Huge crowd comes out to Hatley
Judging by the crowds, the line-ups for food and the traffic snarls at the 105th Hatley Canada Day celebration on Monday, there is no shortage of Canadian patriotism in the area. The sun came out, for a change, and the rain held off which made everyone happy, except for all the late arrivals who were forced to park their cars on the outskirts of town and walk in to see the parade.
The parade got off to a late start since some of the parade participants were caught in the traffic, arriving a little late. Once started, it had to pause for what seemed like an eternity if you were having to control a skittish horse, because of a medical emergency. An elderly man had severe chest pains and was attended to by the on-site first responders. Those in the parade who were either riding horses or driving a team are to be highly commended for keeping their animals under control – not easy to do when you have excited spectators all around, young and old, and some of them appearing oblivious to the potential danger. Fortunately, the only mishap was between a horse and the classic car of one of the Goodsell boys.
The parade was emceed by Royal Orr, David Price and Phil Kerwin, a former Canada Day emcee who accompanied them for ‘old times sake’. “It’s appropriate to finish the parade with our firefighters, volunteers who put themselves in danger, and we’re very grateful for them,” said Mr. Orr as an Ayer’s Cliff firetruck, with Slightly Haggard playing on its roof, rolled by. David Price did his usual gig of describing the antique cars in the parade and announcing their owners, one at a time as they rolled up to the gazebo.
Language Commissioner Graham Fraser addressed the crowd first during the Opening Ceremony. Seemingly impressed by the size and enthusiasm of Monday’s crowd, he said: “Looking around I can see that you cannot measure the vitality of a community by percentages.” Hatley’s new mayor, Denis Ferland, whose family has participated in the Canada Day event for years, spoke in both English and French about past Canada Days in Hatley. Orford MNA Pierre Reid, for the first time in eleven years, did not attend the event because he was away in Europe. His wife, Lynn Blouin, who is also the Deputy CEO of the Sherbrooke Canada Games, attended on his behalf and brought along Ziz Zag, the mascot of the Games. “In a month we will be hosting the Canada Games and we will be celebrating Canada again. You have to be there!” said Ms. Blouin.
NDP MP Jean Rousseau, of the Compton- Stanstead riding, was last to address the crowd. “Aren’t we proud of Hatley and this Canada Day?” He then said: “I believe in Canada. Do you believe in Canada?” and received an enthusiastic response. Next, he led a small choir of VIP’s in the singing of the National Anthem, as he put it last year, “Hockey night in Canada style”: first part in French and the second part in English. Regardless of language, the singing has been getting louder at this event every year; surely a good sign.
One of the top prize winners in the parade was the float made by the Grenier/Fauteux family, from Stanstead. “We usually do a float for the BorderFest but this is the first time we’ve been in the Canada Day Parade,” said Julie Fauteux in her costume from the 1800’s. “It took us one and a half hours to get to Hatley from Stanstead; we had to drive at 20 km an hour!”
Despite the rain that arrived later in the day, the fireworks went off at dusk, capping off one of the region’s longest-running events.
Joanna and Keith Cheal enjoy a dance together at the Hatley Canada Day celebration in the early evening.
Julie Fauteux and Stephane Grenier pose with their daughters, Marie-Rose and Leanne, on their first place float.