Pacific Salmon Foundation announces grants to Hoy-scott Watershed Society and Fraser River Discovery Centre

[Photo above:  Rodney Lee, hatchery manager for the Hoy Scott Watershed Society shows the new connecting channel funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation to (from right) MP Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody); Michael Meneer, Pacific Salmon Foundation and Chris Hamming, Hoy-Scott Watershed Society]

Coquitlam and New Westminster projects to improve habitat and provide public education  

COQUITLAM/NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. Canada – The Pacific Salmon Foundation today announced two more of its 2014 Community Salmon Program grants — $2,350 to the Hoy-Scott Watershed Society and $1,500 for the Fraser River Discovery Centre The announcement was made in Coquitlam with local MP Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody).

The Hoy-Scott Watershed Society will use its grant to improve a connecting channel between a pond and Hoy Creek because limited water access is leaving fish stranded. The Fraser River Discovery Centre is applying its funding towards the creation of a new salmon exhibit that will lead visitors through the salmon life cycle and increase understanding of the diversity of wild Pacific salmon.

“Our granting model is designed to directly benefit wild Pacific salmon in a way that maximizes community engagement and understanding,” said Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. “The Hoy-Scott Watershed Society’s hatchery does double-duty in enhancing local stocks while engaging the public through educational initiatives. The Fraser River Discovery Centre’s new exhibit will reach thousands of youth who pass through its doors to help increase their understanding of the importance of Pacific salmon and the need for their conservation.”

“Wear and tear over the years has impacted our Coho rearing pond so much that water no longer flows correctly and it is difficult to maintain the right water levels in the pond itself,” said Chris Hamming, Treasurer, Hoy-Scott Watershed Society. “With the help of funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, we have been able to fix the problems and restore the pond to full operation.

“Our salmon life-cycle exhibit will be a new attraction for the thousands of families that come to our Centre every year,” added Fraser River Discovery Centre Executive Director Catherine Ouellet-Martin. “By using a series of floor decals, we will literally be able to “walk them through” the lifecycle of a wild Pacific salmon. This will be a great addition at the FRDC, both during special events like RiverFest in September – which celebrates BC and World Rivers Day – and as part of our overall education program on the importance of a sustainable working Fraser River.”

This year, the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Community Salmon Program will provide $1.5 million in grants to 121 projects in 72 communities across British Columbia. The total value of the projects including volunteer time and community fundraising is $9.1 million. The two projects in Coquitlam and New Westminster are good examples of this, as their total value adds up to almost $15,000 with additional funds raised at the local level.

“The work done by these two recipients and others in our communities is critical to the future of wild Pacific salmon,” said MP Fin Donnelly. “You can see how that will happen on the ground here in Coquitlam at Hoy and Scott Creeks. And the same will be case at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, which has been providing education around salmon for more than 10 years and helped me personally promote the health of the Fraser River.  I want to personally congratulate both groups for their efforts, and also thank the Pacific Salmon Foundation for its continued support for salmon by effectively leveraging proceeds from the federal Salmon Conservation Stamp and philanthropic donations.”

The Community Salmon Program supports thousands of volunteers who give countless hours each year to monitor watersheds, develop and implement habitat rehabilitation projects, and educate communities about the conservation and protection of salmon. Since its inception in 1987, the Foundation has provided $41.3 million in project awards and grants to a total of 2,262 projects that have involved more than 35,000 community volunteers.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation was created in 1987 as an independent, non-governmental, charitable organization to protect, conserve and rebuild Pacific Salmon populations in British Columbia and the Yukon. The Foundation’s mission is to be the trusted voice for conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon and their ecosystems and works to bring salmon back stream by stream through the strategic use of resources and local communities. www.psf.ca

Why the ALS #IceBucketChallenge is so important to me

You are probably getting sick and tired of seeing yet another ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video, but I am not.

I never knew what ALS was until my brother acquired the disease some 5 years ago.  ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die gradually leaving voluntary muscles paralyzed. It usually hits the hands and feet first with numbness as first signs. Eventually the person cannot walk, or move their body without aid, and gradually the person needs to be tube fed and the worst is losing the inability to talk.

When I learned my older brother Dean had ALS, I was shocked… when I sat down at the computer to do research, I then became devastated.  I cried off and on for 3 days trying to come to grips with it.   Bold words jumped out off the screen at me, “Fatal,”  “2 – 5 years to live,”  “Every day two or three Canadians die from ALS,” and “No cure” left me feeling hopeless.

How could something so awful affect my family is all I thought. A family that has been  generally very healthy and free from disease. There is no cure yet for ALS and the cause is still unknown, so I may never know the ‘why’.

My brother Dean with his only child Curt; and Dean and our family angel, Elaine.
My brother Dean with his only child Curt; and Dean and our family angel, Elaine. PHOTO AT VERY TOP is Dean with two home care workers out on a walk in his wheel chair in 2013 when he still living on his own. (Thank you Fluent Light Media)

In a world where most ‘finding  a cure’ information usually only relates to Cancer (one of the world’s most funded diseases) I was shocked, but so excited to find out about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge  started by Pete Frates.  “Finally my friends would understand what our family has been going through,” I thought.  Each and every ice bucket challenge brings great pleasure to me, and I am certain it is a voice for so many ALS sufferers and their families.  I ‘Like’ them all.

Of course with any ‘good thing’ there is always those that poo-poo ideas, in particular through social media, and the latest is the image of that little African boy who can’t believe we are dumping water when they don’t have water to drink… Okay, pleeeeeaaase!  How on earth does this relate?  And the article about how much the ALS Organization members make a year.  Now that one has me a bit stirred up, but I have to go back to the victims in the beds like my brother, the many actually suffering with the dreaded disease. I KNOW this challenge has, and is, lifting their spirits… money aside, the public awareness alone has MOVED MOUNTAINS of grief!

Finding a cure?  All the influx of millions of dollars of course holds no guarantee, and in a recent National Post article it said,  “ALS is a tough nut to crack, however: After 30 years of work, we don’t seem to be any closer to finding a cure. And there’s no particular reason to believe that we’re $100 million away from finally getting somewhere. Even if a million Americans donate $100 each to ALS, the net positive effect on the world might well be very small indeed.”

With the help of so many wonderful family friends, and an abundance of prayer, my brother Dean is a living miracle and fighting ALS.  He’s lost the use of his arms and hands, can still move his legs and feet a bit, but must use a wheelchair.  Last month his lung gave out after an infection and he had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy to survive, which means he is now tube fed.  He continues to amaze me with his courage, and strength, wit and humour.

Like any adversity, there is always a silver lining. My brother is finding his, and we are finding ours through the challenges our family faces together. Sometimes life throws you things you’d never expect, and when you first get hit with it, you feel your life is over, or you can’t go on… then you gather your strength, you regroup, hug your family, move on with your faith (prayers do help), and breath in the love that you always owned, and keep steady at the helm.

A miracle happened when someone told my sister about a relatively unheard of treatment called The Deanna Protocol, which was developed by Dr. Vincent Tedone five years ago, for his daughter Deanna Tedone-Gage who at the time was a new bride and a young attorney.  The products can be ordered online and have since helped reverse many of my brother’s symptom which we know have helped lengthen his life.  Research is now underway on The Deanna Protocol by scientists at the University of South Florida, led by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino. They are studying its effects on mice with ALS.

I encourage anyone with ALS to check out The Deanna Protocol! You have nothing to lose by trying it, and it seems to be far more affordable than much of the other treatments I’ve heard about being prescribed today.   You do not need a doctor’s permission to do so, unless you are in hospital care that is. Sound nutrition also helps. My brother is trying to get as many super foods in his body as he can, coconut oil and moringa are among those. Thankfully the hospital he is in seems to be cooperating and open to it, which we are so grateful for.

So  I hope I’ve been able to help you understand why I feel  the Ice Bucket Challenge is so important. If you need more proof, please watch this video which Upworthy deemed ‘The last Ice Bucket Challenge you need to see‘ by 26 year old photographer, Anthony Carbajal who was just diagnosed with ALS this year. Anthony’s mother has ALS, and his grandmother died of ALS.

I am off to now create my own Ice Bucket video from a challenge that came in from my daughter Jackie.  It’s great timing as my brother Dean will be back online today, as he’s scheduled to be using the new software where he can control his computer with his eyes.  My brother lives in another province, so our internet connection has become somewhat of a lifeline for us.

Please donate or take on the challenge if your name comes up. The more we know, the more that can be done.

(I would be remiss to not mention and link to this Facebook page, Hope for Steve, as they have been huge sources of inspiration for me personally as I watch how ‘Hope’ stays by her husband Steve’s side as he battles ALS. They are a living testament to the power of love.)

Donate to ALS Canada
An Overview of ALS Canada Research Program

Help fund a NEW Documentary on ALS

Coming up at the Coquitlam Crunch

So the Coquitlam Crunch has gained much momentum since putting in the 437 stairs (295 metres / 967 feet) at the first span up The Crunch.  So much so that a new facebook page for those that love the stairs as a work-out has come about. Coquitlam Crunch Stair Crushers now has close to 150 members. I am one of its members and it took me  awhile to realize that this group does focus on the stairs  (duh Robbin). I was simple excited to find a Facebook page related to The Crunch in any event, but I was confused for a while on all the group’s focus as to how many times persons were doing ‘the stairs.’

I work from home, so when I get out to walk, hike etc, I want to see more than those stairs.  My time is also not as limited perhaps as many of the 9-5 jobbers who need to fit in a tight and concise workout, which the stairs portion does provide.

For me the entire Coquitlam Crunch is what I  love, as this way I get the intensity of the stairs, but also the beauty and endurance of the complete hike up to the top. The 2.2 km trail spans from Guildford Way, where I walk up to the Landsdowne entrance (you can park your car there at a designated lot above the lacrosse courts)and keep going crossing two more roads to the top of Westwood Plateau at Eagle Mountain. It’s a beautiful view from an elevation of 794 feet (242 m) with Mount Baker visible in the distance.

Taken the week of August 18th. New short stairs just past the flower garden heading up.  Slight detour and no worries.  (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Taken the week of August 18th. New short stairs just past the flower garden heading up. Slight detour and no worries. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

The City of Coquitlam continues to enhance the popular trail which is part of its 90-km trail system,  a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Almost complete now is a new short stair system in the second rise above the stairs and across the street past the beautiful gardens that one resident has placed in (over their fence) which seems to be for our enjoyment exclusively.

After my run in with a bear on another trail in Coquitlam this year, I do feel safe to walk The Crunch year-round as their seems to be enough traffic noise and people to keep it safer from the big furry four-legged ones, however some crunchers do wear the bear bells, which are smart in any event.  However one Stair Crusher reported sounds of a bear while doing an early morning hike, so do take heed.

Bears are not the only concern, as it seems many two-leggeds bring their pet four-leggeds out for exercise and leave those nice little plastic bag bundles along the path! Hello… I’d rather see flowers!  It might help if the City of Coquitlam put in a trash can at the base of the stairs section, as within the first 100 stairs the other day I passed 4 colourful doggy-doo bags on the ground. Come on people!

When I first wrote about the main stair system being put in the City had marked the stairs with number points which helped a lot of people assess their workout progress, however the rain had since worn the white marks off, and I do believe a good citizen has taken it upon them self to add some numbers back. Thank you!

See you there! I plan on volunteering.
See you there! I plan on volunteering.

Coming up this September is the return of the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge. “Alexander Bell has teamed up with the Coquitlam Foundation to create a Diversity Initiative Fund for Coquitlam. Bell’s goal is to raise $10,000 over five years so that the fund will begin to generate enough interest to start distributing annual grants within the Tri-Cities. This is the 5th year for the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge and so far $9,697.14 has been raised. The more money that is raised, the larger the yearly grant that can help support diversity initiatives in the community.

The event starts at 6:30am for the ‘Make It or Break It’ category or 10:00am for the ‘Recreational’ category Coquitlam resident and Safe Harbour Co-ordinator,  Bell, is inviting the community to join him to walk the Coquitlam Crunch to raise money for a Community Diversity fund with the Coquitlam Foundation.

Last year a third category was added called the “Anything’s Possible Trail” for people with mobility challenges. This category starts at 10:30am from the Church parking lot on David Avenue and follows a paved portion of the Crunch trail up past the dog park.

The event is said to happen rain or shine, and I am personally planning to help volunteer at the event this year to get a closer look.

We’ve been blessed with another hot summer, which has given us more time to use this wonderful trail, and I am hoping that an Indian Summer ensues so that we can enjoy these warm days and hikes for many days ahead before the west coast rains set in for the winter.  I do hope to maintain my visits during the rainy season, but I know it won’t be as often.

Rain or shine, see you at The Crunch!

Halfway done... non slip grating to be added with white edge markers.
Halfway done… non slip grating to be added with white edge markers. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Court Allows Expert Testimony in Litigation Alleging Cell Phone-Linked Tumors According to Consumers’ Legal Team

Brain-tells-which-Ear-to-be-Used-for-Cell-Phone-biWASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ — A Washington D.C. superior court ruled that five scientific expert witnesses can testify for consumers suffering from brain tumors allegedly caused or promoted by cell phone use Ashcraft & Gerel LLP Morganroth and Morganroth PLLC Lundy Lundy Soileau & South L.L.P. and co-counsel said today.

Judge Frederick H. Weisberg who is presiding over 13 consolidated lawsuits against the telecom industry ruled that experts met the Dyas/Frye legal standards and can offer testimony related to injury causation and health effects. The court held evidentiary hearings in December 2013 and January 2014 and reviewed hundreds of exhibits.

Judge Weisberg noted that while the court did not decide the issue of whether cell phones cause brain tumors new scientific studies and information have emerged recently. His order referred to a May 2014 French case-control epidemiological study that found support for “a possible association between heavy mobile phone use” and brain tumors.

Each of the plaintiffs in the litigation suffers from a brain tumor or is suing for a family of someone who died of brain cancer.

The plaintiffs are represented by Morganroth and Morganroth PLLC of Birmingham Mich.; Ashcraft & Gerel LLP of Washington D.C. and Lundy Lundy Soileau & South LLP of Lake Charles La.; The Knoll Law Firm LLC of Marksville La.; Pribanic & Pribanic LLC of Pittsburgh; Frasier Frasier & Hickman LLP of Tulsa Okla.; and Bernstein Liebhard LLP of New York.

Hunter Lundy of Lundy Lundy Soileau & South LLP said “The telecom industry argued for years that cell phone consumer litigants could not produce scientists who could relate exposure to cell phone radiation to tumors. The ruling today refutes that contention and our experts’ opinions having met the Dyas/Frye test are admissible.”

Jeffrey B. Morganroth of Morganroth and Morganroth PLLC said “We now have opinions and testimony from prominent scientific experts that will be admissible and support our clients’ claims that cell phone radiation can cause brain tumors in humans. With this landmark ruling the cases are moving forward to fact discovery.”

Michelle Parfitt and James F. Green of Ashcraft & Gerel LLP said “The evidence presented at the evidentiary hearings months ago only included publicly available materials and did not include any testing data or information in possession of the defendants. We will seek that information as soon as possible.”

The first of the consolidated cases is “Michael Patrick Murray et al. v. Motorola Inc. et al.” Case No. 2001 CA 008479 B in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The defendants in the cases are Motorola Inc. Qualcomm Inc. Nokia Inc. Audiovox Communications Corp. and Samsung Telecomm American LLC.

Manitoba group walks around ‘Most Threatened’ Lake Winnipeg

A Manitoba woman, Katherine Morrisseau-Sinclair and the Lake Winnipeg Water Walkers have just completed a 1,000 kilometre trek around Lake Winnipeg which started on July 12th and finished on August 8th.

“Lake Winnipeg should be ‘recognized as a person,”Morriseau-Sinclair told CBC News and she believes the lake has a spirit, and it needs to heal spiritually.  She was joined by community members from all walks of life to take part in the “Lake Winnipeg Water Walk” to help her begin that healing process.

“In 2013, Lake Winnipeg – the 10th largest fresh water lake in the world, was nominated “Most Threatened Lake” by Global Nature Fund. It was suggested that in 10 years this lake could die if action is not taken to help her heal.”

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Morrisseau-Sinclair and her husband lead the group on the final day. Photo: Lake Winnipeg Water Walkers

“Covering 1032 kilometres in 28 days, this volunteer driven effort is one of many such walks taking place across the globe to protect our sacred and living waters. Joining this growing global movement, the Lake Winnipeg Water Walk reminds us that what we do to the water, we do to ourselves.”

“Through community leadership and commitment, we can work collectively to ensure that our life giving water continues to flow and sustain future generations. We are all responsible for the health of our waters – the time is now.”

“I’ve seen fishermen talk about a time when that lake was so pristine and clean,” Morrisseau-Sinclair told CBC News. “And now that green algae is just smothering her. In Norway House,  they’re afraid to allow their kids to swim.”

“She’s very sick, I’ve seen it firsthand,” she said. “The people talk about fishermen, for example, in Grand Rapids who used to be able to fish so abundantly. [Now} they have a great deal of difficulty filling their quota.”

Morrisseau-Sinclair told CBC News she’s optimistic her walk has had an impact. She said she’s thrilled people in communities along the shores say they will now band together to take action to clean up the lake.

“What an amazing ending to our journey! Over 60 people from many different communities joined us today as we walked in to Manigotagan and ended this journey of the Lake Winnipeg Water Walk,” she said on her Facebook page.

Ingah izitchigay nibi ohnjay . “I will do it for the water,” is her motto.

The groups Facebook page: Lake  Winnipeg Water Walkers
(All photos seen here are from their Facebook page. )

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Well-known Native actor, Adam Beach joins in to show his support. Photo: Lake Winnipeg Water Walkers

Meet the World’s Best James Bond Impersonator

Arizona resident, Dennis Keogh wanted to remain active after his retirement while having fun with his impersonation of Sean Connery which he was continually developing and refining. He soon realized he could be successful as a celebrity impersonator, and has since become known as the ‘World’s Best James Bond Impersonator’.

A lifelong fan of Sean Connery, Keogh now has his own fans from all over the world thanks to the Internet. In fact, Phoenix Magazine listed Dennis in its ‘101 Things To Do’ in Phoenix where they suggest you hire Dennis for a night on the town and introduce him as your ‘uncle Sean.’

Although he’s never met Connery, he has studied the Bond character and Connery’s work for more than 20 years, and his command of even the smallest detail of Sir Sean’s storied career will have you shaken and stirred believing he’s the real deal.

Keogh has criss-crossed USA and Canada over the past 10 years always acting in-character representing Connery. “I have never been to The Bahamas but I did go to Turks & Caicos. There they pulled me out of line at the airport thinking I was him to give me a VIP treatment and take photos with me. Oddly, when I told them I was not him, they refused to believe me.”

His quick wit and engaging persona as Sir Sean never fails to garner an enthusiastic response. “Entertaining is a natural thing for me. My fans have validated my work with their enthusiasm and refusal to believe that I am not Sir Sean. For me that is the greatest reward.”

Keogh and Connery
Keogh and Connery

Keogh has appeared as 007 at over 500 events for large corporations and has convinced them all just by just speaking. “I love what I do and people tell me it shows,” said the impersonator, who has also worked every major hotel in Las Vegas.  “I get my satisfaction in the faces that light up when they meet me, perhaps thinking it is Sean.” Keogh knows how to work a crowd as Bond, and he says his greatest honour to date was marching up 5th Avenue, New York as Sean Connery in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2013 with the families of the fallen.

A man on a mission. “I have helped raise thousands of dollars at events for charities and I have never had a disparaging word written or spoken of my impersonation,” said Keogh who honours the undisputed James Bond 007 master with his spot-on impersonation in authentic Scottish Brogue, extraordinary resemblance, dress and delivery of Sir Sean’s famous James Bond 007 wit and presence.

“I have mastered Connery’s voice and mannerisms after years of practice and study, and I’ve driven or sat in more Aston Martins than one man can possibly do in a lifetime, even though I drive an old Mercedes!”

"I get my satisfaction in the faces that light up when they meet me, perhaps thinking it is Sean."
“I get my satisfaction in the faces that light up when they meet me, perhaps thinking it is Sean.”

Best on the planet.   Here’s an accolade from a man who runs an entertainment company for corporate events. “In my 27 years in business, I have worked with a number of Sean Connery impersonators – none of them get even CLOSE to Dennis Keogh. Dennis is not only a dead-ringer, but he really gets into character.  Dennis is also a true professional, and a joy to work with. If you are seeking a Sean Connery / James Bond look-alike impersonator for an event, then look no further, because Dennis is the best there is.”

Dennis is looking forward to appearing at your next event. He has a License to Thrill!

Check out a video of Dennis Keogh in a ad for Actiance

More info: http://www.denniskeogh007.com/

About the author: Robbin Whachell is a publicist, writer, photo-journalist; and co-founder/ editor of one of The Bahamas’ leading news sites, TheBahamasWeekly.com. Ms. Whachell is a successful entrepreneur and pioneer in online marketing. Aside from being a recognized media personality and community builder, she is known for her networking and social media skills, and has a background in information management and film. She lives in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada and is the mother of four children.  She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, Skype, or via her website, RobbinWhachell.com. Reach Robbin by email at RobbinWhachell@gmail.com

Team Vendetta takes on Seattle, Washington

Recently Bahamian music impresario, Hip Hop artist Sasha Dunn and his production team The Vendetta Group has embarked on a major undertaking of traveling to Seattle, Washington. The goal of the trip was to push the team’s new music and help with the development and grooming of Vendetta’s young artist Angel K. and Clar.

As team Vendetta arrived into Tacoma International Airport the magnitude and beauty of the city of Seattle that was now somewhat shrouded by some fog and clouds was breathtaking but it was the vision of the iconic Space Needle that brought the bigger vision of the trip into perspective.

The team hit the ground running by organizing a series of photo shoots for the artists on the picturesque island of Anacortes. As the team drove along the highways towards the island they described it as being taken aback by the beauty of the giant majestic evergreen pines that same to be everywhere with the accompanying grandiose mountains which filled the skyline. “Entering Anacortes was like going into a time warp and this is not to say in the town looked old but rather the town seemed to possess an old time sense of innocence and mystery,” said Dunn.

10511291_10154416283320015_5304143759134943015_nThe shoot took place at a landing called Cap Sante which offered a magnificent view of the island and its accompanying islands. “The next day we got started early and made our way down to the Space Needle,” said Dunn. “Just driving towards the world famous landmark was a treat to be able to see the beauty in the architecture of the city of Seattle. The stunning arrangement of classic brownstones with modern art deco building was brilliant.” Once atop the Space Needle the team got to see Seattle’s true beauty. They say a picture tells a thousand words but even if one could take a thousand photos while there it would still not be enough to do the city justice.

Later that Week Angel K, Clar and Sasha Dunn had a date with destiny at the Skylark Bar and Grill where they were set to perform. Clar started the set with an acapella rendition of his song “Live for Something” assisted by Angel K on the hook and the conscious rap song moved the crowd.

Next up was twelve year old Angel K with Sasha performing her track called “Turnt Up.”   She did an amazing job and it shocked the crowd to see  that such a young innocent looking tween girl could possess such vicious lyrical content and confident delivery.

Next up was Mr. Dunn to close out the set with his song “G.L.S. Girls Love Sasha” which the crowd loved for its playfulness but seriousness . Overall with The Vendetta Group being the only Hip Hop act on the bill  were beyond well received. People walked up complementing the team on a job well done. “It is amazing how the team got an opportunity to see and do so much on this one amazing trip,” said Dunn. The trip was beautifully captured by No Budget Production and will be uploaded to youtube and made available on the Sasha’s Street Stash Vol. 4 DVD.

Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience

Tony Macaroni’s World Famous Conch Experience at Taino Beach in Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas is  known for some of the best conch and fish dishes on the island for 22 years.

What started as a humble thatch-roofed hut on the sand, has gone through several  transformations over the years, most in part to hurricanes Sandy and Jean. Today Tony Macaroni’s still provides one of the best local beach scenes, a thatch-roofed hut  is still there, but now it’s situated on stilts and has a large deck overlooking pristine sands and sea.  Sand in your shoes or toes is now optional.

Proprietor, Anthony ‘ Tony Macaroni’ Hanna is a 2003 Ministry of Tourism Cacique Award recipient, taking the highest honour, ‘The Minister’s Award.’   Hanna explains how it all got started, “I used to have lunch almost daily at ‘Billy Joes’ the beach restaurant which still operates today beside the Memories Resort property. When I found out that I had an opportunity to start another business and could have space in Count Basie Square near the main dock I went to John Gilbert (Billy Joe) and asked his permission to use his recipe for Grilled Conch, but I would change the name and ingredients, and thus my Roast Conch was born.”

Tony Macaroni in 1992. It all began in Port Lucaya.
Tony Macaroni in 1992. It all began in Port Lucaya.

“My business started in Port Lucaya, where I catered mainly to the Big Red Boat and the many tourists that came in from the ship for the day. In those days, Port Lucaya was Port Lucaya!” said Hanna.

“I was later forced out by the three main eateries at the time.  A few days later I found myself at Surfside Restaurant out at Taino Beach with some visitors that wanted “conch salad”. One thing led to the next… and it wasn’t long before I was set up out on the beach with my hut. Two years after that I traveled to Washington D.C representing the City of Freeport with my cooking at the “Festival of the Americas”.

“People who helped me in those first years were the late Ron Darville, who owned and operated The Lobster Reef Restaurant in Port Lucaya, David Thompson (Sen.), the late George Munroe, who owned and operated Surfside Restaurant, the Minister of Tourism at the time, C.A. Smith, and my friends Eugenia Yeuell and Fred Smith.  Through years that came next to the present, there have been many who have supported me.  This was evident in 2004 and again in 2005 when the three “ladies” hit.”  The hurricanes totally demolished Tony’s hut and swept it out to sea. It was Freeport’s founder, Edward St. George who through the help of Fred Smith provided Hanna with the funding to rebuild, and through that rebuilding, Hanna moved his hut up and off the sand to be secured for future storms.

Tony Macaroni’s conch salad is world renown, but his specialty is his roast conch which is cooked over an open fire. His popular eatery also offers roast lobster, fish and shrimp, and he serves the Bahamian cultural drink, Gullywash (green coconut water, sweetened condensed milk, and gin).

The way we were... a hut on Taino Beach. (Photo: Leigh Termath)
The way we were… a hut on Taino Beach. (Photo: Leigh Termath)

Hanna reminisces on how the drink Gullywash came about, “Back in the old days in the out Islands after a day or two of fishing, the fishermen would gather together under a coconut tree and fill a tub or large bucket with the water of the coconuts. There were no bars or liquor stores as we know them today, so the “brew” was homemade “Gin”.  During those days the Catholic Church provided its congregation with powdered milk, cheese, butter and sweet condensed milk. The latter was secured from the house without the wife’s permission, to add to the coconut water.  Each fisherman would empty his gin or rum into the batch, and this brew was called the “gullet wash”.  The tradition was to “wash the salt from ones gullet”.  Thus, “Gullywash”!  A song was written about this mixture back in the late forties which goes, “Coconut Water Rum and Gin, that is Bahamian Vitamin.”

The King of Conch! Over the years Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience has been featured on many international TV shows, magazines,  and music videos. Tony Macaroni is also known for his “Conch 101” demonstrations where he walks school students, tourists and visitors through the life-cycle of the conch, and demonstrates how the large sea snail delicacy is properly and easily removed from its beautiful pink shell.

Tony's today! Come out Sundays for Jazz on the Beach...
Tony’s today! Come out Sundays for Jazz on the Beach…

Sunday evenings from 5pm onward Tony Macaroni’s offers a musicians jam or the popular Jazz on the Beach featuring Ralph  Munnings on sax, along with Patrick Boston on keyboards. They is often a bonfire provided on the beach.

Tony  has had many local and international celebrities visit or perform on the deck over the years: Fred Ferguson of Baha Men,  Veronica Bishop, Marvin Henfield, Phil Stubbs,  Ralph Munnings, Johnny Kemp, Cyril ‘Dry Bread’ Ferguson, Joe ‘Kinky’ Fox, Steve Davies, Steven Colebrooke, Obie Pindling of Visage, David Mackey of The T-Connection, New York’s Blues Queen and Blues Hall of Famer, Roxy Perry and American actor Ving Rames, as well as Deon Estus of WHAM!

Known for his hospitality, quick wit and island charm, many of Tony Macaroni’s foreign patrons revisit Grand Bahama again and again just to hang out at the idyllic location which looks out to sea.  People also arrive by boat,  local volleyball teams gather to play on the sand beside the deck, and parents can sit up above and keep a reasonable eye on their children playing on the sand below, or Tony offers his guests lawn chairs to enjoy the beach. The Taino Beach children’s playground is right across the road, which sits below the Edward St. George memorial site.

When the day is done and his guests belly’s are full, Tony offers them a conch shell to take home to remember their adventure. Accolades pour in on his Facebook page from those that have visited from all over the world. One tourist remarked, ” I love this place! We can’t wait to get back to Taino Beach and stay for a week. Thanks for the great info Tony. Enjoyed the Gullywash, the roast conch and the shell. It doesn’t get any better than this…….We will be back!”

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Only the freshest ingredients from land and sea go into Tony's food!  (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Only the freshest ingredients from land and sea go into Tony’s food! (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Photos: Mark DaCunha
Photos: Mark DaCunha