In Retrospect – Autumn 2023

A look back on how we’ve covered the pleasures and concerns of country life over the last three decades.

September 8, 2023 | | Arts

This year In The Hills celebrates its 30th anniversary. To mark the occasion, in each issue of 2023, we’re digging into archives to take a look back at some of the themes that have populated our pages over the past three decades – stories that reflect how the pleasures and concerns of our special countryside community have evolved over a generation. The full articles featured here can be found by clicking on the links and images below.


Over the years, In The Hills has celebrated the rich natural bounty of the Headwaters region, but we have also documented the threats it faces – from the impact of global climate change to local issues such as water-taking and illegal dumping. However, the news isn’t all grim; we’ve also reported on the many initiatives by local governments, community groups and individuals who are responding in both big and small but important ways to protect our environment.

2012 – Battling the Bottle

“Buying a bottle of water seems like a little thing. In reality, though, it’s a very big thing. One that has spread throughout the world, and that some say threatens a basic tenet of society: water as a shared human resource. It’s a classic case of big business versus the little guy, and — no surprise, considering we call this region Headwaters — one corner of this international battle is playing out right here at home.”

2022 – Climate Change and the Young

“Asked why she is striking, … Nancy Urekar reiterates a reason familiar to two generations of climate activists: “Because otherwise someday my kids and grandkids will say, ‘You knew it was coming and you did nothing.’ ” Fair enough. But Greta [Thunberg], [Orangeville student] Olivia [Rowan] and their peers are those grandkids … For them the future is not a “someday” abstraction. It is at hand, and they are raising their collective voice and declaring “J’accuse!” Or as a large banner hanging from a bridge in Berlin during one Friday strike succinctly put it: ‘Worst. Ancestors. Ever.'”

2009 – Big Weather

“In the summer of 2006, 23 tornadoes struck Ontario during three separate storms. On August 2, the season’s second major storm triggered 14 tornadoes, including two F2 touchdowns — the highest number of tornadoes for a single event in the province and the number normally recorded for the entire year. It’s been more than two decades since the “big tornado” hit these hills in 1985, but in recent years the incidence of smaller tornadoes, high winds and violent storms has escalated.”

2016 – To Serve and Collect 

“Welcome to a humid, sunny, 33°C mid-July day in northwest Orangeville. On this day I’m embedded with a top-notch force committed to a battle all Headwaters residents can identify with. Armed with nothing more than a big honkin’ truck, a high-vis vest, and a firmly suppressed gag reflex, we’re frontline in the war on waste. Or to put it another way, getting rid of your stinking, rotten leftovers.”


From visual arts to music, from theatre to books, coverage of the arts has been a priority in our pages. That’s because we believe that creative expression in all its guises reflects the vibrancy and health of our community. And based on the volume of activity we continually have to choose from, we can say the Headwaters region is very vibrant and healthy indeed.

1994 — Dufferin’s Cultural Impresarios

Our first issue profiled the men who were the driving forces behind two exceptional new cultural institutions: Wayne Townsend, curator of Dufferin County Museum and Archives (as it was then known) and Jim Betts, artistic director of Theatre Orangeville. Like In The Hills, the theatre and the Museum of Dufferin are dedicated to telling and preserving the stories of our community. We’re proud to have celebrated our evolution and progress together with them ever since.

2010 — Hallelujah! Handel’s Messiah Comes to the Hills

“‘We’ve got to get a Handel on this,’ says [Achill Choir director Dale Wood] as the choir struggles through a section. Groans and laughter break the tension. They sample various parts of the score as they reconnect with the music. The choir performed Messiah at two sold-out venues in 2003, so the majority are familiar with the work. But Dale will not let them rest on their laurels, he challenges them with a section they had not sung in their previous concert.”

2012 — The Year in Books

Our first roundup of new books by local authors and illustrators appeared in winter 1998. It featured nine books. Since then local authors have been very busy. These days the list, developed with the invaluable assistance of BookLore in Orangeville, now regularly tips in at well over 30. Tracey Fockler, who read and reviewed them all, retired last year, and the task is now divided among several of our writers.

2005 — Artist in Residence

The late Mulmur artist Reed Cooper was the first to be featured on our Artist in Residence page in 2005. Since then, the page has put the spotlight on 75 local artists, including Vickie Wild, Christine Nnawuchi, Jim Stewart, and Sara Sniderhan. Peruse this section to see the impressive gallery of artists that have been spotlighted in the magazine. Throughout the years, the work of literally hundreds of other visual artists and craftspeople have also appeared in our columns and feature stories.

2004 — Painted in Peel

“The show was conceived by Judy Daley, assistant curator of the Peel Heritage Complex. Judy had been doing some research on the Canadian Heritage Information Network, an online catalogue of cultural resources, when she idly began keying in Peel place names. Names such as Palgrave, Alton and Meadowvale. The number of references that popped up astonished her. She tried a few more — Belfountain, Cheltenham, Terra Cotta. Not only was the list of references a long one, it included many of Canada’s most celebrated artists.”

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