Canada Day celebrations in North Grenville included only distanced and virtual events again this year.
Volunteers with the Kemptville District Community Association and the Oxford Mills Community Association worked hard to mark the day while respecting Covid-19 precautions and public health protocols.
Mayor Nancy Peckford issued a Canada Day Address on behalf of council to wish North Grenville a Happy Canada Day, thank the volunteers for their efforts, and recognize that, "we have come through a lot together in the past 16 months, and we are closer than ever to returning to normal.
We have lots to celebrate, including having the highest vaccination rates in the province." She also acknowledged that "Indigenous peoples are the First Nations of this land. And that today, many different cultures make up the fabric of what is known as Canada."
At a small ceremony at Maplewood Park, President of the Oxford Mills Community Association Marc Nadeau called for reflection upon the first peoples of the land and, "how to better be visitors and accord more to our hosts." This was followed by a moment of silence to honour the victims of Residential Schools. Neil Pringle on the guitar, and Rowan Meyers on the bagpipes, closed out the ceremony for Oxford Mills.
For many residents, the highlight of the day's events was the Paddlers' Poker Run. Around 140 participants paddled the Kemptville Creek in kayaks, canoes, SUPs, and rafts in search of checkpoints to collect a full poker hand.
One participant came from Brockville, and stated that, "any time to get out and enjoy the elements" is a great way to celebrate Canada Day.
Other participants, from North Grenville, felt the Paddlers' Poker Run was not only fun, but felt that a distanced celebration reflected that people in our community "are still realizing what is going on."
Throughout the day, residents also enjoyed free swimming at the Kemptville Pool and the GooseChase Scavenger Hunt.
The day concluded with a virtual concert featuring Bruce Enloe, Steve Price, John Wilberforce, Ken Julien, and Bob Windsor & Andy Tetrault. The concert was made possible through the support of Live Stream Junkies, Jamming Around Productions, and stage space provided by Kemptville Live Music Festival.
Over 1,500 people have watched the LiveStream.
Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times