Thursday, July 12, 2007

Scenes from a village

The raft, closer

I spent the July 1 long weekend up in the village of Wakefield, Quebec, a short drive from Ottawa. My dear friends Paul and Allysun got married there on the Saturday, in a gorgeous ceremony on a covered bridge. (You can see the covered bridge in the above picture, to the right.) Sunday was Canada Day, an occasion that Wakefield famously goes all out to commemorate. There's a flotilla of local boats on the Gatineau River, the centerpiece of which is the raft, above. Every year the local teens build the raft (this year's was apparently unusually small; Paul swears the one last year was 4 stories high), and then they all crowd onto it on Canada Day, barbecuing things over an open flame and drumming on barrels. You can hear the beat from way downriver. They throw parties on it all summer, then tear it apart & burn it in a bonfire on Labour Day.

While the flotilla drifted by on the water, the parade proceeded down Riverside Street. A highlight for me was the Man with a Tea-Cozy On His Head:

The man with a tea-cozy on his head

Allysun told me he's the village poet, and he also raises chickens. If you order a dozen eggs from him, he will throw in a free poem.

Astonishingly, right in the middle of the parade, ten Snowbirds in perfect formation thundered out of the sky to the south, swooped over the village and then vanished over the horizon again. It all happened so quickly I didn't manage to get a photo of it. The other indication of the village's proximity to Ottawa was the brief appearance of Stephane Dion at the outdoor roast chicken dinner later that day.

I spent the day wandering up and down the main street with Allysun, who was congratulated by practically every person we encountered (she's a Wakefield local), and riding around on the river in best man Ryan's motorboat. Then at night there were fireworks, and Wax Mannequin opened for Fiftymen at the legendary Black Sheep Inn. By that point we were all completely exhausted, but in a good way.

Lots of photos here!


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