"Everyone is just so excited to be here," Canterbury Mayor Tanya Cloutier said as she and residents of all ages prepared for the parade, highlighting a day full of activities and events throughout Saturday, Sept. 18.
In a day designed for Canterbury residents and visitors to celebrate the community, the parade allowed residents to reflect on its rich past as a forestry and railway town.
The parade helped ignite some of the nostalgia under the theme, "Blast from the Past."
Parade participants ranged in age from pre-school children to 94-year-old Marita Grant, who had a seat of prominence in the Seniors' parade entry.
"I'm the oldest one in the parade," Grant said, calling it an honour to participate.
Unable to hold Canterbury Day in 2020 because of COVID-19, Cloutier said the residents were making the most of their chance to celebrate with family, friends and neighbours.
"The atmosphere is amazing," Cloutier said. "You can tell people are so happy to be out today."
Saturday's activities in the village, located approximately 36 kilometres south of Woodstock, began in the morning with several yard sales set up by homeowners and local groups.
Sharon Kitchen — who, along with Deanna Grant and Shirley Cloutier, worked St. Mark's United Church fundraising yard sale —recalled the much busier village years ago.
"There used to be eight stores, and now there's one," she said.
Kitchen said it's great to see people coming out for Canterbury Day, noting morning traffic to their church-fundraising yard sale proved steady.
Mayor Cloutier said the village's celebration occurred on Canada Day until 2017, when council moved the event to September.
During the hot days of July, she said, many residents were heading out on vacation or spending time at the nearby lakes.
She said that September proved a more logical choice, as the residents, who are at the heart of the celebration, are back home, and children are back in school.
"It's easier to gather everyone together," Cloutier said.
Plus, the mayor explained, the village doesn't have to share the day with the nation.
"Canterbury is a pretty special place, so let's have our own day," she said.
Cloutier said she knows residents from the village and surrounding communities still want some activities to mark Canada Day, so the Canterbury Recreation Committee will continue to hold July 1 activities.
Cloutier, who chairs the rec committee with council colleague Andrea Sullivan, said the proactive group recognizes the importance of regularly providing events and activities for families.
Other rec committee members include councillor and former mayor Elaine English, village clerk Susie Patterson, Heather Foster and Jill Manuel.
"We're a great group, and we work together well," she said.
The rec team put together an active schedule for Canterbury Day 2021.
After the noon-hour parade, the village park became the hot spot for the rest of the day.
As Sullivan, Patterson and Coun. Michael Furrow barbecued hot dogs and burgers and boiled corn to eat, visitors wandered the park and stayed busy.
A few vendors, including Nackawic's Big Axe Brewery, set up booths to sell and promote their products.
The village financed Canterbury Day events, including a dunk tank, horse rides, children's games, washer toss and live music. Weather permitting, the day ended with fireworks.
Everything, including the food, was free. Cloutier and Sullivan said the village council agreed to fund Canterbury Day as a means for all residents and visitors to celebrate together.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun