Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Clouds part for Le Patro’s Fête nationale festivities

Le Patro is a pillar of community and it made good on that commitment by hosting its annual open house for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on Monday. The event which got full sun after a rainy weekend, was an occasion to celebrate Quebec’s history, heritage, traditions, as well as its values of freedom, tolerance and solidarity, and the multicultural communities which add to the richness and diversity of the provincial landscape. Le Patro could be the poster child for having honoured those ideals and more.
The family-friendly day of activities was robust in the best of summer ways with live music, a splash pad, magicians, giant games, face painting, cotton candy, snow cones and a variety of water stations on the adjacent Ottawa River. Add to that the included activities and participation of L’association de loisirs des personnes handicapées du Pontiac and you have all of the necessary ingredients to celebrate community.
Director of Le Patro, Suzie Pieschke, bedazzled after her own time spent with the face-painting crew, beamed with joy at the turnout.
“There are way more people here than last year,” she said. “We are so happy to bring everyone out and together on a beautiful summer day.”

Calumet Island brings local flavour to Saint-Jean party

Residents of Calumet Island and Pontiacers from beyond came together on Sunday at the town’s RA centre to celebrate the Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday, known across the province as the Fête nationale.
The event was organized by the Calumet Island’s municipal recreation committee and sponsored by a multitude of donors, including the MRC Pontiac, Desjardins, Hydro Québec, and Pontiac MNA André Fortin.
Tyler La Salle, president of the recreation committee for Calumet Island, has been organizing the event since 2018. He explained the event has historically been very popular, but saw a decline in attendance due to lack of organizers.
“In 2018 the committee decided to take it back on. And ever since then, we’ve been organizing the festival to be able to celebrate,” La Salle said. “It’s always free to attend, allowing everyone to participate without worrying about a cover charge.”
The festival featured a variety of activities for all ages. Attendees enjoyed traditional bingo games, a maple syrup tasting contest between six producers from the island, and “Dino walks” where a mascot dinosaur wandered the grounds and entertained children.
Music played a central role in the festival, with local artists from the Pontiac region performing throughout the day. This year’s lineup included René Bertrand, Ben Chabot, and local band R.E.W.D..
“Showcasing local talent is a great way to highlight our community,” La Salle said.
The festival was designed to be inclusive, with activities for both French and English speakers.
“Our community is bilingual, and we want everyone to enjoy the festivities,” La Salle explained.
Sylvie Dumouchel has been attending the Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations on Calumet Island for over 50 years. She said the event used to be much bigger, usually lasting up to four days filled with events that lasted late into the evenings.
Dumouchel explained that although the event is not as big as it used to be, it still serves as a chance for the community to come together to celebrate the importance of the holiday.
“It’s rooted in our heritage,” Dumouchel said in a French interview with THE EQUITY. “We’re celebrating our language, our Quebecois heritage, and our village.”

Saint-Jean-Baptiste by the beach

The Leslie Park campground community in Otter Lake took to the park’s beach on Saturday to celebrate the province’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday.
The event saw dozens of people gather by the water to enjoy a variety of activities including face painting for children, volleyball as well as a guided painting class.
Serge Viau was one of the organizers for the event. He has been a member of the Leslie Park community for over 26 years, and has played an active role at the park since 2022.
“For the past two years, I’ve taken on the responsibility of ensuring everything runs smoothly. The happiness and return of our campers is my top priority,” Viau said.
“It’s important for us to celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste because it’s part of our province’s identity. Even people from outside Quebec came here to join in the festivities.”
Stephen Young, an animation teacher at Algonquin College, was the teacher for the painting classes by the beach. For his class, Young guided his attendees through a step-by-step painting process to reveal a painting of the sun setting on Leslie Lake, adding a touch of local fun to the class.
Pascal Bégin and Dominique Germain have been seasonal campers at Leslie Park for over two decades, and explained the campground has been an important part of their families history.
“Our children practically grew up here,” Bégin said. “It’s a beautiful day at the beach, but we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate with the people.”

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