Canada Day on the Gorge

The very best thing about living along the Gorge Waterway is the annual closure of Gorge Road for an all-day Canada Day picnic. The peace of morning – the road closes first thing for set-up – is charmingly broken by a small parade (a swarm of decorated bikes, one fire engine, one vintage police car, some First Nations drummers, and one small marching band), and then peaceable throngs of Canadians wearing red and white (somehow I still haven’t managed to get myself a giant Canada Day hat..)

For some reason this year a clutch of food vendors ended up right on my doorstep: Indian food; Mexican tamales; mini-donuts (I think that still counts as food?); Mr Tubesteak and his (not as good as the ones at Courtenay folk fest but still hugely popular) hot dogs; and Pizzeria Prima Strada, with its mobile wood-fired pizza oven and interesting selections, which was rightly mobbed all day. There were others as well: the always popular International Women’s Catering Co-op was doing a booming trade in portable foods from all over; and the lineup for pancake breakfast was said to be 45 minutes by 10am.

The Gorge Tillicum Urban Farmers were there, spreading the gospel of back (and front) yard food gardens, urban chickens and the joy of neighbours who grow. We had a great big table full of plant starts and vegetable seeds, donated by members, and offered to passers-by for the price of a small donation and a helping of advice on what was what and how to grow it. Although a lot of what we had on hand might have been called weeds by some, they also had ornamental, medicinal or edible properties, like feverfew (good for migraines and many other ailments), day lilies (all parts edible) and borage (young leaves and flowers are said to taste like cucumber).

Our neighbour again this year was GTUFer and bee expert Gord Hutchings, who as always attracted a continuous stream of people interested in knowing more about wild pollinators in general and blue orchard mason bees in particular.

The day which had started off grey and windy became warm and sunny, ideal for wandering musicians, Morris dancers, dog-walkers, picnickers, stall-holders and all those just having a gentle day off.

The municipality of Saanich was there talking up sustainability issues; I particularly liked this watershed model which attracted a lot of children who got to practice raining on a model landscape of our area to see the contaminating effects of road, lawn and garden runoff.

And then it was over.

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