens.


For more info and to join one of our hosted group trips to Portugal check out the following website,, or call ClubWest’s travel guru, Lorraine Simpson, for all your travel need 289-273-8095.