Archive for August, 2019

As I write these words, summer in the leafy town of Oakville on the Lake is quickly winding down.  This weekend is Labour Day, a national holiday started to acknowledge the achievements of workers:  ergo most regular working folks will resume their daily grind this coming Tuesday.  Ironically, this weekend is also the last hurrah of the “cottage country” crowd here, those families who are fortunate enough to enjoy second homes on the pristine blue waters of lakes a few hours north of Toronto.  What passes for a “cottage” in Ontario can range from a simple wood frame 2 bedroom uninsulated bungalow, decorated with lumpy mattress and castoffs plucked from the “soon to be recycled” pile, all the way up to multi-million dollar Cape Cod style mansions (with fully outfitted guest house/boathouse of course) that are regularly featured in the pages of design magazines.  Simpers the owner, “I wanted to keep it simple:  only 6 bedrooms, and no maid’s quarters”.  But I digress.

The level of traffic on the major highways going into and around Toronto will go overnight from being mildly annoying to stress inducing, fingers on the wheel clenching, swearing like a drunken sailor horrendous.  What took 20 minutes on a sunny July morning will now take a mind numbing 100 or more.  (And then the children of privilege go back to private schools the following week and then the traffic horrors intensify.  BMW drivers can be so aggressive!)

For me, the event that signals that the wind is coming out of the hot air balloon that is summer in Ontario is the arrival of the Canadian National Exhibition.  The “Ex” is a dizzingly chaotic and crowded mashup of amusement park, concert venue, circus, hucksterism, greasy disgusting and somehow irresistible  foodstuffs (deep fried Mars bars anyone?) an irresistibly cute dog show, and something called Horse Capades!  Everyone I know has been there at least once.  Over a hundred years ago,  there were real agricultural competitions at the EX, a holdover from the glory days of Ontario farmlands when capturing the 4H prize for growing a gigantic pumpkin or raising the finest looking doe eyed heifer was a real coup for a budding farmer.  Awh shucks and pats on the back all round.   There are still gardening awards, but most of the true celebrations of the rural farming life were replaced earlier this century by an elaborate petting zoo (140 animals!) and an urban gardening wall.

My personal highlight of the Ex is overhead right now:   The Toronto International Airshow.  Our Oakville home is almost right on the flight path of those glorious silver birds like the World War II Allied heavy bomber, the Avro Lancaster which flies into Toronto from the Warplane Museum in Hamilton.  There are only seventeen remaining of these worthy Leviathans of the sky in the world, only two are still flying and that Museum has one. It’s a sight to behold, and our good neighbour and aviator, Brock Mason, holds a neighbourhood tailgate party and arranges a “fly by” every summer in honor of the plane.  A crowd stands out in the middle of the street, waving madly as the plane goes by,  briefly wagging one wing in regal acknowledgement. It’s a perfect summer moment in a summer that was pretty darn perfect.

Read Full Post »