The Grouch Fund

Are YOU one of the ‘800 NICE FAMILIES’?

The Chamber’s sincere thanks goes out to everyone who has supported the 2019 Grouch Contest and the ongoing

At last, the funds raised through our 2022 Yard Sale
have helped us to achieve our goal of replacing the three village ‘Welcome’ signs.
Special thanks to Sublime Graphics for the stellar replication!
 As of May 31, 2022, two of the three have been installed.

Grouch History

The Welcome signs for the village of Port Sydney state that this is the
‘Home of 800 Nice Families & 1 Old Grouch’.

These signs are beloved because they make people laugh and they keep people asking who that ‘Old Grouch’ actually is. By the spring of 2019, the existing village signs had been standing since about 1994 and had, unfortunately, seen better days. Two of the three ‘Welcome’ signs had collapsed due to aging and damage in the winter of 2019 and had to be retrieved from their respective ditches and temporarily re-installed that spring. (FUN FACT: the signs were hastily re-hung on May 7, 2019 just in time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to the village for the election campaign kick-off event for Parry Sound-Muskoka’s federal Liberal nominee Trisha Cowie. We know that the posts weren’t even, but it seemed better than having no signs at all!)

(The sign on South Mary Lake Rd. had been standing on metal posts, but road salt had caused the metal to weaken over time. In the winter of 2019 the mere pressure of the snow being plowed towards the post caused it to buckle and the sign collapsed.

As a way of raising community spirit, and funds for much-needed Sign Replacement, the Chamber launched an online Grouch Contest in the summer of 2019. Locals were invited to enter grouchy-face photos (with complaint captions), and supporters were able to vote by donation on the contest website or through the Chamber office. By the closing of the contest over $600 was raised in support of 13 participating competitors, but Robert Hendry handily secured the title of 2019 Grouch with 302 of 646 votes cast. The combination of his photo and his highly relatable complaint - ‘When them darn bugs won’t let you enjoy the beautiful deck’ - had him leading the competition from the time he entered. On August 24th, 2019, our new Grouch was presented with several gifts, including a leaf engraved in his honour to be installed on The Giving Tree in the foyer of the Port Sydney Community Hall. Mr. Hendry also enjoyed a seat of honour at that year’s Annual Turkey Dinner.

Until the 2019 contest, we had been without an official Grouch for several years following the passing of the late George Wilson in 2008. Mr. Wilson had earned the title back in the late 1990’s when a Grouch Contest was held by putting collection jars (with photos of contenders on them) at local shops. The contender whose jars collected the most donations was deemed the Grouch. It is not clear how many times these Contests ran in years past, or who else had ever earned this honourary position, but we do have it on good authority that Mr. Wilson was a much-loved member of the community who had a great sense of humour and was not actually a grouchy guy at all.

In December of 2021, a severe wind storm knocked out the ‘Welcome’ sign located on Muskoka Rd. 10 (opposite the cemetery). Because one of the posts was broken off and the ground was frozen, the sign had to be retrieved and stored off-site until the spring when a fresh post could be dug in. Having suffered a severe crack in its back side, the sign was reinforced and re-hung in hopes that it would last until replacement could be arranged. Ever since the walking path was created along Muskoka Rd. 10 in 2015-2016, the ‘Welcome’ sign had been positioned closer to the road than it had been historically, making it more vulnerable to damage by snowplowing and other roadway activity. For this reason, it was decided to order the replacement sign for this location 1’ narrower than the original, making it 4’ x 7’ instead of 4’ x 8’.

In May 2022, Sublime Graphics re-created the original sign artwork for us and scaled it in the two required sizes. Twenty one colour swatches were printed so that we could choose the most accurate shade of blue that was available to us. The new signs were printed on alupanel and cut to shape. On May 31, 2022, two of three signs were installed with additional support boards across the backs (and posts neatly trimmed to fit this time)!