Thursday, 12 September 2013

Muskoka Mosaic profile, September 12 2013

The Huntsville Forester, our local newspaper runs a series each week profiling different people in the community.  Last week I was interviewed by reporter Mandi Hargrave, and this is her story.  Well, I guess it's my story too!

Muskoka Mosaic: Life lessons only the country can teach

Introducing Susan Higgins

Huntsville Forester
HUNTSVILLE – In their search to find a retreat from city life, Susan Higgins and her husband discovered Muskoka’s rugged landscape and knew they were home.
The two bought property on Limberlost Road in Lake of Bays and built their home in 2004.
“We needed a rugged landscape, it was in our blood,” said Higgins, noting the two grew up on the Canadian Shield. “We looked for the most appealing community on the Canadian Shield and have never regretted our decision. It’s familiar and feels like home.”
She and her husband, Peter McCubbin, have been married for 20 years.
They met on a film set in Toronto as extras for a wedding scene in a Degrassi High finale.
“When you’re an extra on a film set you do a lot of sitting around,” she said, noting it gave her and McCubbin time to chat.
“It was the first and only time I’ve seen him in a suit, besides at our wedding” she said with a laugh. “Then he wore a vintage tux.”
During their moving period all the communities on their list had a vibrant arts community.
“It was important to me to be able to market my work where I lived,” said Higgins, who is now a well-known artist in Muskoka.
She studied radio, television and arts at Ryerson University and after working in the field for a couple of years took stained glass classes as a hobby.
“I realized I enjoyed it more than my career,” she said and from then on she focused on changing her working path.
Higgins went on to study drawing, painting and design at Ontario College of Art and Design. She creates fused glass pieces with a colourful portrayal of natural themes.
Her work has been sold nationally and internationally.
“I don’t have children of my own, but I feel like I have children all over the world with my art pieces,” she said, noting pieces have gone as far as India and Japan.
She likes the intellectual, emotional and technical skill it takes to create the pieces.
“You’re bringing them all together to create something that didn’t exist before,” said Higgins. “It’s incredibly rewarding when someone looks at something I made and they know it’s mine.”
That’s one of the great thing about artists in Muskoka she said, noting that everyone’s work is so different and unique that you don’t confuse it with any other artist.
One of her goals after moving here was to become an artist on the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour, which she has now done for a number of years.
“My happiest times as a child were in my father’s woodshop and picking up the off pieces from the floor and hammering them together,” she said. “I always saw the potential in things, but hadn’t considered art as a career path. I didn’t know people made a living being artists – it doesn’t seem like a job.”
When she’s not in her studio, Higgins is likely either in her garden or cutting wood to stockpile for the winter.
She admits to being quite naïve to the concept of country living after moving from Toronto to Muskoka.
“I didn’t know anything about firewood or contractors,” she said. “It’s very gratifying to be able to know more about the physical world – growing herbs and vegetables in the garden, learning beach trees burn the cleanest.”
When she and her husband moved to Muskoka they were looking forward to slowing down. And while it was the landscape and community that drew them in, the friendships they’ve developed are the icing on the cake.
“We came here for the land and liked Huntsville. What we didn’t know was the wonderful community of friends we would make that have made a total difference in our lives,” said Higgins.
In her journey thus far, Higgins has learned kind acts don’t go unnoticed.
“I’ve found that kindness is repaid tenfold, which is a really wonderful thing to learn. It ripples outward,” she said.
Thank you Alison Brownlee for recommending Higgins. If there is someone in the community you would like to recommend, contact Mandi Hargrave at 705-789-5541 ext. 285 or email

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