The Joy Journal: Andy makes his voice heard!


We were catching up with our longtime friend, Andy Conte, and had to share some exciting news: Andy, who has appeared on many a Joy Apparel T-shirt, is a finalist in a CBC radio song-writing competition! Listeners were challenged by CBC Radio’s All in a Day host Alan Neal to create a song using lyrics from 5 songs that popped up at random on his iPod. They were allowed to choose any line from each song and thread them together as they pleased. The winner will perform on stage at the Writers Festival’s Songwriters Circle (Ottawa) and share the stage with renowned Canadian artists like Measha Brueggergosman, Jim Bryson, Jenn Grant, Soul Jazz Orchestra, and the Acorn.

His song Ain’t No Spring Chicken is bound to be a crowd pleaser – so let’s find out more from Andy:

What is your musical background?

I started playing piano when I was 10 years old – after making out pretty well after 2 years I attempted to memorize Pachelbel’s Canon in D for a recital that didn’t go so well (just like Kevin Arnold in the Wonder Years). After that I dropped piano lessons, and for years, the only instrument I played was a harmonica that my 90 year old neighbour gave to me for cutting his grass.

Music came back into my life in University, where it resonated with me like never before as a form of self-discovery.  I studied singer/songwriters Iike Dylan, Cohen, Springsteen and Simon – and taught myself how to play the harmonica, guitar and sing at that same time.

How did you go about writing this song?

I started with the theme of spring on a farm, mainly because we had a huge spring snow storm here in Ottawa last week. The first line I used was about a farmer waking up with the radio softly on, from Springsteen’s ‘Pittsburgh’. This line caught my attention because I usually have the radio on all the time in every room in the house.

I struggled with how to choose from the other 150 lines to fit the story. It wasn’t until I brainstormed with a friend over brunch that I figured out what my protagonist farmer was going to do with the rest of his day. The idea that he gets up every morning to fetch eggs from the hen house led to the line: ain’t no spring chicken. This reminded me of how my aunt complains that my uncle can’t do things around the house the way he used to…and the theme stuck.

If you could say one sentence to convince people to vote for you, what would it be?

People should vote for this song because it’ll get their toes tappin’ and their chops singing. (I’ve been told there’s a good chance the song will also bring them joy because it’ll be stuck in their head for the rest of the day.)

Describe Ain’t No Spring Chicken in three words.

Lower back pain.

What do the words ‘music’ and ‘joy’ make you think of?

How sometimes, music is able to evoke not just joy, but sadness, anger, heartache, and so many other things. And that’s great – otherwise joy wouldn’t feel so good.

Thanks Andy and congrats! Online voting will take place this Friday to Sunday – opening THIS FRIDAY AFTERNOON! Click here to vote for our friend Andy!

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The Joy Project’s face of summer!

Hope everyone enjoyed their summers. We have. And we think our new friends have as well.

Meet the crew: Nicole, Christa, Dee, Ellis, Sarah, Jim, Mathieu, Gary, Oliver Maxim Bird Dalton, Rebecca, Scotty Whispers, Amie, John, Paola, Nate, Yarrow, BUZZ, Rob and David.

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We’re having a party!!!!



We thought it was about time that we threw a party, wouldn’t you agree?

Come join us on June 28th, from 7pm to 9pm at R Squared Cafe + Gallery for a beer or two to celebrate the new website AND the showcase of alimited edition Joy T in collaboration with the amazing Clothing Brand Experiment. 

So don’t miss out on the public’s first look at the “Joy in Toronto” shirt and also other Joy T’s with portraits representing participants from Kenya to Japan. 

Please register here if you want to join us at this fabulous event. Space is limited so get your free ticket as soon as possible.

For more info on The Joy Project and Joy Apparel please visit our website at

More Spring portraits – May 9, 2012

Here we are again. Five new faces just in time for Mother’s Day. Don’t forget about your mom this weekend.  We surely won’t! (not a mom joke) – there are many mothers that have joined the Joy Project and we thank each and every one!

New Faces – Spring edition 2012

Hey friends,

Apologies for the time between our last post and this one. We’ve been busy redesigning our website (which will be up before the weather gets warm [in Toronto] – we promise) and preparing ourselves for a June party that we hope you will all be able to attend. Stay tuned for news on facebook or twitter for that!

In the meantime, we want to share with you a dozen new portraits of whose passions range from avocados to shopping cart rides – I’ll leave it to you to figure out who loves what!


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The Joy Journal: On A Boat with Chrissy Wessman

I’ve commandeered a canoe a few times in my life, and I’ve only ever gone in circles. Chrissy Wessman, on the other hand, has travelled a bazillion kilometers in her one-person canoe setting national records and winning world championships along the way. She has also helped The Canadian Dragonboat, War Canoe and C4 (4 women canoe) teams become world and national
champions on numerous occasions.

Not only the holder of multiple records, Chrissy is the most humane of humanitarians that researches and develops policies for Health Canada, coaches potential future-Olympians, and acts as a role model for all good human beings. We were lucky enough to hang out with Chrissy last week on an amazing spring day in March. She showed us what it takes to become a champion paddler at her Mississauga Canoe Club.

Ok, Chrissy. Your life’s passions – go!

I am passionate about paddling. I love the constant challenge, friendships and healthy lifestyles that sport provides and can’t remember sport not being a part of my life. I firmly believe in finding that healthy lifestyle that challenges and excites you. I once had “Do Good” on my old phone screen saver. I think you can interpret it in two ways, “be good to others” but also “always do good or your best in anything you do”. I think that motto of always doing your best leads you to cool opportunities that sometimes you can’t even imagine – sport or otherwise.

So you must be excited for this early spring. It is so amazing outside today. I never thought I’d be sitting on a log on a beach in Mississauga in March!

Yeah, I can’t believe it either. A bunch of us have been paddling on the lake already. The high performance sprint canoe kids that I’ve been coaching out of Mississauga Canoe Club are in Florida training right now. It’s crazy to think they could have run some of the camps in Canada [right now]. I keep thinking we should send some pictures of us paddling here but can’t help to think, it’s still pretty nice to be in Florida for a break. It would be amazing though if we could set up the docks and get the boats out soon and start the season off early this year!

It must feel really fulfilling to be able to share your passions and be a role model to so many people. Are you worried about your records, sorry had to do it*, being broken by any of the rowers you are coaching now? (*I promised her I wouldn’t talk about her records)

Whoa, whoa, whoa! First, we have to get it straight! Rowing is a different sport. And rowers are a different people! Just kidding – but the main difference between paddling and rowing is the direction you face when racing. You face the finish line in paddle sports and face backwards while rowing. For me, I love all the different styles of paddle sports: dragonboat, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard and outrigger – especially canoe and dragonboat because we had such a great team and I got to travel around the world.

I guess I’m always curious of what times sprint canoe women are achieving and seeing if I would have still been in the bunch. There is one paddler in particular that I coach though that I am rooting for to break all of my personal bests. I’m hoping that women’s canoe is in the Olympics soon enough and can see her going all the way.

[more of the interview after the jump]

The Mississauga Canoe Club is where Chrissy has spent thousands of hours training, racing and coaching. The club, affectionately known as "Missy" was founded in 1958.

Championship banners cover the walls at the club. Apparently, Chrissy is a champion among champions.

The workshop is where paddlers fine tune their boats. Sometimes, it is the condition of your boat that determines whether you finish first or second.

A bin of paddles used for practice.

This is how you paddle a canoe properly. No wonder I could only ever turn left.

C1 means Canoe for 1 person. C4 mean a canoe for 4. Got it?

One of these canoes holds a world record that will never be beat. Can you guess which one?

Chrissy Wessman. World Record holder of being awesome.

Well, to have earned a national record in anything is amazing. If you could hold any other record in the world what would it be?

Without a doubt, I’d love to hold an Olympic record. If women’s canoe is eventually part of the Olympics, that’s the record I’d dream about.

By the way, how many hours in your life do you think you’ve spent on a boat – without a motor or a Lido Deck or margaritas?

Good question. I guess I could go back through my training logs and count everything up. They say that you have to do your sport for 1,000 hours before you really know what your doing. We used to train twice a day most days and be on the water for about an hour each time… I think I made it past the 1,000h mark!

Twice a day everyday! That must mean you spent a ton of time training outside of the water as well. I suppose I should know, as I am still sore from the workouts that you put me through 8 years ago.

[Laughs] I still remember us lying almost dead outside on the hill after that workout. I’m not sure if it was the crazy workout or the lack of air conditioning combined with no sleep and malnutrition that being a student entails… I think it might have been both!

Either way, let’s keep the results of our arm wrestling competitions a secret. All this talk of exercise has got me motivated to get on the water this summer. Hook me up with a paddleboard?

Alright!! You definitely need to come down to Sunnyside Paddling Club. It’s an awesome spot a few kilometres west of Ontario Place. We’ve got some incredible coaches and paddling programs. PaddleCore will be offering stand up paddle board rentals there too… I’m always happy to see more people taking advantage of the water. You better be there!

So exciting! Can’t wait to do some lake surfing!

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Happy Wednesday February 15!

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day. Have you any love to spare? The answer is yes. Vanessa, Brian, Heath, Donna, Blaine, Harry, Andrea and Taylor obviously do. See how loving and lovely they look.

We’re curious to know if you’ve had a look at the Joy Journal. If you haven’t, go do it now because the next one is coming soon. Spoiler Alert! Our next Joy Journal interview is with Willy Chyr. If you’ve ever wondered what you’d get if you mixed math, light, art, fractals and balloons all together, stay tuned to our blog!



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