“Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.”*
Well-known and beloved words that may easily have been written about my home town, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada where one doesn’t have to look far to observe the ideals of patience, strength, camaraderie, determination, integrity and service in daily action. Standards and expectations are high here and “good enough” simply isn’t tolerated.
Common misconception: Living in small-town Ontario does not mean we lead small lives. We chose Cobourg. We looked east, west and north of Toronto and decided east suited us best. We then looked at lots of small towns but Cobourg was always best. We fell (and stayed) in love with this lovely town because of its dynamism, its spirit, its shops and restaurants, its theatre community, its art gallery and most of all its people. Here one gets the sense that, right ‘round the next bend, anything and everything is possible.
Living in a rural setting has exposed me to so many marvellous things; agricultural life, an abundance of nature, the freedom and excitement of wide open spaces and, best, the combined simplicity and complexity of small-town life. I’d not trade it for the biggest, most glamorous mansion in Rosedale.
I love Cobourg in the summer! First, the obvious: The beach at Victoria Park is the finest anywhere on the shores of Lake Ontario and, combined with the boardwalk and piers, make our waterfront irresistible.
There are lots of festivals, concerts at the bandshell in Victoria Park and outdoor movie nights. And, um, my personal favourite: Dairy Dream!!! We just love wandering in on a summer evening, choosing our crème glacée du jour, always in a cone – the drips are such a big part of the fun – and wandering through the park and down to the beach. You’ll always meet someone you know and I, of course, get caught with ice cream drips on my shirt. Every. Single. Time. This is when Cobourg charmingly feels like Mayberry. Bliss! Cobourg in the summertime truly is the most delightful and happy place to be.
The star of any Cobourg summer is definitely the annual Waterfront Festival and the highlight for me is Canada Day, the jewel of the event. It is the beginning of July, school is just out, summer vacations have begun and people in the tens of thousands come from all over southern Ontario and upper New York State to enjoy our Waterfront celebration.
Excitement runs high, the crowds are always merry and lively, snapping photos and selfies at every opportunity, and applauding and cheering for the bands, floats and marchers in the parade – for that one day, King Street feels like an elaborate movie set.
This is one of those Cobourg traditions where you’ll bump into anyone you’ve ever known or met; a poignant reminder that we really do live in the most charming little town.
Sadly, in this moment of suspension, all summertime events have been cancelled to protect us and ensure we continue to plank the curve. Here in Northumberland County we are doing very well – just fourteen confirmed cases, thirteen of which have been resolved. Nevertheless, the summer of 2020 will always be remembered as the time we Cobourgers were shaken out of the comfortable cadency of our beloved traditions.
At a time when too many towns, countries, politicians and protestors are criticizing, blaming and belittling, and in a moment when far too many people have been forced to ask for mental, physical and financial support, Cobourgers have risen to the challenge with kindness, generosity and love. Folks who understand that, in the heat of battle against the coronavirus, the only thing that truly matters is making a difference in those lives even if, especially if it is only one person at a time.
Our remarkable esprit de corps was celebrated on Saturday night with a Facebook event called “Cobourg Together at Home – Community Special”. This event (and now, video – see link below) is the labour of love of a local chap, Graham Beer in which he showcased Cobourg talent and praised our NHH health care community. Mr. Beer gave us a huge show of recognition, appreciation and support for and from every corner of Northumberland County. Thank you so, so much, Mr. Beer!
Love and pride of our town on display, plus the amazingness that is the Good Lovelies (thank you, Caroline, Kerri and Sue), plus “Hey Jude” combined to make a very special tribute. I swear I’ve never felt prouder to live in Cobourg.
’Til next time, y’all…