Beating the heat: Canada Day in Oxford Mills

Main event cake (baked by Darlene McMartin) in vanilla or chocolate. Photo: Lucy Martin

Volunteers cut main event cake, in vanilla or chocolate. Cakes baked by Darlene McMartin. Photo: Lucy Martin

Canada’s 147th “birthday” was a hot one. So when I saw that Oxford Mills was hosting their small-town celebration at Maplewood Park, I knew where I wanted to be.

It was sweet. Free music under stately maples, thick canopy casting deep, cool shade with a good stiff breeze taking biting insects out of the mix.

Can’t say enough about the beauty of mature maples blowing this way and that. They offer a meditation on trees, weather, nature, summer, community, grace…life!

Tall trees are great, but it’s not a party without something for all ages. Here’s the full run-down:

Canada Day in Oxford Mills starts just before noon with the traditional Canada Flag raising and singing of O Canada at 12 sharp. All events take place at Maplewood Park. Local musicians Standby Brothers, Fiddlehead Soup, MC David Shanahan and Grenville Grass will provide the music for the day. The event will have lots of traditional kid’s games including a Tug-of-War Challenge between local schools and between the hamlets of North Grenville

Possibly outnumbered, Bishop Mills struggles before going down to defeat. Photo: Lucy Martin

Possibly outnumbered, Bishop’s Mills struggles before going down to defeat. Photo: Lucy Martin

(talkin’ to you, Bishop’s Mills). Returning this year is the Vendors Market, face painting, birthday cake, a “Fish Tank” and a critter display/demo (spiders, snakes and lizards, oh my!). The Lion’s Club will also be back this year to sell hotdogs, hamburgers and drinks. They’ll also present the winner of their 50/50 draw at 3pm.

The Bishop’s Mills verses Oxford Mills tug-of-war (billed as a grudge match) was a tad anti-climatic. Perhaps I was distracted by attempts to get the perfect photo. But it seemed over in no time with a win for the hosts, Oxford Mills.

Beauty that lasts: Maplewood Hall. Photo: Lucy Martin

Beauty that lasts: Maplewood Hall in Oxford Mills. Photo: Lucy Martin

This part of Ontario is dotted with lovely old stone buildings. Much of that legacy is largely thanks to the Rideau Canal, after construction brought skilled masons to the area and that talent went on to became part of the wider human landscape.

Consider this old school, S.S. No. 8:

The school was built on land bought from John Lindsay in 1875. It was built by A. Willoughby with broken course limestone from the Harris Quarry on Bedell Road. The building is rectangular and the front porch gable roof is highlighted by a decorative belfry. The school opened in August, 1875 and continued in use until June, 1964, when it closed. It was bought by the Township and became a school for the mentally challenged in 1968, a role it continued to play until 1983, when it finally closed. In that year, the local Library moved into the north end of the building, while the south end was used for local meetings. The building was completely renovated in 2001 and has served as the community hall ever since. In 2008, administration of the hall was transferred to the local Community Association. This building has seen so many of the great and small events of Oxford Mills since 1875, and remains an important part of the village’s life and history. It was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1991.

OK, enough history minutia. Lots of pretty stuff, and people working hard to try keep those buildings in use.

I’ll close with how most of us there that day enjoyed the show, sitting in comfy seats, tapping our toes. I caught the tail end of the Standby Brothers, all of Fiddlehead Soup and most of the Grenville Grass. I left a tad early to go catch the U.S./Belgium FIFA match. A good game, if not the outcome Americans rooted for.

All in all a very pleasant day without sunstroke. Happy birthday Canada.

And you too, America, this Friday. A busy week of summery fun.

Grenville Grass plays to an appreciative Canada Day crowd. Photo: Lucy Martin

Grenville Grass plays to an appreciative Canada Day crowd. Photo: Lucy Martin



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