Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The First Long Weekend of the Warmer Months is Upon Us

The first long weekend of the warmer months is upon us: the Victoria Day weekend, the May two-four weekend, whatever you call it, this long weekend is the gateway to summertime fun in these parts.

After what can often be long, cold winters, though certainly not this past winter, we Ontarians are eager to get outdoors and embrace the warm summer weather that will soon be here, and the Victoria Day long weekend has become our annual ‘break free from winter’ holiday weekend.

Though the Victoria Day long weekend is technically observed in order to honour Queen Victoria, often referred to as the ‘Mother of Confederation’, celebrated in this country in some form or fashion since 1845, today the holiday is a highly anticipated opportunity to kick back with a cold beverage while enjoying the Canadian outdoors.

The holiday coincides with some natural processes. The only recently bare trees have been growing new leaves, flowers have begun blooming in every direction you look, and the air is continuing to warm, allowing us to throw open our windows to let in that fresh air.

In Meaford, Memorial Park is now open to campers, and the marina is filling up with boats ready for another season. Soon, outdoor patios will be returning to restaurant row on Sykes Street. Those patios have become popular with many residents and visitors alike.

The Rotary pavilion in the harbour has been rehabilitated and reopened in time for the long weekend and a long summer of events to come.

For a small rural municipality where agriculture drives the economy, the summer months offer an opportunity for our tourism sector to shine, to showcase all that this area has to offer, from hiking trails to fine dining, and this long weekend is the kick-off to it all.

Much of the fun that will happen in this municipality over the summer months will be thanks to the hard work of volunteers, and I don’t think any of us can ever express enough our gratitude for the many folks who offer their time and talents to bring joy to their friends, their neighbours, and those who visit this community.

The hard work and dedication of the numerous community-minded folks in this municipality is something that I quickly learned to respect and appreciate after moving here back in 2005. To see dozens of people building scarecrows at the harbour in the steamy August heat for an event that is held in late September showed me a community passion that I was not accustomed to in the hectic pace of Barrie life.

That passion can be found throughout this municipality. Right now for example, folks in Bognor and Annan are busy preparing for their Canada Day celebrations. Volunteers, giving up their time to help organize a big bash that celebrates the good fortune we have to call this nation home. The Bognor Canada Day event in particular has always been a favourite of mine, and if you have never experienced it, I would highly recommend spending Canada Day with the fine folks in our rural areas.

With the Victoria Day long weekend upon us, many will be looking forward to getting out on their boat, or hiking our local trails to explore the natural beauty that surrounds us. Others, like me, will hit the riverbanks for a little fishing time, and many will be working on spring projects in the yard, or simply taking a break with a good book and a cold beverage, providing the weather cooperates. Whatever you plan to do, or not do, we certainly live in an area perfectly suited to provide something for everyone on a holiday long weekend.

It has been nearly 20 years since I moved from the much larger city of Barrie to this quiet small municipality. When I moved to Meaford all those years ago, my children were still young, and they loved coming to Meaford for visits. Meaford truly became their second home, and both of my sons at various times expressed their love of the freedom they felt when they were here. In Meaford they could explore on their own, without pesky parents constantly breathing down their necks, much more than they could in their home town of Barrie, which had ten times the population, traffic, and crime. Here in Meaford they could skateboard around town, stopping at the convenience store for some summer treats, without my having to worry as much about their safety.

The Meaford Farmers’ Market was typically the first stop for my sons when they arrived in Meaford during the summer months. My city-raised sons learned much about our local farms and the range of produce grown and livestock raised in this area, and they enjoyed the activities that would take place at the market outside of the showcasing of our agricultural sector.

My sons also loved the many trails to explore, and they enjoyed many beach days, whether at Memorial Park or one of the small beaches tucked away along our waterfront. There was never a lack of things to do and places to explore in this community when my sons were young, and I have always been thankful that my children had the benefit of getting to know Meaford.

Whatever you might get up to over this Victoria Day long weekend, I hope you have fantastic fun, and that you can shake off winter and embrace the summer fun to come; but be safe. At this time of year we hear far too many reports of impaired drivers causing accidents, or of folks that have partied hard only to drown in a lake. Long weekend fun can quickly turn to tragedy if we don’t use some common sense. So have fun, but be safe!

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