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Qwick Wick’s Quick Recovery

On April 17th, 2016, Frank Wall, a Parkhill native, and owner of Qwick Wick, received a devastating phone call. Someone had maliciously started a fire at the Qwick Wick factory in Parkhill. In hours, the fire could be seen from Grand Bend and had burnt through much of the original structure of the top floor of the 75-year-old cinder block and cork building.

The fire was the first fire fought by the new Strathroy Fire Department’s pumper truck, who pumped at least 200,000 gallons of foam to stop the fire. Their quick action and response time protected the floor from cracking, which saved the manufacturing equipment below that Wall and his father-in-law had conceptualized and constructed themselves over a five-year-period.

Wall opened the company in February 1992 and has operated in Parkhill since 1995. The company produces Fire Starters which burn for up to 30 minutes, making them ideal for survival and camping kits. Wall came up with the idea after a visit to a local flea market and today, Qwick Wick produces 50,000 units a day and ships Fire Starters to countries all over the world.

Over the past 25 years, Wall also built unique live edge tables and antique flooring, which was displayed in a showroom on the main floor of the building. Unfortunately, a majority of the collection succumbed to the flames. 

Some thought it would take two years to be up and running but it took less than 60 days for Wall to restart producing the Qwick Wick Fire Starters. He largely credits the community for his quick turnaround. Once he found out about the fire, Wall contacted Middlesex County who had him in contact with a building inspector within hours who advised Wall on his next steps. Wall also credits local construction company, RHV2 Construction, who quickly responded with a crew of 13 and within four and a half hours finished constructing the roof of the building. 

Frank Wall's current plans include reconstructing the main floor showroom with the help of his son and continuing to produce Qwick Wick Fire Starters. Undoubtedly, Frank Wall is an admirable example of perseverance and his company's quick recovery symbolizes the impact of community support.

Middlesex County Launches New Trails Guide

Middlesex County is proud to announce their updated “Middlesex County Trails Guide”; a publication that provides residents and visitors to the area with detailed information on the numerous recreational trails found throughout the county. The new guide has been released under the tourism arm of the County “Visit Middlesex County” in partnership with Middlesex-London in motion™, Healthy Kids Community Challenge of Middlesex County, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, and all area conservation authorities.

The Middlesex County Trails Guide offers an opportunity for individuals to plan their activities on local trails before heading out. Cara Finn, Director of Economic Development says “We wanted to freshen up the guide and provide detailed maps and icons relating to the different forms of recreation allowed at each site. Whether it be canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, or mountain biking; we wanted people to know that there is a place where they can enjoy it on a trail in Middlesex County”.

Printed copies of the new guide are now available through all Middlesex County and London libraries, Middlesex County municipal offices, or by calling the Visit Middlesex office at 519-434-7321 Ext. 2251.

Both a Downloadable PDF copy of the Middlesex County Trails Guide, and a convenient Flipbook, are available online at https://www.visitmiddlesex.ca/experiences/hiking-trails


“A” Is for Autumn and Apples

By Marlene Cornelis of Urban Cottage Life

In this crisp, golden fall weather the open road beckons us to the pumpkin patches and orchards scattered throughout Middlesex County. While it takes some effort to overcome the allure of pumpkin spice everything, for me apples are the first sign that autumn is upon us, with its bounty that will last through the cold months ahead.

These Caramel Apple Crumble Squares celebrate the apple harvest while being easier to make than … well, than pie. With a quick-to-assemble crumble crust and topping, different apples for  variety of flavour and texture, and a rich, creamy caramel sauce that pays homage to the caramel apples popular at our rural fall fairs, they’ll disappear fast from your Thanksgiving dessert table.

About two-thirds of the apples I used were sweet Cortlands from Crunican Orchards. Cortlands are great baking apples because they hold their shape. The other third was McIntosh apples from Apple Land Station, which add tartness and almost melt into a luscious softness.

Slicing the apples thinly adds elegance to the finished squares, and that drizzle of caramel sauce over the top provides the wow factor … there’s no need to tell your guests how easy they are to make!

Caramel Apple Crumble Squares

Makes 9 3-inch squares

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F

Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with a length of parchment paper extending a couple inches above the pan on each side, so you can lift out the finished squares.


1 cup softened unsalted butter

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch salt


1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon finely grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup caramel sauce (homemade or purchased), plus more for serving

2 ½ pounds apples (preferably 2 or 3 varieties)


Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, using a stand mixer. Add the flour and cinnamon and slowly stir until the mixture forms crumbs pea-sized and smaller; don’t over mix or you’ll end up with something like cookie dough.

Spread out two-thirds of the crumble in the prepared baking pan, lightly patting it even. Place the pan into the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes to prebake. Set aside once done.

Wash, core and peel the apples. Cut them in half vertically, then thinly slice them (about 1/8-inch or 2 ml thick).

Place the apples in a large mixing bowl and toss them with the lemon juice. Sprinkle over the spices and salt and, using a spatula, gently stir to distribute the spices without breaking the apple slices. Pour the caramel sauce over and stir again until the apples are mostly coated.

Scoop the prepared apple slices over the pre-baked crust in small batches, moving them around to distribute them as evenly and flatly as possible. Scrape the remaining caramel juices over the apples. Scatter the remainder of the crumble evenly over the apples, ensuring the entire surface is well covered.

Bake for one hour on the centre rack of the oven, until the apples are tender and the crumble topping is golden. Place the pan on a rack for several hours to cool completely, so all the juices settle. Use the parchment paper to gently lift out and transfer the finished dish to a cutting board.

To serve, plate the individual squares and drizzle them with more caramel sauce.

Credit for recipe and photos: Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life.com