Queen Street was busy last weekend with visitors of all ages out and about, enjoying what we lucky NOTLers take for granted.
Temperatures were perfect for walking and bike riding, and there were organized and unorganized activities on our streets and in our parks. The scout camp out on the Commons, the Terry Fox Run and other traditional events … what a town.
As a wise neighbour said years ago, “The only trouble with living here is that we can’t go here.”
Yes, if we call NOTL home, we tend to forget how beautiful and peaceful our former capital of Upper Canada is, month in and month out.
“Lickers and clickers” strolled up and down both sides of Queen Street, licking ice cream and gelato, and clicking pictures of flowers, the cenotaph and our unique streetscape.
Our late neighbour and friend Kevan O’Connor apparently coined the term, which so accurately captures the main activities of many visitors from near and far.
Some walk at a fairly normal pace, some meander, some mosey, and some barely make any forward progress as they stop to take photo after photo. “Oh look, a flower” and “Look at this door and doorknob.”
Many of them make the day trip from the GTA to relax as a family, to enjoy each other and to celebrate the arrival of autumn.
Grandparents pushing strollers along the sidewalks and in Queen’s Royal Park, blankets and tablecloths on picnic tables bring intergenerational families together for several hours and more.
Mini barbecues provide foods from around the world and children wander the park. So many scents and sounds combine to provide a snapshot of our wonderful and welcoming new world country. This year Canada is committed to welcoming some 450,000 immigrants.
The most heart-warming scene of my summer so far played out in the outdoor garden of the Olde Angel Inn, the smiles of four “Cousins” from rural Georgia, seeming to say it all.
Their warm and magnetic personalities encouraged me to ask them a few questions. They were small-town ladies, from about 50 miles east of Atlanta.
Four bright pink T-shirts shouted, “COUSINS by blood, SISTERS by heart, FRIENDs by choice.”
The four of them had flown into Buffalo and then driven to Niagara Falls to get up close and personal with the Canadian Falls.
A long walk through Queen Victoria Park to the actual brink of the Falls at Table Rock. Then, on to Niagara-on-the-Lake, which had seemed so perfect on the town’s tourism website.
They stumbled upon the Olde Angel Inn’s rustic restaurant and enjoyed a meal they raved about. Hot, tasty and filling, whether it was chicken and peach pie, the meatloaf dinner, steak and kidney pie, or the house staple, Fisherman’s Pie.
Together with a cold Canadian beverage on a hot September day, and you tell me, could life be much better?
These four adventurers and cousins had travelled way out of their comfort zones on the way down the Niagara River from the Falls, visiting the Landscape of Nations up by Brock’s Monument.
They had learned so much about the important contributions of our First Nations people to the development of Canada as a nation, distinct from the United States on the North American continent.
Then, the quantum leap onto the Whirlpool Jetboat from the Queenston dock. An interpretive look at the gorge on the boat ride up to Devil’s Hole and the Whirlpool Rapids, then a thorough soaking gave these four cousins memories for a lifetime.
They talked enthusiastically about being “air dried” by Mother Nature and the thrill of being up close and personal in such a wild environment.
They planned to visit Fort George and then tour and taste at Reif Estate Winery.
Two of the cousins have sons back in Georgia, who are enthusiastic Boy Scouts. One of their tasks on this trip to Canada was to watch the annual scout parade from the Commons to our historic downtown main street.
Next year, a hundred or more scouts from Georgia hope to attend the binational September scout get-together here in NOTL.
What happened to this extraordinary event this year.? One or two thousand scouts and their parents had not been able to parade and shop downtown, and nobody seemed to know why. They had been forced to a Plan B, walking around Navy Hall and Fort George. Huh?
So much to do, and so many happy visitors from far and wide. Our NOTL rocks.