One of the wonderful things about small town life is what goes on beneath the surface of everyday happenings. I’m thinking of the stretch of Lake Ontario that meanders past Port Hope, Cobourg and Colborne and Brighton but, specifically on this occasion, recent spontaneous links between Cobourg and Colborne. Even more specifically, the Colborne Library which has gradually, over the last three years or so, been making positive inroads into the Northumberland County poetry scene. It was the brain-child of Colborne librarian Mary Norton who introduced a poetry competition for students in the Colborne school system. Despite her tireless work, like so many innovative ideas, it took a while to get off the ground
But, it turned out that the introduction of the idea of a poetry competition revealed many students in Colborne were already writing poetry – in many ways, an underground poetry movement. But the Colborne Library initiative brought poetry into the county writing mainstream, the entries increasing with each year of the competition. Which, in turn, returning to the ‘what goes on in small community life’ theme, brought Cobourg’ s Vandermeer Toyota into the mix in a huge way when Hank Vandermeer offered to create the Vandermeer Toyota Prize, worth $200, going to the winner of the competition.
Over the years, the number of entries encouragingly increased and, with this year’s choices, the judges had trouble deciding between two poems by different poets which should get the Vandermeer Toyota Prize – finally determining to honour both poets; 11 year-old Jaiden Purdy’s poem To Achieve Your Dreams and 14 year-old Lila Cappelletti’s poem, Haunted. Poetry is alive and well in Northumberland County, especially in Colborne thanks to Mary Norton’s vision and perseverance and the support of the library board.
Speaking of vision, it is that time of year to again thank the dedicated staff of Cobourg’s Parks Dept on the remarkable job they do it making Cobourg the most attractive, appealing town between Toronto and … and … hmm, well there aren’t any towns between Toronto and Kingston and beyond as attractive. Cobourg’s wide main street, enhanced by the magnificent Victoria Hall, clean well maintained, wide sidewalks and, leading south to the lake and the new location for the Farmers’ Market; Doesn’t get much better. And, of course, the fabulous beach, groomed to a fare-thee-well each morning before most Cobourgians have started their day. Victoria Park, prepped and meticulously maintained by the above mentioned Parks Department as the sun rises and squirrels start their day. And let us not forget the harbour, a welcome sight for approaching boaters – especially in bad weather. And where else would you catch a 30lb salmon for the fishing competition – and then return it to the water.
Coming back to reality … brings to mind a serious question: are there any council candidates running for re-election or election who have the guts to stand up and say they will oppose any changes to Cobourg harbour and will propose a motion to leave the harbour, apart from routine maintenance, as it is for all time? Wanna bet?