The convention circuit was pretty skimpy this year. By September most years we would have had at least three significant excursions with a couple more outings left for the fall.
Between graphics shows and association meetings, we have had the good fortune of seeing and experiencing cultures across the country and around the world. Lately though, memories of Canada’s east coast and its hospitality have been at the forefront of my mind.
Perhaps it is not getting away as much or realizing that patio season here will be quickly coming to a conclusion or maybe just because travel is verboten – regardless of the reason, my internal memory lane is a well-worn path these days.
Wandering the quiet streets of Charlottetown, watching cruise ships approach from the ocean, meeting the now deceased Christie Blatchford for the first time and sharing off-time with fellow newspaper people from across the country was rewarding.
Halifax was another destination out east, once for an annual newspaper convention and another time we went to a municipal planning conference back in the day. Quick jaunts out to Peggy’s Cove and the Cape Breton trail were to be had in between sessions.
This may have been our first introduction to the nightlife on the east coast, where every venue seemed to have a live band and plenty of draft on tap.
St. John’s, Newfoundland is quite the city, too – a place every Canadian should experience once. From the quaint names of little towns and villages to notable locations like Cape Spear which is the most easterly point in Canada, the Rock offers so much to see and do. Depending on age, the screeching in of newcomers takes up part of a night.
East coasters like their fun, which must make these pandemic times very difficult for them.
In St. John’s one night, bouncing between establishments on George Street, patrons sat and stood cheek to jowl. As the live bands pounded out celtic songs people wanting to have a conversation didn’t stand a chance. The cool night air coming in off the Atlantic in between spots was a welcome respite. Try as we did, a less noisy place proved fruitless on that strip, so we joined the locals and just enjoyed the night for what it was.
Within the confines of one such establishment, the lead singer made note of a special guest by the name of Jimmy. He was every bit a caricature of a leprechaun. Not very tall, mischievous in appearance and his full head of hair was as white as snow. As the band fired up, Jimmy began to dance and put on a show that was something else. It was like a combination tap dance and step dance. He expended more energy than people a third his age could muster and if the story wasn’t a put-on, he did a dance for a beer on the house.
It will be memories like these that those of us who like to get out and about will rely on.
Chances are restrictions will return as COVID-19 numbers rise. Think of the good times. The people. The fun. The happiness that comes from sharing time and cultures with others.
Little Jimmy hardly skipped a beat. We shouldn’t either.