Doug Carrick is having a ball …

Many years ago, when conducting a survey with outdoor educators about the place where they got their first contact with wildlife. I was surprised by the number of respondents that said, “Golf courses.”

I was expecting fishing trips with family, or blueberry picking in the days when you shared the patch with black bears, or canoe trips in the wilderness. But no, it was more often than not in the landscaped setting of a golf course. Cognitive dissonance is good.

Research into the background of a local politician led me to the history of the Greystones Golf Course and Tudor-style Clubhouse, where I became aware of the philosophy and influence of Doug Carrick in golf course design. Here was a man who believed in designing courses for all levels of players, and that fit in with the natural flow of the landscape where possible. One of those was Greystones, which follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment near Milton, Ontario.

More familiar to Caledon golfers will be Osprey Valley, another Carrick design.  The Caledon Council Community Golf Tournament returned there on Wednesday, September 5, 2018. More familiar still to truly avid golfers will be one of the most photographed holes in Canada, the sixth hole at Greywolf in Invermere, B.C. known as “The Cliffhanger.” But only the most committed to the joys of chasing little dimpled golf balls through the trees and grass and over sand traps and water hazards will know the story of Scotland’s “The Carrick” … I’ll save that one until the end.

I had the opportunity this summer to sit down with Doug Carrick at his office in Don Mills and discuss his history in golf and his philosophy of course design. That history goes back to the influence of legendary course designers like Robbie Robinson and Stanley Thompson (who between them have overseen the development of over 300 courses). Carrick’s history also includes an early practical introduction to golf as a caddy and a brief amateur competitive period as a club pro before turning his full time attention to golf course design and construction.

The glory days of big project golf courses were at their peak during the early 20’s and for 20 years following WW2. The second wave of new course development was 10 years away when Doug began his career. The hundreds of courses that Robinson and Thompson designed were in the days of the “Roaring Twenties” and the post war affluence of Mad Men business deals. Clubs proliferated and memberships soared until the economic downturns tightened the belt on golf course extravagance.

Still, Doug Carrick had the opportunity to make his mark with some unique and acclaimed courses locally including Osprey Hoot & Toot and Osprey Heathlands, King Valley, Copper Creek, and Bigwin Island on The Lake of Bays. When asked to name the favourites of his designs, Doug turned to a picture on the wall of Predator Ridge. “Well, there’s one,” he smiled. Then he added Humber Valley in Newfoundland, Muskoka Bay, Eagles Nest, Cobble Beach, Legends on the Niagara, and Greywolf in British Colombia.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Carrick Design’s Lebovic Golf Course in Aurora opened this summer, and The Nest just made its debut in Innisfil at Friday Harbour Resort. That project presented Carrick with quite a challenge as local planning changes forced the golf course to relocate to a flat agricultural area. Fortunately, all of the material dredged out to make the Friday Harbour Marina was put on the golf course area and Carrick basically had sculpting material to terraform the agricultural land.

As well, being adjacent to protected conservation lands, the golf course was required to plant over 14,000 trees that paid back the carbon capture potential. This addition of native species of flowers, shrubs and trees on previously monoculture land had a tremendous impact in attracting wildlife to the area as well as beautifying the course.

But the course that fascinated me the most was “The Carrick” in Scotland. How, I wondered does a young Canadian designer get to design a golf course in Loch Lomond and get it named after him? Doug admitted humbly that Carrick or “carraig” in Scottish Gaelic translates to rock – the “The Carrick”.

This one was a challenge for many reasons. Loch Lomond is sacred ground in Scottish tradition and a National Park. Many locals saw golf as a “blight on the landscape”. “a game for the privileged” that would destroy the natural beauty of the Loch Lomond landscape. For that reason, Carrick and team had to drive miles away from the site to look back and ensure that the course design would not impact the sight line of approaching visitors to Loch Lomond. Today The Carrick is an honoured part of the Loch Lomond community. The Kennedy Clan would be proud.

Doug says those big jobs for new courses are far and few between now. The biggest work is in remodelling old courses – sort of like taking that beautiful century home and retrofitting it for another century. Regardless, Carrick’s philosophy remains the same – work with the flow of the land, and design courses that are playable for golfers of every level. When I asked how he intends to pass on the legacy that has travelled from Thompson to Robinson to him, he introduced me to Steve Vanderploeg who has been with him for twenty years.

Doug Carrick looks much too young to pass the torch yet, but mentorship has its rewards. It looks like a long tradition of great golf course design is alive and well at Carrick Designs.

Now, I have to go and practice my chipping – thanks for the inspiration, Doug.


p.s. Just as I was finishing this article, a good friend sent me a picture of a stag that had stopped to watch the golf game on Bigwin Island last weekend. “Played my favorite Doug Carrick course (Bigwin Island) last week. Attached is a picture of one of the best parts of the day.  We had seen several doe and their babies but it wasn’t until the back 9 that we saw this stag.  He literally just walked up to our tee block. A couple of holes later we also saw 2 young bucks as well. This is one of the reasons that makes golf at Bigwin so great.”


Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon.

Doug Ford’s Revenge

Many political pundits have asked the question, “Why is Premier Doug Ford in such a hurry to pass Bill 5 / Bill 31 to reduce the size of Toronto City Council?” Few seem honest enough to provide the simple answer: Revenge and Ambition.

Consider that Ford calculated that he was not going to beat John Tory in the next municipal election. Consider the possibility that the smear campaign against Patrick Brown was an inside job orchestrated by a far right team who calculated Ford had a better chance going into the Provincial leadership cauldron. Consider that Ford did not win the majority of votes in either the Progressive Conservative leadership debacle, nor in the provincial election. Yet, he is now PCPO Leader and Ontario’s Premier.

Further consider that one of his first acts, after denying climate change and axing Ontario’s international carbon pricing agreement along with the green initiatives rebate plan, was to suspend the elections of Municipal Chairs in two Regions. Which two? Why that would be Peel Region, thus thwarting enemy Patrick Brown’s dreams of a comeback, and York Region, where former Liberal MPP rival Steven Del Duca was poised for victory. Not only are these two Regions among the GTA’s most populous and powerful, they are now under Ford’s baleful eye.

The current scramble to cut Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 seats is a blatant move to allow Doug Ford to become Mayor of Toronto. If his cohort of lackeys led by Giorgio Mammolitti (who once compared Ford’s campaign to “religion”), Jim Karygiannis, and Stephen Holyday take the majority of the proposed 25 seats, the City of Toronto will be firmly under the management of Ford’s far right. With Boss Ford in control of Toronto, York Region and Peel Region, there is no telling what his regime could deconstruct.

The solution to this problem, if Bill 5 or 31 become law and Toronto City Council is reduced to 25 seats, is not to vote for a single Ford acolyte. That may be the only way to stop this pompous populist from waging four years of war on social justice and environmental literacy. There are other ways, but we would need a Canadian hero like Louis Riel to lead the return to sanity.

We could look south of our border for a cautionary tale if we need incentive. Both leaders are cut from the same playbook and both play to the lowest common denominator of the human condition. Ontario and Toronto deserve better.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, from North York to Caledon

Skid is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario, CANADA


Caledon Candidates’ Candor

On September 17, 2018 this questionnaire is being emailed personally to every candidate running for Town Council in the 2018 Municipal Election in Caledon, Ontario. All responses, or lack thereof, will be reported in the first week of October.


Dear Mayoralty, Regional and Area Municipal Candidates,

This Questionnaire is being sent out to all municipal candidates running for Town Council for the Region of Peel, Town of Caledon. The responses to this Q & A will be published online in early October, after summer holidays wind down, the “return to school” rush is over, and citizens again begin to tune in to local politics. Unanswered email questionnaires will be indicated with a “Did Not Respond” beside the candidate’s name.


1. Your Council will see new politicians taking office to fill the gaps left by retirement on the one hand and ambition on the other. In order to build a forward thinking, respectful and consensus building Council for the next four years, what would be the qualities you would look for in your 2018 – 2022 colleagues and your Mayor?

2. Since literally anyone who is breathing, of age, and a Canadian citizen living or working in the area can run for Council, what are the credible professional and life skills you would bring to this position?

3. In an era where politicians are accused of and found guilty of violating their Code of Conduct, Integrity Standards, and respectful social mores, yet do not change their behaviours, what are the positive character traits that you would bring to Council?

4. The catch phrases “I speak for the people” and “I seek honesty and transparency” and “I do this for the hard working taxpaying citizens” have become meaningless porridge spin clips from politicians. If elected, what do you truly desire for Caledon?

5. As a newly elected Council member, how do you intend to deal with litigious private interests who lobby, bully, and intimidate local politicians?

Please email your responses to <> by September 31/18

Yours in media literacy,


  • Originally written for Just Sayin’ Caledon


Note: On Monday September 24, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. there will be an all candidates’ debate  at the Inglewood Community Centre, and another all candidates’ debate at the Alton Public School on Thursday September 27 at 7:00 p.m.

For a more casual encounter with your candidates there is a Lunch and Learn on Tuesday, September 25th beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Rotary Place Senior’s Centre – lunch is $4.00 – call 905-951-6114 to register for the event.


Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon.

Caledon’s Healthy Backyard Hens

originally published for Patti Foley’s Just Sayin’ Caledon


With the first summer of the Backyard Hens demonstration project successfully completed, it’s time for a cluckingly brilliant update.

To begin, the hysterical concerns from certain politicians and their resident coven of followers about backyard hens wiping out the businesses of the fowl farmers in Caledon, spreading avian flu across the Region of Peel, and infecting Caledon chicken lovers with salmonella turned out to be FALSE. The salmonella bacteria that avian species carry in their guts for digestion was defeated by a new medical miracle called … hand washing!

So far this year in North America, Zero – O – deaths from salmonella infections, although a few dozen people came down sick after eating President’s Choice chicken meat products. Our hens and their organic, free-run eggs are in the clear.

Much like the fears about “hydrogen bombs” at the Canadian Tire Distribution Centre, and the concept of a “freight village” destroying the rustic atmosphere of the quaint rurban town of Bolton, the hysteria turned out to be classic fear mongering spread by ignorance.

It should be noted however, that in 2018 the bacteria that we mammals carry in our intestinal flora, E.coli, killed 5 people in the U.S. and sickened over 200. Canada only reported eight sick people in all and no deaths. Maybe we should wash our hands more after a visit to the throne room, and not drink water downstream from manure piles.

On a healthier and happier note, we now have two demonstration flocks – our four prolific Golden Girls, and our four Canadian Heritage Chanteclers. Those eight hens laid organic Omega 3 enriched free-run eggs every day and weathered both heat waves and torrential downpours. From May through to the end of August those girls produced over 720 eggs – that’s 60 dozen healthy, home grown eggs!

The only accident all summer long at the Farm was when I cut my finger moving a piece of equipment. When a non-supportive local politician saw my bandaged finger and asked what had happened, I replied “Chicken duty.” Her eyes glowed with anticipation, thinking that I had been attacked and pecked close to death by an angry flock, thus proving her theory of the dangers of backyard hens. Apologies to the “over eager for a crisis” politician, but as Wesley says in The Princess Bride, “Get used to disappointment.”

In an attempt to educate this same politician, I invited her to the Farm to meet the Golden Girls. “Are they dirty?” she asked. I sighed, “They’re chickens. They bathe in dust. WTC?!” So much education to complete, so little time. Losing patience. Do NOT re-elect!

For the education of the rest of our citizens, both demonstration coops will be open for visiting at the Albion Hills Community Farm Honey Garlic Festival on Saturday, September 29, 2018 from 12:00 to 5:00. The demonstration coops and runs, which conform precisely to Caledon’s Backyard Hen By-law, will be dedicated that day to the Krick Family, whose daughters and their Christmas chickens were the inspiration for the by-law.

Come out and meet Clovis and Bee, our Honey Garlic Festival Mascots, and the “Chicken Whisperer” who will be introducing you to the Golden Girls and the Chanteclers. It’s eggsactly the kind of thing to do on a fall weekend in Caledon – celebrating our right to grow local food and celebrate our deep and abiding connection to agriculture.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

From Dirt to Delicious in Caledon

Originally written for Just Sayin’ Caledon


The Albion Hills Conservation lands are one of Caledon’s green jewels. Most know the area for its camping, swimming, bike and hike trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing. But it also houses two Outdoor Education Centres, one run by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the other by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).

However, what some will remember fondly and others never knew existed, was the dairy farm tucked away in the north west corner of the property. The cows, and their manure pile overlooking the Humber River watershed are now gone, replaced by the Albion Hills Community Farm (AHCF). That is where a group of Caledon children, camping at Albion Hills Conservation Area, came to connect with their local food.

The children’s camp program is called “Dirt to Delicious” or D2D as it is affectionately known by Barb Imrie, a lifelong outdoor educator and the driving force behind the creation of the community farm. Barb, together with Amy Darrell, camp director, and Karen Hutchinson, Director at the AHCF, coordinated the children’s visits to the Farm.

There is nothing more rewarding than to see the look of wonder on children’s faces when they are connecting with their natural world. And there is nothing more basic to life than the food we eat. When a child plants a seed, watches it grow, harvests the crop, saves the seeds for next year and then prepares the meal, the cycle of learning is complete. That is where Dirt to Delicious makes such a great impact.

Assisted by Hayley Cunneyworth, the Farm’s talented summer student from Queen’s University, her brother Jackson in his final year at King Secondary School, and Steve McElroy, outdoor education specialist with TDSB and TRCA, the children weeded, planted and got their hands in the dirt. Steve, our Bee Man, took them to the apiary where they donned full beekeeper suits and went to see the hives. They smoked the hives, took out the trays of combs, and marveled at the cycle of life these tiny honeybees create.

Then they came to meet our first flock of backyard hens. Karen refers to me as the “Chicken Whisperer” and my role was to take the children into the run and meet my “Golden Girls” up close and personal. The children were in awe. “They are so beautiful, and so soft,” said one young girl as she stroked the chicken gently from head to tail feathers. Two eager volunteers collected the eggs. Another child just scooped up one of the hens and held it on her hip. The hen was absolutely calm.

“You are very good with animals,” I marveled.

“My friend has chickens. I love them,” she answered with a smile.

And there you have it. Children in contact with the natural cycles of life are healthy, happy children. They know from where their food comes, how it grows, how to plan for the next season. They know from where their honey comes, and can be amazed by the secret life of honeybees. They can raise their own food, collect their own eggs, and learn a responsibility for life that only farming and animal husbandry can bring.

From Dirt to Delicious plants the seeds. It takes a caring community to grow the children.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon