PARRSBORO – Guest speakers were all in agreement here on July 1 – there is no better place to celebrate Canada Day than at Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum.
A large crowd gathered at the historic former summer residence of Sir Charles Tupper to sing “O Canada” as the red maple leaf was raised in celebration of the nation’s 147th birthday.
“If anyone ever doubts that God smiles on Canada, let him come to Partridge Island, Cumberland County, on Canada Day and see what a glorious place is,” said Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie. “It’s the best place in the world to be on July 1.”
The Opposition leader said he always thinks of Tupper at this time of year, and the promises made by the former Nova Scotia premier and prime minister of Canada, along with the other Fathers of Confederation.
As the premier who led Nova Scotia into Confederation, Tupper made a promise that we all need to continue living up to, according to Baillie.
“He promised us a country that would be free, at peace, prosperous, with every citizen equal to every other, with universal health care, with a bill of rights, and to make whatever we can of our careers and our lives,” he said. “That was the great promise of Canada 147 years ago. Sir Charles Tupper and the Fathers of Confederation made it, and it’s what we’re here to celebrate today.”
Parrsborough Shore Historical Society president Colin Curleigh, who served as MC for the event, updated those gathered on the continued restoration work at Ottawa House, with efforts aimed at a grand celebration next summer in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Tupper’s death.
As the Parrsboro Citizens’ Choir led the crowd in the singing of “O Canada,” members of the local air cadets squadron raised a flag donated by county councillor Don Fletcher. The flag once flew over the parliament buildings, and was presented to Fletcher when he retired from the armed forces almost 20 years ago.
Fletcher had planned to present it to the historical society on Flag Day in February, but the event was stormed out. He looked with pride as it waved in the breeze above Ottawa House.
“I’ve stood in front of many flags over the years, I’ve saluted many flags over the years and helped raise many flags over the years, but it’s great to see that flag today,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen it flying.”
Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith took the occasion to remind those gathered of the plans this summer to celebrate the town’s 125th anniversary of incorporation.
Historical society member and local historian Ed Gilbert shared a few stories about Tupper, including the fact that he was born in nearby Lakelands, and that he once traveled west to rescue his daughter and her husband during the Riel Rebellion.
“He wasn’t a great orator like Joseph Howe, but was one of those people that piled one fact on another… a common sense type of fellow,” said Gilbert. “Even after a decision had already made, he was still often piling on more facts.”
Gilbert filled in for Conrad Byers, who normally delivers a history-related speech at Ottawa House on Canada Day, but is recovering from an illness in hospital
“I’m so pleased to see us all together here in this beautiful place,” he said. “Thank you all very much for coming.”