2018 Festival's Featured Artist: Galiah Gears
as Profiled in "Talk of the Town"

~ Coldwater, May 2018

Elizabeth Barabaza- Cousineau (whose alter-ego/ Steampunk Galiah Gears) is an award winning artist with multiple degrees in Visual Arts & New Media. She has been teaching art & creative classes & workshops for over 20 years in more than 50 community centres, private clubs/clubhouses & other facilities; as well as Board of Ed. venues, retreats &

Conventions throughout the province. Elizabeth has shown her work in multiple cities in Ontario & at times also in other places in Canada. Apart from raising her three kids (also artists) art has always been the all- consuming drive of her life. It is however a twofold aspect for Elizabeth for although she obsessively paints & she is also driven to & enjoys mentoring & inspiring the creative minds of all ages.

Elizabeth often partners with her sister Karen Taul (AKA Copper Dragon) & you may have been fortunate to attend their workshops locally at the GPCA Clubhouse near Port Severn, or further afield at the Fort George Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition or perhaps have just seen them wandering about the Coldwater Steampunk Festivals over the years. You may have also have viewed their winning works of art in the Coldwater Art contests.

Whether teaching, creating, working with groups, partnering with her sister or working alone, Elizabeth often says she just can’t turn off the creative force. It drives her every waking moment, & doesn’t stop when she sleeps as her dreams are an active playground for her non-stop creative mind.

For Elizabeth, focusing mainly on Steampunk related art for the past five years has enabled her to express her lifelong concerns & love of nature & the environment in a more fun & transforming context. Creating new worlds & possibilities in a Steampunk background, & voicing her ideas & messages within an exciting Steampunk realm perfectly aligns with her creative intentions & storytelling prowess. She says: “I like to deliver my environmental & socially conscious messages in a more seemingly fun & digestible manner with memorable visuals & often tongue-in-cheek humour to make the sting of reality a tad more palatable.

As we all learn the most through play, I invite the viewer to play, be playful, or at least enjoy my playfulness which hopefully allows some serious messages to insidiously creep through consciousness to rise into awareness in the hopes that my viewers may unknowingly take the journey to become ambassadors of change.” 
  Since the age of two, summering on an isalnd near Port Severn, Elizabeth has always been immersed in the natural world she so loves. A friend to all animals, even the wildlife has sought her out unafraid to make physical contact. It was not unusual t see a chipmunk in her lap, a racoon at her feet & a hummingbird on her shoulder. On land, lake or sea, Elizabeth is fully connected with the heartbeat of the natural world. She has often commented that she’d love to live in the water & certainly she is often surrounded by fish when she’s there.

Water themes are commonly used in her work, & growing up with a lake as her playground lends an undeniably natural affinity.

Elizabeth calls herself a “Neo-Surrealist Steampunk Artist”, as she combines her ways & influences of old, with ways & influences of new; & casts them into the future.

“Coldwater has been my special place since early childhood, with trips ‘into town’ being one of the highlights of each summer spent on our island. To find it sporting a Steampunk event was just an unbelievable as the realization that our summer home, our artistic parents & even our way of life was ‘Steampunk’ before the word even became known.

Galiah Gears will be a children’s area program partner this year at the Coldwater Steampunk Festival on Main Event Day, Saturday, August 11th, 2018.


What a Great Surprise!

The Coldwater Steampunk Festival's Suzy Burtenshaw has won THE PRESTIGIOUS CHARLIE KELLY TOURISM AWARD!

Surprised and humbled by this award, Suzy gave an immediate tip-of-the-hat to the incredible army of creative spirits that have contributed to the Festival over the years. 

"We couldn't have done it without YOU.  Thank you to our program partners, sponsors, volunteers, hardworking Festival Board Members, and spectacular Steampunks for sharing in our success. AND Thank you to Bayshore Broadcasting and BruceGreySimcoe (RTO7) for this INCREDIBLE HONOUR. It's full steam ahead!"

Photo courtesy of Bayshore Broadcasting and BruceGreySimcoe (RTO7) 

For Immediate Release by RT07

The Blue Mountains, ON (November 14, 2017)  

Title:  Suzanne Burtenshaw wins 2017 Charlie Kelly Award 

Suzanne Burtenshaw of the Coldwater Steampunk Festival is the winner of this year’s Charlie Kelly Award, presented at the BruceGreySimcoe Regional Tourism UnConference at Blue Mountain Resort on November 14th.

The award honours the memory of Charlie Kelly, who championed the idea of four-season tourism for Owen Sound.  It embodies his spirit and looks to recognize the person who has helped to grow the tourism industry the most over the last year, through initiative, innovation or by acting as a role model.

Burtenshaw is a dedicated volunteer with the Coldwater Steampunk Festival. The festival brings thousands of attendees to the village of Coldwater to celebrate the steampunk era. Visitors often come in elaborate costumes and this themed event had record attendance this year, bringing visitors from as far as the United States, packing local accommodations and making a great economic contribution to the region.

Having moved to Coldwater in 2009, Burtenshaw saw the potential for the festival and the community and has worked to grow the volunteer base as well as the town’s participation in the event. She works year-round to plan the festival and knows that it’s a great way to introduce visitors to the area’s other attractions. Burtenshaw and her partner also host an Antique Car meet every Thursday from May until September, further increasing traffic to downtown Coldwater.

Described as an idea person with boundless energy, Burtenshaw’s vision has contributed to the success of the Coldwater Steampunk Festival and has helped bring a new vibrancy to the village of Coldwater.

The Charlie Kelly award committee received 16 nominations this year for 12 individuals. Past winners include Mylisa Hendersen, Don Braden, Jeff Carver, Patti Kendall, Jack and Rick Salen, Ashley Miller, Bryan Plumstead, Chris Hughes and Jenny Amy.

Thanks to the support of Bayshore Broadcasting, this award has grown from recognizing tourism champions in Grey and Bruce counties to honouring those in Bruce, Grey and Simcoe counties.

About Regional Tourism Organization 7:
RTO7 provides strategic and collaborative leadership to build, sustain and grow tourism in the region comprised of Bruce, Grey and Simcoe Counties (BruceGreySimcoe). We are one of 13 RTOs – independent, not-for-profit corporations – to which the Ontario government provides approximately $40 million in annual funding to lead tourism planning, marketing and development in their respective regions.

Some quick facts about BruceGreySimcoe tourism:

  • Tourism across the region accounts for over 34,000* jobs that deliver millions more in economic outputs
  • BruceGreySimcoe has in excess of 25,000 accommodation rooms, including hotels, motels, camping and RV sites, commercial resorts, cabins and B&Bs**
  • There are over 400 attractions across the region, and over 600 festival and event days each year**

*From OMAFRA EMSI Analyst query (2014) ** From the 2010 AECOM Region Strategic Destination Plan


For more information:
Kim Clarke
Tourism Experience Development Specialist

#ColdSteam2017 Wins Award!

The Coldwater Steampunk Festival is where imagination and creativity collide with alternative realities - and it is now home of the Orillia District Arts Council’s 2017 Community Arts Award!

The Council is a vibrant, collaborative and interactive arts community that is meaningfully engaged with the public (https://orilliaartscouncil.ca/). It presented its community award to the #ColdwaterSteampunkFestival for making “a marked contribution to the cultural fabric of the community while possessing the highest standards of motivation and service.”

Many thanks go to our colourful Steampunks, jubilant volunteers, generous community partners, visionary founders, and the whirl-wind of energy that is Suzy Burtenshaw. Every year is a different experience, unleashing the artist in all of us, and it IS a wonderful ride. To learn more see www.steampunkfestivalcoldwater.com .

#ColdSteam 2017 sends compliments to fellow awards winner, Tyler Knight (http://knightvision.ca/). His outstanding artistic contributions to Orillia’s cultural life earned him ODAC’s Arts Achievement Award.

A tip of the hat also go out to this year’s nominees: Beth McKean (www.bethmckean.com) is a vibrant singer/songwriter/clothing designer inspiring change in Orillia; and Ruth Germain collaborates with more than 200 local artists each year to produce “Somniatis”, a wearable art fashion show and silent auction supporting the Museum of Art and History (www.facebook.com/pg/somniatis2016orillia).

WOW. We’re so lucky to be in this awesome company!

Thank you!

Pictured above: Suzy Burtenshaw and ODAC President, Marg Gurr, and Tyler Knight.

Photo by Deb Halbot

Graphic by Heather Keery